North Sea oil rig Comment Lower oil and gas prices set to hit Scotland’s underlying public finances – IFS

Drivers in Scotland facing crippling new costs as Nicola Sturgeon urged to drop ‘triple-whammy tax’ – GB News

Scottish independence: Support for Yes drops if voters think it will cost them money – Daily Record

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Scots are far less likely to back independence if they believe it will cause public spending to drop, the introduction of a hard border, or the pound being replaced, a new poll has found.

A survey carried out by Survation on behalf of pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union found that 50 per cent of those asked would be less likely to vote Yes in a referendum if it meant their personal income was reduced.

Respondents were given a number of scenarios around the question: ‘If you thought the following scenarios were likely to occur as a result of Scottish independence, would this make you more or less likely to vote for independence?’.

The introduction of a hard border between Scotland and England could dominate any future referendum campaign.

41 per cent of the people asked in the survey said they would be less likely to vote for independence, compared to 17 who would be more likely if border posts were put up.

If people knew that taxes would increase following independence then 45 per cent of the 1,040 people asked said they would be less likely to vote ‘Yes’, while 36 per cent said they would be neither more or less likely.

The Scotland in Union poll comes days after Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign to end the Union has received a boost.

A survey found a narrow majority in favour of Scottish independence.

The survey, by pollsters Opinium, asked 883 people how they would vote if the referendum question asked was ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’.

Once don’t knows were excluded from the total, 51% said they would vote Yes and 49% said they would vote No.

Here’s all you need to know about the Scotland in Union poll:

Campbeltown wind turbine factory closes permanently – BBC news

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A wind turbine factory in Argyll has been permanently closed, with administrators now selling off equipment used at the site.

Owners CS Wind effectively mothballed the Campbeltown factory, which manufactured offshore and onshore wind farm equipment, in the spring of 2020.

The company said “deteriorating market conditions” had led to a lack of new contracts and declining revenues.

All staff have now either left or been made redundant.

Three-quarters of the 94-strong workforce had already departed in August 2020 with only a handful of staff left running the facility.

The manufacturing plant, located at the Machrihanish Business Park near Campbeltown, was bought by CS Wind, a South Korean firm, in 2016.

At the time it was Britain’s only UK facility for manufacturing onshore and offshore wind towers.

It previously went into administration in 2011 before a partnership between Scottish and Southern Energy and Marsh Wind Technology saved the factory.

After CS Wind failed to secure major work with the Kincardine and Triton Knoll offshore projects in 2019, the majority of the staff were made redundant.

At the time the Unite union called the move a “major blow to Scotland’s renewables manufacturing capacity.”

“Market conditions” are being blamed for CS Wind (UK) being wound up, yet market conditions for wind power have never looked better.

Thousands of towers are required for turbines being planted in the North Sea, with a huge further boost planned in the next 10 years.

Existing onshore windfarms are being renewed after 25 years of torque and tension from generating power.

So there must be other explanations for the repeated failure to make the Campbeltown factory into a success story.

Part of the problem is thought to be the South Korean ownership failing to give the plant the support it needed in the past five years. There’s been a stand-off with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which provided public funding.

But there is a wider question about the failure to link the renewable power revolution to a manufacturing base in Scotland.

The Scottish government sunk more than £37m in three BiFab yards in Fife and Lewis for fabricating offshore platforms. That also went into administration.

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Holyrood scraps plan for public energy company – Daily Business

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A plan to set up a state-owned energy company has been dropped by the Scottish Government, Daily Business has learned.

Four years after promising a state-backed company delivering low cost power, ministers are now focusing efforts on a “new dedicated national public energy agency” that will be more of an advisory body.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told delegates at the party’s 2017 conference that the government would create a not-for-profit energy company promising low prices for consumers.

It would buy its energy on the wholesale market or generate it in Scotland – from renewable sources.

Since then there has been little sign of progress and in June this year, Green co-leader and now government minister Lorna Slater, criticised Ms Sturgeon for not moving fast enough on the plan.

At the weekend Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said the new SNP-Green partnership made no mention of the energy company plan in a 50-page joint policy statement.

“It’s astonishing there is not a single mention of a public energy company in the SNP and Green coalition agreement,” he said. “It adds to an ever-increasing list of broken promises from the Scottish Government.”

Labour, he said, has been calling for the proposed company to move beyond the paper stage so that it can start supporting the development of renewable energy in Scotland.

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Leaving Union would be Brexit times ten, says Sturgeon adviser – The Times

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A leading economist appointed to Nicola Sturgeon’s panel of advisers has warned that the damage from tearing up the 300-year-old Union between Scotland and England risks being equivalent of “Brexit times ten”.

