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Measuring impact of North Sea oil revenues on independence

Better Together really needs to rename itself the Doom and Gloom campaign.

We have heard from the 1970s onwards that controlling our oil would bring no advantage to Scotland ("Swinney and Darling fight over oil revenue warning", The Herald, November 19). Funny how keen the British state has been to hold on to it.

Why are we expected to take Alistair Darling and his establishment colleagues seriously? They presided over economic disaster at UK level. The former Chancellor failed to regulate the financial sector (perhaps he just blames all of this on Gordon Brown), he and the Bank of England failed to understand what was happening on their watch, he allowed the UK economy to float on a sea of private debt, and he left the public sector a legacy of poor value-for-money PFI projects. Yet he has the nerve to lecture us on Scotland's economy.

Scotland has the potential to create a healthy economy in the future. The Institute for Fiscal Studies report says Scotland could more than pay for all its commitments and its debt would not be as high proportionately as the UK's.

Of course no-one can say what will happen 20 years from now. If we have no constitutional change, can anyone tell us what the British economy will be like 20 years from now?

Scotland is rich in energy resources and will be even richer with the accelerating development of renewables. We have generous space in relation to our population. We have a skilled population with a high proportion of graduates. We have a good export record. We have important sectors with long-term potential in food, life sciences, specialist engineering and tourism. We have considerable social cohesion although the Westminster legacy of economic inequality undermines this. We need all the economic powers to make our own choices and develop a more sustainable and equal society. So let's send the tired old establishment men back to their clubs.

Isobel Lindsay,

9 Knocklea Place, Biggar.

You offered a valuable step on the way to having something approaching informed debate on the matter of Scottish independence with coverage of the report into the possibilities of life after oil.

David Kelly's letter further emphasises the need for such informed debate (November 19). I believe there is no basis to Mr Kelly's assertion that Scotland would double its representation in Europe and have 12 MEPs. Indeed, it would appear for that to happen there would have to be an amendment to the existing treaty which limits the total number of MEPs. In turn this would scotch the oft-spouted theory that Scotland would be welcomed with open arms as Europe would be presented with the problem of either increasing the total number of MEPs (requiring every member state to participate) or keeping the ceiling and claiming the extra seats back from the bigger countries, most likely Germany.

Either way, it will involve negotiation among the member states and put further doubt against those who suggest Scotland would enter Europe on "existing terms". Given the approach of the EU to date and the tendency to make such changes at election terms, it would appear likely that it would be 2019 at the earliest before Mr Kelly's "boost" could be achieved. Will he be happy that, in the interim, Scotland would effectively be under-represented? Even with 12 votes we would be hardly heard against the other 750.

There will be some Nationalists who would solve this little conundrum by simply deducting the seats from the rest of the UK (rUK). While that may be another possibility it would also be a major contributor to a possible euro-exit on the part of the rUK. How ironic would it be if Scotland's independence resulted in the rUK being free of Europe?

Nobody knows what independence would mean in the context of the EU.

William Forbes,

23 Greenlees Park, Cambuslang.

I believe I am not alone in viewing the run-up to the referendum in 2014 with some trepidation. Your coverage tells of the widely different opinions held on the future of long-term revenues from oil and gas resources and the consequences. We are almost at the end of 2012 and time is running out for some kind of measured debate to take place on the pros and cons associated with an independent Scotland.

I fear we are to be faced with party political posturing on further fundamental issues, such as Nato and the future defence of our country, membership of the EU, fiscal and monetary policy, levels of taxpayer-funded benefits, and the need for a governor-general in the event of the Queen continuing as head of state.

One can be forgiven for feeling at times that one would get more helpful advice from a philosopher of the sophist school.

Standing with a pen in hand in 2014 in the polling booth, is the bemused voter really being asked to make the equivalent of a leap in the dark with the landing place uncertain, or to go on a mystery tour with the precise destination still to be defined?

Ian W Thomson,

38 KIirkintilloch Road, Lenzie.

While no-one would want to accuse the Institute for Fiscal Studies, or report author David Phillips, of "scaremongering" or worse, it seems from the report that an "examination of "the fiscal consequences for Scotland if it were to leave the UK" is both narrow and shallow.

The oil industry reports itself that it only forecasts oil recovery for 40 years in advance and as, readers probably know, oil exploration and discovery of new fields in the North Sea continue. The worst scenario of oil revenue only being available for 40 years to an independent Scotland would still result in Scotland being a wealthy country – Norway has been recovering oil for about that period and is the richest country in Europe.

While the report appears to concentrate solely on oil, it should be noted that oil is Britain's biggest export. The third biggest is Scotch whisky. Revenue from oil, food and drink and other products would make Scotland the sixth richest nation on earth. Clearly when Scotland becomes independent the rump UK would lose massive revenues. I suspect from the report's sentence "in common with all countries (the rump UK included) it [Scotland] would have to make some uncomfortable choices". Clearly the IFS concern is only with the UK holding on to Scottish products and the UK's loss of standing on the world stage.

Bill McLean,

5 Rosemill Court,

Newmills, Dunfermline.

Could it be that the report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies might signal the beginning of a mature debate on the economic prospects of an independent Scotland?

If so, such a departure will be most welcome. For too long the debate has been conducted at the level of a primary school playground spat. It is to be hoped the emergence of more authoritative information will allow our politicians to demonstrate they are capable of more than the infantile behaviour which in the past has characterised their day-to-day discourse.

John Kelly,

65 Hunter Road,

Milngavie.

There is a lot of discussion at present as to whether Scotland would be better off being independent. I feel that is not the point and would instead explore the analogy of divorce.

As a divorcee myself, a woman seeking a divorce is not doing so in order to be better off but in order to end a relationship. For many, this can mean financial sacrifice and difficulties but many women feel this is worthwhile to have freedom over their own destiny and live their lives as they would wish.

While the analogy could be pushed too far, it is often the case that a husband and wife get on better once they are not living together. This might well happen in the case of Scotland and England.

The relationship at present is a bit like when I was first married and needed my husband's permission to have a passport, get a loan or a mortgage, and my income was taxed as his. Marriage has moved on since then and has become more equal but the relationship between Scotland and England has not, or not fast enough.

I intend to vote yes to the question of Scottish independence, not because I believe Scotland will be better or worse off, but because she will have the chance to manage her own affairs as she sees fit.

Ann Rayner,

22 Saughton Crescent,

Edinburgh.

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