Talk us through the plan, Mr Swinney

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Scott MacNab’s assessment of the current oil situation (23 December) is excellent.

However, I feel the oil price is not the driving issue.

Far more interesting would be to learn how a nationalist government would deal with it.

It was never clear to me how finance secretary John Swinney intended that an independent Scotland would deal with the deficit, but Alex Salmond certainly had great faith in him.

With this worsening economic situation, surely Mr Swinney has a great opportunity to explain in 
detail the fiscal benefits of Scotland leaving the UK.

Dr S Arthur



Peter Jones (Perspective, 22 December) is correct in that the oil price is not controlled by government. Any Scottish Government, in preparing its budget, should not include revenue from the oil industry in its calculations.

Any oil revenue must be looked on as an extra to 
either be stored in a fund or used for capital projects.

However, countries of a similar size, such as Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand, manage to be self-governing without the benefit of oil revenue. Singapore has no natural assets, yet prospers in the competitive market of the Pacific Rim.

The idea that we cannot exist as a separate country and must depend on Westminster no longer holds true. Westminster wastes a great deal of money and has the wrong spending priorities.

Scotland has different fin­ancial priorities and can make many savings on the Westminster way of budgeting. We have many natural ass­ets, an educated population and sit in a very satisfactory position in world economic tables.

Oil revenue at whatever level is just a bonus which can be used for future generations. We can hold production until the price is satisfactory.

Bruce D Skivington


Gairloch, Wester Ross

It is a knee-jerk reaction of the SNP to blame “Westminster” when things aren’t going as well as it would like.

But not even the SNP can blame the UK Government for the slump in oil prices and the consequent problems, particularly for the Scottish economy. So instead of blaming Westminster for the cause, the tactic is to put the responsibility on it for the solution: “It is imperative the UK Government sets out plans on tax breaks” (your 
report, 23 December).

Whether this would alleviate the problem or not, what are the consequences of such tax cuts?

An obvious one is that there would be a reduction in revenue. In the short term the shortfall could only be made up by increased borrowing or by imposing cuts elsewhere with knock-on
effects for Scotland.

What would the SNP response be to the latter? Would it be – even in such a case as this – the usual cry of outrage and indignation based obscurely on the grounds that Scotland should somehow be immune from “austerity”?

I am no admirer of Chancellor George Osborne but it seems to me that in relation to SNP demands to cut oil taxes, he will be damned if he doesn’t and damned if he does.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue


The article by Peter Jones on the effects of the fall in the oil price is difficult to argue with.

While the collapse will have a negative impact on the industry, ie in jobs, tax take etc, it has a positive eff­ect in highlighting the voodoo economics and accounting of the SNP during the referendum campaign.

Those who pointed out the danger of putting all our eggs in one basket were
decried and sometimes ridiculed, yet were correct and prescient.

The silence of the SNP on the issue is shameful.

William Ballantine

Dean Road

Bo’ness, West Lothian