Britain warns Scots over independence

First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, the leader of Scotland's separatist movement. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, the leader of Scotland's separatist movement. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Britain has warned Scots that voting for independence would put jobs and investment in the Scottish energy industry at risk, threatening the commercial viability of North Sea oil and gas fields and renewable energy projects.

In September Scotland will hold an referendum on whether to sever its 307-year tie with England, with Scottish nationalists arguing that a split would give them greater economic freedom.

The British government wants to keep the union intact and has produced a series of analysis papers arguing its case on issues such as the currency, security and finance.

The latest paper, due to be released on Wednesday, will say that independence would deter investment in low-carbon renewable energy and make it unprofitable for firms to extract increasingly hard-to-reach oil and gas in the seas off Scotland.

"I fear the economic and energy progress will be seriously affected by the uncertainty and disruption of independence, as investors will hold onto their cash rather than risk it," Energy Secretary Ed Davey said ahead of the report's release.

A government briefing note said that Britain's wide tax base meant it could afford to offer incentives which made it profitable for firms to tap into dwindling oil and gas reserves, generating investment and creating thousands of jobs.

It also said Scotland accounted for 10 percent of electricity sales in Britain, but received 28 percent of consumer-funded subsidies that support renewable energy.

"The reality of independence is that Scottish low carbon energy is unlikely to be able to rely on the current levels of financial support provided by all UK energy bill payers," the briefing note said.

The government also warned that an independent Scotland would have to compete with other countries to sell electricity into England and Wales.

Speaking earlier on Tuesday Alex Salmond, the pro-independence leader of the Scottish National Party, said Scotland was the most energy-rich nation in the European Union on a per-head basis.

"Independence would give responsibility for Scotland's natural resources to the people who are most likely to harness them wisely - the people who live and work in Scotland," he said.

"It would allow us to adopt policies which meet our priorities and specialisms. That would benefit Scotland, and it would also benefit our energy industry." 

Ahh right

Ahh right Kiwiweegie, you're refering to the headline. Yes I now see your point, and you're entirely correct - the headline is an example of Scotland being ruled by English Conservatives whom they didn't elect.

Agree entirely

I agree entirely with all that you say Baxter, and I think you've misunderstood what I was getting at.  It's just that the headline makes it appear that Britain is something separate from Scotland, and the story doesn't help. 

My point is really that the headline makes it seem like Britain is some sort of separate entity to Scotland, and that there is something more substantive to consider if the "British" government is telling Scots to vote no.  

That the UK Government is made up of Conservatives and Lib Dems whose policy is to be part of the No campaign, and that they are about to release policy papers to "prove" that a yes vote would be bad for Scotland is no surprise at all to anyone in Scotland (or indeed those who have been following this at all!)

I am also totally fed up of the conflation of Britain with England that you get, and that made my anger at the headline even worse. [Abridged] 

Should Australians choose NZ's government?

I fail to see your point Kiwiweegie - yes Scotland is indeed part of the island known as Britain, just like New Zealand is part of Australasia. But does this mean the population of Australia should be able to choose who governs New Zealand? Obviously not.  Kiwis, and only Kiwis, should get to choose the government whose policies dictate our lives and financial destiny.  But that is not the reality for Scots, who are locked into a parliamentary Union with England. The Scots vote very differently from the English – yet the Scots are governed by who ever English voters choose as their government*. 

There are literally more Panda-bears than Conservative MPs in Scotland. Even so, Scotland is still ruled by Conservative policy on any big issues.  And it’s been that way for a long time – only once in the 16 odd elections since WWII have Scots elected a Conservative majority, yet for the majority of this time Scotland has been governed by the Conservatives.  Remember Thatcher’s poll-tax she tried in Scotland? The Scots sure didn’t elect her, or her policies. Much less did they deserve to be an experimental region for English Conservatives to experiment with such policies. How anyone in the 21st Centaury can see such an unrepresentative arrangement as remotely democratic is frankly laughable.

Further, opting out of the Union does not at all mean Scotland is not part of Britain. Indeed Britain existed with an independent Scotland long before the Union was even though of - and it will exist long after it.   But being part of Britain should in no way prevent any country from choosing who its government is.

*If you’re in any doubt compare the post-war election results of who governs the UK to the same results with the Scot’s votes entirely removed. The results are the same bar a couple of years. Scots’ votes make no difference.

Scotland is part of Britain!

Scotland is a part of Britain which is made up of Scotland, England, and Wales.  This plus Northern Ireland makes up the United Kingdom.

There are some people in Britain who are urging a yes vote and some who  are urging a no vote - but none of them represent "Britain".

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