As North Sea oil faces an investment collapse, is the economic case for an independent Scotland dying?

North Sea oil production is in terminal decline (Source: Getty)

Brian Monteith, director of the ThinkScotland think tank, says Yes

The economic case for Scottish independence put forward last September was deeply flawed and didn’t add up.

Neither the question of the currency arrangements nor funding an inflated public expenditure bill from future oil tax revenues were answered to the satisfaction of the Scottish people.

The SNP has still not found any answers.

Since then, the Greek euro crisis has shown how sovereignty can be meaningless if you use someone else’s currency or share one as a weaker partner.

Worse still, North Sea oil production is in terminal decline and the steep fall in oil prices makes the extraction of much that is left uneconomic, blowing apart nationalist economics.

Scotland could be an economic success, but would first need to suffer serious austerity to survive. Last year, Scots believed they would be significantly worse off outside the UK.

Without the oil revenues to fund the many SNP promises, they will have no reason to change that view.

Stewart Hosie MP, SNP deputy leader, says No

The case for independence is actually growing, with every single opinion poll since 18 September last year showing an increase in support for it.

By international standards, Scotland is a wealthy and productive country, fourteenth in the world according to the OECD, with GDP per capita ahead of China, France and the UK.

Even without oil, there is absolutely no doubt that Scotland can succeed and prosper as an independent nation.

North Sea oil has been squandered over the last three decades by successive Westminster governments.

In contrast, nations like Norway used that money to secure the future with its multi-billion oil fund.

Had an oil fund been established here, then perhaps we wouldn’t be seeing people reliant on foodbanks.

The case for independence has never been predicated on North Sea oil, but on social and economic decision making.

And while that is growing, the economic case for the union died a long time ago.

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