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The elephant in the loch

Posted on November 20, 2012 by

We just caught up on last night’s Newsnight Scotland, which examined whether oil revenues were enough to sustain future Scottish public spending. Remarkably, it even interviewed Professor Gavin McCrone, and highlighted the fact that his infamous report was suppressed by the Westminster government for 30 years. And yet bizarrely – but as always seems to be the case – the programme insisted on analysing the economy of a future devolved Scotland, not an independent one.

That, however, is a startlingly stupid thing to do. Let’s keep this simple.

Nobody, that we’ve seen, has ever said that oil alone can balance Scotland’s books indefinitely. This month’s Institute for Fiscal Studies report, which provided the backdrop to the programme, shows that it fills the current gap between tax revenues raised in Scotland and public spending, but doesn’t cover the likely increases in the latter, and doesn’t provide “spare” money for investing in renewables or a fund for when the oil runs out.

Yet the analysis and debate on the programme ignored the gigantic and expensive white elephant currently sitting in Scottish waters, which will disappear with independence. Trident costs Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds a year, and no matter which party might be elected to govern the country in 2016 after a Yes vote, Trident would have to go.

The nuclear non-proliferation treaty the UK is a signatory to would require the submarines to remain in Westminster hands, and therefore no longer be the Scottish Government’s responsibility. Even if there was some kind of brain-disease pandemic in May 2016 and Scotland elected the Tories, they couldn’t keep the weapon if they wanted to. Scots would no longer have to pay for Trident, and the new nation’s budget would be boosted by an instant jackpot, every single year until the end of time.

And there’s more, of course. Doomsayers in the No camp insist that oil is running out, not just in Scotland but worldwide, and warn that relying on it for revenue is a risky business as the price is volatile. The first part is true, but as oil gets more and more scarce it seems fair to say that its price is only going to move in one direction.

In the most empirical, impartial analysis possible, an independent Scotland WILL be richer than the devolved one is. That simply isn’t up for rational debate. The savings on defence alone will provide a multi-billion-pound bonanza over the decades. (And of course, the misguided Unionist perspective also ignores the fact that the devolved nation is going to see its budget going backwards for years under UK austerity, making the comparison even more clear-cut.)

Meanwhile the price of oil will rise, increasingly sharply, as supply falls, and there’ll be extra money to invest in readiness for the day when there’s none left. That day is probably half a century away – plenty of time to harness Scotland’s incredible renewable resources, especially as Holyrood’s revenue soars with the oil price.

(We might not be able to match Norway’s legendary £300bn sovereign wealth fund – which will of course also continue to rocket – but we certainly won’t be reduced to scavenging pennies from the sick and old and poor.)

None of the above applies to a devolved Scotland, shackled to Trident and other UK military misadventures and sending all the oil money to Westminster. Yet the media insists on measuring the economy of an independent Scotland by the metrics of a devolved one. It’s (not really very) hard to understand why.

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79 to “The elephant in the loch”

  1. scottish_skier says:

    Up to 70% of Scots are up for full fiscal autonomy / devo max, where Scotland raises and spends all it’s own taxes. Been like this for years; at least as long as polls have been asking (back to 2009).

    The too poor argument has been falling on deaf ears for a long time. Unionists are barking up the wrong tree when trying to use economic arguments against Scottish independence.

    Also, it’s not as if Westminster is a shining example of how to manage a country’s finances well; everyone is well aware that both the Tories and Labour are a disaster at this.

    Nice of them to mention the McCrone report though.

  2. dadsarmy says:

    For some time I’ve been posting occasionaly about the need for independent reports about every aspect of Independence for Scotland. Reports that are neither Independence friendly nor Unionst, but based on facts and figures.

    Well, the IFS report is a first step in the right direction, and indeed one or the other of the spokesmen stated this themselves, though not in so many words.

    What is sheerly beautiful about the IFS report is that while the SNP / SG can challenge its findings on the basis of what might be a future Independent Scotland’s policies, the reality is that the Unionists – can’t – as they seem to be unable to accept the possibility that YES might win in 2014.

    Well, this is their Achilles Heel, and the more independent reports that come out from respoected institutes or bodies, the better. If there are false premises in these reports, they can be gently informed of these, with backing figures and reports by the SG or whoever, and allowed the chance to update their reports – which I like to think they will have the nouse to do.

    To be honest, once I absorbed its import this IFS report quite surprised me, both for its positivity, and for its earliness. I didn’t expect such reports till well on into next year.

  3. muttley79 says:

    @Rev Stu
    In terms of BBC Scotland inability to analyse between a future devolved Scotland and an independent one, it is as if that entity is having difficulty psychologically in dealing with the whole notion of Scottish independence….Can BBC Scotland be trusted?

  4. MajorBloodnok says:

    If there’s one thing the average Unionist seem adept at it’s barking up the wrong trees.  Long may it continue.

  5. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Woof! Woof! Major. 😆

  6. Yesitis says:

    “Can BBC Scotland be trusted?”
    I think the default setting is no.

  7. cynicalHighlander says:

    “Witnesses include Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland; and Blair McDougall, campaign director for Better Together.”

  8. Doug Daniel says:

    I just find the continuous “pro-indy folk must lay down every detail for every year of an independent Scotland NOW but unionists don’t have to look even a day into the future” stance very tiresome. I mean, when Alistair Darling said yesterday that the SNP need to tell us what the economy would look like in 25, 50 and 100 years, surely the most obvious question for ANY journalist is “what will the union look like in 100 years then?”

