AS “1984” draws ever closer under increasingly totalitarian Tory government, it is difficult to set aside thoughts of what might have been if we had collectively summoned up the confidence in 2014 to vote for Scotland to determine its own future.

At that time not only were we enjoying all the many benefits of European citizenship, but government debt was less than half of what it is today and the pound was worth 50% more against the dollar. Economically – even allowing for what may have been the most difficult and protracted negotiations with the government at Westminster and ignoring the enormous benefit to Scotland of an oil price that has doubled – remaining in the United Kingdom has been disastrous for Scotland and its citizens, except of course for the super-rich Tory donors who have maximised their earnings (and minimised their taxes) through hidden offshore bank accounts.

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The poor and underprivileged have suffered most as the prices of life’s basics have increased by huge amounts, way beyond inflation rising above a staggering 10%, while food banks have proliferated and benefits have been substantially cut. Even though it is more than self-sufficient in energy resources, including an enormous base of renewables, Scotland has been at the mercy of pricing in international markets because of the dogmatic pursuit of “free-market economics” by successive governments at Westminster.

After eight years, the people of Malta had the conviction and courage to pursue a different path and change their minds in a second constitutional referendum, and have not looked back since independence. Hopefully those who previously were hesitant about supporting constitutional change are now persuaded, no matter the duplicitously-created scare stories to which they are likely to be subjected by establishment puppets in the media, that together with their fellow citizens in Scotland they must vote to have a greater say in determining their own futures and the futures of their children.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

THANK goodness here in Scotland we have a progressive taxation system in place, a system that recognises the need for a socially just society, something this cost of living crisis will unfortunately demonstrate in time. The new Chancellor brought forth his first budget, a budget without moral, a budget rewarding bankers and multi-national fuel companies, a budget giving the largest tax cuts in half a century to the better-off and a budget taking from the poor and giving to the rich, increasing inequality and poverty.

The Chancellor made much of the following sentiment in his statement: “we don’t believe the state should take more and more of people’s incomes”! How I wish those sentiments were extended to those on Universal Credit and benefits who were warned by the Chancellor that the strengthening of sanctions will follow.

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The country was deafened by the Chancellor’s silence on assistance for pensioners, carers and the vulnerable. This budget was all about enhancing the incomes of the better-off, so let us draw breath and take stock.

No assistance for those on pre-payment meters, no extension of free school meals in England, no introduction of a “child payment” to tackle child poverty, no rent freeze as has been introduced in Scotland.

The new Chancellor does not have a mandate from the country for his proposals, so let’s put his proposals to the country through a General Election, because the country simply cannot continue with any more austerity. There is only so much charities can do to fill the gaps, because their incomes are being depleted by the cost of living crisis. If the country is to survive we need a General Election and we need it now.

Catriona C Clark

THE private banking system creates the public money supply from thin air as debt and interest, and as we get ever deeper into that debt – another ten billion here, another ten billion there – and as interest rates rise, we face an expensive future. The banks are simply creaming us, and the Chancellor has now allowed them to pay uncapped bonuses, so they can get their hands on the fortunes they make from their magic money scam.

With energy, we could cut out the middle man – which is us – and government could just give money directly to their rich friends who run the privatised energy business, instead of giving it to us first to hand over to them when we pay their rip-off bills.

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The public is simply being herded and harvested. The lessons here for any country seeking independence are just so obvious.

However, the recent tax-reduction announcements from the Chancellor are welcome. No country ever taxed its way to prosperity. High taxes drive high achievers and earners into lower-tax regimes, and gross tax revenue falls.

Malcolm Parkin
Kinnesswood, Kinross