One of the most pernicious lies plied on Scotland by British nationalists is the one about Scotland being a poverty-stricken country, perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy, begging for hand-outs. Considering Scotland’s been ruled by Westminster almost 300 years yet apparently none the better for it, that’s quite a con-trick. And moving Scotland’s Maritime Boundary to steal the oil was another.
England, not Scotland, is the nation prone to bankruptcy, not only economically. The saddest part is how many intelligent, patriotic Scots – as far as they dare be without impediment to their ambitions – actually believe Scotland has little or no wealth of its own sufficient to exist as an autonomous state. Their only answer is the lie they are taught to repeat: “We can’t afford it”.
False Accounting and GERS
How wealthy is Scotland? To squeals of pain from Scotiaphobes, we learn from an eminent, non-partisan English economist and chartered accountant that the UK Treasury system of calculating Scotland’s annual wealth called GERS – Government Expenditure and Revenue, Scotland – is pure hogwash.
Professor Richard Murphy explains most of it is estimation based on conjecture. One might as well ask a blind granny to stick a pin into a bingo card.
The figures are a faux summary inapplicable to the calculation of Scotland’s income and expenditure as an autonomous state. They were conjured out of thin air to befuddle the Left, particularly the nationalists, ensuring neither get near the truth. That some aspects are endorsed by a brow-beaten Scottish Government is neither here nor there. They have nothing else to go on, and the UK Treasury is in no mood to provide the true figures. But think of the logic: you only con a nation when its wealthy enough to steal from it. If poor find an easier mark.
Professor Murphy goes further. He suggest they do not help England to know better how it should shape its annual expenditure in the modern world. Both nations deserve far better. Murphy is not the first to show GERS is so much nonsense, but his report comes from the intellect and reputation of an expert who does not vote SNP, nor advise the SNP.
Thus a central shibboleth of Unionist dogma collapses.
Darien – myth and facts
Darien was Scotland’s attempt to set up a trading post unfettered by English interference. It was never the case Scotland was bankrupt as an outcome of three failed Darien schemes. Money circulation dropped by about a third. Some historians place it at a quarter of money lost to circulation. That isn’t bankruptcy.
After Darien, circulation was strong enough for the English parliament to raise taxes to pay for the loan they provided to bail out the few nobles and clergy who sold their country to the lowest bidder. The Treasury made a fine profit for it provided only half the loan promised, the other half worthless company debentures. England needed Scotland docile, paying for protection. It had wars with Europe to conduct.
The First Great Bankruptcy
Having fought Germany in World War II and the Japanese in Burma, England arrived on the day peace was declared pretty well bankrupt. Churchill himself records that if the Germans had sent a second wave of bombers we might all be speaking German as our first language. The public purse was empty.
America came to the rescue. It had a plan, the Marshall Plan. It was an ideological strategy. The plan offered billions of dollars in loans to war torn European countries so long as they dropped socialist policies. The money had the expressed aim of buying allegiance and gaining trading territories.
The Marshall plan also used money for ‘dark’ operations. It helped finance the corruption of Italy’s 1948 elections, and that agency later moulded into the CIA. The political nature of this plan was not only to keep communists out of the cabinets of Italy and France, goals which were mainly executed through covert means, but also as then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson put it, “a matter of national self-interest.”
The creation of the system is connected to another goal: building up markets for American exports, which George Marshall, who the plan is named after, expressed in a State Department bulletin in early 1948:
“It is idle to think that a Europe left to its own efforts … would remain open to American business in the same way that we have known it in the past.”
It should be apparent to readers why so many right-wing American politicians dislike the existence of a European Union. It’s a threat to US trade routes.
America to the rescue with strings attached
To avert bankruptcy Britain took as much as it was offered, and contrary to popular belief didn’t pay it all back until as late as 2006 – 61 years later – having failed six times to repay it’s annual instalments of over £60 million plus interest. Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the USA almost wholly rests on that loan. Scotland too poor to bail out the collapse of the RBS is bull crap. The UK Treasury paid out from Scotland’s taxes.
For over twenty years the majority of money loaned to the UK and European countries was used to buy American goods, including armaments, all of which benefitted the US economy. American corporations began to appear all over the UK and Europe.
Air bases appeared on Scottish soil as the US ramped up the Cold War with the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc states. At one point there were over 200 military installations in Scotland pointing at the USSR. The MOD still governs large tracts of land. Try asking for Edinburgh’s Pentland Hills back as a public park.
So long as the USA and puppet England warned of evil commie infiltration so long was the UK happy to have US protection. When the Soviet Union collapsed the influence of the US on British life waned. It isn’t for nothing right-wing forces are again doing their level best to make Russia the big bad bogeyman.
Britain grabs another nation’s oil
The Marshall Plan had a secondary agenda. A hidden aim was to displace British power. The USA also needed oil.
