‘Oil could have funded Scottish independence’…

THE Independent recently reported how a report on the potential of Scottish oil in the 1970s was buried by the British Government, which feared – probably rightly – that it would fuel demands for Scottish independence. Gavin McCrone’s study revealed how North Sea oil could have made an independent Scotland as prosperous as Switzerland (though others disagree).

  • Shore Road Resident

    It’s Scotland’s oil. Unfortunately for the jocks it’s only American capital that ever got it out of the ground. How would the SNP have proposed a purely nationalist solution to extracting this windfall for the common weal? Would they have taxed everyone in Scotland to stump up the initial investment, plus interest on the ball-breaking up-front loan? Shades of the Darian scheme would have been hard to disperse.
    I’m not saying it couldn’t have been done – but I am saying it could never have been done by the SNP. They’re an economically illiterate bunch of subconscious racists and petty minded crybabies – except Alex Sammond of course, who can fake normal most of the time.

    PS: Oil runs out you know.

  • CS Parnell

    An independent Scotland: Northern Ireland without the good weather.

    They had a lucky esacpe.

  • Henry94

    As the wells run dry the stg£5 billion subsidy to the union here is going to stick out like a sore thumb.

    They lied to hang on to Scotland so they could rip it off. What will they do to stop the unionists ripping them off?

  • Daugavas

    “An independent Scotland: Northern Ireland without the good weather.”

    Wot good weather?! A typical SUMMER day in N.Ireland is 15-18 degrees, in contrast in Latvia the Summer temperature reaches 27-35! NI has generally the shittest weather of any country: coldish winters and crappy, rain dominated summers!

  • Shuggie McSporran

    ” How would the SNP have proposed a purely nationalist solution to extracting this windfall for the common weal? ”

    More to the point, how would the SNP have proposed to repel the inevitable American and British invasion to “free” the Scottish people from their wicked regime?

    Particularly frightening as Scotland would have had a nuclear capability that could have threatened stability in the region.

  • Shore Road Resident

    So you’ve no answer to the actual question then?

  • topdeckomnibus

    Are they admitting then that they cannot afford to be independent without a windfall ?? IE conceding that England subsidises them ?

    And why is it that Wales, Scotland and N Ireland seem never to stop to consider that the English might want independence from them ?

    Presumably, with independence, the Royal Family would return to countries of origin … Wales, Scotland, Germany. England could disperse asylum seekers proportionately to Wales, Scotland and N Ireland.

    But, given the four billion pound nuclear clean up at Dounreay, the point about Scotland being a bit dangerous, with nuclear capability, seems well made.

  • George

    Of course it couldn’t pay for Scottish independence if the Scottish wasted it but it could have been a good help up.

    The largest annual revenue from oil was 12 billion back in the day when Thatcher was selling it for buttons (economic genius that lady.

    Let’s put this in perspective. This figure is still a good bit less than Northern Ireland gets per capita from the UK government every year.

    Oil alone would not have made Scotland viable. It would have to be better able to run its own affairs than Westminster.

    Northern Ireland has been pumping from its own unique type of oil well, the British taxpayer, for the last 30 years and is still the poorest part of the union and would collapse in the morning if the tap was turned off.

  • Brian Boru

    I congratulate Scotland on getting for themselves (Home Rule) without partition, what Unionists refused to accept for Ireland – even though a higher % of the Scots voted against Home Rule than in Ireland from 1880-1916.

  • Crataegus


    Very difficult to make an economy move if people keep bombing it. There was a real chance post the agreement, and all the hype, but then we had Omagh, a failure to disarm promptly, endless bickering and a failure deliver governance that people could have confidences in. One of the major problems is confidence that this place is stable. Would you invest here? Scotland yes NI NO. Why would anyone invest here?

    Another problem that we share with the regions of Britain and the outer parts of England is that our economy is out of sync with the South East. What suits there does not suit here. We would need to fundamentally change in our tax regime to favour business growth and to enable us to compete with the Republic and similar. Also Britain is a centralised state and that is to the disadvantage of the regions. Generally in Britain greater responsibility needs to be given back to the councils and regions so that regional cities can start to generate real economic growth. All regions need to improve their economic viability as economic times could get difficult. If there is a down turn in the economy we in NI are going to face extremely difficult times.

