WE should be grateful for Professor Iain Docherty for seeking to defend the Growth Commission report to which he has bound himself (“Concentrate on the real problem of our economy, Agenda, The Herald, June 12). However, there is one statement which stands out above all others which needs to be challenged: “There is nothing intrinsically different about Scotland that points to why it lags behind on a range of indicators...”

In fact, for comparisons with other small countries to be valid, these would need to be more similar to Scotland in having to deal with the legacy of a major post-industrial complex in their midst. Examples might be to imagine Austria with its own Wraclau or Finland with its own Kaliningrad. The former dominance of a heavy industrial economy would have similar far-reaching and enduring effects on the performance of those countries to that which Glasgow and much of the central belt has on Scotland, in terms of every feature of the economy from business birthrate to skills and employability.

Another element which is missing from Prof Docherty’s defence is the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK: it is surely not comparing like with like to compare economies which have developed independently with one which has been integrated into a larger (in imperial days much larger) whole for the whole of the several centuries that capitalism has existed.

Nationalists like Professor Docherty start from the dogma that integration within the UK economy must be a disadvantage, and work back from that conclusion. More objective and pragmatic people might see it differently, and consider the benefits of being part of the larger source of markets, skills, capital and materials, plus advantages of scale in issues such as national security and defence.

Add in the protection against economic shocks (including Brexit) of being part of a larger and more varied economy, and fiscal transfers of more tha £10 billion per annum, and the case against any disadvantages becomes overwhelming.

Peter A Russell,

87 Munro Road,



BRIAN Quail asserts in his letter (June 13) that “it is not just the SNP that wants a written constitution banning nuclear weapons from our lands and waters, but all supporters of independence”. Has he asked them all?

Independence would involve similar deals, dilemmas and compromises to those raised by Brexit for Scotland to retain the vital unfettered access to the UK single market and to participate in UK foreign trade agreements.

The SNP is inching closer to a realistic view of Scotland as it adopts the Conservative economic philosophy of its Growth Commission. Despite Ian Blackford’s embarrassingly juvenile stunt at Prime Minister’s Questions the short delay in transferring post-Brexit some of the powers the SNP was happy to concede to the EU seems a small concession to ensure frictionless trade within the UK single market.

All debate on independence is academic until Nicola Sturgeon secures a mandate for a referendum at the next election. It will be heresy for the socialist core of the SNP but independence aside, the SNP and Conservatives seem to have similar ambitions for Scotland.

This will never result in any co-operation as the SNP has made hatred of all Conservative brands a rallying call. In return Scottish Conservatives seem nervous that strengthening devolution may make independence more likely. They should both have more faith in the Scottish people.

James Robb,

Redclyffe Gardens,