30/07/22 – 05/08/22
Rebel Yell – the Conservatives discover Scotland
The horror show that is the Conservative leadership contest continues. We don’t know which flunkey in the Tory party thought it would be a good idea to give this national coverage. We think they might live to regret it.
Anyway, after a race last week to the bottom on who could cut taxes more and who could take most money off the poorest, this week it was the turn of the rebellious Scots to get it in the neck. Liz Truss opened with a simple gambit of ignoring the Nats. Rishi Sunak rebuked her by saying ignoring Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP was ‘dangerously complacent’ and that there was an ‘existential threat to our cherished union’. This was in conjunction with his statement on widening the scope of Prevent (the UK’s deradicalization scheme) to include people with ‘an extreme hatred of Britain’.
Now maybe these aren’t linked. And maybe it’s bluster. But it sounds an awful lot like an attempt to outlaw independence movements in the UK. On the one hand the Indy movement should probably take this a compliment. Up until this point, Scotland was actually getting ignored. Now we’re not. But we should also take it as a warning. This was a declaration of intent from both candidates. Whoever is the next PM is going to have Scotland at the top of their agenda, and not in a good way. When someone shows you what they are, believe them.
Are Energy Prices the New Poll Tax?
The relentless procession of profits made by the energy companies continues this week. BP started off with a very decent $8.5billion profit for this quarter. Shell passed them by with $11.5bn profit but they were surpassed by profits of $17.6bn and $11.6bn for Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Maybe the ordinary punter could endure that, were it not for the fact that everyone’s energy bills are going through the roof. For the first time in a while, there is a whiff of unrest in Britain. People are talking about cancelling direct debits and refusing to pay. Even the UN has got in on the act, with the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticising the ‘grotesque greed’ of the companies .
There is certainly potential for this to turn into a new poll tax. Energy prices are charged at the same rate regardless of the income of person receiving the bill. The Duke of Buccleuch is paying the same for his units as his tenants. It’s a bill that everyone has to pay, because everyone needs energy. And in Scotland, salt is being rubbed into the wound that we are one of the biggest oil producers in Europe, but pay the biggest prices on energy. While Boris Johnson was in charge, he exuded a certain Sun King charm that kept people bemused. Now that that distraction has gone, people are waking up to the reality that their means have been very much reduced and there is nothing funny about it at all.
Green Energy – Plans for Bioenergy Plant at Easter Ross
Acorn Bioenergy is to submit plans to Highland Council to build a bioenergy plant at the former WW2 Fearn Aerodrome. The plans are for a number of anaerobic digestion plants which will convert agricultural waste into bio methane, which can then be used to power vehicles and heating. This would be part of a large scheme involving plants in Moray and Aberdeenshire.
It’s good to see that anaerobic digestion is starting to gain traction as an energy source rather than the obsolescent technology of the pyrolysis plants which gained a vogue across the central belt for a while. Hopefully this trend will continue.
Langholm Moor – Community Buyout Doubles in Size
More good news from Langholm where the Langholm Initiative raised £2.2million to buy 5300 acres of land to the 5200 acres that they had already purchased. The Langholm Initiative said the reserve would help tackle nature and climate crises, while boosting community regeneration.
It’s great to read stories like this, but each one is a reminder that we should be tackling land reform as a whole government led strategy and not leaving it to individual groups to rely on the kindness of strangers to save their environment.
After the success of the English Womens’ team at Euro 2022, it was the turn of Scottish Women to shine. Eilish McColgan won the Commonwealth 10 000m gold, 32 years after her mother achieved the same feat. She said,
‘To wear a Scottish vest and know you’re on the starting line with people you’ve grown up with…it’s just really unique, I can’t put into words what it means.
We’re very patriotic towards it, the Scottish athletes. You’ll be stretched to find one that doesn’t want to make the Commonwealth Games team. It’s a high priority for us – we want to be there, we want to be competing for Scotland and we want to win medals for Scotland.’
She finished off with an interesting observation. She commented,
‘We don’t get to compete for Scotland in any championship other than the Commonwealth Games. It makes it a little bit more special.’
And Finally – Mind Games
Someone else has pulled on a Scottish top this week, but it’s not an athlete – it’s Uri Geller. The mind reading, spoon bending psychic has decided that Putin has Scotland in his sights for a rogue nuclear attack. In a Scotland football shirt he warned Putin,
‘If you resort to the use of nuclear weapons and decide to target Scotland – or any other country else in the world – your plans, and your missiles, will backfire on you! I will use every last molecule of my Mind Power to prevent you from launching a nuclear attack!’
He also invited others to join him. He said,
‘Take five seconds out of your day to visualise a radiant, energetic force field — like a dazzling, golden shield in the sky – that will deflect and turn back any nuclear warheads that Putin attempts to deploy’.
We might give it a shot. We still haven’t forgiven him for Euro 1996, where he circled Wembley Stadium in a helicopter wearing an England top and using his mind powers to stop Scotland scoring from a spot kick. (Though in fairness to Uri, Scotland doesn’t need any help missing spot kicks). In the meantime, we’ll just keep campaigning for independence and hopefully get the submarines out of Faslane which make us a target in the first place..