    As for Scotland of course it got ripped off, but the lesson from that is don’t trust Westminster and seek to control your own destiny. On that point I would not be in a rush to trust Dublin either. Our future and Scotland’s is a strong region in Europe, or would we prefer the accolade of Europe’s basket case.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Even if Scotland had the economic capability to maintain itself independently, politically there is not enough support in the country for independence. The majority Protestant population are, on the most part anyway, strongly unionist. Scotland’s second largest community, the Roman Catholic community, not only vote for the SNP but for Labour and the Lib Dems too, so there is not a big enough block of support from any one community to suggest Scottish independence is a popular aspiration…

  • Brian Boru

    Yes it is Protestant but so was the US and look what happened there.

    And what you are saying about the population being “strongly unionist” is not strictly speaking true except of course among the descendents of the Unionists who live there. Support for independence in Scottish polls was 48% at the time of the referendum and has been between 34% and 48% this year.

    Hopefully if and when they break away it will act as a catalyst towards reunification of the island of Ireland as an independent state.

  • George

    topdeckomnibus has a valid point on England maybe wanting shot of the rest. After all the southeast is the world’s fifth largest economy on its own with public spending less than top performer the US. They could have world-class everything, rail, health etc.

    In places like Ayrshire, where there were no bombs, public sector dependency is nearly 70%, which is worse than Northern Ireland.

    No amount of oil is going to fix that kind of structural mess. Scotland needs to sort itself out. A few billion a year from oil would certainly help.

    The question is can it become a vibrant economy, where the best stay rather than going south, with the devolved powers it has or can only independence deliver?

    That’s for the Scots to decide.

    without drifting too far off the Scottish track
    the terrorists are holding us back argument for Northern Ireland doesn’t wash with me in 2005.

    There has been no movement on the size of subvention or on the GNI compared to the UK since 1998 either. It’s still the poorest part of the UK.

    I think you agree with me on this more important point: there is no idea from any of Northern Ireland’s parties as to what movement is necessary in the coming years to make it (Northern Ireland) a success.

    One side seems to want greater integration with the UK to hell with the cost (political, economic and social) as a sort of bulwark against the rising tide of nationalism and the other wants total disengagement from the UK, to hell with the cost (political, economic and social).

    Personally, I’d trust Dublin before I’d trust Westminster but that’s just me. They may be devious gombeens but they’re our devious gombeens.

    The tax rate would be a case in point. Northern Ireland can’t change its tax rate in its own interests as it a part of the greater UK economy. Independence means the Republic has no such restrictions.

    On investment, it usually comes after the pain, not before it. Investment started flowing south of the border years after the cuts began, not before.

    NI has got just 1% of the investment the Republic got. When NI has made the hard choices this will change. The UK has got a lot of investment even with a high corporate tax rate.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Brian Boru,
    I think your percentages are highly inflated. Do you have statistics to prove that 48% of the Scottish population want independence from the rest of the United Kingdom?

  • Brian Boru

    Well support for independence was 52% in 1998 http://www.scottishaffairs.org/onlinepub/sa/mccrone_1997-98polls.html

  • Concerned Loyalist

    “support for independence was 52% in 1998”
    As is hinted at in the analysis of the polls, the question was an extremely loaded one, and not an accurate basis for a true reflection of the Scottish population’s views on the constitutional question…

  • Crataegus


    I agree with much of what you say, distasteful medicine before they improve. It may not be that bad as there is plenty of opportunity if more people were in the wealth creating sector. If I were in the public sector I would start to look for a job now for it is going to experience severe cuts. I also agree about the local politicians, and frankly see little prospect for improvement. I find them unbelievable. However perceptions of instability are a disadvantage.

    As for the politicians in the South there is not many I would buy a used car off and I feel that there are centralist tendencies in Dublin similar to London. However at the minute we have carpet beggars in power here who will sell of every asset and hike up every imaginable tax not for our good but for the good of the UK exchequer. This is to not to the interest of anyone on this island.

