Friday, 27 May 2011
The Unstoppable Outpouring of Jubilation Following Our Glorious Day of National Awakening and Liberation
I must apologise for an even lighter-than-usual blogging rate recently.
It's been really difficult. My commute to and from work has been massively lengthened by the need to fight my way through the crowds of jubilant citizens celebrating the emphatic SNP victory in the election.
And once I get to work, we hardly get anything done. The water-cooler and coffee-machine chat is all about the electrifying effect the election result has had on the country, plus stuff like "Were you up for Kerr?" and so on.
I jest, of course. It hasn't been anything like that, and I bet it hasn't been like that for you either.
In fact the national reaction to this "momentous" result has mostly been "Meh", with good admixture of "Eh?" and no small amount of "Oops!" either.
As in 1997, the poor state of the losing side has resulted in a result beyond any expectation of the winners, or those who voted for them.
So now we have the Nats claiming a "mandate" for all sorts of things beyond running a devolved, subsidiary administration - which is in fact all that the electorate have given them.
Even more unhappily, we have the prospect of Blubberchops preening and blustering at us every week, with 67 clones of Sammy the Seal slapping their flippers together at his every utterance.
Never mind. Be of good cheer, in fact. Here are a few Reasons to be Cheerful:
1) The Telegraph's court case about the Nats' suppression of the awful financial truth behind their LIT proposal is due soon. They'll probably win. Ooops, Salmond and Swinney exposed as idiots and/or liars.
2) "Weasel" Russell thought he was being oh-so-clever by kicking the review of university funding into the post-election long grass. Ooops - that "whop whop" sound is a £300m boomerang heading directly for the centre of his forehead.
3) There are going to be Eruptions of the Bams. They are already marching up and down at NutNatScotland egging each other on about "powers of assumption" and "unilateral declarations" of this and that. This is bound to spread into the new intake of MSPs.
It's actually even better than that - the high-ups are already getting infected by the Bam virus as well. Witness Salmond himself going off on one over the Times report that Dominic Grieve had asked if he could take any action about the Herald's blowing of the Giggs superinjuction (when he clearly had not read the story), or the Supreme Court's intervention in the Nat Fraser case (handed down by a Scottish judge according to Scottish law). This is going to be entertaining.
4) It is going to become rapidly clear that this new Nat administration has no clue about what it is actually going to do. In terms of legislation, we have minimum alcohol pricing, anti-sectarianism and, er, that's about it. They've already said any resurrected LIT proposal won't be effective until 2016.
Oh, they're going to be "demanding" lots of extra stuff in the Scotland Act. But again, most of that isn't due to become effective until 2015-16 either. So even if Cameron says "yes", not much will happen for years. (And I suspect he won't be saying "yes", more like "Interesting - can you come back with detailed drafts for legislation, regulations, impact assessment and implementation plans. Meanwhile we'll put the Act on hold - can't waste Parliament's time, can we?")
We know they're going to be trying to con us all into a referendum "yes" vote. But, er, they've been doing that for 4 years already. We've had the CyberNat Chatroom, policy papers on this, that and the other, and at least two pre-referendum White Papers with two different versions of a referendum question. All of these documents have been total, mendacious, deceptive garbage, some of which I have deconstructed here. What new lies do they have to try on us?
But the referendum has to happen now - there is no way they can run away from it this time. So we are going to see the delicious spectacle of the Duke of Pork and his 10,000 men marching up to the top of the hill and then throwing themselves off a cliff, in the form of a referendum they are bound to lose.
Grab a snack and a drink, and enjoy the show.
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
Hacker: "Humphrey, I'm appalled."
Sir Humphrey: "You're appalled? I'm appalled."
Bernard: "I'm appalled, too."
Hacker: "There's no doubt about it: it's appalling."
It's obvious why. The old Clinton-Haughey maxim that you CAN successfully lie to an electorate if you do it in a chirpy, cheery, jocular way, looks like it may get another confirmation.
Still, let's see, shall we?
The effort I put into filling in all those postal votes might pay off.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
So, the new Pack of Lies (er, "manifesto") is with us.
I feel my hostility and derision is fully justified, given what we experienced last time - remember what happened with "Scottish Futures Bonds", LIT, class sizes, abolishing student debt, and so on, on and on?
