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Letters / Serious trouble

I seem to have upset a couple of cybernat lefties with my most recent letter (Darling’s behaviour exemplary; SN, 11/09/14). Sorry about that – I do apologise … a bit.

I have to admit, though, that I was tempted to vote ‘Yes’ myself for short a time, purely for the juvenile satisfaction of being able to contribute to Salmond’s crestfallen look if he were to win the vote next Thursday; only to realise that his arrogance and hubris had just crashed the economy of an entire country. I eventually talked myself out of that idea, because I’m not really that reckless and irresponsible – but it wasn’t easy.

On further reflection, though, and having seen the latest news, I now realise that Scotland’s fate probably won’t be decided solely (if at all) by the outcome of a democratic plebiscite next Thursday.

Instead, it will be decided by the money men and Scotland’s major employers (such as HMRC, the banks, the financial services industry, the Royal Navy on Clydeside, and the oil companies), if or when they come to the conclusion that Scotland is no longer a place where they can safely afford to try to conduct business. That scenario could arise whether or not Scotland votes successfully for independence in one week’s time – because those operators will take their cue from the underlying attitude on the part of the SNP (in particular), and not from immediate events.

If they were to withdraw support, Scotland’s six major centres of habitation – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and Perth – would very quickly go to the wall, and end up resembling the post-Thatcher ghost towns of the Yorkshire mining areas. It’s part of the downside of not having a manufacturing economy to produce the country’s wealth.

In the case of the oil companies, their situation of protected pre-eminence in the world could be changed quite suddenly – by one single respected scientist deciding that he was too old and worn-out to care about what happened to him as a result, refusing to be gagged any longer by the establishment, and breaking ranks by publishing what every designer of internal combustion engines of any kind has to know, in order to work in that industry.

If the use of refined petroleum products for vehicle propulsion were to be proscribed, the oil industry would immediately be forced into losing about 40 per cent of its business worldwide. In a way, I’m surprised that that hasn’t happened already – but then again maybe not, considering how much we’re all in thrall to the need for mechanical transport.

My point here is that if the Scottish independence lobby is pinning its hopes and expectations of future finance on taxation of a commodity whose use could suddenly be proscribed on safety grounds, causing the tax take to go to zero in one jump, then I don’t see any future at all for Scotland as a country, and not much for the UK either.

And before anyone starts wittering on about “here we go – it’s that old chestnut about too much carbon dioxide in the air”, it’s not. It’s about the simple, chemical truth that burning one metric tonne of vehicle fuel produces more than one metric tonne of ‘new’ water, which is then ejected (as part of the exhaust gases, along with huge amounts of carbon dioxide) straight out into the atmosphere as an invisible gas (steam, in fact, which carries a great deal of heat with it), and then gradually finds its way back into the oceans. This isn’t ‘nutcase science’ – it’s simple combustion chemistry, the kind that I learned at school fifty-odd years ago, and it is a major contributing reason for rising sea levels and the ever-increasing violence that we see (but pretend that we don’t really understand) in the weather.

If Scotland’s future is tied to the continued success of the oil industry, then in my honest opinion that country is already in serious trouble.

Just elucidating a few points here … happy voting next Thursday. Don’t get it wrong.

Philip Andrews