    Just think of what is being asked here. Go back in time to 1912 and ask people what the economy will look like in 100 years, and see how many will say “well, we’ll all be in the shit after two world wars, then we’ll create the welfare state, which soon after we’ll spend 30 years dismantling, as well as spending money on these big bombs that can wipe out the entire planet. Oh, and at some point some guy will invent the internet and allow people to communicate and buy things from anywhere in the world from their mobile phone. What’s a mobile phone? Well, it’s like that thing Bell invented not long ago, except it doesn’t have wires, and you can manipulate icons on the touchscreen. What’s a touchscreen? Well, it’s an input device you control with your finger. What’s an input device? Well… Oh, did I mention the British Empire will disintegrate into loads of tiny pieces and we’ll see several of the countries that we once ruled overtaking us on numerous world rankings?” etc ad nauseum ad infinitum.

    It’s a question that cannot be answered, which is why unionists use it. But journalists shouldn’t be falling for it – they should be saying “that’s a ludicrous expectation, if you told people 100 years ago the British Empire would barely last another 3 decades, they’d  laugh at you, so how can you possibly expect a detailed analysis of the economy in 100 years time?”

    Incidentally, no one who votes in 2014 will be alive in 3014, so they don’t need to know how the economy will fare in 100 years time. We may not even exist, having wiped the planet clear of life with nuclear missiles. Therefore, it makes sense only to look as far ahead as we can conceivably imagine general conditions to remain relatively static. Will the oil run out in 50 years? Probably (although folk have been saying that for at least 30 years). Is this a good reason to remain in a bad situation now? Of course not.

    Can we contrast and compare the current situation with how things would be under independence? Yes, but only by looking at the fuller picture. Journalists are supposed to keep politicians on track. That they choose not to do so, or are simply incapable of doing so, is a problem.

  9. Kenny Campbell says:

    If we had a balanced media then surely someone would have done an analysis on the effect of losing Scottish GDP for rUK under the current set of circumstances. What are the chances of Scotland just walking away as a breakaway state and not taking any debt etc. What would that do to rUK AAA rating etc etc.

  10. muttley79 says:

    @Doug Daniel
    You are of course correct.  However, for this to happen there has to a willingness, a desire to place both campaigns under equal scrutiny.  We sadly know that this is not the case.  Journalists are not going to ask any difficult questions of the No camp if they can get away with it.  They have framed it as all about independence, when in fact the referendum really is about the future of Scotland.  They seem to be ignoring, as much as possible, the consequences of a No vote.  I have not heard a journalist ask the No side about the block grant being continually reduced, which would probably only get worse, if there is a No vote. There is nothing objective about this. 

  11. doug says:

    Muttley – Indeed.  The day Darling (or any other No campaigner) gets a ‘proper’ inquisition will be a cool day in Hades, sadly.

    Doug Daniel – Excellent analysis, but I assume you meant 2114? (I know that Churchill mooted a British Empire that would last 1000 years).  I’ll stop being pedantic.

    And yes, isn’t it refreshing to see official reports well and truly backing up that Scotland would hold its own fiscally speaking?  Gives us a nice solid ground from which we can demonstrate how Scotland would flourish in the future.

  12. muttley79 says:

    The No camp have been making a lot of the EU issue, in terms of saying Scotland would not be an automatic member.  However, during the time they have been making this argument, all the indications are that the voters and elected members of certain parties are increasingly getting more and more Euro-sceptic.  I have only read one article, by Ian McWhirter, who actually examines the ridiculous position the No camp have got themselves into.  

  13. scottish_skier says:

    I would imagine ‘McCrone Report’ was googled a few times last night.

    For those unsure or tending to no, I’ve found this single story highly effective; just about guarantees a yes. I’ve even met ex-Tory voters who were turned by it.


  14. Doug Daniel says:

    Congratulations doug, you noticed the DELIBERATE mistake. I would offer you a prize, but you already have an excellent name, meaning any prize would seem worthless in comparison.

  15. Dunc says:

    The price of oil can only rise so far before it starts sucking demand out of the economy. Based on the last few years, that limit looks to be somewhere around $150/bbl.
    However, these arguments apply equally to the Union. Scotland’s balance of payments is currently in a better position than that of the UK as a whole. Now, sure, oil contributes a greater proportion to the Scottish economy than the UK economy, but I don’t think you can then assume that a fail in oil revenues (due to depletion) won’t affect the UK economy very badly indeed. Also, the price effects will affect the UK as a whole more severely, as the UK is currently a net hydrocarbon importer anyway, and will only need to import more as supply from the North Sea tails off.
    At least here in Scotland we’re investing in alternative energy infrastructure… The plan for the rUK seems to be to assume that we can import ever-increasing volumes of gas – both via pipeline from Russia via Europe and in liquid form from the Middle East, principally Qatar – and buy new nuclear power stations from either the Japanese, Americans or the French. None of those options look entirely risk-free… Russia is increasingly using its gas exports as a political weapon, and the business of piping the stuff all the way across Europe is not exactly straight-forward – everybody along the way is in a position to negotiate for their cut of the transshipment fees, with the threat of turning off the taps and leaving Western Europe to freeze as leverage. It’s a negotiating act that’s getting more and more difficult, and I don’t expect it will be helped by the rUK’s increasingly isolationist position in Europe. LNG shipments from Qatar are subject to international competition (last I heard, there was approximately 3 times more LNG import capacity in the world than export capacity) and there are the obvious concerns with stability in both Qatar itself and the region as a whole. (Suez Crisis 2.0, anybody?) As for nuclear… Well, I’m not dead against it, but I wouldn’t want to be putting too many of my eggs in that particular basket, given the problems experienced by both of the ongoing EPR projects in Europe.

