Nicola Sturgeon goes to Norway... and talks Scotland down! – Brian Wilson

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may be pining for Norway’s fjords, but Brian Wilson prefers Scotland.

Norway has been held up by some as an example of what an independent Scotland could be like (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

I thought Oslo a rather odd destination for Nicola Sturgeon’s first flight of 2020, particularly since her main message was that relations between Scotland and Norway would remain unchanged by Brexit.

Well, why wouldn’t they? Norway is not in the EU and seems to survive though, having endured a few bleak Nordic experiences, I have never regarded being “more like Norway” the most persuasive marketing slogan for independence. I prefer Scotland.

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Ms Sturgeon assured her hosts: “Norway is a shining example of how small, northern European nations which are independent have been able... to play a constructive part on the world stage.”

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But surely this is a case of going abroad to talk Scotland down? By most reckonings, Scots have played a pretty significant role “on the world stage” – from politics, through medicine to industry and beyond. Or is “independence” a prerequisite for such recognition?

While skipping the awkward commitment to extract every last drip of North Sea oil – what would Greta think? – she went on to laud the proposed Northern Link interconnector which would pump Norwegian hydropower into Scotland to provide baseload to support renewables generation.

So the Sturgeon masterplan is for imported electricity to back up imported wind turbines. Whatever happened to the “second industrial revolution”? Could we not use our own hydro and other technologies developed here to achieve the same result and create Scottish jobs?

There are indeed lessons to be learned from Norway – regardless of constitutional status. For example, what has Ms Sturgeon done to follow the model of dispersing jobs to peripheral areas? That, I fear, would involve a level of interest in outcomes which has no place in her one-dimensional politics.