SO our UK oil and gas industry is resilient (North Sea oil and gas has ‘turned a corner’, The National, June 21). Not much news there really – so long as there remains extractable stuff down there, profits will be extracted too.

How do the politicians make use of this industry for their arguments about whether Scotland should be independent or Westminster dependent?

Well, the nationalists are accused of relying on oil revenues for their projections of successful independence, yet any projections they have made were framed in terms of, firstly, being on a low best estimate and, secondly, with full acknowledgement that the easiest and probably best fields have been already emptied.

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I say probably the best fields because we simply don’t know how much oil lies in Scottish Atlantic waters because the presence of Trident submarines has entirely stopped exploration.

So that is one lie thrown at the nationalist movement which isn’t properly challenged and ridiculed as it ought to be. But it isn’t the biggest oil lie thrown at us. No, that one is the old “broad-shouldered”

one – a volatile industry such as oil has to be stewarded from afar (Westminster) because wee Scotland could not handle the revenue fluctuations occurring between lows and highs in the industry. This is arrant nonsense.

An industry which shored up Thatcher’s dismantling of a manufacturing-based economy and the post-war consensus of meaningful and rewarding employment for all, a financially comfortable old age, public/private housing balance, the rich paying fair taxes, all underpinned by the welfare state – an industry which supported the removal of all that could not be managed from within the country whence the revenue came? Really?

Think about it in this simple but logical way. If the oil industry was important to the UK and still remains important, although it has, of course, slipped down the list of important contributors to the UK economy, would it not have been incrementally much more beneficial to Scotland, with a population of roughly 10 per cent of the UK’s?

Or think about it in another way entirely. When we discovered oil, our national debt was a fraction of what it is now. Now, per head, we owe more than the Greeks. The UK is comparable to the worst in the world when it comes to squandering oil resources, yet wee Scotland couldn’t manage it better. We are probably the only country to have discovered oil and become relatively less prosperous.

A final way to look at oil is as follows: undeniably, as decommissioning costs loom, extraction becomes more challenging and prices remain stubbornly low due to glut, there is less money being made from Scottish oil. Tax revenues last year were tiny compare to the halcyon days. Yet optimism is returning. Money will be made for many years to come. Which country should benefit?

Which parliament should be stewarding the resource? Certainly not the UK. Certainly not Westminster. They have tried and they have lied. They have failed. Scotland missed the greatest of all opportunities by failing to grasp independence sooner but we will truly kick ourselves if we fail again to take advantage of the twilight years of the greatest natural resource a country could dream of.

So we need to stop listening to the lies, and challenge them all the way.
David Crines
Hamilton

OH, so there is £££BILLIONS of oil still left in the Scottish sector of the North Sea? For the past two years we’ve been told: “It’s a’ finished, deid, kaput”!
What a disappointment for the dismal Jimmys.
Roy Linton
via thenational.scot

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Attainment fund should be targeted at pupils with additional support needs

LATEST figures from the Scottish Government highlight a worrying increase to 14 per cent in the number of those school leavers with additional support needs (ASN), who are unemployed nine months after leaving school.

Indeed, the gap between those school leavers with ASN and without entering “positive destinations”, such as employment, training, further and higher education, has increased from 7.9 per cent in 2014/15 to 8.7 per cent in 2015/16.

With a reduction of £310 in additional support for learning spend per pupil, from £4127 to £3817 over this same period, and a fall in the number of ASN teachers and specialist support staff, more support is required to close the gap, ensuring that we give these vulnerable children and young people the best possible start in life.

The Scottish Government’s Attainment Scotland Fund must be targeted at children and young people, not on the basis of just deprivation and free school meals, but to those with ASN.

With Scottish Government proposals to give schools more direct control over budgets, there is the opportunity here to target resources to improve the life chances of those children and young people who need it most.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Tom McGhee, Managing Director, Spark of Genius; Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland; Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland; Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School; Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations

I AM rather confused by the call from the Unionist party leaders at Holyrood for the SNP to retract the indyref2 timetable following the result of the General Election. They unashamedly made the election in Scotland a proxy vote on independence – and they lost .

If the country was inclined to their viewpoint then it was a simple matter for the electorate, in a FPTP poll, to elect a Unionist candidate in each constituency – they did not. Indeed they did so in only 24 out of 59 constituencies.

This raises the question as to what voters in Scotland thought they were voting for in the election. If it was fought, as the Unionists contend, solely on independence then they clearly lost. Had the feeling been in the country that the people were sick of talk of another referendum, which was the Unionists’s mantra throughout, then the voters would have coalesced around the leading Unionist candidate in each constituency. It was clear from the results of some constituencies that some form of unofficial pact had been in operation to oust the SNP, yet this was an isolated phenomenon and did not reflect the voting intentions across the country.

So people were not so disgusted with the SNP’s independence stance that they would set aside party affiliations and work to defeat them wholesale. If, on the other hand, the electorate voted on party policies, as the election was supposed to be about, then again the Unionists lost since they were unable to secure a majority of seats in Scotland. Having heard so little of the Unionist parties’ policies during the campaign perhaps the voters had too little information on which to support them – and they didn’t.

Either way, as democrats they must accept the decision of the electorate and not spin it to suit an end which the voters did not support.

Furthermore, considering the result of the election, the leaders of the SNP could quite legitimately ask that the Unionist parties in Scotland withdraw their objections to another independence referendum since they pinned all their electoral hopes on this issue and it has been clearly rejected at the ballot box.

They may not like it but as one losing US politician put it: “The people have spoken, the b******s.”
James Mills
Johnstone

OUR party leaders should unite? (Letters, The National, June 21). Did you see the state of them at the last leaders’ debate? And the one before that? And the one during the Scottish election campaign?

Those four or five uniting to fight Scotland’s corner would be just as cringeworthy as that sketch with Davidson and Sturgeon in a lift arguing about who’s more Scottish. Get a grip!
Archie Dickson
Glasgow