Gimme A Break


By Derek Bateman
I’m flitting from meeting-to-show from interview-to-talk from Glasgow-to-Edinburgh and back this week and have something on every day and sometimes two things…I’m rescheduling because of overlap.
And on top of all that I’ve just heard from Ian Wood that there’s only 35 years of oil left…35 years! What are we going to do? And according to John Birt we won’t be able to watch Strictly while the oil dwindles…excuse me while I reach for the Kleenex.

The result of all this activity is that I have a backlog of stuff I want to write about but can’t possibly fit it all in so I’m offering a smorgasbord of savouries instead, starting with this little item from Catrin Dafydd who is a novelist, poet, dramatist and performer in both English and Welsh.  She recorded this work as an act of solidarity and I think it captures the element we must never forget – that while No has industrialists, bosses, mandarins, bankers, landowners and lords, we have the people.

I had an exchange with Catrin to thank her.  See what you think here.{/youtube}

For more content, turn to We currently have the rather interesting Mathew Lygate, the social entrepreneur featured. He took a fascinating trip from the north of Shetland to the Lowlands, sampling Scottish opinion along the way. Maurice Smith caught up with him at Kelvingrove to find out about his Referendum Journey. It’s here.

And we’ll soon have on site my interview with Phillipa Whitford who’s made such an impression with her analysis of the state of the NHS.  She’s a redoubtable woman – and she wields a scalpel – but I still challenge her on the case that privatisation in England means lower health budgets in Scotland.  See what you think when it’s posted.  I think I want her on my side.

Meanwhile here at home one of the great battles (weren’t they all great?) is the subject of a campaign for proper recognition. We sing about the Battle of Stirling Bridge at Selkirk Common Riding.

‘It shall not be,’ brave Wallace cried.
‘It shall not be,’ his chiefs replied.
By the name our fathers gave her
Our steel shall drink the crimson stream
We’ll all her ancient rights redeem
Our own broadswords shall save her.

Yes, we like a gentle melody in Selkirk. ‘They’ by the way, are our English friends. If they think we will forget what happened at Flodden, they’re wrong so we sing of Stirling Brig in retaliation. You can’t say we’re petty.

The site of the battle is not marked properly despite its importance in our history and a project backed by Tom Devine wants to rectify that.  Get details here and see how you can help.

Another of our leading historians, Dauvit Broun of Glasgow University is a key figure too.  Incidentally, I bumped into Sir Tom in St Andrews Square this week while I was hobnobbing with the arty types in the All Back to Bowie’s yurt (that’s a tent to you and me).  I told him he was a chancer for waiting until he’d been knighted before declaring for Yes!

As the media exults in Ian Wood’s U-turn on oil reserves, have a scan at this report from N-56.

They say: Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast of £57 billion of oil and gas revenues by 2040, well below industry forecasts

  • If the recommendations from the Review of North Sea activity by Sir Ian Wood (Wood Review) and by N-56 are implemented, oil and gas revenues as high as £365 billion by 2040 (more than 6 times the OBR figure of £57 billion)
  • OBR forecasting production of less than 10 billion barrels of oil and gas, industry experts such as Oil and Gas UK put recoverable oil and gas reserves at somewhere between 15 and 24 billion barrels
  • Instead of public sector deficits Scotland’s public finances could be comfortably in surplus by as much as 7% of GDP by 2020 (more than £12 billion per annum) with surpluses of £9 billion to £11 billion per year in the 2020s and £5 billion per year in the 2030s
  • While Scotland would have a surplus, UK will have a public sector deficit in the 2020s and 2030s
  • Potential to establish an oil fund – at a modest 3.2% real interest rate if all surpluses were invested in such a fund it could grow to more than £300 billion (in today’s prices) by the end of the 2030s.

In other words, keep some perspective.  Wood timed his reversal of how many barrels to coincide with this declaration of support for the British state over Scotland.  Another Proud Scot bites the dust.  I don’t suppose his plans to move into fracking – which is getting a lukewarm Scottish government reaction – could have influenced his decision?

Also there’s a very good report here from the government website which is the result of the unions and others including Jim Mather looking at ways of enhancing workplace activities and cooperation to bring up productivity and improve the economy.

And, before I dash off to interview Crawford Beveridge, I have spoken at two events this week, the Fringe and the Saltire Society about the Scottish media and I sense a strong theme running that after September if the mainstream thinks it will be back to business as usual for them, they could be in for a shock.  There is an unforgiving mood among even moderate Scots at the dismal and often partisan coverage of the referendum and the talk is of cancelled subscriptions (and licence fees).

As an example, we’ve been told through our media friends how much money it will cost us to stand on our own two feet.  I think the last one I saw was £3000 a year from that giant of politics Alastair Carmichael.

Well there was a news conference yesterday in Sauchiehall Street where a line-up of experts showed how Scotland could save billions by changing its defence priorities and at the same time making us safer.  Not a single one of our proud journalists turned up.  Do you imagine they would have stayed away if Better Together had wheeled out a half-dead ex-general to say the opposite?  No chance.