What leads a business person to make a public statement about a sensitive political matter in a country where he neither lives nor is a citizen? Moreover, what makes him do it when no other figures in his industry have made such a public declaration?
Indeed senior figures within the industry have restricted themselves to saying that the decision is one for the people of Scotland to make and they will continue to work in Scotland regardless of the result. Meanwhile the industry continues to make record investment in Scotland, despite the fearmongering of Unionists that the indy debate is discouraging investment.
So did Bob Dudley Chief Executive of BP wake up one morning, and entirely off his own bat decide that he was going to give an interview to the UK media in which he parrots the Better Together line about uncertainty and help-me-mummy-I’m-frightened? It’s not impossible.
However in my limited experience of the business world, the real currency is back-scratching. This is not always for financial gain (and I am certainly NOT alleging or implying any financial motives or impropriety of any sort in this case), quite often it’s simply a wee favour for a mate. You do them a good turn, and at some point in the future when you may need a good turn, they will be predisposed to help. It’s the social grease that lubricates any business.
So I’m genuinely curious about the chain of events that led to this intervention, an intervention which was apparently far more important than any positive story about independence ever since the dawn of time, or at least since the dawn of the BBC. It must have been pure dead significant though, after all it made the main 6 O Clock News on the BBC so even people in London could see it. It was followed up as the lead item in Reporting BetterTogether at half past, just to stress even more just how important it was. No pro-indy story has ever enjoyed such publicity on the Beeb.
I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories. When something goes awry it’s usually a cock up not a conspiracy. Westminster is expert at cocking things up. And I have no knowledge about what transpired in the lead up to Bob Dudley’s “gaunnae no vote for indy” moment.
However isn’t it interesting that there are two very prominent pretendy Lords who are senior “advisers” to BP plc. I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental, and I have no idea whether either of them have ever so much as mentioned the Scottish referendum in any of their contacts with Bob Dudley.
According to the House of Lords register of members interests, Chris Patten, former Tory cabinet minister, is a paid adviser to BP. That’s the same Chris Patten who is also the Chairman of the BBC Trust. They have busy lives these folk.
Another high profile pretendy Lord with links to BP is George Robertson, former backing singer in the Tony Blair band and NATO lead singer who is best known for his hit records “Killing Nationalism Stone Dead”, and “We Have No Culture or Language”. According to the Lords register of interests he too is paid by BP plc as an adviser. His Wikipedia entry says he is a board member of TNK-BP, a Russian company jointly owned by some assorted Russian oligarchs and BP.
George and Bob go back some way together in BP. George was the white knight who rode to Bob’s aid back in 2008 when Bob was President of TNK-BP. He made a statement to the media supporting Bob, who was at the time having some difficulties at the hands of the Russian authorities, as was reported by the BBC.
So if you were an American businessman, heid bummer of a company operating in Scotland and you were paying George Robertson as an adviser, and George had been so helpful to you in the past – what do you think – entirely hypothetically of course – that he would advise you to say about the independence referendum? Hmmm.
So what is it? Senior businessman in the oil business intervenes in the Scottish independence debate entirely off his own bat, or senior businessman in the oil business makes intervention in the indy debate because George Robertson or some other Unionist politician had a wee hand in helping Bob articulate his concerns, directly or indirectly?
As Private Eye always says, I think we should be told. Because it makes a bit of a difference to the context of Bob Dudley’s concerns, don’t you think? “George Robertson’s business associate makes intervention in independence debate” may not be an exciting headline, but it may be closer to reality than the BBC’s presentation, in which Bob’s words were received with the rapturous and unquestioning enthusiasm of the Pope getting a handwritten letter from the Virgin Mary.
I’m sure the next edition of Reporting Scotland will uncover the truth. Unless of course something more important comes up … like overflowing litter bins in Airdrie and how it proves we can’t hack it as an independent state.