In 1953 Britain had about 100 per cent of Iranian oil – called Persia back then, a 2,000 year old civilisation – the oil held by a company called Anglo-Persian. The contracts were complete extortion, a joke.
Persians got next to nothing. England laughed all the way to the bank. Anybody studying that time of English history will see familiar parallels with the way Scotland’s oil was hijacked and then ring-fenced.
But Persia was a rebellious nation. It had a long democratic tradition. Persia’s prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegha, nationalised the oil industry – the right thing to do. It advanced the cause of Persian national sovereignty. As far as he was concerned Persia’s resources belonged to its population.
The US was angry with what it saw as an uprising against British approved theft. In cahoots with the English cabinet and British Intelligence Service, the US arranged a coup – a dab hand at regime change – and installed the authoritarian Shah to the throne. He gave 40% of the oil to the USA as a thank you. The UK got next to nothing. (We installed Saddam Hussein in Iraq to counter Iran’s Islamist anger, and we know how well that ended.)
England was furious to lose its oil revenues. Just as British nationalists talk of Scotland as a poor house, the USA and the UK addressed Persia in disparaging terms as a backwater, its people uneducated. Does that sound familiar?
A New York Times editorial praised the coup. “Underdeveloped countries, [ouch!] with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism.” [My emphasis.]
England has never stopped addressing other nations as inferior – except the USA.
The Second Great Bankruptcy
When the British Government handed over billions in state savings to bail out corrupt banks and financial institutions, instead of keeping the prosperous parts and jettisoning the criminal parts, the UK faced bankruptcy a second time.
“There is worse to come” said one politician after another, probably after switching their investments to a tax haven. Without Scotland’s taxes England is economically vulnerable.
A Third near miss
Incidentally, the Marshall Plan was not the only time London has had to look West for a bailout. In 1976, the UK borrowed £2.3bn from the Washington-based IMF – the International Monetary Fund, after a slump in the pound threatened to turn into a crisis.
By that point it did not realise how much oil was under the North Sea, but a civil servant called Gavin McCrone did in 1974. He advised the British government to stay schtum about Scotland’s wealth in case publicity caused the pesky Scottish natives to rebel.
His report was suppressed for 30 years. McCrone is not on record as objecting.
“It’s Scotland’s oil” ran the SNP posters in the seventies, eventually sending 11 SNP MPs to Westminster. Back in the eighties a Department of Energy report stated “The discoveries of North Sea Oil off Aberdeen is probably the most important event since the Industrial Revolution.”
How to keep it? One: play down reserves. Two: play down Scottish wealth without it.
This they did to great success, and still do despite vast new fields discovered in the last two years. They are still doing it, “deliberately”, to quote an old unionist faux pas.
Alas, the SNP under Willie Wolfe gradually wound down the campaign to regain our oil reserves. They were embarrassed at the slogan ‘Scotland’s oil’ feeling they might be seen as selfish in not sharing it. (I share reader’s exasperation over that climb down.)
The ultra-right-wing Tory, Sir Bill Cash, a chief proponent of getting the UK out of the European Union stated, “North Sea oil is in significant decline and it’s not producing the revenues. Even supposing they [the SNP] can get their hands on North Sea oil because there is an issue about territorial waters, which doesn’t seem to get discussed – they belong to the United Kingdom.” When a Tory says the oil is dwindling you know the opposite is true, there is wealth to harness.
The UK needs Scotland’s wealth, desperately. There is lots more oil to plunder. It’s on the path towards another bankruptcy if it goes on the projected borrowing spree that lifts real debt to over £2 trillion. We can b sure taxes will be increased again. And VAT, and National Insurance, and pensions removed.
England needs Scotland’s wealth
England’s scrofulous behaviour is unforgivable. It removes not only the wealth of friendly nations, but also their civil rights. Everything is done in England’s interests.
When the clunking intellect of Gordon Brown proclaims the United Kingdom stands for “pooling and sharing” it’s card shark speak for fooling and scaring.
So precarious does the world finance houses think UK to be that they withdrew its hallowed triple A status. At various points in our history Scotland was a wealthier nation than England, vastly so when oil arrived. We are probably as wealthy today, per capita.
I repeat: England needs Scotland’s wealth. If it sounds eerily like 1707 it is because it is.
Who in their right mind would cosy up to a nation state that has a record of conducting endless wars, causes multiple-bankruptcies, and steals the wealth of other nations?
Post script: The largest recipient of Marshall Plan money was the United Kingdom (receiving about 26% of the total), followed by France (18%) and West Germany (11%). Some 18 European countries received Plan benefits. Although offered participation, the Soviet Union declined, and blocked benefits to such as East Germany and Poland. It recognised the USA’s hidden agenda.