You don’t need anyone to tell you that you have some big challenges ahead of you. No matter how astute and strenuous your efforts, you will not be helped by a largely hostile mainstream media eager to exploit any “news” in Scotland that can be manipulated to promote right-wing ideology and/or to sustain a long-dysfunctional, and increasingly undemocratic, Union. The worse the “news”, the happier will be those preying on fears and feeding the self-interest of their customers predominantly located south of Hadrian’s Wall.

All who support independence already know that the sooner Scotland has the powers to determine its own future, the sooner the more serious work on constructing a fair, egalitarian and prosperous country can commence. In the meantime, while wrestling with many demands forced upon the Scottish Government through irresponsible policies imposed by an autocratic government in Westminster, the Scottish Government must work within an economic straitjacket. That said, a number of ideas raised during the course of the leadership contest not only have merit but can bring the SNP and the wider “Yes Movement” together in progressing our common cause.

The appointment of an independence minister is certainly a good step forward and presumably he will seek to advance interim measures such as those associated with Scotland establishing its own currency and a fairer tax system (probably including a “Land Tax”), while also seeking to broaden involvement and input both within and outwith the SNP (perhaps via an independence convention).

As every day another “negative Scottish Government story” is broadcast by BBC Scotland and permeates the UK mainstream media, often without any objective context, your idea of an instant/rapid “Rebuttal Unit” is a good one and needs to be created now so that an appropriate spokesperson can immediately inform the media of pertinent context (rather than rely on more Tory propaganda). The preparation of a “RealGERS” report is long overdue and should be useful in countering subjectively misleading claims that Scotland has an enduring reliance on UK financial aid.

All who support independence also agree that we should aim to raise support for independence beyond 60%, but leadership is not about patiently waiting for a desired outcome. By conveying a positive vision and taking complementary actions, others can be inspired and convinced that that outcome is justifiably desirable for them, and must come soon.

Yourself and Stephen Flynn, as representatives of the SNP and the people of Scotland, already have democratic mandates which the UK Government continues to thwart in spite of the SNP generally being courteously professional at all levels of government interaction, including on television programmes. Perhaps it is now time to recognise that instead of waiting any longer for change, the SNP leadership must begin legitimately rejecting polite acceptance of established UK conventions in order to make change happen.
Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

I WOULD like to add my twopence worth to Roddie MacPherson’s excellent letter in response to Kate Forbes’s article. The rape of our seas is well established and the cause is directly attributable to what we as humankind have done to them in our exploitation of fisheries. This is not a modern phenomenon. It has been going on since the development of steam drifters in the 19th century and governments and their agencies are just as culpable as the fishers because of government incentives to provide ever more powerful tools to exploit the wealth.

The basic problem is that the way we exploit our marine natural resources is based on a free-for-all “tragedy of the commons”, where different entities have free range to search and find the fish and shellfish wherever their sophisticated electronic equipment can signal their presence. This is all well known.

Professor Callum Roberts of York University outlines in two wonderful books what has happened to our seas.

There are three aspects to this which are relevant.

The first is that, as a society, we have lost all knowledge of the reality of the scale of fish resources that we used to obtain here – 17th and 18th century annals record the abundance of fisheries in the North Sea, with shoals of herring covering millions of acres.

Secondly, our exploitation of this resource has been such that we have more or less fished out the older stock which had 10 times the fecundity of less mature fish and shellfish.

Thirdly, we are all subject to the phenomenon of shifting baseline syndrome where, collectively, we have lost the knowledge of what it was like to experience natural abundance.

Wise counsel would suggest that we need to give some areas of our seas a rest to allow natural recovery and I agree that we should ban trawling within a three-mile coastal zone. As for creel fishing, I have no problem with that.
Bill McDermott
via email

A PASSIONATE SNP supporter, I first joined the party in 2007, disillusioned with a Labour Party that had become arrogant, complacent and devoid of talent. Coincidentally, my view on that is unchanged. I was proud to be a member of the SNP that re-introduced free higher education and built bridges, bypasses and railways. There was a new kid on the block, and they meant business. No longer in thrall to Westminster, Scotland was a hopeful country on a different path.

Fast forward 16 years and the parallels with Scottish Labour are stark. Don’t get me wrong, the SNP are brimming with talented, hard-working people who work passionately with conviction to change lives. Every day, those people strive for a better Scotland. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that those people control our party.

