WE hear all the time about the panic running through the Tories at Westminster because of the surge in support for independence in Scotland, but I just wonder if this is not a deliberate smokescreen being manipulated by the Tories themselves.

As things stand, all power lies with Westminster. The Westminster Government is still the ruling body for the British Isles, of which Scotland is a part. It also controls all the money from taxes. The Tories are that Government with an 80-seat majority. As such they can get any legislation through Parliament that they want to get through.

The Internal Market Bill (IMB), gives them the right to over-rule Scotland in any matter that they consider detrimental to the IMB.

They have already stated that “devolution has been a disaster”, (which it has been for them) and they intend rectifying that. Jacob Rees-Mogg has already stated he intends to dismantle devolution, and now Gove is talking about making “necessary adjustments” to the British constitution.

Suppose these “necessary adjustments” involve the removal of all power from Holyrood and its replacement with a “Scottish Government” run from Queen Elizabeth House and the Westminster Parliament. Such a move has been blatantly obvious ever since Boris Johnson came to power.

If that happens, how do we stand up to it? We have no Navy. England has seen to that by moving all naval vessels to ports on the south coast of England. Our Army is greatly diminished with many “Scottish Regiments” stationed in England. Incidentally we, Scotland, pay for the upkeep of those regiments, but, because they are in England, it is England that benefits from all the money they spend in the local shops and any taxes that they pay. Nor do we have any Air Force. Again, virtually everything except a few search and rescue aircraft is stationed south of the Border.

Therefore, even if we are forced to declare UDI, which is looking more and more likely, how do we close our borders and enforce a tax regime on companies such as BP, who are extracting oil from the Clair Ridge and shipping it to Holland, and paying their taxes on that oil to London? As things stand, we couldn’t even send a Scottish warship to the Clair Ridge to stop our oil being stolen and shipped to Holland against our will.

I really think that if anybody should be panicking, it is us the ordinary citizens of Scotland. We have been ignored and over-ruled on everything we have tried to put to Westminster since the Brexit referendum. That is an obvious precedent and we should expect Boris and his cronies to treat us in exactly the same way regarding anything else we try to get for ourselves, including independence.

So, the question is: “Even if we had a Government that was prepared to stand up to Boris and demand independence when he refuses it, as he will, how could that Government do anything about it?”
Charlie Kerr

AN open letter to the Scottish Government: I am writing to ask the Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to publish an alternative set of accounts to GERS, to show Scotland’s finances as an independent country. By not doing so, the Scottish Government is harming the case for independence it purports to support.

The Scottish Government should explain that GERS was designed by the Tories in the 1990s to show that Scotland can never be financially viable when in fact we would be much better off outside the UK. Because Scotland’s Budget is controlled by Westminster, the UK Government adds to GERS billions spent outside Scotland “on Scotland’s behalf” – for embassies, the London civil service, the military, London infrastructure – none of which directly benefits Scotland or its people.

The Scottish Government should reveal that GERS is premised on false accounting, showing taxes paid on Scottish income but showing spend for Scotland even if spent in England, which is comparing unlike figures. Tax paid on income in Scotland and recorded outside Scotland, such as Scottish rents paid to English landlords, is not included nor is interest paid on Scottish loans which is taxed in England. This makes us look poorer, which is the intention. Most Scots don’t know the UK Government loads GERS with interest payments on a population share of the UK’s debt, debt Scotland neither generated nor benefits from, that totals £130bn (£4.5bn last year) over the last 40 years. Without that enormous drain, Scotland’s finances would be in surplus. The Scottish Government should make it clear that upon independence Scotland will inherit none of the UK national debt, something Westminster has conceded.

Business for Scotland has shown that Scotland’s economy, when benchmarked against similar-sized independent nations, has significantly underperformed as a result of Westminster’s economic mismanagement. GERS further distorts this poor performance. The Scottish Government should debunk what GERS says – that with 8.2% of the UK population, Scotland is responsible for between

54-60% of the UK deficit last year. As Brexit destroys any remaining faith in the UK, GERS is the Unionists’ last line of defence. Now is the time for the Scottish Government to expose it for the fiction it is.
Leah Gunn Barrett

STEWART McMurtie (Letters, December 11), like many before him, presented Donald Trump as the case for an inherited head of state. Why aren’t the wonderful recent Irish presidents or Obama held up as examples? In addition, voters can get rid of elected heads of state (as, happily, those across the Atlantic have just done. However, Stewart is at least now “agnostic” – one last wee push, Stewart, to join republicans like myself!
Andrew Sanders