Alexander’s reheated rhetoric for the Union

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YOU write in your editorial (8 December) of Douglas Alexander’s essay that it “marks the beginning of a new phase in the independence referendum campaign”. In actual fact it is very much “cauld kail ­rehet”. Douglas Alexander would only be in early primary school when the unionist response to the SNP’s “its Scotland’s oil” campaign of the early 1970s was to tell us in Scotland that we would “beggar our neighbour” if we took that road. Obviously he would be too young to be actively involved then, so to describe him as yesterday’s man would perhaps be a little unfair. His ideas, however, are certainly yesterday’s ideas.

The Scottish people were persuaded not to lay claim to the “very limited” oil in the North Sea, and look what happened. London and the south-east of England developed into one of the most prosperous areas in the world on an economy driven by Scottish oil, while Scotland and the English north languished and their main industrial bases were closed by the Thatcher regime. To this day, examples are legion. The Transport for London Crossrail underground project, for instance, will cost £16 billion at current prices to construct 26 miles of new tunnels and new stations under London. This is not so much beggaring our neighbour as our neighbour beggaring us.

The alternative is on offer once again, with a prosperous and independent Scotland in control of its oil wealth and driving the English north along with it. What you do not mention in your editorial are such as the illegal wars, the bedroom tax and the petty immigration controls that derive from the ancien regime at Westminster. Perhaps it would not be all that unfair to describe Douglas Alexander as yesterday’s man after all.

Alan Clayton, Strachur