WHAT would I like to hear from Nicola Sturgeon at SNP Conference which starts on Sunday, is an unambiguous guarantee the people of Scotland will be given a voice at the end of the negotiations for leaving the European Union.

As things stand, it looks as if there will be no coming together of minds between the EU and UK minister, so we will simply be kicked out in 2019, what happens next is unclear. At this point, Scotland’s voice must be heard in a referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon has proved herself to be a capable company director. Her administration of the Scottish Government is commendable, alas, she is no Alex Salmon. Oor Eck did his apprenticeship in the bruising cockpit of Westminster, so he knew how to fight by their rules and he was not afraid to take them on. Nicola is a different kind of politician. She believes more in compromise and because of that sometimes comes across as indecisive.

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If the SNP at their conference do not come out in favor of a referendum on independence at the end of the negotiation period then the SNP members will march off in droves and the SNP will rank somewhere between the LibDems and the Spotted Owl Society.

But “May will say now is not the time” I hear you cry. At that stage the gloves must come off. If an intransigent Westminster continues to say “No” then SNP MPs should resign en masse, forcing by-elections across the country. The only manifesto commitment by the SNP at that time should be “A vote for the SNP is a vote for independence... Are you for or against us?”
Walter Hamilton
St Andrews

HAVING lived in Fintry for more than 50 years I enjoyed Rab Wilson’s article, Tom Johnston: He’s a firgotten Scots hero! (The National, October 5). Johnston was the founder and Chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board which had the goal of bringing electric power to the Highlands.

During this period he was an MP and lived at the east end of Fintry and that is why the village, which in no way can be considered part of the Highlands, was incorporated into the Hydro Board area.

Another piece of the Scottish jigsaw was his book Our Scots Noble Families which, at that time, was not popular among the ruling class.

All I can say is, Tom Johnston is not a forgotten Scots hero as his legacy is enduring.
Thomas L Inglis

NORTH Ayrshire Council has announced its call for Care Experienced people to be exempt from Council Tax. We welcome this as another step forward in helping those who leave care.

While this is an excellent example of Corporate Parents owning their responsibilities, it fixes only one symptom of a much larger issue.

The average age of leaving care is 16 to 18, according to the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland, but the law says young people have the right to remain in care until they are 21. It’s quite clear that there is a gap in provision. This contrasts with those leaving the traditional family home who tend to do so at 25 and beyond. A question remains as to why young people are then leaving what they feel is a secure and stable environment. Our members feel like they live in a system that takes care of everything for them as a means of managing risk. A system which doesn’t reflect the process of growing up in a traditional family home. This can leave them exposed in a world where the rug is pulled out from under them. They’ve left a system which in seeking to stop things happening to them, hasn’t been able to make enough things happen for them.

This means people are being left with no guidance, no fall-back and with nobody to turn to with life’s challenges. Our members tell us that this leads to them feeling isolated and it’s no surprise that 45 per cent of children in care are assessed as having mental health issues.

The current Independent Review of care in Scotland has the capacity to make a radical change to how people are cared for. We hope that, whilst moves like this are welcomed and North Ayrshire Council is to be commended, we can be bolder still in our ambitions. A way of caring for young people that is based not only on protection but on love.
Duncan Dunlop
CEO of Who Cares? Scotlan