The SNP figures simply do not add up

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THE news that Scotland spent more than it raised in revenue last year has been treated as an achievement by the SNP, simply because we don’t seem to be as bad off as the rest of the UK (your report, 7 March).

This is a very worrying ­attitude, extremely blinkered, and an indictment of an aspiring national government.

If I were to announce to my household that I had spent more than I earned last year, but that our neighbour had spent even more, they would soon have me locked up.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive

Edinburgh

Once more the SNP is dealt a “hammer blow” by Unionists on the financial numbers (your report, 7 March).

Suppose we keep it simple for a change.

The charge is that the oil revenues will not cover Scottish requirements in an independent Scotland. Well, after the Unionist cuts following Labour’s demolition of the UK economy, and the commitment of the UK coalition to correct the situation, Scotland’s expenditure will be reduced to a new level of requirement, without the necessity of restoring our 20 per cent per head expenditure lead over England’s. So their enforced cuts will facilitate the very viability the ­Unionists deny is possible.

Furthermore, the latest levels of oil-related investment indicate tax revenue will also increase. And how much greater would that revenue be were the line on the map removing oil fields from Scottish jurisdiction to be restored? By the way, ­expenditure on pensions and benefits should already be reflected in the GERS figures in the current issue of that publication, so that commitment is nothing new.

However, what voters really need to know is what proposals the Unionist parties have in mind for Scotland if there is a No vote in 2014, should they be elected to power in the 2016 Holyrood election. Thus far we have heard nothing from them or from their supporters in ­letters to The Scotsman.

The problem they have is that we have run that laboratory experiment and it has failed, and the prospects of more of the same are a dire prospect.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent

Currie, Midlothian

John Kay is the third economist (Perspective, 7 March) to comment recently, on the currency options which will face an independent Scotland but only one of them has raised the obvious question: “It makes one wonder what independence means?”

I left the SNP in 1990 because I failed to persuade party members that they were surrendering sovereignty for the promise of a better economic performance as full members of the European economic union.

In the past 22 years, the SNP still has not resolved that dichotomy under the leadership of economic nationalists, for whom sovereignty is not important. John Kay claims Irish membership of the euro was a mistake, something which many Irish economists, who recognised that it meant the surrender of Irish sovereignty, argued strongly at the time.

The SNP favoured membership of the euro, until the recent debacle, and it is still the long-term aim of many in the party, despite the likelihood of closer integration and centralised control by the European Central Bank.

The obvious surrender of sovereignty involved is ignored just as it is in every discussion on the currency union with sterling, now being proposed.

Each of the economists who has commented on the proposed currency union with sterling has pointed out the limits that would place on any actions proposed by an independent Scottish Government. At the same time, they have all agreed it would be perfectly possible for an independent Scotland to have its own currency, something studiously ignored by the SNP, although it is the only policy which would ensure Scottish control of our own economy.

What is unclear is whether the SNP leadership does not understand the surrender of sovereignty involved in either membership of the euro or the currency union with sterling; or they are deliberately trying to mislead in the mistaken belief that no-one else will notice. Either way, some of their recent comments simply beggar belief.

Jim Fairlie

Heathcote Road

Crieff, Perthshire

JIM Gallagher claims that those promoting a Yes vote in 2014 have a “habit of leaving out” the capital ­investment element when referring to Scottish and UK deficits (Perspective, 6 March).

But the independent Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland report (GERS) specifically takes account of borrowing including capital investment.

The report is a good story for those advocating independence. We have a Holyrood administration that aspires to manage and gain vital knowledge from Scotland’s profit & loss account, balance sheet and cash position with a view to improving yet further our relatively strong financial position.

The alternative is that we persist with the fantasy of trying to optimise results from a housekeeping allowance provided by a Westminster administration that will always favour the wellbeing of London and the South East.

In the past year, the deficit in Scotland’s current account (the money we spent to pay for public services) was £3.4 billion or (2.3 per cent of our national wealth) in 2011-12: proportionately lower than the equivalent figure for the UK, which was £92.3bn (6 per cent of national wealth).

Scotland’s total deficit (including capital investment) was £7.6bn or 5 per cent of national wealth and again it was proportionately lower than the UK’s total deficit, which was £121bn or 7.9 per cent of ­national wealth.

Scotland spends a smaller percentage of our national wealth on public services than the UK as a whole.

In 2011-12 total public spending in Scotland was equivalent to 42.7 per cent of GDP. In the UK as a whole, total public expenditure took up a bigger share of national wealth at 45.5 per cent of GDP in the same year.
Scotland’s public accounts are among the best in the ­developed world.

And that’s before we use the levers of independence to give us of a more competitive edge.
The conclusion is obvious, we do have what it takes to be a successful, prosperous and fairer independent nation.

Let’s now move the debate on to the real choice in 2014 – sticking with a Westminster system that isn’t working for Scotland or pursuing our own path to a better future.

Jim Mather (former SNP enterprise minister)

Sutherland Avenue

Glasgow

Thanks to the welcome leak of John Swinney’s report on Scotland’s economy post-independence we have confirmation of what all but the most blinkered Nationalist already feared.

We would be in a dire economic state with even state pensions coming under review. The Nationalists say events have overtaken this year-old report. They would say that wouldn’t they? Even if this ludicrous claim were true, the fact remains that when the report was written, and the facts were placed in front of them, SNP ministers were still telling the Scottish people that we would be better off in an independent Scotland.

This shows how the SNP is prepared to act to get independence regardless of the harm done to the Scottish people and the UK as a whole.

Donald Lewis

East Lothian