Independent Scotland would be poor – Letters

Going solo would be a mistake, says a reader

John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon (Photo: Getty Images)

Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, August 25) begins the annual nationalist refrain of denigration and denial of the GERS figures before they are even published. She calls GERS a “Westminster accounting trick”. Changed days. Only six years ago the blueprint for an independent Scotland called the figures – prepared by Scottish government statisticians – “the authoritative publication on Scotland’s finances”. Could it be that in the interim the figures annually reveal a deficit which is considerable and getting worse?

Ms Barrett bases her claims of a “false” deficit on Scotland’s contribution to Public Sector Debt Interest (PSDI) – a figure of £3.2 billion representing Scotland’s share of UK debt. We get nothing back for this, she alleges! I’m not sure where she has been for the last few months as some of the billions of pounds of the UK’s increasing debt have come to Scotland. Moreover, the same day’s Scotsman includes a report of the Moray Growth deal to which Westminster is contributing an equal share of £32.5 million. This is just one of many such ongoing contributions of which Ms Gunn seems to be unaware.

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However, even if her assertion did happen to be true, what about the other £10bn or so that Scotland spends in excess of what it generates? Where does that come from? I would suggest that Scotland does very well out of the Barnett formula and that it comes as no surprise that both John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon have fought hard to ensure it continues.

As to the claim that ‘London’ has conceded that Scotland will inherit none of the UK debt, this is a very different proposition from the fact that it has been conceded that legally there would be no obligation upon Scotland to repay its share. But it is also accepted that if we did not do so it would be difficult and costly for Scotland to secure loans on the international stage. No doubt that is why even some nationalists accept that we are responsible and should pay up.

I accept that Scotland could be an independent country. But it would be a considerably poorer one, certainly for the foreseeable future as even the most recent SNP blueprint concedes. A case based on fantasy economics will not persuade, which leaves only emotional appeals by those who believe that independence is more important than equality or, indeed, transcends all.

Colin Hamilton, Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Never be slaves

The Last Night of the Proms storm in a teacup over ‘Rule Britannia’ and ’Jerusalem’ is an object lessons in the foolhardiness of kowtowing to the racial grievance industry.

Does it really need pointing out how much “never, never, never shall be slaves!” feels to most Afro-Caribbeans in the street, as opposed to Chi-chi Nwanoku seeking her 15 minutes of fame?

Written in the early 18th century, it caught on due to the activities of the West African Squadron (1808-60), a detachment of the Royal Navy along with pirate ships under letters of marque which seized slavers and emancipated more than 150,000 Africans destined for the Americas.

One ship, HMS Black Joke (named after the bawdy song in Hogarth’s “A Rake’s Progress”) became a legend throughout the British Empire at this time. Manned by Royal Marines and West African members of the Kroo tribe (who suffered greatly from the activities of slavers), no other ship chased down slave ships so zealously, even when heavily outgunned.

Yet the deeds of the West African Squadron – once a source of humble pride as we were making amends for past wrongs – was systematically suppressed over time to spare the blushes of American and European nations which continued slaving long after we ceased. Whenever I hear ‘Rule Britannia’, I remember those who sailed, fought and died not to line a purse, but so Africa’s daughters and sons would never be slaves.

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Face up to fear

Donald Rumsfeld said: “There are ‘known knowns’ (things we know that we know). There are ‘known unknowns’ (things we know we don’t know). But there are also ‘unknown unknowns’ (things we don’t know we don’t know)”. For reasons best known to themselves, the ‘bien pensant’ derided this observation, but it certainly helps explain our hysterical over-reaction to Covid-19.

Every decision taken in Bute House and No 10 which damaged our economy was based on dodgy data. After all the false medical statistics we now know Covid hastened death for only two groups: the very old and the already very ill. As Churchill would have said: “Never in the history of human medicine has so much been sacrificed by so many to prolong the last days of so few.”

