Tuesday, 25 February 2014

1973: Scottish Oil or British Oil. Back to three-days working week?

For those of us who remember what happened in 1973 when Britain was forced to reduce the working week to only three days to cope with the lack of oil to keep the country running, the September 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence is a lot more than a mere decision about having or not having two separate countries.

There are demographic realities. Scotland has about 5 million people and in terms of land surface is a micro cosmos. Many Scots might be looking at Norway and the fact that Norway very much depends on its oil and gas resources as major sources of its wealth.

For many years, Britain has been forced to rely on energy imports, including gas from Qatar as the amounts of oil and gas coming from the North Sea are dwindling.

Of course, forty-years of supplies might seem like a huge amount for a country with five million people. In the short term, income per capita could shot upwards but we all know that the life of a country cannot be measured in decades. Britain as a whole is struggling to replace nuclear reactors to tackle energy shortages. Do people really think that a country like Scotland with barely five million inhabitants will be able to cope with the financial stresses countries much bigger than Scotland are struggling to cope with?

Sooner than later, when resources disappear, so called political independence will only exist on paper and Scotland will be in the hands of its creditors. What happens to private companies can happen to countries and foreign investors will have much more of a say in Scottish affairs than the Scottish people themselves.

If the fragmentation continues, rest assured that Shetlands and other Scottish territories will be encouraged to go it alone. Perhaps this is the reason why the Spanish Prime Minister who has to contend with secessionist movements is not so warm to the idea of Scottish Independence and is also the reason why some high ranking EU officials speak against Scottish independence.

There are other examples in recent history. Czechoslovakia is no more and Yugoslavia is no more and pretty soon we could have Western Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine. 

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