Legends, myths and scare stories (Charlie Gallagher)

You cannot help but noticing the constant stream of “the incredible ‘no’ men” that have been slipping into Scotland, at taxpayers’ expense, for a couple of hours with some fanciful tale of “doom and gloom” and then sneaking away and avoiding answering questions.

It is a wonder that they have not enlisted the help of Private Fraser of Dad’s Army to tell us “You’re all doomed” if you dare to vote “yes” on 18th September 2014.

So it was on Monday when George Osborne and his lap-dog Danny Alexander came to Glasgow to tell us that we would be in incredible difficulties if we dared to continue to use sterling after independence.

I have never heard of such a load of old manure in all my life. For starters perhaps they will explain to dumb old me and all the eminent economists who think otherwise, how it was that the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland, managed it from 1922 until they joined the ERM prior to the introduction of the euro. Or how it was that New Zealand managed it for 20 years after World War II, or how the Isle of Man and the states of Jersey and Guernsey still manage it to this day.

The real truth of the matter is that Westminster is so terrified that it is going to lose the “cash cow” that has kept Westminster afloat for the past 30 years. They are scared that all their millionaire friends in the City of London will find themselves scratching about in what looks like becoming a Third World economy.

Thanks to Thatcher they have nothing to fall back on as she ensured that a great chunk of their manufacturing base moved to China, South Korea, Taiwan, India and Singapore.

She was the one who told them all that it was much better to run legalised gambling dens called the stock market, money market and commodities market than to “bash metal” as once described by her.

But of course now the roof is starting to fall in upon them as yet another credit ratings agency downgrades our status from AAA to something lesser. And yet it was only a few months ago that the same pair of terrible twins were telling Scotland to stick with us and keep an AAA rating. What a joke, or it would be if it was not so serious.

But what are the serious and real experts telling us? Yes, there would need to be negotiation, but it would be from the position that we, the Scottish people, already own between 8½ and 10 per cent of the misnamed Bank of England. Just another of our many shared assets, that will have to be accounted for during the division of assets in the post-independence discussions.

Of course if they want to take the line, as has already been promulgated by some that Scotland is due “nothing”, then as Nicola Sturgeon said, “fine if we are due no share of the common assets then we have no share of the common liabilities” and we start as an independent country with a “clean sheet”.

They claim that they want a debate but every time a debate is asked for the incredible “no” men say that they are not prepared to discuss such matters and instead trot out all the old legends, myths and scare stories that we have all heard in one form or another before.

Who is it that won’t ask the EU about Scotland’s independence place in Europe, not the “yes” team but Cameron and his millionaire friends in Westminster and the Better Together brigade.

No, we can expect loads more of this type of petty politicking and scare stories and I am just waiting for the day when they come out with the 21st century equivalent of the Biblical “Ten Plagues of Egypt”.

To that end I am keeping a close eye on the burn to ensure that it is not running with blood and I quickly nip outside every time the windows get battered with hail to make sure that it isn’t frogs raining down.

Charlie Gallagher
Tigh Na Mara,


Add Your Comment
  • Maureen Bell

    • April 25th, 2013 10:42

    Athough I enjoyed Charlie’s view, I do not believe the proposal and the 2014 question has been really thought through – especially where that would leave Shetland?

    At the time of the last referendum Shetland said – ‘We will have no truck with Edinbugh! It is Whitehall for us’.

  • Ali Inkster

    • April 25th, 2013 11:47

    They are a bit like the Wee Ecks yes men also paid for by the taxpayer who continue to spout tales of doom gloom and 12 mile limits if Shetland and Orkney were to break free from Scottish colonialism and go it alone. Suffice to say there is a whole pile of manure being spread from lands to the south.

  • JohnTulloch

    • April 25th, 2013 11:49

    Keep a close eye on “the burn” Charlie, there will be plenty more to come – alas, from both sides of the argument -which creates a problem for those who are trying form a reasoned opinion of what will be best, whether for Shetland, Scotland or both.

  • John Ross

    • April 25th, 2013 14:23

    To those within the ‘Yes’ campaign trying to work out why they are losing the argument then might I suggest that the hysterical and aggressive tone of the letter above provides a clue. It is typical of the reductive reasoning by correspondents who support independence. Osborne’s comments sparked a debate that is still being discussed 48 hours later (and will no doubt continue to be for the foreseeable future). In what way is this the shutting down of debate by ‘no’ men? Who is it that is not engaging with the argument here?

    Furthermore, the idea that the Westminster government is preventing Holyrood from negotiating with the EU about Scotland’s future membership is a flat out lie. We can only presume the author knows this, as he takes such a keen interest in the subject, and therefore, perhaps his fellow travellers would appreciate a clarification on this point.

    Legends, myths and scare stories – indeed!

