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The referendum should be about destiny, not pounds

Well, that's it, then – the final nail has been driven into the case for independence ("Row flares as Treasury blasts SNP oil dividend", The Herald, January 5).

As instructed by their Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, the number crunchers in the UK Treasury have analysed the last 12 years of Gers reports on Government expenditure and income in Scotland, and now reveal that every Scot would have been a whole £1 a year worse off if we had been running our own economy.

That's four fags, one sip of a good single malt or nearly a whole litre of petrol fewer every year. Surely that's far too big a price to pay, and no Scot in his or her right mind would vote for such a deal?

So the LibDem Mr Alexander suggests we should forget about home rule (his own party's policy for the last 100 years) and understand we are generously looked after under the present arrangements. Does he really expect us to take such a fatuous argument seriously?

For a start, it is wrong to assume annual tax income and public expenditure would have been the same in an independent Scotland. With full fiscal control a Scottish Government (of any political persuasion) might have lowered or raised personal or business taxes, taken steps to support and grow the economy, kept control of the reckless financial sector and not wasted billions of pounds on futile wars and vainglorious projects. It would have followed different social, industrial and national policies in many areas, producing a different outcome for the Scottish economy and its people.

Nor can such past figures be projected into the future with any degree of certainty. Annual oil revenues have constantly been underestimated and had to be corrected in subsequent Gers reports. The OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility) – not a body with a great record in forecasting – now predicts oil revenues will steadily reduce, yet the oil industry believes there are still 40 years of North Sea oil to be recovered. The international market price will continue to fluctuate, but the OBR forecast is based on the long-term contract cost of $89 per barrel, yet the current price is $107 and the medium-term expectation $120 per barrel.

Who can tell what it will be in a few years? And if oil supplies do dwindle the price will be forced up. Other future estimates are just as questionable.

The fact is no-one can say with certainty how the national and international economies of the UK or Scotland will perform in the next 10, 20 or 50 years. Who 10 years ago was predicting the economic crisis we are now living through?

The decision on whether Scotland should be independent cannot and should not be based on political projections, promises or threats of economic outcomes. Nor is it merely a matter of blind faith. It is whether we Scots should continue to be ruled by a Government and a Parliament for which we did not vote and in which we have a less than 10% representation, or instead believe we are perfectly capable of making our own decisions and should take charge of our own destiny. That is what the 2014 referendum should be all about, not whether we might personally be a few pounds better or worse off.

Iain AD Mann,

7 Kelvin Court,

Glasgow.

How is one expected to make a balanced decision on the financial soundness of the case for or against independence if the politicians cannot even agree on the facts?

The latest dispute about the Gers statistics simply reinforces the impression that one cannot believe anything that emanates from the mouth of any politician. Both sides cannot be right about these figures so which side is being economical with the truth?

David J Crawford,

131 Shuna Street,

Glasgow.

I was fairly taken by your news that the Coalition says it will cost me a pound a year to live in an independent Scotland. Can you please tell me where I can pay my subscription? And is it true this might mean an annual bonus of £500 per annum?

K M Campbell,

Bank House,

10 Main Street,

Doune.

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