Tuesday 13 September 2005

Scotland's Oil?

The SNP are demanding an apology:
THE SNP demanded an apology from the government yesterday after uncovering secret Whitehall papers detailing how North Sea oil would enable an independent Scotland to prosper.
They're not going to get one:
However Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling dismissed the document.

He said: "This is typical of the Nationalists, looking back to the past. This document is 30 years old.

I think that the SNP have every right to be upset:
Kenny MacAskill, of the Scottish National Party, said the report was proof of 30 years of official lies, cover-ups and betrayal.

He added that it showed how much Scotland would have benefited from independence and oil.

He said that in the 30 years since the report, Scotland had suffered low economic growth and manufacturing decline while at the same time oil wealth had "transformed" Canadian provinces and Arabian sheikdoms.

But Mr MacAskill, "lies, cover-ups and betrayals" are what governments do. I'd expect an SNP administration to be no different when it suited them. But the real question is this: would an independent Scotland have benefited from the oil? MacAskill talks about "Arabian sheikdoms". Perhaps he's envisaging a Scotland in which we all drive around in gold-plated Cadillacs, have our every needs attended to by Indian immigrants, and from which we regularly pop off to Geneva to inspect our gold bars or undergo the latest medical treatment.

I'm afraid that the reality might have been somewhat different. You see, the GDP per-capita in Saudi Arabia was $12,000 in 2004. The UK, with much less oil and many more people, managed $29,600. Having few natural resources didn't stop South Korea's per-capita GDP reaching $19,200, more than half as much again as Saudi Arabia. Perhaps government leaders (maybe including Mr MacAskill himself) would have been jetting off to Switzerland, but the rest of us might well be unemployed, like 25% of Saudi Arabians.

Owning lots of oil isn't necessarily a recipe for prosperity. Far more important is a culture that respects property rights and whose people admire and wish to emulate entrepreneurs. Sadly, that doesn't sound like Scotland, does it? Better to say, proudly, "It's Scotland's Adam Smith", rather than "It's Scotland's oil".


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

News from Canada. 
Oil is owned by the province where it lies in Canada. Oil sands are the new source of wealth. 
"Of the $885-billion (Canadian), about 70 per cent would stay in Alberta, the study says. About 10 per cent of that would benefit Ontario and about 10 per cent would trickle out to other countries."

30 September 2005, 22:44:08 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

Neil Craig
David you are right on the nail here. There is considerable evidence that natural resources do not, in the long term, help a nation (Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong even Ireland V Saudi, Nigeria, Zambia & ourselves) because such resources, going into the hands of government, do not get the costs of government off the backs of wealth creators but merely fund a more corrupt, politicaly correct (nobody is more PC than Saudi wahabbists by Saudi standards) & generally bossy state. 
On the other hand I am, somewhat hypocritically, not going to call for giving away our Barnett formula cash until we actually have achieved growth. 
On the third hand Darling's line about it not mattering that we have lied to you for 30 years because we started 30 years ago could have come out of one of the more cynical Blackadders.

15 September 2005, 23:54:37 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

"who benefits....the English." 
I doubt if the English benefited as much as the Welsh and Northern Irish. It doesn't really come as a suprise to me that a British government has the interests of all it's citizens at heart.

15 September 2005, 15:02:10 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

You are absolutely correct: A country's greatest economic asset is its' people. Ultimately, having no oil has proved no barrier to prosperity for the Finns, Swedes, Danes, Swiss, Austrians and even the Irish. Having it however does give you a helluva leg-up. 
M Cameron 
The only barriers to independence are British Nationalist Scots, such as Labour party sheep/aparatchiks. It's a well-worn, but ultimately worthless exercise to blame English folk for Scotland's ills. This deceit was (understandably?) perpetrated by Anglocentric Westminster civil servants, but with the wholehearted complicity of Scots Labourites, presumably including John Smith, Ernie Ross, Robin Cook etc, all of whom were elected on a poverty-busting, opportunity-for-all ticket. Their actions (and their consequences) are somewhat less forgiveable.

14 September 2005, 21:59:44 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

David Farrer said...

M Cameron.
I think you miss the point Andrew. Concealment is devious, untrusting and usually done for a reason...now let me think, oh yes, England. Plain and simple, the Scots loose out and who benefits....the English. History repeating it’s self all over again. Freedom will come sooner rather than later.

14 September 2005, 17:25:36 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

Andrew Ian Dodge
If owning oil or other resources were guarantee of prosperity then Japan would be a third world country and several African countries would be first world countries. The most important national resource is its people.

14 September 2005, 14:31:42 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

M Cameron.
I agree with the comments made by Adam Smith. To my eyes this is a simple way of avoiding the original question, something that politicians do all the time, and we all know why. 
When Scotland becomes independent, and it will one day, the do-gooders of this great country will be exposed and brought to task. The rights of the individual will never come before the rights of the majority. You should be ashamed to call yourself Scottish.

13 September 2005, 15:06:35 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

Drawing a comparison between Scotland and Saudi Arabia is a little disingenuous. SA chooses to squander much of its wealth on imported labour. The reason for this is because young Saudi students overwhelmingly choose to study Islamic Studies at University. The only job open to them upon graduating was an essentially fabricated post in the Saudi civil service. Some years back the SA govt refrained from giving most grads a job, but continued 
to offer courses predominantly in Islamic Studies at their Universities. 
The worst of all worlds. A nation of clerically educated people with no obvious way of earning a living, (hence the low GDP) and resurgent Islamic fundamentalism. 
Scotland, as an essentially secular European nation would no doubt follow the Norwegian model of economic growth. 
It may well be Scotland's Adam Smith, and greater prosperity could be achieved by following a more classically liberal economic model, but £200billion would have boosted that rather nicely..

13 September 2005, 14:35:58 GMT+01:00
– Like – Reply

Trackback message 
Title: Scottish Labour 
Excerpt: Via the Green Ribbon comes this article from the Herald: 
LABOUR ministers were warned in a secret Whitehall dossier 30 years ago of the powerful case for Scotland becoming independent with booming oil revenues, but the information was kept confi... 
Blog name: The CEP News Blog

13 September 2005, 14:08:00 GMT+01:00