I'm left wondering how anyone can trust a single word of anything they say this time round. For the moment I'm going to leave the detail for those more expert; I'll just say that in general, given the background of fiscal retrenchment and cuts, a party coming along promising to freeze council tax but keep loads of things "free" - prescriptions, universities, you name it - lacks a certain degree of credibility.
The best example is their "Scottish Futures Fund" - to be funded by, wait for it, "savings" from the new Forth Bridge.
Which hasn't been built yet.
And of course, large engineering projects are FAMOUS for coming in under budget. Um, aren't they?
In any case, for now I'm going to focus on one particularly ludicrous Nat / Salmond "pledge" - the one about Scotland getting 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Conveniently, this lets me finish off the planned pair of posts I started back in January. Huzzah!
So, what did he say back on the 15th?
"The First Minister said Scotland could, by 2020, produce twice the electricity it required for domestic use..."
"Mr Salmond envisages wave and tidal power, which now produce 2.35 megawatts of power, would produce 800 MW by 2020. He also said he expected Scotland to be producing 12,000 MW of wind power by 2020, up from 2,575 MW at present."
Firstly, why on earth does he think that producing and exporting lots of renewable power is a Good Thing? As my first post was meant to - and did - draw out, there are no taxes on power exports. So no government revenues. And since the gadgets aren't made here, so there's not much employment gain either. And the nature of renewables is that they don't need many people to run or maintain them either.
Furthermore, all these technologies are uneconomic and only proceeding because they are getting massive subsidies from the consumer. So any notion of being able to tax exports at some point in the future is also far-fetched - the things have to get to the point of being subsidy-free first!
(The thought also occurs that 90% of the subsidies for Scottish renewables come from consumers in England & Wales. Would this continue, post-"independence"?)
Second, let me give credit where credit is due. Salmond's numbers may be utter tosh, but they are internally consistent tosh. If you run the numbers, assuming 12.8 GW of wind and marine power, roughly flat demand in Scotland and factor in the closures of Hunterston (nuclear) and Cockenzie (coal), then in 2020 Scotland could indeed be exporting as much power as it consumed internally.
Which could, possibly, allow a claim that the country was 100% renewable-powered, with all the nasty nuclear, coal- and gas-fired power being exported. (There's a slight problem there - how would generators in an "independent" Scotland continue to receive subsidy payments from conusmers in England & Wales, if their government was claiming that all the exports were actually the nasty, dirty sort?)
But the operative words here are "assuming 12.8 GW of wind and marine power". We shall return to this.
I see today that the Nats, clearly spooked by the sceptical reaction to El Presidente's ravings, have released a paper intended to back up his position. It's full of suspiciously precise numbers.
The problems aren't too hard to find:
1) no attribution of the numbers to any source
2) they obscure and lie about the current situation for renewables - claiming that "consented" projects equates to projects "about to be built". Oh yes, every major energy project with "consent" always gets built. No, they don't.
3) it is somewhat curious that the Fat Minister was talking about 13.8 GW of renewables on April 15th, while a week later the "supporting" paper is talking 14 GW of wind & marine plus another 0.5 GW of biomass and stuff. Oh dear, are these numbers being made up on the hoof?
But let's cut to the chase. Here is why these "visions" are total, vapid, mendacious nonsense:
The chart shows the actual rate of wind capacity build - readily available from renewableUK. The highest ever rate of completion of wind capacity in Scotland was 536 MW, in 2009. The average annual rate is 310 MW.
In order to hit Salmond's "visionary" "target", the rate of completion would have to go up to almost 1000 MW per year, every year, from now until 2020.
Including 2011. Which we're now almost one-third of the way through, and so far the grand total of completions is...
And as for the money? Well, wind farms cost roughly a billion pounds per GW. So this extra 10 GW of wind capacity means roughly £10bn being borrowed from some banks, somewhere. Has anyone noticed that banks are bit less ready to lend than they used to be?
The wind farms are only half of the story. The existing transmission lines to England are full - so plans call for a whole lot of reinforcement, including subsea cables down both the east and west coasts, plus new onshore lines in the far north. Pylons.
No construction of any of these projects has begun. The total costs of all the new lines comes to around £4bn. Anyone think they're going to happen on time?
My conclusion is simple. Salmond has form from 2007 on lying about a lot of things, from SFT to LIT to reducing class sizes.
He is lying again. He thinks that he has found a big, popular, compelling image (although why it should be compelling baffles me, since it costs us all money), and he's telling the big lie again.
Scotland - why should you re-elect a proven, compulsive liar?