Editorial: In The Shadow of Grangemouth

grangemouth

As the Grangemouth refinery lay cold, the inactive towers cast a shadow across all Scotland. In a throwback to the 1980s, the future of one of the last remaining Scottish industrial icons was under threat.

In contrast to the past, when the dark days of industrial decline were met with grim resignation, there was no sense of inevitability with Grangemouth. The idea that a crucial part of our industrial infrastructure would simply be allowed to close, or that there was no profitable future in petrochemicals, was not to be accepted.

Both the Scottish and UK Governments insisted there was a future for Grangemouth, though the different levels of importance which Grangemouth merited was stark. While the new Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael made positive noises, there was to be no mention of Grangemouth at Prime Minister’s Questions, the centrepiece of the Westminster week, and David Cameron was noticeably absent from the chamber when an emergency question was raised later in the day. While the dispute escalated, there was little mention in the UK press until the threat of closure could no longer be ignored. What was an absolutely crucial moment for the future of the Scottish economy was barely registering within the London political class.

A last-minute deal between the workers and the plant owners Ineos has guaranteed a future for Grangemouth. A future for the plant is a good thing, albeit a future that has been secured by demonstrating the power of the ultra-rich to control the lives of the rest of us. While countless column inches will be filled with analysis – and Robin McAlpine’s take is certainly worth a read – few will capture the moment as well as National Collective’s own Greg Moodie.

There is something wrong when one man has such power to use with reckless abandon.

Jimmy Reid famously spoke of the alienation of working people in their own society, saying that:

It is the cry of men who feel themselves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. It’s the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision making. The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies.”

In the shadow of Grangemouth, we are all frustrated, excluded and at the mercy of blind economic forces. But we are not hopeless.

We are not hopeless.

National Collective

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  1. Russell Bruce

    ‘We are not hopeless’

    In the face of what would have been an industrial disaster We WERE not hopeless because we fought back. What is different from the industrial closures of the past is that we have a Scottish Government who know how to engage with big business and encouraged the Union to backtrack from a position they failed to understand would result in the loss of their members jobs and the loss of thousands more besides.

    The outcome, if not inevitable, was one Alex Salmond and his team, had to pursue first. They were successful because they knew what the plant had to its advantage as well as the investment it needed on top of what INEOS had already received for a recent upgrading of the plant. An investment of £120 million with SE input of £7.5m.

    The plant is profitable until you write off that £120m investment. The proposed additional £300m investment had already secured the promise of £9m from the Scottish Government and the £120m guarantee from the UK government. The guarantee is a low cost element but is required to give assurance to INEOS’s bankers. Only Westminster has the power to provide such guarantees under the devolved settlement.

    Left to Westminster this would not have happened. Understandably many are concerned about the reliance on a company that has a global footprint. Reality is we live in a globalised world and through Independence we will add the additional necessary tools to our armoury.

    We WERE not hopeless because the present Scottish Government understand the world we live in and engages with global businesses on a daily basis to further our economic interests and provide employment growth and opportunity for the people of Scotland.

    Make no mistake this outcome would not have happened had we been relying on Westminster to solve the problem. Disaster was avoided because Alex Salmond had the ability to persuade the Union to move and the owner to stay with what would be a profitable plant following completion of the new investment.
    John Swinney had the figures to back up the argument – why would Jim Ratcliffe walk away from long term profitability that would form the case presented to others as an opportunity to invest in Scotland. That would have taken longer had INEOS walked away, but for a determined Scottish Government would not have been the end of the story.

    Never before have such economic threats to Scotland been resolved with such speed, determination and most importantly SUCCESS.

    We are not hopeless and we were not hopeless

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