“Vote Labour and you get Tory” warns Ruth Marr (Letters, September 20); she could have added “Vote Tory and you get Labour” with the two main Unionist parties having become clones of each other as they compete in a mad dash to the right in what might well be dubbed the Red Wall Olympics.

The latest wheeze is Rishi Sunak retreating from his net zero measures. Buoyed by the Uxbridge by-election result he has concluded that back-tracking on net zero could be a vote-winner that would bring the climate protesters out onto the streets where they could be demonised during the run-up to the election. It would also inflict handy collateral damage on the Scottish Government whose commendable net zero targets could be weaponised by the unionist brigade.

Labour – of course – will denounce the back-sliding but will assure the Red Wall that they will not agree at this time to restore the original plans. This opportunistic vote-seeking behaviour will be particularly damaging to Scotland’s younger generation who will have to live with the long-term consequences.

I hope the young and old of Rutherglen and Hamilton West will remember who led us into the disaster of Brexit and will choose to protect our nation and our planet from these uncaring Westminster parties.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie

Some realism on the role of oil

At last, a politician seems to have found the wisdom to balance ideology against the economic downside. In 2030 (just six years from now) very few of us will be able to afford an electric car, so we will continue to use older vehicles that by then will have become less fuel efficient and more polluting.

However, the loss to the exchequer of the revenues from those new car purchases will mean lower income across a range of taxes and duties the Chancellor gets from road vehicles. If that suffers, then investment in transport will suffer too. The PM is also right to say that other (bigger) nations need to do more. We should do our bit, of course, but in proportion to what we use.

As for the Scottish Government's recent comments on North Sea Oil, you have to wonder what planet they are living on.

The UK cannot exist without oil-related products. Sit in your armchair and look around at the number of items you take for granted each day, most of which are made from plastics (TV, laptop, Smart phone, WiFi, remote controls, headsets, ear buds, picture frames, clock, lighting, etc).

Even if we recycled everything, industry couldn't keep up with future demand. Oil is here to stay for at least the next 50 years, and probably beyond, so why not make use of what we have in the North Sea rather than pay someone else's exorbitant prices?

And if we can afford to produce plants to replace many of these items, we can surely afford to eradicate world poverty by using those plants to feed the hungry.

Francis Deigman, Erskine

More facts, fewer soundbites

The First Minister Humza Yousaf said in his speech for the Financing the Green Economy event, Climate Week NYC, on 18 September 2023 "in Scotland, a country famed for its rain, we had warnings of water scarcity" whilst he tries to destroy Aberdeen's reputation as the oil capital of Europe.

The University of Reading's Rainfall Rescue project involved 16,000 volunteers digitising rainfall records going back to 1836. For Scotland they found that our driest spring on record was 1852 and our driest Autumn was 1851. Our driest year on record was 1870 and I do not believe that these figures had anything to do with Aberdeen being the oil capital of Europe.

I doubt Mr Yousaf's researchers, spin doctors and speech writers would touch the records of an English university with a bargepole but had they done so, they might have had to rewrite the First Minister's speech with facts rather than their much favoured fictional soundbites.

As for Financing the Green Economy he does speak with authority on the excessive cost of it all; he can hold his head high in that department with the £500 million and rising cost of two green ferries that do not even comply with marine building standards and have a question over their ever even entering service.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride

Is this Project Fear I see again?

James Quinn considers that looking beyond any future referendum to the kind of place an independent Scotland might be – a “1,000-watt vision” of independence – is a “dangerous path to travel”, and, he could well be right but only because of the utterly dystopian vision he presents.

Mr Quinn’s view of a future independent Scotland can truly be characterised as Sod’s Law on steroids. It’s not just that everything will go wrong, but very, very wrong. Remember Project Fear?

Currency and borders would be “insurmountable problems”. Why? Almost every country in the world has borders, and in general they seem to work tolerably well. If Scotland was in the EU but not the rest of the UK? Well, Sweden and Norway seem to make that work. Indeed, the UK (not in the EU) has to make it work with the EU. Why only insurmountable for Scotland?

Likewise, currency? Why “insurmountable” for Scotland? Yes, launching your own currency is daunting, but there are well-considered proposals for this to be done. Challenging, demanding, yes. But why “insurmountable”?

However, quite accidentally I’m sure, he offers two reasons for independence. First, he cites trade statistics with the rest of the UK which are seriously in deficit. In a “pooling and sharing” Union, how has this been allowed to happen? Is it UK policy for Scotland to be a sort of captive market? With Scotland’s assets including high-quality food and drink, as well as energy generation, could this not be resolved without our economy being reduced to one that resembles Albania 20 years ago?

Secondly, he suggests that “Tory-max austerity” would have to be imposed to address the problems of independence. However, there is no need to go to that trouble as austerity is coming along anyway. Just sit back and it will happen, whether Tory or “we can’t afford to remove the two-child rule” Labour austerity. As part of the UK, we don’t even get remission for good conduct.

But perhaps the greatest irony is that, if the Scottish Government did address the kind of issues Mr Quinn raises, they would be told to “get back to the day job” and should not use civil servants for this work.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton

Sleight of hand on EU membership

Lawrence Wade states that if Scotland had left the UK in 2014 then we would automatically be out of the EU (Letters, September 21). But when Germany was re-united in the 1990s the former East Germany was automatically admitted into the EU even though it was bankrupt and did not meet the admission criteria.

There was a fair amount of sleight of hand exercised to achieve this. For instance, the new state was not considered a successor state requiring fresh admission, but rather it was seen as an alteration to the territory of an existing member state (West Germany). However, unlike East Germany, Scotland would have already been in the EU if the boundaries of the UK were adjusted post-2014. There would therefore have been a potential precedent for retention of its EU membership.

The irony is that Margaret Thatcher vehemently opposed the union of Germany. Her preference was for separation. The Irish meanwhile were strongly in favour of German unification based on their experience of separation having been imposed upon them by a union government in Westminster. That's the same government that now opposes separation within the UK union whilst simultaneously advocating the maintenance of separation from the European Union. Hmm.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk

Why is Scotland ‘nearly broke’?

"Scotland is nearly broke" writes Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, September 21). One is tempted to ask why, and at the same time ask why no one (at least in my lifetime) will read the headline "Norway is nearly broke". The answer is simple enough. The oil taken from Scotland's seas will be traded on the open market by private companies, notably Shell and BP, and the chances are it will never be used in Scotland, or even the UK.

In 2021 we discovered that Shell and BP had paid no tax on the oil extracted for the previous three years. Contrast this with the following quote from the Norwegian government oil agency Norsk Petroleum: "One of the overall principles of Norway’s management of its petroleum resources is that exploration, development and production must result in maximum value creation for society, and that revenues must accrue to the Norwegian state".

John Jamieson, Ayr