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JimB: I suspect people can give you their …

Comment posted Cameron scores own goal in independence move by Dr Douglas McKenzie.

JimB: I suspect people can give you their detailed reasons for wanting independence for our country until they are blue in the face (and not in a Mel Gibson blue in the face fashion) and you would still bemoan the lack of detail. Your deduction that it is not based on facts or reason just shows that you need to improve your powers of deduction. If you search through my contributions to this site you will find my hopefully well reasoned and certainly thought through motivations for wanting Scotland independent.

Just a wee point on your comment about Scotland being a net contributor to the EU (if we are still in it). This would mean that Scotland’s economy would be stronger than the EU average, thus suggesting that an independent Scotland would be doing pretty well for itself.

And just to turn the tables a bit, why do you feel that Scotland should not be independent?

Dr Douglas McKenzie also commented

  • Robert: you put your finger on the real weakness of trans UK transport initiatives – Westminster cares even less about the North of England than it does Scotland.

    If I was choosing a rail project to fund within Scotland, I think I would prefer to create a high speed line running from Glasgow Airport to Glasgow Centre then onto Edinburgh Airport and terminating in Central Edinburgh. Having been on the Mag-Lev in Shanghai I think the investment would be worth it just for the fun of the hurl!

    On a more sober note, you are right in that the further you can attract rail passengers from the more beneficial the project will be as it will pull passengers off short haul flights. Birmingham to London is just pathetic in this regard (though I guess there are some numpties who do fly between Birmingham and London).

  • The reference is to the high speed train line but I was confused as well as to the point of the question. Regardless of whether Scotland is independent or not my understanding is that the cost of the high speed line north of the border would fall to the Scottish Government. However, what was exercising the SG was the fact that the existing planned line in England goes nowhere near the border so even if we fund our portion there is nothing to attach it to.
  • JimB: The Norwegians (same size as Scotland, similar energy reserves) became independent of Sweden in 1905. It remains outside of the EU and has its own currency. Faced with the North Sea bonanza, the Norwegians took a very different course from the UK. Both the UK and Norway set up national oil companies but Mrs Thatcher made sure that Britoil was flogged off as soon as possible (and at a deep discount). The equally imaginatively named Statoil remained in public hands in Norway (currently 67% owned by the Norwegian Government). Statoil thus not only pays its taxes to Norway but the capital value of the company remains part of the wealth of the Norwegian nation. Norway enjoys the presence of a major oil company head quartered on its soil with all the attendant jobs and infrastructure.

    The second thing Norway did was set up a national oil fund (actually two funds but let’s not become bogged down with details). As of the valuation in June 2011, it was the largest pension fund in the world. As of 31 December 2010 its total value is NOK 3,077 billion ($525 bn), holding 1 per cent of global equity markets. With 1.78 per cent of European stocks, it is said to be the largest stock owner in Europe (Wikipedia). In the UK we applied school boy economics to the oil money and spent it all propping up high levels of unemployment and dark pits of urban deprivation. No investment in the future and a national debt now about three times that of the Norwegian oil fund.

    The Norwegians go further. They obviously read their bibles and took note of the parable of the talents. Far from just hiding their talents under the national bed or keeping it in the banks, they began to think about the post-oil world and determined to use their wealth to build the industries of tomorrow and, more than that, to build the industries that they could be good at and which were a fit with their national resources and outlook. I had the honour a few years back of being an international referee to the Norwegian Government’s Fuge programme which set out to develop a biotechnology industry in Norway. They especially looked to focus on marine biotechnology (my speciality) and aquaculture. Norway pretty much owns the salmon industry globally and they are working away on second generation aquaculture industries.

    They think of and build the future so they will continue to have a living post-oil.

    The Norwegian oil fields are part of the same North Sea basin that Scotland’s oil fields inhabit. They are equally finite and suffering the same depletion as the Scottish fields. No doubt this decline is causing investors to pack their bags and flee Oslo in droves and the money markets are busy discounting Norway’s credit rating and the currency is spiralling downwards as investors lose faith in a nation so dependent on dwindling oil reserves? Err no. Norwegian GDP per capita is 4th highest in the world. It has a triple A credit rating. The Legatum prosperity index puts Norway in the number one spot in the world for 2011. My only criticism is the price of beer and the national fetish for eating fermented herring (not so keen on their support for whaling either)..

