‘Scotland’s debts cut as black gold boosts coffers’


(c) filmrise.com

I’ve just posted this wee extract from Energy Voice to show how the GERS figures might have been headlined in MSM headlines. Here’s a wee bit of what they said:

‘Scotland’s deficit has been cut to £13.3billion over the past year. Much is due to positive developments in the oil sector. Oil receipts rose for the first time since 2011, growing from £56million in 2015-16 to £208million in 2016-17, according to the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) figures.’

Needless to say you don’t want to read on, as Nicola tamely accepts we need to do better and for reasons I am not clearly not party to, doesn’t mention it would have been a whole lot better if the oil majors had been taxed the way every other producing country did and we’d have had no debt at all. Apologies if I’m overdoing this link but the story really needs to be spread on this scandal.

Re-post: A ploy to undermine the case for Scottish independence as Oil companies making more at $50 per barrel than they did at £100 per barrel yet the UK Government is not taxing them.



23 thoughts on “‘Scotland’s debts cut as black gold boosts coffers’

  1. William Henderson August 24, 2017 / 4:32 pm

    Hello John,

    Your frustration at the want of full exposure is fully understandable but politics has been defined somewhere as ‘the art of the possible’.

    We still don’t know the depths to which WM may sink in the coming struggle and it might be hazardous at this stage to provide them with ammunition they could use to turn the oil majors against us.

    A time for truly professional deployment of political finesse.



  2. johnrobertson834 August 24, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    You have a sharper mind than me but do the oil majors care any more about the UK than they do about us? The corporations float above the nation states doing what they like.


    • William Henderson August 24, 2017 / 6:58 pm

      This old mind of mine couldn’t be described as sharp and I really would hesitate to be compared with you or anyone else.

      On the outlook of the oil companies I have some past experience and I agree with you that they only give a damn about profit and shareholder return. Morality is an indulgence. However, the point I was attempting to make was that they are quite capable of vindictive behavoiour and can be influenced by third parties, especially those who shared early life experiences in school with CEOs and other senior staff. They are, without doubt, a part of the ruling elite.


      • Clydebuilt August 24, 2017 / 8:21 pm

        Did Westminister ensure the Oil Giants remain onside by giving tax breaks.

        SNP were calling for tax breaks to try and save the oil industry in Scotland and reduce redundancies, as were Oil and Gas Professors from Aberdeen.
        So they can’t easily criticise Westminster for giving the industry a tax reduction. Perhaps that’s why Nicola’s saying nothing.


      • johnrobertson834 August 25, 2017 / 7:41 am

        Yes, I agree; interlocking elites as Noam Chomsky calls them. There’s no conspiracy required. They act in their own interests which are also the interests of their class.


  3. Ludo Thierry August 24, 2017 / 7:58 pm

    Hi John – Hi all.

    I think I’m posting off topic so I apologise for that.

    I was looking for the 6 monthly (January 2017 – June 2017) weekly and regional newspaper circulation figures issued by the Audit Bureau of Ciculation (ABC).

    I thought I’d better put a post in quick for public health purposes (ever the Scottish NHS geezer me). The reason for my concern being the news item suggesting The Scotsman was the best performing title in this category – allegedly enjoying a 4.5% year-on-year circulation RISE to 21,214 daily sales estimate.

    Fortunately some gent (who is much cleverer than I ) managed to locate and link to the relevant ABC certificate which offers a rather clearer picture of the situation.

    Apparently the Scotsman figures of 21,214 break down as:

    Full Rate (ie paid for as marked) – 9,975
    Below Full Rate – 5,895
    Mutiple copy sales – 5,344

    The certificate states ‘74.8% paid’ – so the description of ‘Multiple copy sales’ is perhaps somewhat misleading? The breakdown for these Multiple copy ‘sales’ is given as:

    Airside and international rail – 3,890
    Hotels – 696
    Trains – 471
    others – 297

    So – the alternative story of the daily ‘sale’ for The Scotsman seems to be:

    retail, single copy and subscription sales – 15,870
    big discount/? giveaways – 5,344

    So – far from the stated 4.5% year-on-year ‘rise’ being suggested – an alternative interpretation suggests a 12.1% year-on-year decline.

