IN TV debates, how does Nicola Sturgeon get away with claiming that, because in Scotland we pay higher income tax than elsewhere in the UK, more is spent on public services?

The increase in tax rates has in fact failed to grow the tax yield. The reality is that more is spent on public services in Scotland because of the generosity of the UK government’s Barnett Formula, which enables tax take from London and south-east England to be beneficially redistributed to less well off parts of the UK, such as Scotland. Since this is a key advantage of Scotland being part of the UK, perhaps Ms Sturgeon’s oversight is understandable?

Martin Redfern, Edinburgh.

MARY Thomas’s letter (December 2), trotting out the usual reasons given by the SNP and its deluded supporters why Independence would be Nirvana, and why entry to the EU following said independence would follow easily, quickly and naturally, beggars belief, as each has been well and truly discredited on countless occasions.

However she includes the real gem that much income would be gained from increased taxes on oil and gas companies...surely some mistake! Has she really missed all recent media coverage of the climate change disaster coming down the line in the relatively near future if we do not move away from being fossil fuel junkies in favour of renewables?

As the First Minister tells us at every opportunity, the only way to ensure independence is to vote SNP at the forthcoming election. You have been warned.

James Martin, Glasgow.

THE SNP don’t really want another independence referendum. They want the cosy martyrdom of getting slapped down by tyrannous Southerners. That keeps ardent nationalist voters onside.

If the SNP wanted a referendum they would force it with a petition. Officials of the UK Parliament would even host the petition for them, and run it electronically, with no doorstepping or foot-leather needed.

One hundred thousand signatures force a debate at Westminster. Would Westminster slap down a petition bearing two million signatures? They might, but it wouldn’t be a quiet week at Westminster or in Scotland. The demand would be morally undeniable.

Now my trick question. How exactly could a national decision for independence be reversible? What would oblige the UK to accept Scotland’s return? One partner can leave the other, but it takes two to reconsider. Or do we sentence England to UnionRef every seven years to balance the everlasting IndyRef? We can’t enforce that sentence. A contractual right to return in the treaty of secession? Who could grant that? Who could demand it? It’s no use stepping out and looking back both at once.

I’m a Unionist who has never been hostile to independence if the people want that. All the arguments are guesswork, and unnecessary because independence and union are issues of desire alone. Breaking up is hard to do, but the break with Europe is too squalid and wrong to accept.

Tim Cox, Bern 6, Switzerland.

WHEN is your beloved columnist Dr Gerald Edwards going to start looking south? He is forever castigating Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament for the state of NHS Scotland when NHS England is in a far worse state. At least the Scottish government have tried to mitigate the effects of Westminster policies in Scotland.

Dr Edwards should start opening his eyes to the lies that continually come from the lips of Westminster politicians. and leave Nicola alone. He continually comes across as a typical Tory with an I’m-all-right attitude. He believes that Nicola wants to keep some issues under wraps but has no comment to make about a Prime Minister who is afraid to face any scrutiny at all.

Douglas Bell MBE, Stewarton, Ayrshire.

I WEEP at the state the state of our NHS under a series of hapless SNP ministers. I weep at a close-to-financially-illiterate minister being in charge of our monetary affairs. I despair at an obsessed and narcissistic First Minister more interested in photo-ops and spots on TV and placating her zealots than in dealing with any of the problems plaguing our country.

Yes, with a fractured opposition in Scotland, an obedient, cult-like following and a first-past-the-post system, they will win the most Scottish seats in the upcoming election. We must remember however that Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin regularly won landslide election victories. Might I suggest that the people of Scotland are in fact in need of protection from the SNP?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.