Socialist Worker

Politicians vie to back up oil barons in Scottish independence row

MPs’ rows over Scottish independence focus on helping the bosses, writes Raymie Kiernan

Issue No. 2392

Alex Salmond joins bosses to launch a strategy for oil and gas in 2012

Alex Salmond joins bosses to launch a strategy for oil and gas in 2012 (Pic: Scottish Government/flickr)


Politicians from the Westminster and Scottish governments descended on oil city Aberdeen on Monday of this week.

They held two cabinet meetings just miles apart from each other and talked about their plans for North Sea oil and gas.

They tried to out-do each other on who could better protect bosses’ profits.

In a strange coincidence, oil billionaire Sir Ian Wood’s government-commissioned review of the offshore oil and gas industry published its report on the same day. 

It said that up to 24 billion barrels of oil could still be available.

Sir Ian enthused in his review, designed to maximise profits, that “there is a huge prize at stake”. He called for a new business-friendly regulator to be brought in “as quickly as possible”.

Tory David Cameron said he would fast-track the proposals. 

And he grabbed the chance to argue against Scottish independence, saying that only the British state’s “deep pockets” could efficiently exploit the vast natural wealth.

Scotland’s first minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond launched an attack on Westminster “thieves”. 

But he added that he “wholeheartedly” agreed with the plan for a new industry regulator.

Both parties fell over each other to court the oil barons and promote a plan designed to further serve their interests.

Sickening

The spectacle will be sickening for ordinary people suffering Tory austerity. 

And it was a depressing sight for voters in Scotland wondering how the independence referendum result might affect them.

The Scottish Trade Union Congress’ (STUC) said the debate on independence has focused on issues “irrelevant” to trade unionists.

But workers are “more attracted to” the Yes campaign, according to general secretary Grahame Smith.

The STUC said the referendum should be “an exciting opportunity to reawaken a debate on social justice and equality”.

It challenged those supporting more devolution instead of independence, particularly Labour, to offer a vision of how things could be different.

Delegates from the civil servants’ PCS union in Scotland gathered to debate the union’s stance on independence last Saturday.

Scottish deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke at it and promised to protect civil service workers’ jobs in an independent Scotland.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay presented the unionist argument. But he confused many when he finished by saying, “I will be voting No for change”.

The meeting followed an extensive consultation, including a survey polling members on the key issues influencing their vote. 

The defence of public services was the top priority. Many contributions attacked Tory austerity and the failure of Labour to offer an alternative.

Three quarters of delegates voted for the PCS to neither recommend a Yes or a No vote, and a quarter voted to support the Yes campaign.

It is disappointing that the union, representing 30,000 workers in Scotland, didn’t declare its support for a Yes vote in the referendum.

Yet the unionists suffered a huge blow—receiving not a single vote.


PROTEST AT THE TORY CONFERENCE - Saturday 15 March, Edinburgh. Assemble 11am at The Mound. See fb.me/1htt8qo for more details
ACTION AGAINST AUSTERY CONFERENCE - Sunday 16 March, 12 noon - 5pm, Teviot Building, University fo Edinburgh, 13 Bristo Square, EH8 9AJ. Register at bit.ly/OxOnzg

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