LAST week I got a letter from Messrs Yousaf and Flynn seeking financial support for the SNP’s Westminster campaign. It says the manifesto will state that “a vote for the SNP is a vote for Scotland to become an independent country”, as in their resolution which delegates passed almost unanimously at last October’s national conference, and exactly the same words as used by depute leader Brown in an email to party members at the end of January. Under the SNP constitution, the manifesto will be produced by the leader and the depute.

But it is a false prospectus. Scotland becoming an independent country is the very option the manifesto will not offer to voters, and using that phraseology is the same trick Yousaf played on members at the Dundee convention last summer, when he bowled the audience over with it, but immediately after the show told the press that the only way to independence is by a referendum and the only way to get a referendum is by pressing London to permit it.

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That is the policy which the party adopted in Aberdeen. An SNP win at Westminster (the majority of Scottish seats, according to Yousaf) will be taken as a mandate to do no more than negotiate independence with London and demand from it the power for Holyrood to hold an independence referendum. The dogs in the street know that London will not oblige.

So official SNP policy, designed by Yousaf and Flynn, will use an SNP victory at Westminster merely to confirm what they obviously see as Scotland’s subservient status as a mere supplicant.

Weirdly, the outrageous notion that Scotland cannot leave the Union at its own hand comes only from the SNP and other parts of the independence movement. It does not come from London, and it has no foundation whatsoever in UK law or constitution. If Yousaf and his team believe it has, it is for them to justify themselves by explaining, directly and explicitly, precisely what the barrier is. They have never done so.

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Scotland’s supreme representatives to the Union are its MPs, who may by their own majority vacate Westminster and take Scotland out. All they require is a direct democratic mandate, by more than 50% of votes, from the people of Scotland. Such a mandate can be sought in any General Election, which can be made into a proper plebiscite on independence by the appropriate manifesto. For a long time, polling has been at 50/50,

so victory would not exactly be out of the question. And it is only after such victory, when Scotland’s own resumption of its ancient independent status is certain, that London will come to the table, to negotiate the details of independence.

Current SNP election policy is entirely misconceived, and may well cripple the party by not attracting enough indy supporters to turn out and vote for it. And if the SNP were to lose their majority of Scottish seats, the independence movement would be impotent for years. Must we endure the unendurable? The suicidal strategy should be ditched immediately, and a manifesto produced to turn the General Election into a true plebiscite. What are you waiting for, Mr Yousaf?

Alan Crocket

AMID the latest reports about the murder of a six-year-old girl in Gaza city, who was found dead with her relatives and two paramedics who tried to save her, the Israeli government continues to carry out their genocidal ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, aided and abetted by weaponry supplied by the USA and UK amongst others.

Civilians waving white flags have been murdered without pity, hospitals bombed arbitrarily, women and children queuing for humanitarian aid have been attacked and machine-gunned and as I write on Saturday, almost 300 Palestinians murdered or seriously wounded in the last twenty 24 since the Israeli executive rejected Hamas’s request for a pause in the offensive.

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The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is utterly remorseless and ambivalent to human rights, international opinion or even countries allied to Israel. Half of Gaza’s population are currently sheltering in Rafa with nowhere to escape to yet this unspeakable brute has ordered the Israel Defence Forces to evacuate civilians by force from this area, a decision human rights groups have branded catastrophic.

Let’s be clear: Netanyahu and his neo-fascist allies in government are set on the total annihilation of the Palestinian people and the two main political parties in the UK are complicit in this criminal mass slaughter if they support this extremist government and simply parrot the “Israel has a right to defend itself” mantra. The appalling atrocities carried out by Hamas cannot be forgotten but Israeli action now constitutes flagrant crimes against humanity that would be roundly condemned if perpetrated by any other government on earth.

The desperate citizens of Gaza are now grinding animal feed into flour to survive as the UN warns that malnutrition rates amongst children are rising exponentially.

READ MORE: David Pratt: No ‘sanctuary’ as Rafah braces for onslaught

Yet the UK media largely opt to ignore the sufferings of the Palestinian people just as the press, including those in Scotland, did during the Irish famine of the mid-19th century. Their dispassionate indifference to human privation is sadly unsurprising but nonetheless greatly disturbing.

History will judge Netanyahu in the same breath as Pol Pot, Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. All extinguished life without mercy. All were sadistic narcissists. In Netanyahu’s case, the leaders of the so-called free world, Biden, Sunak and Scholz, undeniably have blood on their hands and continue to supply the IDF with the means to kill with unequivocal support for mass murder as the world watches on. A dystopian universe indeed.

Owen Kelly