North Sea oil industry still strong



Judging by the competition for licences in the most recent round of bidding, there is still a great deal of commercial interest in extracting North Sea oil. In this round, 80% of the blocks have been taken by a wide range of companies from the large such as BP and Statoil as well as smaller emerging companies like Aberdeen-based Speedwell, Actis and Jetex

‘Industry expert’ Paul de Leeuw from Robert Gordon University has said:

‘Over the last few years, the industry has been predominantly focused on reducing cost and improving efficiency,…So it is great to see that there is a renewed appetite for competing in licencing rounds….Given the challenging circumstances over the last few years and the competition with other basins around the world, it is very positive that around 80% of the blocks on offer were awarded in this supplemental round.

This would seem to contradict the words of Nexen UK boss who recently described North Sea Oil as ‘marginal industry.’

Holyrood to automatically get significant increase in the powers and responsibilities as UK leaves EU


This is kind of contrary to the reports I’ve been seeing elsewhere suggesting Brexit could lead to a power grab by Westminster and at the very least a diminution of devolution.

According to the House of Lords EU committee:

‘The Scottish Parliament will automatically receive powers “by default” over fishing and farming once the UK leaves the European Union.’

Here are the key extracts from the report as covered by STV:

‘The committee believes only a change of law setting out what powers are reserved back to Westminster before the UK officially ceases to be in the EU could stop the transfer of responsibilities to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast….We doubt that either the UK Government or parliament has the capacity to undertake such a task at the same time as achieving a successful Brexit…..But the basic fact remains that Brexit will result in more powers for the Scottish Parliament, as has been made clear by the Secretary of State for Scotland when the EU Withdrawal Bill was published.’

Maybe we’ll beat England now as the number of female footballers in Scotland has doubled since 2011



In 2011, there were 5 500 women registered to play football in Scotland. Now there are nearly 13 000!

By the time you read this we might know if our team has beaten England in the opening match in the UEFA Women‘s EURO 2017 finals in The Netherlands. Either way it’s a good news story to see such phenomenal growth in such a short time.

The Scotland Head Coach said:

‘To start against England, I think it’s great to have that game. It will be a very, very, tough game for us but I think I’ts good to be right into the tournament immediately from the first minute.’

Scottish Government to help build over 1000 low cost homes at Western Harbour in Edinburgh with £76 million loan



Forth Ports Authority have bid for the loan to build 1 000 affordable homes on derelict ground in the Western Harbour. You’ll be aware that there is a massive demand for such housing across the UK and that the Scottish government is building twice as many per capita as is the English government.

Big increase in affordable housing supply down to Scottish Government investment

This is a massive build which will make a real difference to the situation in Edinburgh. Those with a joint household income of less than £39,000 and are economically active will be able to apply. The government initiative has been described as innovative by the ports authority.

Ruth and Kezia sob as they hear Scotland is ranked as the best place in the UK to start a business. Will this good news never end?


Credit: PA Images

Good news about the Scottish economy seems endless these days. We’ve recently heard:

Unemployment at record low, employment up, economy growing, youth unemployment amongst lowest in Europe, business confidence increasing, oil jobs returning, health indicators improving to world’s best: That’ll be Norway? No? Scotland!? SNP baaaad!

Now Swedish payments firm iZettle’s survey ranks Scotland as: the best place in the UK to start a business, thanks to five key factors.’

The five factors are:






 According to the survey, reported in the Scotsman, respondents said parents and partners are their biggest champions, believed that having a “warrior spirit” is a key trait to thrive as a small business and if they had the choice they would do it all over again.

Scottish public sector to put poverty and inequality at heart of decision-making despite UK Government’s abandonment of the principle


I wrote this earlier in July:

Our media and political elites are always keen to tell us we’re not so different from our neighbours in England and I do recognise we’re not radically different in that there are selfish individualists here and caring communitarians there but that doesn’t mean the countries are not still different enough in overall tendencies to be seen as worthy of autonomy from each other. I’m thinking of little things that all add up to make us less like England than we’re told. Look at this:

  1. Free bus pass for the over 60s
  2. Free care for the elderly
  3. Superior NHS
  4. Free HE tuition
  5. More GPs per head of population
  6. Compensation for the bedroom tax
  7. Stronger fire and flood safety regulations
  8. Less child poverty
  9. Lower stillbirths and early deaths
  10. Better police/Muslim community relations
  11. No junior doctor strikes
  12. Tories who support the winter heating allowance!

Don’t these add up to evidence of the dominance of a more caring communitarian set of values even in our Tories? You can also add targets for the reduction of child poverty to that that list.

Now the Scottish Government has announced:

‘Tackling inequalities will never be an optional extra for this government – it is core to everything we do. Implementing this duty, and requiring public bodies to put reducing inequalities at the heart of their decision making, is an important step. It further contributes to our actions on inclusive growth, ensuring increased economic prosperity goes hand in hand with a fairer, more equal country….. For the first time, public bodies will be required to set out how their plans will help in reducing poverty. In recent years the number of people living in poverty has shrunk, but poverty has become more concentrated in some communities.

The UK government did include something similar in 2010 but never implemented it so the Scottish Government is ‘pressing on alone’. Says it all?

Scotsman headline is untrue: hate offences against Jews in Scotland are extremely rare by contrast with the rest of the UK?



This was the Scotsman headline yesterday:

‘Hate offences against Jews in Scotland reach worst level on record’

Now read the article in full and you’ll see that ‘Hate offences against Jews in the UK reach worst level on record’ would be accurate but there is absolutely no evidence of such a spike in Scotland presented anywhere in the piece. The headline is either stupid or a lie. First-of-all, for the UK as-a-whole, see this:

‘Anti-Semitic crimes recorded by police forces around the UK increased by 14.9 per cent in 2016, according to data provided following Freedom of Information requests. The total of 1,078 offences registered last year compared to 938 in 2015 and 746 in 2014.’

Now, for Scotland:

Scotland recorded 26 anti-Semitic incidents [only 15 led to charges] in 2016, with new figures revealing that suspected hate offences targeting Jewish victims UK-wide surged for the third consecutive year to reach the worst level on record.’

So, the surge is UK-wide and no evidence that it is present in Scotland is offered. Indeed, with a little simple arithmetic we see the opposite may well be true.

Scotland’s population is 5.295 million. The UK population is 65.14 million. Scotland’s population is therefore 8.13% of the total. So, if the surge to 1 078 cases across the UK was present in Scotland too there would be more than 87 cases in Scotland yet there were only 26 recorded with only 15 charged. So, the Scotsman headline, if honest, should have read something like:

‘Hate offences against Jews in Scotland much less common in Scotland than in other parts of the UK’

Why didn’t it?

Footnote: Scotland is one of the few countries in Europe which has never had anti-Jewish pogroms. Indeed many fled to Scotland to escape Edward 1st’s anti-Jewish pogrom in the Middle Ages.