    I suggest each of us select the interpretation of the figures that best fits with our daily experience of Scottish life – I know which one my money’s on!

    That suggested 12.1% y-o-y decline fits much more realistically with the remainder of the Scottish titles’ performances (see below):

    P+J – circulation (49,475) y-o-y decline = 8.8%

    Herald – circulation (27,655) y-o-y decline = 9.0%

    Courier – circulation (37,142) y-oy decline = 9.9%

    Aberdeen Evening Express – circulation (23,960) y-o-y decline = 12.7%

    Glasgow Evening Times – circulation (22,397) y-o-y decline = 12.8%

    Dundee Evening Telegraph – circulation (13,977) y-o-y decline = 14.5%

    Sunday Herald – circulation (19,859) y-o-y decline = 8.1%

    Aberdeen Citizen – circulation (40,439) y-o-y decline = 5.5%

    The combined Scottish print press seem to have some kind of death-wish. It’s well reported that the print press across much of the globe is in decline – but the lemming -like propensity of the Scottish variety is passing strange.

    To consistently alienate (and denigrate) half of your potential market is stupidity of an epic proportion. The inevitable results can be seen in these latest (24/08/17) 6 monthly ABC figures.

    I urge everyone to look at the ‘circulations’ for the various titles – then ask yourselves: “Why is BBC Scotland framing its entire news and current affairs coverage around the various agendas set by these tiny and dwindling ‘news’ papers?”

    Thanks all, Ludo


    • johnrobertson834 August 25, 2017 / 7:43 am

      Fantastic Ludo. Mind if I post this as a free-standing piece to get more attention for it?


  4. gavin August 24, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    A theory.
    Indyref2 is 4, maybe 5 years off.
    Westminster could afford to be generous to the oil biggies in the latter years, as it was more important to destroy Scotland’s balance sheet than to generate revenue for UK PLC.
    When Brexit bites (and it will), then oil taxation will need rise to partly cover the loss of funds due to the shortfall in trade Brexit will inevitably bring.
    Then as a consequence. Scotland will be “solvent” in the GERS figures as well as in the reality we all know to be true.
    The danger is that the UK State, will try to minimise and destroy the independence movement BEFORE then.


  5. Jon August 25, 2017 / 8:12 am

    Aelinating half your prospective readership is not a business model designed to succeed commercially. Leading to the question , are these papers subsidised propaganda tools of the Westminster establishment.


    • johnrobertson834 August 25, 2017 / 3:41 pm

      Every corporate media outlet is propaganda regardless of the naive vanities of some writers. Ian Bell got away with it because he was the only one therefore not too damaging and good for their pretence of not being like those nasty Soviet propagandists.


      • Jon August 26, 2017 / 6:59 pm

        Yes, however the question remains. Are they the subsidised propaganda tools of the Westminister establishment?


  6. Ludo Thierry August 25, 2017 / 8:23 am

    Hi John – and Hi Jon – Yes – I couldn’t agree more with your observation. The funding model is mighty strange. how long can these companies ask their shareholders to take the financial pain of pursuing a clearly insane business model?

    John – the site I found the figs on is called holdthefrontpage – but it was difficult locating yesterday’s new figs – Is it OK to post links on this site? – I can post the links to the 3 relevant pages if it helps? – The page for the ‘certificate’ with the confirmed Scotsman figs can’t be accessed from their home page so you need a link.

    In passing – the value of the ABC certificate figures seems somewhat dubious if they are (routinely?) allowing a circulation figure with only 74.8% paid sales.

