£750m tip of SNP’s misplaced iceberg

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If you were in a senior 
position of governmental responsibility, what would you do with £750 million?

Would you build new schools and hospitals, would you fund more nurses and doctors, would you improve the country’s infrastructure, would you put it towards the care of the ageing population?

No, if you were John 
Swinney, the SNP’s finance secretary, you’d spend it all on setting up Revenue 
Scotland, a complex, IT-
dominated project, which in the long term will produce significant savings. This is because it will be simpler and more efficient than the present HMRC system, because he says so!

Even if the authors of the report into the cost of setting up a new Scottish tax system (The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland) were out by a factor of two, it would still represent a sizeable portion of an independent Scotland’s budget.

On top of that, there would be the cost of a social security and welfare system, a full-blown Scottish civil service and the cost of establishing 70 to 90 Scottish embassies around the world. That’s just the tip of the iceberg that is the hidden cost of Scottish independence.

Stuart Smith

West Lennox Drive

Helensburgh

Ralph Hughes (Letters, 21 May) is right to raise the issue of poverty in Scotland but failed to ask what this SNP government has done to 
alleviate it.

Devolution provided a number of alternatives which it has chosen not to use. Being in charge of health policy, this government has chosen to give out free prescriptions to bankers, consultants and advocates, likewise free bus passes if you are over retirement age.

It has frozen council tax, but by reducing council income has reduced the necessary facilities that councils provide to offset the state of those worst off. It has chosen to go down the route of generating extremely expensive electricity which disadvantages the worst off proportionally, leaving 10 per cent at least in fuel poverty and for the very elderly the risk of hypothermia and children being raised in repellent circumstances.

While recognising that poverty is a complex problem, this government has had the means to raise the level of income tax in Scotland up to 3 per cent and could have used that money to improve the circumstances of life for those in difficulties, in education, school and new council house building.

Poverty may be complex in solution but it is home-grown.

A responsible government would have used all means available to tackle and alleviate; instead it favours the 
middle class only.

It is nothing other than hypocrisy to suggest that Westminster has prevented it from doing so, or to suggest that somehow independence will solve the issue when part of the remedy has been in its own hands for seven years and it has done nothing.

Instead, money has been showered on populist policies intended, of course, to buy votes for the September referendum at the expense of our poorest. It deserves to fail.

(Prof) Tony Trewavas

Croft Street

Penicuik

Reading the often-repeated communications from the SNPs PR folk, one is reminded that it’s within the UK that Scotland has achieved its (notional) high OECD ranking.

SNP strategic communications director Kevin Pringle’s list of our achievements (Perspective, 28 May) reflects this and does not deny it. Central to persuading us to vote Yes to separation are assertions such as “Scotland (ie the SNP) can do more and will work better” on its own. Independence “means more jobs and infrastructure investment”.

Then we read the diatribe from Colin Fox, national spokesman for the Scottish Socialist Party, about the “widening wealth gap and its (adverse) impact on society”, which he blames on Westminster and says can be reversed if we vote for independence (Letters, 21 May). Apart from ignoring the inconvenient fact that global activities are the major influence on any country’s economic affairs and financial stability, it is necessary to back up what is said with the details of how it is proposed that Scotland on its own can turn its perceived disadvantaged wealthy (!) society round for greater general benefit.

What redistribution of assets and incomes is coming our way? Will new monies be automatically forthcoming from taxation if it’s really true that we have been paying more in tax per head than the rest of the UK’s citizens for the past 30 years (where’s the evidence for this?) and no longer will do so?

Voting without knowing much more about what is planned, including having to use the pound without the security of the Bank of England acting as lender of last resort should financial debts overwhelm us, doesn’t seem very democratic.

Joe Darby

Dingwall

Ross-shire