Taking the Mickey…and the Oil

I think I’ve got it now. The people who took £400 billion of our oil and didn’t save a penny over 40 years should be allowed to get away with it. And to make the case for carrying on, they show their commitment by coming to Scotland for the second time in a century and their PR man wears a helmet in a chopper – he’s a real rig roustabout, isn’t he?


I marvelled at the chutzpah of a political machine that trots out tired cliché after cliché in the Yes Minister fantasy that people are simple mugs who can be lured like dumb animals with sugar lumps before the snare goes round their neck. Posh Dave on a rig, cheques flying out of the book, new projects launched and “almost the entire Cabinet” (copyright BBC News) actually leaving London with a whole army of BBC big shots and travelling like other people do to a city at the other end of the country where other people really live and work – no really – and nearly speak the same language and pretending to be just like ordinary folk with reasonable concerns and honest intentions to do their best and not resenting being roused from SW1 one bit and so happy to be here in Aberdeen, God it’s cold…

This took me back to the nineties when Major was hanging on to power by Edwina’s knickers and twerps like Lord Glenarthur or Ian Lang (remember the dead) were actually paid to be government ministers. They would turn up at some muddy brownfield site in Lanarkshire wearing a Gieve’s pinstripe and City shoes to announce work on a factory given free to a Korean television tube/microwave maker. They would put on a yellow hard hat, climb aboard a digger and give a thumbs up for the cameras. God, it was boring for the reporters; embarrassing, if it were possible, for the policy-free, photo-op politicos and humiliating for the tax payer who subsidised the whole charade and was usually left with an empty plant and a hollowed-out wallet when the grants ran out and Doosan-Dingbat Industries moved to Ireland.

And here we are again, trapped in the same noblesse oblige Downton Abbey pretence that the British ruling elite gives a stuff about North Sea workers or the lives of the Scots beyond the credit line that extends all the way south. If Salmond said: ‘Tell you what, here’s a cheque for the next 10 years of oil revenues, now fuck off,’ Dave would grab it, whip off his hard hat, jump on the shuttle and be back in Notting Hill before Sam had read the Boden catalogue. (I know he lives in Number 10 at our expense but happily he rents out the Notting Hill place for £6000 a month).

If you chopper out to an oil rig for publicity purposes it might be appropriate to tell the people who do that every day why there shouldn’t be an inquiry – a public one – into 20 lives lost in four years from helicopter crashes. Or even give a government response to Total allowing the G4 well on their Elgin field to blow out.  That “event” was by all reports a very near miss – a spark away from disaster – according to the RMT union. http://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/safety-on-the-north-sea-back-to-business-as-usual/

‘Over 8,000 cubic meters an hour of explosive gas escaped during and after the four hours it took to evacuate the installations by helicopter, and during this time and for a further five days that spark was actually very, very close in the form of a naked flame left burning in the flare stack.  Only the wind direction (luck) stopped Elgin going up – and with what consequences for oil workers’ lives if it had?… workers in the industry still don’t know why the well was allowed to blow out and why 238 lives were put in jeopardy.’

Still, that wasn’t the point of The Coalition offensive, was it? Saving lives is one thing but saving the economy is another.  It now seems to be official – that Scots are too thick to run their own oil industry. It needs the “broad shoulders and deep pockets” of the UK to do that. Or should that be “brass neck and bottomless pockets” of the UK…


If you look at Norway’s oil fund, the annual interest payments and dividends are around £14 billion profit on investment already made, which would still be there if the wells ran dry tomorrow. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that Britain’s revenues from North Sea oil this year will be less than half that.

How outrageous is that? Norway, smaller than Scotland, gets twice as much income from its investments alone with the capital untouched than the UK gets from oil production taxes. Meanwhile the Mighty UK has nothing, nada, not a bean, not a brass farthing, in savings from the years of the oil bonanza – all shoveled into the current account and spent while Britain builds up unpayable mountains of sovereign debt, borrows relentlessly and impoverishes its people – except the bankers.  Norway has a prudent rule (who was it that used that phrase?) that no more than 4 per cent of the fund’s capital is spent in any one year. That’s around £20 billion, which is more than the UK raises in capital gains tax, stamp duty and inheritance tax combined. This is a scandal on a monumental scale perpetrated by the people who lied to us about its worth. If Scots vote No out of fear, we must be very frightened people indeed because the callous way this natural bounty has been blown is a warning to everyone in Britain. I read the anti-Scottish hate as people in England sneer at our ambitions but surely they are the dimwits, being distracted by our campaign when their venom should be aimed at the people they constantly elect into power, people whose policies mean they are earning half of the GDP in Norway.

