Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Labour Dumbing Down

Just over a short year ago, I sat at a well attended Labour Party meeting of all members in Edinburgh. Well attended as Alistair had announced he was standing down and was coming along to give a valedictory speech, and equally interestingly, two Edinburgh Uni academics, were there to discuss carbon and future technologies - Dr Vivian Scott speaking about carbon capture, and Dr Stuart Gilfillan discussing shale gas and coalbed methane. Yes, fracking to you and me.

Alistair Darling MP
Afterwards I wrote a summary to a friend which I'll reprint verbatim:
It does seem that gas is going to be hugely important as we phase out coal. At the moment we import gas from Qatar and Norway - so he rattled through shale technology. He made it clear he wasn't making any personal recommendations - he just wanted to share the evidence to date. Having said that, I got the strong impression that he thinks we should be carrying out test drilling to assess the deposits. I guess the main concerns we have are around issues like seismic activity and ground water contamination and as presented, these didn't seem to be issues of any great concern. I remain unconvinced on that but would like to know more.
OK, fast forward a year, and Labour is now adopting a "no to fracking, not now, not ever" policy. It's clearly a stupid position. No smart politician ever rules anything out, and to do that with something as essential as future energy is, well, the opposite of smart. Dumb.

And of course it's being driven by this perceived tactical need to differentiate ourselves from the bloody Nats. The Nats who believe that every contest is Unionist v Nationalist and are happy to make it so. Their game. The worst outcome for Scotland. We're Social Democrats. We're OK with pooling and sharing sovereignty whether than is within Scotland, the UK or the EU. And we adopt policies based on vision and evidence. Pragmatic and rational. Isn't that what Scottish Labour is at core? Or should be. Let's stand firm on that, at least.  

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