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Alan Savage: This was the year that was

Alan Savage, Orion Group
Alan Savage, Orion Group

Another year goes by and it doesn’t get any easier. The price of a barrel is 10% down on this time last and now hovers just over $40! The Saudis are playing very hardball with the Frackers and continue to pump full bore.

The Saudis have loads of oil and gas, it’s 50% of their GDP, but I still can’t figure out why they would continue to depress the price. Of course to those of us in the North of Scotland whose businesses and livelihoods depend to a great extent on the price of a barrel it’s murder at the current levels.

We are trying to diversify by sector and by services so that we can become less dependent on a Saudi valve.

We are having a lot of success in rail, pharmaceuticals, waste to energy and power generation including nuclear which, for reasons known to some and not to others, is something of a contentious issue for our politicos at Holyrood. They seem quite happy to see a generation of skilled workers troop down south and abroad to support a new generation of nuclear power plants anywhere but here, while at the same time, they’re content to use gigawatt after gigawatt of power generated from nuclear energy in England and France. Talk about hypocrisy!

During 2015 the political landscape of Scotland changed dramatically with the SNP seizing all before them in Scotland and becoming the third largest party at Westminster. All with a gigantic 4.7% share of the vote.

Of course, it saw the return to the Commons of our former Commander in Chief Alex Salmond, who saw fit to put his vanity before his political prowess by dashing back up to the road to unveil a painting of himself while he could have been taking part in arguably one of the most sombre decisions ever likely to be put before an MP – whether or not to go to war.

My tax code now has an “S” in front of it. A very visual reminder to all of us that live in Scotland that the country’s devolution journey is going to continue to have an ever more significant impact on our day to day lives and managing the Scottish economy becomes even more the responsibility of our SNP masters.

Let’s hope they make a better job of managing it as part of the UK than they could have under Independence with their prediction of $113 per barrel now looking pretty optimistic!!

We’ll have our chance to let them know what we think literally a matter of weeks from now, but the opinion polls continue to look good for them. A third term in power? Don’t bet against it.

After a 2014 that saw the eyes of the political world focused firmly on Scotland, 2015 gave us the chance to cast our eyes a little further from home. Greece continued to show us what happens when you elect a government that promises the world and spends everyone else’s money in the process (a lesson for home perhaps?) while in the States, things appear to be getting even crazier with the continued ascendancy of The Donald in the opinion polls and the ever outlandish comments of his that generate column inches galore.

Does he have what it takes to get to the White House? Who knows but this week certainly won’t have helped.

On a brighter note though, we continued to reflect in the basked glory of last year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The Murray brothers were the cornerstone of Britain’s memorable Davis Cup win and with a decent referee who knows would have happened with the Scottish Rugby team?

And yes, despite falling short once again at the last hurdle, the Scotland football team gave us a chance to dream that maybe, just maybe, the 2018 World Cup in Rio is a possibility (to quote the late, great Ray Charles, I’ve still got Georgia on my mind).

All in all, it’s been some year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all when it comes!

I found out what a “meme” is whilst doing a little bit of research for this article. It’s an image, video, piece of text typically humorous in nature that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations. Amongst the best this year was at number 13 which was a sweet Valentine’s gift spotted in Weaver Wines Shawlands. Someone added the comment “Buckfast is fine, but BBQ Pringles? GTFO”!

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