Winning formula

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The wise, dear and delightful Douglas Mayer (Letters, 16 May) is probably one of the remaining half-dozen humans who actually understand the Barnett Formula, so he should be listened to carefully by those wishing to impose a different funding system upon Scotland.

It is clear from both the indy ref and the recent general election that the SNP can claim the expressed support of only a third of the Scottish electorate. Had the general election been fought using the Holyrood PR system, the SNP would have sent about 20, not 56, MPs to Westminster; if the German PR system had been used, none at all.

Thus it seems prudent for the SNP to retain the status quo, including Barnett, until something better turns up. That was to be the oil price and associated taxes, which may yet of course recover, but in the meantime let’s stick with our old and reliable chum even if its inventor, Joel, has long since distanced himself from it.

TIM FLINN

Garvald

East Lothian

I WOULD construct a detailed riposte to Douglas Mayer’s claim that the Barnett Formula is full of holes – if only I could understand it. This is not “primary 7 arithmetic” but creative accountancy on a truly delusional scale.

I would ask Mr Mayer only this. If the Barnett Formula is such an albatross round our necks, why is the SNP so desperate to hold on to it for “five or six years”? Why is Nicola Sturgeon not pressing for full fiscal autonomy immediately with a phase-in period of, say, 18 months?

I wonder if Mr Mayer has applied his arithmetical skills to the following. Education secretary, Angela Constance, proclaims she wants “every child in Scotland to have the same chance of going to university” (your report, same issue). Accordingly she announces that bursaries for students from poorer backgrounds are to increase by £125. Would these be the same bursaries her party reduced from £2,450 to £1,750 in 2013? Primary 7 arithmetic would indicate that these students will now only be £575 worse off rather than £700.

This is just one example of the hypocrisy behind the SNP’s claims that they are the party of social justice. When you compare the reality with the rhetoric it becomes very clear – it just doesn’t add up.

COLIN HAMILTON

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

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