Last Herald letter of the year: ‘Scotland is benefiting from the wealth of those in the south-east of England.’ (No £)

RUTH Marr (Letters, December 27) tells us “the further south you go, the wealthier it gets, and all down the decades … Scotland’s oil was flowing into the Westminster coffers”. In doing so, she illustrates perfectly the Nationalist mindset she denies – the belief that the greedy English have grown rich by hoarding the income from Scotland’s oil.

Such thinking is a purely a matter of choice, or of prejudice. For a start, her assertion is untrue – the furthest south you can go in Britain is Cornwall, which is one of the poorest parts of the country. Similarly her question “is [there] any other country in the world which would lie down and allow itself to be stripped of its wealth in the way Scotland has?” is utterly bogus: the country which has landed oil from the North Sea was and remains the UK. There has been no lying down and no stripping of wealth.

It is true that Scotland has a claim to oil revenues: but also to the revenues of the whole of the UK, for example, those accruing from Toyota in Sunderland, from Sage in Newcastle, from industry in the north-west of England and the English Midlands, and of course from the massive revenues of the financial services industries in London and elsewhere in the south-east.

All Ms Marr and those like her need to do is to embrace the idea that “we” are the UK and that what is “ours” is the wealth of the whole country. Anything else is an economic absurdity.

Indeed, the wealthier parts of the south are populated by taxpayers and indeed probably have a large number of higher rate tax earners. Scottish Nationalists might feel better in the New Year if they imagine all those people polishing their BMWs outside nice houses in Guildford and East Grinstead as a source of revenue just over the horizon which can be put to use for Scotland’s benefit. A bit like oil, in fact.

Peter A Russell

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