    The Norwegians invested wisely; the Union did not and Scotland has very little to show for the North Sea oil wealth. When a thinking Scot looks at Norway he (or she) wants to weep at the lost opportunity. Had Scotland seized its destiny in the 1970s then not only would the Scots be much better off but I believe the RUK would be better placed as well. Without the easy fix of Scotland’s oil, it would have invested in economic policies that would have genuinely transformed the economy rather than being content with high levels of unemployment and increasing social disparity.

    But it is not too late for Scotland. Yes, oil is important for Scotland’s economy post independence but so are our Higher Education, Food and Drink, Tourism, Financial, Clean Energy and light engineering sectors. Sensible use of the 40 or so years of remaining reserves will allow us to invest our wealth into the future so that when oil finally disappears we will have a strong, diversified economy more than capable of supporting our population in a civilized state similar to that enjoyed by the Scandinavians. Properly done, we will not notice the economic effect on the day the last well-head is closed off.

    So that’s my vision for an independent Scotland in twenty to thirty years time. What’s your vision for us if we stay within the Union?

  • To Ken: my recollection is that the students who repatriated the stone dropped it and it broke. They had the stone repaired but placed inside it a note that stated that this was the real stone. Modern imaging techniques would quickly show if there was indeed a note within the stone in Edinburgh Castle. I have heard many tales of the stone including that a number of replicas were made and I have also heard (from good authority!) that one of these rather than the original was what was returned but I have no idea of where the truth actually lies. Nor do I care much as the provenance of a lump of sandstone has very little bearing on whether or not we should be independent.

    It would be nice if the original stone (the black one) would turn up though and recovering the Holy Rood would also be pleasing. But the most important ancient artefact from Scotland’s past is safe and well: the Declaration of Abroath and that is worth a thousand Stones of Destiny.

  • JimB: HBOS is entirely owned by Lloyds and so is an “English” bank if you are divvying up the banks. Lloyds has a division that is HQ’d in Scotland but it is not a Scottish bank, whereas RBoS is HQ’d in Scotland and is not owned by anyone other than its shareholders.

    The financial rating of an independent Scotland would be determined at the time but there is no reason to suppose that it would necessarily be down-rated from AAA. The actual rating will depend on the economic policies pursued by the Scottish Government and how that is viewed by the market. If you look at similarly sized Scandinavian countries then you would anticipate that Scotland would retain a AAA rating (as would RUK).

    As to the debt division, we are talking about sometime in 2015/2016 depending on how long negotiations on dissolving the Union take. By that time the national debt may be considerably lower than it is at present and (hopefully) the banking sector will have recovered and so the overall debt may be considerably lower than it is today. Or have you no faith in the policies being pursued by the Coalition Government in Westminster?

Recent comments by Dr Douglas McKenzie

  • Rustle with Russell
    More utter rubbish from Lynda Henderson. Have you actually spoken to Bob Allen? Whoever told you the story sold you a pup and in your arrogance you cannot admit to be wrong so you make up this story that he was persuaded not to resign.

    Your position is completely untenable.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    I’m afraid you condemn yourself by your own words. I don’t think that anyone reading what you have written here and the language you have used would conclude anything other than that you have a deep dislike for Mr Russell and that dislike is leading you to basically lose all sense of either proportion or impartiality. It doesn’t matter how well (or otherwise) you know Mr Russell you are clearly exercised by your interpretation of his actions and it is leading you well beyond the pale in what I would consider fair comment.

    This vendetta against Mr Russell and the SNP is destroying FA’s credibility and I have to confess that I’m seriously considering whether or not to continue reading FA (which will cheer Malcolm up if nothing else). I for one am becoming increasingly disenchanted by the constant negativity and sheer nastiness that has crept into this blog. I say that with a lot more sorrow than anger because I think that FA could have been great and indeed still could but there has to be a degree of balance, civility and indeed humour. All we are getting here is bile and it is causing me heartburn.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    To be honest, this post clearly shows that you are speaking from your personal dislike of Mr Russell rather than an unbiased analysis of the man. Phrases such as “publicity hungry coward” are well beyond what is reasonable comment.
  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    You don’t seem to understand the separation of a MSP’s duty to his or her constituency and their responsibilities as a Government Minister.

    Yet again, this is another instance where a member of the Government can do no right: speak up and be condemned as “desperate” or stay silent and be accused of not serving your constituents’ interests.

    It is just as well that Mr Russell has broad shoulders!

  • Atlantic Islands Centre for Luing: biggest investment in island’s history
    Well done Luing – an inspiration to all of Argyll’s communities.

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