  • Donald Murray

    • April 25th, 2013 20:54

    It would be very helpful for us unenlightened souls if Charlie defined exactly how Ireland ”managed’ it for most of the period from 1922 when it was linked with sterling till it joined the ERM.

    He may refer in his answer to the country’s level of emigration during much of that period, its unemployment figures, rates of industrial production, agricultural production, general standard of level and any other relevant factors during that period.

    I’m sure that the readers of the ‘Shetland Times’ will find his use of facts and figures in that case a very convincing argument for the retention of sterling. I can only guarantee it will be of special appeal to the following groups in our society.

    The utterly deluded. The completely insane. The Sullom Branch of the Masochistic Society…

  • Douglas Young

    • April 26th, 2013 7:54

    The YES campaign has made huge inroads across Scotland and in less than 12 short months the “Westminster subsidises Scotland” and “Scotland gets more money per head than rUK” are no longer trotted out by the no people.
    The number of young people, Labour voters and now trade unionists who support Independence is growing daily. Whilst some in Shetland may look to Westminster, while waiting 40 years for the £30million housing debt to be repaid to us, many are looking forward to self determination, social equality and an end to a lifetime of being told “you can’t”.
    The future’s bright, the future’s YES.

  • Stewart Mack

    • April 26th, 2013 8:51

    Rather trhan those within the “Yes” campaign trying to figure out why they are losing the arguement, all i see is people within the “No” camp bemused when people wont take their line as gospel. Perhaps its something to do with the continual “not possible” line they continue to spout. There is a lot yet to be decided and somewhere between the Yes camp and the no camp sits the truth – Might be an idea if they start telling some of it. The simple fact of the matter is we are in uncharted waters and a lot of what is being discussed hasnt happened before, there is no precident to go by. But that doesnt mean either side is 100% right, it means there is a lot to be negotiated.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 26th, 2013 17:02

    I love reading Charlie’s letters in the Times as they are all the same, angry, rhetorical and the true face of the SNP. I say this as Charlie has admitted to being a fully paid up member of the SNP who attends all the annual conferences, so in my book when he speaks as above, he is speaking on behalf of the SNP. Not one letter has any information as to what we could expect if independence happened. They are all angry, blaming every one from Lady Thatcher to Alistair Carmichael for the country’s ills.

    I read today that Sweeney and Salmond both know that in the event of independence Scottish pensioners who have contributed all their lives to their pensions will have them frozen and will be treat like exiles as they will be living in a foreign country. As Scotland has a larger ratio of pensioners per head of population than the rest of the UK. What I want to know is how long will it take for an independent Scotland to be able to afford to pay pensioners what they would have got if Scotland had stayed in the UK.

    These are the kind of questions that need answering instead of of making unsubstantiated claims about the utopia that would be an independent Scotland.
    People like me have been asking these kind of questions for months now and all we get in return is idealistic, romantic, starry eyed visions of some heavenly place if we vote yes next year.

    Come on all you yes voters who talk about freedom and a bright future, tell us what we want to know; I won’t hold my breath.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • April 26th, 2013 23:39

    If you hold your breath long enough Gordon you will miss it all, Freedom for both Scotland and Shetland, go for it Gordon, surely a yes vote is what we want from all residents in Shetland

  • John Ross

    • April 27th, 2013 13:49

    Douglas Young writes that support for independence is growing daily. Really? Which poll taken recently is evidence of this statement? The last major poll showed conclusively that the ‘Yes’ campaign was losing support even in the SNP’s heartlands. If the SNP (who have had decades to prepare economic policy for independence) flip-flop from one economic model to the next, on almost a monthly basis, how can they expect to be taken seriously by the less well-informed general public who are being asked to jeopardise their children’s econimic future?

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 27th, 2013 16:47

    Independence is like choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable, Holyrood being the disastrous and Westminster being the unpalatable. We would be better off if Shetland had greater autonomy over the running of these islands partnered with the unpalatable rather than the disastrous.

    Sandy you and others speak of “freedom,” you seem to want freedom for the sake of freedom. What we need is freedom from centralisation, freedom from too many layers of government and bureaucracy, freedom to make our own decisions. If we had been given the freedom to decide who the Northlink ferry contract went to I don’t think we would have chosen Serco. Simply because we live here and we know what is best for us, better than some bureaucrat in Edinburgh or Westminster.

    In an independent Scotland life under the SNP would be like living in Socialist land of dreary uniformity in which the only freedom is to do as the man in Holyrood orders. Salmond’s views on the freedom of the press are a perfect example of this, as he wants to appoint a regulator with powers to sanction “ANYONE” who produces news, comment or celebrity gossip, in print or digital. That could mean you and me Sandy not being allowed to express our views on the Scottish Government on this web site, think about it.

