ONE plus one equals two. One times two is two. 11 times 12 is 132. 21 divided by four is 5.25 (actually it was five-and-a-quarter in my day). This was stuffed into my head in school. Numbers and letters, printed large and hung on the walls. We were such sweet wee weans.

Since those halcyon days when Miss Tomkins showed us arithmetic, much has been distorted, or completely lost. Now numbers often do not add up at all, they are bandied around with imprudent abandon and come to mean little. Add the % sign and the whole façade becomes a smokescreen that blinds us from reality.

Johnson, in Scandinavia, signing papers guaranteeing security! The people of Ukraine got a shock when they found their 1994 deal less substantive than they had imagined when they gave up their nuclear weapons. No-one questioned “how that would this be paid for, if push and shove come together?” I am for helping the Ukrainian people against the awful Russian aggression, and for Sweden and Finland having UK support. As a matter of conscience, agreements must be honoured.

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We know Johnson’s forte, “spending money”. Nuclear weapons, nuclear power stations, new royal yachts, you can make a list yourself.

What got me started on this particular rant was a BBC “propaganda” video. A new nuclear-power station for Anglesea. “Normal” folk proffering views, there was one voice against, but the thrust was “this is a good thing”, and “what other choices do we have?”

Saudi Arabian Aramco oil, owned by Saudi Arabia, have increased profits of 82% percent, knocking the Apple Corporation off the top of the wealth pile, since Russia invaded.

At the beginning of this screed I demonstrated the vastness of my memory, my grip on the reality of arithmetic; despite my ancientness, my brain still has agility. I clearly remember the bitter feelings of September 19 2014 when our independence was pushed into the future. The sleekit nonsense around the vanishing pool of oil. Seven years on, and despite COP 26 in Glasgow, the UK Government use the vicious attack by Putin to open up the pipes again and even to explore a bit more. Kwasi Kwartang wants to “re-classify” natural gas as “green energy” to entice more investment.

In the meantime, the largest sovereign wealth fund, amassed by the Norwegians from their years of exploiting the fossil fuels of the North Sea, has allocated 10 billion kroner into renewable energy projects. I have been to Norway. I have been in Middle Eastern countries. I have been to the land of Hassanal Bolkiah, the Yang-Di Pertuan of Brunei, he has amassed a fortune of $25 billion from oil. From what I was able to see in these places, “ordinary people” seemed to live in reasonable comfort.

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The Saudis are richer and richer, pumping oil. Johnson went down there, we are told, to asked them to pump a bit more, or was it the opposite? For the basic economics, say the fewer barrels supplied the higher the price. Higher prices lead oil-producing countries to more wealth. The world produces more than 77,000,000 barrels of oil each day (2017 figures). In the past few years Russia produced almost one-eighth of that. Wheat prices are another concern. In 2019 the total production was nearly 767 metric tons. Of which Ukraine produced nearly 29 metric tons.

The sums do not add up. The UK Government could be rubbing its hands together with so much oil money pouring in, one could wonder why they are not taking on more civil servants to distribute the cash, instead of shedding 91,000 to save money. Why does the increase in oil revenues not balance out the cost of living for us every day Scots? A simple answer is that all the oil money, from the 1970s until today, has been mismanaged, Miss Tomkins must be looking down from her cloud wondering why Scotland is not independent, and what in heaven or on earth she taught me when she said one plus one equals two.

Cher Bonfis
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