I know Alex Salmond would like an apology for the squandering of our natural asset but I’d be satisfied with a Thank You, Scotland for bankrolling Britain for the last 30 years. I can’t believe we are going to endorse them ripping us off a second time.

49 thoughts on “Taking the Mickey…and the Oil

  1. Well said Derek. The following makes interesting reading – taken from an article in The Herald 18 July 2013 –

    It was rather predictable that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in London would again underplay the value of oil to the Scottish and UK economy considering the coming referendum on independence (“SNP accused of ‘madness’ to base separation case on oil”, The Herald, July 18).

    Its previous estimates on the value of a barrel of oil has been bizarrely low in comparison to others, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

    The OBR was established by George Osborne in 2010, criticised by Alistair Darling for being partial, and is not a tried and trusted body by any stretch of the imagination.

    Companies exploring for oil and gas in the North Sea invested £11.4 billion in 2012 according to Oil and Gas UK, which comprises 320 companies active in the area. A figure they predicted would increase in 2013. Spokesman Malcolm Webb recently said: “The UK continental shelf is benefiting from record investment in new developments and existing assets and infrastructure, the strongest for more than three decades. Survey results lead us to forecast 130 exploration wells over the next three years which should result in many more barrels being discovered.”

    He fully expects oil to continue being extracted from the North Sea for at least the next 50 years.

    We are all aware, or should be, of The report commissioned by the UK Government in 1974 from Professor Gavin McCrone regarding the then future potential of North Sea oil and gas. McCrone concluded in his report that an independent Scotland’s balance of payments would have a “chronic surplus to quite an embarrassing degree”. His report was made secret by the UK Government and not revealed until 2004 under a Freedom of Information request.

    The former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healy more recently admitted that the UK Government had indeed been economic with the truth, saying in an interview: “The value of oil to the UK is a prime motivation behind Westminster opposition to independence now and in the 1970s. I think we did underplay the value of oil to the country.”

    Please share this with all your friends. People in Scotland needs to know the depths of treachery the UK government are capable of.

  2. This is the end of the above letter, not article –

    North Sea oil and gas is a finite resource. Like other natural resources it will run out. Nobody could seriously dispute that. Being economic with the truth and concealing the facts is tantamount to lying and I see no difference between the UK Government’s position of today and that of the 1970s and 1980s when we Scots were also being ridiculed on a daily basis as “subsidy junkies”.

  3. Rather a nice coincidence today, Oil and Gas People’s Facebook page carries the results of a poll showing that 70 per cent of workers in our North Sea industry intend to vote YES!

  4. I seem to remember that the best response anyone got from the politicos of the 1970s once the McCrone report was made public was, “It should have been obvious what the true position was and the Scots should have realised that for themselves.”

    Of course the SNP tried to explain the truth but were mocked by the press and regarded as loonies compared to these respectable politicos. And it’s happening again. They’re lying for personal gain, and the media are parroting it. The Westminster politicos are treated with deference, while Salmond is constantly challenged by aggressive interviewers.

    And if they succeed in getting a No vote, ten years down the line when it’s obvious they were lying they’ll just shrug again and say, it was obvious, you were mugs to believe us. And there will be nothing we can do about it.

    • Oh so true Morag. Could not believe the public comments from Aberdeen, “Scotland does not know what to do with the oil….” Of course the MSM hand picked that one, of two negative to one positive. Still, it is an incredible attitude which beggars belief as to why, even in Aberdeen, we Scots have such low self esteem.
      Can we go on like this? Surely not. What’s the solution? I certainly know what I would be like to try.

