Tuesday, 25 February 2014
It was a funny old day yesterday in the north east of Scotland. While David Cameron, looking extremely uncomfortable during a visit to a North Sea oil installation, posed for his obligatory photography prior to the UK Cabinet meeting in the granite city, Alex Salmond and his cabinet colleagues met just a few miles down the A90 in Portlethen.
The meetings of the ‘great and good’ were all about oil, hence the rush to the oil capital of Europe. Strangely, for the past decade or so, UK politicians have been constantly reminding us beleaguered Scots that the oil is running out so fast there would be nothing left by 2020, yet with only seven years to go, yesterday David Cameron insisted the UK government is best placed to manage our oil and gas industries.
Of course the UK government wants to hang on to the union’s greatest asset, who wouldn’t? Yesterday Cameron pledged a ‘revolution in North Sea oil and gas extraction worth up to £200 billion over two decades, but this will only be affordable if the union stays together.’ Ouch! Telling us Scots that we can’t manage our own oil and gas industries wasn’t a smart move. It was a bit late in the day for Ed Davey, the UK energy secretary, to announce ‘... a world first: making sure that we can capture the carbon emissions from gas plants in Peterheid in Aberdeenshire and those carbon emissions will be stored safely and securely under the North Sea.’ On radio Alex Salmond stated, ‘We can dae that tae nae bother’ - deflating Mr Davey’s grand gesture with his few simple words.
More and more I wonder if David Cameron silently supports independence. It would solve some difficulties for the Uk government, not least the disappearance of 50 Scottish MPs. The Barnet consequential would also, as if by magic, no longer be a thorn in the sides of middle England. His Hug-A-Jock visit yesterday did little to endear the undecideds.
If there was a winner in yesterday’s Battle of the Cabinets, Alex Salmond and his henchmen and women won hands down. I’m sure there was a collective sigh of relief when David Cameron and his cohorts crossed the border later and it could be that some then realised why the last UK Tory cabinet meeting in Scotland was in 1921.
However, not all was rosy in Alex Salmond’s world yesterday. Chris Deerin wrote a scathing piece in the Mail about Scotland’s ‘self-preserving politicians who choose the easy option and status quo, rather than the hard graft, confrontation and unpopularity that comes with real leadership’. He asks where is our outrage. I’d like to assure him that not all Scots are happy with the dictatorial manner in which the Scottish government is pushing through bad legislation and paying no heed to public opinion. I have no doubt whatsoever that the SNP will pay for their behaviour at the ballot box though.