Mark Blyth, professor of international economics at the Watson Institute of Brown University in Rhode Island, was announced as a member of Sturgeon’s council of economic advisers in July amid claims that it would “bring forward bold ideas that will transform the economy”.

Events facing axe over vaccine passport plan – Daily Business

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Some events planned for Scotland may be cancelled or moved to other parts of the UK if the Scottish Government does not respond to concerns over vaccine passports.

A business chief says that losing big events just as the sector is getting back on its feet would be another blow for the economy.

Vaccine passports will become mandatory to enter nightclubs, big music concerts and top football matches under new plans unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron has issued a list of seven key concerns in a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Among them is a warning that vaccination certification “would add yet another layer of administrative burden to sectors that have already been amongst the hardest hit”.

Ms Cameron adds: “Through our initial conversations with businesses, we understand those operating in the live events sector are putting in place contingency plans including considering cancelling events or re-organising for elsewhere in the UK, putting Scotland at a further economic disadvantage.”

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Sturgeon’s independence chaos means business moving to England – Daily Express

THERE is much talk of Covid Recovery in Scotland. We even have the newly appointed Covid Recovery Minister John Swinney who has left the heat of education before he can be burned by the long awaited OECD Report.

Mr Swinney has latterly styled himself as Ms Sturgeon’s ally and protector but I suspect he now faces a dichotomy. Will he push the nationalists’ interests or will his previous financial head return and will he give sound advice on the reality that Scottish businesses face? The business sector has been ravaged by the political management of Covid. Sectors such as Leisure and Tourism are on their knees and desperate for some reassurance that normality can return, whilst Brexit bumps have not been helped by the Nationalists’ desire to return control to the EU.

But in Scotland there is also a hidden danger to jobs and prosperity and that is the conversation about IndyRef2.

During the last Scottish Independence Referendum, the SNP wanted us to believe that there would be no impact to businesses and jobs, trade would continue uninterrupted they told us.

But we were not convinced. Cartoonists sketched pictures of a triumphant Alex Salmond waving the Saltire whilst a queue of lorries labelled with familiar names headed south and many business owners spoke in hushed tones about what the risk might be and if they should start making contingency plans.

This time the conversations are not so hushed and the economy not so buoyant. Businesses’ have had to dig deep to weather the Covid pandemic and are just adjusting to life outside the EU.

The last thing they need now is the uncertainty and disruption of another referendum. For many years interest rates have been low and inflation virtually non-existent.

This has enabled companies to invest and grow but uncertainty is now creeping in.

The less optimistic are anticipating inflation rising and with that the inevitable increase in interest rates. Those of us that remember the massive interest hikes in the Eighties rightly express serious concern at the impact a repeat of this scenario would have when so many people have mortgages and borrowings that far exceed the level of debt in the Eighties.

The idea that into that uncertainty you could add the break-up of the UK is unthinkable for those entrepreneurs and business owners who do not get their income from the Government purse.

Scotland’s businesses would face devaluation of their assets as the country tried to set up its own currency or used sterling without being part of a monetary union.

Borrowing would be at best difficult, at worst impossible, without huge interest rates.

A hard border would appear with our largest market, with over 60 percent of our current trade going to the rest of the UK, and we would be excluded from all existing trade deals with the rest of the world as we sat waiting to gain membership of the EU.

If another independence referendum is called the very real questions are; how many businesses will choose to invest in Scotland; how many will start moving their operations elsewhere; how many will make contingency plans to do so in the event of a vote in favour of leaving the Union.

For business’ the decision to leave Scotland is not a matter of the heart, it is a matter of the head, it is about survival and growth. The sad news that McVities are on the brink of closing their operations in Glasgow was met with a comment from an SNP MP that he wouldn’t allow them to leave.

How naive was this statement? It doesn’t matter how politically powerful you might be, business must trade and operate profitably to survive.

If a Government does not provide a taxation and market framework in which they can exist then they will simply close their doors and move to somewhere that does.

And sometimes they simply decide that their business model is changing and there is no longer the need for a particular plant in a particular country and that is business.

In all the rhetoric that comes out of Holyrood the often-deafening silence in support of the wealth creating sector, has left many businesses owners feeling devalued in Scotland.

The seeming inability of the nationalists to understand and recognise the very real risks of their emotionally driven cause of separation has made many question whether remaining and investing in Scotland is the right direction of travel.

How long will it take and how much damage will be done before the realisation sets in that without a vibrant wealth creating sector, the public sector, on which Scotland has made itself so dependent, will collapse.

