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04 May 2007 @ 05:52 am
"It's Scotland's oil"  
There were a load of elections in the UK recently and here are a few quick thoughts while we're waiting for the results...

Most of the elections held were for local councils. Apparently a lot of voters yapped their flaps about how important the oil crisis and its knock-on effects were to them, but this is exactly the sort of topic that a local council has very little control over. There seems to have been a lot of copycat policies whereby seemingly every party in every council has pledged that they will use official cars far less than before and pledge to cut the council fuel bill down to something absurdly small. A few people are talking about trams and monorails and all sorts of things but they will all take years to come to fruition. Really this is far more of a national and global issue than a local one and just the sort of thing where councils have very little impact beyond the likes of gimmicks like "walking buses" to schools.

However, there were interesting elections in the Scottish assembly and the Welsh assembly, which are the devolved regional assemblies for Scotland and Wales. In Scotland the Scottish National Party have been making lots of noises about pledging a referendum on independence on 2010 if they get control of the assembly, though the last I heard there's only about a quarter of Scots (and less than half of SNP voters) who actually want full independence - mostly they just want a better deal for Scotland. Can't blame 'em, if I were Scottish then I'd vote for 'em. However, that was before the oil crisis. In the 1970s the SNP came to people's attention with a very effective little three-word phrase - "It's Scotland's Oil". They've based their party on that ever since and the notion that an independent Scotland would be able to keep much more of its oil revenue than under the current thinking. Now in this day and age that could be worth a lot more than everyone was planning. Here's an analysis of what the difference would be to Scotland with more oil revenue and less public spending, done when oil cost a lot less than it does now. I don't hold a lot of respect for economists, oddly enough, but I reckon this one is at least more likely to be a fool than a liar. That's about as high praise as economists get from me ;o)

In any case I reckon there's about a zero point zero chance of any Scottish independence referendum happening for real before 2010 as planned, no matter how high the oil prices get.