  16. dadsarmy says:

    My God, “what does independence mean?”. “Spell out independence”.

    Oh well then, for the hard of comprehension here we go, I’ll spell it out:

    I – N – D – E – P – E – N – D – E – N – C – E

    Hope that helps, Labour SAC.

  17. dadsarmy says:

    I quite like Blair McDougall though. At least he does try some to be fair.

  18. YesYesYes says:

    @Doug Daniel,
    You’re correct, of course, but there’s no need to fret about the accuracy of predictions about Scotland’s economy over such long periods as 10, 20 or more years into the future. None of us, including greetin-faced unionists, chancellors and economists, could accurately predict what we’re going to dream about in our sleep tonight, never mind predict what the future of Scotland’s economy will be like in 10 or 20 years time, in or out of the UK.
    For further evidence of how hopeless we are at predicting the future you don’t need to look any further than the experience of British governments over the last few years. Just go back to the last British general election in 2010. Look at the pledges that the Liberal Democrats made days before the British general election. Yet, one week later, once they were in government, they reversed so many of those ‘pledges’ that they became unrecognisable from the party that had made them a mere seven days earlier. Or look at the U-turns that George Osborne had to perform within weeks of the 2012 budget. This was a chancellor, with all the available data at his disposal, with numerous ‘experts’ at the UK Treasury to call on for advice,  and still he couldn’t predict, a few weeks in advance, how disastrous many of the proposals in his own budget would be. Remember also how Alistair Darling, right up to the summer of 2008, was reassuring everyone about the robustness of Britain’s financial system, yet, within weeks, the biggest financial crisis in 80 years hit us.
    ‘Scottish’ Labour’s absurd demands here, on seeking certainty about the distant future, have a weary familiarity with their Janus face on an issue like globalisation. In the referendum campaign, ‘Scottish’ Labour talks up how globalisation has rendered the nation-state relatively powerless, how it makes the independence of countries less relevant, stresses how in a ‘global’ world, governments have limited power over national economies and so on. But when Alistair Darling and his ‘Scottish’ Labour colleagues are knocking on doors looking for votes at British general elections, this is all forgotten. Then the talk turns to how the Tories have mismanaged the economy, how only Labour can be trusted to manage the British economy, and how only Labour’s economic policies will revive the British economy, creating employment, growth, stability and so on.  
    All of this throws into relief one of ‘Scottish’ Labour’s defining characteristics, a contempt for the electorate. True, this contempt for the electorate has served ‘Scottish’ Labour well for many decades, but things are different now, thank goodness. Outside of ‘Scottish’ Labour’s declining core vote, more people are alive to it these days. And the truth is, ‘Scottish’ Labour has nothing else to give, nothing else to say to us anymore. Like a zombie stalking the political landscape in search of something, anything, that will revive its fortunes, they reach with outstretched arms and realise themselves that there’s nothing there, only the disturbing nasal whine of big-haired, goofy-mouthed, gormless Ed Miliband to reassure them that everything is alright. You can see why they’re worried.

  19. Kenny Campbell says:

    To be fair , I’d say quite a few of the electorate I see on TV are deserving of contempt. The lack of even basic knowledge of how their world runs is utterly depressing.

  20. Embradon says:

    The IFS report is a great opportunity to put Better Together in a corner. Unfortunately there is no-one in the MSM who will do it.
    The big question for them is: In the event of a “no” vote, where will Scotland stand within the Union when the oil runs out?
    In, say 25 years hence – allowing Ken Mcintosh’s kids ample time to reach adulthood – and when he asserts that there will be little oil left, UK will be spiralling down the financial drain. What prospect for North Britain, sucked dry of oil and denied re-industrialisation and a renewable energy bonanza by our eurosceptic climate change deniers in Westminster?
    What is their plan “B”?  Do they have a vision beyond another 25 years of mis-managed decline?

  21. John Lyons says:

    I think the YES campaign need to make more of this what will Scotland be like in 100 years malarkey.

    Frankly, it’s impossible to say. A YES vote might result in a kind of seismic change in the political landscape that sees strange things happening like Labour being a Socialist movement that stands up for the poor and the weak. (I know, I know, but it could happen!) In 100 years it’s possible that no-one in this country will remember Margaret Thatcher or her unjust Poll tax and that with our greatest reason for hating them forgotten we’ll re-elect the Tories. Who can say what will happen. If we vote in 20 consecutive Labour Governments we might be the biggest Socialist country in the world. If we vote in 20 consecutive Tory Government we might have Rich people living in Privatised walled cities whilst the poor and the desperate try to break in or starve to death.

    But what we can say is that if we vote no we will be part of a country that only has two choices of government, the Right wing one, or the other right wing one, because that’s what Labour are. In the last fifteen years Labour has ditched all pretence at being a socialist movement and this week their leader compared himself to Thatcher. The transition is complete.
    If we vote no, we will be part of a country that wants to squeeze another 10 Billion out of benefits that are there to help our societies most needy whilst it gives tax breaks to the richest. We’ll be part of a country that would rather spend billions on weapons that can indiscriminately kill citizens of the world than spend the same money on improving the every day lives of it’s own citizens.

