Debt strategy that’s morally bankrupt

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D Kane (Letters, 5 September) hits the nail squarely on the head in exposing Alex Salmond’s tawdry change of approach on the issue of the national debt.

Mr Salmond has only recently been claiming that his “justification” for refusing to pay a share would be on the grounds that Scotland was being denied a share of the assets of the Bank of England – ie the liquid assets.

The leaders of all the UK parties have stated only that Scotland would walk away from the pound – which is not a liquid asset – and not from any divisible assets. Mr Kane rightly demands that the SNP clarify its position.

Moreover, I would seek clarity on two further questions. Even if the pound was a genuine asset which could somehow be divided up, how much of a share of it does Mr Salmond want?

If he does acknowledge that Scotland has some liability for the debt then he presumably would accept that a proportion of around 8-9 per cent would be reasonable. Yet he seems to be demanding a 50 per cent share of “the pound”. How can that be reasonable?

Secondly, his alleged “moral” case is that if Scotland does not get its share of the assets then it will not accept its share of the liabilities. Is the converse also therefore reasonable? If Scotland does not accept its share of the liabilities then would he agree that Scotland should have no share of any of the assets?

And that would mean not just “the pound” but also - according to Mr Swinney’s figures – the £1.3 trillion of assets built up by the UK. The SNP’s approach to this issue could see an independent Scotland not only starting out life morally bankrupt but also financially bankrupt.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

John Duffus (Letters, 5 September) suggests that Scotland should default on its obligations to take on our fair share of the debt if the Westminster Government does not let us share the Bank of England.

This is the debt built up paying for hospitals, pensions and unemployment benefit in Scotland, while also saving the Royal Bank of Scotland.

I wonder what sort of moral compass the Yes campaign has if it believes it can use as a bargaining chip the rejection of our responsibilities in this area.

Their approach would be to lumber our friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a £100 billion of debt that they did not generate and would affect the poor in these countries disproportionately with the inevitable reduction in services.

For Scotland, it would mean we could never look at our friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the face again due to our shameful behaviour.

We should also not forget that this is not a “get out of jail free” card as the other nations of the world would treat us as a pariah state which had shown itself unwilling to meet its international financial obligations and interest rates on our mortgages and tax rates would soar as we would struggle to find anyone willing to lend to us.

Alan Black

Camus Avenue

Edinburgh

Brian Souter, businessman and man of the people, 
performed a valuable function during the BBC’s referendum debate from Aberdeen.

He said that we should not spend time discussing tax and spending plans: with a wave of the hand he dismissed the £6 billion black hole in the SNP’s budget plans as “just numbers”.

Mr Souter went on to say that Scotland’s finances would be fine once we had walked away from our share of UK debt.

Who would want to back a businessman who trivialises “numbers” and is happy to walk away from debt?

Who would want to back a politician with the same standards?

No thanks to both.

Robert Stephens

Morningside Park

Edinburgh