Fact Not Fiction – 11 April 2024


Facts not fiction are important in aIl aspects of life and it’s certainly that way with the closure of Grangemouth Refinery. Listen to the UK Government, and it’s just a commercial decision. Something to be regretted but there’s nowt that can be done. Move on and get over it Jock, that’s the way of the world.

Even Graham Stuart, the normally affable Minister’s brutal in his assessment. It’s a Northwest European market he says, what’s happening’s a shame but that’s the vagaries of the system. Some must lose for others to win, even if it’s others, outwith this land who are to get the spoils.

It’s all rather surprising for a Brexit Government. Where’s taking back control or even a Brexit bonus, when you’re losing jobs and ceding an entire sector of the Scottish economy to others. It was Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary, who described Brexit as an opportunity to “eat the UK’s lunch.” Here it’s filling our fuel tanks, never mind undermining our industrial base as the knock-on effects will be severe across different industries and many sectors. It makes the EEC and EU doing down the fishing sector pale in comparison.

Besides as Scotland becomes the only major oil producer without a refinery capacity, they’ll continue working away south of the border and abroad, even though the resource is from Scottish waters and the Forties pipeline lands at Grangemouth. All too reminiscent of the closure of Ravenscraig.

But the fact is that Grangemouth is profitable. As was splashed recently in a Scottish Sunday Newspaper they made over £100 million profit in 2022. It’s been going like a fair since and profits for 2023 never mind this year will almost certainly be higher still. If a modest investment was made in the hydrocracker, throughput would be even greater, and profitability even more so.

However, the UK Government mantra remains that no financial support can be given as it’s just not allowed by the rules Guv! Yet they’ve funded Ineos for works at the site and indeed elsewhere but they’re allowing them to walk away without a by your leave. They’re also writing almost blank cheques for those investing in EV Battery plants south of the border, including tens of millions for BMW.

Most perversely, they’re knifing Grangemouth in the heart by supporting Ineos to open a brand-new site in Antwerp, Belgium. Parliamentary answers disclose the Department of Energy and Net Zero unable or unwilling to act to save the Scottish plant. Meanwhile the

Department of Business and Trade’s offering Ineos financial support in excess of £500 million in its new endeavour in the Low Country.

So, the facts are that the plant is profitable and financial support can be given. It’s a re-run of previous closures in our land. Coming from West Lothian, I recall when British Leyland closed in Bathgate every vehicle they’d been making continued in production, just south of the border; with even a new unit opened in Coventry.

The Scottish Government have supinely accepted the corporate and UK spin. That’s criminal neglect, as well as political stupidity. They may not care, but it’s time Scotland realised what’s happening and fought for not just these jobs, but its industrial base.

We’re a resource to be exploited but whose industries aren’t to be supported.