    And it will not take one hundred years for that situation to arrive. It’s here, now.

  22. Aplinal says:

    Ian Davidson just said the BBC is biased!  Just as well I was sat down

    But Blair doesn’t think so. methinks he is being “politically” neutral!

  23. Ronald Henderson says:

    It’s hard to believe it nowadays, but back in the 19th Century the headlines of the big story in the newspapers at one time was this: ”Growing panic as World about to be plunged into darkness as lights go out.”
    And just what was the big crisis do I hear you ask? There was a very severe shortage of whale oil at the time, and whale oil was one of the main constituents of the oil that was used as a fuel for household lamps.
    It was just scaremongering of course. Mankind simply developed other ways of lighting our homes. It will be the same when the oil eventually runs out or becomes just too expensive to use. The current intallation of Wind Turbines and tidal powered turbines are evidence of how society continually adjusts.
    What will Scotland be like in 100 years? Only God knows, but one thing is sure; people will be just the same.

  24. Aplinal says:

    Ahaha!  Davidson thinks the BBC is biased to the SNP.  Hahaha, what a muppet.

  25. MajorBloodnok says:

    @Ronald Henderson said: What will Scotland be like in 100 years? Only God knows, but one thing is sure; people will be just the same.

    I shudder to imgaine what a futuristic Ian Davidson would be like.  I keep thinking of a cyrogenically preserved head welded to a heartless cyborg body, oh wait….

  26. dadsarmy says:

    I quite enjoyed that, thanks whoever for the BBC Democray Live link. Started one-sided really, anti Blair Jenkins and YES, but got a lot better. I have to say Blair Jenkins behaved impecably, and maybe helped change the tone of the meeting. Just to be contrarian as always, I think Davidson was right to pin him down about foreign donations – that’s his job as chair.

    I also liked the performance of Blair McDougall who I didn’t know before. I see he was campaign manager for the better Milliband. I hope he front-runs the Better Together because I want the YES campaign to win, rather than the Better Together campaign to lose. I do understand this is a bit of a controversial view with some 😉

  27. Doug says:

    MajorBloodnok  “I shudder to imgaine what a futuristic Ian Davidson would be like.  I keep thinking of a cyrogenically preserved head welded to a heartless cyborg body, oh wait….”

    Watching too much Futurama?

  28. Morag says:

    Well, I did it.  I cancelled my Herald subscription at the newsagent’s.

    Now to send that letter to the Editor.

  29. ayemachrihanish says:

    In 1974 the McCrone report applied to both Scotland and, for all the same economic reasons, Norway too.
    So, what happened next?
    Despite the oil, today UK Public sector net debt climes to £1,065.4 billion at the end of September 2012, or equivalent to 67.9% of GDP – yet remarkably NO sovereign wealth fund
    In 2012, Norway has no national debt, and its oil wealth allows it to run structural budget deficits and still use only a fraction of its oil revenue for budget purposes.
    Also the Norwegian government plans to spend more of its oil revenues in 2013 than it has earmarked in 2012 because it expects its economy to grow faster than earlier thought.
    That’s right no debt and plans to grow their economy.
    The conclusions of the McCrone report really all did come to pass!
    In Norway though, not Scotland!!
    So, as the BBC tell us, that’s another Union Dividend you uppity Scot’s should be bloody grateful for.       

  30. Morag says:

    And still Sweden, Norway’s former union partner, doesn’t seem to have suffered significantly from not having had any revenues from the oil which was discovered after Norway became independent.

  31. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Well, I did it. I cancelled my Herald subscription at the newsagent’s.”

    Well done! I do understand your reluctance – I bought it every day when I was home during the summer and it’s a decent paper. It provides exposure and income for Iain Macwhirter, Ian Bell and others on both sides of the debate. But the hiring of Magnus Gardham, and the subsequent reporting, was pretty much a flat-out statement of intent, and they deserve to pay the price. The six-monthly “regional” sales figures will be intriguing.

  32. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “In 1974 the McCrone report applied to both Scotland and, for all the same economic reasons, Norway too. So, what happened next?”

    This would probably make a great graphic/poster. Hmm…

  33. Dcanmore says:

    So, Flipper Darling wants to know from the SNP what the Scottish economy will be like in 25 or 50 years? This from a former Minister of Trade and Industry from 2006 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007 who couldn’t predict what the UK economy would be like over THREE years. It beggars belief! This man only has questions to attack other because has no answers to defend himself.

  34. Clachangowk says:

    Earlier today I e-mailed following message to our local SNP members and supporters

    “Last night on Newsnight Scotland professor McCrone  ( of McCrone report fame) referred to Canadian oil sands as example of new oil sources coming on stream implying that there is plenty oil available and therefore North sea oil prices could go down from current levels.
    See these for indications that a price of near enough $ 100 is required to justify oil production from tar sands

    Another report says that hope is for Canadian Oil production from tar sands to rise to 2 to 3 million barrels per day by 2020. This is insignificant compared with USA current consumption of 19 million barrels per day.( = about 3.5 gallons of oil per person every day)
    ( This does not even take into consideration  lack of pipelines to transport the oil from Canada to USA and the enormous environmental costs)
    People like McCrone are in denial about the reality of the availability of oil.
    The only reason the oil companies are spending a fortune on trying to get expensive Canadian oil from tar sands is that round the world there are simply no significant cheap new resources left.
    Scotland’s oil is a huge asset which will increase in value enormously over the next few years ( even if actual quantities are decreasing) . Westminster will never admit it, but they are terrified of losing it.
    There is North sea oil for another 50 plus years but why should it not be managed and rationed to last 100 years.
    It’s still Scotland’s Oil – and well worth having”

  35. seanair says:

    Morag/Rev Stu

    ]I migrated from The Hootsman  to the Herald some time ago, and for a while thought that it was fairer than any other paper. Can’t be a coincidence that Hootsman-like headlines are appearing almost daily under Gardham. Dammit however,the crosswords are better and there is nowhere else to go. Perhapse the new Editor-in Chief it is advertising for will get a grip or will its American owners take the Clinton line?