    The problem with Ayrshire etc is the economic framework in which we have to work. As you correctly point out the South East of England is one of the strongest in the world so what is appropriate for it is not appropriate for Durham or Cornwall or here. In Britain tax raising has become increasingly centralised and for the good of the country I believe that must reverse so that places like Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester etc can be future dynamos. How do you regenerate Newcastle, do a Laganside? Hand out aspirational brochures or do you do a Barcelona? Local administrations need the ability to kick start investment. They need to be able to invest in infrastructure.

    On tax rates, we need to be realistic and reduce corporation tax. It could be done on a regional basis but I can’t see that happening. Another example of a daft tax is rates here you are taxed based on the property you own (sorry on the mythical rental value) irrespective of ability to pay or whither the building is actually used. I have acquaintances who are taking the roofs off commercial units to avoid rates. If that is not insanity what is?

    I note that people have reduced the Scottish debate to Unionist and Nationalist and Protestant and Catholic. It is not NI and I think Scotland could do well either as a strong region or a separate country in Europe. It is a matter for them but like us for them to prosper needs fundamental change in tax raising powers. London must loosen its grip or come up with sane regional development strategies it can’t take control and responsibility and then do sod all but moan or sell off assets.

  • Scotsman

    The SNP has little choice but to pursue economic questions if only to neutralise the commonly-held assumption that Scotland’s government would be bankrupt if it maintained its current spending outside the UK.

    It looks at how oil has made Norway the richest country in Europe without any help from Sweden and how freedom has allowed Ireland to progress from basket-case to economic icon.

    With Home Rule Westminster has accepted the principle that the people of Scotland should shape their own destiny. This does not extend to encouraging the British political parties to stop organising in Scotland!

    The problem for the SNP is not the “Rangers” vote- Catholics and Protestants and the majority non-aligned unbelievers are all equally likely/unlikely to vote SNP.

    The problem for the SNP is one of persuading people to:

    1- vote for change and uncertainty
    2- ignore a significant part of their political/cultural identity

    Scotland is just too comfortable to vote for radical change- though I wouldn’t rule out further devolution of powers as Holyrood politicos build their powerbases.

    Leaving aside all issues of history and identity, NI’s Irish nationalists have the significant psychological advantage of having a successful state to join up with.

    However, I remain sceptical that many small “n” middle-class nationalists in NI will want to make the leap if/when it puts their public sector pay or conditions at risk.

  • Crataegus


    I agree with you about the Middle class. Also a lot of professions will not be in a great hurry. If you have set up your business under current tax and legal structures it costs to change. For some such as the legal or building professions there may be a fair amount of retraining required. Then there are the different health and education systems, the Irish language problem etc. If Scotland was to go independent it would actually be easier as you carry forward the existing system and evolve as required. Pity we can’t resurrect the kingdom of Dalriada and join you. Would trust the values and ethos in Scotland more than I would London or Dublin.

    As a matter of interest what economic measures do you thing are necessary to strengthen the viability of Scottish commerce.

  • Shuggie


    What Irish language problem?

    “Pity we can’t resurrect the kingdom of Dalriada and join you….”

    Irish was the language of the kingdom of Dál Riada, would that not exacerbate your problem, whatever it is?

  • Shore Road Resident

    The real question about Scottish independence is this: if the island of Ireland is “naturally” one country, then doesn’t the same geographic determinism aply to the island of Britain as well?

  • Scotsman

    I’m not sure what Scotland needs to grow faster. The current nationalist plan is to cut business taxes- pretty much economic orthodoxy these days with the European single market. But the nature of politics means they decry any spending cut as this naturally hurts key voters. Laffer curve notwithstanding, this position does them little credit.

    They recently produced a roadmap to independence, showing the steps required- including the wording of any independence referendum. I don’t recall any plans for a separate Scots pound. we’d be stuck with Sterling unless we voted to join the Euro.

    The UK nuclear fleet is based on the Clyde- I guess we could extract a decent rental fee for looking after it…

    One final point- the UK govt’s finances aren’t entirely sustainable are they?

  • Scotsman

    Shore Road’s point reminds me that those constituencies in Scotland with the highest number of English-born residents were the least enthusiastic about devolution. My guess would be that the Sassenachs were less keen than the natives.

    8% of Scottish residents were born in England, 20% of Welsh residents ditto. This certainly must have a political effect, though there’s not much research on it.

