Thursday, 31 December 2009
"In it, the First Minister focuses specifically on the controversy over high transmission charges for renewables firms in Scotland. As they are based further away from the UK's main centres of population, they are charged more for access to the National Grid. Mr Salmond said the charges were "totally unfair and totally unacceptable"."
It says something about the abject and humiliating failure of his governmental programme that he has to focus one of his most important messages of the year on, er, electricity transmission charges.
It also demonstrates what an opportunist and ignoramus he is - both at the same time, which is pretty impressive!
Let us - as is my wont - look at the facts.
We can find the data on these fascinating charges here on National Grid's website.
And we can indeed see that power stations in Scotland have to pay more to National Grid than elsewhere in the country. In fact, power stations in some parts of Southern England pay negative charges - i.e. National Grid actually pays them for being there.
Supply and demand.
There is a lot more generation capacity in Scotland than there is demand for power. So for these power stations to actually find a paying customer, their output has to be exported and carried a long way by the Grid. This costs.
In fact, the Grid is having to invest in new transmission lines to carry the output from all the lovely new wind farms that are being built. This costs even more, and the Grid raises the money by charging the power stations that want it to export their power. Seems fair to me.
In Southern England, on the other hand, there is much more demand than generation. So power stations there don't need new infrastructure to be build and don't need their output carrying large distances. In fact it would save the Grid money if more stations were built there. Hence the negative charges.
Locational incentives, see? It would save the Grid - and all of us - money if power stations located themselves in the South of England, close to the centre of demand.
But this is only half the story. In fact it's a lot less than half - more like a quarter. Viz page 11, paragraph 1.5 (v) of the Grid's Charging Methodology Statement:
"v.) The application of a Transmission Network Use of System Revenue split between generation and demand of 27% and 73% respectively."
The Grid actually gets 73% of its use-of-system revenue from demand - i.e. customers like you and me - and only 27% from power stations. (This charge is bundled up inside the tariffs we pay to our electricity suppliers.)
Let's look at the charges for consumers.
Oooh! Aaah! Lo! and behold, the picture for the demand-side charges is exactly the other way round from that for the generation-side charges.
Who'd have thought it?
This means that Scottish consumers pay lower transmission charges than anyone else in the country.
For exactly the same reason National Grid wants to incentivise generation to locate in the South, it would like demand to locate itself in the North. That's good for us consumers personally and directly, and it's good for the Scottish economy since it makes it marginally cheaper for energy-intensive manufacturing industry to locate here.
Isn't it amazing that the much-vaunted "professional economist" of Bute House is unable to grasp this?
It's not as if he hasn't been given the expert answers for a long, long time. Here is the electricity and gas regulator, Sir Alistair Buchanan, in the Hootsmon in August 2008:
"You were inaccurate to describe the methodology behind locational transmission charging as a "special levy" on Scottish generators.
This charging system is applied in the same way on generators throughout the GB network. It fairly reflects the costs that generators impose on the network to get their energy to the end user.
This is because the further a source of gas or electricity is from its end user, the more it costs to transport that energy to them.
There is no evidence that cost reflective transmission costs are somehow harming the generation of renewable energy in Scotland.
There is a substantial queue of renewable generators waiting to connect, many of which are only being held back by the lack of planning consents. We are not aware of any proposed development that has not gone ahead because of network charges."
It ought to be obvious that the amount of money the Grid needs to raise to fund its operations and investments is pretty much fixed. So if Salmond were to get his wish of reduced charges for generators in Scotland, the obvious corollary would be increased charges for consumers in Scotland.
Brilliant! He wants to reduce charges for the big, rich, mostly foreign-owned corporates building wind farms (Iberdrola, RWE, E.on, EdF, and our own Centrica and SSE) and put them up for ordinary consumers. Clearly an example of a consummate master political tactician at work.
Hopefully you can see why I'm calling this a new low for our Fat Minister.
He hasn't got a lot to talk about in his New Year message. No LIT, no meaningful SFT, failure on class sizes and not much worth saying about the doomed "independence" referendum either.
So the only target the portly one can find for his nakedly politicised, opportunist attempt at gripe-and-moan Union-bashing is, er, electricity transmission charges.
Hardly likely to set the heather alight and inspire the Nat grassroots to charge the barricades, is it?
And what makes it, in addition, an epic fail, is that he has either totally misunderstood the facts or (could this be true?) is choosing to misrepresenting them. What he is actually doing is calling for costs to be transferred from big multinational companies to Scottish consumers.
