I PREFACE my remarks by saying I vote SNP simply because they are the only party that offers a chance of Scotland ever becoming a country again rather than a de facto subordinate region of England; I do so being fully aware that the SNP just like every other political party will have its share of fools, incompetents and charlatans.

Unfortunately, the SNP and its performance is inevitably conflated with the viability of an independent Scotland.

In his latest hatchet job on the case for independence and the SNP Mr Stevenson drags out the usual threadbare tropes the worst being that Scotland only survives because of the largesse of the English taxpayer ("Sturgeon should thank English taxpayer for saving Scots jobs”, November 21).

I’m sure that, as a seasoned Conservative politician, he is well aware that as regards contributing to the UK revenue Scotland compares favourably to most of the other UK regions, it pays the tax it is due to and does not suffer the same degree of tax evasion and avoidance that plagues the SE of England and the City of London.

Neither has Scotland any control over the UK national debt Westminster creates but is forced to pay its share. He will also be aware that the UK is tumbling down the international economic pecking-order through no fault of Scotland’s devolved governance.

Holyrood wasn’t responsible for the late 20th century de-industrialisation of Scotland’s central belt, the virtual eradication of the shipbuilding industry, the vanished coal mines, the demise of our iron and steel industry and the closure of our last remaining motor manufacturer.

It’s not the SNP that charges Scots more for electricity or adds supplementary charges to the rural delivery of goods. Holyrood didn’t invent the poll tax or the Bedroom tax or cut family allowance to two kids or raise the retirement age to deny a generation of women the pensions they signed up for.

Unlike England, Holyrood hasn’t partially privatised its NHS. It wasn’t Scotland but a Westminster Conservative administration who guaranteed that in the event of nuclear war Scotland’s major centre of population will be the first to go up in smoke.

It wasn’t Scotland that caused a Brexit that has threatened both the UK economy and the Good Friday Agreement and with it peace in Ireland. Is there a billions of pounds “chumocracy” scandal in Holyrood? The list is endless but overlooked by Mr Stevenson and his fellow unionists who are stuck in a SNP-bad loop.

Sure, devolution has had its hiccups, and the SNP have made, and will make, a complete mess of some things from time to time but I wonder, does Struan ever take the blue-tinted glasses off and look south of the border? If the Union worked properly nobody would want to leave.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

IF the intention of Struan Stevenson’s article was to persuade his readers of the benefits of remaining in the Union and the follies of independence, its intemperate and, at times, insulting language may have the opposite effect.

Once again the Scots are being depicted as a people wholly dependent on subsidies, useless and all but good for nothing. They are reliant on “massive handouts from the English taxpayer” and if they vote SNP at next year’s election it will be for a party of “trained pickpockets.”

We have come to expect rants of this nature from the more extreme English nationalists and the worst, most reactionary elements of the Tory Party. Disgracefully, this harangue comes from a Scot.

As more objective and dispassionate observers of the Scottish political scene have pointed out, substantive and serious issues, not emotion, will decide the independence debate.

Currency, borders, relations with the EU are but three such issues. They are questions, moreover, around which unionists should be in a position to argue strong cases.

Last week nationalists were cock-a-hoop following Boris Johnson’s remarks on devolution. They will probably feel the same way about Mr Stevenson’s article.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.

STRUAN Stevenson hasn’t a clue about economics or how central banks function. If he did, he wouldn’t make the ridiculous claim that an independent Scotland would be “facing a catastrophe, with no cash to cover furloughs and a tsunami of bankruptcies and vanished livelihoods.”

The Bank of England effortlessly and costlessly created billions of pounds to fund furlough and loans across the country to keep the economy going. That’s what central banks do when private sector demand collapses.

The Bank of England can create more money if needed; the UK government knows that none of this ‘new’ money has to be repaid because it can only be repaid with more money the government creates since it is the sole monopoly creator of money.

The head of the European Central bank, Christine Lagarde, has said that Eurozone ‘debt’ never has to be repaid because more money can always be created by the ECB. In other words, it will never run out of money - nor will the Bank of England.

A Scottish Central Bank would be in the exact same position as the BoE of ECB or indeed the central banks of Sweden, Denmark, Norway or Iceland.

