I KNEW JIM WASN’T FINISHED WITH THE GREENS!

Now to look at the SNP/ Green deal consequences for the people of Scotland Jim Sillars On Tuesday I analysed the politics of the deal. Today it is the realities, the negative consequences, for the people.  Before I do, a couple of additional political matters to note. First, Patrick Harvie’s sanctimonious boast that it was not done behind closed doors, does not  ring true.  Nowhere in the text of theContinue reading "I KNEW JIM WASN’T FINISHED WITH THE GREENS!"

I KNEW JIM WASN’T FINISHED WITH THE GREENS!

Now to look at the SNP/ Green deal consequences for the people of Scotland

Jim Sillars

On Tuesday I analysed the politics of the deal. Today it is the realities, the negative consequences, for the people.  Before I do, a couple of additional political matters to note.

First, Patrick Harvie’s sanctimonious boast that it was not done behind closed doors, does not  ring true.  Nowhere in the text of the agreement does it say there will be two Green ministers, and two extra special advisers, at an estimated additional cost of £224,000 a year in wages, pensions,  travel costs ( although we can assume the latter will only include bike mileage, bus and rail fares, and certainly not a Green foot entering a government car). 

On that latter topic, and on the reasonable assumption that I am right, I wonder if they intend to insist that SNP ministers do the same as them, so the cars become permanently parked and the drivers sacked? After all, both sides believe we shall soon  roast in an inescapable hellfire if we don’t follow the Green anti-car policy. 

The second political point: do Green ministers, and their special advisers, have access to all internal government papers? They are only ‘junior’ ministers we are told via the press. But they are a different class of junior minister than is usual when two parties combine in government. This is not a coalition, so in this unusual arrangement will they have complete access to all Cabinet papers? Also, will they attend the cabinet meetings?

Both access and attendance would seem essential in order that they can judge whether SNP ministers are acting in accordance with the spirit and letter of the deal.    Has this matter been agreed behind closed doors, because there is no reference to it in the document made public? How we are governed is something  the public should know. 

Now to two examples in the real world of consequences

Roads

You may find what follows dreary, but unlike the ‘leaps of faith’ and claims of a ‘vision’ inspired Agreement, there is, outside the SNP/Green Hlyrood bubble, a real world of real people, with real needs, whose jobs and lives will be affected by it. What it means is going to matter.  

*Agreement (p10): ’during the parliamentary session, new roads projects will normally only be taken forward where they reduce the maintenance backlog,; address road safety concerns or adapt the network to deal with impacts of climate change or benefit communities such as bypassing settlements.’

we will not build road infrastructure to cater for forecast unconstrained increases in traffic volume.

That convoluted first paragraph creates for a large number of SNP MPs and MSPs a new, tortured, world of  trying to square many circles. Unlike Patrick and Lorna, they are directly elected by, and accountable to, real live people who, as election results show, are not fans of the Greens and their mania against roads. May we expect that, soon, the Greens will confront the SNP with the best way of stopping vehicles using roads – that is to dig them up.  Given that we are in the statue toppling era, and that it was those slave-holding Romans that gave us the idea of good roads, that would seem an obvious Green solution. 

But perhaps the reason Greens don’t like roads, is that they think now we have Zoom we don’t need to get into cars using petrol to go an hug Granny. Or maybe they are the new society-scourging puritans, who just don’t like people going on a family outing, or a picnic in a lonely spot, and enjoying themselves. 

Roads, enable cars, lorries, and buses to move people around for business (with jobs involved) and leisure, such as giving old people with their Scotland-wide free bus pass ( a gift from SNP) access to Scotland’s beautiful and interesting historical places. Better roads heading into tourist industry areas, will bring more buses, more pensioners enjoying a day out. What’s not to like, unless, it seems, you are Green. 

So, who among the MPs inhabits this new tortured “square the circles” SNP-Green world? None other than my friend Ian Blackford, who may, or may not, depending upon how Nicola was feeling, have been consulted on the deal. If he was, and agreed, he will have reason to regret it.

Ian’s specific problem is the A9 road from Perth to Inverness, and the A96 that links Aberdeen to that Highland city. He has to square his sensible desire to complete the dualling of both roads (knowing this will enhance business connectivity and give a boost to tourism), with that second paragraph and its distaste for the increased traffic volume they are designed to create, and cater for. 

Ian sought to escape from his dilemma by citing that first paragraph’s reference to ‘safety,’ Yep, looked like a good way out…..….until his new partner, Mr. Harvie, cited another paragraph on p11, pointing out that the   A96’;s future would be subject to an ‘evidence-based review to include climate compatibility assessment to assess direct and indirect impacts on the climate and the environment, and not a word from him about safety.

Good roads are an economic tool. They open up areas that are away from the central hub of a country like ours.  They attract new business investors because they give quick access to customers and markets in the higher populated cities and towns. But investors won’t go in numbers where there are bad or inadequate roads with poor connections to major roads and motorways. 

Anyone ever travelled by road to Stranraer and its near-by ferry service to Northern Ireland?If so, you will know just how badly it needs to be upgraded, to make Galloway attractive to investors and increase the numbers of tourists to one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland.  That part of Galloway is crying out for investment and jobs. It will remain ‘locked in’ until the A77 is dualled all the way from Ayr, and the A75 is vastly improved at the same time. Economic development in Galloway, through better roads, will increase traffic volume, sowhen it comes to the crunch of improving them, will the SNP government  submit to the Green’s test, and declare it will never happen?