    A bit O/T , but if you happen to log onto The Scotsman home page there is a plaintive little paragraph hanging on from 2011 which states:- “The Scotsman is a British newspaper published in Edinburgh. As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 38,423 down from about 100,000 in the 1980’s”.

    Obviously Johnston Press doesn’t see any connection between its political attitude and its circulation…..  

  36. Morag says:

    I think many people overlook the fact that Gavin McCrone is a unionist.  If you read his original report, you can see that it’s actually an exhortation to the Westminster government to give Scotland enough sweeteners to prevent the otherwise inevitable calls for independence when it’s realised that the oil hasn’t done the country’s deprivation record any good.  His “tell it straight” exposure of the potential of the oil for an independent Scotland and the truth of the SNP claims is intended to shock the government into realising it ought to be letting Scotland see some of the benefits of oil, or else.
    Note that he was content the report would be kept secret, and indeed wrote it in the uncompromising style he did because he was confident it would be kept secret.  And so far as I know he kept his mouth dutifully shut all these years, and was not involved in leaking any of it.
    So, he said, be nicer to Scotland, or else.  They weren’t, and now we have the “or else” pigeons coming home to roost.

  37. Morag says:

    Seanair, there’s nowhere else to go, except I don’t do the crossword and the paper’s not worth it for the jokey diary or even for the ordinary news pages.

    I’m going to stick to the internet until the Herald gets its act back together, or if it doesn’t then that’s that.

    If Bell or even MacWhirter occasionally writes a good article I can always read it online. But even if they do, these days there’s a lot that’s just as good coming from the amateurs anyway.

  38. Marcia says:


    the up to date circulation figures for the Scotsman are even lower than what you gave or is on their website. If I was an advertiser I would demand a cut in the advertising rate.

  39. YesYesYes says:

    On the subject of oil, we also need to acknowledge that Scotland has been triple-whammied by its membership of the UK.
    First, successive UK governments have squandered North Sea oil revenues since the late-1970s (as Nobel prize-winning economist, Joe Stiglitz, acknowledged).
    Second, the non-revenue benefits of oil have all gone straight to the UK Treasury. So much of the discussion of North Sea oil focuses on oil revenues. These are significant, some £280 billion since the late 1970s, but there are numerous other benefits of being an oil producer. For example, North Sea oil has made the UK, until 2006, a net oil exporter. This has made a significant contribution not only to the UKs energy balance but to its balance of payments, as well as helping to keep sterling afloat by minimising current account deficits. North Sea oil has also raked in billions of pounds for the UK Treasury in terms of the corporation tax receipts on firms, the income tax receipts from the wages of oil workers, and the VAT receipts from the spending of those workers. These have been accumulated by the UK over 40 years and are significant. For example, in 2011, the average worker in the North Sea oil and gas industry earned £56,000 per year and there were some 440,000 workers across the UK directly employed in the UK Continental Shelf, most of them (340,000) involved in extraction. Further benefits include investment and spending multipliers that have helped to support local economies throughout the UK as well as making further substantial contributions to the UK Treasury, and technology transfer.
    The final whammy is one that gets less publicity. As a consequence of the huge population increase in England since 1971 (but not Scotland, Scotland’s population has been static over the last four decades), the UKs demand for energy, including oil, has increased significantly in the last 40 years. As a consequence the UK, because of England’s increasing demand for energy, has exhausted its capacity as a net oil exporter and, since 2006, has been a net oil importer. An independent Scotland, even today, would have enough oil to be both self-sufficient and a net oil exporter for the next 40 years. But, unfortunately, because Scotland is part of the UK, Scotland will from now on have to pay ever-higher prices for oil imports with corresponding negative effects on both the UKs energy balance and its balance of payments. This will also create huge uncertainties over Scotland’s energy security in coming decades if we remain part of the UK. Energy security will be one of the most vital political and economic issues in the twenty-first century, for all countries.
    There is a final whammy I suppose, and that’s the huge duty that successive UK governments have placed on oil. A duty which Scottish motorists have been paying an excessively high price for over the last  40 years. So I suppose we’ve been quadruple-whammied as a consequence of our membership of the UK. But no matter how hard you look at Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas industry, you won’t find a ‘union dividend’.    

  40. Ronald Henderson says:

    Marcia: I had a look at those figures, and if I were in a business that was losing those kind of sales I would be a looking very earnestly for another job. Home gardening or shelf stacking would appear to be jobs with a longer outlook of steady employment.
    It looks to me as if EVERYBODY is absolutely sick of their newspapers. Frankly it wouldn’t bother me if every single paper went down the drain. They are dreadful things and if we are perfectly honest with ourselves we simply don’t need them.
    All the news that we need we can get twenty four hours a day from radio, television, and the internet. Buying a so called Scottish newspaper is just giving money to someone that insults you, your culture and your country on a daily basis.
    If you like crosswords then buy a crossword book. If you like articles then buy a magazine. Same with just about everything that is in a newspaper. It’s become a thing of mere habit and it’s time we broke the habit and let them quickly disappear up their own rectums because that’s where they seem to get most of their ideas.

