THE comment piece by economist Mark Littlewood was an interesting one (Nationalists need economic answers for indyref2 The National, March 24).

His areas of focus were the currency, the euro, Scotland’s size, and a Scottish deficit. He answered his own questions in these areas, and is correct in saying that pursuing a range of policies that suit Scotland rather than Westminster would lead to an improvement in Scottish growth. Simply put, the much-vaunted GERS figures that inform Unionist debate tell us nothing about the financial situation of an independent Scotland.

Indeed, while it is certainly true that nationalists need to have answers when it comes to independence, so Unionists have to have answers – and not just to economic and financial questions.

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In any argument in favour of continuing with the Union, Unionists have to be able to tell us what sort of Unionism they are attempting to sell us. And, we need to be aware of the competing unionisms, and how the Union is being sold to us.

Are Unionists selling us the brand that projects the idea of a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a truly multi-national partnership – like the one Gordon Brown gets all excited about, and is enthused over by Kezia Dugdale who has been trying to find favour for her federal plan? Or, are Unionists selling a brand of unionism that projects English nationalist sentiment and which regards the United Kingdom as a sort of greater England?

For my own part, after the 2014 independence referendum I saw the future debate around the Scottish constitutional position as being a simple binary one between nationalism and Unionism – but this was wrong; it is a much more complicated story than that.

In opposition to the idea of a multi-national and multi-ethnic independent Scotland there is, on the one hand, the Unionism as expressed through “multi-Britain” and as championed by those who regard the UK as a happy multi-national and multi-ethnic society; and, on the other, there is the Unionism of Anglo-Britain championed by those who have a strong sense of English identity and the notion of greater England. Many factors in the coming months will determine the outcome of indyref2, not least the answers to financial and economic questions. However, the way in which the competing unionisms are projected will also make a difference to the outcome.

Lastly, some Unionists are fond of focusing on “differences” in the nationalist side over the question of Scottish membership of the EU after independence, or membership of the European Free Trade Association, and how these differences might affect the outcome of vote.

So, perhaps we as nationalists should start pressing Unionists a good deal more robustly on what sort of Union it is that they espouse.
Graeme D Eddie

I READ Derrick McClure’s letter (The National, March 23) and had a wee chuckle to myself as yet again I saw the puzzlement at Dundee University being classed as one of the ancients.

It was a puzzlement I shared when, as a first year at St Andrews, I went to join the union, which is affiliated, obviously as the oldest, to the ancients, not the NUS, and learned that it included Dundee.

But the answer turns out to be remarkably simple. Dundee University started life as University College in 1881, becoming an affiliated part of the University of St Andrews in 1897. It became an independent university in 1967, but retained its status as part of the ancients for staff and students alike.
Kris Murray Browne


Tories are a perfect example of tyranny of the minority 

THERE has been a great deal of verbal nonsense lately in the media from the Unionist side of the debate. Ruthless Ruthie says things like “the SNP Scottish Government is a minority government”. Of course, she is comparing a proportional election result against a first-past-the-post system.

So consider this: in the 2015 UK elections the SNP won 56 out of the 59 seats in Scotland. That is 94.9 per cent, a very high mandate indeed. At that same election, the Conservatives got 331 seats out of 650 which is 50.9 per cent.

Moving on to the 2016 Scottish election’s FPTP results: SNP 59 seats (80.08 per cent), Conservatives seven seats (9.58 per cent), Labour three seats (4.10 per cent), LibDems four seats (5.47 per cent). Total, 73 seats. What mandate did the SNP not get, I ask?

Ruthie and others talk about voter percentage (SNP 46.5 per cent in 2016 Holyrood). At Westminster in 2015 the Conservative win was 36.9 per cent of the vote: a minority Government based on Ruthie’s argument.
Robert Anderson

IN his comment piece (Why you can’t rely on GERS to judge indy Scotland’s financial state, The National, March 21) Professor Richard Murphy risks misleading taxpayers about the role and remit of Revenue Scotland.

He claims that: “Revenue Scotland is still struggling to work out which people are tax resident in Scotland and it has no clue at all on what corporation tax, VAT or other taxes are due, precisely because no-one has to declare those taxes separately for Scotland.”

The taxes to which Professor Murphy refers are not within the remit of Revenue Scotland.

Revenue Scotland has a clear remit set out in the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act (Scotland) 2014 which is to administer and collect two taxes devolved to Scotland – currently, land and building transaction tax and Scottish landfill tax. It is also establishing the systems and processes required to collect air departure tax which is proceeding through the Scottish Parliament and is expected to be introduced on April 1, 2018.
Elaine Lorimer,
Chief Executive Revenue Scotland

WELL said The Kicker! Both sides have been using the term “Unionist” and “Unionism” in the debate for many years, and nobody attempted to link it to Ulster Unionists and the Northern Island situation. Then along comes the bold Brian Wilson to do just that. What on earth does he think he’s playing at; and can he sink any lower?
Ian Baillie

WITH spring emerging, many holiday destinations await the influx of visitors to boost flagging economies.

Nowhere else is this more the case than on Arran. So it is with dismay to hear that North Ayrshire Council, in its pursuit of saving £35,000, a drop in the ocean, is to close the public toilets!
Catriona C Clark

YOUR correspondent Iain Jack makes a convincing case for direct, rather than indirect funding, of science and R&D in Scotland (Letters, The National, March 23).

But why not go further than a direct funding model and set up a Scottish Public Patenting Fund to ensure direct returns to the public purse from taxpayer investment?

Such a Public Patenting Fund would have three essential purposes.

1) To contribute to the Scottish common weal by funding or part-funding leading research and development; in leading and innovating scientific sectors in return for patent rights or part-patent rights on new products, processes and inventions that arise.

2) To invest return from said patents in the fund, with a view to both greater investment in Scottish R&D and theoretical scientific work, and to make an annual contribution from the fund to the Scottish Exchequer after costs once in profit.

3) To develop science and innovation in Scotland across all sectors as a matter of public policy.

If the state contributes why should a state fund not hold part shares in patents?
Steve Arnott