THE political strategy of the Tories in Scotland is now becoming quite clear.

They have understood that the Scottish people are moving steadily towards independence. Such fundamental political movements over time are usually quite slow, but this one is much faster than usual.

The Tories recognise that time is not on their side, so in a last-ditch effort to halt this movement they have decided to take the lead and organise the Unionist camp while this camp still has some substance.

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Turning the local elections into a referendum issue, which they claimed was in opposition to the SNP, was of course nothing of the sort and they clearly understood that. Their objective was to capture the leadership of the Unionist camp. Their attack was directed at Labour, which was a much softer target for them, and not at the SNP, which they knew they could not effectively damage.

The fact that the Labour leadership in Scotland did not see this coming and foolishly supported the Tory strategy was a great help to the Tories in achieving their objective so effectively. The Tories are now undoubtedly the clear leaders of the Unionists camp going into this General Election. Now if they can get the other Unionist parties to accept their lead, and co-operate with them to oppose the SNP, they might get enough support to win a few seats from the SNP.

That is clearly their plan. This is a pretty desperate plan and has a number of weak points. The first problem they have which has emerged from the local elections is that Ruth Davidson has scrapped the bottom of the barrel to get her Tory candidates.

We now know that many of them have very dodgy backgrounds and some with links to far-right organisations. This will blow up in their faces down the line. The Tories are also hoping to get disillusioned Labour, Liberal and Ukip supporters to vote for them against the SNP. That, however, is not at all certain.

Many Labour supporters may well react to the Tory embrace by turning in the other direction, and this would be a disaster for the Tories if any significant number of them did. But let us assume that their strategy wins, and that they manage to get the Unionist camp to work together under their leadership and capture a number of SNP Westminster seats, what then?

The SNP will still be the dominant party at Westminster, and in the Scottish Parliament and in Scottish local government. The Tories will claim that they stopped the SNP from having an independence referendum now; but of course the SNP don’t want a referendum now – they want to see the Brexit negotiations concluded before any referendum.

Taking the long view, as we must, to understand politics, by moving into the position of being the main Unionist party in Scotland the Tories have made the independence camp’s position much stronger. If in addition they delay the referendum a bit, that also may help the independence camp, who clearly have time on their side.

Andy Anderson
Dunoon

RUTH Davidson has declared that a referendum on Scottish independence should be deferred for a full generation, which she defines as 35 years, before we are allowed to change our minds.

Might I suggest, in view of her change of mind on both the risks of Brexit and prescription charges, that she and her party also pledge not to change their principles and promises, as stated in manifestos, for the same length of time?

That would surely prevent uncertainty and give us “strong and stable government”.

P Davidson
Falkirk

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How much does the demise of UK banks matter?

IT is puzzling that our media has failed to comment on the dramatic demise of the British-owned investment banks and brokerages that used to dominate the City of London.

Since the 1980s there has been a virtual wipe-out of long-established British city firms, with only Rothschilds avoiding takeover by US or European enterprises. Does it matter if Britain’s financial services industry, the largest part of the economy, is owned and controlled by foreign interests? Well, apparently not.

One long-term City watcher dismissed the situation airily by comparing it to international tennis. “We haven’t had a British tennis champion for decades,” he said, “but the world still wants to come to Wimbledon.”

This characteristic reaction was facile even before the UK embarked on its perilous voyage towards an unknown Brexit. Because of course it ignored the fact that foreign banks have game plans and business agendas that pay little heed to British interests.

You can be certain that to ensure minimum disruption to their client relationships in the Common Market they are coldly assessing alternative arrangements, such as relocating key staff and offices away from London.

Unfortunately, it seems the traditional British approach of “muddling through” is still at the heart of this government’s idea of planning. Endearingly amateurish it may be. But it is also deeply worrying.

Peter Craigie
Edinburgh

REGARDING yesterday's story Sturgeon: May is too feart to face televised debates,  (The National, May 15), the underlying problem goes much deeper than a few televised debates.
We are witnessing the actions of a weak Prime Minister fearful of losing control over the party.
In the face of a divided cabinet and rebellious Tory Party she has had to take time off to hold an election in the hope of gaining a majority large enough to nullify the dissidents in her own party, claiming that a larger Westminster majority will somehow give the UK an advantage over the EU during the Brexit negotiations. 
The UK is about to enter Brexit negotiations with a team under the leadership of Theresa May who appears reluctant to meet the public and incapable of taking part in television debates with other party leaders, all part and parcel of the modern political process.
Brexit is the most important and extensive set of negotiations to be held on the future of Europeans for many years, the outcome will affect millions of people for generations to come, yet the UK Government is showing more feeling about resuming fox hunting than exiting the EU. Brexit does not appear to be high on the manifestos of the Tory and Labour parties, who as always are busy slagging off each others domestic agendas. 
The only party that has set out how it would like to see the situation develop after Brexit is the SNP, who will definitely not be allowed near the negotiating table. Other than Brexit meaning leaving the EU, some kind of reciprocal agreement on the residential status of UK/EU citizens and looking at the common fishing policy we have no idea what the UK government aims to achieve during these negotiations.
The EU does not want to see its remaining members suffer as a result of the UK leaving but neither does it want to see the people of the UK suffer as a result of their decision to leave but must be wondering how that can be avoided with such a disorganised rabble on the opposite side of the negotiating table.
John Jamieson
South Queensferry

THE election campaign is geared to silence Scottish voices over the Brexit vote. Neither Tory or Labour has put any binding pledges forward as they are part of the devious Westminster club. 
G Peters
Paisley 

YOUR item today welcoming the proposed reduction in city speed limits to 20mph should be treated with caution (Majority agree 20’s plenty in the city, The National, May 15). A considerable number of vehicles have to drop down at least one gear in order to proceed at that speed. The engine will run at a higher speed and expel a larger volume of exhaust gases into the atmosphere.

George M Mitchell
Sheriffmuir, Dunblane