evanEnvironmental economist Evan Williams offers John Swinney a bet on the price of oil.


During the referendum, and more recently, I argued that the volatility of the oil price was one of a number of problems with the economic case for separation. The recent collapse in the oil price seems to vindicate that concern.

There is nothing good about the collapse of the oil price, especially for those families who depend on the oil industry for their living. But at least in the UK when the oil income falls the broad base of the UK economy means that it is not catastrophic for the services that the government uses that income to provide.

I’m an environmental economist and I honestly don’t know what will happen to the price of oil. But I was told in all earnestness by a recent recruit to the SNP that I was “an idiot” for thinking that the price of oil wouldn’t shoot back up once the CIA stopped manipulating the price (apparently to destroy ISIS/Islamic State).

There are no shortage of reasons why someone might think I’m an idiot, but the volatility of oil prices isn’t one of them, and I’d suggest not believing that the CIA are manipulating oil prices isn’t either.

So, here is a genuine offer. I’ll bet John Swinney (who we have to assume is responsible for SNP economic policy) that by their chosen independence day, 24th March 2016, the closing price of Brent crude will be less than $113.

For every dollar more than $113, I will donate £1 to a charity of his choice, if he will agree that if the price is lower than $113 he will donate £1 for every dollar less to a charity of my choice.

Sound fair?

The SNP were content to bet Scotland’s economic future on oil prices being at least $113 a barrel. Will John Swinney bet his own money on the same thing?