I WAS struck by Mark Smith’s comment that it would be “impossible” for the Prime Minister to say no to an independence referendum should the SNP win the 2021 election on the basis of holding such a vote ("Why the polls aren't as good as the polls think they are", The Herald, October 8).

The SNP and indeed the Scottish Parliament already have a mandate to hold a referendum, and Prime Minister May has still said no. Indeed, Ruth Davidson has ruled out holding such a vote until 2027.

In its manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election the SNP said that it would consider holding a second independence referendum if there was a material change of circumstances, such as the UK leaving the EU. With the Scottish Greens there was a pro-independence majority following this election. As we know, following after this the UK voted to leave the EU, with Scotland voting to remain.

In March 2017 the call for a second referendum on independence for Scotland was formally backed by the Scottish Parliament by 69 votes to 59 votes.

In the Westminster elections in June 2017 the SNP pledged the holding of a second independence referendum. It won that election, securing 35 out of 59 MPs – more MPs than all the other parties combined.

In all these situations the Westminster Government of Ms May has consistently blocked the holding of an independence referendum.

Given this, Mr Smith’s assertion that Westminster will somehow change its mind should the SNP win the next Scottish Parliament elections in 2021, making it “impossible” for Ms May to resist another vote, is more than a little suspect.

Alex Orr,

Flat 3, 2 Marchmont Road, Edinburgh.

AT a time when, in just over five months, the UK is facing the unknown shambles of separation from the EU, contrary to the declared will of the Scottish electorate, it is surely preposterous of Martin Redfern (Letters, October 10) to refer to the SNP as separatists and accuse it of being undemocratic. He fails to recognise that the SNP has won two UK General Elections in succession but Scotland still continues to be governed by a Westminster Government opposed by the majority of her people. He argues that the only goal of our elected representatives is independence at any cost. That is not so. The ambition of every member of the SNP is self-determination for Scotland in order that we, the people of Scotland, can make our own decisions to achieve a decent society without being prey to the imperial nostalgia and sheer greed of the ruling elite in the UK Parliament.

He attacks the various proposals for more direct action as "entirely illegitimate". They are not. They are simply the use of Westminster's archaic conventions or recourse to basic international law. Time and again the courts have found the British Government to be acting in defiance of the law. I do not recall any such decision affecting any Scottish government. Perhaps Mr Redfern may reconsider his intemperate arguments. I do not, for a moment, think I will persuade him but perhaps other readers may pause to consider the democratic course those of us who believe in self-government have consistently followed and compare it to the type of campaign waged by those who adhere to the imagined glories of the British state.

KM Campbell,

Bank House, Doune.

ONCE again we hear Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon brag about how Scotland welcomes immigrants. Pity she never acts on her promises.

Moreover, I wonder how many Scottish citizens know their population at the outbreak of the Second World War? The official total was marginally in excess of five million. Today is is under 5.5m. Therefore, in almost 80 years the population of your country has grown by just 500,000. Whilst in England ours has soared by three million in just over a decade – indeed, many believe the Westminster governments of all persuasion (coalition included) have fiddled the figures and the true total is much closer to six million. That is why we, south of the border, voted to leave. Furthermore, if there were a second referendum, we would absolutely trounce the the anti-Brexit vote.

However, as a true democrat, I believe Scotland should be afforded a second referendum, first, because the initial one did not take into account the later successful (in my view) Brexit vote. Secondly, because it would flush out and actually end the political career of the arrogant Ms Sturgeon, for the reasons below.

She is well aware that the poor EU financial situation will dictate that Brussels will not allow another non-contributing country into its ranks – whatever she boasts.

No country is permitted to join the EU with debt above three per cent of its GDP – Scotland's is currently nine per cent. North Sea oil is fast depleting, so cannot provide the income it once did; and dDo not forget there'll be no Barnett formula payments from Westminster going into Holyrood coffers.

Therefore, when all is said and done, the Scots will decide to remain with the UK,whatever the current polls say. Why? Because as the best football manager the world has seen, Scottish Sir Alex Ferguson, often used to say, "it's squeaky-bum time" when the pressure is on. And a lot of bravado will disappear when voters get into those voting cubicles.

Jim Sokol (son of a Czech national),

Woodpeckers, Porlock Road, Woodcombe, Minehead, Somerset.

A MINOR correction to Peter Russell’s letter (October 10). He claims that I misrepresented him, by suggesting, as he puts it, “that the Labour Party advocates membership of the EEA and of EFTA”. In fact I said no such thing. I did say, “One might think from Mr Russell’s letter that the Labour Party has been arguing for EEA membership since June 2016”. Moreover, immediately above this in the unedited version of my letter, I typified Labour’s policy since June 2016 as “in out, in out, shake it all about”. Given his own reference this morning to a lack of leadership and clarity in his party, it might be that, however accidentally, Mr Russell and I might agree that at least.

Alasdair Galloway,

14 Silverton Avenue, Dumbarton.

NICOLA Sturgeon is desperate to remain in Europe, but is also desperate to leave the UK. Where is the logic?

Alan Dickson,

26 Newtonlea Avenue, Newton Mearns.