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Readers’ letters: Still no compelling economic case for independence

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) during their rally in Glasgow, at the start of their 10 days of industrial action over pay, pensions and working conditions.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) during their rally in Glasgow, at the start of their 10 days of industrial action over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Sir, – From reading the papers over the last few weeks, it would appear that there is an independence campaign well under way, with extensive coverage of pension provision, companies talking about leaving again and analysis of our economic position.

We have even had SNP politicians going off to the Ukraine for an expensive photo opportunity to emphasise their international reputation, as if anyone was taken in by that.

Back in 2012, the Scottish Government at least had the good manners to announce that a campaign was under way, and they gave us a date.

No such niceties this time. It seems like the argument is going to be instigated before any plan is in place.

The interesting feature in all this is that nothing significant has changed since 2014. Back then, the Yes campaign lost the referendum because they did not have a compelling economic case.

Despite having seven years to rectify this, there are no proposals to address this at all.

The truth of course is that the economic argument is a strength of the union, and there is nothing that the SNP can do about that.

So, having no plan, we have irritating arguments, enough to divert attention from other important issues but nothing of substance, which even their own supporters can see.

Can Nicola Sturgeon not just admit that this is not going to happen, difficult for her as that might be?

Victor Clements. Mamie’s Cottage, Aberfeldy.

Pensioners are savvy to ‘threats and lies’

Sir, – It’s a common myth that Britain’s colonial rule of India was of no benefit to us, and that it was, in fact, an act of benevolence. Yet renowned Indian economist Utsa Patnick calculates that Britain drained a total of $45 trillion from India during its imperial rule.

I thought of this when I read The Courier letters pages on Tuesday, with four proclaiming that an independent Scotland would not be able to afford to pay current rates of pension to its senior citizens because Scottish pensions are currently subsidised by the rest of the UK.

Leaving aside the fact that the UK state pension is ranked 24th in Europe, a disgraceful insult to our senior citizens from one of the richest countries in the world, I wonder why it should be that an independent Scotland – one of the best placed countries in Europe to flourish in the new era of global warming – could not manage, with all its bountiful natural resources, to pay such a pitiful pension.

During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum there was a very clear and concerted campaign by unionist forces using fear tactics, such as pensions, to frighten older people into voting for the union, which had some success, but not any more. Older people, like myself, are better informed, have lived through the lies of “better together”, see the blatant corruption of our “rulers” in Westminster, and want better.

You can keep your lies, and your threats – we’re off.

Les Mackay. Carmichael Gardens, Dundee.

SNP should put up or shut up on pensions

Sir, – Nicola Sturgeon has used the ongoing pension debacle to take a swipe at the amount currently paid in the UK – comparatively low in European terms – and infers, in Holyrood, that pensions would be much higher in an independent Scotland.

But why wait? Holyrood has the power to levy different tax rates to elsewhere in the UK – indeed, under the SNP, Scotland is already the highest taxed part of the UK. Sturgeon and her Green allies could easily increase income tax for all workers to enable a Scottish premium to top up the UK state pension for around 900,000 Scots aged over 65.

So why doesn’t Sturgeon use the powers she has and put our money where her mouth is? Easy. It would be a massive vote loser. To grow pension levels beyond more than a token amount would place an inconceivably huge additional burden on Scotland’s 2.5 million taxpayers. Plus, it would give a terrifying foretaste of what would lie ahead, were Scotland ever to leave the UK.

Martin Redfern. Melrose, Roxburghshire.

Ignore ‘prejudicial piffle’ from Tories

Sir, – A few apologists for the Tory leadership were at it yet again in the letters pages (February 15) – running Scotland down, spreading misinformation and trying to pretend the Scottish pensioners will all starve or freeze should we decide to free ourselves from Tory sleaze and corruption.

It is just so counter-productive for people wanting to stay in the UK to try to further their cause by belittling Scotland.

Nobody is kidded by such daft drivel.

We all know very well that an independent Scotland would have a huge financial start because outside the UK we would not be lumbered with the bills to pay for all the Tory chums, lords, cronies and sponsors getting their billions in bungs at our expense.

Tories accusing the Scottish Government of “lies” on any issue have serious brass necks.

The current UK prime minister has lied on such an industrial scale that even former Tory PMs have suggested that he only stops lying either when he is silent or asleep.

It is quite clear that Scotland can be a perfectly viable independent nation, like other small northern European countries.

No amount of prejudicial piffle from those who are happy to excuse the “rule for the plebs, no rules for us” Tories will alter this clear fact by one jot.

Karen Heath. Cortachy, Kirriemuir.

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