Time to take a wee break from the book. I’m hoping there may be something to report in the New Year. Let’s get back to the real business: the Scottish political scene. Watching an STV discussion programme the other evening I was struck once again by the bombast and, well, sheer rudeness of Alec Salmond. Rather than let David Mundell – no I have no time for Tories either – say his piece, Salmond was jeering “there speaks Scotland’s only Tory”. And other irrelevant and offensive remarks. Here’s a letter I didn’t send to The Herald:

I was brought up in Christian socialism, an old-fashioned name but it’s still good stuff. My particular strand is trade unionism. There has to be room also for individual rights, including the right not to conform. With every right, of course, comes a responsibility. And everyone has to have the opportunity to be enterprising, take risks, and reap personal reward. No individual and no group can become wealthy or powerful outside certain margins. In the modern day the main device for achieving this is that everyone pays tax, and key infrastructure and services are paid from the public purse.

This analysis is represented in modern party politics respectively by the Labour Party, the Lib-Dems, and the Conservatives. The present English-based Tory party is unspeakable, but the core principle of personal enterprise and reward cannot be disallowed because of them.

If I thought the SNP had any guiding principle for government I might join it. But their sole aim is to depart the UK. It’s a faith-based doctrine, not a principle and not an evidence based policy. Like everyone else, I want Scots and Scotland to do well: have a strong identity, be well governed, and be as prosperous as we reasonably may be in a world of too much poverty. If I thought that an “independent” Scotland would bring this about, I would vote for it.

The need for the core values of Christian socialism never dies. We will survive this unpleasant period of excessive greed and petty nationalism, and they will be put into action again.

I was at a Labour party meeting last night, and I’ll be out on the street tomorrow, drawing attention to the dire state of the health service in Scotland. No, the SNP government cannot duck responsibility, cannot say it is living within austerity cuts imposed from Westminster. And while we’re at it, what happened to make Nicola Sturgeon back the third runway at Heathrow? Even Iain McWhirter has rumbled her. Did she promise Theresa May SNP votes at Westminster when it comes to the vote? Is SNP policy defined by the shape of the last corporate bottom to sit on it? Why do the Scottish Greens go anywhere near the SNP?

Kevin McKenna has got on their case as well. He points out that the SNP has long said that local authorities should be able to ban betting shops from opening in poor neighbourhoods. But they have been awful slow doing anything about it. Meantime, if you were at the SNP national conference the other week there was a stand run by, yes, that’s it, the gambling industry. Funny, that, isn’t it? See what I mean about it being a principle-free party?

Well, I stick with the optimism of the last line of the letter that was never sent. But I’m afraid I can’t put a time frame on it, and I don’t know what will happen in the meantime.