MARTIN Redfern condemns Keith Brown for failing to address the question why “the Scottish economy should be so severely impacted by Brexit when, apparently, the UK economy isn't, or not nearly so much”, a claim which conceals a great deal more than it informs (Letters, January 26).

In Regional and Local Economic Growth Statistics, the House of Commons Library shows that London and the south-east of England create a major distorting effect on the UK average. “In 2015, London’s GVA (Gross Value Added) of £378 billion accounted for 22.9 per cent of UK GVA (£1,651 billion), with the south-east contributing a further 15.1 per cent” – two UK regions therefore contributed 3 8 per cent of GVA. Turning to regional growth between 2010 and 2015, average UK economic growth was 19 per cent, yet only three regions achieved this – London, the south-east and east of England (the last two only just). The areas with the most rapid growth were “Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames (+34 per cent), followed by Ealing (+32 per cent) and Solihull (+25 per cent)”. Of the 12 UK regions, six of them achieved less growth in the same period than Scotland, while only London exceeded the UK average.

Thus, the Scottish economy’s performance is much more typical of UK regions, in fact toward the higher end of this, than Mr Redfern suggests. However, even then how much responsibility should the Scottish Government bear for this? Mr Redfern seems to imply that it is the Scottish Government which controls our economy.

If we consult the UK Government’s guidance on the Scotland Act, we find that the following policy areas are reserved to Westminster: financial and economic matters; trade and industry; employment. Thus, decisions on matters such as monetary policy, interest rates, fiscal policy (other than powers over income tax, and even then, only earned income), business and trade policies and employment law are taken in London (the first two by the Bank of England). The consequences of these decisions are clearly illustrated by the regional growth figures set out above.

In a previous letter I was once accused of “blaming the greedy English”, even though I never used the words “greedy” or “English” at all, far less contiguously. So, to avoid doubt, I am not blaming the “greedy English” but how the UK seems to work. Jim and Margaret Cuthbert wrote in 2013 that “successive UK Government policies have been more suited to the London area at the expense of most other countries and regions in the UK”. The TUC argued just last year that the “UK economy is being sucked into London and south-east”. Vince Cable has described the south-east as “a giant suction machine”.

To argue our economy is held back by the possibility of another independence referendum, or to hold Mr Brown wholly or even mainly responsible for the current state of the Scottish economy, when the most significant powers over business are exercised elsewhere and within an extremely distorted economy (average growth in London is almost half as much again as the UK average) is both wrong and, worse, misleading.

Alasdair Galloway,

14 Silverton Avenue, Dumbarton.

JUST to put the record straight: our economic growth must always be less than England for obvious reasons. All our resources can be exploited without let or hindrance by the London government and all meaningful decisions concerning our economy are taken by that government.

As we all know the Westminster government cannot have policies which might be good for us but not for England.

Robert Drummond,

Hollytree Gardens, Glasgow.

ALLAN C Steele (Letters, January 27), referring admiringly to Michael Forsyth, asks how many of today's politicians will still be performing 20 years hence.

As long as the House of Lords serves as a retirement palace for upholders of the Unionist establishment the answer is: too many.

Mary McCabe,

25 Circus Drive, Glasgow.

IN the face of crises in Scotland’s schools, what does the SNP Government do? Does it endeavour to enlist more teachers to replace those who have either not been recruited or left the profession? No, and some schools have begged parents or students to stand in for missing teachers. Does it produce a solution to the decline in literacy and numeracy, especially in schools in poorer areas? No, it prefers to tinker with the structure of schools’ governance. Its plans have been criticised by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland and by the Educational Institute of Scotland. Yet John Swinney, who turns out to be extremely obstinate – his continued insistence on pushing through his Named Person’ legislation testifies to that – plans to plough on, regardless of his not having a parliamentary majority for his projects.

When will the SNP Government attend to the urgent issues in education and health, and abandon damaging projects such as absorbing the British Transport Police into Police Scotland? Its priorities, whether in education, the arts, policing, are all geared to increasing its own central control, regardless of the needs of Scotland’s communities.

Jill Stephenson,

Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh.

REGARDING the next government of Scotland I have no great hopes of any party or coalition undoing the damage, stasis and lost opportunities of the last 20 years under Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP.

The Conservatives are the only party untainted by government, but even they seem to be under the spell of more money and more powers being the only way to fix problems.

We need common sense policies to provide, and improve, benefits to those who need it most.

We need to get rid of the Curriculum of Excellence and implement a blend of education policies that take the best of what got me such a great education and start in life and what today's requirements are.

And we need to explain to people that many – not all – of the problems of the NHS are our own making, and make operational and policy decisions that are based on objective professional advice and experience combined with financial reality, not what plays well – or badly – at First Minister's Questions.

There are three years to go until the next Scottish elections. The opposition are much better at taking the SNP to task, but people are crying out for a lead and now is the time for the opposition to do their homework and start telling us what they would do.

Allan Sutherland,

1 Willow Row, Stonehaven.