DOUGLAS Ross, MP for Moray; Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine; Stephen Kerr, MSP for Central Scotland; and Alexander Burnett, MSP for Aberdeenshire West must all be howling at the moon right now, having been left out in the cold by Rishi and Jeremy in the Budget.

They have been screaming from the top tenement windows, to any and all that would listen, that the oil and gas industry windfall tax was stopping development in the north-east.

READ MORE: Jeremy Hunt snubs Scottish Tory pleas with windfall tax extension in Budget

They were even pooh-poohing Labour’s plan to increase the windfall tax by a few points, saying that would cost thousands of jobs. Right enough, so were the industry experts, predicting 20,000 to 40,000 up to 100,000 in the full oil and gas industry (direct and supply chain).

Oh! But their coup de grace was delivered by Jeremy Hunt, who stated that the oil and gas windfall tax would be extended till 2029 rather than, as they had been pleading for, be rolled back.

It was interesting that neither Mr Ross nor Mr Bowie was available for a post-Budget interview, their place being filled by John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, not a known oil and gas production area. Mr Ross has an excuse; he has childcare issues.

The message is that not even Scottish Conservatives can influence Westminster governments.

Can it be any clearer?

Alistair Ballantyne

LAST week the Office of National Statistics published the 2023 UK statistics on trust in political parties. Only 12% said they trusted parties, the lowest since records began in 1983. I expect and hope that the figures would be rather better for a Scottish sample – but not by much.

This shouldn’t just be brushed aside. If we are to achieve such a fundamental change as independence, we need public trust. Voters need to believe that what is on offer is not just another scam. Sometimes short-term pain is worth accepting for the sake of long-term trust.

READ MORE: 'Deeply disappointed': Douglas Ross vows to rebel on windfall tax

It was so embarrassing watching one of our SNP MPs trying to justify opposing the oil company windfall tax that I had to press the off switch. I know how difficult the job of an elected member can be. I know the pressure in a tight election situation to appease the loudest voices, in this case the oil companies and their lobbyists creating public panic on jobs. But if you give up completely on integrity, don’t expect that there will be no cost.

The SNP gained credit, especially among younger voters and thoughtful older ones, for championing the action required for climate change. But many must now be thinking that this was only flimsy window dressing to be dropped when it stopped being expedient.

All the excuses will be trotted out but this will just reinforce voter cynicism. Our friends in the north have failed us.

Isobel Lindsay

IT’S hard to know where to start with Leah Gunn Barrett’s letter in Wednesday’s National, which could have been written by Vladimir Putin himself. Whilst Leah is entitled to her own opinions, as the saying goes she is not entitled to her own facts, and I am deeply disappointed that The National has published something so sympathetic to a murderous dictator such as Putin.

Russia was a signatory to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum which recognised Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence within its existing borders, in line with the principles of the earlier 1975 Helsinki Accords. This committed Russia, and the other signatories, to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of the signatories to the memorandum. They clearly have broken their word, and no amount of conspiracy theories espoused by Putin apologists regarding the motivations of the West can justify an invasion of a democratic and sovereign neighbour based on Putin’s Russian imperialist world view.

READ MORE: Angus Robertson cannot just change the SNP’s policy on nuclear weapons

I would have expected a supporter of independence for Scotland to have some understanding of the difficulties which can arise with a larger neighbour with a different perspective. Ukraine remains determined to be a free, democratic European state. The people of Ukraine continue to fight with great courage in circumstances beyond anything we in Scotland can imagine having to face in our own battle for independence, and are deserving of all our support.

Alan Davidson

JUST when we thought the sickening obscenities like the murder by the Israel forces of innocent men, women, children and babies, denial of food and water, destruction of hospitals and homes, sniping of innocents, desecration of the buried dead, annihilation of Palestinian cultural heritage and other horrors had reached its lowest level of depravity, we are now told of the further obscenity that the Israeli forces are taking selfies among the destruction.

On a TV channel recently we were informed that all the above was not being shown to the public in Israel. If was is happening is no collective punishment, ethnic cleansing and genocide, what in the name of god is!

Bobby Brennan