Grangemouth analysis: Ministers become brothers in arms

Finance secretary John Swinney and Scottish Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Finance secretary John Swinney and Scottish Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael. Picture: Ian Rutherford


FOR people more used to watching Edinburgh lob hand grenades at London over the great constitutional divide, the sight of two key representatives of the UK and Scottish governments appearing so united outside Ineos headquarters yesterday, was an arresting one.

Scotland’s finance secretary John Swinney and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael were even wearing the same purple-coloured ties.

Mr Swinney politely allowed Mr Carmichael to speak to the cameras first.

Both men dutifully then declared how “both governments” were doing all they could to bring Ineos round to reversing its decision to close the giant plant.

Indeed the only difference between them was their choice of lapel-wear – Mr Carmichael wore a poppy; Mr Swinney the obligatory pro-independence “Yes” badge.

In content, their messages were the same too. The two governments remain firmly on the fence in the dispute, eager not to add further heat to the Unite-Ineos flare-up.

Instead, the aim is to get Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe to see the sense of accepting a deal that – only last week – he was himself offering as a way forward.

The human tragedy that would follow closure at Grangemouth is more than enough for political differences to be temporarily put to one side. But, for once, both governments’ self-interest is also aligned.

UK ministers fear that closure in Grangemouth would puncture the growing narrative that the UK is getting back on its feet following the long dark days of recession.

For Scottish ministers, the loss of the country’s only refinery less than a year before the referendum would be a disastrous blow to claims that North Sea oil and gas will power the new nation’s economy.

In place of the family at war, we now have brothers in arms.

If nothing else, it amply demonstrates the seriousness of the Grangemouth situation.




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