  5. I’ve believed for a long time that if Scotland had been treated well, acknowledged as the source of the oil wealth and allowed a decent share of it as inward investment, the union would not be breaking up today. Oil-rich states in Canada and the USA are allowed to own and exploit their own resources, and contribute to the central government as well. They have pride, and they see the fruits of their labours.

    If Scotland hadn’t been treated like the proverbial mushroom, she might have settled into a comfortable and mutually respected place in the union. Not going to happen now though.

  6. There’s one big problem. Vast numbers of the Scottish people have been so conditioned by the establishment that they’re like an animal in a zoo which, when the door is opened, elects to stay in the cage. How do you reeducate them in six months flat?

  7. I believe that there is no oil fund because Westminster was scared that if they created a fund then Scotland would have a claim on the money if we ever achieved independence. They decided it would be better to blow the lot, that way IF Scotland ever managed to overcome the obstacles that Westminster had put in our way to try and ensure it would never happen there would be no money left. I believe we will find that this is documented in the papers Westminster won’t release. They (and some of them are Scots) are a bunch of thieves. They have stolen the wealth of Scotland and left us with some of the highest child poverty and worst health in Europe. Utterly disgraceful. What’s worse is that the ‘Scottish’ labour party has been complicit in this. They have no shame. Let’s be done with them in September.

  8. Absolutely brilliant, Derek. I cannot praise enough your profound commitment to the future of Scotland.

    Thanks, Anne. Very worthwhile info. re UK government treachery.

  9. Everybody is talking about the finite resource of North Sea oil, and finite it is. However we also have other finite oil resources in the Minch, Clyde and off Rockall 2 possibly three times the North Sea harvest.

  10. I have seen some Proud Scots smile, nod and laugh when a member of a panel, or someone in the audience, mentions that N.Sea oil is running out.

    They seem to gain some kind of sick satisfaction that Scotland has been shafted. They view independence supporters as naive for trying to rescue an appalling situation before it is too late. Is there anything going on in these peoples’ heads?

    • Apparently that comment got an enthusiastic round of applause at a meeting in Kelso, rather stuffed with tweedy Tory types. What sort of person claps and cheers about something that’s being presented as a bad thing for their country?

  11. Beware old Etonians bearing gifts.

  12. Ian Bell at

    and Ian McWhirter at

    had thoughtful pieces in yesterday’s Sunday Herald.

    These guys are, like Derek here, steadily building the positive case not only for a “Yes” vote but also the positive case against a “No” vote. They are definitely worth looking out for.

    Here’s a flavour of Ian Bell’s piece;

    The RIC [Radical Independence Campaign] leaflet about to go through letter-boxes in housing schemes describes the gulf between hopes and reality. Wages, housing costs, working hours, fuel poverty, infant mortality, pensions, and much else besides: if this is better together, if this is certain for as long as Westminster prevails, those who vote No will say No to the future. For once, working people have the chance to make the change.

    and of Ian McWhirter’s;

    Perhaps Scots were deluding themselves that this was a partnership of equals, but that is what most genuinely believed. Very few people in Scotland in the 19th or 20th centuries felt that Scotland was a colony of England, or was oppressed by England or that Scotland had been extinguished. Only now, thanks to a clodhopping Chancellor and a myopic Westminster opposition, has that idea acquired any traction. Whether they vote Yes or No in September, I suspect the Scots will never feel quite the same about the UK. The Osborne diktat has turned what was a great moral project into an exercise in crude power politics. In truth, these callow politicians are not fit to call themselves Unionist. They haven’t a clue what the word means.

    • MacWhirter’s still a “vote No and hope we’ll maybe get devo-max,” isn’t he?

      • Hi Morag

        Ian McWhirter does excellent work on a regular basis on Radio Scotland (or “Westminster Calling” if you like) in cutting through the crap that is presented there as “fact” rather than opinion – take the conditional tense (if, perhaps, could, would) off the “No” campaign and they would fall silent instantly.

        I think they may even have banned McWhirter from political review programmes on radio a year or two ago (if I remember rightly) for not being on message. I think I remember the Herald or somebody having a successful campaign about that and he was reinstated. Do any of you out there remember the details of that (the memory’s no whit it usetae be)?

