THE publication of the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue for Scotland (GERS) figures has triggered a now traditional feeding frenzy. A black hole in Scotland’s finances is heralded by Unionist politicians as validating the continuation of their beloved Union.

The killer phrase for me from the GERS report is: “The report is designed to allow users to understand and analyse Scotland’s fiscal position under different scenarios within the current constitutional framework”.

GERS is therefore a measure of the public finances under the current Union – hardly the greatest endorsement for how the economy has been managed on the UK’s watch.

Major economic levers required to stimulate economic growth are still currently reserved to Westminster.

It is indeed a bizarre scenario when politicians from Unionist parties, who should be ashamed at the situation, actively gloat and support a Union that has mismanaged the economy so appallingly.

GERS is a set of figures based on a measure of guesswork that indicate very little, except highlighting the negatives of the current Union. It has little bearing on the finances of an independent Scotland.

The point of independence is not to do everything in the same way as it has been done within the current constitutional framework, but to move away from this one-size-fits-all fiscal straitjacket to a tailored approach that prioritises stimulating economic growth.

Alex Orr

COULD someone please tell me why year after year the SNP Scottish Government keep addressing these fantasy figures as if they are meaningful?

I am in no way even close to being an economist, but from my reading of things GERS is a vague guesstimate.

Admittedly the deficit is coming down, however surely the SNP government should be producing an alternative set of more accurate figures to counteract GERS?

All we’re doing is giving opponents a catchy soundbite about a “Union dividend”.

C Tainsh

CATRIONA C Clark (Letters, August 22) is quite right to fulminate against proposals to increase the state pension age to 75 but she should not be the least bit surprised.

The pension commenced on January 1, 1908 with a man aged 70 entitled to five shillings (25 pence) per week and a married couple seven shillings and sixpence (37.5 pence) conditional upon their income being less than £21 per annum. Life expectancy at the time was around 47 years.

In 1925 a contributory scheme was introduced and the age of qualification reduced to 65, where it remained until recently, but the contributions received were treated as taxation, ie no pension fund was set up. The government spent the receipts and paid pensions out of the current account. Life expectancy in the 1930s was around 60. It did not catch up with the pension age until the 1950s, probably due to the inception of the National Health Service and improving housing conditions.

By 1971 life expectancy had risen to 71, giving the average recipient around six years of paid retirement in return for National Insurance premiums. We have had approaching 50 years during which we could expect to receive some return on what was sold to us as insurance, although any insurance company which delivered such a poor return would not have stayed long in business.

It has to be concluded that we were never intended to get value for money from the UK pension scheme, by any of the three Unionist parties, and, having realised that one or two of us are now beating their confidence trick, the establishment now intends to put us back where we belong, dead before we escape from toil.

Les Hunter

BILL Drew (Letters, August 21) is a lucky man, as from his home in Kirriemuir he will be unable to see the damage that the industrial-style lighting will have on the conservation village of Port Charlotte. However, people here are angered and disappointed at Argyll & Bute’s decision not to put up sympathetic lighting as they have elsewhere: in Tarbert, Port Ellen and Inveraray. We have been campaigning for some time for the work to be paused to allow for a dialogue to take place between the council and residents.

Argyll & Bute is reported to be benefitting from around £1 million a year from feature films using the region’s unspoilt scenery. Keeping our villages beautiful is a sound investment.

Jenni Minton
via email

I NOTED with interest the “facts” about the Stone of Destiny in last Sunday’s National, including a glaring initial error – the stone was reportedly black/dark in colour, possibly marble, not sandstone (it would have been pretty dull, not very ornate, and would be soft and not very durable were it sandstone). Any references to sandstone are more modern and based on a frame that Longshanks secured the stone. History written by the victors. I doubt the real stone would have found its way down south.

David Hood