Mark Carney’s message is clear.

Mark Carney's message is clear

Mark Carney’s message is clear: families and businesses across the whole of the UK will benefit from the fall in oil price, but the oil industry in Scotland will pay the price (Cover today). Furthermore, Scotland’s deficit, which was already greater than that of the rest of the UK, is set to worsen considerably as oil revenues fall. Jim Murphy has outlined how  taxation collected elsewhere in the UK can be used to offset this – resources will be pooled and used in the UK where needed most.

We know that the current Scottish Government is ideologically opposed to this concept, and would prefer that Scotland could manage this situation alone as an independent state or under a Home Rule setup within the UK. To those on the left within Scotland’s nationalist movement there surely must be real concerns about the impact that this would have on education, the NHS and welfare. I am sure that they, like me, would be very interested in seeing detailed proposals from the Scottish Government prior to the forthcoming general election if Home Rule is their goal.

Nicola’s lack of leadership on the oil, and how Jim can Benefit


Euan McColm had a good piece in the Scotland on Sunday today relating to Ms Sturgeon’s lack of leadership on the oil price crash. Of course, the problem the First Minister faces is that the crisis simultaneously highlights the problems associated with an economy overly reliant on oil and also the benefits of Scotland being part of the much larger UK economy. The news that the fall in oil price was not even discussed at the Scottish Cabinet meeting this week confirms this point.

The implicit question posed by McColm concerns Alex Salmond – would he have handled the situation differently? He would have and he did. Mid-week, in order to defend his successor, he tried to move our attention back to the SNP’s obsession – constitutional change. However, his suggestion that “Home Rule” could be won in May’s General Election quickly fell victim to the oil price crash when its was highlighted that it would  mean Scotland would have to shoulder the full impact alone. Mr Salmond may well view that as a price worth paying, but it would be economic madness.

Amongst all this turmoil, Jim Murphy is gaining credibility by showing leadership in the vacuum created by the Scottish Government – he may even have momentum. In my view, he needs to play a subtle game however. He must highlight the SNP’s weakness on oil economics without alienating the left-leaning Yes voters with “I told you so” rhetoric. He needs to keep the focus on public services and the impact the SNP’s oil economics would have on them. He needs to encourage left-leaning Yes voters to judge the SNP on their record, not their constitutional nirvana.