IAIN Macwhirter ("Sorry Greta, SNP will fall back into the arms of its first love – oil", The Herald, August 26) raises the dilemma in the SNP over oil extraction and green issues. He points to oil revenues next year of £13bn, with 20bn barrels remaining in Scottish waters.

This is a timely reminder of the exciting realities and responsibilities of full sovereign independence versus the day-to-day governing in a massively-restricted devolved domestic parliament under London rule.

With sovereign powers, under independence, some new Scottish political party will copy Norway and choose oil and the £13bn annual tax take to fully eradicate the West of Scotland social deprivation legacy of former London rule.

They would likely add a further £1.5bn annually to the pot through renting out Faslane to England (and thereby also creating Scottish political leverage with England, the United States and Nato).

The economic and political case for independence is very different from the SNP running Holyrood.

Tom Johnston, Cumbernauld.

• I HAVE just finished reading, with great enjoyment, the 1998 Herald Book of The Clyde. I, as a boy and young man in the 1950s and early 60s, spent many happy days on some of the steamers and ferries beautifully illustrated in the book. That we cannot, as a nation, build two new ferries, on time and close to budget, leaves me angry and in despair. That, to me, suggests that the present Holyrood Government could not organise a booze-up in a brewery.

Kenneth T MacDonald, Crookedholm, East Ayrshire.


STRUAN Stevenson (“Litany of failure is why the SNP must be subject to UK scrutiny”, The Herald, August 25) goes on at great length about Scotland being a basket case, with its people saved from penury and destitution only by the beneficence of the rest of the UK. He concludes by thundering: “The latest GERS figures revealed the unpleasant truth about the state of our economy after 14 years of SNP misrule."

Given how long it takes to turn things around, it would be more accurate to say: “The latest GERS figures revealed the unpleasant truth about the state of our economy after 300 years of Westminster misrule.” The problems in our economy run deep and are rooted in our history as part of the UK; maybe it’s time to tear up those roots.

Mr Stevenson finishes by proclaiming that “the UK is better off with Scotland in it”. A surprising conclusion, given his entire article was about how much money the rest of the UK gives to Scotland. If that is indeed the case, clearly the UK would be better off without Scotland in it. I for one am happy to oblige.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

• THE GERS figures as reported (Letters, August 25 & 26) show that the Westminster Government spent £2,184 extra on everyone in Scotland during the last year.

Why does the Westminster Government not encourage independence? Why dies it want to retain Scotland in the UK if it costs an extra £12 billion, based on a population of six million?

Eric Macdonald, Paisley.


THE US economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman coined the term “zombie arguments” for arguments which have been repeatedly debunked yet still shamble on, “eating people’s brains”.

I have pointed out before in these pages that the UK Government has cut local government funding for English local authorities by some 50 per cent since 2010 and that these cuts feed through to the Scottish block grant via the Barnett formula. The same is true for the cuts visited upon education and the police as well as the underfunding of the NHS in England.

Nonetheless, Donald Macleod (“Bin strike is whipping up a stink”, The Herald, August 26) repeats the same mantra as many of your previous correspondents when public funding is in the spotlight that it is all the fault of the Scottish Government. However, in addition to the external constraints on the Scottish block grant, there is the scale of the cost of living crisis, which seriously sharpens demands on the Scottish Government’s budget and all the other budgets which draw on it.

Yet commentators like Mr Macleod still treat us to the zombie argument that it is all to be laid at the door of the Scottish Government. Whilst there may be a role for the Scottish Government in mediating between the unions and Cosla, there will always be the point-scoring that it is either interfering or, on the other hand, remaining aloof, which is Mr Macleod’s preferred view.

Needless to say, all the opposition parties are also getting in on the zombie argument, quite happily taking the electorate for low-information fools, all the better to grind their political axes.

Something less opportunist and more constructive would be welcome but is hardly to be expected when there is the prospect of making political capital of any kind.

Alasdair Rankin, Edinburgh.


I DO so agree with Alan Carmichael (Letters, August 23) that, in the words of the late great democrat Desmond Tutu, we shouldn’t raise our voices but raise our argument.

If the nationalists would only stop raising their voices in ever more strident grievance and improve their political/economic argument then they might (a) persuade more than 29 per cent of Scots than we need Indyref2, and (b) more than 45% of the Scots electorate to vote Yes.

Until then, the democratic rights of the 55% to self-determine to remain of the UK properly legitimately denies the nationalist minority their IndyRef2.

Alasdair C Sampson, Stewarton.


THE fact that someone like Martin Lewis ("The anger of Martin Lewis over energy prices should put UK Government to shame", Herald View, August 27), with an independent mind and excellent credentials, has been twice refused membership of the House of Lords tells us all we need to know about the dubious merits of that institution. 
We can compare the people on the “Honours list” that Boris Johnson is reputedly drawing up, and ask if any of them measure up to Martin Lewis. We could expand it, and inquire as to what those presently ensconced on the red benches have done to earn a place as lifetime legislators. Unelected by the public, unrepresentative of the public, but paid by the public.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


THERE is surely a very simple way to mitigate the cost of the living crisis, while also encouraging reduced carbon emissions. That is to tier energy prices – both gas and electricity – per household usage in favour of low users. The utility sets the base price, but bands and percentage premiums/discounts would be set by a regulator.

For example – 80% reduction vs. base price per unit for up to 50% of average household consumption, base price from 50% to 150% usage, and 200% premium for units beyond this. This would dramatically reduce utility costs for light users (those in most financial need) while encouraging heavy users to reduce consumption.

Competing on one base price removes the obfuscation of complex pricing schemes and should enhance price competition (less abnormal profits?). Such schemes have precedent (for example California and parts of China), though I suspect steeper tiers are required to achieve required goals. Our cost of living crisis, and need to reduce emissions, necessitates innovative solutions that I simply don’t hear from politicians.

Ian Warmerdam, Edinburgh.


THE scenes in Edinburgh of rubbish piling up, no doubt having now been seen all over the world, with the attendant stench and ng,other environmental concerns, have, of course, been shocking. We read that industrial action is escalating, with strikes now likely affecting schools, nurseries and waste collection in other parts of the country ("Council workers step up bin and school strikes", The Herald, August 26).

It is almost inevitable that people will be recalling the "Winter of Discontent" of 1978-79 when social and industrial disruption arose in the UK, then under a Labour government, as a result of widespread strike action. One hopes that we do not see a repeat of certain actions in Liverpool by union members when refusal to carry out burials led to bodies being collected in a cold storage depot. Let us indeed hope that, while the provision of public services may further deteriorate throughout the land, that things never get that bad.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.