  • David Spence

    • April 28th, 2013 2:15

    Gordon, is your idea of Government similar to this of the Tories? Where the Government has little or no power and it is the financial institutes and private companies (oh, and the military) which dictate how a country is run and how people should live? Oh, yes, and the main priority, absent of any form of morality or decency, is governed by profit and the power of money. Where selfishness, look after number 1 and screw everybody else, material greed and profit is the foundation of our society? (Why does the well known expression from the Bible ‘ For the Love of Money is the root of all evils ‘, comes to mind when one thinks like a capitalist?). Where we, from the day we are born, are perpetually brainwashed into a state of nationalistic xenophobia where ‘ we are the world ‘ and everybody and everywhere else is there for us and for us to exploit, profit and gain purely for our own selfish needs (excluding the billions we have made from Arms Sales, Starting Wars (76 conflicts since 1945) Putting in Dictators, Killing Millions (to date 57,000,000 and counting) Destroying all societies, environments, countries). Is this your idea of the ideal Government?

  • ian tinkler

    • April 28th, 2013 15:39

    “The futures bright, the future’s YES.” Now there is a line to remember. Sounds a bit like the sheep in Animal Farm. How very ovine of the Yes mentality. Salmond will be so proud. Well done Douglas.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • April 28th, 2013 19:29

    Gordon we cannot have our opinions harmed by those and such as those, Shetland has to get the rights of control over there affaires, we cannot let the millionaires of Westminster have control, this leaves two options, we either go for the yes with Scotland, or we handle our own affaires take control of the Fishing, Fishfarms, Agriculture and the oil and gas around our waters.
    Other small Islands from around the Globe have taken control of there own affaires and are thriving, in some cases Shetland has more going for them,
    Shetland will need to make its mind up very quickly is it the big YES for Holyrood or do we go it alone, this is for the population of Shetland to deside, what Shetland needs is it own referundum and very quickly

  • ian tinkler

    • April 29th, 2013 10:22

    O goodness sake Spence, The needle appears stuck in a grove, move it on. These numbers are tiny compared to Stalin’s purges and have far more to do with the dark side of human nature than any capitalist system. The same dark side that formats religious the conflicts we see today, or are they to the fault of the banks, the West and capitalists!!? Your facile arguments discredit the very systems of government you appear to advocate.

  • David Spence

    • April 29th, 2013 13:58

    Ian, when it comes to criticizing any political system (and remember, during the ‘ cold war ‘ we were on the side of America when it came to lambasting socialism and communism (which never started in Russia, properly, under Lenin before Stalin changed it into a more tyrannical regime)) there are faults on both sides.

    Just as much as one can pick faults and atrocities by the US under their US Foreign Policy (and false flag operations – Gulf of Tonkin incident being a classic example) one can argue ‘ the kill rate ‘ from each political system is nothing to brag or talk about

    However, since we have been allies with the US for some time, we are not going to disagree or criticize what the US does in regards to the atrocities it has committed in the name of spreading, as perceived by the US, ‘ Capitalism ‘ (which both political systems have any way) it is the longer, underlying motive(s) the US has which one can question in terms of morality and political objectives. Lets not pretend that US Foreign Policy (just because we support the country) and its execution is squeaky clean, because it is anything but this.

    Ian, I am not saying that socialism is any better than capitalism, but if I had the choice between the two, socialism wins hands down (I would rather pay more tax than feed the greed of the private business). If you want to make comparisons (in today’s political climate and not going back to Stalin) many countries in Europe have adopted a socialist based system to this of what the US has………because, similar to what we have in the UK, supporting the population of the country in terms of health, education, housing is the whole and not the part, like what capitalism is……..the part being the private business, whose sole purpose is profit, greed and above all ‘ look after number 1 regardless ‘.

    Our present Governments agenda is purely based on adopting a system where it is business or the individual that benefits rather than the collective. It is this manner of political thinking that I wholly object too……and always will.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • April 29th, 2013 15:43

    Yes of course. That is what spawned the NHS, David. All for that wealth seeking individual. As for the collective we should copy the Borge. (Star Treck) . That would make more sence than your crazy views and 7 of 9 has a more balenced philosophy, and looks to go with it.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 29th, 2013 17:09

    David you could bring your views on capitalism into a debate on frogs legs, you have converted me so let’s forget capitalism. Let’s survive on street fairs and variety events, funded by nonprofits, run by unions, led by community organizers, and financed by the imagination.

    By the way that last bit was intended as sarcasm.

    As Winston Churchill said; socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

    Alexis de Tocqueville said; democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

  • David Spence

    • April 29th, 2013 17:53

    Well Ian, I think 7 of 9 was brought into Star Trek for the ‘ sex appeal ‘, and to increase viewer’s, considering she was ‘ Miss America ‘ several times. It did not surprise me that her input into the series was, lets say, limited.

