DAVID J Crawford (Letters, December 31) makes the aspirational claim that "improvements could be made if the SNP administration had all of Scotland's tax revenue to play with rather than half".

Our national accounts (GERS 2018/19) state we tax-raised, with a geographical share of oil revenues, £62.7 billion but spent £75.3bn, giving Scotland an annual £12.6bn of spending not raised by our own taxation. Scotland directly administered £45bn (72 per cent) of spending from our tax raised, and more than £63bn of spending (more than 100 per cent of the total tax we raise) is immediately soaked up by spending on such as health, education and social security, and by UK administration of our pensions, housing benefit and other social security.

Additional UK spending on common UK services such as defence, transport infrastructure, EU net contributions, are effectively provided tax-free to our administration at Holyrood. With this extra £2,000 per person to spend than in England, to assist our rurality, there are no valid Holyrood Government excuses left for the deepening and diminishing health, education, transport, and homelessness performance we see reported on.

The other unevidenced claim by Mr Crawford is that "the Scottish NHS outperforms the NHS in the other countries of the Union". This has become political mantra, but is simply not the case. Overall A&E performance is more the exception with 89 per cent meeting the four-hour target in Scotland compared to 85 per cent in England. From the ISD Scotland and NHS England official statistics we are falling further behind NHS England, particularly since 2014. Scotland now has an average of 1,492 hospital beds blocked daily with delayed discharge patients as at October 2019, a magnitude some three times higher than the England rate. For potentially life-saving key diagnostics received within the six weeks target the Scotland NHS performance has plunged to 82 per cent compared to a robust 96 per cent south of the Border as at September 2019, a performance we once matched in 2014. For the RTT (Referral To Treatment) standard within 18 weeks performance is at 77 per cent and more than 250,000 patients missing the Treatment Time Guarantee, compared to a much higher 85 per cent in England, again as at September 2019.

Leaving the UK as a mythical salvation whilst ignoring fundamental currency, reserves, border, trade and fiscal deficit issues, and no longer sharing economic risk with the UK, will impose a economic recession with unprecedented cuts to already-struggling core public services and challenging levels of social protection

Richard Richardson, Glasgow G42.

ALAN Fitzpatrick (Letters, December 31) attempts to defend the use of “once in a generation” by those opposed to independence in order to prevent another referendum, by pointing to its use in the 2014 White Paper Scotland’s Future by then First Minister, Alex Salmond.

As so often, what is particularly interesting is that part of my letter which Mr Fitzpatrick studiously ignores – namely the statistics from Professor Curtice’s website What Scotland Thinks, which show that opinion on independence is now almost evenly split. Might it be the determination of such as Mr Fitzpatrick, to avoid another referendum is prompted by the fear that this time they might just lose? “Never mind if there is a majority who want to be independent, Alex Salmond said ‘Once in a generation’!”

Has it not come to something when the Unionist side has to hide behind a quote from a document of which they were critical of almost every other word, written by someone they would not have believed if they had told them the time of day, in order to justify their position. Perhaps better than anything, it illustrates the extreme and increasing poverty of their argument against Scottish independence.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

IT is always of interest to see real examples of “Scotland’s place in the UK”. Hence, with the release from the National Archives, we can examine why two Englishmen (one MP, one Lord) thought it would be a good wheeze for Scotland to exist in a different time zone from them, but then how another Englishman stopped their scheme ("Major was strongly opposed to separate Scottish timezone", The Herald, December 31). Scots had no genuine role in all this, there was no consultation or reference as to our wishes.

Of course that generation of Scottish Tory MPs were entirely voted out by the Scottish electorate in 1997, but some of them are still legislating over us to this day, via a risible elevation to the peerage. That is reflective of “Scotland’s place in the UK”, which is one of cringing subservience of the Scottish Office and its usually-unrepresentative office-bearer.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Read more: We need independence to improve the lives of the impoverished