        Anyway, here below is a bit more from his piece on Sunday. He was arguing that Westminster is prepared to self harm just to “keep these bloody impossible Scots down” and that in denying us the pound they are in fact so blindly led that they missed out on the possibilities of their own unionist agenda. Clearly it is our oil they are after while there is still some there and when that is finished they will be more than happy to sing “Cheerio, Cheerio, Cheerio” That can be the only explanation of yesterday’s non event though God knows what they really thought they were trying to do in Aberdeen except tell us, yet again, the oil will run out faster than we think and it is expensive to remove oil from the North Sea……

        Here is the bit leading up to the paragraph I quoted in my previous post and yes McWhirter does still base his argument on the fact that the majority of Scots were supposed to favour devo-max – the other opportunity the “Nos” balls-ed up of course.

        “The message was clear: don’t expect any goodwill from the rUK if Scotland votes Yes. We will erect border posts and are prepared even to damage our own economic interests, in order to exclude Scotland from a currency union……….

        Instead of blustering about denying Scotland the pound, which is impossible anyway, a truly Unionist campaign would surely have welcomed Scotland into the currency fold. The UK could have said: OK, we realise now that this is not real independence we’re talking about, because Scotland wishes the Bank of England to continue setting interest rates, and setting limits on Scottish spending. Alex Salmond agrees with Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, that Scotland would have to “cede sovereignty” to ensure currency stability. Fine by us.

        The UK could have turned the referendum on its head by saying it would abide by the democratic wishes of the Scottish people – nothing more, nothing less.”

  13. Great stuff Derek. Power to your elbow/pen/whatever. Am sure you owe me a pint from he dim and distant past, but I won’t rush to cash in the debt while you keep up this wonderful and very precise onslaught.

  14. The Westminster louts, along with their sycophantic Press, (who know they are lying most of the time, but are lining their pockets full, on the subterfuge), try to keep the facts secret even from the rest of the people in the UK. They conspire to belittle and despise people in Scotland as a diversion to their behaviour. This is done ensure the secrets are kept in tact, and genuine grievance can be never be raised. ie ‘it’s just those good for nothings moaning again. They are always at it’. In just the same way they starve and demean the poor – ‘they are worthless, they deserve it’.

    It’s like the secret blooming Masons, who happen to be at the top of the ‘Democracy’ on the top of the pile. Who do they all ‘serve’, the Royalty and the Realms? of the Garter or whatever they are called. Many would and could have other names for them.

    It still the majority of people in the rest of the UK who vote in these ‘politicans’ who behave this way, and are complicit in the coup.

    Vote YES.

  15. Excellent post Derek. We need people who can spell out the real position and counter the blaring propaganda machine which is the MSM. I would compare the pantomime to “In The Thick of It” rather than Downton. The entire trip must have been extremely inconvenient for the Westminster pols. As a once in a century event we should feel very priveleged to have warranted this intervention. Our great, great grandchildren will see them again unless we vote YES.

  16. There is a line of thought that the Oil is infinite. It is regenerating itself. Cameron was in Tullos in Aberdeen at Bo Didley’s. The worse company in Corporate history. BP. ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’.’Join the club’. Cameron et al should have apologised the Scottish people for Westminster’s behaviour since 1928.

    Still waiting for the electric cars etc, Why have they never being produced on a mass production scale. Nissan in the NE of England was given £2Billion to develop and mass produce electric cars. Where are they? Electric cars are five times cheaper to run. Petrol – £100 = Electric = £20. That could be a big boost to the economy. Can’t buy Japanese. – 11WW.

    *A BBC editor has had to apologise to Labour for tweeting a Labour official was ‘boring’. Possibly true? Considering what they say about the SNP, surprising.

    Is Sam as concerned about the starving people in the UK, as the one’s in Syria. Or is it just airbrushed out because her husband is causing it.

  17. Norway has only had an Oil Fund since the early nineties. At about same time as Fred Goodwin was appointed at RBS, to start crashing the economy. Thatcher’s laissez-faire economy. Snakes and ladders. Snakes and loosens. One went up and the other when down.

