I AM not a nationalist but I support independence and therefore vote SNP. Why?

Scotland has an estimated nominal gross domestic product of £152 billion and in 2014 its per capita GDP was one of the highest in the EU. Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom, the seventh richest nation on earth. Yesterday, the Trussell Trust announced that they had distributed food parcels from its food banks in Scotland in the last calendar year equivalent to feeding the entire population of Dundee – Scotland’s fourth largest city with a population (in 2015) of 148,210 – for three days. At a UK level, the Trust handed out 1.2 million emergency three-day food packages  and saw a 40 per cent increase in people needing their services.

Significantly, almost half those requiring to use food banks because of food poverty and hunger are in work. That is the reality of life in the UK under the Tories – not only under the Tories, but rather under the whole Westminster system. The Westminster institution houses a collection of people many of whom have no shame, no dignity, and no self-respect and, most importantly, they are devoid of any spectre of decency.

If the polls are accurate, the Tories responsible for this appalling state of affairs are the people that the majority of the British electorate are freely and willingly going to vote for.  What never seems to occur to the British people, particularly Unionists, is that none of this is either inevitable or necessary. Inequality in this country is staggering and has gone beyond obscene. That food banks exist is testimony to Westminster’s denial of their democratic first principle – the health and well-being of all UK citizens. If people are going hungry then that is an emergency, if they are continually hungry as a result of deliberate government policy then that is a crime.

The Scottish Parliament has just held a debate on the Tories rape clause. This is one of the most hideous policies imaginable and is a low that even I never thought the Tories could sink to. It was vigorously defended by the Scottish Tories and Ruth Davidson who refused to condemn it and stoutly supported it, knowing it will not cost them one vote amongst the brain-dead who vote Tory without a shred of compassion or charity.

From my perspective we must make a complete break with Westminster. Britain has become a dark place where people in work are consigned to supplementing their income with free food from charities whilst those with no income are left to starve unless a charity keeps them alive.

The Tories will probably win the coming election comfortably and then Theresa May will be free to unleash the mayhem she is desperate to inflict on this sorry nation. If that is how this nation votes then they must be wanting the carnage that awaits them. It will be of their own making. The Scots have an alternative if they have the sense to take it.

Peter Kerr, Kilmarnock

DESPERATION appears to be overcoming reason within Unionist ranks as they contemplate the possible outcome of the General Election in Scotland.

In England the “strong and capable” (copyright T May ) Conservative leader recites this “strong and capable” mantra ad nauseam in the hope that substituting “strong and capable” for actual policies will fool the electorate and give her a mandate to be “strong and capable” in her doomed negotiations with the EU.

Unfortunately, in Scotland “strong and capable” has not been a term one would associate with any Unionist politician in recent years, and with Ruth Davidson in command of the Unionist ranks, “self-serving and uncaring” would be more apt.

James Mills, Johnstone

THE Greens seem to be acknowledging that the advice to give the second Holyrood vote to an independence-friendly party other than the SNP was probably the reason for the SNP losing its overall majority, so some authoritative advice on voting in the council elections might not go amiss.

In particular, I had intended voting for the SNP candidates only, and putting nothing against others. However, I now understand that it is best to vote SNP first, then other independence-friendly candidates next, then Independents that are known not to be Tories-in-disguise, then other Unionists and, finally, Tory candidates. This is, I understand, more productive than not voting for Tories at all. Perhaps a real expert can comment.

Jim Clark, Scone

NO ONE should be surprised at the recent indication from Theresa May of the possible abolition of the triple lock which ensures pensioner income does not fall further behind that of the general population. It was heralded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer who slipped quietly into the closing moments of the Autumn Budget an undertaking to maintain the safeguard for the life of the present Parliament, but warned of the intention to deal with the “longevity problem” and fiscal matters in the next.

What has changed is the present Parliament is effectively no more and the next is now upon us, offering the Tory government, if re-elected, an excellent opportunity to bring forward yet another blow aimed at the less well off whilst not actually going back on a commitment.

It is, of course, inconsiderate of we pensioners to live so long but the answer, as always, lies in our hands... at the ballot box both for this General Election and any future referendum.

Dot Jessiman, Turriff, Aberdeenshire

I WAS saddened but not surprised to read of the scallop dredging in Loch Carron. The perpetrators are, however, unlikely to be caught as the Scottish Government only pays lip-service to marine conservation. Only last week I heard that Fergus Ewing has agreed a “pilot” razor-fish dredging in the Firth of Clyde.

Anyone who has a knowledge of the former mixed fishery of the west coast, including the Clyde, knows that when Margaret Thatcher removed the three-mile “no trawl” limit around our coast she effectively permitted the destruction of inshore breeding grounds that sustained cod and haddock reserves.

Since devolution, and the passing of control of the inshore fishing grounds out to 12 miles to the Scottish Government, they have failed to re-instate the no-trawl area.

As you state in your article (Fragile shell reef devastated, The National April 25) a Scottish Government’s report of two years ago states: “The use of trawls and dredges in these inshore waters caused damage that was totally disproportionate to the profits for the few.”

So why has the three-mile limit around the entire Scottish coast, not been reinstated? Don’t they believe in actioning the recommendations in their own report!?

John Scobie, Edinburgh

THE Conservative and Unionist Party evolved in the 1830s out of the “Tories”. Their view of the Union and of Scotland has not changed since and the dogma that produced the poll tax, bedroom tax, rape clause, food banks amid sympathetic tax treatment for high earners come readily to mind.

Their principles are dictated by the dogma that you cannot lose what you do not have. If any group does not give its support, why bother about them? Is it really surprising, then, Scots wish to end their state of supplication?

Let us recall the part played by Scots in establishing the American constitution, and the influence on the Founding Fathers of the Declaration of Arbroath. Even Mrs Thatcher recognised that Scots, “as a nation ... have an undoubted right to national self-determination,” but she also insisted that “the Scots cannot... insist upon their own terms for membership of the Union”.

This latter has, of course, never been advocated.

That Scotland has not fared well, especially since 1945, as one of the “family of nations”, is plain to see. The probable future Tory government of the UK will regard the mere mention of an independent Scotland as heresy.

John Hamilton, Bearsden