    As said, socialism and capitalism are incorporated in both political ideologies……..it is just when it comes to the basic structures of society being controlled by either the Government or by market forces and the private sector……and lets not pretend that the private sector has the best interests of the people at heart when its priority is selfishness, greed and profits.

    Gordon, it does not surprise me that a Tory (Churchill) would say such a thing about socialism (considering his allegiance was more towards the US than Britain itself……debatable?) so I will take it with a pinch of salt.

    It is interesting to equate the way and manner business is run to this of violence, power, domination and corruption……….violence seems to be quite a key element in both (business and capitalism) traits of thinking…….along with selfishness, arrogance and ignorance also key attributes to a system where profits and money are the driving force.

    No doubt if you could con or rip off somebody you would advocate such behaviour because they will be at an advantage financially……and money is your main priority, minus any moral judgement?

    It was also be interesting to compare both political ideologies in the present rather than this of the ‘ cold war attitude or in its earlier development ‘. I think you would find that there is a lot of countries which adopted socialist values to this of ‘ screw society, just think of yourself value ‘……as capitalism advocates.

  • David Spence

    • April 29th, 2013 22:30

    Other systems like democracy cannot be fulfilled because economical inequality brings about legal inequality.

    The environment is largely ruined as it only second to the need to make capital and profits.

    The large amounts of capital enables capitalism to have diffused propaganda creating a conservative society, destroying creativity and progressiveness.

    Corporations with high capital monopolize certain sectors which become inefficient as there would be no competition.

    In a capitalist society, usually the end justifies the means.. The end which is to gain capital, profits, justifies all sort of environmental and human exploitation.

    The division gap between rich and poor always increases because the rich has a bigger chance to invest and thus gain profits than the poor.

    Promotes multiculturism which in turn becomes monoculturalism as the economically strongest culture always wins in such system.

  • JohnTulloch

    • April 30th, 2013 8:15

    What about the Impending fate of Scottish pensions referred to above?

    I’m surprised Charlie or somebody else from “Yes Shetland” hasn’t replied to that hasn’t responded to that since it’s a pretty important Point – I suppose it must be true, then?

  • ian tinkler

    • April 30th, 2013 8:32

    “Promotes multiculturism which in turn becomes monoculturalism as the economically strongest culture always wins in such system!!!” I fear someone is becoming intoxicated by the exuberance of their own loquacity. Pity they are spouting only dogma and stereotyped rubbish! How about original and intelligent comment.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 30th, 2013 13:35

    Too true, it’s true John, the reason they don’t give answers is because they like us don’t know. They are like clones of Salmond in that respect and they believe if they ignore it, it will go away.

    The thing is it is not only pensioners and people coming close to pension age who will be affected, what about the guy who is half way through his working life. When he comes to draw his pension does he receive half from Hollyrood and half from Westminster. If this is so will the half he gets from Westminster be frozen from the day Scotland becomes independent. Just think how much half of his pension is going to be worth in 25 years time if it is frozen at 2016 rates; not very much.

    Another thing about pensions, on Facebook some of the yes brigade claim that pensions will return to the full rate when independent Scotland joins the EU. OK so I ask them what will happen if the rest of the UK leave the EU, something which is very much on the cards just now. I know I am wasting my time asking them questions, so come on Douglas Young, Charlie Gallagher and Co prove me wrong.

  • Charlie Gallagher

    • April 30th, 2013 17:17

    I have just been told of this site and I find reading the comments a little confusing as they seem to have wandered away from my main point. That point being that the UK is going down the ‘tube’ fast. A point that was made by Prof. Simon Lee of Hull University when interviewed by Derek Bateman last Saturday. He said, “I foresee the UK Govt. having to call in the IMF in the next 5 to 7 years as the effects of our over reliance on Banking and Financial Services really start to drag us down as we have no manufacturing to speak of to fall back on.

    As to wanting answers then I really do think that people should ask Westminster just why it is that they will not debate these matters. We in the SNP have asked as have the ‘YES SCOTLAND’ people from Dennis Canavan, Blair Jenkins etc. For it is very simple, no debate – no answers.

    As to pensions this is just another scare story. Scotland will be better placed financially to pay pensions than RUK after Independence.

    Finally I only speak as a member of the SNP and a devout believer in INDEPENDENCE.


    Charlie Gallagher

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 1st, 2013 8:27

    See you are at it again Charlie blaming Westminster, they are not the ones who want to split the country up the SNP are so why should they debate it. You and the SNP are the separatists you should have the policies and all the answers, instead of dragging us blindly to political suicide. If I was to divorce the wife I would not say and you have to tell me how to look after my home and myself when we split, it does not work like that.

