Today’s Herald Letter: Risky Gambles (Beat paywall)

IN the question of the economics of independence, there are those like myself who will vote No, on the evidence presented by the likes of Paul Krugman, the independent IFS and the three political parties who represent nearly 80 per cent of the country’s voters. And voting Yes will be those who prefer the version given voice by Joseph Stiglitz, the association of poujadiste small traders called Business for Scotland, and the SNP, whose support peaked at 22 per cent in 2011.

The binary format of the referendum has made the choice simple for those who “don’t know” or are undecided in the face of the risks involved. They might ask themselves the following:

If you were buying a house, and one surveyor said it had dry rot and the other said it did not, would you bet your savings and your mortgage on one of them being right? Or if you were buying a car and you had one mechanic say it was sound and another that it was a heap of junk, would you take the risk?

Or if you were wagering your life savings and those of your family on a horse, would you bet on one on which the vets could not agree as to its fitness? Likewise, two of the world’s top economists cannot agree as to the benefits or otherwise of independence. The stakes are enormous and the odds are long.

Alex Salmond is a betting man, and is obviously prepared to take these risks. This week, Scottish voters should look at themselves and decide whether they are also that reckless. I trust that they will not be.

Peter A Russell

I am rather pleased with this letter in the Herald. (Beat the paywall)

THE statesman-like intervention of Gordon Brown in leading the movement for extra devolved powers for Scotland will surely be welcomed by all Scots who value pragmatism and commonsense over dogma and risk (“No camp accused of panic as Brown unveils powers plan”, The Herald, September 9).

 Very often in the debate we have heard the refrain “if only devo-max were on the ballot”. And sometimes, “I might give Yes a try.”

The effect of the accord announced at Loanhead by Gordon Brown is that the first is in effect the case – a No vote is a vote for new powers at Holyrood, to be developed in partnership with Scottish civil society.

The unified offer also gives the “give it a try” voters a realistic option. A Yes vote is irrevocable and absolute, but No offers the opportunity to take smaller steps, backed by the security of the scale and diversity of the UK. The consensus on proposals for taxation powers should also finally put a stake through the heart of the Yes campaign’s terrible scaremongering about the NHS.

Scotland still has no clarity from the Yes campaign about currency other than “trust me, I’m a politi­cian” from Alex Salmond, and only the most fanatical of Yes supporters would take such enormous risks to the economy and in turn to public services.

For most people, their referendum decision is not about unrealistic dreams or blind dogma.

Gordon Brown has defined a No vote as a vote for a radically new deal for Scotland within the UK, but – crucially – without the risks of independence.

Devo-max is on the ballot. Give it a try: vote No.

Peter A Russell