ROBIN McAlpine gives the example of converting vending machines to accept new coins to suggest that the issues that would have to be overcome by an independent Scotland are not difficult ("Independence would not be easy but Scots could pull it off", The Herald, December 11). It is a very strange example, particularly in an increasingly cashless society. He uses this example to support his proposition that the decision to become independent may be difficult but, once taken, implementing that decision is just hard work and not difficult at all. That is an inaccurate and disingenuous argument.

Of course Scotland can be a successful independent nation, but if it chooses to go down that route there are big economic challenges to be overcome. These include addressing the substantial shortfall between tax raised and the current level of public expenditure, the damage to business caused by trade friction at the borders, and the need to establish a central bank with its own currency and adequate reserves to maintain it. These are immensely hard issues with a huge adverse economic impact likely as they are worked through.

And how long will it take to work through them?

Mr McAlpine’s analogy with digging a hole brings thoughts of an afternoon spent gardening. But construction of the Clyde Tunnel was also "digging a hole". That took from 1957 until 1964. During that period people worked underground in extremely unpleasant conditions under high-pressure compressed air. Some suffered from decompression sickness and there were two fatalities. Hard work can be very hard and it can last for a very long time.

So how long will the hard work of creating a sound independent Scottish economy take? The SNP's Growth Commission, based on optimistic assumptions, suggested at least 10 years before a new currency could be established. There now seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that 20 to 30 years of economic disruption is realistic. The "difficult" decision about independence cannot be decoupled from a judgement of how hard the process will be and how long it will take. In my view, any potential benefits of independence are massively outweighed by the high level of uncertainty and the long and difficult road to achieving economic stability as an independent country.

George Rennie, Inverness.


RECENTLY in The Herald I have seen several times the false assertion that there is a clear majority in Scotland in favour of secession from the UK. The assertion is stated as a fact with no reference of any evidence to support it. No wonder, because the best evidence we have points to the opposite conclusion, namely, that only a minority of Scots want separation from the UK.

The evidence is in the 2019 General Election results. The separatist parties (SNP and Scottish Greens) received 1.3 million votes, whereas the pro-Union parties (Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat) received 1.5 million votes. As a percentage of the total electorate, the separatists got 30 per cent while the unionists got 35%. Therefore the assertion that a majority of Scots favour independence from the UK is simply false.

Of course polls are often used to claim majorities of one sort or another. Polls are commissioned from market research companies. Those companies have people signed up to them. They do not do random sampling in the street. Having got the people signed up, they then get them to fill out a profile which means parameters can be set for any survey. The whole business is wide open to abuse. It is ridiculous that polls are quoted so much when little is said about sample size, how obtained, significant error and commissioner. Just "the polls say ...".

I signed up to a market research company and I have taken part in a political survey. I had to state my age, which party I voted for in the General Election and how I voted in the 2014 referendum. I considered these demands improper, but failure to answer means you are dismissed from the survey. No doubt many others also found the questions improper and did not proceed, which means the sample was no longer the general public. When I got to the survey, I found it politically loaded. For example, one question asked: "Which political party best stands up for Scotland?" and top of the list (for no obvious reason) was the SNP. Other questions made me choose between two options when an obvious third option was not offered. For example, should tax raised in Scotland be spent in Scotland or should it be shared with the UK to spend on UK public services? When the reality is that the Barnett Formula ensures that Scotland enjoys higher public spending than in the rest of the UK, then the question put was blatant misinformation.

Since polls are now being used to bombard the electorate with misinformation, it is time that an independent regulator was set up to ensure that basic standards of honesty and probity are observed. The present attitude of "anything goes" has resulted in a Wild West of fraudulent claims where the general public can be manipulated and misled.

Les Reid, Edinburgh EH15.


VARIOUS of your latest correspondents make it clear that many nationalists will never believe GERS, no matter how many times they are reminded of its provenance, methodology and status.

What these nationalist GERS-deniers need to be asked is where they have found better and more accurate (in their eyes) information about Scotland's finances, and whether those sources also share the approval of the Scottish Government and the UK's statistical standards authority. If they have no such information, it must be assumed that they would wish to pursue independence on the basis of no reliable data whatsoever: a complete leap into the dark based on nothing but a hunch based on zero verified information.

I think they refer to this position of blind faith as "believing in Scotland", which sounds quite a lot like pro-Brexit rhetoric about the UK. That is working out well, isn't it?

Peter A Russell Glasgow G13.


HOW did Scotland end up with this triple whammy? A Tory Government for years in Westminster, a Labour Party which has totally lost its way since Tony Blair and Brexit which we did not want.

It is so sad that a proud and viable nation has been sidelined and ignored because we listened to the false promises in the referendum in 2014. The only way Scotland can stay in the EU is to stay in the UK.

Brexit will prove to be an unmitigated disaster both economically and in our relations with our nearest neighbours. This all because the English Tory party was so scared of Ukip and its own backbenchers that it ran the most disastrous referendum in 2016 and did not contest the lies that were told. Now we have the lie that Boris Johnson had a ready-made trade deal for our future with the EU.

I despair that the unionists in our midst can't see the consequences of their misplaced loyalty and its results for Scotland. Welcome to the consequences of loyalty in 2014.

Dave Biggart, Kilmacolm.


DUNCAN Sooman’s letter (December 9) is flawed by the fact he falls into the same trap as those he criticises, in that he demonstrates a fixation with only one-quarter of the inhabitants of these isles. I doubt if his father was a fan of either Lord Haw-Haw or Oswald Mosley. He also fails to spot the great myth that Cumberland’s victory at Culloden was a rout. How many affable leaders in history have been turned into monsters as a result of an overwhelming victory?

It is recorded that when he arrived in Nairn before the battle, he sought to occupy the local manse. The minister welcomed him, but apologised for the fact that he had just allowed Prince Charlie to stay there. Cumberland just shrugged his shoulders, saying “You could do little else.” It was the fact that he came to within an inch of losing the battle (and thus jeopardising his father’s crown) that turned him into a monster. For evidence, look no further than his letter to the Secretary of State in which he says there were some aspects of the battle which he could not put into writing, but would be reported verbally when they met. The Royal family had been wary of putting things into writing since February 13, 1692. The verbal report was doubtless passed onto Westminster in writing, to be concealed there ever since.

As for the battle being a civil war, that is absurd. Since the so-called “English” civil war the previous century, parliamentary democracy had effectively taken power and Scottish Hanoverians were fuming at the incompetence of the Walpole government’s abject failure to follow the advice they were given which would have prevented the rising from ever getting off the ground. A number of the major Jacobite chiefs were elderly and had given personal oaths of allegiance to the Stuarts. That’s what motivated them, not hatred of their Hanoverian friends. Scots Hanoverian chiefs knew that if their Jacobite friends were allowed to be released from their oaths, then they would have stayed at home. When a distant relation of mine, Major MacDonald of Tirnadrish (who started the ’45 at Highbridge), was hanged at Carlisle, the executor of his estate was his friend, Campbell of Achallader, a Hanoverian.

George F Campbell, Glasgow G41.