    Thanks, ludo


  7. Contrary August 25, 2017 / 8:34 am

    Agent provocateurs, they’ve been at it for centuries to upset the balance, to get a reaction, to rile folks and make it look like those that believe in this country’s self determination are some kind of reactionary or revolutionary group, this is not true, self determination is the rational take on the world and the reasonable world view. We are not a protest group, we are a civil society and we should not have to argue with anyone for this view. People that argue otherwise have issues, those that publicly, and privately, try to induce a feeling of outrage are at it and are best blanked. There is very little point in discussing an opinion that’s only objective is to disrupt and cause doubt. Note that I will not be clicking on any link that takes me directly to a newspaper article of such a nature – just encourages them to write more of the sensationalist rile-inducing rubbish. Why should they stop when it gets readership numbers up?

    John, I understand your frustration with the SNP, my only worry is that they are too heavily invested into the establishment – once entrenched they will behave as all other main parties do. But they are working within the system, and are restricted by such. Their lack of emphasis on how GERS is all just invented, estimates, is frustrating but understandable, they are the numbers that Westminster bestows upon us and are what they have to work with. Did the numbers not show that onshore industry has shown the biggest increase in contribution? The SNP have stepped up investment in industries other than oil – getting away from that dependency? We will not be allowed to sit on our fat arses and expect oil to feed us all, because it’s still possible Westminster will destroy the industry, we have to show we have a normal functioning society, despite the odds, and not reliant on any one thing that is controlled elsewhere. Rather than moaning about the SNP struggling to work within the system and restricted by being a government, that needs to work for everyone, we should be exploring ways to get the information we need out there, a way to bypass the extreme bias of the media.

    In saying that, it would be nice if our Scottish government sent back the GERS report, with a big ‘F’ marked on it and the note ‘poor performance, try harder next time’.


    • johnrobertson834 August 25, 2017 / 3:44 pm

      I agree the SNP are becoming like the enemy they initially opposed but paradoxically only they can win. Then we sort them out.


      • Contrary August 25, 2017 / 6:23 pm

        I obviously didn’t make myself clear there about the SNP John! I just meant it was always a consideration, you have to behave like the establishment to work within it, so it’s feasible that they may become – I didn’t mean they had actually BECOME the establishment, far from it, they have social policies for goodness sake – and its only that our establishment breeds unfairness and elitism and greed means that it is not desirable – at some point scotland will have its own establishment. I am sure there will be plenty room for revolutionaries and dissenters etc in the reestablished nation though.


  8. Ludo Thierry August 25, 2017 / 2:10 pm

    Hi John – grabbing a coffee and a v. quick look at holdthefrontpage site – Seems to be much more navigable today.

    Note: The Scotsman’s circulation figs look even fishier now. holdthefronpage observe that The Irish News (Belfast based) have 99.9% of certified circulation drawn from retail, single copy and subscription sales whereas the Scotsman has 74.8% from same (clearly tons of bulks and samples being dished out).

    I saw mentioned that The National isn’t included in these figs – but has an annual audit currently.

    The certificate also described Scotsman’s circulation as ‘UK and ROI’ – with ‘zero’ entered under ‘Other’ (so appears to be nil sales to readers abroad).

    Note; the circulation figs are an average for the weekday and Saturday editions – figs are given for both:

    Mon to Fri average (paid) = 14,943, give-aways = 5,402
    Saturday average (paid) = 20,292, give-aways = 5,066

    Note; the certificate includes monthly averages – and one can actually see the readership falling off month by month:

    January 2017 = daily average = 16,935
    March 2017 = daily average = 15,921
    June 2017 = daily average = 15,395

    Also noticed more bad news for Herald in the website readership figs – these represent the daily average of unique browsers from Jan to June 2017:

    Edinburgh Evening News: (87,103) year-on-year = +42.5%

    Glasgow Evening Times: (90,741) y-on-y = +24%

    Scotsman (123,326) y-on-y = +18.6%

    Herald (92,408) y-on-y = -3.8% (minus 3.8%)

    Northern Echo (64,226) y-on-y = -1.5 (minus 1.5%)

    Thanks, ludo


  9. Clydebuilt August 25, 2017 / 5:39 pm


    “The SNP are becoming the enemy”. , the only people who should be saying that are Unionist parties and their media. Not long ago you wrote a powerful paragraph listing the SNP’s achievements .


