Only yesterday, Jim Sillars was being paraded by Alex Salmond as a nationalist heavyweight who has been taken back into the fold. He had once fallen out with the Alex Salmond but the two were, apparently, good friends again. A photoshoot, above, consummated this reconcilliation. Sillars is a former SNP deputy leader but now not part of the apparatus- so he can speak freely. All too freely, as it turns out. Here’s what he has said today.
“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. 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. The power they have now to subvert our democracy will come to an end with a 'yes'. 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.”
So Scotland’s refusal to go all Hugo Chavez on its companies is, to Sillars, an example of the SNP administration ‘forced’ by Westminster to be ‘soft’ (ie, not lay down the law to) companies. Their expressing their concerns about his separation plan is the same as 'subverting our democracy. The have become enemies of the Scottish people, according to Sillars, and will be treated as such.
Sillars had a bit more to say. Under a separate Scotland, companies like Standard Life would be required to give two years warning of any layoffs they wanted to make. This sounds crazy, more like East Germany than a new Scotland. But as Silllars put it:
“What kind of people do these companies think we are? They will find out.”
For Scotland's sake, I hope we don't find out. Sillars will, I hope, soon be condemned by the SNP hierarchy who will disassociate themselves with his demagoguery. But all this unnerves businesses, who can imagine where all the nationalism might lead Scotland where it has led other countries. This is why increasing number of them have to reassure shareholders that, if Scotland votes 'yes', they will not stick around for long enough to see what Mr Sillars meant.