The only aspect of the SNP campaign that is worthy of note so far is its ability to sail along regardless, or oblivious, of the facts. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) produces a report detailing how an independent Scotland would have to cut spending by 8 per cent or raise taxes by 8 per cent (your report, 19 November) – and this would only maintain the fiscal gap as things stand far less fund the raft of extra goodies being dangled before the voters.
The SNP spokesman on economic matters, Stewart Hosie MP, argued on Newsnight that we should disregard a report that looks 50 years ahead. Now the IFS’s conclusions are based on two main factors: Scotland’s old-age dependency rate and declining oil returns.
If my arithmetic is correct, somebody who is, say, 25 today will be 75 in 50 years’ time. Similarly, will there not be less oil to extract in ten, 20, 50 years’ time? (The IFS arrived at the 8 per cent figure quoted using the SNP’s own most optimistic projections for oil revenue.) Are these not hard facts?
But, says Mr Hosie, the forecasts do not take into account the SNP’s alleged ability to change things supposing it had its hands on all the economic “levers”. He gave as an example, repeated by Alex Salmond, that a reduction of 3 per cent in corporation tax “could” lead to an increase of 1.7 per cent in employment.
If we are to disregard the IFS projections based on verifiable facts why should we put any trust in such hypothetical speculation? Moreover, even this wishful thinking is demolished by Peter Jones’s article (Perspective, 19 November).
Far from attracting employers to Scotland the SNP is actively discouraging employers by raising business rates by 60 per cent during the past eight years. Little wonder that (big) employers such as Diageo do not welcome the prospect of an independent Scotland.
Mr Hosie, having inevitably lost the argument based on the facts, took refuge in one of the SNP’s latest catchphrases: “Talking Scotland down” – which seems to equate to “Stating the unpalatable truths”.
And I thought that an altogether different motto was a favourite of a high-ranking SNP minister: facts are chiels that winna ding! Finally, we are told that projections which look 50 years ahead cannot be relied upon. Really? Are we not being asked by the SNP to commit to a set of hypothetical propositions to which Scotland would be tied for all future time?
Alistair Darling has pronounced that SNP policies for growth in Scotland after independence are “fantasy economics” (Leader, 20 November). Would those be the same fantasy economics he employed as Chancellor in a Labour Party government that ran the UK economy, as a whole, into the ground?
Should the Scottish public, or indeed the SNP, take any heed of Mr Darling’s pronouncements based on his own abysmal track record? I think not.
The reaction of your Nationalist correspondents (Letters, 20 November) to the Institute for Fiscal Studies report was both predictable and, in my opinion, meaningless.
It has become fashionable among the referendum “No” campaigners to refer to an independent Scotland as a “foreign country” with respect to the rest of the UK. Significantly, one never hears of Australia, Canada or New Zealand referred to as foreign countries; rather their close ties to Britain are usually emphasised.
Moreover, an independent Scotland would still be part of the UK as well as the Commonwealth. Hardly the status of a foreign power.
As for recent threats to remove England’s naval shipbuilding from Scotland as a foreign country, this would hardly be pragmatic. There would certainly be common defence arrangements after independence – to the mutual benefit of both countries – which would make a shipbuilding embargo ridiculous.
Again, if Australia or Canada were shipbuilding countries with common borders with England one cannot imagine England imposing any such veto on them.
The obvious conclusion is that the “foreign country” epithet applied to Scotland is simply another example of unfair word-twisting and manufactured hostility designed to make any vision of independence less attractive.
Gullane, East Lothian
I went to buy a pair of shoelaces the other day. The first pair I looked at had been made in the USA, the second in Korea. It reminded me that in the little Scottish town where I passed my early days Paton’s factory made shoelaces for the world. Gone now, of course, with all the other factories in the town.
It is easy to pick holes in the SNP’s latest economic statement (your report, 20 November) but at least it recognises this situation and suggests avenues which might provide a way forward.
By contrast, Alistair Darling’s view seems to be that nothing can change and we must just accept continued decline, taking in each other’s washing and hoping the winnings on the Great City of London Casino will keep us going.