YOU invite opinions from readers on Scottish independence ("Bring on debate on Scotland’s future", The Herald, June 18). My view is that thanks to being part of the world's fifth-largest economy we are better off in the 300-year-old Union.

How would an independent Scotland led by Nicola Sturgeon, Kate Forbes and Patrick Harvie make up for the shortfall of the Barnett largesse when the Treasury tap was turned off? What taxes would have to rise, what expenditure would have to be cut? Just how much of a midden would the Scottish economy be in?

All the freebies Scots get as part of the United Kingdom are thanks to the Barnett formula. Scotland receives £32 billion per annum from the Treasury to pay for these give-aways – many of which are really policies to buy votes. The Barnett formula is not a legal obligation, and was introduced 40 years ago as a temporary measure. It's time for change, because it's not ethical that English taxpayers pay for Scottish largesse.

The Scottish Government has the power to raise taxes to pay for its profligacy, so why shouldn't it? Scrapping the Barnett formula would treat Liverpudlians the same as Glaswegians. The SNP is always in favour of equality, so how could it argue against that? If this were done now it would let Scots see how independence would diminish the quality of their lives and put the separation question beyond doubt.

Another solution would be for the UK Government to revise the distribution of the £2,000 per man, woman and child subsidy that every Scot gets so that say £1,000 of that is paid directly into Scots' bank accounts, making a family of four £4,000 better off, with the SNP Government having either to make up the shortfall by taxation or cut its profligate spending. It wouldn't like that at all, would they?

William Loneskie, Lauder.


DAVID J Crawford (Letters, June 30) appears to have fallen for the standard SNP mantra of "deny and deflect", coupled with its complete lack of willingness to accept responsibility. He somehow follows our useless Health Secretary Humza Yousaf in blaming Westminster for failing NHS treatments when – as is clear to all apart from the most blinkered – NHS Scotland is fully devolved and all of its woes are solely down to Nicola Sturgeon and her alliance with the minority Greens. Indeed, so too are the woes of our falling education standards, collapsing ferry network, failed census, the missing Covid millions that have never reached the businesses for which they were provided, and every other initiative and investment turning to dust under the SNP.

Mr Crawford perhaps should be asking the question "how can you have a millionaire MP leading the SNP in the House of Commons with a focus solely on breaking up the UK at huge economic cost to Scotland, while his own constituents cannot even rely on an effective ferry service to their islands to sustain their essential provisions?"

If the nationalists were to fix these, and the other gaping wounds which they have inflicted in their ineffective 14 years of leading Holyrood, then they might be able to convince the balanced voter that they are capable of some form of leadership, but all we hear from them is that it is never their fault, while they are destroying Scotland with their incessant and divisive obsession with separatism.

Steph Johnson, Glasgow.


IS it not time the advocates of Indyref2 came clean to allow a grown-up debate on the implications, such as possible border consequences, of another referendum by admitting their desire cannot properly be described simply as to achieve “independence" unless they say from what? Their stated aim is to leave the UK and join the EU, in effect substituting control from Brussels/ Strasbourg for that more currently exercised from Westminster. To call that achieving “independence" is a nonsense unless it is qualified by “from the UK".

There is also the necessity of framing an appropriate question in any future referendum on this subject. A Yes/No answer could at first sight be thought to be appropriate if the question were whether or not to stay in or leave the UK, but then fairness demands that account must be taken of the inherent bias in favour of Yes over No as accepted by the Electoral Commission.

If there is another referendum, whether advisory or determining, it follows that to reflect accurately what is at stake it should ask whether the people wish to Leave or Stay in the UK. Anything else is at best misleading, whether deliberately or inadvertently.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


MATT Qvortrup, professor of political science at Coventry University, considers the Scottish Government does “not have the powers to force [a referendum] through in the face of objections from Westminster”, while Ciaran Martin, the UK Government’s former constitution director, considers “this might stand a better chance in court”. Of course, both professors, having been asked their opinion are giving just that – their opinion – for until a proposal made is legally challenged, we cannot know the answer. Until then, chose your professor.

If, though, Prof Qvortrup is proven correct it raises the possibility that no matter how high support for independence becomes, the constitutional and legal reality is that the people of Scotland would be unable to take their independence without the consent of Westminster. At the present time, this would be especially worrying as the current Westminster Government discusses revoking the ECHR and so restrict political action considered democratic up to now, has already taken powers over elections through its authority over the Electoral Commission, and has made very clear that if it considers it necessary it will act contrary to international law.

However, a legal alternative to a Section 30 Order was mooted after the 2011 election, though never tested, as the Edinburgh Agreement was signed. Did David Cameron prefer a vote within the terms of the Scotland Act and so agreed a S30 Order? Or perhaps, because support for independence being at a very low level – low thirties, high twenties – that independence would be rejected by a large enough margin to settle the issue?

Thus, how much are the current Westminster leadership’s objections motivated by their confidence to repeat 2014? After all, opinion polls now bear little resemblance to 2012. A S30 Order is a political decision, so is it legitimate to hide behind the law – the means by which we manage our collective affairs – to prevent even the possibility of testing the views of the Scottish community about independence?

But even more critically, even if there were a S30 Order leading to a majority vote for Yes, it would still be necessary that Westminster accepts this. With a Government that as above, has made clear its willingness to break international law, renege on the ECHR and take control of elections, how much confidence should we, the Scottish electorate, have that it will respect this?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


THERE is a simple way for the Scottish Government to progress with its plans for a second referendum on Scottish independence, which can avoid waiting for permission from Westminster. The Scottish Government can pose the following question to the Scottish people without the permission of London: "Do you wish the Scottish Government to hold a referendum to ask people in Scotland if they wish to be an independent country?"

If the answer is no, then that is clearly the end of the matter for the time being. If the answer is yes, then clearly the people of Scotland wish to revisit the issue and any claim that people in Scotland do not wish a further referendum on the issue, as currently claimed by the unionist parties, would have been proved to have been untrue. This would be a way of unlocking the stalemate of politics in Scotland and allow us to move forwards, one way or another.

Gavin Fleming, Edinburgh.

• “DIVISIVE” is a word plastered everywhere just now to describe a second independence referendum. Can we not instead think of the referendum as a vital discussion among Scots as to what we want the best future for Scotland to be, for our children and grandchildren?

Susan Grant, Tain.


IN the many comments about Nicola Sturgeon's plans for another Scottish independence referendum‎ in 2023 no mention has been made of their insensitivity and disrespect to the Queen.

Scottish separation would hardly be a just reward for ‎her dedicated duty and loyal service to the United Kingdom for more than 70 years.

Tim Jackson, Gullane.

Read more: If they want us to stay, they should fix the UK first