  41. Boorach says:

    O/T but NNS have an excellent piece by Linda Fabianni about labour’s £billion lie.

    At last a little straight talking from the YES camp!

  42. Seanair says:

    Marcia, Thanks for the figures,which I’d seen elsewhere. I was just pointing out the pathetic sentence which seems to have been overlooked, or JP didn’t have the guts to bring it up-to-date and show the real extent of their paper’s decline.
    To Morag etc, I’ll thole it a bit longer, but will probably get fed up to the point that I don’t buy it.

  43. Ronald Henderson says:

    Just looked at NNS. Good for Linda. Straight talking indeed. Sending polite releases to the Press in the hope that they will print it isn’t going to work guys; it just isn’t.
    Where is the thunder? Where are the quick witted stentorian voices? Why do we have to put up with the bile and venom of Johann Lamont and her buddies every week when a stark reminder like Linda Fabianni’s would surely sit the creeps straight back down on their anglo-arses?
    Delenda est Carthago. (Carthage must be destroyed, for if we do not destroy Carthage, then Carthage will destroy Rome.) Cato the Elder. 2nd. cent. B.C.

  44. Boorach says:

    Talking about the quality of our press, I’m prepared to wager that tomorrow’s press and journal, regardless of what is happening in the world, will lead with the news that people in the Highlands and Islands have the highest happiness factor!!

    This, of course, will be defined as a ‘union dividend’ and nothing to do with us being just about as far from westminster as it’s possible to get and have lots of distilleries on our doorstep!

  45. G H Graham says:

    The Scotsman – 14.8 per cent drop = 38,289 to 32,637

    Best news story all day. 

  46. Arbroath 1320 says:

    I’m just wondering, having looked at the link from Marcia, what are the chances that the Scotsman will actually still be in print in 6 months time?
    Looking at the figures, if the Scotsman’s sales have dropped from 38,000 to 32,000 between October 2011 and October 2012 then would it not be reasonable to assume their sales figures from November 2011 to November 2012 to show another drop of around say 6,000 to around 25,000? 😀

  47. Westie7 says:

    Boorach says:
    20 November, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Talking about the quality of our press, I’m prepared to wager that tomorrow’s press and journal, ….

    Nah, It’ll be golf courses again.
    And you can’t have the words Quality+Press+Journal in one sentence 😮

    O/T P&J seem to have kicked off an interesting discussion about the second course on Original106 Facebook page! 

  48. Oldnat says:

    Have I got this right?

    This is actually the Record, and not a Scotlandshire spoof? 

  49. antmcg says:

    Oldnat you must have been mistaken, it now leads to a 500 error lol

    Edit: Google found it, but I cannot directly click on your link 🙁

  50. Jeannie says:

    I just caught a snippet of Scotland Tonight.  My ears aren’t what they used to be and I may have misheard, but I could swear Jeremy Purvis just accidentally called the former leader of the Lib Dems “Minge” Campbell.  Well, if the cap fits………

  51. Yesitis says:

    At the age of 45 I have lived through some of the “benefits” of the union.  I have lived with the lowest life expectancy in Western Europe, some of the worst health rates in Europe, some of the worst housing in Western Europe, and perhaps the worst transport infrastructure in Western Europe. Those who defend the status quo are beneath contempt; they should be be despised. Do the majority of the Scottish population agree? No amount of MSM BBC propaganda can make things better. We shall see. In 2014, when we are all alone in that voting booth, we shall see.


  52. pa_broon says:

    Saw Scotland Tonight too.

    Jeremy Purvis and the libdems are no where in Scotland, their report will be published and no one will pay any attention to it.

    The Labour spokeswoman quite obviously contradicted herself with the chat about it not being so important about how tax is spent but on who spends it. Only then to say where it is spent isn’t as important as how its spent.

    It annoys me when they say the SNP haven’t said what an independent Scotland would look like, two things here; it would look like any other country with a comparable economy, population and land mass. And while the SNP is in the vanguard, it will depend on the various manifesto for 2016 and who gets voted in.

    Have they no imagination? Are they not able to extrapolate at all?

    The best line on the show was when the labour woman (Patricia some-one-or-other) said the SNP fail constantly to outline their vision of Scotland after the referendum, but when pressed for Labour’s alternative she hummed and hawed and waffled about something coming out in the spring (after its gone through Labour’s internal democratic process, aye right then.)

  53. Arbroath 1320 says:

    If your still having trouble antmcf then perhaps this link will work for you.

    I was like you Oldnat, I had to check I was actually looking at ther Daily Record site and not the BBC Scotlandshire site. I still can’t believe this piece got past the censors. 😀

  54. antmcg says:

    Thanks Arb, i got it via Google  but your link works for me too. Must just be my end somewhere gumming up the works 🙂

  55. Morag says:

    Oldnat’s first attempt at the link has an extraneous space character at the end, that’s all.

  56. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    To be fair, it’s hardly Joan McAlpine’s first piece for the Record.

  57. Oldnat says:



    It was the lack of byline that confused me. 