Whichever explanation is true, it demonstrates why this charlatan is totally unfit for his position.
Oh, and Happy New Year.
Monday, 21 December 2009
Sadly we are fresh out of Red Leicester, Tilsit, Caerphilly, Bel Paese, Red Windsor, Stilton, Gruyere, Emmental, Norwegian Jarlsberger, Liptauer, Lancashire, White Stilton, Danish Blue, Double Gloucester, Cheshire, Dorset Blue Vinney, Brie, Rocquefort, Pont-l'Eveque, Port-Salut, Savoyard, Saint-Paulin, Carre de l'Est, Boursin, Bresse-Bleue, and Perle de Champagne.
We did have some Camembert, but it was very runny and the cat ate it.
We also have no Gouda, Edam, Caithness, Smoked Austrian, Sage Derby, Wensleydale, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Pippo Creme, Danish Fimboe, Czechoslovakian Sheep's Milk Cheese, Venezuelan Beaver Cheese, Cheddar, Ilchester or even Limburger.
We do, however, have this interesting contribution from an ex-SNP councillor.
"As the Brie hits the ventilation system I must confess my own very minor involvement in the whole debacle.
Back in the day when the SNP were more concerned with believing in the cause rather than absolute unquestioning devotion to the latest Blackberry instruction of the day, I was contacted by Mike Russell to get involved in a pro-SNP blogging ring.
I was to be part of the 'group' as an 'influential' (sic) blogger and I was to be contacted again as part of the blogging network he was setting up.
Perhaps I was not pliant enough, but I never heard from Mike again.
All of which explains why I blog in my own name and not under a nom de
Makes "Weasel" Russell's statements that he had no knowledge of and no involvement in a certain political blog all the more convincing, doesn't it?
Sunday, 20 December 2009
If he did, of course, he is guilty of a terminological inexactitude since he has said he didn't.
The ST coverage is a bit curious since neither of the stories adds very much to what was out last weekend.
But to save us from ennui, Mr McLachlan has popped the latest round of correspondence up on his blog.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Row over blog deepens with "liar" post
Published on 19 Dec 2009
The controversial blogger whose website has seriously embarrassed Education Secretary Mike Russell has posted a new entry – two clowns singing "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire".
The entry on Mark MacLachlan’s Universality of Cheese site is not accompanied by any comment and does not specify any target.
The sketch, which is available on YouTube, was taken from an episode of a North American children’s TV series, the Big Comfy Couch. It features a main character called Loonette the Clown and her friends and regularly focuses on moral or educational themes.
During the "Liar, Liar" song, another clown scolds Loonette for telling lies and during a dance routine sings that the habit makes people "squirm".
It stands alone on Mr MacLachlan’s site without any accompanying remarks from the blogger, who is in dispute with Mr Russell over whether he was sacked or resigned and whether the Education Secretary was aware of the smears in the attack blog’s content.
They included suggestions about the sexuality of a married MSP, a claim that one of Scotland’s most successful QCs is a liar and accusations about the conduct of a top Labour Party official.
The addition to Mr MacLachlan’s site was posted as Mr Russell fought back after the issue provoked a heated exchange in the Scottish Parliament between First Minister Alex Salmond and Labour leader Iain Gray.
Mr Russell, who has been vigorously defended by Mr Salmond, strongly denies that he knew anything about what Mr MacLachlan was writing, while his former colleague has implied that he knew more than he has admitted.
The Education Secretary has taken the unusual step of reporting himself to the Scottish Parliament’s Standards Commissioner for investigation and has threatened to sue his former aide for "totally false" allegations.
Mr MacLachlan denies he resigned and claims an apology in his name was written by First Minister Alex Salmond’s senior special adviser, Kevin Pringle.
The blogger did not respond to attempts to contact him yesterday, but his website said he would be "making a statement though my legal representatives in the next 24 hours" regarding stories about him that had appeared in The Herald.
Late yesterday afternoon, the legal advice had still not appeared and Mr MacLachlan’s partner suggested it would not appear on the blog until later in the weekend.
A spokesman for Mr Russell, who had viewed the latest addition to Mr MacLachlan’s blog, said: "We have no further comment to make. Mr Russell has instructed solicitors to make it clear to his former employee that his allegations are totally false, and any repetition of them by him will result in legal action."
Mr Gray also urged Mr Salmond yesterday to sack the SNP group leader on Dumfries and Galloway Council, Rob Davidson, who claimed not to have known anything about the blog, but has since admitted he was a source of some of the material.