  • Crataegus


    The problem is that a majority of pupils up North have no Irish at all and employment requirements requiring the same could be construed as being to their disadvantage. Also many there think it completely irrelevant to our place in the universe. I was merely pointing out that these would be factors that would come into play if people were considering voting on the matter. As for ancient languages nothing would surprise me and makes no difference. It was a tongue in cheek comment anyway. Because this is one island we keep being told we should be one country WHY? Yet those same people when looking at Britain wish Scotland’s independence; so what happened to the one island theory? Two islands one Kingdom equally valid. Personally could not care less, totally pointless debate.

    I personally find the generally outlook in Scotland on social and economic issues easier to relate to than what comes out of Tony’s Thacherite government or the very ‘conservative attitudes’ I find in the South. Don’t get me wrong there is a good side to conservatism it is just slightly alien to me and can be stifling. But must admit not as bad as this sick place.

  • Crataegus


    “One final point- the UK govt’s finances aren’t entirely sustainable are they?”

    Too true. One of the reasons why we all need to be a lot more self reliant.

  • beezer

    Independence for Scotland should not be a question of finances. Either way Scotland will be relatively prosperous. It should rather be a question of whether an independent Scotland would have different things to say to Europe and the World than as an appendage to the aprliament at Westminster. Would an independent Scotland join the Euro ? leave NATO ? Invade Iraq ? Iran ? etc, etc. Scotland is a proud and long established nation. Does it have the stomach to stand up on it’s own two feet and proclaim to the rest of the world it’s own views ?

  • Freedom Fighter

    Response to Shore Road Resident (Dec. 13th)

    “PS Oil runs out, you know”

    Try telling that to the Norwegians ! When their North Sea oil began to come on stream, instead of frittering away the proceeds and having nothing to show for them, they began investing them in their “Fund for Future Generations”. If Scotland set up a similar Fund it is estimated, based on the Norwegian experience, that the income from it would top £1 billion a year within five years. And this income could continue indefinitely – certainly long after the oil had run out. Now that’s what you call a north sea bonanza !

  • Brian Boru

    “8% of Scottish residents were born in England, 20% of Welsh residents ditto. This certainly must have a political effect, though there’s not much research on it. ”

    Being born in England of Wales doesn’t necessarily mean you are not an Nationalist, bearing in mind that the parents may have originally been Scottish or Welsh, and passed that sense of identity onto their children.

  • G.M.C.

    I am in the dark. With regard to a few things. (and I don’t understand some of the comments).

    Firstly, surely Scotland still has that potential then, to become a “Switzerland” or whatever. I think what was meant is a very rich region, whether a country in the future as its people have discussed or yeta region of this country of four regions.

    And it is true then Scotland must noe and in the future, whenever its people wish, be able to exercise its opportunity. The people of Scotland have been very aware people, and to my knowledge haven’t been likely to jump headfirst from their sensible restrained humanism into vast ore development for sheer profiteering. It is good to be aware that, should this region break from the current U.K., the large concentration of wealth of the country that is found south of Hadrian’s Wall and in the capital of the country, is not something which needed or needs to be relied on.

    Did this news come to light around a few decades ago when it was thought that the resources were huge? Is it true?

    It seems to be only that the Scottish have been sensibly progressing with ore extraction which, I suppose, is normal in terms of what is sensibly needed there.

    The main thing, personally, I am in the dark about is that I believed news reports of a couple of decades ago which stated that oil and gas reserves would begin to end, sometime around next year, and certainly by 2020.

    But this it appears was total fiction. And not the crisis I believed. In any case, it didn’t really excite our government into a very acheivable target of, say, 25 percent of each home’s energy output supplied from houshold domestic solar energy and wind energy, solar farms and wind farms.

    20 percent of all power may be produced by sustainable and unpolluting energy within five years, it is hoped. Though this is largely from large scale energy farms, a great thing though only one element.

    At present, it is feasible, and most often fairly easy, for nearly every home to install solar panels in ungarish positions and wind propellors to bring the amount of energy supplied by these means to normally around 50 percent. The home would make a financial saving, but only over the period of around seven years, sometimes even ten years, and so a large investment upfront is required. It is not difficult to have these things installed, just costly at the moment.

