Tom Peterkin: Entrenched positions and the party system leave a legacy which no-one in Scotland can be proud of

Picture: Ian Rutherford
Picture: Ian Rutherford
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AT SOME time in the far-off future the political historians of tomorrow will cast their minds back to this critical stage in the battle for Scotland’s constitutional future (one feels sorry for them already).

Assuming they can be bothered to get out their fine tooth combs and go through the documents produced and considered by Holyrood, they will find a paper trail that clearly defines the battle lines.

Take, for example, a recent document published by the economy, energy and tourism committee: A Report on the Achievability of the Scottish Government’s Renewable Energy Targets.

In common with all Holyrood committees, the SNP enjoy a comfortable majority on this vehicle for scrutinising legislation and parliamentary business.

Paragraph 27 of that report, reads: “The committee does not believe that there is significant evidence that the current constitutional debate is undermining investment decisions regarding renewable energy.”

Funny that, given that the committee is made up of five SNP MSPs, one Green, two Labour and one Tory.

Indeed, there is a footnote to paragraph 27, which reveals that particular extract was only included after a vote – which predictably enough was split down party lines.

Six MSPs (five Nationalists and one Green) were in favour of paragraph 27’s inclusion, while Rhoda Grant of Labour and Murdo Fraser, the Conservative and the committee convener, were against it.

Perhaps Fraser and Grant voted against para 27, because they had been swayed by the written evidence provided to the committee by SSE, Scotland’s largest energy supplier.

In its submission to the committee SSE attached an appendix setting out its views on the independence referendum.

The SSE’s appendix said: “The additional uncertainty (over Scotland’s future) represents increased risk, of which it (SSE) will have no alternative but to take account in making final investment decisions on those projects while that additional uncertainty remains.”

Of course there are two sides to every story. Perhaps the Nationalist and Green members were swayed by evidence that disagreed with the analysis above.

Both the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth Scotland were “both optimistic about Scotland’s ability to deliver on its targets as an independent country”.

Of course, the reality is that our politicians are so deeply entrenched on either side of the constitutional debate that they are almost immune to any evidence that is contrary to their position. And when tomorrow’s political historians go through the paper trail being laid down today, they would be entirely correct to come to that conclusion.