I was delighted to see the Scottish Government taking the next steps towards the Independence Referendum which they have committed to holding in autumn 2023. The Scottish Government have published the first in a series of documents to set out the kind of Scotland we can deliver with Independence. It compares the performance of the UK (and of Scotland as part of the UK) against ten other European countries and finds that they are not only wealthier, they are also much fairer places to live. This is because their governments have the full range of powers to take decisions that suit their needs and their circumstances rather than having decisions forced on them by someone else. This is the critical question in the coming referendum campaign; who knows what’s best for Scotland – the people who live here, or politicians whose constituencies are hundreds of miles away?
It’s a sign of how weak the arguments against Independence are that our opponents are trying everything to stop the questions from ever being asked. I’ve no issue with anyone who disagrees with me about Independence but no-one has the right to stop the people of Scotland from taking that decision. Only last year we gave the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament a clear mandate to hold an Independence Referendum and despite what many people will try to tell you, in Scotland it’s the people who hold ultimate sovereignty.
The Public Accounts Committee has issued a damning report on the massive waste of money on UK Government contracts for Covid Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They paid about £12 billion to private companies, some of which had only been set up a few weeks previously. In one case the private company sold the stuff on to the NHS for nearly three times what they had paid for it, making a profit of nearly £80 million almost overnight. Then it was discovered that the 25 million sterile gowns they had provided couldn’t be used. In total the Government was able to use about a third of all the PPE it paid for, the taxpayer then had to shell out millions more in storage costs, and to cap it all the Government are now proposing to chuck a lot of it in an incinerator. This would be bad enough at the best of times but with the economy plunging into recession and tens of millions of people struggling to pay their basic bills, it’s unforgivable.
I got notification last week of a major new partnership between energy giant RWE and SGN (Scottish Gas Networks) that will keep Fife and Scotland at the forefront of hydrogen energy technology. Part of the proposal is a feasibility study into developing a 100 Megawatt electrolyser at the RWE Markinch plant, to produce hydrogen from water. This will add to the world leading work SGN are already doing in Levenmouth where they will be running a large scale pilot to use clean hydrogen instead of natural gas for domestic heating. I’m looking forward to catching up with both RWE and SGN to hear more about this.