Oil and Gas

Oil and gas resources in Scottish waters employs over 100,000 people, and companies both offshore and onshore pay well. The idea that it is running out is an absurd lie. The Cambofield in the North Sea, 225m barrels, and the  Clair field west of Shetland which BP describes as ‘giant,’ will produce for some 40-50 more years. That is not counting umpteen other fields with high yields.  Should our new oil and gas findings be kept in the ground because of climate change policy?  Lets look elsewhere. The present US administration is the greenest yet, but as Deb Haaland (a native American) US Secretary for the Interior said recently: ‘Gas and oil production will continue well into the future. We believe that is the reality of our economy and the world in which we live.’

In the eastern Mediterranean, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus are in dispute about who owns waters under which oil has been discovered, because each wants to exploit it. Ghana has recently discovered oil and will bring it up. Not one single country that has oil and gas intends to keep it in the ground. 

In 2018, a Scottish SNP minister, writing to Chic Brodie on behalf of the government, declared ‘that Scotland’s oil and gas industry has helped power the Scottish economy for decades, and it has a major role to play in Scotland’s future energy system.’   Patrick Harvie, despite the Agreement excluding oil and gas from a joint position, is again boasting about shifting the SNP stance on this towards no oil. 

The value of the black stuff and its continued use, here and worldwide is obvious. But equally important is the technological development that goes along with oil and gas exploration  and production systems. Going deeper in difficult waters, and getting more out in all fields, is a technical challenge that creates sub-industries requiring highly skilled and highly paid people. Is all that potential to be thrown away here while the rest of the world gets on with it, and other oil countries prosper, while poverty in Scotland reaches new levels? 

Then there is Production licence PL262 in the Clyde

Chic Brodie, former SNP MSP, through diligent research and voluminous correspondence, has revealed the following: in 1972 BP was granted oil production licence PL262 for an area of the Clyde; that the MOD, with the UK government then in charge, blocked it to ensure the nuclear submarines had clear passage; but that in recent years the power over licensing in the Clyde passed to the Scottish government. I wonder how many MSPs know that. 

Parts of the west of Scotland, such as North Ayrshire and Stranraer are acknowledged  asdeprived areas, desperately needing industry and jobs. The SNP leadership that I was part of,  blest with these Scottish-based new powers, would have leapt at the opportunity to set up a joint venture with an experienced oil group, ensuring the Scots got a good chunk of the profit, and the people good jobs.  

It could still happen, it should happen. But now the SNP government is in thrall to the Greens, it won’t happen. Whatever words Nicola Sturgeon employs to hedge and dodge about oil and gas, that oil in the Clyde remains untouched today, just as it did under a Tory government. Quite a message to send to Ayrshire. 

PS: While the new non-coalition, fearful of that hellfire beckoning if we reject the Green anti-fossil fuel ideology, claims it is giving a lead to the world. Lets look at the world.

Joe Biden asked OPEC to increase production in order to keep oil prices down, to in turn keep US petrol prices down, and so help the Democrats in next year’s mid-term elections. 

California is building 5 new gas fired power stations to make sure the lights stay on. 

China has just announced 43 new coal fired plants, part of its planned increase to produce 247 gigawatts of coal fired-power as part of its development aim to take another 500m out of poverty – the 18 new  blast furnaces announced will aid that development. .

Coal was $100 a metric tonne in June this year, $130 in July, and is now $170; with Indonesian, South African and Russian suppliers and governments very happy.

Meantime, led by Nicola, Patrick and Lorna, this small nation is out to teach and save the world, with the economic stagnation of a low growth economy the inevitable price they expect our people to pay.    We shall indeed pay that price for this deal, and that ambition, but lead the world? Pull the other one. It is a fair bet that Xi Jinping will never know that Patrick Harvie exists. 

MY COMMENTS

Is it not horrible for Nicola when experienced politicians with knowledge of the real world start asking real questions, hard edged questions that relate directly to the future well being of the Scottish economy and the tens of thousands of jobs and many thousands of businesses that are at direct risk as a result of Nicola’s need and desire to secure the votes of the Greens to secure her GRA.? I look forward to her lightweight followers squealing and whining but as usual being totally incapable of providing a reasonable riposte.

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION ( published next week)

Publisher introduction to

A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION

JIM SILLARS, among the last of his generation’s working class politicians, has had a prominent role in Scottish public life for more than six decades, during which he moved from being a Unionist Labour MP to becoming deputy leader of the SNP and now a sharp critic of the party’s cult of personality. 

In this candid memoir, he records a controversial political life from local councillor to Westminster MP, during which he had dealings with many prominent politicians of the day. But he also reflects on what moulded him in his early years, the added influences of his service in the Royal Navy, his time in Hong Kong, his trade union activity and his non – political business engagements in the Middle East and Asia. 

Bringing the book up to date to address contemporary issues, he offers views on Brexit, Russia, the Middle East, climate change, the Alex Salmond trial and the consequences of the 2021 Holyrood election. 

He and Margo MacDonald, to whom he was married for thirty-three years, were a formidable political partnership until her death in 2014. He pays a heartfelt tribute to her in this book.

Published by Birlinn  £14.95

Front cover: ‘Confirms a deserved reputation as an original thinker on domestic and international affairs.’ (Bernard Ponsonby, STV)