THE dust is settling, after the May council elections, but that looks like a dust storm on the June horizon! If I am to believe the Unionist media, there’s been a blue surge. No, really. By winning 276 out of 1227 seats, the Tory party has just 22.5 per cent of votes. Equally, I’ve been told by the same biased media that the SNP “lost” Glasgow. No really!

SNP are first party overall in Glasgow and first party in each and every ward there. By my reckoning then, and across Scotland as a whole, if Ruth Davidson did make the local elections about not having a second referendum, she didn’t make it, did she?

In 2015, 2016 and May 2017 Scotland continued to vote in a majority that is SNP.

So looking to the coming weeks, I fear the dust storm of untruths and manipulated stats.

The SNP is now treading that very difficult road of governing, opposing and being lead political party on independence, all at the same time, here and in Westminster. No-one in their right mind would say they’ve got it all right in their governing record. But pay regard to weak and faltering opposition at Holyrood and their role. Supporting the likes of the rape clause, furthering austerity, penalising the poor and depriving those with disability through “cuts” from Westminster is not holding a government to account. It’s using shouty words in a hectoring manner while trying and failing to sympathise with sad faces, wringing of hands, and placing all ills at the feet of SNP Bad.

But is that the type of Union we want, unequal and forged in the right-wing ideology of the Tory Party? If we believe our future is predicated on independence, we have to ask others, the Nos, the doubters, the maybes: what will make Scotland a better place? What needs to change?

If we ask those questions, if we can show how a vote for independence will enable us to make change and improvements, then we are further down the road to independence.

We know that Labour bled in the local elections and got mopped up by the Tories in the main, so we know that there hasn’t been a surge for Tory, just a falling off elsewhere, probably coupled with tactical voting. So, let’s not label people by their parties. Let’s explore people’s aspirations and hope, the potential for change and that way we can get others to change.

If we don’t try, if we don’t hold our Westminster base of pro-indy MPs, then it’s not just a dust storm coming our way. It’s a Tory government ill-prepared for Brexit, happy to play any card in its hand, that will include our agriculture and fisheries industry, the diminishing of rights, and the further ignominy of being ruled even longer by a minority party, from a building outside our own country.
Selma Rahman

IN February, Theresa May and Ruth Davidson urged Scottish voters to vote Conservative in the council elections and send a message to Nicola Sturgeon, saying “No to a second independence referendum”.

The SNP, however, still won the council elections, with more votes and more seats. It finished as comfortably the largest party, boasting 431 councillors, despite the Conservatives making gains to finish on 276. Despite the Tory strategy of making the council election a referendum on a referendum, they did not win and are indeed well behind the SNP.

The General Election is being fought by the Tories using this same strategy. However, it is anticipated the SNP will still finish as the largest party in Scotland.

If this transpires, one hopes Ms May will do the honourable thing and meet with Ms Sturgeon as soon after June 8 as possible and make arrangements for the holding of the referendum.
Alex Orr


Ferguslie Park did not elect a Tory councillor

THE media claims that Ferguslie Park has elected a Conservative councillor are nothing short of lazy and ill-informed journalism. As the council election results started to get announced on Friday, there seemed to be an inordinate surprise that a Tory was elected in Renfrewshire’s Ward 4, Paisley Northwest. Journalists who probably couldn’t find Paisley, let alone Ferguslie, on a map started to issue stories such as “Ferguslie elects a Tory councillor”.

However, as is so often the case – particularly with the mainstream media in Scotland – this was just another example of fake news. There is no Ferguslie council ward. There hasn’t been one since before the multi-member wards were introduced in 2007. You would have thought journalists covering local council elections would have been aware of this simple fact.

Paisley Northwest is the largest council ward in Paisley and covers a wide area ranging from the Bascule Bridge in Renfrew to Paisley town centre. There is a wide range of diverse communities within this ward including Ferguslie, the west end of Paisley, Shortroods, Gockston, Millarston, Castlehead and Oakshaw.

Castlehead and Oakshaw, in particular, include some of the most affluent, and expensive housing in Renfrewshire, never mind Paisley.

The voting pattern within this ward since 2007 has always included a significant Tory vote – although admittedly it did suffer, along with that of the LibDems, in the 2012 council election. Those of us who campaign regularly in this area were well aware of the potential of a Tory councillor being elected.

The key issue in Paisley Northwest’s results was the SNP being the clear winner in this ward. Both SNP candidates were elected early on, in stages one and two of the count. It took until stage eight before Labour could gather enough votes to get one candidate elected and it was not until stage 10 before the Tory candidate eventually beat the other Labour candidate. The SNP took 43 per cent of all first preference votes compared to only 27 per cent for Labour and a paltry 13 per cent for the Tories.
Councillor Kenny MacLaren
Ward 4: Paisley Northwest

IT is great to see such a centre page in The National as that by Alan Riach on the Middle Scots poetry of Gavin Douglas (Passion and ordered energy, May 5), particularly when it is backed up every week by the prose of Rab Wilson, also a Scots poet and therefore committed to refinement of the language.

It is recognised how much Scots – once a rich and individual tongue with its own dialects, grammar, spelling and vocabulary – has been reduced by Scotland’s loss of its own Crown and Parliament.

Fortunately the language has been thoroughly documented in dictionaries, many of which are contemporary and record the modern usages found in the active local dialects. These, along with Middle Scots, extend the opportunities and range of the tongue and should not be avoided by writers on the grounds of difficulty but used to the full. For example, a familiarity with Gavin Douglas’s usages would make his poetry more accessible.

Reference books help with all sorts of problems. In Rab Wilson’s last piece the headline was “Sun shines a licht oan the wark o great Makar” using the spellings “oan” and “o” which have the same vowel sound but here unnecessarily different spellings. As dictionaries mostly give the spelling “on” and using Gavin Douglas as a source, it might have been: “Sin scheins a licht on the wark o a Gryte Scotch Makar”. In fairness, Alan Riach fails to translate “jaw” as “a wave”. This Middle Scots word survives in urban Scots where the kitchen-sink was the “jaw-box”.

Iain WD Forde and Susan Forde

I WRITE to thank Brian Davis (Letters, May 5) for reminding readers that Carer’s Allowance (roughly £60 per week) must cease immediately when a state pension is claimed. It happened to me as well.

Although the pension is much more, that £60 could also make a real difference. As we have bedroom taxes, refusal to triple-lock pensions, PIP (where the severely disabled must “prove” they can’t work) and challenges to our bus pass and free prescriptions, may I ask all readers to help protect us pensioners? Many of us feel under threat.
Tom Bryan