Under Nicola Sturgeon, the party became centralised, controlled and corporate. An election-winning machine that no longer listened to long-standing members or critical friends. They ignored transformational policy motions that were passed overwhelmingly at conference after conference, and even prevented some from reaching the agenda at all. It seemed like the machine was unstoppable and the party would never end.

Underlying this machine was a culture of cronyism, where inexperienced advisers were advising inexperienced ministers. The so-called gravy train. There’s no better example than Kate Forbes. A qualified chartered accountant who had a life outside of politics, with excellent ties to the business community, demoted from her finance brief and confined to the backbenches. If anyone understood the numbers, it was her. So naturally, she has been replaced by a career politician who previously resigned as health secretary amid a financial crisis at NHS Tayside. Then there is Ivan McKee, the former trade minister, an entrepreneur with international business experience, now on the backbenches.

It doesn’t need to be this way. There are those of us who are steadfast in our goal to deliver a better Scotland; and then there are careerists who care more for their own agenda. Frankly, this was a trend that began under New Labour, and if we are honest, it affects all political parties. Conviction politicians vs careerists. We need more people with passion and conviction to step forward. It’s high time we replaced ineffective incumbents with independence champions who will fight every day to improve the lives of Scots ... otherwise, what’s the point?
Alexander Duncan

FOLLOWING Trump being the first US president to be criminally indicted, the esteemed Dr Eddie S Glaude Jr, a Professor of African American Studies, was interviewed on Channel 4 News. Extracts of what he stated are as follows.

On how this has yet again polarised Americans, he said: “Trump is an avatar for so many that are overrun by grievance, fear and a sense of marginalisation. It’s extraordinarily dangerous but one side is right. We need to be very clear about that. I think to engage in ‘bothsideism’ (false balance) on this issue is dangerous. One side is committed to the rule of law and democracy. The other side is challenging it and undermining the basic principles and precepts of democracy itself, but I think at the heart of the debate is the question of trust.

“There are forces in our country who believe if we continue along the road that we are, they will lose the America they cherish. They believe government has placed its thumb on the scale on behalf of minorities and those who somehow fall outside of their conception of the cultural mainstream. There are those who are willing to give over their responsibilities, to hand it over to autocrats, to politicians who have no real sense of what democratic values and norms mean, and that hasn’t been resolved.”

Concerning Trump using inflammatory language about the District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is an African-American, he said: “He’s already used antisemitic and racist remarks to describe him and language that has racial overtones. The history of the country suggests that racial violence is always on the immediate horizon when people feel their way of life is threatened.

“It’s a bitter irony that wrapped around the legs of the table upon which the Declaration of Independence was signed was the Serpent of Slavery. Now we have a descendant of slaves holding the most powerful man in the country to the standard of the rule of law. It’s an example of the power of the country, but it’s also an example of the deep contradictions. We have to be afraid. If we’re not, then we’re naive. We have to be diligent. If we’re not, we’re complicit.”

If Trump became president even after being convicted, he said, “it would seal the fate of the nation. If everyday, ordinary folk allow that to happen, then I would say that American democracy is on the cooling board, taking its last breath.”

Trump’s America in a nutshell! For me, these words are so powerful. However, I’ll always remember those in the UK that were so desperate to normalise Trump back in 2016. Politically, who were they? Oh, silly me, of course they were almost all Tories. Are they going to “Make Britain Great Again?”
Ivor Telfer
Dalgety Bay, Fife

I JUST wondered did you, as I, miss the referendum on the UK joining the CPTPP trade agreement?

Ripped from the European Union against our will, joined to an organisation that may or may not increase the UK economy by a staggering 0.08% over the next 10 years!

You know, sometimes, I just find the UK Government so un-awe-inspiring.

How can any Scot support the United Kingdom?
Cher Bonfis
via email

ANENT Liz Lochhead’s poem “Ashet” (The National, April 3). In her airt, it seems, a sair heid is jist a sair heid bit a sair haun is a piece. In Elgin, a sair haun is jist a sair haun, bit a sair heidie IS a piece, a wee roon sponge cake wearin’ its paper collar in the style o’ Rab C Nesbitt.
Ken Gow