AM I alone in being overcome with a sense of irony watching the UK Government selling off the oil in Scotland's waters ("Rosebank: NSTA grants consent for oil drilling in field off Shetland", heraldscotland, September 27)? This is a resource that we were assured was pretty well exhausted and didn't belong to us anyway, as it has already been sold off to international oil companies.

To pile on the agony, it turns out that one of those international companies is Equinor, the state-owned Norwegian company. Yes, Norway, that nation of slightly less than five and a half million people (that rings a bell) with the highest living standard in the world and a wealth fund that means its people will be free of food banks and poverty, pretty well forever.

The irony could only be greater if one of your regular unionist commentators were to write in today to explain that, without the support of the UK, a Labour government, the City of London, government from Westminster etc, Scotland would be an economic basket case, and any hope of independence must be abandoned forthwith.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

If indyref were next month...

I REMEMBER as a teenager in the early 1970s being told that Scotland couldn't be a viable independent country because there was only about 15 years' worth of oil in Scotland's waters. Fast forward to the 2014 independence referendum campaign when we were repeatedly assured that the wells of oil and gas were running dry. Now we are told that the Rosebank oil field, north of Shetland, has an estimated 500 million barrels of oil. Who knew?

Nicola Sturgeon was refused permission to hold an independence referendum in October 2023; I wonder how much oil Rosebank would have been reported to contain if that referendum had been allowed to be held next month.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

10 billion reasons to stay in UK

AMANDA Brown (Letters, September 27) asks for one single reason why anyone living in Scotland would not "want to cut from England and rejoin the EU".

She has surely not heard of the Scottish Government's own GERS figures that give 10 billion such reasons: each of these one pound sterling in revenue which Scotland receives from the rest of the UK. These support the services we receive here and which she praises so fulsomely. (She should also check the status of prescription charges for her elderly relatives in England: if they are paying them, they should not be, as over-60s are exempted.) Ms Brown needs to know that if she had her way, we would lose that revenue without any clear plan to replace it. Moreover, EU membership would mean massive cuts in public expenditure to meet the Stability and Growth Pact, VAT on items exempted under UK membership (such as children's clothes and shoes) and fulfilling the other functions of a small member state.

These include supplying workers such as doctors and nurses, and providing state assets for privatisation by French and German companies. In the absence of other such assets the most likely candidate would be Scottish Water.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

Letters: Food banks and children freezing: who will rescue Rutherglen?

Shaming our country

WHAT further shame and humiliation must our proud country endure from this utterly incompetent SNP administration?

As we endeavour to attract new talent to Scotland, the headlines remain dominated by the highest drugs deaths in Europe, the highest level of alcohol deaths since 2008, the highest tax rates in the UK and a growing list of cancer patients paying for private treatment due to ever increasing waiting lists. Shockingly, these facts are now contributing to a lower life expectancy in Scotland where, on average, Scots can expect to live three years fewer than in England ("Life expectancy falls again", The Herald, September 27).

What an appalling state of affairs for our country and it is no coincidence that the hapless First Minister had his hands on the tiller as Cabinet Secretary for Health. We are continually fed a diet of “progressive” policies from the SNP but in reality these policies across our health spectrum actually restrain the life chances and opportunities for so many people. We should be ashamed.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

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We need a new council tax freeze

I HAVE to take issue with the section of the Unspun Political Diary on Saturday (September 23) headed "Tax education".

It was indeed the case that the Scottish Government unveiled a deal with Cosla to fund a three-year, across-the-board freeze in council tax on November 13, 2007, but this was not “well before the crash”.

Throughout 2007 hedge funds were being liquidated and by August 2007 BNP Paribas had already started to block withdrawals from its funds due to "a complete evaporation of liquidity", making valuation of the funds impossible - a clear sign that banks were refusing to do business with each other.

The run on Northern Rock started on September 14, 2007. It had already been predicted the previous year that the Yield Curve would invert. I am sure that as an economist it is fair to say that these are matters that Alex Salmond had a pretty decent grasp of in terms of what they would mean to the disposable income of households.

The sub-prime crisis was well under way in 2007 and the “Great Recession” started at the end of 2007. The UK joined the global recession in Q2 of 2008; incidentally Q2 of 2008 was when the council tax freeze started.

Thankfully in Scotland the Scottish Government was paying attention to the clear signs that were already happening and the historic concordat that was signed with local councils meant that come April 2008, Scotland was able to help keep money in people’s pockets thanks to the council tax freeze in the midst of a global financial crash.

The current cost of living crisis needs a similar intervention. Not only should the Scottish Green proposals to increase council tax for one in four households from between 7.5% to 22.5% be scrapped but the Scottish Government should again get back around the table with Cosla to agree a local government settlement for next year that will result in a council tax freeze.

Christopher McEleny, General Secretary, Alba Party, Glasgow.

Read more: There’s still a long way to go on immigration

What would Churchill think?

FOR the modern Tory Party it would seem that they now regard Winston Churchill as a “woke socialist” for signing the UK up to the Refugee Convention and the Atlantic Charter, whose principle clause 3 states that all people have a right to self-determination ("Asylum system is an ‘existential threat’ to West, says Braverman", The Herald, September 27). This Tory drift to the authoritarian right is being matched by an increasingly grubby Labour Party in secessionist Brexit Britain.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

• AM I the only one who sees the irony of Suella Braverman, fortunate to be born in the UK the daughter of two immigrants of Indian origin, talking about the “existential threat” that immigration poses to western society when her audience consists of the wealthy descendants of mainly European ancestors who emigrated to America and through a process of gradual genocide effectively eradicated the majority of the native population and appropriated their land?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

HS2 a wasted opportunity

AS the HS2 fiasco unfolds might it have been better to start the construction in the north of England and work south?

Politically this would have looked good and perhaps given reassurance to the people in the north that levelling up and the development of a northern powerhouse actually had some credibility and also comfort that they hadn’t given their votes to Boris Johnson in vain.

As a not-inconsequential aside the initial compulsory land acquisition costs would have been cheaper in the north and there would have been less social and business disruption given the lower population density. In addition, jobs would have been created in the north and again the optics of seeing spades going into the ground would have boosted local morale and engagement.

With this “quick win” the project would have gained its own momentum as it travelled south bolstered by a northern enthusiasm and possibly a sense of pride of ownership rather than waiting for the benefits being brought to them from the affluent south.

As things stand it seems likely that the trains will hit the buffers just outside Birmingham and the reach of the south will fall short of the grasp of the north and billions of pounds squandered.

What a wasted opportunity to deliver a potentially game-changing infrastructure project and what a waste of political gold.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.