WITH reference to your article about trade (Think tank’s trade study triggers row (The National, April 21), we must keep this UK Government-commissioned research in perspective.

The importance of trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK has never been in doubt. The constant harping on about the importance of Scotland’s exports to the rUK without looking at trade coming north is pointless unless the objective is merely to spread alarm.

As the mainstream media will only pick up on southbound trade and associated jobs, it’s important that we are well-informed to counter the fake news and alternative truths we’ll all be bombarded with.

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HMRC’s 2016 export statistics show that Scotland is the only part of the UK having a surplus on its balance of trade. I presume HMRC is not a pro-independence organisation and is merely stating facts.

If the rUK were to pull up the drawbridge following a “Yes” ScotRef result, they’d be cutting off their nose to spite their face. With Scotland being the rUK’s second-biggest export market and the supplier of 67 per cent of their oil and gas needs, are they really going to jeopardise that?

Sadly, with the self-harm of Brexit, it is clear that cutting off its nose to spite its face is becoming a rUK trait.

So where does that leave Scotland? There would be a rough road ahead but certainly no rougher than the road the rUK has chosen – and at least we’d be at our own steering wheel. Holyrood is doing better with one hand tied behind its back than Westminster is doing.

Scotland is not the economic basket case that it is made out to be. The rUK is very important to us, as we are to them, so rather than trying to drive a wedge between us, let us never forget Nicola Sturgeon’s words: “England, Wales and Northern Ireland will always be Scotland’s closest neighbours and our best friends – nothing will change that.”

We’ll keep the welcome mat on our side of the drawbridge for those who seek a fairer life.
Geoff Tompson
Helensburgh

GEORGE Osborne’s decision to leave Westminster is an underwhelming event. Mr Osborne was possibly the worst chancellor in history. He came in to office with a “strategy” of deficit elimination within five years through ideologically reckless and economically illiterate austerity. In reality, this meant working people paying the price for the incompetence of bankers.

Osborne ran up more debt than every Labour chancellor in history. The UK national debt now stands at £2 trillion. Food bank use doubled to more than two million people relying on them due to benefit cuts. Homelessness went up at twice its previous rate. Wages collapsed at the same rate as in Greece. Osborne’s economic “recovery” was the slowest in recorded history and the UK economy has the distinction of being the only one in the world which is growing while wages stagnate.

While Osborne’s ruinous polices meant misery and impoverishment for millions, the financial elite continues to rake in obscene amounts of wealth. Chief executive officers at FTSE firms are earning, on average, 386 times more than the living wage.

Under austerity, instead of reinvesting profits, corporations use their cash for speculative activities in financial markets and drawing on the ultra-cheap money provided by the central bank for mergers and acquisitions, share buybacks and investment in the property market.

While such parasitism boosts the bottom line of firms, it leads to further stagnation in the real economy as a whole.
Alan Hinnrichs
Dundee

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Time for Labour for Indy to secede from party

KEZIA Dugdale rages against Tory policies, rails against the rape clause and Tory austerity which penalises the poor, the infirm and the sick and has led to the SNP Government bringing in measures to mitigate, for example, the bedroom tax.

Then, Ian Murray shouts for tactical voting to support the Tories in Scotland to support the Union, which is the cause of austerity and which is denying Scotland’s place in the EU after Scots voted to remain.

Never since the “40 per cent rule” has the Labour Party sunk so low. I presume Dugdale will condemn this pariah. His outburst leaves the Labour Party in Scotland with no more dignity and relevance.

After its near-demise in 2015, it crawls to the Tories for support and vice versa. Time for Labour for Indy to secede.
John Edgar
Blackford

ISN’T it disingenuous for Ruth Davidson to say that if Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t like the Tory-imposed two-child tax credits system then she can change it?

She well knows that Scotland having to mitigate oppressive Tory policies for those who are most in need – like the two-child rule and the bedroom tax, for example – require the diverting of much-needed cash from the budgets of other hard-pressed services like the NHS, councils, police, etc.

Then Davidson subjects us to endless bleating about how poor our public services are under the SNP Government.

Shouldn’t we remember this when we vote in forthcoming elections? Oppressive Tory Government victimisation of those in need, or government in the interests of Scots? It’s a no-brainer!
Jim Taylor
Edinburgh

FIRST Minister’s questions this week heard a very timely question from SNP MSP Kenny Gibson considering the local elections are nearly upon us. The question was regarding the cost of PFI (Private Finance Initiative) projects to North Ayrshire Council: PFI projects instigated and run by the previous Labour administration at Holyrood, and costing millions annually.

Perhaps Mr Gibson should have gone further and included the costs of PFI projects to all local authorities in Scotland, because those figures are running annually into the millions, annually, for our public services. PFI projects exploit our public services and take them away from the public who they are meant to be provided for. Gibson’s question was, indeed, a very timely reminder as we approach local elections.
Catriona C Clark
Falkirk

PERHAPS the SNP should be more ambitious at the forthcoming General Election. While much media speculation has already focused on how many seats they might lose at Westminster after their exceptional result in 2015 and, by implication, which seats the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and possibly Labour parties might gain in Scotland (assuming the latter manage to avoid a total wipe-out), little has been written about the possibility of the SNP winning more seats by putting up candidates in English constituencies.

This omission may not appear remarkable to most, but there are those in England, especially in the north, who can envision advantages for their local areas in Scotland becoming an independent country, especially if it were a member state of the EEA single market.

There are other places, such as the former Scottish town of Berwick, where some would prefer to see their community be part of a country with a more egalitarian outlook than that determined by an increasingly right-wing Tory Government essentially committed to privatising public services, such as the NHS. The claiming of Scottish territorial waters in 1999 was a “crime” that can be legally reversed when Scotland becomes independent but, conceivably, in addition to re-drawing the maritime border, the land Border could be legitimately returned to Hadrian’s Wall.

Meantime, by having even one SNP candidate stand in England, the excuse of the BBC and others in the MSM that coverage of the party is limited because it is not a “UK party” would lose its validity.
Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian