David Watt indulges in some wishful thinking if he thinks the independence debate can be
suspended until 2014, and that even that could make any difference to our economic prospects (your report, 27 December).
We continue to languish in the dire UK financial legacy left by Labour and its massive public-sector deficit. The latter equates to Labour’s one million increase in that sector’s workforce; the annual gross cost is £30 billion a year, which is reflected in Labour’s borrowing. Even sacking them all would still leave the £150bn cumulated deficit to be dealt with.
Mr Watt’s expectations about a Scottish Government’s ability to improve matters are constrained by the economy being reserved to Westminster.
Proposals about releasing huge capital projects are dependent on the availability of the necessary funds, but Holyrood does not have adequate borrowing powers. In any event, that would have to be repaid with interest, but Mr Watt does not favour increased taxation. Here again, we have no tax powers. That funding is predicated upon the UK Chancellor imposing the tax and associated expenditure from which we might get the Barnett consequentials.
Mr Watt complains about the current obsession with our future governance, but the paradox is that what is lacking is any alternative vision from the main Unionist parties regarding Scotland’s prospects. They all stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the Calman proposals, but each of them is engaged in its own commission-style examination of yet more options.
Fiscal autonomy would meet much of Mr Watt’s wishes, but he may be opposed to that, too.
Douglas R Mayer
SURELY the discussion over whether “delaying the debate on Scotland’s future until 2014” may be delayed in order to concentrate on economic growth (your article, 27 December) implies that the two are incompatible.
As the referendum date moves closer, I get the feeling that confidence levels in Scotland are dropping as SNP policy is scrutinised.
Amid reporting of inconsistencies in figures produced by SNP – the fact that twice the First Minister has admitted to giving incorrect figures backing up claims to colleges and renewable jobs – and recent accusations of creating a “culture of secrecy”, I can’t help but think of historian Thomas Gallant’s words when thinking of Alex Salmond: “Bandits helped make states, and states made bandits.”