Scotland has the energy : it needs the power

On Tuesday a major new report about Scotland’s energy was published by an independent think tank, Bottom Line. You probably heard nothing about it because this was a report from an independent think tank which showed the importance of Scottish independence if Scotland, which remains an important producer of oil and gas, is to take advantage of the current high prices for fossil fuels and to use those temporarily high revenues in order to invest in this country’s vast potential for renewable energy and to give an invaluable boost to Scotland’s transition to a net-zero economy.

The report also pointed out that the high market price for oil and gas means that the fiscal position of an independent Scotland has significantly improved. These would be the oil and gas resources which we have been told since the 1970s are running out, and yet they continue to be productive. The paper notes: “Only a fully independent Scottish Government would have the range of powers required to design and execute the necessary policies [to use oil and gas revenues to develop Scotland’s renewable energy potential]. Under devolution, Scotland lacks these powers, while the UK Government has shown no interest in developing the Scottish economy.”

Scottish news outlets, we’re looking at you BBC Scotland, and the ahem ‘neutral’ on the topic of the constitution Herald and Scotsman newspapers, which typically loudly trumpet think tank reports which warn that an independent Scotland would be an economic basket case, studiously ignored this report. This is not the first time, and it certainly will not be the last that Scotland’s media puts its ideological opposition to independence ahead of its duty to give the people of Scotland impartial information which allows them to make an informed decision on the future of their country. This is why the prime duty of those of us who do support independence and who have a platform must be to publicise this kind of information. You can read the full report here :

The paper looks at the ‘fiscal deficit so beloved of opponents of independence and highlights the impact on Scotland of the chronic under-performance of the British economy. The paper notes that had Scotland matched the average performance for advanced economies (including both large and small advanced economies) in 2019 that could have added £16 billion in tax revenues. If Scotland had matched the average performance of small advanced economies in 2019 that would have added £26 billion tax revenues. This raises the question of why Scotland has a fiscal deficit at all. Ther economic policies of the British government create the deficit that opponents of independence insist is the reason why Scotland ‘cannot afford’ to break away from the government and policies which are responsible for causing the deficit. This is a classic example of circular reasoning.

The paper discussed how the devolved Scottish Parliament, which lacks powers over energy policy and which does not have powers to borrow money in order to invest in the renewable sector, is unable to take advantage of the high prices that Scottish oil and gas are earning on international markets and so cannot harness these revenues in order to reduce energy prices for domestic consumers in Scotland or to give a boost to Scotland’s burgeoning renewable energy sector. Scotland has the energy, it just lacks the political power to harness it and to put it to use for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

Instead what happens now is the same as what happened in the 1980s when the vast wealth generated from Scotland’s oil and gas production was sucked out of the country and used to pay for the Thatcherite vanity of the London City Docklands development while Scotland’s traditional industries were closed down and their workforces thrown on the scrapheap. The excess profits currently being taken by the energy companies on the back of Scotland’s oil and gas production will not remain in Scotland either. Westminster and the Conservative government will ensure that they don’t.

It is an absolute disgrace that so many households in Scotland are facing fuel poverty and have to make the choice between heating their homes or putting food on the table. Scotland produces many times more energy than Scotland requires for its own needs. The sources of this energy, whether that’s oil, gas, or wind, belong collectively to all of Scotland’s citizens, but it is not being harvested and put to use for the benefit of the people who own it.

Rather Scotland’s energy is being used, not to generate warmth and light in Scottish homes and a brighter future for Scotland’s people, but instead to generate record profits for the energy companies, profits which are siphoned off to sunny tax havens while the real owners of that energy huddle under blankets in a house they cannot afford to heat. This is what colonialist exploitation looks like. It looks like the breath of a freezing child condensing in their unheated room. It looks like the blue hands of a pensioner struggling to keep warm. It looks like a family huddled around a single bar electric fire and counting the minutes that they can afford to keep it on. And all this is happening in a Scotland which possesses an embarrassing wealth of energy resources and which ought to be able to supply affordable energy to its people with ease, and still to have abundant energy for export.

All this is directly the fault of a Westminster government which jealously guards its control over energy policy and which prioritises the profits of the big energy companies rather than prioritising the needs of the citizens who actually own the energy resources from which such vast profits are being made. Scotland does not have an energy crisis, it has a Westminster power problem and a Scottish media problem.

The Bottom Line paper concludes : “The current high energy prices and Scotland’s renewable potential means that there is a historic opportunity to transform the Scottish economy. This opportunity will not be realised if Scotland remains part of the UK as the political constraints of the UK mean the necessary policies will not be implemented by a Westminster Government led by either of the main UK parties. Independence is essential so that the economic policies required can be implemented. ” But you won’t hear that from the Scottish media.


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