Taxing issues

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Is Alex Salmond’s iron-fisted control over his campaign ­losing its grip? The chairman of the Yes campaign, Dennis Canavan, tells MSPs there would be higher taxes in an independent Scotland (your report, 22 May). This is contrary to the ­“official” line as set out in the white paper and by finance secretary John Swinney.

Mr Canavan’s public statement on higher taxes follows his article in The Scotsman (Perspective, 17 May) on ­pensions in which he made vague promises that they would somehow be better in an independent Scotland but seemed to distance himself from the SNP policy relating pensions to life expectancy by omitting to mention it at all.

Moreover, in both of these somewhat rare interventions, Mr Canavan claimed Scotland would have full control of the economic levers. He can make that claim with honesty, unlike the SNP, whose policy of retaining the pound in a currency union would entail continuing control of the economic levers by Westminster.

Mr Canavan, however, wants to ditch the pound for a new currency, which would be the only way to achieve full economic control. This refreshing outbreak of honesty reveals that the Yes campaign chairman’s vision of an independent Scotland – in terms of pensions, taxes, the pound (and what else) – ­differs significantly from that of the SNP.

It therefore must leave ­voters completely puzzled as to what exactly it is they are being asked to vote for and confirms that the only certainty is uncertainty.

Incidentally, why was Mr ­Canavan’s prediction of higher taxes not labelled “scaremongering” or “doomsaying”? Are honest assessments dismissed with the usual knee-jerk reaction of abuse only when they come from sources other than supporters of ­independence?

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

Amazingly, your headline (22 May) says that Scots are “happy to pay extra tax after Yes vote”.

But in the devolution referendum on 11 September, 1997, 63 per cent of those voting supported a Scottish Parliament with the ability to increase or decrease the basic rate of income tax by up to 3p.

That power has not been used. The IT necessary to implement a variation was not kept up to date, and the power was handed back to Westminster by the SNP government with no referendum, no fanfare, and I suspect no press release. As one of the 63 per cent who voted for that tax variation, I would like to know why the SNP did not implement it.

It could have been raising tax now for extra childcare. We did not require an independence referendum to vary our tax rate.

Moyra Forrest

Starbank Road

Edinburgh

Dennis Canavan should be very clear that there are many of us taxpayers out there who do not want to pay more tax in return for the privilege of independence. We are taxed at a high enough level now.

He should also be clear that talking about a fairer society means nothing to many ­people.

If the former Labour MP and his SNP friends could spell out in detail what a fairer society actually means then we could make a judgment. But there’s the rub. There is no ­detail about independence.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive

Edinburgh