KEVIN Hague (Letters, December 10) sets out the various endorsements enjoyed by the GERS report, including being “commissioned by the Scottish Government (not Westminster), the ONS awards it National Statistics status and the Scottish Government’s own economists are responsible for every assumption within it”.

Mr Hague is correct that GERS is commissioned by the Scottish Government, but he doesn’t mention two very pertinent facts.

First, that when GERS was first produced it was at the behest of Ian (now Lord) Lang, who wrote to John Major (then PM) that “I judge that [GERS] is just what is needed at present in our campaign to maintain the initiative and undermine the other parties. This initiative could score against all of them.” Things, I am certain have changed, but this is hardly an origin to boast about.

But secondly, Mr Hague also seldom mentions that GERS, in its Introduction, addresses questions “about Scotland’s public sector finances under the current constitutional arrangements" – that is, only as part of the UK.

Why does this matter? Won't we have just the same financial problems when independent as GERS sets out? Maybe worse?

Well, it matters for the reason set out in GERS’ Detailed Revenue Methodology Paper, that “in some cases, revenue figures can be obtained for Scotland directly. Examples include local government revenues, devolved taxes, and elements of public corporation revenues. For other taxes separate identification of Scottish revenue is not possible. GERS therefore uses a number of different methodologies to apportion revenues to Scotland. In doing so, there are often theoretical and practical challenges in determining an appropriate share to allocate to Scotland. In certain cases, a variety of alternative methodologies could be applied each leading to different estimates.”

I am certain the economists and statisticians who produce GERS do a professional job, but the fact is – and it is confirmed in the final sentence – GERS is an estimate, and with other assumptions there could be a different outcome. But more than this, it is an estimate of Scotland’s position as part of the UK, so what does it tell us about independence? GERS is an estimate of a different constitutional arrangements.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

LIKE Kevin Hague, I am no economist, but even I know GERS is an annual reminder of how badly Scotland fares compared to say Denmark, Finland, Ireland or Norway as a result of our economy largely being controlled by Westminster. It does not tell us how an independent Scotland would perform, as in that case, the Scottish Government would have the power to make very different fiscal and monetary choices.

Almost one-third of the 2020 notional GERS figure is interest charged to Scotland on the UK’s national debt which was run up by Westminster, and why should an independent Scotland be liable for that without a population share of the UK’s assets and currency reserves?

£1 billion a year could easily be saved on the defence figure charged to Scotland and an extra few billion a year in revenue could be earned if we taxed oil and gas companies at the Norwegian level. HM Treasury figures show that the consequences of a no-deal Brexit in Scotland is a reduction of nine per cent of our wealth and even with a free trade deal it’s six per cent of our GDP.

Thanks to Boris Johnson’s disastrous handling of Covid, the UK has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other developed economy and out of the 37 OECD members only Argentina is expected to fare worse.

We have choices to make. Brexit Britain is high risk, while taking responsibility for ourselves is much less so.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh EH11.

THE letter from Hugh Andrew (December 10) was an interesting read, contending that the Scottish Government could be doing much better, albeit that Mr Andrew does admit that Holyrood has one hand tied behind its back.

Without going into the content of the letter I would make one observation: Mr Andrew writes in his capacity as managing director of Birlinn Ltd, a respected publisher in Scotland. A little research, however, reveals that he is a prominent member of Scottish Business UK, an organisation which was established recently to counter the independence movement. I have no issue with that, and a brief visit to SBUK's website gives an expansive list of the names of those involved, including our very own Struan Stevenson and Guy Stenhouse. Mr Andrew should have the courage of SBUK's convictions though, and where he is representing those views he should man-up and include that information in his letter.

I suspect that your Letters Pages will see many more such letters from members of that organisation as the debate intensifies. Bring it on.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

I WAS sorry to see the views of Hugh Andrew of Birlinn Ltd negating the Scottish Parliament and supporting the current unionist model disliked by most Scots. He is entitled to his views and I'm not about to take issue with them. However, I have always enjoyed the mainly Scottish-slanted books from Birlinn and a good many grace my bookshelf. My mental image of Birlinn was of a thoroughly Scottish company reflecting the aspirations of the country. Sadly, now I find a Scottish company promoting views diametrically opposed to my own and this will form part of my decision next time I consider buying from it.

Of all the errors listed in his letter he may have missed the most important one of all; never, never mix business and politics.

JA Smith, Dunblane.

I HAVE had many urges over the years to write a letter to The Herald but for lots of reasons I have resisted. As an erstwhile Labour supporter having moved during the ageing process to support independence, I had had my fill of a party that had lost its way and turned its back on what it originally stood for. I support Nicola Sturgeon in every way in spite of her difficulties. And then out of the blue comes a letter of such eloquence from an Englishman, Kevin Crowe (December 9). Inspiring in every way.

I feel the same way he feels for England and for Scotland. My love for England is deep-rooted but not for the imperialism displayed by the Brexiters. They seem to think that they can bring an empire back. Their empire is finished. We are a multi-racial Scotland inclusive of all peoples.

Tom Laurie, Glasgow G12.

PRIME Minister’s Questions is a time for serious questioning of the Prime Minister. What an utter embarrassment to witness today (December 9) SNP politicians, especially the hapless David Linden, waste valuable parliamentary time by waving like a clown at the PM as Boris Johnson replied to his shallow, groundless, insignificant question. Ian Blackford and Pete Wishart performed little better.

Were any of these politicians my MP, especially Mr Linden, I would have serious questions about their ability and what they do with their time in London. One saving grace: if they ever achieve their misguided dream of Scottish independence, their noses will be out of the lucrative trough.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.

Read more: It is Holyrood, not Westminster, that is holding Scotland back