John B Gorrie (Letters, 25 April) is confused about the work that civil servants do on behalf of ministers. Their role is to support the government’s policies so when the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) issues a report on the affordability of the state pension in an independent Scotland he should be more suspicious.
The fact is that the cost of state pensions as a percentage of GDP and tax revenue is currently lower in Scotland than in the UK. These facts are in the Scottish Government’s white paper and are confirmed by other independent statistical bodies.
Whether he believes the forecasts by the DWP or indeed the Scottish Government is a different matter but Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the DWP report was, nevertheless, factually correct.
Just to be clear, as people keep crying out for more facts: Scotland’s GDP in 2011/12 was more than £4,000 per head higher that the UK as a whole. Just to keep the doom mongers happy, even without any oil or gas our GDP is only £300 per head head lower than the UK and surely even they will agree that poor wee Scotland can keep producing at least a tenth of the oil we currently produce for quite some time to ensure pensions are paid for.
I find it very disappointing that practically all we hear about Gordon Brown’s recent Glasgow University lecture is the five or so minutes (out of an address lasting 50 minutes) spent on the subject of pensions.
We hear repeated ad nauseam that Better Together is far too negative yet when a supremely positive vision is presented at an event organised by that campaign the reporting of it is totally inadequate.
May I therefore, if it is not too presumptuous of me, advise your readers of his core message, the first element of which is “the conversion of the UK from a centralised unitary state based on outdated ideas of Westminster sovereignty into a power-sharing constitutional partnership that respects national differences and our country’s diversity”.
His vision of Scotland’s future is “for a strong Scottish Parliament that is part of a UK that realises the concrete benefits of cooperation and interdependence – and is indeed a beacon for the future for other countries that need to work together in a more integrated world”.
And overall he believes that while “independence may be a big idea” his “vision of Scotland’s future, sharing risks and resources across four nations, is a far bigger idea and a more compelling vision for the integrated and interdependent world of the 21st century than separation”.