  58. Morag says:

    I saw her name and picture as soon as I got to the page, but I’m not seeing it now.  Strange.

  59. Arbroath 1320 says:

    I must admit that every time I have looked at the page Joan’s picture is missing. I never realised that this was her usual Tuesday page for the Record.

  60. Barontorc says:

    In the world of global economics – who’s to say it isn’t a wise move to turn the flow rate of oil production down a few notches to suit peak pricing; the supplier has the valve key not the consumer. Oil reserves can be managed not pillaged. So the hypothetical 40,50,100 years question is just not answerable and shouldn’t even be asked…but, then… look who’s stupid enough to frame such a daft question!

  61. Morag says:

    The picture is back again.  Most odd.

  62. ayemachrihanish says:


    20 November, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    “In 1974 the McCrone report applied to both Scotland and, for all the same economic reasons, Norway too. So, what happened next?”
    This would probably make a great graphic/poster. Hmm…

    rev agreed!!

    Also Bitter Together want us to forecast the effect of oil revenues for the next 35 years; no problem – lets look at whats happens in the last 35 years.

    Mc Crone forecast x, y, z – that’s what happened! Fact. Only it happend elsewhere.

    And in the ext 35 years the average price of oil will be $? what a barrel? (Less than the average price of the last 35 years? Aye Right! Well only a deficit oil denier would argue that line – AKA Mr Darling) 
    So it would be wholely reasonable to forecast for the FUD’s this is what Scotland’s finances would/ could look like – because the historical forecast (mc Corne report) exists as dose the evidence of what happened next – Norway just copied McCorne’s summary



  63. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Well folks I’m going O/T here but  it looks like a few individuals have raised their heads above the parapet and are going to give us their “vision” of a Scotland within the union. This bunch of unionists includes people like the Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson, Labour’s Duncan McNeil and former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott. Jeremy Purvis is also involved and has come out with, in my view, what is a classic statement.
    “They are launching a blueprint for a “new union”, along with Jeremy Purvis, of the “Devo Plus” campaign, which is looking into the idea of increased powers for Holyrood, short of independence.
    Mr Purvis said that option was now a popular choice, adding: “Parties and other groups have signalled their willingness to move on further powers.”
    While Purvis is right that the Devo plus option is a popular choice he kind of forgets one itsy bitsy insignificant little fact. The unionists all have denied the Scottish electorate the option to vote for Devo plus in the referendum. I would further remind said Mr Purvis that the implied promise of jam tomorrow does not wash either.
    Should he want a reason as to why the jam tomorrow promise will not wash I suggest he considers what happened to the promise of jam tomorrow in 1979. If he has difficulty finding out about that particular promise then I can give him an answer to that as well. We’re still waiting for the 1979 promised jam to arrive!

  64. Yesitis says:

    I wonder…all these “proud Scots” who feel the need to vote no…if we (and I mean WE) choose to vote yes; how will they (and I mean THEY) cope? Will they feel betrayed that their “Britishness” has been sacrificed for their “Scottishness”? In an independent Scotland, how will these north British types manage to survive? Those people felt as British as they were Scottish; in an independent Scotland will they be able to adapt, or will they go the way of the Michelle Mone?
    Will we see refugee camps south of the Cheviots full of ex-Scots unionists looking for a home in their beloved England? Mmme?
    Come to think of it; what will those unionists do in an independent Scotland? Will they settle for their new county, or will they hanker for the “good old days” of the union? Mmme…?

  65. Melanie McKellar says:

    The way I see it, the discovery and harnessing of the oil off Scotland was a huge benefit to Westminster at a time when basically the U.K. was heading for bankruptcy.  The prospects of the oil gave the U.K. Government, at the time, a source of income which allowed it to borrow, spend and invite investment into the U.K. Particularly in the Financial Sector.  This new inward investment was channelled to London and with regained trade in EEC the south east of England was the closest area to mainland Europe.  The rest of the U.K. Which was particularly reliant on heavy industry saw the demise of this industry but received no substitute and were told to ‘get on your bike’ to find work. Scotland’s recovery only began after devolution and we have done well with that but we can do much more with Full autonomy.
    The oil revenues Westminster have received since 1976 has put London where it is today, add together that it has ‘helped’ a population of avr. 55 m for that period in time and in that period the price has been medium to low compared to the future…why then can’t it ‘help’ in a future Independent Scotland with a population of 5m ? Also if it has so little impact in the Scottish economy then it must have even less in the U.KEconomy as a whole therefore all production should cease until after the referendum or full control of the industry should be handed over NOW to the Scottish Government and the Maritime boundary should be reset to pre-1999.
    as to Trident, Scotland doesn’t need or want it so let Westminster pay Scotland for it being here until such times as it has to be removed.  Westminster needs to start looking at alternative sites and building the infrastructure to house it NOW but in the meantime they should be paying us for our facilities. 

  66. Ronald Henderson says:

    Yesitis: Those British-Scots that voted no and aren’t happy to live in an independent Scotland can pack up their belongings and bugger off to England as far as I’m concerned. We don’t need the creeps. We’ll see how they like living in the middle of Birmingham, Leeds or Bradford. It won’t be long before they crawl back chapping at our door.
    My guess is that they’ll be about as welcome down there as a bucket of shit on your living room carpet.

