ALEX Gallagher further illustrates Scottish Labour's lack of vision and ambition for Scotland (Letters, November 14).
The IPPR North, Borderland report he refers to goes on to say: "The North needs a powerful advocate to demand far more powers and resources from London in order to give us more control over our economic destiny". One of the major reasons the SNP was re-elected in 2011 was that people, whether independence supporters or not, recognised that the SNP Government was a powerful advocate for Scotland and not beholden to London party masters.
He goes on to perpetuate the myth that the SNP advocates what he calls Irish levels of business tax. Irish corporation tax is at 12.5%. Competitive business taxes are one of the main elements in attracting new investment to our economy. The UK Government has recognised this by reducing UK corporation taxes. The top rate is down from 26% in the last tax year to 24% in the current year. The UK Government is proposing to devolve that tax power to Northern Ireland whilst refusing to devolve it to Scotland. The SNP is proposing to reduce the tax to 20%, not 12.5%, which can only now happen with independence.
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A further concern for the north-east of England as well as Scotland is the UK Government's plans to take high-speed rail initially only to Birmingham and then on to Manchester. Scottish ministers are keen for that line to be extended to Scotland. The Scottish Government wishes to push ahead with plans for high-speed rail and is committing to a new link between Glasgow and Edinburgh. No costed proposal has been made yet but the announcement is a further indication of the Government's ambition for Scotland.
Mr Gallagher criticises the SNP's support for universal benefits while his party backs the renewal of Trident. The UK Government will spend £3bn in preparation work for this system which will not even be put forward for approval in the UK Parliament until 2016. Put another way, that is about three years' worth of universal benefits in Scotland.
AS a life-long SNP supporter, it pains me to say that Michael Gallagher is spot on with his criticism of Alex Salmond in particular and the SNP in general (Letters, November 14). They are just not listening. They claim to be leading Scotland to independence while at the same time insisting on tying its financial and economic future to the decisions of the Bank of England and the European Union. These institutions will not be slow to dictate policy at every level of life in Scotland.
Mr Salmond knows that an independent Scotland, even if nominally free of the BoE and the EU, would still have the supply and allocation of its money in the hands of private commercial banks, thus continuing the bank-led business cycle of boom and bust – with no prospect of blaming England. Exactly what kind of freedom or sovereignty he envisages is becoming increasingly muddled and opaque.
Other aspects of the Scottish Government's social policies are likely to be ruinous in their effect: nuclear power, a clean and profitable energy source, has been rejected in favour of expensively subsidised and inefficient windfarms blotting the landscape. Those who require the protection of the law will be disadvantaged by the reforms to the legal aid process, which has led to substantial cuts, a contribution from those on a modest income and the absurd situation of defence lawyers collecting legal aid fees from their clients. But you won't be able to close your front door and put these troubles behind you; our Justice Minister is reported to be minded to grant police added powers to search property without a warrant.
I have longed for decades to see Scotland an independent nation but the only way that will happen is if the toffs in Westminster continue to make a complete mess of the economy. Things may yet get so bad that we are likely to choose to jump out of one frying pan into another, smaller, one.
91 Langbar Crescent, Glasgow.
THE superb interrogation given by the committee of Westminster MPs to Amazon, Starbucks and Google over non-payment of corporation tax was a joy to watch. It is sad to reflect that no Scottish Parliament Committee has the courage to do the same over the decision by the First Minister to give Amazon £10m of Scottish taxpayers' money. Why do we give money to a company that doesn't then pay corporation tax? Do MSPs not want to know the answer to that question? Do all of the jobs Amazon brings pay the living wage or do we taxpayers further subsidise them with tax credits because they pay their staff so little? With an SNP majority on every committee difficult questions are not being asked of the SNP Government.
I would like the committees to ask why the main power the First Minister wants for an independent Scotland is the ability to cut the corporation tax of Amazon, Starbucks or Scottish & Southern Energy that announced half-yearly profits of £400m.
90 Spottiswoode Street, Edinburgh.