Union is now the biggest threat to our economy and environment – Adam McVey
Years ago, I was invited to a meeting with officials from the UK energy department to discuss fracking. The UK officials were meeting representatives from relevant council areas and gave a presentation on areas where the Tories were pursuing fracking.
They had circled areas of the UK where they were focusing on. One area, they said, was the “Scottish Central Belt”. However, it had to be explained to them that they had actually circled Cumbria and the Northeast of England. The Tory government was clueless then and has even less grip on climate reality now.
I was reminded of how environmentally illiterate the Tories are when listening to Liz Truss’s radio interviews ahead of the Tory conference. After the Tories crashed the economy the Prime Minister went into hiding for four days, with her Chancellor point-blank refusing to answer journalists' questions.
When she emerged one journalist asked her about fracking. She was asked to define what “local consent” would mean for fracking in people’s back yards. There was no coherent response.
She was asked if she knew where “Preston New Road”, a fracking site that caused major environmental issues and earth tremors impacting residents, was. The Prime Minister confirmed she hadn’t been to the site and had no interest in seeing the issues. In contrast the SNP government has said “no thanks” to fracking.
The problem with the newest hard-right Tory UK Government is they’re ideologically driven to make damaging decisions. The Chancellor has, in just a few days, sent the pound’s value plummeting, brought pension funds to near-collapse (bailed out by the Bank of England) and set the country on course for the biggest interest rate rise in decades, making many folk’s mortgages unaffordable.
What kicked off this catastrophe? The Tories announcing vast borrowing with no credible economic and fiscal plan sitting behind it. They refused to tax the excess profits of energy producers and borrowed billions to give tax cuts – overwhelmingly to rich people who don’t need the money.
The removal of bankers’ bonus caps also hasn’t helped as it’s all sent a signal of a hard-right agenda which doesn’t care about the risks to ordinary people as long as the Tories' chosen few are getting richer.
But what of the Tories in Edinburgh? They are now fully signed up to the economic chaos ensuing. They’ve even called on the Scottish Government to match the UK Government’s reckless policies which are inflicting havoc and causing so much worry for folk now. “No thanks” is the clear response from Scotland and the SNP government.
This is all deeply worrying for people in Edinburgh. The UK Government still controls most of the public spending levers and is now looking at more spending cuts which will hammer public services and people on lower incomes who need help the most.
The SNP will keep working in the council to make progress on climate change and tackle poverty. But it’s getting so much harder with the UK Government’s actions. The Union is now the biggest single threat to Scotland’s economy and our environment.
Adam McVey is Edinburgh SNP group leader