    But if there was a drive to have this very target acheived in, even 50 percent of British homes, the prices for the solar and wind power equipment should become much more attractive, falling perhaps by nearly half (possibly even a bit more).

    I support the development of solar and wind power wherever possible, and encourage this to be developed on a much larger scale than recently. Help make domestic solar and wind power equipment more affordable. Publicise this cause and make this known to government and politicians.

  • Scotsman

    Brian Boru, you are right that there are plenty of England-born Scots nationalists, whether or not they have roots in Scotland. But the vote for devolution was weakest in areas with a large number of English-born voters. I don’t believe there is any research on this, but there’s a clear correlation.

    The latest spending propaganda figures were published this week:


  • Mark

    “However at the minute we have carpet beggars in power here who will sell of every asset and hike up every imaginable tax not for our good but for the good of the UK exchequer. This is to not to the interest of anyone on this island.”

    We need to make our minds up here – are we being subsidised to the hilt or ripped off? The nationalists among us are making BOTH arguments. If we are being subsidised, surely what is “for the good of the exchequer” is good for Norn Iron. At the end of the day the subsidisation argument is a red herring IMO. The UK is a pretty big place with nearly 60 million people, all of whom are entitled to a reasonable standard of living. This means some areas will inevitably pay more while others receive more. If we look at it from the point of view of constituent countries, Northern Ireland gets a nice slice of the cake. If we look by region, so do some parts of the North of England. If we look by district, no doubt some parts of London are being ‘subsidised’ compared to the richer parts. This is replicated across the EU. If you think it should be otherwise, try living in the US without health insurance.

  • G.M.C.

    More, solar and wind power from your own site.

    The lack of incentive to many in the form of the investment upfront, with returns only in seven to ten years in many cases, would be modified by the knowledge of savings after this initial period.

    Each subsequent year after the initial profit seeking period has materialised, savings of a third and even up to a half of annual bills currently experienced would be common. This example is suggested imagining equipment is installed, solar and wind power converting domestic equipment, which allows 40 to 50 percent of energy from these sources at home, or not much less than this bracket.

    Good savings are to be found with 15 and 20 percent production, and also reasonably noticeable savings over years with home equipment allowing a small addition to a normal public power supply.

    Equipment is often given a life span of thirteen to fifteen years, but with good treatment should last a few years longer. Some equipment I have seen currently on offer has stated life spans of tne or eleven years.

    Replacement and maintenance costs mean that 50 percent supply will not equal 50 percent electricity bill annual saving when the profit mark has been achieved.

    But with care, the cost percentage of the bill should not be much lower than the supply harnessable during the period of, for example, 20 years after the profit achievement period.

    This really does mean, if you are invest in the next five or six years in the materials to allow a 40 to 50 percent supply of electricity from sun and wind in your own home and its grounds (and this can be pleasantly achieved with some effort) then ten years from now, you will firstly have saved some money, and then can look forward to paying a third to half less bills each year.

    With investment in near years, it should mean also that at any time, the storing batteries and converters and wires and circuit connections in place, upgrading to achieve a higher amount of energy production with new power capture equipment will not be too costly, will be easier and should provide better rewards.

    I don’t doubt that in years to come more solar energy will be available from the same production spaces. It should become eminently achievable to reach on these isles, this easier yet on the European continent, home site energy production which is some distance over the fifty percent mark for those who wish to and have the space to allow this.

    Most homes could with some effort, and without too much infringment on their palaces, harness 30 to 40 percent (from combining sun and wind) though more than this may require some aesthetic sacrifices. Appartment occupiers could easily join together.

  • G.M.C.

    More, solar and wind power from your own site.

    There is another thing to say regarding the idea of investing in a small element of domestic sun and wind power, for example one medium to large solar panel and a small wind turbine.

    If you can possibly spend the money to allow this soon, you will be rewarded in a small amount at least over a period of around twenty years. In the long run you will not lose out from your investment but will gain.

    But, if 75 percent of people who own homes were to do this, it would mean an increment of the percentage of sustainable energy production in the country would rise by around three percent, possibly a bit more.

  • This is certainly a popular blog though some of the arguments are a little bit bizarre.

