AS her contribution to Holyrood’s IndyRef debate, Kezia Dugdale, possibly in an attempt to shore up her ever-dwindling faithful, stated that her party would “campaign with everything they have to oppose independence”.

She also assured us the Union is not “unjust or unfair”.

This ludicrous myopia glosses over the inconvenient truth that during the Brexit farce the opinions of Holyrood have been ignored, re-enforcing my belief that, like all implacable Unionists, Kezia innately “knows her place”.

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However, I almost boaked at her faux “hate” and “anger” directed at her Tory anti-independence allies, given that in 2014 Yes voters had a vision of a fairer, progressive Scotland but then, as now, the Kezias of this world told us they would rather have Tory rule forever than independence.

I also recall the aftermath of the 2012 council elections, when all over Scotland, minority Labour councils scrambled to form coalitions and power sharing alliances with Tories, in order to retain power.

Presumably, Kezia would consider those particular Tories somehow less hateful?

Malcolm Cordell, Dundee

AS a life-long supporter of Scottish independence, I fully support the First Minister’s intention to obtain parliamentary support for a Section 30 request regarding a second referendum, and I have been disgusted by the opposition parties’ inchoate response to that which utterly fails to distinguish between the principle of another referendum, and an honestly held view on the outcome of such an event.

However, given recent events in London, Nicola Sturgeon should after obtaining the approval of the Scottish Parliament voluntarily suspend the request for a period of time.

This would allow the UK Government to demonstrate genuine commitment in allowing Scottish and other devolved administrations direct involvement in Brexit negotiations, forensic examinations of the economic and social case for Brexit – to the same degree as is asked of our independence case, and allow this to happen without false accusations that our own constitutional question is weakening the UK position.

This process, with precisely defined criteria of time and real proof that we are directly involved in negotiations, will then give unequivocal evidence of whether or not the UK Government is serious about listening to Scotland.

If it is demonstrated that this is not the case, Nicola Sturgeon would be able to request a second referendum without impediment as being the only reasonable course of action.

David Graham Address supplied

EACH reader of this column will likely contribute £500 towards the deliberate killing of others this year.

On March 24th the Taxes for Peace Bill is due to be debated in Parliament. This Bill would allow anyone who considers themselves a conscientious objector to war to redirect the military portion of their taxes towards non-violent means of ensuring national security.

Unfortunately, due to parliamentary pressure, the Bill is unlikely to receive the debate it deserves.

We need to have a national conversation about our financial complicity in state violence.

After all, we get the world we pay for – so let’s pay for peace, justice and security for all UK citizens – without resorting to violence.

Paul Cruickshank, Peterhead

I READ with interest about plans to create a scenic route around the south-west of Scotland (Drive to create south-west version of popular North Coast 500 route, The National, March 23).

South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper is spearheading the idea which is intended to boost tourism and help the economy of the area.

It all sounds great but I would issue a couple of health warnings to go with the idea.

One is that while such routes can grip the imagination, it might be difficult to really sell two such routes in one country. Everyone knows Route 66, the USA’s most iconic route, but have you heard of any other driving or travelling routes in the States?

The other obvious caveat is that while it has brought benefits the NC500 is documented as not being universally popular with those who do not work in the hospitality industry.

Giant campervans and small roads are not an ideal mixture when you have to get to work at a hospital or fish farm.

Why not think of another tourism initiative? The south-west already attracts lots of extra tourists with the dark skies of the Galloway Forest Park.

John Macanenay, Glasgow

IT was a terrible sight to see knives and guns employed outside Westminster and people mown down on Westminster Bridge.

I am sure many will be grieving for those families who lost their loved ones or received news about those in hospital with life-threatening injuries. We must be grateful to the police officers who acted with speed and courage to minimise the carnage.

There will be parliamentary discussion about the nature of terrorism and the need for even more effective security.

For me these terrible incidents raise basic issues. How did we arrive at this? What brought it about?

