IT’S annoying to read ad nauseum in these columns the “Scotland too poor” trope trotted out by your regular unionist contributors. The latest version is to question where an independent Scotland would have found the money to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. Looking at how Westminster managed the event, I would suggest that Scotland would have done exactly the same as Rishi Sunak and borrowed it.

If one removes the Union Jack spectacles and examines the same data that unionists use to belittle the Scottish economy it is obvious that only greater London and the south-east of England generate more towards the economy than Scotland and that is simply because the UK’s wealth and the financial services that husband and protect it are located there; all the other constituent parts of the UK don’t pay their way. The concentration of commercial headquarters and entertainment venues in the capital ensure that the service sector thrives in the south-east.

One may have hoped that after four centuries of the existence of the Union there would have been a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources throughout the entire British Isles not all concentrated in the one wee self-absorbed corner of England.

Scotland too poor? Wait a minute, Westminster is bankrupt. The Government in Westminster has failed to balance the budget for years and despite a decade of crippling austerity it is forced to borrow consistently. The current UK national debt is in the region of £2 trillion and that is before one adds in the £600 billion we “borrowed” to bail out the banking industry or the recent £100bn the Bank of England gave the Treasury despite the fact of the bank having a positive balance of less than £5bn. Before criticising what could happen to Scotland if it were to become independent, I would suggest that those intent on maintaining the Union should fix Westminster as it is imploding.

So, let’s dump the “Scotland too wee, too small, too stupid” trope that the Establishment has brainwashed unionists to spout and let’s replace it with the more accurate “Westminster too inept, too corrupt, too bloody useless”.

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.

ANDY Maciver (“Have unionists given up or are they just asleep?”, The Herald, July 7) writes that the debate on constitutional issues is seldom “the stuff of a second Scottish Enlightenment”.

The great figures of the Scottish Enlightenment used an evidence-based approach to thinking. Perhaps Mr Maciver should try it some time. There were a number of statements remarkably free of this approach, I’ll confine myself to some of the highlights.

He states that Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to handling the Covid-19 epidemic “has been a near carbon-copy of Mr Johnson’s”. There were six deaths from the disease in Scotland last week. The number of deaths in England was 632. Given the proximity of the countries and the fact that Scotland has no control over its borders, this is an extraordinary divergence. How could this be achieved with a “carbon copy” approach? Let me help Mr Maciver here: it couldn’t. Those outcomes were achieved by the Scottish Government strictly following the advice of its scientific advisory body.

Mr Maciver believed in 2014 it would have been an act of self-harm to have voted Yes. While the Scottish Government works hard with limited powers to protect him and his family, in the true spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment, he can reflect on the wisdom of that statement, as a hard Brexit looms on the horizon, threatening to redouble the hardships brought about by the virus.

Jim Daly, Edinburgh EH10.

MARK Smith (“Scots and English nationalists are united by the same story”, The Herald, July 6) tries valiantly to make the widespread Scottish desire for independence look equivalent to English nationalism. The first rhetorical trick is to call supporters of Scottish independence “nationalists”. This sleight of hand is so common as to almost escape notice, but in a professional political commentator it’s either sloppy or deliberately slippery. Later, he acknowledges that strident types of English, or Scottish, nationalism have been unattractive to many, but he attributes this cooler view only to those in what he calls “the centre ground”. Those who support Scottish independence for reasons of bringing democracy closer to the people, or from dismay and disillusion with the seemingly endlessly dysfunctional and self-absorbed Westminster establishment, or any other rational argument, don’t seem to enter his thinking.

He also doesn’t notice that the question in YouGov’s poll that puts Tory support for English independence at 49 per cent is highly misleading in the context of Brexit. It asks how the the respondent would vote in a hypothetical referendum to the question “Should England be an independent country?” It surely should be obvious that for that still very large proportion of English people who have difficulty distinguishing between England and the UK, this is a direct echo of the Brexit referendum, and that they would be likely to answer it correspondingly.

That of course is YouGov’s survey howler, but Mr Smith should have known better than to build his convoluted argument about “nationalisms” around it. Neither does he address the fact, inconvenient for his thesis, that English Tories apparently tend to (what he calls) English nationalism but Scottish Tories are quite free of Scottish nationalism. He has started, it seems, from his pre-determined conclusion that wanting independence for Scotland is little more than a sentimental, even strident, patriotic reflex, and therefore the same sort of thing as Little Englandism. He might not approve of Scottish independence himself, but that does not excuse such spurious “analysis”.

Lyn Jones, Edinburgh EH3.

IN response to questions directed at me by John Jamieson (Letters, July 8) as to why Scotland has “failed to thrive” compared to England: first, he failed to acknowledge that in my letter of July 6 I was answering specific nonsensical claims by a previous correspondent and at no stage did I suggest that Scotland (as a whole) had not performed as well as rUK, which indeed it has.

The problem for an independent Scotland is that we spend nearly 20 per cent more on public services (Barnett) than England and because of our geography most of our businesses and economic activity are directed towards England – approximately 65%. In other words, provided we remain within the UK internal single market these anomalies do not matter a jot. However, a Scotland with hard borders and outside the lucrative UK market, with a massive borrowing requirement (especially after Covid), different currency, and outside the EU (for an indefinite period) would make the proverbial perfect storm look a squall in comparison.

Ian Lakin, Aberdeen AB13.

IN the midst of this continuing independence debate, I consider two questions remain unanswered and unresolved. Will Scottish-born UK passport holders and British citizens living in Scotland be deprived of those rights post-independence?

And will English-born, but happily-settled, UK citizens living their lives in Scotland be deprived of their rights to retain their UK citizenship and passport and be forced to accept a Scottish version if they wish to remain living here?

It is neither democratic nor fair to deprive so many of their birthrights and if independence supporters –SNP or otherwise – wish to secede from the UK they may well be entitled to do so, but they do not have the right to make others secede against their will and they might display some social democratic principles by acknowledging and answering the above.

Gerald Marshall, Kinnesswood.

Read more: Letters: Covid cannot mask indy pitfalls for ever