JEREMY Hunt will probably not please anybody in his Autumn Statement, even though his tax and spending cuts of around £50 billion are only five per cent of the Government's total £1.1 trillion annual spend.

The real way to solve the problem is economic growth and productivity. We need to get people back to work, reform the most costly public services, the NHS and education and health – and change attitudes to and expectations of what the state provides for the amount we are prepared to pay.

There are 5.5 million UK citizens not available for work but on out of work benefits – up from 3.6m in 2018. Another 1.2m are registered unemployed and available for work – and there are 1.2m unfilled job vacancies.

Since 2019 600k people have left the workforce, a loss of between £2bn and £4bn in tax and National Insurance.

One of the reasons given for many people leaving employment include waiting for medical treatment for long-term illness. How can this be when, according to the BMA, inflation-corrected spending on the NHS has almost trebled since 1999 from £74bn to £193bn. And increased by a factor of 12 from £16bn in 1960?

It's a similar story with education. When I went to school in 1960 the UK spent 2% of GDP on education. It’s now around 8.5%.

So we spend four times more today than when Scottish public education was the best in the world.

Why has all this happened? How about a combination of us all going soft, a very human response to years of peace, actual prosperity, decline in family life, de-industrialisation, globalisation, consumerism – and a population trained to expect the Government to solve all our problems? And no moral, social or political leadership willing to spell this out, challenge us and show us the way forward, because whoever does will be eaten alive by the media and their political opponents.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

Brexit is doing us down

PETER Russell (Letters, November 15) asks from where an independent Scotland would recoup the £10 billion subsidy we receive from the UK. Despite a benign taxation regime compared to Norway, the UK Government is expecting more than £12bn from Scotland’s North Sea revenues this year while UK inflation has removed £1.7bn from the Scottish Government’s very finite budget.

Brexit, which Scotland rejected, has reduced UK GPD by twice as much as Covid and is a major reason for UK recession and the decade of austerity that lies ahead. Now we learn that, as predicted, the UK/Australia trade deal is bad for Scotland’s farming, food and drink industries ("Johnson-era minister admits Australia trade deal ‘is not very good’ for UK", The Herald, November 15).The UK economy is over-reliant on a disreputable City of London financial sector which has been overtaken by Paris, with many jobs moving to Dublin post Brexit, and while Scotland is hoping for a ferry link to Bruges, Ireland with fewer exports, has 44 direct sailings to Europe every week.

Unlike England, energy-rich Scotland is a net exporter of oil, gas and electricity with a balance of trade surplus, which will earn foreign currency including from our food and drink industries, making a nonsense of Professor Ronald MacDonald’s claims on a Scottish currency ("Leading economist warns independence would see ‘day one currency crisis’", The Herald, November 14). On independence, Scotland would also be entitled to a share of the UK Bank of England’s reserves, particularly if we are expected to pay interest on the UK National Debt. Last year, Prof MacDonald claimed that Scotland would need £300bn of currency reserves which is more than France or Germany and is just ludicrous.

As well as remaining in the EU, in 2014 Scotland was promised 13 frigates but only three are being built, so news of five Type 26 frigates for the Clyde confirms another UK broken promise ("PM awards contract to build five more warships on the Clyde", heraldscotland, November 15).
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Economic self-sabotage

IT should come as no surprise that London has lost its crown as Europe’s largest stock market to Paris.

The French capital has successfully closed a trillion-dollar gap since the 2016 vote on Brexit. This was further hastened by recent currency movements following former Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-Budget, which saw the pound sink to its lowest-ever value against the US dollar.

Former Bank of England policy maker Michael Saunders recently reinforced this, restating what we already knew, that the UK economy has been “permanently damaged by Brexit” and had this act of economic self-sabotage not taken place we wouldn’t be talking about an austerity Budget this week.

The UK economy is now the weakest performer of the G7 economies, with Brexit significantly reducing the economy’s potential output, and the only one not to have recovered to pre-Covid levels.

Leaving the EU has been an unmitigated disaster for the UK, and by fundamentally weakening the economy the Brexit chickens are simply coming home to roost as we enter a new era of austerity.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Scotland would lose MoD orders

THE UK Ministry of Defence has made it clear that the break-up of the UK, if ever forced upon the people of Scotland, will end Royal Navy shipbuilding in Scotland. This is extremely relevant in light of the latest frigates contract being awarded to the Clyde.

We must remember also that nationalist/Green antagonism towards the Royal Navy’s submarine force would close the Clyde bases, which employ many thousands of Scots in high-tech jobs and supporting infrastructure. These would no doubt be relocated most likely in a welcoming north-west England. Ditto, in time, the Army and RAF bases.

It would not be vindictiveness to cancel these orders once Scotland had split. It would be doing as other countries do as a matter of course and a continuation of the eminently sensible policy of not building warships in foreign countries.

And anyone who thinks that a separated Scotland would somehow or other be a even a smidgen safer if the submarine bases are gone really do exist on another planet and know nothing about modern warfare. It would be the classical case cutting off the nose to spite the face multiplied by infinity. But standard procedure for this SNP/Green administration.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Oust both sets of nationalists

FARMERS across the UK will be angered by George Eustice’s admission that the damaging trade deal with Australia was the result of the demand by the then Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, that it be rushed so that it could be agreed before the G7 meeting in Cornwall. Farmers are likely to have to pay dearly for the British nationalist minister’s demand for some (supposedly) good Brexit news to announce before the G7.

This lust for publicity overriding the public interest seems to be a nationalist weakness. The infamous premature launch by Nicola Sturgeon of the Glen Sannox with painted-on “windows” is just one of many examples of this practice infecting the SNP Government.

I fear that the love of nationalists for costly (to the rest of us) photo ops is not easy to cure. The only solution is to vote both UK and Scottish varieties out of power at Westminster and Holyrood. They must be replaced by parliamentarians not hooked on ego-boosting publicity regardless of its veracity and/or damaging consequences.
Alistair Easton, Edinburgh

This is the place to be

THE updated Scottish Child Payment is recognised as being the best family support system in the UK and is one that even advisors to Westminster consider should be emulated by other UK governments

School education may be free in the UK but if your child wants to go to university, and lives in Scotland, university tuition, essential for higher-paid jobs, is also free. In the rest of the UK it costs about £9,250 a year.

Which country would you rather be in?

Scotland has free prescriptions for the sick, free schooling, free university tuition and a child support system that allows every child the ability to achieve their full potential. How many of us, domiciled in Scotland, already give thanks for these benefits?

However, how long will a Westminster Conservative government, be it Labour or Conservative, allow this to go on?

I believe that an independent Scottish government is now essential. Without it, we are at risk of Westminster driving us down to their level.
Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh


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