Scotland isn’t allowed to have an opinion. Not according to Michael Fallon, the Tory energy secretary who acts as minder to Ed Davey in order to prevent any Lib Dem-ish sandal wearing in Westminster’s Department of Radioactivity. According to a report in the Herald yesterday, Fallon ordered the Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing not to contact the EU with the views of the Scottish Government on the massive subsidy which the UK is proposing to pay to the Chinese-French consortium behind the Hinkley nuclear power station.
In its desperate search for an energy supply which doesn’t involve building wind farms in Conservative constituencies, Westminster has signed a controversial deal with the French energy giant EDF to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The deal involves giving EDF a guarantee of a minimum price for electricity produced by the plant, a minimum price which is considerably higher than other suppliers receive. Many observers believe that EDF will rake in massive excess profits from the deal, and that the UK Government is paying through the nose in order to mask its own incompetence and its inability to manage a secure and reliable energy supply. The deal may be illegal under European rules, that’s what Westminster doesn’t want anyone pointing out, and that’s why Fallon has slapped Scotland down.
Scotland has set its face against nuclear energy. We’re lowping in conventional energy sources, we’ve got vast renewable potential. Scotland doesn’t need nuclear. But since the energy market in the UK has been so woefully mismanaged by the boys in red white and blue, Scotland’s going to pay for nuclear generation whether it’s in Scotland’s interests or not. The massive increased subsidies to the nuclear industry come as subsidies to the renewable industry are being reduced.
The paper reports that Fallon would view a letter from Embra to Brussels on the subject as a “hostile act”. It would provoke bitch-slaps at dawn, and could possibly lead to an invasion of mandarins and other small fruity objects. Westminster might stop Holyrood’s pocket money if it doesn’t behave properly and go to bed when it’s told to by the big boys in the big city.
It’s a similar story to the way Westminster sold out Scotland’s fishing rights and then refused to allow Scotland to attend EU fisheries meetings even as an observer. As far as relations between Brussels, London and Edinburgh are concerned, there’s a food chain of command and Scotland is the plankton. Scotland should photosynthesise, keep building the windmills and pumping the oil, and shut up. Michael Fallon will do the talking and the thinking for us.
We’re so stupid we might say the wrong thing. Things like “The UK’s nuclear energy subsidy is illegal. Scotland is going to have to pay a whack of it while it damages Scotland’s renewables industry. And we’ve got an anti-nuclear policy. They’re just taking the piss.” Which would leave Michael looking like a guppy which had been gubbed and the French would laugh at him. Especially since it would put the UK in the embarrassing position of being revealed as the only EU state with a tax on masturbation. It’s the Westminster wank tax. Scotland’s being made to pay in order to screw itself.
If Scotland is unhappy with this state of affairs, Michael Fallon says we need to write a stiff oo er missus letter of complaint to Westminster, where it can be considered carefully by a committee with a Tory majority who will give it due consideration. Which consists of filing it in a bin marked “Whinging Jocks” and ignoring it. It’s the proper procedure.
This is Scotland getting the best of all possible worlds as part of the UK. We get a Parliament which can be ignored and silenced, we get to pay for nuclear energy we don’t want or need, we damage our own renewables industry, we get Tory MPs punch above our weight for us at an international level, and as a bonus we get patronised, dismissed and put in our wee tartan place. So we are getting the best of all possible worlds, just not for us. It’s the best of all possible worlds if you’re a Westminster MP.
What’s not to like apart from everything?
Energy and international contacts are reserved matters. In the James Bond fantasy which Westminster inhabits, reserved matters are the wee toys made by M. Only James gets to play with them. Scotland is one of the anonymous Bond girls, who looks pretty, saves James’s arse, then gets killed in the second scene. Punching above our weight Westminster style means we get a tiny bit part in a big movie, as one of the minor players whose name never registers with the audience and who gets less screen time than it takes James to raise an eyebrow.
But all that will change on 18th September. Then Scotland will be in the driving seat of the Aston Martin, and our finger will be on the ejector seat button. Then we can get rid of the Dr No’s of Westminster forever. Michael Fallon probably sees that as a hostile act too, but there will be nothing he can do about it. Scotland can file his response in the bin marked “Self-important Tories” and ignore it.