The Labour leader said: "Alex Salmond said in Parliament he deprecated such behaviour and political parties should not have anything to do with them. Will he now then ask Rob Davidson to resign or sack him for his part in the SNP smear campaign?
"The First Minister must not hide the role of any MSP or special adviser in this smear campaign or its cover-up. He must also come clean about his own role. Did he order Michael Russell to sack Mark MacLachlan, and did he order his adviser Kevin Pringle to draft a resignation statement?
"If Alex Salmond is sincere about rooting out smear campaigns by the SNP, he must be open about the conduct of his ministers and special advisers and publish all documents and emails relating to Mark MacLachlan."
The SNP, which earlier said Mr Davidson "repudiates the comments" posted by Mr MacLachlan, said yesterday: "Councillor Davidson is the subject of party disciplinary procedures. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."
Thursday, 17 December 2009
It's a matter of time. Heeee!
"Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Having just received a phone call from Paul Hutcheon of the Sunday Herald who is doing a story for tomorrow's Herald, in which I will yet again be smeared as a vile individual, who not only accuses Michael Russell and his South of Scotland adviser Aileen Orr of being not only aware of the blawg, but also of them suggesting stories and much of the sly innuendo and tittle tattle for which I have been panned. In addition I will be accused of attempting to coerce Mr Russell into giving me either my job back or finding me a cushy number in a quiet quango.
It appears that someone has released private emails sent between myself and Michael Russell's home email address to Paul Hutcheon. I can with one hundred percent certainty, hand on heart, scouts honour, tell you that I am not the person who has released these emails, as I was legally advised that it was best to not tell the Sunday Times that Mr Russell not only knew about but suggested possible stories for the blawg as it would hinder any subsequent tribunal.
Now obviously, what appears in The Herald will be skewed against me. So I've decided to give you, my lovely readers, all 14 of you the main emails* from which I suspect I will be kebabed.
So sit back and be prepared to be bored.
* Some details of the following emails have been removed, basically names of certain individuals,
Oh one final reminder, Aileen Orr mentioned above is the SNP candidate for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedsdale. She is without doubt the laziest candidate the party have probably ever put up for a seat, she has done close to zero campaigning in the constituency, has done a mere handful of Activate calls despite claiming to have spent every working moment doing them. She is a great pal of Paul Hutcheon, who didn't deny receiving these emails from her. The reason, I know all this? Well, until this all blew up, I was her election agent. I may still be as I haven't received ANY paperwork regarding my employment situation.
Sent: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 17:33
Subject: Re: This week.
I am sending this to your Feorlean account as neither of us want the following appearing on the Parliamentary system where it could be accessed by an FOI request.
It is my understanding that you told me on the Friday morning that you would 'have to let me go'. I am unhappy about a situation where I humbly resign, as I do not accept that the blog was a sacking offence, it was something I composed outside of office hours, as a check on my parliamentary internet account will confirm, neither do I accept that the comments you refer to 'were of a serious nature'.
Yourself, Kevin Pringle and the FM responded in a knee jerk fashion and chose to sacrifice a loyal party member, employee and friend. You blindly accept the perceived 'truth' of the News of the World, rather than check the claims thoroughly yourselves and the context within which they were written.
At no point did you even begin to explain or even ask how the NOTW got my name and details. The FM's comments in Perth at the weekend basically give credibility to the belief that I was smearing opposition politicians with vile lies and that there is some great cybernat conspiracy.
The condemnation of Norman Will for having the temerity to comment on my facebook status was utterly pathetic and worthy of Stalinist practises long thought dead. Are the party aware that their is a vicious campaign to silence pro-independence bloggers and the FM's statement has gone down like a lead balloon.
You said the post on Cllrs Smyth and Nicholson were accusations of wife beating. That is completely incorrect, the images used to illustrate the post were tongue-in-cheek satire of the 1950's and 1960's showing woman being treated as less than equal.
Rather ironically, the first I knew about Cllr Smyth's dismissal was when you yourself told me about it on Friday the 20th, the day of the flooding and as we drove to Whithorn. I also have Cllr ****** weekly round-up which mentions it in detail.
If you remember correctly, it was you who told me about driving a drunken &%$^(*) ^*%$&& in Edinburgh and having to stop the car whilst he picked up some young men, where else could I have found that information?
Any comments on ***"£$ *^&%$***, came from comments that both you and Aileen made to me. Although, there is a seven Tories in a bed comment on the blog, it links to a photograph of ********* sitting on a bed in Africa…you know, humour.
