Anybody who supposes that yesterday’s vote at Holyrood was about fracking is an idiot. The unionists media are, predictably, touting the vote as a “blow” to Nicola Sturgeon and a victory for the opposition. in truth, if there was any “victory” here it was the triumph of venality, dogma and naked expediency over principled politics and plain good sense.
Let’s start with the British Tories. With one exception, they voted en bloc against an outright ban on fracking in Scotland. (For some reason that I’m not even going to bother trying to figure out, Oliver Mundell abstained.) Effectively, they voted in favour of allowing fracking operations. This is totally unsurprising, of course. Relative to others occupying the opposition seats, we might even have some respect for their position. At least it is honest. They really do want fracking to go ahead, and are brazen enough to say so quite explicitly. That their motives are contemptible is another matter. The British Tories are keen on fracking because it will enrich their clients – and doubtless generous donors to party coffers – in the energy companies. And because revenues from fracking might help George Osborne cover up his economic incompetence for a little while longer. Maybe even beyond the next UK election.
Mostly, Ruth Davidson’s lot voted against the ban on fracking because that’s what their bosses in London told them to do. I don’t suppose many people imagined it had anything whatever to do with the needs, aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people. For Davidson, the “defeat” of the hated SNP was merely a bonus.
We can forget about the Liberal Democrats. (I know! You’re way ahead of me on that!) It seems they didn’t even turn up. Willie Rennie was probably getting his photie taken for the papers again, standing by some monumental landmark desperately hoping that a wee bit of significance will rub off. No idea about the others. I’m not sure if anyone noticed their absence. Or cared.
The Greens voted for the ban. In doing so, they indulged in an act of the most puerile gesture politics. An act driven by mindless dogma with absolutely no regard for practicalities or consequences. Patrick Harvie’s little gang of self-righteous ideologues seems to be seeking to cement its reputation as the petulant brat of Scottish politics.
Of course, they knew that the vote was meaningless, in the sense that it could not have any impact on government policy. All the more reason, then, to take the opportunity to set aside party dogma and vote responsibly. Instead, they effectively voted against gathering the evidence needed to provide a sound legal basis for the ban that they supposedly want. And they voted against a public consultation that would provide unchallengeable evidence of the widespread opposition to fracking that they claim exists.
The Greens chose to adhere rigidly to the party line in preference to supporting effective action to bring about the outcome they say they want. What the hell is the point in that?
The best we can say about the Greens is that it’s unlikely there was any malice in their action. Although Harvie is as prone to pointless anti-SNP sniping as any of his colleagues in the British parties, we can be reasonably sure there was no intent in this instance to damage the administration. To be frank, it is doubtful if they even considered such a thing. Party policy is to insist on an immediate outright ban on fracking regardless of the implications. No further thinking is required.
If a ban was actually implemented and subject to a successful legal challenge, allowing fracking to go ahead unhindered, the Greens would deny any responsibility whilst revelling in noble failure and the purity of their cause. Devotion to that cause takes precedence over the needs, aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people.
If the Greens were without malice then British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) makes up for it – and then some. Who can doubt that their vote for an outright ban on fracking was motivated by the rancid resentment of the SNP and offended sense of entitlement that is their sole driving force.
The merits or otherwise of fracking don’t enter into BLiS “thinking” any more than do the needs, aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people. Look at their demands for an outright ban on fracking and all you will see is brazen political opportunism. Be in no doubt! Kezia Dugdale and here crew are supporting a ban solely because this serves their narrow, shallow partisan agenda. They see it as the best way to land some kind of hit on the hated SNP, and that is the only thing that matters.
Think about it! If they were genuinely opposed to fracking, why would they demand action that makes it more likely rather than less? Have they even considered how the Scottish Government might respond to a legal challenge? Why are they, like the Greens, so keen to prevent the Scottish Government assembling evidence against frack? Why are they, like the Greens, so anxious to prevent the Scottish Government establishing beyond doubt the extent of public opposition to fracking?
Make no mistake! So long as BLiS can rely on a compliant media that will never ask them the awkward questions, supporting a ban on fracking is politically expedient in all manner of ways. They can be sure that the media will neglect to remind people that it was British Labour who helped their Tory allies withhold from the Scottish Parliament the powers that it needs in order to implement a ban effectively. Meanwhile, they can be sure that the media will portray their petty politicking as a principled stance, while playing up the “blow to Sturgeon” spin that makes BLiS look like an effective political force.
British Labour in Scotland is behaving despicably and irresponsibly. while the Greens would actually be upset if fracking went ahead, BLiS would be delighted – so long as it happens on the SNP’s watch. That’s how low they go. That’s who repugnantly self-serving they are. That is precisely how obscenely corrupt they are.
And what of the SNP. They abstained. Well, of course they did! What else might they have done? Assorted zoomers are asserting that this is “evidence” the SNP actually wants to allow fracking. This idiocy disregards the fact that it is successive SNP administrations which have prevented fracking over the past decade. It dumbly disregards the fact that, if the SNP did want to permit fracking, there is absolutely nothing to prevent it doing so. If they wanted to, they could simply abandon the moratorium and the public consultation and let the energy companies off the leash.
If they wanted to avoid the public backlash that this would almost certainly occasion, they could simply accede to the demands for an outright ban, knowing that this would be an effective way of enabling the energy companies – albeit after a short delay.
The SNP abstained in yesterday’s vote because they are not opposed to a ban on fracking. They didn’t vote against the ban because such a vote would not reflect the party’s stated position. They didn’t vote for the ban because they know that this is not the most effective way to ensure that fracking is never permitted in Scotland. They didn’t vote for the ban because they know that a ban would be massively irresponsible.
What we see in the SNP administration’s approach to the issue of fracking is the principled pragmatism that has consistently informed their approach to government since they first came to power in 2007. An approach which has won the repeated and unequivocal approval of the Scottish electorate. There is no political or economic expediency here. There is no dogma overruling sound policy and considered action.
If we want to stop fracking in Scotland, who are we to trust? Those who have cleverly contrived to prevent it up to now? Those who are continuing to prevent it? Those who have a discernible, even if not (for legal reasons) explicit plan for preventing it on a permanent basis?
Or those whose motives in seeking an immediate outright ban are as questionable as the practicality and effectiveness of such a move?Views: 2966
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