I HAVE read the press releases, I have read the statements of unwavering support from both Tory and even nationalist politicians, I have even researched the concept online, but I still doubt the long-term benefits of freeports, even ones draped in so-called green credentials.

They have the distinct look of glorified, and less-than-well-concealed, tax avoidance schemes. It seems Inverness and Cromarty Firth green freeport and Forth green freeport were jointly selected by the Scottish and UK Governments. The two winning bids will be supported by up to £52 million in start-up funding and will benefit from tax reliefs and other incentives through a combination of devolved and reserved powers.

Given the state of the NHS, both north and south of the Border, for example, you would think that the Scottish and UK Governments need to greatly increase their short-term tax revenues and not provide companies with a ready-made means of avoiding paying tax.

READ MORE: Why is there an SNP-Green row over freeports in Scotland?

I sincerely hope these schemes do not follow the numerous failed, unsustainable schemes which over the years promised thousands of jobs, were granted millions of pounds of government grants and eventually collapsed with the loss of all of the promised jobs.

We need look no further than the soon-to-be-no-more Amazon distribution centre in Gourock. The centre received £2.137 million of taxpayers’ money in three tranches. The first £1.655m payment via Scottish Enterprise was through Regional Selective Assistance, a further £107,000 was given for a separate project and another grant of £375,000 was given to help with an expansion. Amazon UK Services, which received the money, saw its operating profit soar by 58.5% in 2021 to £229.2m. Let’s not even mention BiFab or the Port Glasgow shipyard.

Personally I find the investment of £52m of taxpayer’s money into a government-sponsored tax-avoidance scheme a wee bit difficult to justify and I suspect that those of my fellow citizens currently lying on hospital trolleys waiting for a bed might just share my opinion.

John Baird

IN his attack on Jim Sillars and the RMT union for their opposition to EU membership, Gregor Gall seems to forget that up to a third of SNP supporters also voted to leave the EU (Do Lexiteers share growing feeling of Bregret over EU split?, Jan 10). Why? Most likely because they saw EU membership as contradicting true independence – and because they had seen the consequences of Scotland’s 50 years of EU membership.

This last half century has seen Scotland lose its industrial base. Whenever a firm closed, the answer, whether from Labour or the SNP, was “we cannot intervene”. EU state aid rules forbid it.

Gregor Gall needs to face reality. The EU constitution is neoliberal. It gives legal priority to the rights of business. Legal judgements based on “the right of establishment” have eroded the rights to collective bargaining and in some cases even trade union rights to organise.

READ MORE: Brexit 'worsened UK medicine shortages and NHS budget pressures'

In face of the 2010-12 economic crisis the EU adopted monetary policies condemned outright by the European Trade Union Confederation as a return to the 1930s. Running as a “red line” throughout, it said, was the intent to use mass unemployment to force down wages and conditions. This is precisely what happened. Countries like Spain, Greece and Portugal have seen a massive drop in the number of workers covered by collective bargaining agreements. Income shares going to workers have shrunk sharply.

And for the future, EU laws, whether at Scottish or British level, would prevent the left-wing policies we need to overcome the current crisis. They would block full comprehensive public ownership (energy, postal services, communications, rails, ferries). EU regulations on Compulsory Competitive Tendering would block any effective community wealth-building programmes. And state aid rules would bar comprehensive policies for re-industrialisation.

Tragically and dangerously the last decade has seen the collapse of social democratic parties and the rise of the right, and extreme right, across the EU. Why? Because EU law has blocked the progressive policies for which left parties traditionally stood. Today we need the freedom, and political clarity, to develop policies based on public control, on public ownership – not support for the gathering big-business chorus: let’s get back into the EU.

John Foster and Vince Mills
Joint Secretaries, Radical Options for Scotland and Europe (ROSE)

THANK you, Sunday National, for reviewing the book Empire First by Graeme Bowman. Not before time, some of the glamour surrounding PM Winston Churchill is examined. He was the standard English public school toff, born to rule and keep the plebs in their place. At a time when the NHS is coming under increasing pressure, we must all be thankful it came into being after the Second World War as a mark of a caring society. We should also remember that Churchill and his Tory party voted against it.

Iain R Thomson