  67. Marcia says:

    Arbroath 1320:

    It does remind me of 1979 and the extra jam, however in 1979 the jam was not given and to give insult they removed the bread as well. Same thing will happen again. Anyway those down south will ignore any of their ‘promises’.  

  68. Boorach says:


    I had a dream! Coach loads of gainsayers causing chaos on tha M74 and A1 in their haste to reach the promised land.

    Wallets bursting with the cash required to pay for:
         Medical treatment
         Bus passes
         Tertiary education 
         Social care for their parents/grandparents
         Nuclear defence(?)
        Nuclear power stations
    Och well, as I said it was a dream! The nightmare, of course, would be a NO vote! 

  69. Alex McI says:

    If the union is great for Scotland, and we seem to have labour and the con dems telling us we would be foolish to tear this great union apart, then why are they now saying that we need a New Union. Have they been lying all along that this union we have just now, is not really that great but they might have a new shiny better one if we will just drop this seperatist nonsense.
    what a load of pish. 

  70. Dcanmore says:

    @Alex Mcl …
    It’s the ultimate ‘Jam Tomorrow’ bribe, a rehash of 1979 promises but what we actually got was Thatcherism. Now that Ed has compared himself to Thatcher this is history repeating itself. Vote YES to Independence and you’re guaranteed to get it all; vote NO and you end up pissing in the wind with the echoes of promises from the ghosts of Westminster.

  71. velofello says:

    Trouble is the only action possible whilst listening to McCrone on Newsnight was to shout at the TV set.
    The income from the North Sea hydrocarbons, if accredited to Scotland,could have prevented Ravenscraig closure, the fisheries industry could have been protected since Scotland wouldn’t have needed to “trade” Scottish fisheries for EU membership as Heath did. A strategy for shipbuilding developed and funded.
    McCrone sat on the content of his report and arguably is complicit in the loss of many many jobs and wasted lives in Scotland, and emigration.
    Why? Loyalty to the British state? His pension rights? 
    But then alas. In these past times, in the scenario I’ve outlined, a Scottish Labour government would have been in power so i doubt that any remedies to effect the above would have been taken place.

  72. balgayboy says:

    @ Boorach,
    Nice one, could not dream or wish for more if Lamont, Bailie, Davidson, Rennie and the rest of their ilk were all on the same coach heading south after (or before) 2014, good riddance to bad rubbish in my view. These are not what the people of Scotland want or need representing them and I hope there is ample space on the same coach for the anti-scotland boys and girls from pacific quay and also those who claim to be journalists from wherever their britnat newspaper offices are.

  73. Kenny Campbell says:

    i see a turn in the rhetoric on here and in the Herald comments page….a lot more anti anti-Independence folks and personalities…not sure if its a turning point or just the weather.  Its certainly a change from the previous polite exchanges.

  74. muttley79 says:

    Mr Purvis said that option was now a popular choice, adding: “Parties and other groups have signalled their willingness to move on further powers.

    You did not signal this willingness before the Edinburgh Agreement…

    “The blueprint shows in practical detail how they can come together, well in advance on the referendum vote in 2014.

    So why were you arguing against a second question in the referendum?

    “It will show what regulations and legislation will be needed to deliver the reforms that would make Holyrood responsible for raising the majority of its revenue by 2020.”

    We need these powers now though…We are in the midst of a severe economic depression.

    Mr Purvis added: “It will also show the vital importance of gaining public awareness of a new union with a positive message on delivering the long term, stable and permanent relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

    What is it with unionists and permanence?  How can they say anything will be permanent?  You have to contest elections all the time, does not sound in the least bit democratic.

    So all three British parties, based in London, would have to agree to this, in their manifestos for the general election of 2015, for it to be able to be delivered.  What are the odds of that happening?  The Tories have such a great record in supporting devolving powers to Scotland, don’t’ they?  What are the chances of all of them agreeing to this?  Virtually nil I would say…

  75. balgayboy says:

    @ vellofello

    One would have thought that Mr McCrone would have been giving at least a knighthood from the UK establishment for sitting on his report for so long. Surely he must be somewhat miffed that he was not invited to join the rest of the good and the great in the HoL with all the associated perks.

  76. Boorach says:

    I’m afraid that for my money Mr Purvis and all other purveyors of ‘jam tomorrow’ can file them  in the same box as the libdem tuition fees promise!

    I do fear, however, a NO vote would see the repatriation of a number of powers from Holyrood to Westminster.

    How about planniing for starters which could result in nuclear power stations being foisted on us to keep the lights burning South of the border. 

  77. Commenter says:

    The best bit was watching the ‘learned’ Professor McCrone squirming and trying not to rubbish his earlier Report and be negative at the same time. Unfortunately for him his answers had to be always positive about Scotland’s oil and economy and that it would  have few problems vis a vis oil income. He even admitted the oil would probably last more than 40 years.
    McCrone also tried to downplay his earlier ‘Secret’ Report by saying it was just a Civil Service Internal Report for advising the new incoming Tory Government which had just been elected. But in my view the earlier McCrone report is huge weapon in the Independence debate because of the secrecy surrounding its contents and the way it shows up the contempt that Westminster had for the Scots at the time. After reading it I became a very strong supporter of Independence because of the deceit involved and the unjustified besmirching of Scotland and Scots by Westminster and the London media that has continued for the last 40 years or so.

  78. Gaavster says:

    its worth bearing in mind that when mentioning the promises of ‘jam tomorrow’ and the 1979 referendum, if we get the same result we did that day, then we’ll be independent…. 

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