    How is an independent Scotland going to be better placed to pay our pensions, come on Charlie where are the figures. Scotland has a higher percentage of pensioners per head of population than the rest of the UK. So when it starts up its pension fund from the workers donations it will be dipped into from day one by existing and new pensioners so how is this fund going to grow.

    What about the secret John Swinney cabinet paper fretting about how to pay for the state pension in a separate Scotland. The arithmetic is clear. We face a £2bn black hole in state pension funding in a few years. In private the SNP admit this to each other but deny it to the public. Scotland if it left the UK would face a choice: reduce state pension or meet the shortfall via “higher taxes” (deny that Charlie) or “cuts” in other social spending.

    Scotland’s Chartered Accountants have performed a public service by turning their gaze on these and the other questions that leaving the UK poses for Scots and their pensions. That SNP and Yes Scotland appear not to have thought about many of the issues in hand on pensions is troubling indeed. Instead we get the same old rhetoric “Scotland will be better placed to pay pension” and “Its scaremongering.” So come on Charlie no more rhetoric answers and figures please.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 2nd, 2013 8:34

    Another day goes by and still no answers or figures from the yes brigade, plus even more currency problems for the SNP. After Salmond, Swinney and Sturgeon drew up their “Sterling Zone” policy on the back of a fag packet. All the pro independence lefties get together and demand their own currency. It’s strange that these bastions of capitalism, these giants of fiscal prudence whose answer to everything is to “clobber the rich” are heard calling for the Scottish ruble.

    Although these lefties are fellow travelers down the road to separation all they have done is condemn the SNPs only fiscal plan. Which however frail was designed to hold off voters fears about their pensions, mortgages, salaries and most important their life savings. Me thinks that the separatists would be juggernaut is losing its wheels.

  • John McPhail

    • May 3rd, 2013 14:01

    “Scottish colonialism”

    That has to make you laugh. LIke GLasgow is under the yoke of Scottish colonialism. LIke Ballater is under the yoke of Scottish colonialism, Like Glen Tilt is under the yoke of Scottish colonialism. What nonesense.

    Then we have the nonesense about “disasterous Westminster” and the baseless and somewhat bigot-tinged “unpalatable Hollyrood”

    Shetland is so hard done by. Boo Hoo.

    I can’t see it. I know I have a fantastic quality of life. I am relatively comfortable. I am untroubled by crime. Yup those reports of Shetland having the highest quality of life and income, lowest levels of crime and best education really re-enforce this concept that Westminster and the “Unpalatable” lot in Hollyrood have done these islands down.

    I think if we are asking for answers to what life after independence will be like. We cannot expect answers to be whole. We can only look at other countries which have taken this route to independance and say, what it so bad for them.

    Maybe the pertinent question should be “would they go back?”

    I bet the answer, even in bust Ireland or Iceland what be an emphatic NO.

    As for Shetland, let’s quit with this rest of country hating bigotry.

  • Peter Dodge

    • May 4th, 2013 12:14

    Mr Harmer’s grasp of contemporary economics bears a very strong resemblance to his knowledge of Anglo/ Chilean history; as previously revealed in a parallel S.T. thread concerning Thatcher and Pinochet.
    Consequently, it is just not worth the effort of trying to impart any factual enlightenment in his direction.
    Perhaps his interests might be best served by venturing off in the direction of the London Telegraph web sites where his right wing, stigmatic, abusive verbiage will not only find favour but is regarded as the “British” / English / UKIP norm.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 4th, 2013 16:40

    Peter your comments about me appear to be directed at a following you believe is there, you vainly flatter yourself if you think you have such a following.

    Don’t be shy peter I would love to hear your thesis on contemporary economics regarding an independent Scotland. Everyone else has shied away from this, including you in your racist fulmination, which you unsuccessfully attempt to pass off as reasonable debate.

    I don’t think it is because it is just not worth the effort of trying to impart any factual enlightenment in my direction, I think it is because you have nothing factual to convey to me. So feel free to prove me wrong and stick to this debate.

    This debate is relevant to Scottish Independence please keep on track. As you strayed with a diatribe against my politics and knowledge, I feel I also have justified cause to deviate once, in retaliation. You seem somewhat perturbed at my defence of Lady Thatcher for thanking Pinochet for helping to minimize British casualties in the Falkland’s. I believe this is an attempt to hide that it is alleged that your comrades were spying on the British and informing Galtieri, therefore causing greater numbers of British casualties.

  • Raymond Smith

    • May 5th, 2013 5:21

    Perhaps David Spence and David Cameron should publish their tax returns on this forum for all to see( if ds is a tax payer?) Following on from this it would be interesting to see what socialist government/country David Spence would like to live under. Raymond Smith Kirkwall

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 7th, 2013 20:35

    Ever since the debate on Scottish independence began the assumed division of North Sea oil and gas has, to date, imagined to be a relatively simple one for the SNP and the yes brigade. So far they take it as given that 90% of the UK’s North Sea revenues would be assigned to Scotland. Until today, that is.

