BRIAN Nugent bemoaning a hard border at Carlisle with rUK, Scotland’s biggest trading partner, seems to suggest that Scottish independence is not a sustainable or desirable prospect in economic terms (Letters, Nov 21).

Indeed, in 2014 I voted to remain in the UK because I didn’t want a hard border then either; more for family reasons, I admit, but which now also seem unimportant.

However, apart from the fact that the UK union after 314 years has done nothing to show that Scotland is truly a partner rather than just a differently governed colony, two things render his question irrelevant.

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First, the EU is the UK’s largest trading partner, yet this was deemed irrelevant in the drive for Brexit. So why would it be more relevant with an independent Scotland?

Second, Brian Nugent contends that 60% of Scotland’s export trade is with rUK and would be threatened by independence.

However, in 2019 we exported £52 billion to rUK – our biggest trading partner for sure – but in 2018 we were already importing more than £63bn from them.

Trade works both ways. Does anyone doubt that rUK will want to protect their trade with us as much as we will want to with them? Borders are no barrier to trade, just part of the process.

In the meantime, independence will not only provide the incentive to expand trade elsewhere, as we were told once again with Brexit, but also bring huge benefits in delivering a better and fairer Scotland to live in as we Scots decide.

A fair question raised by Brian Nugent, but surely nevertheless irrelevant.

Jim Taylor

I QUITE agree with Brian Nugent that there is no logic in the argument as expressed in his letter. That, unfortunately, is because of the facts he does not include.

First and foremost, the SNP has no intention of handing over our independence to the EU. Why would they, since no other country already in the EU has done that? Does he believe that France, Germany, Spain, Malta and the rest have ceased to be independent?

Secondly, the fact that current exports are far and away more to “the UK”, as he calls England, is because they have shortages which can most easily be filled by Scotland, not because they graciously accept our goods to keep us happy. Exports from one country to another are proof of surplus resources in one and a lack of them in the importing country.

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With independence, if they still had these gaps to fill, it would be up to them to decide where to source their imports from. If not from Scotland, we would, like Ireland after joining the EU, be able to supply our goods to other countries instead.

Perhaps a touch of logic would reveal just how ridiculous it is that we PAY £5.50 per MWh to export renewable energy to England, since we produce more renewables than we can use, as long as we have nuclear in the mix, which cannot be shut off for short spells when not required.

P Davidson

WHILST I have some sympathy for various points made by Mr Jim Taylor (Letters, Nov 19) about the current state of Scottish local government – notably its failure over the last decade to follow a shared services agenda which would have substantially cut costs without compromising frontline services – I fear that the dismissive tone of his letter, which conjured up neo-Thatcherite visions of profligate councils which prey on the public purse but deliver little of substance in return, is simply a caricature too far.

Firstly, all credit to Cosla for recognising that Scottish local government needs full-time councillors from a wide range of backgrounds and life experience, which is why an increase of the basic councillor’s allowance to £25 is fair and proportionate. At a stroke this would free up a much wider talent pool from which to select potential council candidates and, if elected, provide much more diversity across our council chambers.

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Mr Taylor should also recognise that local government delivers most of the key core services important to families and communities.

Secondly, at this year’s Scottish Parliamentary elections, Scotia Future were the only political party to call for the kind of radical reform of local government which was both democratic and cost-effective. We called for the retention of the existing 32 local authorities, which would aim to share core executive services with others on a federated basis on the German model. 15 federated areas would be responsible for tourism, economic development, police and fire, and election to a Scottish Senate. The 32 local authorities would be funded by a Land Value Tax, which would ensure they got the funding they deserve to deliver key local services, and councils would be encouraged to establish progressive procurement procedures.

Cllr Andy Doig
Scotia Future

THIS weekend’s SNP conference should mark the beginning of placing some well-needed meat on the bones of the case for independence. Those campaigning for an independent Scotland need their leaders to put forward pragmatic, warts-and-all ideas on what independence will look like. Not only is this important for undecided voters still weighing up the pros and cons of a separate state, it is also vital for the campaigners who need to fill up their tool kit and feel like they are going somewhere.

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Campaigning for an independent Scotland can be an exciting and liberating experience. But it is also exhausting and no-one can sustain such a campaign for years on end, without solid material and direction. It is time for the SNP to be brave and bold.

Gary Hogath
via email