Readers' Letters: It's wrong to claim Scotland keeps rest of UK afloat

Comparisons between the economic positions of Scotland and Ireland had reader thinking of Irish sitcom Father Ted (Picture: Channel 4)
Comparisons between the economic positions of Scotland and Ireland had reader thinking of Irish sitcom Father Ted (Picture: Channel 4)

Mr Grant lauds Ireland’s wealth, clearly unaware of what most informed people know: that the cost of living is very high (I write on a visit to Dublin), and the GDP figures he mentions are based on a highly disproportionate contribution from multinational companies whose wealth is “resting in Ireland’s account”, as Father Ted would say, but soon passes to a company’s home country.

Where Ms Gunn Barrett gets her figures from is unclear, but an intelligent guess would be from a Scottish nationalist propaganda publication. She claims that Scotland has subsidised the UK for 120 years, as if, currently, 5.5 million people could keep 60m others afloat. No respectable economist would accept her invented grievances. Contrary to what she says, a deeply researched paper by Rab Boyce tells us that: “Scotland contributed slightly less per head than England and Wales over the early 20th century”, while “throughout the 20th century… Scotland has enjoyed a higher level of public expenditure than the rest of the UK”.

This means that Ms Barrett’s claim that “Scotland is keeping a sinking UK afloat” is what is colloquially known as “mince”.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Same old

Leah Gunn Barrett uses Revenue and Expenditure accounts for 1900 to 1921 to support her anti-Westminster grievances. Unusual times of course, because of the Great War, which she omits to mention. This egregious failure is reminiscent of the fate of the optimism expressed in an article by Compton Mackenzie in Picture Post on 8 July 1939 about the SNP National Convention planned for September, which would put forward policies to remedy the decades of decline in heavy industry and coalmining, revive the coastal shipping fleet by nationalisation, take national responsibility for all main roads, electrify the railways, and build a ship canal to allow ships from the North Sea passage to Glasgow. But the UK declared war on Germany on 3 September, and the Convention was cancelled. More than 80 years later and after many years of an SNP government, heavy industry has gone, the coastal shipping fleet is in a mess despite nationalisation, and the likelihood of a central belt ship canal ever being built is much about the same as the dualling of main roads to the north and the arrival of electric trains at Aberdeen.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Win-win on drugs

I welcome the proposal from a joint Parliamentary Committee to pilot drug consumption rooms across England and Wales. If the scheme is self financing and clean drugs are supplied at below street cost then the drug dealers will lose their market and go out of business even as drug deaths fall. A long overdue win-win situation.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Save the trees

I am dismayed by East Lothian Council's lack of action to remove locks fixed onto a bridge across the River Esk – are they unaware of the potential anguish this may cause to those who have suffered imprisonment?

The council has a similar indifference to the practice of knitting being placed in public spaces – the issue here being less the wool than the terminology of "yarn bombing". Again, ELC demonstrates an utter disregard to any suffering from PTSD following a bomb attack.

Both examples may seem absurd – yet both are less ridiculous than East Lothian Council's assertion that ribbons recently tied around some trees would "adversely affect the health of the trees” while concurrently planning to chop down dozens as part of their plans to control flooding. The Council does have a point, inasmuch as their concrete-based flood protection plans will “adversely affect” local ecology far more drastically than the mere removal of scores of trees, but the point remains, local opposition to their plans continue despite the council's obstinate refusal to engage with it.

May I therefore respectfully suggest than when the East Lothian Council come to erect bilingual signage at Musselburgh's boundaries, they ignore the usual "Baile nam Feusgan" translation and instead have "Fàileadh nam Feusgain" since something definitely smells fishy in the town of late.

Jeff Kemp, Musselburgh, East Lothian

No religious votes

We welcome the triumph of democracy that is City of Edinburgh Council’s decision yesterday to remove voting rights from unelected religious reps on its Education Committee.

This is not an anti-religious move. Religions are entitled to their opinions on schools, but not to have them implemented from a privileged position in local government not granted to any other minority groups.

With eight out of 32 local councils now having decided similarly, it is only a matter of time before others follow suit, and for those who run our schools to become 100 per cent accountable to the electorate.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Well, well

As Murdo Fraser says (Perspective, 31 August) that it is not clear what a “wellbeing economy” means, I’ve done a quick Google search for him. I’ve found numerous references, including the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership, founded in 2018 during the sixth OECD World Forum. Its website says “development” in the 21st century entails delivering human and ecological wellbeing. The World Wildlife Fund says “A ‘wellbeing economy’ starts from the idea that public interests should determine economics and not the other way around”. I recommend Murdo Fraser reads the sourced facts on Scotland’s economy, and its potential to shift to a wellbeing economy, in the online publication Scotland the Brief.

E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

Whatever Ness?

Re: Steuart Campbell's letter (31 August), New Zealand’s University of Otago did a search of Loch Ness to ascertain if any unknown DNA was present and found none. So whatever is in Loch Ness it is not an animal. George F Campbell, in his book The Secret History of Fort Augustus, puts forward the best explanation yet of what the alleged monster is. It is the prow of a scuttled Viking galley. This is consistent with what my father saw in July 1959 in broad daylight near Cherry Island, a long greenish-brown neck and a small head, which then dived.

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

Dead on arrival

A new CEO isn’t going to breathe new life into a rapidly declining SNP, no matter how well he can communicate. No well-spun words can conceal the fact the SNP is well past its sell-by date or that Humza Yousaf is a lightweight liability who, like his predecessor, would rather focus on unachievable independence than getting down to the real job of effective governance for all Scots, a majority of whom have no interest whatsoever in leaving the United Kingdom.

To treat the electorate as fools, whether deliberately or inadvertently, is, as Yousaf is finding out, the surest way to be shown the door.

Now he claims the support for independence has “never been stronger.” More like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party , the First Minister verbally runs hither and thither bumping into the White Rabbit coming in the opposite direction.
As if it is of concern to the rest of us, Yousaf denies the party is insolvent. Perhaps he should have checked with his predecessor first? With the apocalypse of potential fraud trials coming closer, what is left for Humza to sell?

Doug Morrison, Cranbrook, Kent

Roll out barrels

In his latest column Dr Richard Dixon (“Join forces to end fossil fuel exploitation”, 30 August) says that the people of Ecuador voted to stop oil drilling in Yasuni National Park in the Amazon. Anything to save the Amazon Rainforests is to be welcomed. Dr Dixon says this will mean nearly three-quarters of a billion barrels of oil will stay in the ground. He then uses this example to demand that the Scottish Government joins the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance.

What he does not say is that Africa, Asia Pacific, Commonwealth of independent States, Europe, Middle East, North America and South and Central America have 1,732.4 trillion barrels of oil reserves and they will exploit it to drive their economies. As for his statement that 53 per cent of Scots support an end to new oil and gas production... what was the question? If they had prefixed the vote by pointing out that Net Zero 2045 would cost every Scottish household £108,000 the answer would have been very different.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Small things

On this first day of September, the first day of meteorological autumn, it is easy to become melancholy, to look back on an endless summer that now all feels like it happened in a flash, with some of us already waking up to frosty or soggy windows.

It is time to pause for reflection, and draw comfort on the happy memories of days just passed and of the season's comforts to come.

Let us smile and give thanks for Rangers being pumped 5-1 out of the Champions League and that every wasp is soon to be dead.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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