ALEX Salmond has taken the first formal move to try to wrest control of at least some of the UK's oil revenues from the UK Treasury.
The First Minister has written to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, asking for a share of the estimated £4 billion to £5 billion in extra income which the UK government is due to make in tax from the rapidly escalating price of oil.
Mr Salmond has also called for the creation of a Scottish oil fund, putting money aside for the time when the oil runs out.
But Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, made it clear yesterday he has no intention of dividing the extra oil tax revenue from the rest of government income, stating that some tax increases were going up while others were going down and the whole lot had to be seen as one package.
If I were a Labour (or a Tory) PM, I might have been tempted to suggest that the allocation of a proportion of oil taxation was worth considering. Of course, if the Scottish Government were to be given such a prize, there would have to be compensating savings in terms of the block grant provided by Treasury. The UK Government is not so well off economically or politically that it could afford to send additional resources north of the border.
It seems to me that the ensuing row would inevitably result in a full-scale review of the relative funding of the constituent parts of the UK. Is this what the First Minister wants? Even although Scotland comes out relatively well from the current arrangements? Or does Mr Salmond just want a row?
Incidentally, if this is an official approach from the First Minister, why is there no mention of it on the Scottish Government website?