Tag Archives: oil

Does the SNP really want independence?

I know that sounds like a silly question.

Back a couple of years ago, one of the ideas being proposed about the referendum was that it should include a third option – devo-max or devo-plus. In July 2012 I noted the multiple reasons why – though undecided on the Yes/No question – I was against these options, and moved on: there seemed no reason to dwell on what was not going to be voted on.

Tom Gordon outlined the difference between the two, and who was supporting them, in the Herald:

Devo Max Devo Plus

Devo-plus was supported by LibDem Tavish Scott, Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson and Labour’s Duncan McNeil plus Reform Scotland, a think-tank based in Edinburgh that is, it says, independent of its parent think-tank Reform based in London:

devo plus could be a credible alternative to independence, if that option was rejected in the referendum.

Devo-max was floated as “full fiscal autonomy” and was supported primarily by the SNP:

Devo Max is intended to make Scotland more accountable for its spending. At present, Holyrood is responsible for 60% of all public spending in Scotland but has a say in setting and raising just 6% of it, through business rates and council tax.

Under Devo Max, Edinburgh would be responsible for raising, collecting, and administering the vast majority of taxes and benefits, and would receive a geographic share of North Sea oil revenue. EU rules mean VAT would stay the same across the UK, and financial regulation, employment, and competition law would also remain reserved.”

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Filed under Currency, Scottish Politics

Our constitution, July 2012: Oil reserve

“Oil reserve / Long Term Investment fund”

We live in an oil-dependent world, and have got to this level of dependency in a very short space of time, using vast reserves of oil in the process – without planning for when the supply is not so plentiful. The Transition Handbook

Most of us, most of the time, don’t think about how dependent we are on oil, a finite and diminishing resource, because it is too bloody scary to contemplate. If you want to read some overviews of how societies collapse when the resource they depend on runs out, Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail Or Succeed is a good place to start.

Extracting oil from under the North Sea will get more and more difficult but more and more desirable:

Those who say the oil is running out overstate rather than fabricate: more than half the local reserves have already been extracted and what’s left will be harder and more expensive to pump out. In a manifesto festooned with pictures of windmills looming out of the water, the SNP laid out a plan to succeed North Sea oil with a giant renewable-energy industry.

Switching from oil to renewable energy is an immensely sensible plan (too sensible for partisan attack). But Scotland has oil. And mention of oil in the Scottish Constitution is likely to cause problems wider than simply “thanks very much, we’ll take our share of the NHS and the BBC and be off now”.
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Filed under Economics, Elections, Oil, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics, Sustainable Politics

Mobile Statue Hit Squad of Edinburgh

Not counting the weeks between 15th May and 23rd July 2006, all of the public statues in Edinburgh but two are of women. (Queen Victoria stands at the foot of Leith Walk, and an unnamed South African woman stands in Festival Square.)

There is no statue of Margaret of Wessex, who dis-established the Celtic church of Scotland and established the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, for which Pope Innocent IV made her a saint in 1250. (There is a stained-glass window in her chapel in Edinburgh Castle, but no statue.)

There is no statue of Mary Queen of Scots, despite her being probably the most famous monarch Scotland ever had, and the only one children reliably remember – though oral history via children’s games can get a tad confused.

There is no statue of any of the Maries who have been Queen of Scots – not even Mary of Guise, who was Queen Regent of Scotland from 1554–60 and who in Henry VIII’s war of rough wooing (1543-1549, Henry’s war on Scotland to get possession of the young Queen Mary to marry her to his son Edward – a marriage which if it had taken place would have left Mary widowed and in the power of the English court in 1553) took such a part that The Complaynt of Scotland said “her courage and virtue exceeded those of the ancient heroines Tomyris, Semiramis and Penthesilea.”

There is no statue of Margaret of Denmark, the Queen Consort of Scotland from 1469 to 1486, though the dowry she brought to her marriage was Orkney and Shetland. She is the woman responsible for so much North Sea oil being in Scottish waters. You’d think the SNP or the oil industry – or both – would have set up a statue to her sometime since the 1970s.

There are statues of Hume and Adams in the High Street, and John Knox in St Giles, but none yet to Elsie Inglis Continue reading

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Filed under Historic Scotland, Women

Why devomax doesn’t work

Would I vote for independence? I don’t know. (Fortunately, I don’t have to make up my mind till autumn 2014.) Whichever way the vote goes then – for independence or for the status quo, devolution within the UK – the future is clear.

The Scottish Parliament was based on the work done by the Scottish Constitutional Convention, and two years of solid legislative work in Westminster by Donald Dewar and other Scottish Labour MPs. Though Tony Blair was apt to pat himself on the back for it, his main contribution appears to have been a rather grubby deal carving up what would be Scotland’s territorial waters to give a claim on the oil to the rest of the UK, and removing Scotland’s right to space travel. (Dammit.)

I don’t think there should be a devomax option in the independence ballot for two reasons.
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Filed under Elections, Scottish Politics