I READ with utter incredulity Sunday’s piece by Tommy Sheppard (If the SNP lose this election, independence is off the table. Vote wisely...).

It appears to have escaped Mr Sheppard’s notice that since 2015 the SNP have received multiple mandates from the Scottish electorate in both Holyrood and Westminster elections. In these almost ten years there has been little evidence from the SNP that independence has been “on the table” – and indeed in one notorious Westminster election Ms Sturgeon went out of her way to state that it “was not about independence”.

READ MORE: Tommy Sheppard: Scottish independence is off table if SNP lose vote

Mr Sheppard himself, in a notorious speech to the British Parliament, grovelled that we “are not here to cause trouble” but that the SNP group would be good little parliamentarians. If the SNP are not there to cause trouble, the what the hell are they there for?

I will be doing my best to “vote wisely” in the next election. That will entail voting for a party that is unconditionally committed to Scottish independence, whether that be Alba or the Independence for Scotland Party.

In the absence of such a party standing in my constituency, I will for the first time in my 70 years spoil my ballot. I will not, under any circumstances, vote to maintain Mr Sheppard or any of his colleagues in their comfortable sinecures in Westminster – an arena from which there is strong case to withdraw all Scottish representation.

The SNP (of which I was a member for 36 years) need a period of cleansing – from which they may or may not recover. The cause of Scottish independence – with or without the SNP – shall never die.

Dr John O’Dowd

AT its annual conference three months ago, the SNP adopted its new leader’s proposal that if the SNP win the majority of Scottish seats at the General Election, “the Scottish Government is empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country”.

Assume the SNP does win the majority of seats (perhaps a foolish assumption, given recent polls). That could be done on 45% of vote, and with its diminishing support the party may win even less than that. Such a return would fully entitle London to tell Edinburgh to get lost because it would not show a democratic majority for independence. The result would not have met the democratic imperative and could not possibly be regarded as having overturned the 2014 result. As such, not only would it be dismissed by London, but it would not be accepted by Scotland itself as a democratic choice of independence.

READ MORE: Unionist call for General Election to be used to ‘end devolution’

A greater danger, which cannot be ignored, is that the SNP fails to win even the majority of seats.

In that case, independence is off the shelf, no matter what happens at the subsequent Holyrood election. A country that failed to elect a majority of indy MPs to the Union parliament would be unable to threaten London with independence at its own hand, so London could put its “get lost” message on endless replay.

It is clear that by placing reliance on London to enter negotiations on a hopelessly insipid foundation, the only place the SNP’s current manifesto policy will take independence is up the garden path. It is beyond comprehension how this was adopted by conference delegates, three-quarters of whom had at that very conference indicated in a straw poll that they “truly believe that Scotland can be an independent nation state without the consent of the UK Government”.

READ MORE: Could Reform UK cause extinction of Scottish Tories?

Given that polled support for independence, at around 50%, is consistently much higher than for the SNP, the party is about to shoot itself in the foot with the falseness of the “independence” label on its manifesto. It will be a gift to the Unionists, whose equally false script will be that it was indeed an independence election, and that it did indeed show that most Scots don’t want it.

So wake up, Yousaf, before it’s too late, and get your party on course. The only manifesto that counts is one that says: Vote SNP and Scotland WILL go independent.

Ian Roberts

THANK you for the professional and compassionate reporting of the sad death of Derek Draper (Tributes paid as former lobbyist Draper dies, January 6).

He was an important part of what most of us – apart from Blair’s unwarranted intervention in Middle East conflict at the behest of the US – could view as a substantially successful Labour Party’s tenure in UK government.

For three years we’ve lived with the agony his family endured as the effects of Covid-19 assaulted him and caused great suffering, all borne with humility and hope.

And how did the BBC report this sad event? Their report stated unequivocally that Draper was “caught setting up a website to peddle false rumours about Conservative MPs”.

Just how far down the abyss of biased political reporting, that can even spread its tentacles to the sadness of personal human loss, are we going to allow this allegedly public broadcasting service to descend to?

How long are we prepared to allow them to nakedly support this establishment Tory government’s mantra?

How long are we prepared to pay our licence fees to be abused with partisan Tory propaganda attempting to protect the party’s “values” we’ve long known are despicable, socially divisive and impoverishing of all excluded from the Tory club?

The BBC has shown itself to be unfit for impartial and objective reporting. It’s now time to break it up and the licence fee scrapped.

Neither bereaved families like those of Derek Draper nor we citizens need it any longer.

Jim Taylor