Taxpayers and the tapestry
Alex Orr (letters, December 22) lists the freebies available to Scots through public spending that is 20% higher than in England.
He omits the crucial fact that those freebies and that spending are paid for by the English taxpayer. The nationalists always omit the essential truth that Scotland is kept afloat by the British Treasury and the Bank of England.
If Scotland was an independent country it would have a fiscal deficit of £14.5bn – worse even than Greece. Break the Union and you break Scotland as a going concern.
Scotland has been in the red every year since devolution – even when oil revenues were high. Now that they have plummeted, things have gone from bad to worse.
Scotland’s deficit of 9.5% is well over the 3% required for EU membership which the SNP bosses crave. To kneel at the door of Brussels, income tax would have to rise from 20p to 39p, or VAT would have to increase to 40%. Alternatively, savage spending cuts would have to be implemented, sweeping away all the freebies, slashing the NHS budget by 80%, stopping all spending on roads and railways, and giving up on even the pretence of armed forces.
Mind you, even without the ball and chain of independence, it will be a struggle to maintain our freebies. And yet still the magic money tree is shaken for ever more superfluous projects – such as the Great Tapestry of Scotland building in Galashiels.
The deeper Scotland gets into debt the more we seem to spend on extras while vital services are cut.
Writing in The Times on December 21, Alistair Moffat, a “co-chairman” of the tapestry project, states that viewers of this nationalist artwork are “often moved to tears”. Taxpayers will be so moved when the final itemised bill is presented to them.
Thanks to the local press we know Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has already spent £520,000 on this nationalist project, will cough up another £3.5m and maybe more, while Holyrood will spend £2.5m. Total cost will be over £7m.
To be fair, the project is expected to return £50,000 a year which means the tapestry building will be paid back in 140 years. But as SBC’s Rob Dickson warned, “failure to meet visitor targets or manage costs will require ongoing subsidy”.
Evidence against independence
I write in response to the letter from C. Holms, published in last week’s issue, questioning polling I referred to in my column of December 15.
I am happy to offer more information about this YouGov poll, which was published on December 1.
It was carried out for The Times newspaper and subsequently reported in the Express, Independent, Business Insider, Telegraph and BBC.
It showed that support for the SNP had fallen by four points over the previous three months and that only 31% of Scots want the Scottish Government to campaign for independence during the next two years.
On leaders’ ratings, Nicola Sturgeon had an approval rating of +11% (down from +20% in August), while Ruth Davidson had an approval rating of +25% (up from +21% in August). The letter writer might not like it that Ruth Davidson is twice as popular as Nicola Sturgeon, but a lot of people think she is doing a good job holding the Scottish Government to account.
The polling which the writer referred to was from September 1 and highlights my point well.
This earlier poll showed that, excluding don’t knows, 46% supported independence, compared to 54% who want to remain part of the UK.
The YouGov poll in December showed 44% supported independence and 56% want to remain part of the UK. The same poll found that while 10% of people who voted No in 2014 now support independence, 15% of Yes voters now want to remain part of the UK.
All strong evidence that there is a greater shift of people moving away from supporting independence, as I said in my column.
John Lamont MSP
Sovereignty the supreme power
If Scotland, via the SNP (and Irish republicanism), becomes a republic, the supremacy of the people is formally acknowledged.
How does President Nicola (referendum) Sturgeon sound?
Let the politicians do their best or worst, but leave sovereignty as the supreme power over our United Kingdom. God bless Queen Elizabeth II and 1,000 years of sovereign democracy.
Sturgeon’s only option
Nicola Sturgeon last week made crystal clear that her true goal is an independent Scotland within the European Union.
And there, regrettably for First Minister Sturgeon, lies the rub.
While a few EU bureaucrats have submitted to being photographed embracing her, one European country leader after another has told Ms Sturgeon that Scotland exits the EU along with the remainder of the UK.
That, of course, leaves her with no option other than Scotland joining as an independent country.
But post-oil boom Scotland’s 9.5% annual deficit – and growing – means that for us to meet the EU’s 3% upper limit requirement, the SNP would need to inflict many years of financial misery upon us in the form of aggressive tax rises and public services cuts. The impact of Tory austerity would seem inconsequential by comparison.
Public spending last year was £1,200 per head higher in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK as a consequence of our comparatively poor health levels and scattered population – funded by the UK taxpayer via the generous Barnett Formula.
Rotarians on parade
On behalf of the Rotary Club of Melrose, can I thank everyone who contributed to making this year’s Christmas parade in Melrose such an outstanding success.
Especially to our sponsors, the Co-operative Society, the generous donors to our raffle, including Burt’s Hotel and Abbey Fine Wines, and everyone who bought tickets.
The magnificent sum of over £1,100 was raised and this helps to ensure that our work in the local community, including the parade, our outreach to the elderly and the local schools can continue for another year.
We are only a small club and your support is greatly appreciated.
David J. Dalglish
(treasurer, Rotary Club of