Tag Archives: the scotsman

Christine Jardine: Donald Trump is a warning, not an inspiration

Christine Jardine has been sharing her dream in her Scotsman column this week. And it isn’t pretty:

In this sleep-induced scenario, some Donald Trump sound-alike was holding court in Edinburgh, draped in tartan, surrounded by saltires and spouting endless meaningless slogans. Fortunately, they had stopped short of wearing a bright blue Tam O’Shanter bearing the motif “Make Alba Great Again”.

And people in the crowd which had gathered were not all there to cheer and applaud the separatist dream being espoused at the flag-laden centre of events. No. Many of those in the imaginary demonstration were instead calling for help for the nurses and other health workers who have to cope with long shifts looking after wards with too many patients and too few staff.

This echoes the feeling of many Scots that the Scottish Government needs to sort out the crisis in its public services instead of looking to populism to stoke up division over the constitution.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Will new PM save us or watch as economy is wrecked?

Christine Jardine has some questions for our new PM in this week’s Scotsman column.

For many of us, the question will be whether the new Prime Minister will be equipped to deal with the crises that have gone unaddressed while the country awaited the outcome of their party’s decision-making process.

And does the government actually even understand the extent of the fear being felt across the country at what this winter might bring?

A survey carried out by the Liberal Democrats revealed this past week that almost one in four adults is planning not to turn on their heating over the winter because of the potential cost. That figure rises to more than one in four when they focused on adults with children under the age of 18. Similar research carried out by Savanta discovered that more than two thirds of us will be limiting our use of heating.

What do we need from our new PM?

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Jardine: As nationalist anger overflows, old fears return

The 2014 campaign for Scottish independence was grim in so many ways. One of the most awful was the febrile atmosphere and the friendships and families torn apart. Some of those rifts have never been healed.

A few weeks out from the poll, I wrote about how worrying and awful it was at the time.  This is what happened when I put up a pretty benign Facebook post:

A friendly and thoughtful discussion ensued on it and then a real life friend who isn’t a party political activist but who supports independence commented that the “names of the traitors have been duly noted.” Because I know hime well, I knew he was trying to be funny, but in the current febrile atmosphere, his words may appear threatening to some. I felt it necessary to tell everyone that he was a nice guy and not a nasty cybernat but is that the sort of language we should be using at all?

I’ve been talking to people who are ardent “No” voters who are scared to stick their heads above the parapet and display any sign of their allegiance because they are scared of attracting unwelcome attention from the more excitable nationalists.

This atmosphere is horrible and we need to find some ways of  making things better because we can’t go on allowing our politics to be conducted by abuse and intimidation.

With the Scottish Government’s stated intention to hold a second referendum year certain to be denied by the UK Government who have the power in this matter, Christine Jardine uses this week’s Scotsman column to look at what that might mean.

She wrote it just after the disgraceful scenes in Perth last week outside the Conservative hustings where nationalist supporters threw abuse, eggs and had a right go at BBC journalist James Cook who was just doing his job. Again that “traitor” word was used.

Christine recalls some frightening moments during the 2014 referendum:

Anecdotally I’ve heard of a comedian at the Fringe describe 2014 as a friendly affair.

They must have been in a different referendum from me because my experience was certainly not that, but was instead a constant barrage of bitter divisive comments and actions.

I was one of many campaigners followed by nationalists who photographed us or posted horrible tweets about us.

On one occasion, on the eve of the vote itself, I found myself surrounded by a crowd or around 100 Yes campaigners waving flags and shouting.

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Scotsman: Lib Dems deserve praise for coming up with what looks like a plan

Praise for the Lib Dems’ call for October’s energy price rise to be scrapped from an unlikely source appears today. The Scotsman leader column says:

Labour’s party political point-scoring about Johnson being in office but not in government might impress some but hardly offers an alternative solution.

Instead it was left to the Liberal Democrats to come up with what sounds like an expensive but effective plan.