    Shore Road Resident writes: “It’s Scotland’s oil. Unfortunately for the jocks…

    Oh dear. I take it you describe yourself as a ‘paddy’ or a ‘mick’ then? Why anyone in Ireland would push English stereotypes is beyond me, whether they support the retention of English rule or not. Have a bit respect!

    “it’s only American capital that ever got it out of the ground. How would the SNP have proposed a purely nationalist solution to extracting this windfall for the common weal?”

    Ask Norway. They seem to manage to not only get it out of the ground they also manage to sell it and build a successful economy around it. They are also an independent member of OPEC and one of the most powerful economies in Europe.

    “I’m not saying it couldn’t have been done – but I am saying it could never have been done by the SNP. They’re an economically illiterate bunch of subconscious racists and petty minded crybabies – except Alex Sammond of course, who can fake normal most of the time.”

    This is a common refrain of course amongst those who would like to portray those who want to have normal national powers for Scotland as some kind of racist nutters.

    Unfortunately it has no basis whatsoever in reality and I think you will find that none of the Scottish parties have any tolerance for racism or racist behaviour and I’m afraid your allegations of illiteracy show up the shallow nature of your argument.

    I’ll avoid making too much reference to the British Empire but there’s plenty of evidence that this was in fact highly racist, which is why most countries were glad to get shot of British rule.

    “PS: Oil runs out you know.”

    That’s why we would like to do something with the taxation ourselves now. 100 Billion pounds is more than enough to ‘donate’ to the British economy.

    Shuggie McSporran wrote:

    “More to the point, how would the SNP have proposed to repel the inevitable American and British invasion to “free” the Scottish people from their wicked regime?”

    “Particularly frightening as Scotland would have had a nuclear capability that could have threatened stability in the region.”

    Well the British state would no longer exist for a start and therefore it wouldn’t be able to invade an independent Scotland.

    SNP policy (and nowadays Greens and SSP as well) is and was to leave NATO, so our American pals would have been told politely to remove their weapons.

    As far as support for independence goes, it’s actually a lot higher than support for the SNP and indeed although support for the SNP dropped at the last Scottish elections the number of pro-independence MSP’s actually went up with the rise in numbers for the Greens (7) and SSP (6) MSP’s.

    An opinion poll for TNS System 3 asked the question:

    “Do you support or oppose Scotland becoming a country independent from the rest of the United Kingdom?”


    Record Date of Poll Yes No Don’t Know Yes (%-age of opinion expressed)

    1 5th June 1998 52%* 41% 7% 56%
    2 1st July 1998 56%* 35% 9% 62%
    3 31st July 1998 49%* 44% 7% 53%
    4 5th September 1998 51%* 38% 10% 57%
    5 25th September 1998 48%* 37% 15% 57%
    6 25th November 1998 49%* 43% 8% 53%
    7 12th January 1999 49%* 42% 9% 54%
    8 4th February 1999 44%* 47% 9% 48%
    9 18th March 1999 42%* 47% 11% 47%
    10 4th April 1999 47%* 44% 9% 52%
    11 January 2000 47%* 43% 9% 52%
    12 April 2005 46%** 39% 15% 54%

    In 1999 ICM (via the Scotsman newspaper) also held two polls on having a referendum itself. The question asked was: “Do you think that there should be a referendum on independence for Scotland?”

    Record Date of Poll Yes No Don’t Know Yes (%-age of opinion expressed)

    1 January 1999 74% 21% 5% 78%
    2 February 1999 74% 21% 5% 78%

    So the simple answer is that support for independence vastly outstrips support for any of the Scottish parties.

    This is the reason for the setting up of Independence First, the campaign for a referendum on independence:


    The other important point is that ALL the independent Scottish parties do support independence and are now actually working together in an independence convention, to thrash out how it might be achieved:


    I’ll also add that people in Scotland do not vote on religious grounds and none of the political parties have any religious bias whatsoever, thankfully.

    While traditionally the LP has had higher support amongst Muslims and RC’s that is no longer the case.

    All the best – JOE

  • Crataegus


    We are in direct competition with the Republic and I would like to see a framework that enabled us to compete effectively and by so doing reduce our dependence on the exchequer. This would be to our benefit and Britain’s. I would not for one minute advocate copying America, prefer Finland.