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Fuelling talks

Brian Taylor | 11:24 UK time, Monday, 28 April 2008

Grangemouth may be Scotland's sole oil refinery but we appear to be experiencing the impact of competition in one respect with regard to the refinery dispute.

Holyrood and Westminster ministers are tripping over each other to offer the most poignant and, they hope, effective appeals for a return to work.

To be fair, sundry ministers are all stressing the need for the two administrations to co-operate in dealing with the practical consequences of the strike. That appears to be happening in practice.

Nonetheless, it seems to this observer that there is a fair degree of healthy competition to show evidence to the public of political concern by UK Labour and Holyrood SNP ministers. They wouldn't be human otherwise.

So what do they, respectively, bring to the table? The UK Government has the statutory responsibility for securing overall energy supplies, including back-up emergency powers should those prove necessary.

The devolved Scottish Government has proximity to the dispute plus a further key factor. Civil service officials in Scotland are, mostly, employed by the Scottish Government. Their political boss is Alex Salmond.

Let me stress again. I am not, repeat not, repeat not, saying that the existence of two rival ministerial teams is causing problems with this dispute.

Quite the contrary.

Rather, political competition is likely to sharpen their edge. Adam Smith would understand.


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