    In an interview with the BBC, legal expert Professor John Paterson from Aberdeen University, warned that the division of North Sea revenues could be subject to several years of legal wrangling, with the matter possibly ending up in an international court.

    I’ve argued this many times before and believe this would not be a straightforward division and could indeed take many years. I’ve tried to point out to sceptics that because Scotland would not be guaranteed 90% of North Sea revenues, any statistics that assume this can therefore only be taken as conjectural; then I found this.

    As per the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, every state has the right to land and territorial seas up to 12 nautical miles out. Article 3 states:

    Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention.

    But most North Sea oil and gas installations are more than 12 miles offshore and are within the area of the Continental Shelf (12 – 200 nautical miles out) to which the UK has claimed right. So, in other words, apart from revenues from those oil and gas fields that are within 12 nautical miles out, everything else is up for negotiation.

    The starting point for maritime disputes is the equidistant principle. This is where you draw a line outwards from the coast at right angles to the course of the coast. If you do this then there is no doubt that 90% of the North Sea revenues would be Scottish. This is because most oil fields are in ‘Scottish waters.’ In reality it is very hard to know for sure. The ‘Scottish share’ has varied from 66% to 98%, depending on the production and profits made at different fields.

    Nevertheless, ignoring this factor (and ignoring any drive Shetland and Orkney have for autonomy) and applying the equidistant principle, then as a guide we can say that 90% of North Sea revenues would be Scottish. But in practice this ignores a crucial principle in international law: the principle of equity. This means that each party should receive a ‘fair share’ of the oil and gas resources.

    Of course, it is very hard to define what a ‘fair share’ actually is. But the continuing UK would have leverage to argue for more than just 10% of the revenues on two grounds. Firstly, large bulks of British resources have been used to develop the oil and gas fields. For example, HMRC have a specific and specialised North Sea taxation division, and they have developed close relationships with companies to provide tax certainty and government support.

    Secondly, the revenues attributed to each party would have to be considered in the context of decommissioning costs. The current SNP position is that Scotland should receive 90% of the revenues while the continuing UK would pay the £30 billion decommissioning costs. This is something the SNP Energy Minister, has stated in the past:

    In principle, given that the UK has received substantial revenue from these rigs, it seems correct that the UK has a moral and certainly a legal obligation to be responsible for decommissioning.

    It is unlikely that such a position would be agreed to by Westminster, and nor would it be seen to comply with the principle of equity.

    Finally, the division of North Sea oil and gas would also be done as part of a wider negotiating process. Each issue (e.g. division of North Sea revenues, division of debt, etc.) would not be dealt with in isolation. Thus, various factors could be used as leverage by either Scotland or the continuing UK (who would have more negotiating power than Scotland). So, for example, on the issue of Trident, the SNP could play hard ball and say they would only be cooperative on the timetable of removal if Scotland receives 90% of the oil, while UK taxpayers pay for decommissioning.

    On the other hand, Westminster could say they would not agree to allow the Bank of England to provide lender of last resort facilities to Scotland if it was not cooperative with Trident and did not agree to allow the continuing UK a larger proportion of North Sea revenues. These are examples of just some of the issues that might be at play, and of course there are many, many more.

    The point here is that nothing is certain. Indeed, the only thing that is certain is that separation would mean a lot of uncertainty for Scotland and the continuing UK for many years to come. Only Scots can make the decision on whether throwing away all the benefits of the United Kingdom for such an incalculable and unpredictable future is worth it.

  • JohnTulloch

    • May 8th, 2013 8:18

    Well argued, Gordon, very interesting points.

    Shetlanders – and Orcadians – must build a powerful case and stand up for their rights.

  • Derick Tulloch

    • May 10th, 2013 18:12

    Gordon was going along fine there until ” Firstly, large bulks of British resources have been used to develop the oil and gas fields. For example, HMRC have a specific and specialised North Sea taxation division, and they have developed close relationships with companies to provide tax certainty and government support.”

    At that point I fell about laughing.

