I DON'T pay as much attention to the annual GERS jamboree as Alasdair Galloway and others writing in yesterday's Herald (August 18). To my mind, the exercise is little more than window-dressing and won't affect the way I vote. Of more interest are the latest remarks of a recent Scottish Labour leader who has softened her stance on independence ("Kezia Dugdale says she has 'certainly moved' on Indy and may vote Yes", The Herald, August 17).

That, coupled with the opinion of Labour-supporting English writer and columnist Simon Jenkins, who wrote this recently: "Scotland is a poor country, one of the poorest regions of Europe. Yet with its similar population and resources, it should be as rich as Ireland or Denmark. It leaks talent to England. Its business formation is at barely half England’s rate. Its population is ageing, with nearly a third over 65 by 2045. The reason is simple: that for the past century the Scottish economy has been allowed to lapse by being run from England in England’s interest. This has resulted in almost half its citizens being hostile to a union even of which they are beneficiaries."

Now that makes me wonder who I should vote for.

David Bruce, Troon.

The true binary choice

THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe, rightly renowned for giving aspiring comedy performers an audience, appears to have turned to politicians for entertainment.

During Kezia Dugdale’s performance at the Edinburgh Book Festival alongside arch-independence backers Ruth Wishart and Lesley Riddoch, she indicated a change in her opinion on secession. Ms Dugdale stated that if the choice were between an independent Scotland in the EU and a little Boris Brexit Britain, she would favour the former.

She asked herself the wrong question. A more pertinent binary choice for all Scots is between an impoverished, seceded, nationalist Scotland run by economically incompetent failures with no chance of joining the EU, and a Labour UK government in Westminster.

I know where my cards would fall.

James Quinn, Lanark.

Read more: Kezia Dugdale says she has 'certainly moved' on Indy and may vote Yes

Learn from the Nordic states

THERE was an interesting conjunction of letters today (August 18). Gerald Edwards asks: where in the world does high taxation work? Mary Thomas's letter tells us that Norway, Denmark and Finland have much higher GDP than Scotland. Aren't these high-taxation countries? They clearly function very successfully while at the same time providing admirable levels of social support to their citizens, through their tax regimes.

Instead of obsessing over GERS figures that are based on a failed UK governance structure it would be more useful to look at small successful independent countries like these Nordic examples and ask what we can learn from them. The purpose of the GERS figures appears to be to push the nonsense that England subsidises Scotland. If that were actually true I think England would long since have let us go.

Sandy Slater, Stirling.

Is there envy across the Border?

THE question nobody asks is blindingly obvious: if Scotland, as "proved" annually by the GERS figures, is such a fiscal drag on rUK, why does Westminster not leap at the chance to shed such an intolerable burden? If each Scot costs so much more than their Southern counterpart, it is financial lunacy to pander to a decaying notion of Empire. Both Conservative and Labour parties need Rishi Sunak's arithmetic lessons. Freed from their obligations to subsidise an ungrateful and annoyingly vocal nation, rUK would flourish.

Or wait: perhaps the UK Establishment is aware that the GERS figures are estimates, a picture painted to deceive a population? If I lived in Berwick, two miles from the Scottish Border, I would be furious that I was not able to access free prescriptions, free university education and a socialist, humane approach to social security. GERS demonstrates that households in England and Wales are paying for the gravy that Scots enjoy. If Westminster can’t see the premium they pay for "keeping" Scotland, perhaps their electorate should show them. And Berwick might like to redraw the border.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh.

Why borrowing is so high

IT is highly ironic that Jane Lax (Letters, August 17) asks how the SNP would make up the “shortfall” of revenues versus expenditures derived from the partially estimated GERS figures “without borrowing at horrendous rates” when £9 billion, nearly half of this notional shortfall, is interest paid on UK Government borrowing.

No doubt Ms Lax is aware of the fact that this borrowing figure is so high because of the mismanagement of the British economy by a UK Government that has lost tens of billions of pounds due to accepted fraud, the questionable procurement of useless PPE and an ineffective Test-Track-Trace System. In addition to interest also paid on the borrowing for defence procurement, Scotland shares the considerable cost of maintaining\upgrading nuclear submarines, building aircraft carriers still not carrying the planned aircraft and purchasing armoured personnel carriers that have yet to be deployed more than a decade after they were ordered. However, even these huge costs to Scotland of poor UK Government choices and economic mismanagement are relatively small when one considers the overall cost of Brexit, the negligent Liz Truss mini-Budget and an undeliverable HS2 rail system with an already-projected cost of more than £100 billion.

