Mark Leftly: Good news on Grangemouth. But the Government needs to refine its message too

 

Westminster Outlook When it comes to the Scotland independence referendum, politicians in Westminster don’t learn. And with only two months until the vote, they probably never will.

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, yesterday confirmed a £230m government loan guarantee for Ineos, owner of the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland, to build Europe’s biggest ethanol tank. Shale gas imported from the US will be used for manufacturing plastic, which will then be exported across the Continent.

This is commonsense: the guarantee will make it easier and cheaper for Ineos to raise money for the tank, which is considered vital if the company is to continue manufacturing petrochemicals at Grangemouth at a time when North Sea oil supplies are declining.

The deal secures thousands of jobs less than a year after Ineos’ chairman, Jim Ratcliffe, successfully indulged in some old-fashioned union-busting, threatening to close Grangemouth if workers didn’t bend to his will. The concessions that employees made to be able to keep on feeding their families included a three-year pay freeze.

The loan guarantee is, then, either a comprehensive endorsement of Mr Ratcliffe’s turnaround plan or his reckless negotiating tactics, largely depending on your political persuasion. Instead, Mr Alexander told us the deal was “fantastic news for Scotland’s economic future”.

Setting aside the feeling that only a politician would so readily praise their own deal, the Inverness MP is probably right. But he didn’t need to use poorly disguised code for “you wouldn’t have got that without the Union”, as it’s obvious that pumping money into Grangemouth will benefit the wider economy.

Mr Alexander should simply let the facts speak for themselves, particularly when Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, is successfully playing on perceptions that Westminster is arrogant in its dealings north of the border.

Every time the Better Together campaign argues that Scotland is better off economically as part of the UK, the implication, rightly or wrongly, is that it could barely survive on it own.

Similarly, many scoffed when pro-independence campaigners claimed Scotland could leave the UK but keep the bits it likes, such as the currency. But look at it from their point of view: politicians hundreds of miles away are telling them they can’t still have the pound even though it belongs to them too.

Issues like currency and keeping Trident nuclear submarines in Faslane on the Clyde will have to be negotiated in the event of a “Yes” vote for independence, no matter what either side wants to claim will happen.

Mr Alexander and Better Together have not sought to be condescending or mildly passive aggressive, but neither have they been careful enough in their tone or argument. An emotive referendum requires reasons why the UK needs Scotland to stay, not thinly veiled accusations that it can’t do any better on its own.

If Better Together wants the votes of the best-educated people in Europe, it can’t seize on every deal that benefits Scotland as evidence that remaining in the UK is the only option – it isn’t.

twitter.com/@MLeftly

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam