JILL Stephenson (Letters, March 6) wants to know why Scots don’t want to go back to direct rule (and every poll shows they don’t) from Westminster. Scotland’s economy was in freefall right across the 20th century, low growth, high outwards migration, when entirely controlled from Westminster. There were only a few minutes a month devoted to “Scottish Business”, and often Scottish law changes consisted of a paragraph tacked onto a bill for England/Wales whether relevant to Scotland’s legal system.

If she wants Scotland to be directly integrated (given the lack of Unionist MPs from Scotland, and their poor quality, that might have to be the case), then to bring us into line with England, half our nurses would have to be sacked: some teachers, 2,000 police would have to go, along with GPs and other health workers. All these people (the ones who remained) would see their wages cut to the same rate as down south. Class sizes would rise; A&E figures would be much worse; waits on trolleys become the norm; funding for local government would decline; privatisation across the board increased. University students would have to pay for an education that has historically been free.

The good thing is, no minister seems to be held to account in England, in the way that Scottish ministers are, so the blame always flows downwards.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

JILL Stephenson) asks: "Is it time to have a forensic look at what benefit, if any, the Scottish Parliament brings to Scots?" While we are having a look at that, we could also have a forensic look at what benefit the Westminster Parliament brings to Scots and ask, under the auspices of which parliament would we be charged £9 per item for our medical prescriptions and up to £27,000 for our university education?

Which parliament dumps Trident in our waters and sent our soldiers into an illegal war? Which parliament failed to set up an oil fund for Scotland, and which parliament ignored the wishes of the majority of Scots who voted to remain within the European Union?

Which parliament benefits Scots? Our parliament, elected entirely by voters in Scotland. Devolution has been good for Scotland, more powers would make it better, and best of all would be if Scotland's future was always in the hands of Scotland's democratically elected parliament.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

SO Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has finally woken up and smelt the coffee with the regard to the ending of free movement for EU nationals to the UK ("Scottish Secretary admits there are ‘difficulties’ on immigration’", The Herald, March 6) . Where has Mr Jack been for the last two years and more when Scotland has repeatedly sent a message to Westminster that ending free movement would be a disaster for employers in Scotland?

Only the day before you carried report in your business section headed "Arran resort delays key project after EU job applications plunge" Those applications from outwith the UK have fallen by 75 per cent at the Auchrannie resort on Arran, an island whose economy depends on tourism.

Nicola Sturgeon took proposals for a Scottish visa plan to Westminster in an attempt to mitigate the effect on Scotland of the new points-based immigration system, but to no avail.

Mr Jack’s admission of difficulties for employers to follow is all very well, but that is after the horse has bolted and the impact is already evident. The dearth of EU workers in some of our key and critical services is more clear evidence that Brexit continues to be a disaster in the making, one which takes the Conservative Government at Westminster well and truly out of its depth.

Scotland simply can’t afford any more catastrophes brought on by Westminster's inability to see the bigger picture of the need of the devolved governments to protect their economies. Scotland really deserves better and the minimum requirement right now is a seat at future trade deal talks with the EU and a complete review of the new points-based immigration system.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

IN a strange turn of events, John Mason MSP, a man who said he wouldn’t represent you if you were a Unionist or wanted tax cuts, is now the voice of calm reason and prudence in the SNP ("SNP MSP: Indyref2 must wait for Yes lift", The Herald, March 6).

It’s hard to argue with his assessment of a 60-70 per cent level of support for another independence to go ahead.

Brexit has demonstrated the depth of divisions that referendums induce in people and society. A Scottish independence poll could potentially be worse if the hatred some people exhibited in 2014 is anything to go by. Even in 2020 there are people in Scotland who will not buy goods with a British flag on it, but won’t think twice about purchases from states with contemporary and horrific human right abuses.

Binary choices put us all in two opposing camps, who hurl abuse across the electronic and social ether; none of which is really conducive to dialogue and democracy.

A 60-70 per cent level of support would provide a clear majority, would provide a sheen of democratic legitimacy and would finally force a pro-independence coalition to provide powerful, provocative, literate and realistic arguments to the electorate. Something it has really yet to do.

David Bone, Girvan.