The obvious conclusion from any objective analysis of the GERS figures (rather than subjective interpretations such as those of Jill Stephenson and Dr Gerald Edwards expressed in letters of August 18) is that the sooner Scotland gains control of its own economy the sooner the people of Scotland will prosper in a fair and egalitarian society.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

How to get a clearer picture

AS far as we can tell Alasdair Galloway (Letters, August 18) is right: despite all the "where's the missing £x billion?" letters and social media posts the Scottish Government can't and doesn't spend more than its budget, but the fact remains an annually varying percentage of the spend is greater than the tax revenues collected locally and topped up by central funding. In former days when Scotland had a "surplus" that went to subsidise other regions.

Perhaps it should be better described as an overdraft which is underwritten and cleared by the Exchequer (like many parents who clear their kids' credit card debts), and GERS should report a notional "national debt" figure that these accumulated deficits represented.

Then we'd get a clearer idea of Scotland's parlous financial position.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

Read more: If Scotland has a deficit, only London could have caused it

Immigrants and migrants

THE use of the word "migrant" to describe those arriving here daily by unofficial boat crossing, is incorrect.

A migrant travels from one country to another by arrangement, to pursue seasonal work, often in agriculture. Hence the term migratory worker. They are usually organised by those employing them, and comply with regulations in whichever country they enter.

An immigrant on the other hand arrives in a country, with the intention of remaining there, by arrangement with that country.

Those arriving here unannounced, and wishing to stay, are therefore illegal immigrants.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.

The Herald: Action from the Women's World Cup semi-final between England and Australia on Wednesday of this weekAction from the Women's World Cup semi-final between England and Australia on Wednesday of this week (Image: PA)

Women put the men to shame

WHAT a contrast I experienced this week when watching a European tie and a World Cup semi-final. There is a freshness about the women's game where staleness is endemic in the male approach. It is as though the women have been given licence to express themselves whereas it is football by numbers for the men.

That European game ended 1-1 and I can't bring myself to mention the names of the teams to spare their blushes, it being such a painful watch that I felt my eyes were about to bleed.

That dire performance saw one side firing blanks, rescued to their relief by their captain,while the other side exemplified football by misadventure. That game was well on the way to destroying my faith in the beautiful game, only for it to be refreshed by the stylish and enthusiastic performances of both teams in the Women's World Cup semi-final.

Both sides had clearly been schooled in how to defend and attack but they had retained the freedom of expression which was displayed in their exquisite passing movements and spectacular individual performances. That was football entertainment at its best.

I will certainly be switching on the TV on Sunday to watch another feast of football in the World Cup final.

I would also encourage those who turn up their noses at women's football and those whose partisanship cannot stomach watching the Auld Enemy in any competition without hoping for their defeat to join with me in offering the English women the support they deserve as they seek to make history by winning the game.

Go on, turn on your telly and give yourselves a treat this Sunday.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

France's confusion

GENDERED pronouns aren’t universally indicative of sexuality. Though AJ Clarence (Letters, August 16) is right in saying "It’s pretty easy to understand that 'his' bicycle is the one belonging to the boy and that 'her' bicycle is the girl’s”, in France “sa bicyclette” might belong to either one of them.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.

Bright idea may be dim

SARAH Campbell’s piece on the new Virgin Hotels Glasgow ("Hotels in Scotland: First look inside new Virgin Hotels Glasgow, heraldscotland, August 17) talks about a bar with a retractable roof where guests can enjoy drinks under the stars.

Although this might sound great on a tourist brochure, given the levels of light pollution in Glasgow I think any star-gazers on Clyde Street might be a bit disappointed.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.

Learn from Parkinson

I ENJOYED Brian Beacom's tribute to Sir Michael Parkinson ("Why Parky was supreme as king of the chat shows", The Herald, August 18.) An oft-repeated comment on Michael Parkinson's skills is that he was "a good listener", and then guided the interview dependent on what he heard.

Compare that with the BBC model for interviewing politicians as exhibited regularly by Garry Robertson on BBC Radio Scotland. He fires off leading questions designed to trick the politician into giving him a soundbite he wants; if he doesn't get it he moves on with another unrelated quick-fire question. Parkinson would instead have charmed useful answers by his more sympathetic listening approach. Alas, the BBC sticks with its so-called "robust" technique, as used by Paxman and Humphries, which just produces defensive stonewall replies. When will they learn?

Peter Gray, Aberdeen.