As for how the Scottish Government has handled COVID with the constraints imposed upon it by a distant Westminster government, Scotland’s COVID rate is one third of the UK’s and one of the lowest in Europe.

An independent Scotland would not be leaving the EU, would not be facing a period of unnecessary and cruel austerity starting with a public-sector pay freeze, and would have the financial wherewithal to support its people and economy through this crisis – all without having to go cap-in-hand to a Westminster government that has made it abundantly clear it doesn’t give a damn about Scotland.

Struan is right about one thing, though - the Scottish people have “had enough of the risk and uncertainty that the endless threat” of remaining part of this unequal union entails.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

I WAS shocked by the number of inaccuracies and downright lies in Struan Stevenson’s article.

The campaign ahead of next May’s Holyrood elections demands the question of independence is fully debated but Herald readers deserve better than this populist nonsense which comes straight from the Donald Trump ‘fake news’ playbook.

Posturing as a Doric shock-jock Mr Stevenson asserts that the furlough scheme in Scotland is funded by English taxpayers. That’s one big lie, Struan.

The various employment support packages in all four nations of the UK have been funded with cash borrowed on the international money markets. This is true for all European countries large and small, with the exception of Norway, which has access to its sovereign oil fund, currently worth 1.2 trillion dollars. I wonder how they managed that?

His claim that Scotland would be charged a marginal interest rate on borrowings, like a desperate payday loan customer, is a further example of his economic illiteracy.

The UK, Ireland, France and the USA share the same Standard & Poor AA rating and pay the same debt interest rates. I doubt if Mr Stevenson would convince many Scots that an independent Scotland would not have economic equivalence with Ireland.

It seems the First Minister has upset Mr Stevenson by communicating regularly on the Covid pandemic. He also accuses her of imposing ‘draconian’ restrictions on Scottish business.

Perhaps I could remind him that England has entered its second nationwide lockdown and that last week’s BBC opinion poll shows a stark contrast in the Scottish public’s assessment of the competence of Boris Johnson (19 per cent) and Nicola Sturgeon (74 per cent) in managing the pandemic.

Bizarrely, Mr Stevenson even dislikes the FACTS mnemonic and yearns for three-word catchphrases such as ‘get Brexit done’ or ‘hands, face, space’. Perhaps ‘talk Scotland down’ should be his hook.

I wonder if Mr Stevenson realises that comparing the Scottish Government to “a bunch of Dickensian pickpockets” is deeply offensive to most Scots.

Along with Boris Johnson’s recent “Scottish devolution is a disaster” gaffe, such sentiments simply drive support for independence.

When the second referendum is held, unionists will have to do better than Struan Stevenson’s baseless rhetoric rehashing the ‘project fear’ and ‘too poor’ mantras of 2014.

Iain Gunn, Elgin.

STRUAN Stevenson reached a new low, even by his own miserable standards of journalism in Saturday’s article.

We are not funded or assisted by Westminster, nor is their generosity saving our lives or putting food on our tables.

We pay taxes, just as citizens in England do, and we are therefore just as much entitled to expect assistance, financial and otherwise, in a time of crisis.

The disastrous handling of the current pandemic by Boris Johnson and his Westminster henchmen has led to a UK wide disaster.

We, therefore, have precisely nothing to thank the “English taxpayer” for, and certainly even less to thank Westminster for. In fact Mr Johnson and his entire cabinet should be charged with manslaughter, at the very least, when this crisis is finally over

Kevin Orr, Glasgow.

STRUAN Stevenson is depressing as usual, talking down Scotland with his hackneyed “too wee, too poor, too stupid” mantra.

Faced with the coronavirus pandemic, an independent Scotland with its own currency would do exactly what the Westminster government is doing; spend whatever it takes to get through this crisis.

John Moreland, Killearn.

STRUAN Stevenson writes that we in Scotland should be grateful, in lockdowns, for the ‘massive handouts from the English taxpayer’.

Surely he means the UK taxpayer? People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also pay taxes to the UK Government.

Or has he just admitted that the UK Government is, in fact, the English government? I hope he soon recovers from the wound in his foot!

Lizanne MacKenzie, Dumfries.