LAST Thursday (March 5) I had a letter published which claimed that the implementation of a Johnsonian Brexit could well drive me to consider voting for the SNP next year.

However, for the benefit of James Martin (Letters, March 6), let me clarify my position which space prevented me from detailing in that letter. My decision to vote SNP would depend upon the Scottish Government at least having published a convincing White Paper explaining how the economy of an independent Scotland would function. I am not entirely convinced that will prove possible and to claim, as the Yes/SNP campaign did in 2014, that everything would work out for the best solely as a consequence of being independent would be totally insufficient.

This is the difference between hard-core nationalists for whom independence is an end in itself and those of us who seek to be convinced.

May I take this opportunity to confirm Mr Martin’s suspicions. I shall never accept the outcome of the 2016 gerrymandered referendum.

John Milne, Uddingston.

ALLAN Thompson (Letters, March 5) takes me to task for the politics of grievance. However, I think he fails to appreciate, or chooses not to, the full implications of my argument.

Mr Thompson’s argument is based on the frequent argument that elsewhere in the UK does better out of the government than Scotland does, they get this but we don’t, things are better down there and we are left behind and so on.

In contrast my argument is not based on what has happened, but rather going forward, on the direction of travel of policy development in Edinburgh and London. That the latter, in terms of its NHS development, appears to be heading toward privatised medicine, while the former is more influenced by Scandinavian policy of high-quality services based on a higher level of taxation. In other words, it is not about where policy and practice are now, but where they might be in 10 or 15 years, and in particular whether that degree of variance is manageable within the current Union, economically or politically.

Nor, Mr Thomson might do well to remember, was this my observation, but said in reply to a question about the “shocking degree of health inequalities in England”. The source was Danny Dorling, Professor of Social Geography at the University of Oxford. I rather suspect it would be difficult to realistically categorise ProfDorling as a grievance-ridden Nat.

Moreover, Mr Thomson may consider this observation a “divisive wedge”, but Prof Dorling’s work shows that infant mortality in England has risen since 2015, but fallen in Scotland. The policy differences are therefore real, but more than this, validated by the electorate at successive elections.

Lastly, in response to Mr Thomson’s question of what we have in common with Latvia or Estonia, the answer I suppose is “not that much”. On the other hand, no one is suggesting that we enter into the sort of all-embracing union with these countries that we have had with England for the last 313 years.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

THE question has to be asked: does the entire political class hate small business?

The Scottish Finance Secretary has announced a near-25 per cent rise in business rates between the coming tax year starting next month and the year 23/24. That averages out to a rise of more than seven per cent per year.

Next month’s annual rise in the minimum wage for 25-year-olds and above is 6.2 per cent. When the minimum wage rises the increase propagates up the work ladder, as the team leader will expect to keep their differential and above them the manager likewise. And then it propagates between companies even if they are paying well over the minimum wage, as they compete for the same employees.

At the same time, as a result of the coronavirus and the reaction to its spread, this year there is likely to be an economic downturn.

These rises are dumped on small businesses by well-remunerated politicians, who don’t have to worry about making a profit in order to pay their own bills.

Otto Inglis, Edinburgh EH4.

DR RM Morris (Letters, March 5) fails to point out that, if Kate Forbes adopts the recommendation from the CEO of Scottish Power – published in The Herald last June – Herald of June 21) that "renewable energy is too expensive for consumers hence the cost must be transferred to the taxpayer", then the use of such energy, free at the point of use, will increase dramatically. What will be the tax increase for 2.4 million Scots and why the silence on this topic when it should be addressed by all political parties at the 2021 election

The second item, never discussed by Holyrood, is the massive increase in constraint payments arising from a ban on fossil fuels. A four-fold increase on renewables to charge electric vehicles plus replacing energy for gas boilers means that over the summer, when heating demand is low, the excess capacity will swamp the current interconnectors, resulting in multi billion pound constraint payments – all costs to be met by the long-suffering taxpayer.

Dr Morris et al need to recognise that Scotland cannot afford the demise of the UK grid and the 92 per cent subsidy from English consumers.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas.

Read more: Jack admits there are ‘difficulties’ on immigration