  18. Round and round the houses again on currency. A distraction. Currency doesn’t matter. No matter what currency Scotland uses, what is lost is totally minimal, compared to what Scotland gains. It is a total ‘red herring’ to distract from the real issue. The fact Scotland was defrauded and still will be, without a YES vote.

    Sir Nicholas MacPherson, a Scot?, is a disgrace. His reasoning is poor and he presided over the biggest economic crash in history. Again, without any contrition or any acknowledgement of the corruption, but only a sense of entitlement. The corruption should have led to charges of fraud, embezzlement, misuse of public monies and imprisonment. Instead a Knighthood? and £millions of public monies while people starve. Have they no shame.

    Blair should be impeach for War crimes. It might be possible to make that happen on gaining Independence.

  19. Derek,

    You started more quietly than this, did you not? Y’know early posts weren’t as polemical.


    Thank god for a bit of fire!

    We ought, long ago, to have seen TV ‘opportunities’ for politicians looking assertive, or brave or windswept as chichés of the first order. It says nothing for our critical faculties that a picture of David Cameron standing on a pretty safe bit of an oil rig is awe inspiring.

    It is not.

    All politicians do it and they should all be told to stop it.

    • Lol Douglas, I think Derek is being radicalised by mixing with all us ‘nasty cybernats’ (© Andrew Neil). We’re a virus apparently (© Johann Lamont).

      • YES, Mr Bateman is just one of the good guys but by ? He reaches the spot. Like an itch that has to be scratched. Compulsive. Predict a good future for Scotland and Mr Bateman. Respect. It’s bound to be a YES.

  20. Andrew Neil Good riddance. Rumours are his old broadsheet is about to crash. Couldn’t happen to a worse person. Neil is a disgrace. Old interviews from the 70’s show him still speaking shit. He’s never stopped since. Thatchers brown noser, who likes a bit of skirt. Recently castigated Crowe for going on holiday even had all the pics. Strange. The millionaire ripping off the taxpayers monies with an over blotted salary, had a cheek to complain about a guy taking a holiday, thinking he’s being smart. An over rated ego. Repulsive.

  21. Who speaks for Scotland? Alex Salmond was elected. David Cameron was not. Who’s a self made man Alex Salmond. Who’s not, David Cameron got there on Daddy’s tax evaded monies, defrauding the taxpayers and continuing to defraud them. A crook defrauding, wasting taxpayers monies and starving and killing the poorest in a land of plenty.

    Flying around in Army jets and helicopters , every boy’s wet dream, like sone sort of delusional Kingpin. Wasting public monies, to lecture, lie but standby and watch people de. Why doesn’t h get a shedule flight and a taxi, like everyone else because he has to be protected from the public he claims to speak for, can’t have the Plebs or even the sycophantic Press getting near him. They might bring him back to reality, he can’t have that because he couldn’t handle it. Just as he can’t handle anything else. A complete light weight just like unelected sycophantic Clegg et Al. All they are doing is starving people to make themselves millionaires. Just like Thatcher, the scheming, nasty, condesending Cow.

    The Tories Boy are just after the Cash Cow just like Thatcher, only they can’t do it in secret, It’s all out there now and Alex and Co are on to them. They are more than a match to stop Unionists wasting Scotland’s Oil and resources, while they pay not a penny in tax. That is why coward Cameron is running scared, it would all come out in a debate, no secrets. That is what Cameron is scared of – being exposed to what he really is, a lying , murdering, greedy, immoral, out of touch, charlatan, who starves kids.

    Vote YES, YES, YES, YES.

  22. Johann Lamont aka Margaret Thatcher. They are all interchangeable the mask is just different. ‘Vacant Coupons’ (Thanks Bateman always have a chuckle at that) with no Gray matter, where it matters. No necessary brain at the back. Totally transparent. People can see right through them. While they seem to think people are zipped up the back.

    All the trojan horses are falling, just like Alex and Co said they would. After the Unionists going round the houses, several times. Yakkity, yak, yak, yak. Change the record. EU membership, the Pound and the Crown all given because Westminster likes it so, it benefits those in the South for them not to stay. Just as complicated for them, not us.

    Now take the chance and courage in the heart and head to Vote YES and make our country a better place to be for millionaires and dossers. More open honest, transparent, equal, just and fair. Go for it Vote YES. Make the Day and shake off the cobwebs. So we can be what we should be. Vote YES. What’s wrong with being Bravehearts. Scotland the Brave. Vote YES.

  23. Eve & quines, know you’re young, and all that, but yous will be better, funded and well looked after curling for your own squad, and you can still be friend with your fellow competitors. Britan doesn’t appreciate your triumphs enough. Come back among yer ain folk. Honour and perseverance will still be yours but even more so, with greater Glory, Well done it was electric. Punching above weight, making up the Medal total once again.

  24. Not a thing to add of worth.

    Good post Derek.

  25. Two points – the photo op. Sadly we have to see that this extends to a bit of the Establishment ( Queen in Parliament, and all that ) that it took a foreign journalist to spot, namely the two young male Royals passing a few sandbags the other week, and disappearing. Just an example of the assets Westminster have yet to wheel out.

    The other – the army of BBC bigshots. This came up as an issue with the Arab Spring, in particular the Egyptian bittie where it wasn’t good enough to have often excellent regional reporters on the case. It says a lot about the Corporation’s ideas of who the audience movers and shakers are, eh ?

  26. Ken.
    Re Scotsman. I too have heard that it’s in trouble. Lots of staff taking early retirement, others choosing to leave before it’s too late to get a job elsewhere. Downsizing to smaller premises but can’t make up its mind.
    Andrew Neil has a lot to answer for having started the lurch to the right, continued by some of his pals.
    Made a great error in “doing down” the SNP and has paid the price. Will be interested to see next set of circulation figures.

  27. Derek a wonderful post, and Ken, I do hope you contribute other comments with the fire you have today. There is no other way for Scotland to vote than YES the people who vote no will lose Scotland her self respect and the better future than it has as a member of this Union that isn’t.

  28. Yet another ranting Nationalist – bet this reply gets deleted –
    Its 1984 and The Scottish government has announced that tractor production is up again.

    Those racist English B*** (sic) stole our oil and spent it on Caviar and and fine brandy and none of it was spent on us and none of the westminster government was Scottish cos Scottish people are all wonderful like the elves in lord of the rings ( at least we would be if it wasn’t for those nasty English) and we would never do such a thing we would have spent it on flowers and art and rainbows. It its all their fault so there.

    • I think somebody has missed the whole point of this article and the Independence campaign. Don’t delete it Derek, leave it up. I like it when the Noes give themselves a showing up in public. I find it quite reassuring to know that Care in the Community is working and everybody has the right to say what they believe in, without fear.

  29. What has always entertained me about Andrew Neil is that while championing the primacy of the market in human affairs, he enthusiastically alienated The Hootsmon’s core market. That was the beginning of the end for a once valuable national institution.

  30. A truly inspiring article Derek, thank you!

  31. Consider the lengths the US will go to to secure its oil supply. They will invade countries on the slightest pretext; weapons of mass destruction, for freedom and democracy, to ensure that the regime is friendly towards the US, all rubbish, the big lie. Almost all the countries “liberated” by the US, with help from the UK poodles, have one thing in common, oil or access to oil. When you look at how many people in the (Muslim) world have been killed, the future of so many peoples and countries blighted, to protect the US’s interests then you realise how far they will go.
    The UK government have the same outlook, “Secure the future of the State at all costs”. The State is not the people whether Scots, English, Irish or Welsh, it is the Establishment. The people of Scotland matter even less to them. Scotland is expendable but the oil and other resources are not. They will stoop to any depths to ensure the future of the few and if they can do it with a few well chosen lies and convince the Scots that they are incapable of achieving anything without them the mission is accomplished, without killing anybody. I find it very upsetting that there are Scots who are not only prepared to accept and exploit this situation but actively campaign against OUR future prospects for their own personal agenda. The hierarchy of the Labour Party in Scotland have sold their souls for the prospect of power in the State and will never be forgiven by the people when they realise the role they have played in the sabotage of their ambitions. Rant over.

  32. Reblogged this on scotsvote2014.

  33. Ground Control to Bridge of Don

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