Sometimes it is not the event itself that causes destruction, but the actions taken in anticipation.

This time round there is the possibility that people wont wait and businesses will act because they are tired of the uncertainty regardless of the outcome.

Our elected members are there to represent the best interests of Scotland and its people lets hope that this ‘diverse’ Parliament can see beyond the ends of their noses.

Where Is the Economic Case for Scottish Independence? – Bloomberg

Getting a touch ahead of events, the New York Times noted last week that the recent electoral victories of the Scottish National Party could lead to “the biggest blow to a British prime minister since Lord North lost the colonies in America.”

The markets took a different view. In Monday morning’s trading, after the election results were clear, sterling rose against the dollar and the euro — a vote of confidence in a U.K. economy that is bouncing back quickly thanks to a successful vaccine rollout.

I recommend trusting the markets, not the newspaper pundits, on this one. The threat of an independent Scotland hasn’t gone away, but the U.K. government still has many cards to play to preserve the most durable union in democratic history.

Support for a referendum on independence actually fell during Scotland’s mid-terms election campaign. The most recent polls have shown 47% against and 44% in favor, while crucial undecided voters remains at 9%. Only a quarter of Scots would like a referendum this year or next, and 45% want one in the lifetime of the new Scottish parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, changed her tune accordingly during the campaign. She told voters that a vote for the SNP was “not voting for independence.” In 2014 the nationalists lost the referendum by a 10-point margin. This time around, rather than making an overt pitch for “Indyref2,” she emphasized separateness from England on key policies.

Once she secured an impressive fourth term in office for her party, just shy of an outright majority, she immediately went back to demanding a referendum. If she hadn’t, she would have faced the fury of party fundamentalists, which shows the delicacy of her position. That the combined vote share of the unionist parties barely tipped 50% doesn’t bode well for her.

Most likely, her aim now will be to goad U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson into behaving like an autocratic George III or Lord North, denying the Scottish people their democratic rights (the Union with England in 1707 was voluntary).

Sturgeon will plug away at issues that put Edinburgh at odds with London, and when the time is right, she’ll put a referendum bill before the Scottish parliament at Holyrood and dare Johnson to veto it. If he blocks her, she can take her case to the U.K. Supreme Court.

Supporters of the 300-year-old union are divided about how best to respond to this prospect of legal warfare. One faction believes that Johnson shouldn’t refuse Sturgeon’s referendum demand outright. Playing for time, the prime minister should make a positive case for the U.K. and give support to distressed areas of Scotland — in other words, remind poorer voters of the risk of departure. The U.K. government could also try harder to claim credit for its vaccine success, which many Scots attribute to Sturgeon even though procurement was organized by London.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has an overwhelming interest in keeping left-leaning Scotland within the U.K. too. His lawyerly seriousness may prove more appealing to the Scots than Johnson’s buffoonery.

Opponents of this “make nice” strategy believe that throwing money at Scotland and handing over more devolved powers to Holyrood (the so-called “devo-max” proposal) will only feed the appetite for independence. After all, 25 years ago Labour promised that “devolution will kill nationalism stone dead.” Instead, the SNP replaced Labour as the party north of the border. The European Union badging its grants to U.K. projects didn’t prevent Brexit.

A third course is advocated by those who won the referendum battle in 2014: The SNP should be forced to show its hand on what a negotiated divorce settlement with London would look like as the price of a referendum. Lord North’s opponent, George Washington, famously “couldn’t tell a lie.” Sturgeon should be made to tell the truth. The SNP have had many years in which to lay out their blueprint for an independent country. They’ve evaded the hard questions about how one would be run and at what cost.

What, for instance, would an independent Scotland’s currency be? This question is one SNP supporters have found most difficult to settle. Would Edinburgh shadow sterling, launch its own currency or join the euro?

If it shadowed sterling, it would cede control over monetary policy to London without enjoying the benefits of quantitative easing — and decisions over its finances would still be taken in England. If the new nation-state created its own currency, it would be placed at the mercy of international markets for its hefty borrowing requirements. If Scotland eventually joined the euro, the SNP would have to reduce the deficit to the 3% ceiling required under the terms of membership.

Voters would be entitled to ask how the SNP would reduce that deficit, which, according to the politically neutral Institute for Fiscal Studies, has ballooned during Covid from an already heady 9% of GDP to nearing a vertiginous 24%. Although more prosperous than many English regions, Scotland also gains from higher public spending from the central exchequer (£1,630 more per capita). The loss of London’s subsidy would be painful — and hard to make up without a growth spurt.