  10. Ludo Thierry August 25, 2017 / 5:55 pm

    Hi John – you’ll think you’ve got an ‘obsessive’ on your hands – you don’t (honestly). However, I have had a chance to re-visit the holdthefrontpage site and noticed a few (last – I promise!) interesting things. (well I think they’re interesting anyway!)

    If only I was trained in forensic accounting or investigative journalism I would have seen everything in 2 minutes flat – but instead I am having to hone these incipient skills by dedicated application in odd 5 minute blocks when I grab a coffee. Amazing the skills one develops when living in the early days of a better nation.

    1. As mentioned in initial post re. the Scotsman’s ABC certificate. It actually identifies within the 15,870 ‘paid’ average daily copies a further break-down as follows: Retail, single copy and subscription rates = 15,870 (Full rate = 9,975, Below full rate = 5,895). Now – I’m no expert, but, if the differentiation has been made here between ‘Full rate’ and ‘Below full rate’ then the remainder – the 5,344 described as ‘Multiple copy sales’ must, surely, be ‘Below’ below full rate? – ie freebies dished out because nobody has any interest in purchasing them.

    2. I learned that Johnston Press announced their latest half-year financial figs on 02/08/17 as follows:

    Regional publisher Johnston Press has recorded a £16.2m operating profit for the first half of 2017 despite a 3.6pc drop in revenues.

    In its latest financial results published today, the group singled out its ‘big city titles’ such as the Sheffield Star and Portsmouth News for their strong contribution to overall profitability.

    The group’s performance was also bolstered by the i newspaper, which delivered a 28.6pc increase in revenues.

    The 3.6pc overall revenue fall compares with the 14pc drop reported by fellow publisher Trinity Mirror earlier this week.

    (Note the continuing ‘drop’ in revenues and the ‘plan’ to focus on the ‘big City titles’ – I really wonder if the Scotsman can still fall into that bracket given what we’ve seen with their continuing significant decline and ‘false’ sales figures?)

    3. Following the release of the half-year financial statement a new investor purchased just over 5% of the share capital – this interest brought the share price ‘surging’ up by 20% to a whopping £0.165 (16.5p). Interestingly the purchaser is a Norwegian businessman of (reported) huge wealth (although has been living in London since 1990’s):

    A Norwegian investor whose firm owns the Swedish version of the Metro has bought a 5pc stake in UK regional publisher Johnston Press.

    Christen Ager-Hanssen, left, who is reckoned to be worth £2.5bn, has unveiled ambitious plans for the group and says he intends to increase his investment further over time.

    The businessman, once regarded as Norway’s richest man but based mainly in London since the 1990s, purchased a 5.14pc stake in JP on Wednesday.

    Johnston Press shares have surged by nearly 20pc in the wake of the deal to stand at 16.5p.

    Over recent years JP has paid off tens of millions of pounds worth of debt accumulated during the 1990s when it bought up scores of UK newspaper titles, but it still has £220m worth of bonds due to be repaid by 2019.

    But in an interview with a national newspaper published today, Mr Ager-Hanssen vowed to help it sort out the bond issue, indicating that he had lined-up other investors to help take on the debt.

    “I believe in the company and I think that they will be able to sort out the bond issue and that we can help them do that,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

    “I think we need to move quite quickly. This is something that will happen over the next six months.”

    Interesting that he talks about lining up other investors to ‘sort out’ the impending bond roll-over. Also interesting that he talks about ‘moving quite quickly..’ and defines a 6 month time-frame.

    Could it be that this sort of investor won’t be quite as willing to sit quietly and encouragingly by whilst an element (quite a substantial element) of the company pursue an insane business model in their Scottish operations?

    P.S. – some really interesting ideas re. GERS emerging on Richard Murphy’s site today.

    Thanks, and a good weekend to all, ludo


  11. johnrobertson834 August 25, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    Wow! you really should do your own blog as well as keeping me company too of course. This is fascinating detail.I’ll repost on my FB page to attract readers to your comments.


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