SNP backing away from independence

I can only endorse Jim Sillars' analysis (Opinion, 21 April) but I think he will wait in vain for the current SNP to ever return to fighting for independence.

Their desertion of their original raison d'tre has made them an irrelevance in Westminster elections because they have reduced the role of the party to one of selling itself to whichever of the Westminster parties is left with no option but to offer the smallest of crumbs, in order to remain in power.

I can think of no other self-styled nationalist party that has prostituted itself like the SNP has under the present leadership.

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I condemned the "hang by a Scottish rope" tactic when it was first introduced in 1987 and wrote in these columns some weeks ago that the party seemed to be hell bent on repeating the same mistake, with every likelihood it would have the same end result: a serious defeat at the polls.

In the debate between the party leaders in Scotland on Tuesday evening, the final question was directed at the SNP's representative Angus Robertson, when he was asked by a member of the audience: "If I vote for the SNP in this election, will I be voting for independence, because I am not sure I want that?"

He responded: "We will give you a referendum." He could not even say that the SNP stood for an independent Scotland, only that it stood for a referendum.

And this is the party that claims to want to inspire an entire nation to demand independence? In your dreams.


Heathcote Road


Jim Sillars (Opinion, 21 April) may glibly condemn the modern SNP approach as "managerialist" but he ignores some basic points.

Firstly, there are some long-term advantages for any party in showing to the public that it can run a government, albeit under a number of constraints in Holyrood.

Secondly, in Westminster it does appear that the tectonic plates are shifting. A hung (or "balanced", if you prefer) parliament with a strong Liberal Democrat and Nationalist influence may be forced to deliver something close to "fiscal autonomy" for Scotland, and stronger powers for Wales and Northern Ireland.

It will be a situation quite different from the 1970s, which have so soured Mr Sillars' view of things.

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We now have a credible degree of devolution; the expenses scandal and the Iraq war, in addition to Nick Clegg's impact in last week's television debate, have created a mood for change.

The test for the SNP in this election is whether it can credibly exploit it. There is nothing wrong with the gradualist approach to achieving independence or much more meaningful powers within the devolution settlement.

It not only shows that a party respects the instincts of the voters. It allows for progress through negotiation and compromise, rather than through cries for independence through slogans and soundbites.


Shiel Court


Your editorial (21 April) points out the underlying tone of xenophobia evident in the SNP manifesto.

Clearly, when things become tight, the fundamentally anti-English elements in the SNP – normally held in check by the pragmatists – get their head and resort to "London parties" remarks and such like when referring to their opponents.

From whatever nationalist source this line originated, Mr Salmond and his cohorts have adopted it with gusto, and again with this cheap shot they only demean themselves, their party and the political process north of the Border. It seems they cannot help themselves.


New Cut Rigg


The three main UK parties may have had some Scottish antecedence (editorial, 21 April) but the 21st century versions are firmly London-based and, like our devolved government, they rely on financial handouts from London HQ.

As no such entity as the Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservative or Scottish Liberal Democratic Party is registered with the Electoral Commission it is a deception to use that name on ballot papers.


Warrender Park Road


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I disagree with Michael Kelly's claim that "general elections are becoming increasingly difficult for the SNP" (Opinion, 20 April).

Before the advent of devolution it would have been highly unlikely for the SNP to win a Westminster seat in Edinburgh or Livingston, or to hold both Dundee seats, yet those are now strong possibilities for the Nats on 6 May.

Devolution's design was never intended to result in the SNP winning a Holyrood election, yet they did. It was certainly never meant to result in voters switching from Labour to SNP for Holyrood polls and happily staying there for Westminster elections.

That too now seems to be happening, slowly but surely.


Webster's Land

Grassmarket, Edinburgh