WELL, Stewart McDonald, I’m all ears (There is a better way to deliver on indyref2 – now’s the time to up our game, Feb 8).

“Going beyond the parameters”; “on a path that is materially making progress to independence”; “a commitment to secure a legitimate referendum through a Section 30 order” (explain “legitimate” to Westminster and let us know the outcome); “noticeable difference”.

All very commendable words but as usual “nae meat on the bones”.

You talk, Mr McDonald, about the “development of a strategy that will take us materially to an independent Scotland”. I would love to believe that sustained support would lead to securing “the necessary transfer of power for a legal referendum” underpinned by democracy and law. But I’m not holding my breath.

Try telling this to the Tories in Westminster. They haven’t a scoobie about democracy or law – they break both on a daily basis. But I do agree there are votes to be won and that’s what we have to concentrate on.

There’s a real change under way in England. Some say the tide is turning for the Tories; the corruption; the sleaze;. the total disregard for working people trying to make ends meet, while Tory MPs forget to pay a £3.5 million tax bill.

Money in offshore accounts plus all the rising prices due to Brexit and the people behind it. The state of our doomed economy is filtering through down south. We have to keep ramming these total failures through to our electorate here in Scotland.

A better future for the people of Scotland is in the hands of the people themselves. We have to persuade them that Scotland can be in a fairer and a more caring country than the one we live in under Westminster rule.
Ken McCartney

SHONA Robison portrays Alister Jack’s intervention as if it was an outrage (Alister Jack “refuses to engage” with Holyrood on Section 35, says minister, Feb 6). The reality, of course, is that Jack has acted entirely within the law. So, it is not Jack’s intervention that is outrageous but the law which permits it.

Under Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, the Secretary of State for Scotland needs only “reasonable grounds” to believe a Section 35 order prohibiting the submission of an Act of the Scottish Parliament for royal assent is warranted. He is the sole judge of what constitutes “reasonable grounds”.

The most that might be expected of a British court is that it would politely ask the minister to clarify the grounds he has deemed reasonable. The wording would be tweaked. The prohibition would remain.

The Secretary of State for Scotland and the British government he represents have precisely no obligation to assist the Scottish Government in its drafting of legislation.

Indeed, had the British government sought to intervene in that process, I have not the slightest doubt that Shona Robison would have been among the first and most indignant of those protesting such “interference” in the work of a devolved administration.

My point here is not to justify or rationalise Alister Jack’s issuing of a Section 35 order but to point out that this intervention requires no justification or rationalisation. The Union gives the British state that kind of power. We can object all we like to Jack’s high-handed behaviour. But we can do absolutely nothing about it.

In 2014, the people of Scotland chose the Union over themselves. The Scottish Government continues to concede the superiority of the UK Parliament. So long as this is the situation, the likes of Alister Jack can act as high-handedly as he wants.

The situation can be changed. But this would require that the First Minister and her government find a resolution that has not been in evidence over the nine years since Sturgeon’s elevation.

The means to alter the situation are known and available. All that is lacking is the political will. Throwing questions at Alister Jack is pointless.

The relevant question is for Shona Robison, Nicola Sturgeon and the whole of Scotland’s political elite. That question is: What are you prepared to do about it?
Peter A Bell
via thenational.scot

I NOTICED on my social media feed that an MSP was informing us Asda is offering free porridge for children from 8am to noon every day in its cafes during February half term with no minimum adult spend. This is in addition to the existing £1 children’s main meal deal currently on offer.

I suppose we should all be grateful for this and any similar offers available elsewhere. However, I cannot read this and get the image of child actor Mark Lester, from the 1968 film Oliver!, based on Charles Dickens’s 1838 novel Oliver Twist, out of my head.

The National: Jack Lester.

It is the scene where, in a workhouse, orphans are served their daily gruel to the singing of Food, Glorious Food. A group of boys draw lots, with Oliver then having to approach Mr Bumble, played by Harry Secombe, empty bowl in hand and ask: “Please, sir, may I have some more?” Has nothing really changed since 1838?
Brian Lawson

REGARDING the furore about the completion or non-completion of the A9 upgrade, there is little doubt that had we still been in the EU, this route would have qualified for EU funding as a vital route serving remote communities and lifeline ferry services.

Alas, we are not in the EU and we have to rely on the crumbs which fall off the Westminster table. It’s strange that vastly increased expenditure on already very expensive projects down south such as the Elizabeth Line and HS2 is not a problem for the Westminster government.
Ian Lawson