The link between the rise of modern Scottish nationalism and the production of North Sea oil is pretty indisputable. Both took off in the early seventies, with that decade’s campaigns powered by the slogan “It’s Scotland’s Oil” and it’s still a given in media circles that the desirability or even the feasibility of Scottish self-government depends principally on the spot price of Brent crude.
I’ve always found that argument a bizarre one, firstly because it takes no account of people’s emotional attachments to either the UK or Scotland, and secondly because as this site has repeatedly pointed out Scotland is both a producer and consumer of hydrocarbon fuels, so low or high prices are neither an unalloyed good or an unalloyed bad thing for her citizens.
What is incontestable is that the revenue from 45 years of North Sea production has not been well managed by the United Kingdom in comparison to the other states who have benefited from this bounty.
So far so uncontentious.
Outside of constitutional questions, party politics in Scotland revolves around health, education and jobs, with every party more or less in favour of all three. But what if there was an existential threat not just to this trinity but to our entire way of life? Where would that fit in to our politics?