Dangerous Scottish Subversives

It would be silly to think that Scotland has escaped the creepy watchful eyes of Britain’s dirty-tricksters in the secret service. We know what they are capable of and what they have done in the past. We have to keep our eyes and ears open.


As the prospect of Scottish independence poses a real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom as a state entity, it stands to reason that the security apparatus of the British state is taking an active interest in our independence movement. Regardless of the rhetoric concerning its value and reliability, Scotland’s North Sea oil continues to be Britain’s most important strategic resource – and maintaining control over this cannot be anything but at the top of the Westminster government’s priorities. It was the wealth generated from Scotland’s oil that transformed the City of London into a global financial centre, and, with the British economy now on the Brexit chopping block, oil has to be considered one of the UK’s last reliable security

 

Unit of Labour @UnitOfLabour

MI5 and GCHQ subversion of the 1984-5 miners’ strike is where we begin to consider UK deep state activity in Scotland now.

 

Scotland’s North Sea oil and London’s control over it is nothing short of a matter of national security, and it is this fact that explicates the need of the British state to deploy its secret state security machinery against the Scottish National Party and the wider independence movement in this country. Without succumbing to paranoia – which is of course a desirable by-product as far as the British administration is concerned – we must familiarise ourselves with the UK security services, its known tactics and prior operations in similar contexts.

Not to be too alarmist, it must be borne in mind that when it comes to the murder of its own citizens and agents these organisations have form. In Scotland there is enough evidence to implicate MI5 and others in the 1985 death – in suspicious circumstances – of the Scottish nationalist and anti-nuclear activist Willie MacRae; enough at least to warrant a full inquiry. Much the same can be said for the 1984 death of Hilda Murrell, that of Dr David Kelly – the “sexed up dossier” whistle-blower – in 2003, and the murder of known MI6 operative Gareth Williams in 2010.

Thanks to the formery MI5 Intelligence Officer and whistle-blower Annie Machon we know the British secret service funded al-Qaeda in Libya, aided in the false conviction of Palestinian Solidarity activists in London, and deliberately ignored coded messages from the Provisional IRA – effectively creating false-flag attacks and letting British citizens die. We are not talking about people with the best moral and ethical standards, and it is unimaginable that they are not operating in Scotland.

Officially, MI5 and GCHQ – the domestic intelligence agencies – rescinded their political brief at the end of the Cold War; giving the secret police – or “special branch” – the task of deep intelligence gathering and the infiltration of “political subversives” – small left-wing and Trotskyist groups, the Militant Tendency, the Socialist Workers Party, and such like. From her experience within MI5 in the mid-1990s Machon is able to confirm that these operations continued unofficially, with the surveillance and wire-tapping of Labour government ministers.

If it true that members of the British government and small, fringe political groups were deemed enough of a security concern to merit the attention of the secret services, then it can be safely assumed Scotland’s political subversives are under active clandestine investigation. Those of us involved in pro-independence politics and activism in Scotland have to be aware that the reach of this unofficial and secretive scrutiny is full-spectrum – reaching from the highest offices of the SNP, Green Party, and Scottish Socialist Party to small local, pro-independence groups. Paranoia will not serve us well, but there are Reds under our beds.

 


Inside MI5 – The Real Spooks (State Propaganda Video)

You can follow Jason Michael at his twitter page @Jeggit or at his webpage The Random Public Journal
Jason Michael is a  Scottish journalist and blogger based in Dublin. Writing on politics and society. Columnist for iScot Magazine and author of the Random Public Journal.

THE OIL DEBATE

 

Oil and gas production in the North Sea has been a highly contentious subject since before extraction began in 1975.  In fact, the SNP increased its vote share in the General Election held in 1974 because of its stance in respect of the oil finds off-shore in Scottish waters. What I remember about this time is watching the same BP film about where north sea oil came from twice in 1976 once in Chemistry and once in Biology

The Independence Referendum in 2014 threw the question of revenue from oil and gas extraction into the centre of the battle for independence.  This was at a point when the unit price of oil was high and Scotland was providing in excess of 90% of off-shore oil and gas extraction tax to the UK Treasury. Scotland provided around 300 billion in tax revenue to the UK Exchequer up to the end of 2012.  If the tax revenue had been allowed to be used in Scotland instead of going to Westminster, the revenue would have given Scotland the opportunity of a £10.57 billion boost to the Scottish economy.

So how does this all work?

The Oil & Gas Authority issue licenses for extraction from oil and gas fields every two years.  We are presently at a supplementary round 29 (licences have not yet been granted).  Tax revenue collected in respect of oil and gas extraction off-shore is assigned to an economic region set up by the UK Government called the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). This economic region is set off-shore and the revenue is not assigned to Scotland or England although it does go direct to the UK Treasury.

If Scotland becomes independent then it would expect its share of oil and gas revenue to be re-assigned from UKCS to Scotland, however no agreement has ever been reached as to how and where the dividing lines lie. Professor Alex Kemp of Aberdeen University suggested in 2013, before the first Independence Referendum, that the “median line” principle was one that would most likely be used it was the method used to agree territory between Norway and the UK in respect of oil extraction from the North Sea in 1965. This principle more importantly was used when deciding what were the dividing lines between Scottish, English and Irish Fishing territories.  The precedent has therefore been set and a line on a map already drawn. There has, not unsurprisingly, been some dispute over this line, because it has too many curves and favours Westminster more than Scotland.  In this same BBC 2013 report in respect of what is Scottish and what is English, Professor Scheffer, director of the Centre of International Human Rights at Northwest University in the US, suggested, for example,  “I don’t think that London should be under the assumption that they automatically have the median line, they should not have to negotiate it. I think that would be a serious mistake because Scotland could ultimately bring this to the international court of justice and perhaps prevail there with a different line.” He also advised that another line had been drawn right along the border in respect of civil law and criminal justice.

