Too poor, too wee and too energy rich

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By G.A.Ponsonby

So, there we have it.  We’re not only too poor and too wee – seems we’re too rich as well, energy rich that is.

The nation who discovered oil off its shores in the 1970s has discovered an even bigger gold mine both on and off those same shorelines – renewables.  Unlike the hydrocarbon goldmine, this one will last as long as the sun shines, and that’s a long time.

Don’t get too complacent though; there’s a sting in the tail.  Scotland is too poor and too small to harness this great potential.  We just aren’t big enough you see, it will be penury for an independent Scotland if we are left with this enormous energy burden.

That’s according to a London-based financial analyst and a few Unionist politicians; and they wouldn’t lie to us would they?

Those of us who can just about remember the ’70s will recall how oil rich Scotland was warned that going it alone would leave the nation as poor as Bangladesh.  Labour assured us that we were safer letting London take control.

Our grandparents and parents believed them and … well, we all know what happened.  The secret report commissioned by the then-Tory government concluded that Scotland would have become the richest nation in Europe with a strong currency to boot.  Ach, it was better to play cautious than to rush headlong into a goldmine – we have all seen how lottery winners end up miserable, rich but miserable.

So, as Norway banked and invested nature’s lottery, we in Scotland watched as successive Labour and Tory government’s “invested” most of the cash on maintaining the UK’s profile.  No oil fund and nothing for a rainy day – but hey, the southeast of England saw improved infrastructure, and we saw trident nuclear missiles … and 900 jobs.  London has now thoughtfully sent us the rusting nuclear subs to look after – so the 900 jobs are safe for another 10,000 years.

Fast forward 40 years and mother nature has handed us a second chance, yep, another damned winning lottery ticket.

Offshore wind and wave, biomass, hydro, onshore wind and sun – yes, technology means that even on a cloudy day solar panels will still capture the suns energy.  And we haven’t even mentioned the near 200 years’ worth of coal under our very feet ready to be used when clean coal becomes a commercial reality – which it will.  Talk about compounding bad luck.

Just in time though London has stepped in again waving their hands and shouting – STOP!!

The London-based analyst’s claim, that investors should steer clear of Scotland because we might actually decide to govern ourselves, was nondescript by analysts’ standards.  These reports, according to BBC Scotland’s business correspondent are “ten a penny” and are essentially worthless until a significant number of independent analysts start to make the same claims.

It’s not so much a peer review, more a requirement that a minimum level of similar conclusions are reached from different sources before the conclusion gains respect and attention.

The thrust of the report of course is that Scotland simply doesn’t possess the market in order to sell our vast amount of energy.  Currently, as part of the Union, our benevolent English friends helpfully take this excess off our hands.  This, according to the report author and UK PM David Cameron will continue just so long as we remain hog-tied to London – I mean, part of the UK family.

However, should Scotland opt for independence then – well, sorry old bean but that’s it.  England will no longer accept our electricity, nor apparently our oil and gas.  Scotland will be left high and dry with masses of power.

And who would possibly buy oil, gas and electricity from us?  Europe will be awash with the stuff and London will simply select whatever package it needs whenever it needs it from the energy supermarket across the channel.  A bit more expensive than using the existing UK grid, but you can’t be too careful especially when the Scots are sitting cradling all of the whisky that England used to buy – and you know what Scots are like, minimum pricing or not.

This doomsday scenario might have escaped the attention of most Scots had it not been for good old BBC Scotland promoting the scary prophecy on every one of their forums.  Radio, online and TV have been awash with the warning.

The BBC obviously felt that it was better to promote the dangers of independence on the basis of one analyst’s report rather than wait for the dozen or so others usually required before credence is given, by then it might be too late and – horror of horrors – what if this guy’s report turns out to be the only one?!

BBC Scotland’s round-the-clock bulletins were also very timely.  With Alex Salmond currently in the oil-rich gulf trying to drum up business and investment, the state broadcaster had to act quickly if they were to scupper the separatists’ leader’s attempt at helping Scotland’s renewables sector.

Scotland is lucky to have such a state broadcaster and news media.  In other nations an attack on the country’s economic plans from beyond the nation’s borders would be pounced on and savaged.  Political opponents would join together to condemn the attack in an effort to protect jobs.

Here in Scotland though there’s no fears of such a coalition.  The Lib Dems have helped out with a riotously funny image lampooning oil-rich Qatar and Alex Salmond.  Labour have joined in, with Iain Gray lambasting the SNP for damaging Scotland’s economy; what the hell is Salmond doing in Qatar, doesn’t he know an SNP activist has posted a rude tweet?

If Scotland does end up independent, with energy needs met through renewables and a glut of electricity ready to be exported onto the energy market, then we will only have ourselves to blame.  And how will we explain the massive oil fund that will be left to our children?

So let’s abandon any thoughts of independence.  Let’s send our electricity and oil revenues to Westminster and be thankful that we will have 900 jobs for another 10,000 years.  More if the rest of the old rusting nuclear subs are sent up from Devonport.

You have been warned!!