Saturday, April 09, 2005

Scottish Oil and the SNP

In a previous post I made a reference to the SNP's stance on "our oil". Then, earlier today I stumbled upon Independence, a blog in support of the SNP and I was going to mention it as it led me to Scottish Blogs. I haven't had time to have a good look yet but I'll be having a nose round later. With this in mind, and in response to the comment on the previous post, it seems like a good time to write a bit more about the Scottish oil issue.

First, I should say that there are a lot of SNP policies which I'd agree with. They support unilateral nuclear disarmament and they occupy a position on the left which Labour has long deserted. They are moderate left leaning nationalists and a world away from the racist nationalism of the BNP. The SNP has strong support in some areas of the country, but in Aberdeen South they are included in the others category:
Labour 38.0%
Liberal Democrat 28.6%
Conservative 19.8%
Others 13.6%
Notional result based on boundary changes, via the BBC.

The oil issue is, as I understand it, based on the taxation of oil pumped from the North Sea. The SNP say that these taxes are collected and distributed by the UK Treasury and this is definitely true. The SNP also say that Scotland does not get a fair share of these taxes returned to us from the Treasury. Thus, they say, Scottish oil taxes are subsidising the rest of the country. An independent Scotland would control and tax the oil in the North Sea and we'd be better off as a result. This is more difficult to agree with. I'm pretty sure that we get more tax revenue per head from the UK government than England does.

But for me, this is largely academic. I said before that the oil being off the Scottish coast might be considered an accident of history (pre-history might have been better but there you are). Scots didn't create it so I don't think we have a particular right to claim it. Besides, if we did have more money we'd just spend it on deep fried chocolate bars and pizza's. Who really wants to encourage that?

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