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This Week In Scotland – Week 38

Gas Price Rise/Winter of Discontent

With the news that another two gas supply companies have gone bust, leaving thousands of people with probably higher bills from new suppliers, the post-Covid failings of the ‘just in time’ supply model are laid bare. Pre-pandemic just-in-time was a way to keep costs low, avoid keeping supplies too long, and increase efficiency. Newer gas suppliers particularly relied on this model but with the rise in wholesale gas prices, they have been found out. Incredibly, against this backdrop, the SNP/Green coalition this week voted down the establishment of a Scottish National Energy Company.

Covid and recurring lockdowns have had unforeseen consequences. Shipping containers were dumped where they were when lockdown hit, microchips are in short supply for cars and gadgets (at a time of increased lockdown demand), and supply chains are now disrupted.

But not all of this was unforeseeable. Brexit made the UK an unattractive place for EU workers who left, and many UK HGV drivers are reaching retirement (both foreseeable). Previously the EU filled that gap, but strangely there were no contingency plans for Brexit finally driving people away. There are predictions of shortages and the UK government’s response is patchy at best. They are trying to train more HGV drivers but leaving out the requirement to reverse as part of the test and letting them work longer hours. What could possibly go wrong with that?

It’s time for the independence movement to buck up, buckle down and drive the HGV Scotland out of this mad mad UK.

The Right to Ramble

It’s getting harder to even go for a walk these days. The Land Reform Act 2003 allows ramblers responsible access, but in recent years this right is apparently being stymied by local landowners. According to The Ferret, the Ardnamurchan Estate reported ramblers to police in 2019, alleging aggravated trespass for using a path they had enjoyed for 40 years. The complaint went as far as the Fiscal, who declined to proceed. The landowner appealed and even wanted the council to declare parts of the estate out of bounds altogether to ramblers. And in January 2020 locals found the estate had 17 locked gates across paths.

Elsewhere, on the North Chesthill Estate in Glenlyon ramblers allege locked gates, misleading signs and obstructive staff. The Sunday National reports that in 2014, ramblers reported 611 instances of access issues. Some people camping were incorrectly told by estate staff that it is illegal. The estate instructs walkers to follow the established route- clockwise only-turning a country ramble into an 11 mile, 8-hour trek which involves scaling all four Munros situated on the estate.
The Scottish Outdoor Access code asks walkers not to cross land while deer stalking is in progress, and the estate’s recent plans to close car parks led to demands for Perth and Kinross council to take legal action. But it is hard to see whose side the council is on as they enacted a Temporary Traffic Regulation order covering up to 18 months and 60 miles in 9 rural areas including Schiehallion, Loch Tay, Loch Tummel and Glen Lyon, with fixed penalty notices already issued to motorists. It’s all very well to say there’s no law of trespass in Scotland, but this has to be followed up by councils reminding landowners of their obligations.

The Vigil

This new BBC drama has both ruffled unionist feathers and reignited concerns over the dangers to trawlers from Royal Navy submarines. Although fictitious, many believe Vigil is based on the trawler Antares, sunk after its nets were snagged by the nuclear submarine HMS Trenchant in the sea off Arran in November 1990. In 2015 the Northern Ireland fishing boat, the Karen, was dragged backwards after its nets were snagged by a submerged British submarine.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch report into the sinking of the Antares admitted to 15 incidents involving allied submarines since 1980, including the sinking of the Sheralga in the Irish Sea in 1982.

Unionist concerns centre on the BBC’s employment of the anti-nuclear campaigner and SNP councillor Feargal Dalton as a consultant for the production. Citing his longstanding support of CND, they claim he is biased. But as he is also a retired lieutenant-commander and a former RN weapons engineer, doesn’t that make him well placed as an expert adviser

Frankly, we welcome any programme that will draw attention to the real and present danger that these submarines pose just 30 miles from our main population centres in Scotland. Go Vigil.

Quintessentially British TV

Vigil notwithstanding, is it just us, or is it now an editorial requirement for public service broadcasters to promote One-Nation Britishness?

Every competitive event on TV is prefaced with ‘The Great British…’, and Sanditon and Downton Abbey seem to be on a loop. Other broadcasters seem to be similarly afflicted with Jam and Jerusalem syndrome. Classic FM, just how many times do you need to play Zadok the Priest, Walton’s Coronation March or Holst’s Jupiter with ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ ? And which British values are you trying to sell? Greed, superficiality and knowing your place?

What about ‘I, Daniel Blake’ and ‘Sorry we missed you’ if they want to convey the grim reality of UK life, the great British values of blaming the poor for being poor, sanctioning those who are ill/in hospital/bereaved for missing an appointment? Then taking all their money from them. (That’ll teach them to be poor). The BBC and others are moving further and further away from what it actually means to be British these days and also what life is like for anyone living north of the M25.

Reporting Scotland

Meanwhile, north of the M25, BBC Scotland is under fire for reporting the Scottish Government negatively on ten occasions in the same week that the BBC apparently did not run a single negative story about the UK government. Much of the negativity related to Scotland’s health service including ambulance waiting times. Reporting Scotland is apparently much more negative towards the Scottish Government than the BBC is towards Boris and Co. No kidding?

Andrew Marr and the Not-so-Liberal Democrats

After Andrew Marr recently berated us for not being sufficiently aghast at the death of Prince Philip, he redeemed himself somewhat with his interview of LibDem leader Ed Davey. Ed could not answer the simple question ‘What is wrong with the definition ‘woman=adult human female’? After blustering for what seemed an eternity, he answered that trans people are the most discriminated against group, with the worst outcomes and blamed Boris Johnson for toxifying the debate.
In the end, he blurted out that the phrase didn’t encapsulate the debate because a ‘trans woman is a woman’. And now, a LibDem candidate, Natalie Bird, has been barred from standing for office for ten years (yes, ten years, you read that correctly) for wearing a T-shirt saying ‘Woman = adult human female’. It’s not liberal, it’s not democratic and it’s hard to imagine the likes of Charles Kennedy who was the leader of the Lib Dems when they were last a credible party, ever sanctioning a punishment like this. Ed Davey, have a word with yourself.

And finally.

Rich Kids Won’t get a Scottish Accent

In case you were worrying, the Scottish Council of Independent Schools has assured well off parents that their children will not acquire a Scottish accent when studying in Scotland, at least not in independent schools. This doesn’t mean they think the Scottish accent is negative, you understand, they think the kids will be looked down on by important people if they don’t have the ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP) accent of the English upper and middle classes.

The Scottish cringe has a long and disgraceful tradition, the most infamous example being David Hume’s book of Scotticisms, which he wrote to help people identify and eradicate Scots from their speech. It’s disheartening to see that sanitising accents is still a thing, especially when the Scots accent is regularly identified as one of the most liked and trusted accents in Britain. Like most of our culture and heritage, Scots only survives because of the Joe Bloggs or the Jock Tamson’s that these people look down on.

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