This week has seen our friends in the Unionist camp up to their usual tricks – lying about Scotland and its future. On the basis of a leaked Scottish government paper, Alistair Darling and his cronies in the Bitter Together campaign have hit the airwaves and the media to do Scotland down. The lack of facts in their attempts never seems to bother these guys. Just keep on lying seems to be their preferred way of working. Wings Over Scotland has done an excellent job of rebutting all the Unionist lies and scaremongering. There is nothing to add to this rebuttal, so just read it here. The attempted scaremongering of the Unionists was so bad that even the Scottish Sun had to revolt. Their editorial thundered: “Here’s a radical idea for the Better Together campaign. Just once, just for a change, let’s hear something positive about why Scotland would be better staying part of the United Kingdom. Because frankly, the scare stories are wearing a bit thin. The latest is over a leaked SNP document that’s cue for a doom-laden warning about slashing pensions, cutting defence spending and shedding public sector jobs. Strip away the hysteria and what you actually have is a sensible Government prepared to make sensible decisions about spending. A Government aware they are operating in a tough economic climate where there is no bottomless pit of money. And that’s whether you’re an independent country or part of the UK. Is there a single household in Scotland that doesn’t have similar conversations about what they can and can’t afford? It would be a shambolic Government that didn’t behave in the same responsible way.
Bear in mind, too, this document was written a year ago in different economic circumstances and that oil prices and revenues have risen. The net effect and the hard fact is that the finances of Scots are £863-a-head healthier than the rest of the UK.
Just about says everything we need to know about the sad state of the media in Scotland, when we need to rely on the Sun, of all papers, for a balanced comment. The other all too dependable point about the Unionists scaremongering is that it is once again based on the assertion that Scotland is too wee and too poor to go it alone. They are remorseless in this. They even seem to take pleasure in claiming that Scotland – their country, after all, is too poor to survive without the generosity of England. Some Union dividend this, if it were true.
However, back in the real world, Scotland is in fact a very rich country and in particular a very resource rich country. Let us just take two examples. Number 1 – Whisky and the Food and Drink industry. With whisky, Scotland has probably the world’s most iconic drink. And in export terms, very much an up-market product. One with great scope for expansion as rising numbers of Indians, Chinese and others become rich enough to afford a bottle or two of good quality Scotch. The same applies to other parts of our food and drink industry. Scotland still has an international reputation for good quality food – aberdeen-angus beef, salmon, raspberries, to mention just a few. Again global demand for quality up-market food is likely to rise and rise in the coming decades. Scotland will be well placed to take advantage of this demand. Even better placed if we can rid ourselves of the UK brand.
Example number 2 is Golf and Tourism. As the internationally recognized home of golf, Scotland is in a wonderful position to expand its tourism industry. Scotland and golf are inextricably linked in the minds of all golfers everywhere. Much more than golf tourism though is on offer. Scotland has an enormous variety of scenery and landscapes to offer visitors including the highest mountains in the British Isles, some of the last wild areas in the whole of Europe, our beautiful islands, our varied coasts and a historic and beautiful capital. All this before we mention the cultural and leisure attractions. As an independent country Scotland will be better able to promote itself as an up-market tourist destination. With all that means for increased revenues for a Scottish exchequer.
There is another revenue raising industry which is doing rather well and has a rosy future ahead. I refer of course to the energy resources under the North Sea. The Unionists are always ready at the drop of a hat to point out how volatile oil prices can be and how this resource will soon run out. No need to waste much time on this one. The oil will at some point in the future run out, but that is at the very least two generations or more away. And all the indications are that oil prices are going to rise and rise. Perhaps with a few bumps along the way, but the trend is for rising oil prices. You do not need to take my word for it, nor the word of politicians of any sort. Just look and see what the oil industry themselves are doing. They, unlike politicians, are putting their money where their mouths are. Lots and lots of it. £11.4 billion was invested in offshore energy last year and it is predicted to rise to £13 billion this year. Who says so – Oil and Gas UK, the body representing the oil and gas companies. Now, nobody invests that amount of money if they felt there was any chance that the price of oil was about to decline.
The bottom line is that Scotland is a resource rich country. Why the Unionists would want to pretend otherwise is a bit of a mystery to me.