Sweden has shown lockdown is not a ‘given’. Our kids need to be back in school; our factories, shops, hotels, restaurants, gyms, etc reopened. We have to get back to normal or there will never be a normal again.

And we must stop trembling with fear because there might be a passing risk involved, because the problem with fear is simply this: either you beat it or it beats you.

(Rev Dr) John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrews

Pitch perfect

Much has been made about the return of our children to their classrooms but Monday marked a similarly significant event for a group of men for whom the classroom is a distant memory – the varied ranks of five-a-side and seven-a-side enthusiasts.

Our club, Reith Rovers FC (sic), is ten years older than the Scottish Premier League, established as a mixed age and mixed ability (very) activity, the players are split into two sides who compete with... enthusiasm, for the all important bragging rights.

Three of us are in our sixties, one of whom is an old pro (who’s still got it, by the way, whereas I never had it.)

But where kids’ return to the classroom is seen as important to their mental health as well as their education, our return to 4G is just as important in clearing our heads. The impact on our knees is less beneficial!

Kit Fraser, Belhaven High Street, Dunbar

Leaning on Pisa

I would have thought that if you’re going to criticise another contributor’s letter, it might be an idea to get basic facts correct (Andrew Hamilton, Letters, 22 August). For a start, I am not a Gaelic teacher, my subjects cover a range of communication disciplines.

Second, the criticism of Pisa in my letter was in fact from mathematicians and statisticians writing in the Times Literary Supplement who described the Pisa tables as “useless”, among other highly critical remarks.

I’m well aware that politicians, for good or bad, like to maximise the positives or negatives of the results of such tests in line with their political agenda. That is of no consequence to me.

However, as the OECD concedes, to describe them as a reliable international measure, set within a huge variety of cultural and political differences, is disputable, to put it mildly. My specific criticism is that it involves one year group and around 1.5 per cent of the school population. How anyone can describe that as representative is beyond me.

And finally, having been a teacher for many years, I’m not aware of the pejorative description of CfE (Curriculum for Excellence) that Mr Hamilton attributes to teachers and wonder where he heard it?

Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

A petard awaits

Should Humza Yousaf’s much-criticised Hate Bill be passed and become law, there is a deep irony in the making. The first, surely, to be prosecuted under this legislature would be the nationalist extremists flaunting their hate on our road links with the rest of the UK and at our airports.

There is little I can think of designed to ‘’stir up hatred’’ more than the banners brandished by these people, except perhaps some seen and photographed on the last Glasgow All Under One Banner march, in which Mr Yousaf took part.

Alexander McKay, New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Mad ‘mandate’

It seems that Scottish nationalists are getting terribly excited at the thought that a sizeable win at the Scottish elections next year would somehow give them the right to demand a second referendum.

I don’t get that. A referendum is a referendum and an election is an election.

By their logic, Scotland’s football team beating England’s World Cup winning team in 1967 would have made us world champions. Right?

However, it still doesn’t answer a very important question: if we have a second referendum, what was the purpose of the first one? I have never had a satisfactory response to that question. We got a clear result, but of course, we didn’t get the RIGHT result. Once we get that, we will never have any other referendum.

Am I right, or am I right?

Peter Hopkins, Morningside Road, Edinburgh

Cool down

Richard Dixon claims that the world’s temperature will rise by between 1.5 and 4 degrees centigrade due to anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere (Perspective, 25 August). There are many controversies with this argument, among them being the role of the oceans. The layman knows liquids are much better regulators of temperature than air, indeed, car engines are normally cooled by liquids.

On a timescale of seasons, the top 70 metres of ocean is well-mixed and this layer has a heat capacity that is 30 times greater than that of the atmosphere. The oceans to all depths regulate the earth’s temperature on a longer timescale, and this global ocean heat capacity is a massive 1000 times that of the atmosphere.

The late Prof. William Gray, an expert in tropical storms and atmospheric science, wrote on the subject of alarmist climate modelers “They lack an understanding and treatment of the fundamental role of the deep ocean circulation.”

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

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