The renewed call for an oil fund from the Finance Secretary is bound to strike a chord with many Scots.
For years we have been peddled the myth by politicians that Scotland is financially broke and our economy needs shored up by the UK.
How unlikely is this scenario for the nation that supports the lion’s share of the North Sea oil and gas industry? Interestingly, recently released Treasury documents from the 1970s appear to confirm a conspiracy to cover up the truth
The figure that John Swinney put on the North Sea oil and gas revenue from the Scottish sector, adjusted for inflation, is £230 billion
over the past 30 years.
One may argue about the detail of those figures, but it is certainly not the contribution of a bankrupt economy!
Much more plausible is the widely accepted belief that North Sea oil has kept the entire UK economy afloat in difficult times.
It ill behoves Westminster-based politicians (located in the area of Britain that enjoys higher public spending per head than Scotland) to pretend that Scotland is a subsidy junkie. London takes second place in public spending, behind Northern Ireland. The government, in all its guises, is estimated to dish out £9748 for every man, woman and child in London and with the Olympics in 2012 that figure is growing....Revenue from the Scottish oil and gas sector is claimed to be £230 billion over 30 years
While that £9748 per head has paid for huge infrastructure projects in London, what has Aberdeen gained from this North Sea economic bonanza?
- It must be the only city of its size in Britain that still has no by-pass (there should be one in 2012 – an outrageous 43 years after the oil started to flow!).
- The airport, which is the reason that the oil and gas industry chose Aberdeen as a base, still has no fixed transport link into the city centre and no fixed connection to the rail network.
- The airport runway is still not long enough for intercontinental flights, which is what the oil and gas industry is crying out, to reduce the number of flights needed (for efficiency and environmental benefit) to reach oil patches around the world.
- There is still no high-speed rail to the Central Belt and the rest of the country. (At a time when people are talking about a three-hour rail link from London to Edinburgh/Glasgow it takes almost as long to get from Aberdeen to Glasgow!)
It is high time this flow of revenue from the North Sea resulted in something tangible benefits for Scotland and Aberdeen in particular.
An oil fund would not only allow us to see the benefit of 40 years of contributions to UK plc, but also leave something from the industry for the benefit of future generations.
Every carping, dubious whine from politicians about Scotland getting more than its fair share, is grist to the mill for those who wish to see Scotland take the road to independence.