    As for the ludicrous scare stories about pensions hah!
    As anyone who has been paying attention can tell you, UK state pensions are funded out of current taxation – there is no ‘pension fund’. Given that Scotland currently subsidizes rUK by £4.2bn each and every year there is more current taxation to fund pensions in Scotland. Private pensions are private contracts between an individual and a pension provider and would be unaffected by Independence. And perhaps someone can explain how it is that current UK pensioners living abroad can claim a state pension? https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-if-you-retire-abroad/how-to-claim

    In this context I would note that the UK has the lowest state pension of any OECD state.
    State pension – Replacement Rate for average earners (State + mandatory private)
    Norway 60.3%
    Sweden 53.6%
    Denmark 89.8%
    Finland 65.2%
    Iceland 101.1%
    UK 37.4%
    OECD Average 67.6%

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 11th, 2013 15:42

    Where are the arguments to the above comments, they are not there because there are none to be made. They know there is a distinct possibility that the oil revenue could be split, with up to 40% for Westminster and 60% for Scotland. They know pensions, welfare payments and benefits will fall and taxation will go up. The Nationalists really must be making their plans to end this union up like a fairy tale. They fantasize and dream of an amazingly special Scotland and all it would take is a simple “Yes” on a ballot paper; yeah right.

    Now, let’s be very clear on this, the Nationalists have been together aiming to break up Britain for a very long time. Yet what we see is a very ill prepared separatist party that cannot answer any basic questions. Military wise we know that Scotland plays a huge part within the United Kingdom’s forces. There are thousands of Scots serving under the Queen and county of the United Kingdom. We also have many jobs dependent on the Military; the naval bases, air force bases, submarine ports like Faslane and of course the shipbuilding industry. These are worth billions and secure thousands of jobs. The Nationalists admit there would be drastic downgrades, so unemployed would rise by tens of thousands as our military and bases are dismembered.

    Separatists on Twitter and Facebook claim that the UK; “is broken”. That sort of talk is what makes me dumbfounded by the separatist’s mentality. If you think about it, the union, even if it was in the best position in the world and a Utopian dream; we would still have nationalists shouting for separatism. The reason is clear, nationalists are an inward looking group and they can’t see past Scotland and secretly despise anything other than their own insular mentality of Scottishness and resentment of England and the English.

    The United Kingdom is a formidably complex country. Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are intertwined to a very high degree. Splitting up the complex economic, political and social infrastructure of the UK is not going to be a walk in the park for the SNP, yet they fail to tell us how they’re going to do it without it costing us and the rest of the UK dearly.

    The no campaign is setting out its argument clearly and effectively in many ways; but of course, they have much more to do. If Shetland residents can’t see the problems that separatism would bring to them, then they need to wake up to it now. As it stands the Nationalists don’t have a clue and are making empty promises with bluster, deception and gobbledygook.

    The Nationalists recklessly claim than Scotland could be like Norway. The reality is that Norway has a massive oil fund, accrued since the seventies as security for when their resources run low. Scotland’s oil revenue is around £6 to 7 billion annually, (dependent on post independence negotiations) while Norway’s oil revenue triples that number easily to £25 billion. Norway has a GDP more than double the size of Scotland’s at around $450 billion, they also have a relatively smaller population. Norway doesn’t have a heavy financial industry unlike Scotland, nor the costly social policies we enjoy as part of the UK.

    The SNP separatist’s that claim the United Kingdom union isn’t working for Scotland. Yet they ignore the EU downfall and would happily drag Scotland into what is a failing and corrupt Union. With EU countries being forced into tough austerity measures implemented by Brussels, and smaller nations like Greece and Ireland not getting a say, it means sadly they have no choice but to implement EU forced austerity on their people.

    Think of the SNP as a not very politically correct masquerade designed to disguise the true make up of an anti-English agenda. They totally deny the fact that under this umbrella of nationalism, Island communities like Shetland and Orkney will suffer tenfold. There is no doubt we will unless of course we look to our laurels and demand we have more say in our own future. There are less than 500 days until the referendum; it is time we spoke out.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 11th, 2013 20:35

    Derick, Firstly we contribute to our state pension through our national insurance contributions. So in theory we pay into a pension fund before we get it back in the form of a state pension. In an independent Scotland we will have to apply to the country we made contributions to this being the UK.

    You still get your state pension if you move abroad but in some countries it will be frozen at the rate it was first paid. This means that if you move to Australia or Canada, or any ex commonwealth country your pension will not rise, and the same applies to an independent Scotland as it will be a country outside the EU. As far as private pensions go I said nothing about them so that is as irrelevant as your figures on pension rates. Yet more posturing and waffle from a blustering separatist, instead of letting us know how our pensions will be made up in an independent Scotland.

    Derick you will not be laughing so much when the oil companies come with begging bowl in hand to the government because they have to replace or refurbish their aging oil platforms. Platforms in the North Sea were, like Sullom Voe designed for around 25 years of production. Now like Sullom Voe they are coming apart at the seams and up to now are being repaired with botch ups and temporary fixes.

    There is another estimated twenty five years of oil production out there and platforms will have to be replaced or undergo major overhauls. Why do you think the Cormorant Alpha platform is off line once again and costing the government up to £6 million a day in lost revenue? This will cost the oil companies millions so they will be looking to the HMRC for tax breaks to help pay for it.

