The No campaign are most excited that an American corporate boss has come out against independence: Mr Bob Dudley, of BP. So here are his arguments:

  • Great Britain is great and should stay together“. This is at best the most spurious form of British nationalism, at worst a kind of empty nominative determinism. Let’s file this with “the dictionary definition of marriage is one man and one woman” and move on.
  • There’s a “question mark” over which currency Scotland will adopt. Yes, absolutely, there is. If Yes wins in September, it will be up to the parties to propose their preferred options for Scotland’s currency future, and then for the people to decide. Deciding now would be undemocratic. Sorry if that’s inconvenient for your accountants, but oil will continue to be denominated in dollars, so in practice this would affect BP less than most other businesses.
  • There are “big uncertainties” for the firm (non-specific). Sure. All those whose current position is feather-bedded and backed by government are likely to have concerns about greater democracy. This counts as classic FUD, and therefore very appealing to Project FUD.
  • All businesses have a concern..” Well, opinion is divided. Some business people are more concerned about independence, while others are more concerned about the status quo. As a business person, even one with a direct commercial interest in Scotland’s over-governance, my main concerns are about the status quo.
  • It would create extra costs for our business..” This is the closest thing to reasonable on his list. In fact, that’s probably true, but the wider financial pros and cons are in part also subject to democracy. If the SNP win the first election after a Yes vote, they’ll presumably try to cut taxes on big business. If they need Green votes, they’ll find that harder. Personally I hope independence would reduce BP’s revenue, too, as an independent Scotland seems just a touch more likely to take climate change seriously and to restrict drilling in sensitive areas. Just a touch, given the way the other four parties at Holyrood voted on a deepwater moratorium. But this is the firm that delivered the largest marine oil spill in history, and even the most pro-oil of the other parties presumably don’t want to see Scotland’s coastline go the way of the Gulf of Mexico. Let’s pause for a minute on that thought.


In any case, what is he suggesting BP would do if we win? Hand their lucrative North Sea fields back to the Scottish Government? Just sit on them and hope for reunification? It’s the oil equivalent of Jim Davidson and the like, odious right-wingers who threaten to leave Britain if Labour wins an election, and just as likely to happen. Regrettably.

As it happens, Mr Dudley also came out against a 50p tax rate for the richest section of society today. It’s no coincidence, either. His interests, both personal and commercial, are not aligned with society’s best interests, especially those who Westminster cares little about: and both the positions he set out today illustrate that perfectly.

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