Herald Letter: “Nationalists need to spell out how they would make the economy work.”

CONTRARY to the assertions of some of your correspondents (Letters, August 25), few of us pretend that the SNP Scottish Government’s GERS figures show how an independent would fare economically. It is clear that the figures it contains refer to the current reality whereby, as part of the UK, Scotland is able to spend more than £13 billion more on public expenditure than it collects in tax.

The question that is posed is how would an independent Scotland differ? The only thing that is clear is that it would lose this massive slice of revenue, which would need to be replaced. Nationalists need to answer specifically what their policies would be to do so. Whenever this question is put, they reply that they need “levers”. What is never clear is what levers, how they would be pulled, what the effect would be and how effective this would be in creating growth and increasing revenues.

As their project also includes membership of the EU, they could not increase borrowing (or even maintain it at anything like current levels) under the Stability and Growth Pact. So the only options would be much higher taxation or massive public expenditure cuts. Scottish Nationalists from the First Minister down need to be honest with the public, and tell us who would pay for their obsession, and how much it would cost us. Even before then, they might give us at least a hint of what currency we would use, how it would be supported and what the cost of a central bank and currency reserves might be?

Alternatively, they could make the Scottish economy work within the UK so that revenues exceed expenditure – or forget the whole damned business as the 2014 referendum suggested they should.

Peter A Russell

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