IT’S tiresome to read in these columns the same old argument of an independent “poor wee Scotland” being unable to deal with its share of UK national debt and to hear it trotted out by Murdo Fraser in his embarrassing performance the other night on BBC Newsnight. We get it.

Scots know that the UK has a £2 trillion national debt and that is before you add the conveniently ignored £600 billion created through quantitative easing to rescue the corrupt banking system or the £100 billion the Bank of England invented a few weeks ago to give to the Treasury or the gaping deficit there will be in this year’s Westminster’s annual budget because of the Covid-19 pandemic’s devastating effect on the UK GDP. Westminster hasn’t balanced the books for years and the impending disaster caused by Brexit will only make things worse, we understand all of that. We also know that the devolved Scottish Government balances its budget and has no control over and is incapable of directly adding to the UK national debt. Any money Scotland gets from Westminster through the Barnett formula is not English largesse but simply some of our taxes being returned to where they were gathered.

I reverse the question on our Unionist friends. What we Scots want to know is what England is going to do about the financial mismanagement of the UK economy, because the elected representatives we send to Westminster to reflect the views of the Scottish people simply cannot influence in any meaningful way what Westminster does. The facts are glaringly obvious that, despite years of austerity, England has failed to address fundamental flaws in our common economy and has compounded problems that have had and are having a detrimental effect on all the parts of our supposed union of equals. The distribution of wealth and its concentration in south-east England tells one all one needs to know about the role that Westminster plays and who controls it. HS2 encapsulates Westminster mentality.

It may seem a risky gamble for Scotland to become independent, but then again to take to the lifeboats in the midst of a storm may also seem risky: but the only alternative is to cower onboard and drown with the sinking ship.

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.

AS the independence drum continues to beat ever louder and coronavirus acts as a possible catalyst or excuse for change around the world, I can't help but feel that the time is ripe to explore what might or should become of the land we now call Scotland.

I can't speak for others but, for me, Scotland is divided both culturally and historically between Highland and Lowland, East Coast and West, not to mention the distinct nature of the people of the Northern Isles and the Scottish Borders. Different communities with different identities and different priorities. I do not see one homogenous nation.

As a person with very deep roots in the Celtic West I feel far greater affinity with the people of Ireland than I do with many of the communities further east and south. This is not a conscious choice, rather a statement of personal orientation and belonging.

The people of the Highlands and Islands have had an exceptionally poor deal from Edinburgh and its Lowland bastions in recent centuries. In return for backing the wrong horse in the 45, our precious Highland and Hebridean heartland has been decimated, its people and language oppressed, subjugated, burnt out and cleared. Are we supposed to say thank you?

As we move towards a second defining vote on our constitutional future I wonder if I am alone in not wanting to be a pawn in a game that involves Edinburgh replacing Westminster only for Edinburgh then to cede power to Brussels? Why would you do that? Why work so hard and build so many expectations only to achieve so little?

If I am to vote for change then it has to mean something tangible and not simply switching one uncaring master for another. I will not be convinced that rejoining the EU is anything other than being party to a European Project that will ultimately lead to the creation of a new country called Europe. Whither Scotia then?

Can I perhaps dream of a new Atlantic nation from Argyll and the Clyde Islands to Caithness with a border on the Highland line? In control of its own destiny, freed from Lowland control yet living respectfully alongside one another?

We have great natural resources, pure water, clean air, abundant capacity for energy generation, magnetic scenery to draw the tourists, wide open spaces, world-leading foods and whisky and, above all, brilliant people with global reach. Who knows what we can achieve if we can turn dust to seed, reap our own harvest and ring our own till?

I'll be honest and admit that I have no idea at this stage whether or not the people of the Highlands and Islands remotely share such a vision and how this could work economically but, in an age of iconoclasm and the redefinition of identity, no Lowland politician should assume that an independent Scotland would not, in turn, find itself broken up in time by those of us wishing to assert their fundamental right to self-determination.

As the creation of Holyrood emboldened nationalism, so I hope that independence will, in turn, trigger an explosion in regional identity politics within Scotland itself. One step at a time.

Fraser Kelly, Millport.

THERE is a simple answer to Maggie Chetty's question (Letters, July 22) why the Prime Minster wants to hang on to Scotland. It is because that is what the people of Scotland voted for in 2014, in a fair and free democratic referendum. You would think she might remember that.

Her letter also includes a fascinating reference to the UK benefiting from various taxes, although of course the Scottish Government's own figures tell us that Scotland gets more out of the Union by way of revenues than it puts in. The tax mentioned by Ms Chetty that is most intriguing is the one on whisky, which looks an awful lot like the mythical whisky export tax so beloved of nationalist conspiracy theorists. Likewise, she has now added a fish tax and a beef tax.

Which all begs a much better question than Ms Chetty's: if Scottish independence is such a great idea, why do its proponents have to tell so many lies to justify it?

Peter A Russell, Glasgow G13.

THERE seems to be growing concern that interpretation of the Hate Crime Bill presently going through Holyrood would have an adverse effect on freedom of speech , particularly as regards the aspect of "stirring up hatred" ("Flawed Hate Crime Bill poses a serious risk to free speech", The Herald, July 24)

Could those of us who write to The Herald then run the risk of being accused of that crime by the overly sensitive taking offence at our use of language criticising them, their views or their actions and as a consequence stirring up hatred in their own breast if not elsewhere ?

The letter (July 24) from David Stubley provides an interesting case study in what to me appears to be its deliberate use of language chosen in sum to be inflammatory and personally derogatory viz “lackeys", "toadying", "fallacious", "lie", "charlatan parties and their willing acolytes", “ proven liar" and "used car salesman". In some quarters this will cause offence, even hate. Will that come to be a crime in the future?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.