Letters: Swinney gets his sums wrong on oil revenues

Finance Secretary John Swinney. Pic: Comp
Finance Secretary John Swinney. Pic: Comp
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In his article, (News, March 20), commenting on the budget, John Swinney claims that we would be better off going solo. What a claim!

This statement about our finances in Scotland is based on averages over the last 5, 10 and 33 years. Past averages of a declining resource tell us nothing for the future. The trend is what is important and the trend, Mr Swinney, is downwards.

The income from oil revenues for an independent Scotland is expected to continue to decrease, due to the reduction in the volume available and the increased cost of extracting at ever greater depths.

We might have the occasional good year due to an unexpected high oil price. We might also have a very bad year due to a low oil price as a result of worldwide over production. But the overall result for going solo is down, Mr Swinney, down.

John Higinbotham, Bruntsfield Gardens, Edinburgh

Labour waters down its devo commitment

There was more than the faint chill of anti-climax as Labour’s Devolution Commission published its final report (March 19).

It is, of course, welcomed that there is now a recognition that all parties realise that the status quo is not enough and are committed to bringing more powers to the parliament, even though it should be highlighted that there is no guarantee that any new powers will be delivered in the event of a no vote in the independence referendum.

However, the proposals are a huge watering down of what Labour had proposed in their interim report last April. This report is less about powers for Scotland, more about a power struggle within the Labour party, and it is clear that Westminster Labour have won.

The expectation was that the report would recommend fully devolving income tax, and possibly Air Passenger Duty, first recommended by the Calman Commission way back in 2009. However, these pledges have all been ditched.

And despite briefing heavily that Scotland is to become more responsible for welfare – one of the areas where Westminster is causing the most damage in Scotland – today’s proposals will leave Westminster in control of around 85 per cent of welfare spending north of the border.

The limited tax powers in the 2012 Scotland Act will see 16 per cent of taxes raised in Scotland devolved by 2016. Where their interim report proposal would have increased this figure to 29 per cent, today’s watered-down proposals reduce this to only 20 per cent - in other words, Labour are proposing to devolve only four per cent more than what Scotland is already getting.

These proposals are no more than minor tinkering and what is required is the radical surgery that can only come through independence, allowing us to realise our full potential as one of the richest nations in the world.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Bonnyrig Leisure Centre must be saved

Following the release of the recommendations of the assessment panel in relation to the two bids received for the reuse of Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre, I am deeply concerned that despite a bid which the panel considered to have been widely consulted upon, as having strong support from the community, and as meeting many of the council’s objectives, the bid has been rejected outright on the basis of “possible” financial issues.

I hope that councillors can see that this bid has sufficient potential and popular support to warrant some further work with the Trust to determine whether these concerns can be resolved. If not, by all means then take a decision to demolish the building but not before.

The case of Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre as an exercise in local authority community engagement has now been covered widely by the media. It has been called a test case in whether politicians’ claims to want to actively engage with communities are real or just vote-grabbing spin.

The spotlight is now on our elected officials to hear what the community of Bonnyrigg, Lasswade and Poltonhall is saying to them and to do what they can to facilitate it. If they vote on Tuesday in favour of demolishing this building without knowing whether the panel’s concerns could be resolved then they will have failed not only this community but the wider community of Midlothian.

Louise Murray, by email

Referendum vote could split Scotland

Once again Alex Salmond has thrown his toys out the pram, and spat the dummy, at the same time.

It seems he is now blaming the BBC of bias towards the No campaign.

Every time someone challenges his views, he seems to lose the plot and uses the ‘It’s not fair’ bluster.

One thing I would like to ask is, if the Orkney and Shetland Islanders vote against independence, will they be allowed to vote to leave Scotland?

Also if towns in the Borders vote No, will England step in to offer these residents the option to become English?

I think the debate is becoming more divisive each week. These repercussions could last for years, all leading to a poorer Scotland.

Alun Thomas, Sinclair Close, Edinburgh

Osborne budget gives Standard Life headache

So the pension companies have been hammered in an unprecedented way by Osborne’s middle England budget?

Best of luck to Standard Life as they prepare to scurry off to their new headquarters down south.

John Baillie, Ardayre Road, Prestwick