LETTERS: Scots can prosper

There is only one question that really matters in the independence debate: would Scotland be better off as an independent country or not?

The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) certainly thinks so.

In a recent Sunday Times article headed “English subsidy of Scots ‘a myth’ ”, the CEBR concludes that, unlike other parts of the UK, Scotland receives no net subsidy from the rest of the UK.

Yet unionist politicians peddle this myth constantly in a bid to persuade Scots to remain economically shackled to a London-centric UK that has not served the interests of Scotland for decades.

So why are Westminster politicians be so keen to hang on to Scotland the “subsidy junkie”?

The answer is that they need Scotland’s wealth to fund their wars and infrastructure projects such as the Olympic village, CrossRail and London’s third airport. While, as a Londoner, I am delighted that London is prospering, I do not think it should be done at Scotland’s expense.

Despite operating in a Westminster-imposed straightjacket, Scotland’s SNP administration has done incredibly well. Scotland is in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole. Taking all Scottish revenues and all spending in Scotland into account – including the net cost of the financial sector interventions – the official Government Expenditure and Revenue Statistics (GERS) show that Scotland has run a current budget surplus in four of the five years to 2009/10, while the UK was in current budget deficit in each of these years and hasn’t run a current budget surplus since 2001/02.

In the five years to 2009/10, Scotland was in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole to the tune of £7.2 billion – or nearly £1500 for every person in Scotland.

No wonder so many of my countrymen south of the border look on with envy at what’s happening here. But if Scotland remains tied to a UK with such different priorities, it will become increasingly difficult for Scotland to maintain this record or have any prospect of truly flourishing.

Scotland desperately needs the type of investment my native south-east of England has been getting for years.

That way, Scotland’s GDP will help Scotland’s economic growth and that means more jobs, prosperity and a better standard of living for everyone living in Scotland.

An independent Scotland would be the sixth-wealthiest country in the developed world in terms of GDP per head and our public sector debt is lower than the UK’s and lower than the EU and G7 average – confirming our underlying economic strength with independence.

And the Sunday Times article was based on allocating Scotland 83 per cent of North Sea oil revenues even though the most recent GERS figures show that 91.4 per cent of oil and gas revenues belong to Scotland on a geographical basis.

Scots have the opportunity of a lifetime to have a vision well beyond that set for it by England’s politicians. Even Scottish unionists such as Danny Alexander struggle to justify their view that Scotland is better off in the UK. The best reason he was able to come up with in a recent radio interview was that “we have a shared history”.

That statement says so much.

They are talking about the past, whereas we should be thinking about the future.

Peter Jeal,

14 Masonfield Drive, Newton Stewart.