The abject humiliation I have suffered in the media, both national and local (thank you for your Jekyll and Hyde comments in the Dumfries Courier) could have been prevented had you and the FM team taken time to consider the situation positively, rather than this pathetic knee jerk reaction better suited to your political rivals.
As it is your subsequent feeding me to the lions has left me virtually unemployable. As stated previously, I am looking to you as my employer to assist me in finding an alternative job, rather than let all of this sorry mess make its way into the public domain.
I intend to contest my sacking, given that although you now deny it, you were aware of the blog and even suggested possible subjects, such as the Daily Record pictures of Megrahi which I had asked SPICE for when I arrived at Parliament at 11.30am on the Thursday, for which they subsequently sent me an email claiming they could not locate the hard copies. As you will remember you said you would get them to me for putting on the blog.
I’m not trying to be a bastard about this situation, and I appreciate the kind words that you said in Friday’s email. I’m merely looking for some help from a friend in a powerful position who has not been truthful to the world about his knowledge of what I was doing.
You could have at any point told me to shut it down and I would have. I see the Courier even manage to publish my home address as justification for a letter I sent complaining about Smyth not identifying himself as a councillor when he attacked you over flooding/sea gulls/ regeneration.
As you gave me a deadline of Wednesday to respond, I will give you the same opportunity to respond to the above before I send it to your parliamentary address and cc the Presiding Officer and other interested parties.
I have recorded nothing on the telephone, I bear you and Cathleen no ill will, I only want some assistance. As you know I am loyal to the party and the government, however, I place Jane’s health and my family above that of politics. I would dearly love to walk away from this whole mess by the end of the week, if this is not possible then I will take up the offer from the media to talk about the blog.
Sent: Fri, 4 Dec 2009 14:47
Changing the office door locks, having Aileen demand to know if I was recording our conversation and and making ***** ********* try to find out what journalists I had spoken to is not really the best way of maintaining my loyalty. For the record, the only journalist I have been in touch with is ****** ********, after she contacted me to say she'd spoken to you at the Diaspora event.
The NOTW as part of their concerted campaign against Independence supporting bloggers, have managed to to knock out another five bloggers this week. ****** ******* is being dragged into it, after his former constituency secretary and friend, is exposed as someone who failed to condemn a racist comment on the Scotsman forum. Iain McWhirter's blog from Monday questioning just how much you knew about my blog, the accusations that the FM responded in a knee jerk reaction rather than actually look at the truth through a NOTW prism, are all gaining momentum.
****** has asked if I want to give my side of the story to ****** ******. I don't want to.
What I do want is help finding a job. It needn't be immediate, some time in the next few months, stuck in some quango, under my first name, not even in Dumfries and Galloway.
Falling on the sword is one thing, destroying my families future for the SNP is an entirely different thing.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
More seriously, an interesting tale in the Sunday Times:
Will the list include party office-bearers, MSPs or even ministers?
The world wonders.
(Furthermore, MacLachlan offers some interesting insight into the exact manner of his "outing".)
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Spookums has - apparently voluntarily - hung up the keyboard at the so-called "Advanced Media Watch".
No loss. He seems a fairly nice if naif chap, but I thought there was supposed to be more to blogging than vignettes from Spook's life and him saying "I love football and the SNP" over and over again.
When he wasn't calling named journalists c**ts.
And the shutters have gone up at Subrosa.
This is more interesting (and/or concerning), since apparently this is a response to her being "outed" and "threatened" by a "stalker". (Can't confirm this, since I wasn't there, and I haven't been able to turn anything up in the Google cache.)
Rumours suggest there is to be a story about Subrosa in the News of the Screws on Sunday. I would guess that this might be about a thread on her blog in which she and her circle of male admirers made some unfortunate comments about what they thought ought to be done to asylum seekers, and the fact that she boasts of being a mate of "Hapless" Swinney.
Of course, there was also the personal attack on Jenny Hjul of the Sunday Times. Or the remarks about "incomers" (see below).
I've blogged on Subrosa before. Frankly, anyone who puts up a picture of themselves and makes regular references to where they live and what they do / have done is not going to stay anonymous for long. Duh.
And that means that said blogger needs to exercise due care and attention about what they say and allow to be said on their blog. Particularly if they value their supposedly close links to politicians.
Polaris seems to be having a fine stab at whoever is going after the Nat blogs.
As for Subrosa's blog, again small loss. Most of the time it read like some sort of dating site for over-55s. Presumably this is still going on behind closed doors.
Oh, one more thing, love: no female resident of Broughty Ferry ever describes themselves as a "Dundee wifey".