Tuesday 17 April 2012

Sturgeon's seven soundbites

So, the Economist's fairly balanced and objective article about the economic repercussions of Scottish separation (albeit illustrated by a rather cheeky front cover) seems to have got the McGlashans in a bit of a lather. So much so, that the Wicked Witch o' the West immediately commandeered the Scottish Executive Government's PR machinery to issue a rebuttal, regurgitating some of the SNP's old propaganda for want of anything more substantial.

Shall we take a closer look at that?

1.     Overall Wealth: An independent Scotland would be ranked 6th in the OECD in terms of GDP per head, compared to the UK's sixteenth place (in 2010).
Maybe, but that's largely thanks to the SNP's hypothetical "geographical share" of  North Sea hydrocarbon revenues, and that would be very much subject to negotiation, not to mention subject to the vagaries of market prices, and oil production. The recent near-disaster of the Elgin platform is a timely reminder of the latter.

2.      Oil: There is up to 24 billion barrels remaining in the North Sea. Such a figure equates to a wholesale value of some £1.5 trillion in today's prices.
Hmmm. The latest UK government estimates say the maximum theoretical remaining reserves of all UK oil is around 8 billion barrels.

3.      Renewables: Scotland has around 25 percent of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy, and a tenth of Europe’s wave power potential.
And exactly how many wind farms and tidal barrages would have to be built to realise anything like that potential?

4.      Food & Drink:  The latest food and drink export figures show exports are at an all time high of £5.4 billion, and growing.
 Well it's good to know that whisky is still such a popular drink throughout the world, isn't it?

5.      Public Finances: In terms of our public finances, Scotland is better off than the UK as a whole to the tune of £510 for every man, women and child in Scotland in the most recent year (2010/11).
 Oh yes, that'll be that imaginary "geographical share" again. Haven't we already covered that?

6.      Education: Scotland has five of the top 200 universities in the world.
And the UK as a whole has five of the top 20 universities in the world.

7.      Inward Investment: Scottish Development International are an award winning agency, with major companies continuing to locate in Scotland.
Major companies like Amazon, who were given a £10.6m incentive by the Scottish Government to locate in Scotland, despite not paying a penny in UK corporation tax, you mean?

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

On that bombshell...

So last Sunday's Scotland on Sunday led with the story of more secret Sunday Times tapes of Peter Cruddas opening his mouth and putting his foot in it. But is the SNP's description of a "bombshell" warranted? Let's just look at what he said. About Cameron: He told me that he wants to fight to keep the Union… he told me that was, those were his true feelings. So a Tory Prime Minister expresses the same conviction in public and in private? Extraordinary! He goes on: ...however even if they're not, we as a party have to be seen to be fighting to keep the Union together, even if we don’t agree with it. Note that he doesn't actually accuse Cameron, or any other senior party members, of not believing in the union. He goes on to justify this hypothetical situation as a pretext for the UK government to assume a hard-bargaining posture in the event of Scottish secession. But then, of course the UK government would be legally and morally obliged to obtain the best settlement possible for the rest of the UK in this scenario. Scotland would be on the opposite side of the negotiating table and would no longer be the UK government's responsibility. These negotiations would not be easy or quick - the gloves would be well and truly off.

So, in short, Cameron has been caught telling the truth, and in the event of separation, the UK government would do what it could to protect its own interests. Where's the bombshell?