THERE seems to be a new iron rule in Scottish politics. If Holyrood insists on doing things differently from the UK Government, the outcome is worse.

I am not saying that Westminster is perfect – far from it. But if you change your tax bands to levy more tax on even the moderately well-off, the end result is a lower tax take, not the increase in revenue that you anticipated ("Forbes warns of ‘very difficult financial position’ ahead of spending review", The Herald, May 3).

If you change the date of your 10-year census – not because of Covid, given that an election was held in 2021 – and try to carry it out yourself instead of as an integral part of the UK, as normal, then you get a lower rate of completion ("Over 400,000 households yet to return census as deadline nears", The Herald, May 30). In some areas, which, whether coincidentally or not, are Scottish nationalist strongholds like Dundee, the rate of return is so much lower than normal as to be pretty much worthless for future planning. It remains to be seen whether the nature of the questions in the Scottish census contributed to this failure. Intrusive and restrictive questions about nationality and gender perhaps discouraged some from completing the form.

As it is, Scotland is predicted to have a rate of census return well below the necessary 94 per cent, and to have by 2026-27 a deficit of £3.5 billion. Is this really what Scots were voting for in 1998 when they chose devolution?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


IT’S no laughing matter when you have a Finance Secretary that either chooses to ignore or does not grasp the concept of taxation. We often hear the SNP saying that Scotland is different, but it is evident that the Scottish people are not that different after all.

While raising the income tax brackets and rates we have to pay in Scotland, the Scottish Government has actually reduced its revenue compared to if we had continued to use the UK bands. The Laffer Curve is something that Derek Mackay, the previous Finance Secretary, needed to be educated on. It looks like no one briefed Kate Forbes on it or as I say, she chose to believe that Scots were different and that the revenue received would increase.

If taxes are raised, those with the means will find ways to avoid it (not evade it – a completely different matter). How many people put more money into their pension pots? How many people chose to buy back holiday or cut their working week to avoid falling into the next tax bracket up? How many perhaps illegally claimed to live in England?

I am sure that “lessons will be learned” but I’m afraid it has been yet again a very expensive lesson. £200 million has been missed out on because the SNP failed yet again to listen to experts.

Perhaps the lesson it could learn is this one – believe what the experts tell you rather than thinking you are wiser than you are.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


NEITHER Mark Smith nor Kezia Dugdale explain how they will fund their “radical” policies ("Sturgeon’s biggest problem? Scotland isn’t radical enough", The Herald, May 30), when the only tax power Scotland has to play with is income tax (whose optimum rate is a small variable). It's noticeable this week that the London Treasury, with a tick of the pen, can raise £5 billion from Scottish oil and gas profits, while the Scottish Government cannot get one brass penny from our own assets.

I’m afraid Mr Smith and Ms Dugdale sound more like students dependent on parental pocket money than revolutionaries storming the fiscal barricades. The Labour Party has opposed every tax-raising proposal mooted for Scotland, right from the enabling referendum in 1997 (tax-varying powers) so let us be honest here, please.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


EDINBURGH-BASED energy consultant Wood Mackenzie has reported that even without the windfall tax, the Westminster Treasury is set to rake in a record £12 billion from North Sea operators this year.

So where is Rishi Sunak’s “every home in the UK will receive £400” coming from? Scotland.

Remember this when the referendum comes.

Independence would make Scotland rich.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh.

* ELIZABETH Hands (Letters, May 30) states confidently that Scotland paid no money for the building of the London Underground Elizabeth Line. She obviously knows the details of how it was paid for, so perhaps she would inform the rest of us.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.


ONCE again Kevin McKenna, in his almost-weekly personal evisceration of Nicola Sturgeon, condemns the First Minister and the wider Scottish National Party for failing to govern in the way he thinks it should be done ("Nicola Sturgeon: The good, the bad and the, frankly, ugly", The Herald, May 28).

As a member of the SNP for almost 60 years I am well aware of the current impasse in taking forward the case for an independent Scotland and I am as frustrated as anyone in the wider independence movement at the current situation. Mr McKenna may well be privy to inside information from his sources, but as an ordinary foot soldier in the party I have faith in Nicola Sturgeon taking forward the case for an independence referendum, as opposed to meekly accepting rule from Westminster, with a Tory Party mired in scandal from the awards of PPE contracts, donations from Russian oligarchs over many years and a Prime Minister who continually obfuscates and is a stranger to the truth, backed up by a Cabinet of right-wing sycophants.

Mr McKenna appears to be obsessed by the pecuniary awards to SNP MSPs and MPs but is this not the rate for the job, for politicians of all parties?

It is always easy to earn a crust by commenting and criticising from outside the tent, which of course Mr McKenna has every right to do, but when in government after the banking collapse in 2008, 10 years of Tory-led austerity, Brexit and two years in dealing with the Covid crisis, I would suggest there are no easy answers out there.

Speaking personally, removing the shackles of rule from Westminster and taking on board the responsibility of creating a modern progressive democratic nation would be a start, where there would be a place for the SNP, a Scottish Labour Party (not a branch office), the Scottish Socialist Party, Greens, LibDems and yes, even for a reformed Conservative Party.

Alec Oattes, Ayr.


IN its endeavour to appeal to to a section of its "Bring back the days of the British Empire" voting base, the indications being leaked to the press by the UK Government is the reintroduction of some Imperial weight and measure standards, albeit the rest of the world, with the exception of the United States, is metric. (Interestingly, the US gallon is smaller than the Imperial gallon).

In addition, we are going to allow genetically modified crops in England and Wales, although not in Northern Ireland or Scotland, who will stay in line with EU regulations. The introduction of hormone-enhanced beef has not been mentioned so far.

I find all this very negative for a country that has to move forward to compete in productivity and scientific advance with the rest of the world.

Our children have not been taught Imperial measures for many years.

The advance of China into the largest manufacturing country in the world, overtaking the United States, was not achieved by using the abacus.

John Ewing, Ayr.


I NOTED a number of publications recently highlight that the UK Government was looking to bring back crown symbols on pint glasses after the EU had removed them.

A great story, with the UK “taking back control” from blundering Brussels bureaucrats who had initially stolen the symbol away, but yet another Euro-myth.

The crown stamp has been used on pint glasses for more than 300 years to show that they are large enough to hold a full pint. An EU directive, which came in in 2006, required the use of an EU-wide “CE” mark which stands for Conformité Européenne – French for “European Conformity”.

CE appears on many other products, from toys to medical devices, and it shows that they meet the EU’s safety, health and environmental rules. However, EU rules did not stop the UK from having the crown stamp on glasses.

As we have become accustomed to when it comes to the UK and its relationship with the EU, the truth often proves to be a sad casualty.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

Read more: Nationalism’s divisive nature makes it difficult to mark the Platinum Jubilee