Friday, 16 January 2015

Whose devo max plan?

Hang on a minute! When did it get to be "the SNP's devo max plan"?* It was the British parties and the UK Government, aided and abetted by the British media, who duped people into thinking that devo max was on offer in return for a No vote. If there was a "plan", it was not the SNP's. The SNP's plan was independence.

But, of course, there was no plan to deliver devo max. There was only a clumsy, hastily-contrived plot to persuade people that there was a plan. All the SNP is doing is holding the British parties to account by insisting that they both reveal and act on the plan for devo max/home rule that they led us to believe they had.

And who says that "oil prices have become a central issue in the election fight in Scotland"? The British parties would dearly love to make it so. And the British media is, as ever, cooperating fully. But the rest of us are well able to recognise brazen political opportunism when we see it. Those of us not fatally blinkered by mindless partisan loyalty and/or British nationalist fanaticism are mindful of the sage advice which tells us that when British politicians and the British media combine to focus obsessively on a particular issue it is because they want to divert attention from other issues.

At the very least, sensible people will wonder why the British parties only want to talk about this relatively tiny part of Scotland's economy whilst totally ignoring the other 90% or so.

Oil prices are volatile. That fact alone precludes the price of oil being the "central issue" in an election which will decide the UK Government for the next five years. It cannot be a huge consideration because the price of oil could, quite literally, be anything at all within that five year period. It could, as it historically has done, fluctuate between $2 and $146. There is no more way of knowing what the price will be in 2016 or 2019 than there was a way of predicting the current price in 2012.

When making their decision on 7 May, how are voters to factor in something which cannot possibly be known? And why would they fail to factor in the underlying strength of the Scottish economy without taking oil into account?

The real question facing voters is not some guess as to what the price of oil might be at some time in the future. The question is one of who the people of Scotland can trust to manage an economy in which oil plays a small, if significant part. A glance at the record of successive UK Governments should leave nobody in any doubt that it is long past time to bring Scotland's government home, and with it the management of our nation's resources.

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