    Therefore either the UK government or an independent Scottish government will have no choice but to oblige and automatically cut oil revenues drastically. Why on earth do you think companies like BP and Shell are offloading their stakes in the North Sea to companies like TAQA when there are still billions of barrels oil to extract.

    Furthermore Salmond has convinced a minority of the Scottish electorate that independence will be funded with billions of pounds from the oil revenue. If you or Salmond for that matter did a bit of research you and he will know that oil prices fluctuate immensely. They have been known to fluctuate between $43 and $134 per barrel over a six month period in the past. This is something not even King Salmond would have control over. So just come back to the real world Derick and put fluctuating oil prices and an aging infrastructure in to the money pot equation and you will find it’s not just pensions we need to worry about.

  • Derick Tulloch

    • May 13th, 2013 22:24


    You say that “we contribute to our state pension through our national insurance contributions. So in theory we pay into a pension fund before we get it back in the form of a state pension.”

    This is not incorrect. NI is in effect just Income Tax by another name, except that the number of years you pay NI is used to calculate how much state pension you get. So the UK has two expensive and inefficient income tax systems, and that’s before we get to the nonsense that is Pension Credit. The current UK Govt is looking at getting rid of NI – which is (for once) a good idea. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12832647

    Scotland subsidizes rUK by £4.2 billion each year. Given that pensions and indeed all welfare payments are funded out of current revenue, we can afford better pensions (just like Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland can) than the UK. It’s one reason for me, personally, wanting Independence. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0041/00418420.pdf

    With the rise of UKIP in England, it’s a lot more likely that rUK will be out of the EU than Scotland will. Your point about ex-pats having pensions frozen is accurate at present – but the difference is Scotland is one of the two founding partners and if we withdraw from the Union then we take our pensions with us.

    Westminster is fond of claiming that they will be the successor state and inherit the UN, EU, NATO memberships etc, and Scotland will be a New State. I don’t think that is accurate, but if they go down that route then we will also inherit NONE of the UK debt. That would save Scotland £125,000,000,000 plus interest on day 1. This is exactly what happened when the USSR dissolved – Russia inherited the memberships and ALL the debt. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine inherited not a single rouble. I can live with that! £125bn pays for a lot of pensions!!

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 14th, 2013 14:15

    Derick, your first link has nothing to do with this debate, it is a long term project and only could happen, it is not definite. Your second link is a piece of propaganda which totally omits what an independent Scotland would be left with after it has negotiated separation terms with Westminster.

    In your last comment you said there was no pension fund, if this is so how on earth can you take it with you after independence. Scottish pensioners will have to apply to Westminster for their pensions and if Scotland or the rest of the UK are out of the EU the pension will be frozen at the rate it is first paid.

    You have also conveniently forgotten that Scotland has more pensioners per head of population than the rest of the UK. The only way around this is to allow masses of young immigrants in to work and pay taxes to prop up the pension payments of the aging population. The only problem with this is they will bring their aging parents and grandparents over to live in this Scottish Utopia and put us back to square one.

    If you expanded your thinking and go down the road you started, when mentioning UKIP you will see this has greater implications for Scotland as an independent country during the negotiations with Westminster. Local elections south of the border sent a clear warning to Cameron and his arrogant cabinet which they have chosen to disregard. This will cost him dearly at the next election and there is a strong possibility Labour will win in May 2015.

    You may wonder how this will impact on an independent Scotland; in 2015 the then Scottish government will still be in negotiations about independence. Therefore the UK election will still include the Scottish vote and most likely return a Labour government.

    If you look at recent events, Labour have enlisted Gordon bail out the banks Brown to fight Labour’s own “No” campaign. This is because Labour has more to lose than any other party if Scotland becomes independent as they rely on the Scottish vote to get them in power. After separation they will have nothing like enough votes to ever form a government in England again.

    If as I predict the vote goes their way in 2015 the then Scottish independent government will be negotiating with Labour. Do you really think those negotiations will go well or be over in the two years as Salmond predicts; I don’t think so. Any Westminster government will want at least 40% of the oil offshore, no way will they agree to Scotland not accepting their share of the UK’s debt. These negotiations will go on for years and a Labour government will be like Rottweiler’s compared to the rest of the Westminster mob.

    Derick, you and those like you don’t think far enough ahead, they may win the vote and separation is on the cards but the final details have to be hammered out. You all call the Westminster government a den of thieves and many of you use this as an argument to be free of them. Yet you al forget they will have the final say and if they don’t get what they want it will go to an international court. I bet that the negotiations will take a minimum of ten years before a deal is done. The only way you could prove otherwise would be to say the Westminster government are a bunch of gentlemen and men of honor and if that were so why would you need independence.


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