We asked a small number of guests, including a senior figure from the finance side of the oil and gas industry to work with us in brainstorming the economic development challenges that face Scotland.
While the scenario we chose was an independent or federal Scotland, much of what emerged is necessary to and achievable within a devolved administration. Any way up, Scotland has work to do and tough decisions to take.
The ‘in or out of the EU’ issue was not a specific part of the scenario – but some core development propositions that emerged would only be achievable outside it.
Issues we looked at touched on infrastructure, oil, energy, social cost, education, investment, immigration, nationalisation, health, industrial development, food, fishing, sport, arts and culture and opportunity…
At the end of it, the oil guy said: ‘Where do I apply for the job?’ It’s been fun.
We’re going to run the outcomes of this collaborative work as a daily series, each article dealing with different issues or clusters of issues and concluding with a summary piece.
We’ll be starting tomorrow with oil and gas – because all other matters essentially follow from the nature of the decisions taken over the management of revenues from that sector; and, as such, it represents conceptually the role of a strategic core investment programme for Scotland.
In the case of either an independent or a federal Scotland, the planning around every aspect of this industry could not be more critical.
It is also quite possible that enhanced devolution could see Scotland responsible for this industry in Scottish waters, in exchange for radical changes to the capital grants from the UK Treasury into the future.
This series is politically agnostic. It is intended to contribute serious and informed perspectives to the debate we need to have to shape Scotland’s future, regardless of whatever political commitment emerges in October 2014.
The underlying criteria for what will progressively be outlined are focused purely on what it will take to make this country a sustainable economic success. They identify the necessary and sometimes radical priorities needed and the nature of the deal to be done between government and people and between the political parties, all of which have to be assumed to have the interests of Scotland to the fore.
The bottom line is all about courage. Scotland will have to be brave – government and people – in enacting and accepting tough times on the way to a secure future. The alternative is dependency, whatever our political situation.
The series of articles
- Scotland’s economic future: the role of oil and gas [Published 2nd January 2013]