According to research by Professor Kemp in 2010 95% of oil extraction and 58% of gas extraction was from Scottish waters. The total share of Scottish Hydrocarbon production was 80%. The Scottish Tax share in 2010 exceeded 90%.

That was Then How about Now

The reason for doing this article is to try and find out what is happening right now. Rumour seem to be rife at the moment.

The facts I found out are:-

 

  • The price of oil collapsed in 2014 and is now rising again;
  • The OGA (Oil and Gas Authority), the company that manage the UK Continental Shelf Oil Fields has become and independent (arm’s length) Westminster Government Company that has its own management board.
  • 25 licences have been put up for award for existing oil fields around the UK to 17 companies. in the 29th round of licensing offers. The Licenses cover 111 blocks or part blocks to enable further exploration and production across the UK Continental Shelf. The focus for areas to be licensed is solely on under-explored areas of the Rockall Basin, Mid North Sea High and part of the East Shetland Platform. 24 Companies were interested in 113 Blocks by the end of 2016.
  • There was £20 million invested in providing new seismic data, an Innovate Licence has been created and a stable competitive fiscal regime has been put in place in respect of the 29th round of licensing offers.
  • An OGA Activity Plan 2017-2018 has been produced.
  • A five-year review “lessons learned from Oil & Gas Projects 2011-2016 has been produced by OGA. www.ogauthority.co.uk
  • There has been a huge oil find off the west coast of Shetland. The licence holder Hurricane has advised that two oil fields Lancaster and Halifax are one huge field holding approximately 1 billion barrels of oil. I hope the Shetlanders will agree to share the tax revenue with Scotland. Production is set to commence in 2019.

Conclusions

I don’t think Scotland should owe Westminster any money when it becomes independent.  We paid £300 billion from Scottish oil fields to the UK Treasury up to the end of 2012.

There is still oil out there that is more difficult to retrieve and £20 million investment has been put in to finding the oil and planning the extraction of it, mainly in the Rockall Mid North Sea High and East Shetland Platforms.

The West of Shetland discovery that will start production in 2019, providing the price is stable, could provide Scotland with tax revenue and savings for future generations for a long time to come. The Hurricane Company is looking for £318 million investment.

 

References:

BBC News Report 16th April 2013 “Who has a right to claim North Sea Oil.”

STV News 27th March 2017 “North Sea Oil Firm reports Major Find West of Shetland.”

Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) www.ogauthority.co.uk News, Licensing, Publications

You can follow Sandra Marshall on twitter at @leithunique and at her webpage leithunique.wordpress

 

Why is the UK so intent on giving North Sea oil revenues away?

New analysis of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas suggests that the combination of tax giveaways by the government, and aggressive avoidance by multinationals, means that the country may actually be subsidising the extraction of its natural resources. And this at a time of continuing ‘austerity’ measures, that a UN treaty body has harshly criticised for driving poverty and inequality, undermining citizens’ human rights.

An important shift over the last two decades has been the emergence of active civil society movements in many countries focused on the natural resource revenues obtained by their governments: whether sufficient revenues are obtained, and how they are spent. Sadly, such movements have been largely absent in high-income countries – and nowhere more obviously than the UK.

The UK provided the original base for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, launched by Tony Blair back in 2002. But a failure to obtain appropriate revenues for the state was seen as a problem of developing countries and corruption, rather than what it is – an issue of basic state accountability in the face of aggressive multinationals.  And so for me than a decade, the UK did not even join its own initiative, and only became a candidate country in 2014. It is currently listed as ‘implementing EITI, not yet compliant’.

A new report published today by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) sets out a series of shocking statistics on the UK’s failure to obtain an appropriate share of its own resource wealth. Among them, these stand out:

  • In 2014, UK consumers paid 6 times more tax on petrol, excluding VAT, than the North Sea oil and gas industry paid on all taxes related to production.
  • Chevron’s effective tax rate in 2014 on earnings from North Sea production was 5.4%; statutory tax rates (of various types) on oil and gas should have totalled 61-82%.
  • In 2014, 3 (Shell, BP & Total) of the top 4 North Sea producers produced more than £4.3 billion worth of oil and gas and received over £300 million in net tax refunds.

Chevron structure 2014

The ITF argue that while the oil sector has successfully lobbied for and won huge tax breaks from the UK government, the companies involved continued to pursue aggressive tax avoidance as standard practice. The Chevron report (see graphic for UK structure, click to enlarge) provides a detailed case study of tax dodging tactics which are replicated by others, particularly Nexen – on which the Times had a frontpage splash yesterday, using ITF analysis to show that the Chinese government-backed company received tax credits of £2 billion.

The ITF analysis covers 2014, when oil prices were still relatively high. Since then the oil sector as a whole has become a net tax drain on the UK budget, not including direct subsidies. On that basis, the ITF conclude that UK taxpayers are now likely to be subsidising the world’s largest oil companies to exploit the country’s natural resources.

The report, and much more, can be found at http://www.chevrontax.info/. We highly recommend a visit – and if you’re in the UK, you may want to raise this with your representatives. (If you’re in Scotland in particular, you want to consider what this analysis entails for yesterday’s data showing a large, implicit deficit for an independent Scotland. Would an independent Scotland subsidise the oil and gas sector? In the absence of independence, should the UK be doing it?)

NB: This blog was first posted on the Tax Justice Network website before being posted on Tax Research UK

I happen to think the questions regarding Scotland particularly pertinent 

You can Follow Richard Murphy on Twitter at @RichardJMurphy and at his blog page Tax Research UK

featured image Balloon and money by Franklin