Is there anything we can do to minimise the threat of such attacks?

These are not simple or straight-forward issues and there are no facile solutions.

I believe that much of this relates to the kind of country we want the UK to be. It raises basic questions. How are we seen in the world? Who are our friends and allies? What does it mean to be one of the world’s leading arms manufacturers?

In my mind the origins of the hatred that has spawned the current attack are in UK’s role in the setting up of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinian people (and I recognise the need for a post war peaceful Jewish homeland).

Further to that was the illegal war in Iraq which challenged United Nations and the peace-keepers. Those with longer memories of UK behaviour might recall the 1916 Easter Rising reprisals, Jallianwallabagh (the Amritsar Massacre) 1919, Suez, Korea, Prime Minister Thatcher’s support for apartheid and so on.

Like Yeats, I would like to live in a country ‘where peace comes dropping slow’ – where all communities, cultures and religions are valued, included and respected.

I am not sure if the UK with its history and current political leadership can provide this.

Maggie Chetty, Glasgow

I READ in the London Review of Books that the new ultra-high-tech Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter bomber is now in service in Israel. It appears that they have undertaken to buy fifty of what is proudly described as “the most expensive weapon ever built”.

That little batch comes in at a mere $7 billion. Yes, I said billions. Well, a pilot’s helmet costs 400,000 dollars!

What interested me however is the statement that the British Government apparently contributed about two billion dollars to the aircraft’s development costs and has agreed to buy 138 of these machines.

At the going rate I reckon that will cost 20 billion dollars, to be paid of course in pounds sterling that are depreciating steadily, quite a lot for a country already in debt to the tune of 1.7 thousand billion pounds.

It’s also worth noting that in the benighted GERS accounts Scotland will be charged roughly nine percent of the costs of these new F-35s. For the UK the cost is offset by having some sub-contracted parts manufactured in places like BAE in Lancashire and using aluminium sheeting from Milton Keynes. Scotland however has no such benefit from our share and of course none of the associated multiplier effect from wages and other expenditure recycled into local economies. Just another of the benefits of the Union, whether we want it or not.

Peter Craigie, Edinburgh

IT was revealing in the small sentence in your story (Michel Barnier warns of ‘serious consequences’ if the UK fails to reach a Brexit deal with the EU, The National, March 23) that there would be “transparency ” during the Brexit withdrawal negotiations followed by the end-on discussions regarding any future trade deal et al. Assuming, of course, that No 10 has not caved in to the diehards and left without any “deal” whatsoever.

This is to be welcomed from Barnier. It informs us that the RU will give “running commentaries” on proceedings which no doubt will be picked up in the continental, English and Scottish media. It will be interesting to find out what “plan”, if any, No 10 is actually pursuing. May indicated early on that there would be no “running commentary” at all so as not to reveal our hand. Since No 10 is yet to invoke Article 50, let alone outline any “plan”, even admitting it has not even assessed the impact of any “no deal” and recourse to WTO rules, we are in for interesting times ahead.

One will be able to glean from the EU commentaries what No 10 is “aiming” for and it will inform Holyrood what is at stake so that the “right time” for the New Indyref can be gauged.

It is encouraging to find Barnier and the EU being forthright and open, communicative and engaging, which is the opposite of what Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have experienced from “subterranean” May and HMG to date.

John Edgar, Blackford

I AM 10 years old and I am growing up, and what I find annoying is that I can’t vote about my own future so I can’t decide myself what will happen.

Also I find it unfair that England basically decides that we or Northern Ireland or Wales have to ask if we can have a debate when we have our own parliament for our own country which is 100% unfair.

So if I could decide then I think this should happen: we have our own parliament and we can make our own decisions so we decide you have a test for younger people say eight or older if they are responsible enough then they can vote; if not they can’t vote. I would vote for FREEDOM!!!!!

Alisdair Ritchie, Dumfries