THE Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report was published yesterday ("Scotland's deficit slips to a record six times of UK's", The Herald, August 22). It shows how the Union benefits Scots, giving each of us almost £2,000 of expenditure more than Scots raise for themselves. This means that Scotland has a deficit of seven per cent, and Nicola Sturgeon boasts about that deficit declining – from 7.9 per cent. Even so, it remains the highest deficit in Europe.

GERS is produced by expert professional statisticians working for the Scottish Government, which takes full responsibility for its figures. There is plenty of evidence, from 2013-14, of leading SNP people, such as Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, John Swinney, Angus Robertson, Stewart Hosie, Humza Yousaf, lauding GERS. That, of course, was when the GERS showed that Scotland's finances were in balance. Now, nationalists complain about GERS, saying it is useless, tells us nothing about Scottish finances because it is based on "estimates" – as if carefully-compiled financial estimates were no better than random guesswork. Some of them insult hardworking statisticians by accusing them of manipulating the figures for political reasons.

How could we possibly hold a referendum in an atmosphere where factual evidence is so denied by activists on one side? Until Ms Sturgeon instructs her activists to stop telling porkies about GERS in particular and Scotland’s financial position in general, there can be no question of any campaign.

Jill Stephenson,

Edinburgh EH14.

FOR many years the SNP made its economic arguments for breaking up the UK by quoting the latest GERS figures. It used these figures as an unquestionable, quasi Bible. Now the latest figures from exactly the same source show a Scottish deficit almost beyond belief, we are subjected to convoluted arguments from SNP supporters, basically discrediting the figures that show what many have said since day one: Scotland is infinitely better off economically and in every other way by sharing and pooling our resources with those with whom we share this island.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh EH6.

YOUR frontpage headline, “Scotland’s deficit slips to a record six times size of UK’s” is simply mind-boggling and shows financial mismanagement by the UK on a gigantic scale, yet no one has been held to account for this dreadful state of affairs. It is of no comfort to learn that Wales and Northern Ireland are in a worse state and if anything compounds the gross incompetence of those in Westminster who have been in charge of our finances over many decades of a North Sea oil bonanza. The Unionist-supporting media are besides themselves with glee at the dire financial mess Westminster has put Scotland in and actually have the gall to tell us to ask for more of this financial punishment along with the lowest pensions in the EU and the prospect of waiting until 75 to receive it. Enough!

If the estimated figures which make up much of the GERS report are accepted at face value and ignoring the fact that they relate to Scotland being part of the UK, not an independent country with different priorities, we must ask ourselves can we really afford to remain part of the UK where all this pooling and sharing results in such financial mire for Scotland, albeit the deficit has been reduced under the careful stewardship of the SNP government?

In a recent article in the Financial Times by David McWilliams, comparing Ireland with the UK in the context of Brexit, the strapline said “The Irish are now 25% richer than their UK counterparts”. Scotland has many natural resources far in excess of what Ireland has and the travesty is that for centuries the UK has exploited Scotland’s natural resources in a way which has not benefited Scotland and in many areas we remain at the bottom of health statistics tables, with high levels of deprivation and shortened life expectancy. In a previous letter I highlighted the 1975 McCrone Report findings that North Sea oil revenue should be used to aid Scotland’s specific problems but nothing was done.

There are still abundant natural resources in Scotland, including oil and gas, and now is the time we must use them ourselves as an independent country to help eliminate many of the problems suffered by our less fortunate people. Time to build a modern infrastructure the length and breadth of Scotland in keeping with what most small European countries already enjoy. We are not greedy and of course we will share them with our neighbours, but on our terms just for a change.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

THE GERS report this year is good news for the Scottish economy. It shows the economy improved by £1.2 billion this year.

The GERS report does not pretend to measure the fiscal position in an independent Scotland. It has several estimated figures and is affected by bad spending decisions by the Conservative Government in London (Trident, for example). However, if we accept the inaccurate aspects of the report and Scotland

repeats this level of performance, the GERS report will show a surplus in 10 years.

In an independent Scotland, however, we can invest to grow the economy quicker and stop spending money on London's vanity projects from which we gain no benefit. There is an arc of prosperity surrounding us on all sides, from Ireland to Holland through Iceland, Norway and Denmark.

These are among the most economically and socially successful countries in

the world. We must join them.

Francis Buchan, Edinburgh EH16.

Read more: GERS is a controversial but accurate picture of Scotland in 2019