Many people believe that the Scottish Government are pinning the entire future of our country on the North Sea Oil industry, that without oil we would be destitute. What these naysayers and ignorant (ignorant in the sense of being uninformed, rather than derogatory insinuation) people fail to realise, is that there is far more to Scotland than just oil. We are a nation wealthy in resources other than oil, such as our people!! Yes, our people - we have incredibly bright minds living and working here, highly skilled and dedicated citizens in industry, engineering, technology, science and medicine, the arts, in education, in politics, and services. We are rich in natural resources such as renewable energy options (wind and wave), and in our tourism sector. We have an internationally strong and stable export trade, especially in food and drink. We have no 1 sole contributor to oor wee country's success.
But since oil is so often mentioned, and in such withering tones of doom and gloom and derision (its too expensive to drill, the value is decreasing, there is only enough left for 10years, 15 years), it is deserving of a post all to itself.
The subject of oil is particularly pertinent, especially with details coming out of a discovery of a new oil reserve off the west of Shetland, which the UK Government have tried to hush up. The wonder that is social media has exploded with the information regarding the matter.
Prior to this discovery in Shetland, Scotland was sitting on £1,500bn (possibly £1.5trillion) worth of oil and gas from the North Sea. This is not taking into account the vast oil reserve out in the west, in the Firth of Clyde, where there was estimated to be enough oil to rival that of the North Sea, creating another oil boom. This west coast oil was hushed up in the 1980's and consigned to the 'ignorance is bliss' pile, while the area was/is utilised instead to home the UK's nuclear arsenal, aka Trident.
When oil was discovered in the North Sea in the 1970's, its was advised by former government economist, Professor Gavin McCrone, in 1977, that an oil fund should be set up and save vast sums of money from the industry to protect the country and its citizens in years to come. Prof McCrone wrote of his findings surrounding Scottish North Sea oil in 1974, 1976 and his now famous report in 1977. These reports were filed in the archives, only to be released now. At the time, Scottish Secretary, Bruce Millan and Energy Secretary, Tony Benn, argued for an oil fund, but were rejected by rest of the cabinet. Such a fund could still have been set up in the 80's and 90's, but alas, it was not. Now, only the UK and Iraq are only 2 countries in the world not to have an oil fund.
From www.newsnetscotland.com : Publication of the McCrone report by Newsnet Scotland follows an admission by former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey that the Labour government of the 1970's deliberately hid the true value of Scottish oil in order to thwart support for the SNP. As an introduction to the McCrone report, we have published a short vidoe - narrated by actor David Hayman - which summarises the report's conclusions:
Business for Scotland have this to say on the matter :
"As a result of a serious failure to act in a way that was prudent and sensible, rather than Scotland's massive surplus being put aside for pensions and investment it was used to keep successive Westminster governments afloat. Scotland's surplus covered massive deficits run up in London. In effect, Scotland's oil revenues paid for Westminster's de-industrialisation of the UK and still growing dependency on the highly volitile financial markets centred in London.
So what arguement are the No Campaign using to suggest we shouldn't have an oil fund now that at last someone has had the common sense to suggest setting one up before its too late? Well they claim we can't start one because the UK is in deficit! Lets be clear - Scotland is only operating a deficit because we are part of the UK."
(The full article from which the above quote was taken, can be found here)
Norway did set up an oil fund, which is currently worth £500bn, and now its citizens are secure in their cost of living, pensions and have financial security. Instead Westminster chose not to set up such a fund and since, to quote Larry Elliot at the Guardian: "[An entire era can be summed up in three words:] discovered, extracted, squandered", our resources.
So back to today's oil and the future of the industry. Are we to ignore the opportunity for another oil boom in the west, just so that we can continue to house (at a cost of £163m per annum) nuclear weapons, that won't save us from a terrorist attack, but rather blow up large sections of the planet and everything in its wake? With an increase in industry comes and increase in jobs and a decreased in unemployment, decrease in need for welfare and food banks and an increase in economy from people actually being able to spend their wages. Have we not learned from the mistakes of the passed? Do we still trust that Westminster will look after this industry and the opportunities it affords us?Do we trust Dave when he sneaks around behind our backs to protect his own? Does this not make you so angry, and further strengthen your resolve to vote YES?
We cant afford to vote NO.