Scottish No side seizes on threat to banks, oil firms

Former deputy leader of Scottish National Party warns of ‘day of reckoning’

Scottish first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond (centre)  with former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars (right). Photograph: Reuters/Paul Hackett

Scottish first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond (centre) with former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars (right). Photograph: Reuters/Paul Hackett


Major oil companies and the banks who have urged Scots to vote No will face “a day of reckoning” after next week’s referendum, a former deputy leader of the Scottish National Party has said.

“This referendum is about power, and when we get a Yes majority, we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks,” Jim Sillars said yesterday.

His outburst – seized upon by No campaigners – came on a day when Scottish first minister Alex Salmond furiously criticised top business leaders for calling on voters to reject independence.

But Sillars went further than anyone else: “The heads of these companies are rich men, in cahoots with a rich English Tory prime minister, to keep Scotland’s poor poorer through lies and distortions.

“BP, in an independent Scotland, will need to learn the meaning of nationalisation, in part or in whole, as it has in other countries who have not been as soft as we have forced to be. We will be the masters of the oil fields, not BP or any other of the majors,” said Sillars.

Criticising Sillars, the former Labour leader of Aberdeen City Council, Barney Crockett, said the remarks will fuel concerns about an independent Scotland’s attitudes to foreign investors.

Meanwhile, a group of major British retailers are expected to sign up to a letter this weekend warning of the economic consequences for Scotland if people vote Yes.

Illustrating the nerves now in evidence, British chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, and the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, have cancelled plans to attend a G20 meeting in Australia.

The leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, last night said Salmond’s campaign “has been made much easier because the No side has made a total mess of the entire campaign”. A Ukip rally in Glasgow was picketed by a small group of left-wing protesters, but the Yes campaign largely stayed away – believing that Farage’s presence is a boon, not a negative for their campaign.

British prime minister David Cameron had been “as arrogant as Edward II was at Bannockburn” and walked “straight into this long planned ambush” by letting Salmond dictate the terms of the referendum question, said Farage.

However, he urged Scots not to vote Yes simply because they regard “the career political class in Westminster with a degree of contempt”, saying such feelings are not a Scottish phenomenon. “I can assure you that huge numbers of us in England now think exactly the same. They are out of touch and have made a mess of what sovereign powers remain in the UK.”

Today, Orange Order lodges from Scotland, England and Northern Ireland will gather in Edinburgh to march in favour of the Union. The pro-Union Better Together campaign tried to stop the march, but failed.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank warned its clients yesterday that Scottish independence would rank among the mistakes made by the US federal bank in 1929 when its failures spurred the Great Depression.

“Everyone has the right to self-determination and to exercise his or her democratic rights,” said the bank’s chief economist, David Folkerts-Landau. “But there are times when fundamental political decisions have negative consequences far beyond what voters and politicians could have imagined. We feel that we are the threshold of one such moment.”