After all, the real tragedy of Scotland’s not how bad things are, grim as they’re becoming for many, but how much better they should be, given the resources and talent available. Ireland and Norway have both surpassed us, with far less favourable hands played to them.
To be fair, the Scottish Government – with their failures to address the need to join the European Free Trade Association (Efta), deal with the border issue, and move speedily to our own currency – don’t exactly help. But the ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’ line has never struck me as anything other than a caustic attempt to damage. Yet it’s being repeated again, this time about offshore wind.
For sure, it’s now accepted the claim that Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s offshore wind capacity is inaccurate. Though, to be fair, it was also a line accepted by the UK Government with Deputy Prime Ministers and ministerial colleagues either endorsing or parroting it. Indeed, only a few months ago, I repeated it in the House of Commons, and it was unchallenged by the most recent iteration of energy minister.
The story was given legs by a powder-puff defence by the Scottish Government. But technology and time have moved on. I don’t know what the precise figure now is. I doubt anyone precisely knows. But it’ll still be massive as our waters and wind are perfect for it. As the European Commission stated: “The North Sea is currently the world’s leading region for deployed capacity and expertise in offshore wind.”
Of course, that includes other nations’ waters besides Scotland’s, but our assets extend around into the Atlantic. What I do know is that the resource is significant and the potential for Scotland’s huge, with even Boris Johnson talking about the “Saudi Arabia of wind”. He may have been talking about the UK but the bulk of that bounty lies in Scottish waters. Not just the energy it’ll produce but the businesses and jobs it can create are vital. Talking it down is nonsensical.
Yet instead, unionist fronts and organisations founded by rich men with a certain political hue have been decrying the resource and alluding to almost some devilish nationalist plot. But we’ve seen it all before with our first natural bounty in oil and gas.
As a child of the 60s, I recall initial statements that it would be gone by the 1980s, yet the hidden McCrone report stated otherwise. By the referendum in 2014, it was to be a liability. All but gone and a millstone around an independent Scotland’s neck. Yet now they can’t extract it fast enough to prop up the UK economy, despite the risks to the planet.
Many of the same voices echoing Dad’s Army’s Private Fraser and suggesting we’re now “doomed” are the same folk doing backward flips on tax. Eight weeks ago Scotland was to be deserted as rich folk fled south. Now higher taxes are a positive boon and the UK’s counsel is wise. The reality is that offshore wind is yet another natural bounty and Scotland can do so much better than this.