They called for the energy price cap to remain at its current rate with energy suppliers recompensed by government for rising wholesale prices to the tune of £36 billion, partly funded by an extended windfall tax on fossil fuel companies. As Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey rightly said, “this is an emergency, and the government must step in now”.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Boris is putting peace process in peril

As Liz Truss prepares to tell Parliament how exactly the British Government intends to ride a coach and horses through the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiated by itself, Christine Jardine writes in the Scotsman about the dangers this poses to the Peace Process.

She starts by writing about how she felt when the IRA first announced its ceasefire back in 1994.

But in that moment it seemed, for the first time, that there might be a bright, positive peaceful future for the people of Northern Ireland. For everyone touched by the euphemistically named ‘Troubles’.

Thirty years later, they have reached a point where they have, to a previously unimaginable extent, put the bitterness and pain of those years behind them.

So to be faced with the realisation that it might all be undermined by an unnecessary dispute born of the Brexit debacle and government intransigence is astonishing.

She condemns the Government for the threat it is posing to the Union.

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that a government, under fire, struggling to get on top of a cost-of-living crisis, is using the most socially and politically fragile area of the UK as a football.

More than that, it often feels as if the Conservatives are playing unacceptable games, not just with the people of Northern Ireland but with the Union.

She outlines the potential consequences of the Government’s actions:

If the Conservatives persist with their ideological approach, it could result in a trade war with our closest allies in the EU.

In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, and when we need to work together to support Ukraine and oppose Russian aggression in Europe, it is hard to imagine a more self-damaging approach.

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: SNP pension plans a good reason to stay in UK

So the SNP Government has assured Scots, with all the confidence of a Vote Leave spokesperson saying that there would be £350 million a week for the NHS, that their State Pensions would continue to be paid by the UK Government if Scotland became independent.

Will this persuade older Scots, who overwhelmingly voted to remain in 2014, that independence is worth pursuing? Alistair Carmichael, in a column for the Scotsman, thinks not.

By Blackford’s reckoning, if Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom we can still keep the good bits (like the currency or our pension entitlements) while leaving behind the bad bits (like the taxes that pay for the pensions). The SNP believe that they can reject any responsibility to pay for your pension, but demand that our neighbours to the south cover the tab.

I am no economist. There are others who have outlined far more eloquently than I could the challenges that our people and pensioners would face if the SNP actually tried to embark on this “offloaded pensions” policy – and the harsh spotlight this throws upon the fiscal challenges of secession generally.

He points out an inherent contradiction at the heart of the SNP’s thinking:

It seems more than a little odd that the SNP think that the rest of the UK is simultaneously irredeemable and yet eminently reasonable – made up solely of monstrous, thieving Tories who nevertheless will empty their pockets at the moment of asking. Is this Schrödinger’s United Kingdom?

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael – Liberalism is the most effective counter to competing nationalisms

writing in the Scotsman, Alistair Carmichael challenges both the SNP’s view that independence is inevitable because so many young people support it and the older voters will die off and the Conservative view that those young people will become more conservative and risk averse as they grow older.

Both of these views are blinkered – and, frankly, complacent. We should have higher ambitions than some kind of “demographic destiny”. When we are talking about no less than the future of Scotland, our people deserve a little more by way of ideas and ideals, and a little less talk of inevitability.

Partisans on both sides of the constitutional divide are kidding themselves if they think they have a lock on our country’s future. The case for independence has not been made – but the stability of our shared community with the rest of the United Kingdom cannot be treated as an afterthought either. In a liberal democracy, we have to respect one another enough to make the case for the values of interdependence and shared prosperity, year on year and day by day.

He cited the experience of Quebec, where support for independence that once seemed inevitable is now much reduced. How did this happen?

What changed was not the demographic “inevitability” of Quebec, but the democratic debate and exchange of ideas. In the aftermath of the 1995 referendum, Liberal leaders and academics alike took on the issues raised by nationalism and independence and responded.

They challenged nationalist narratives head-on and reinvigorated discussions on the federal make-up of Canada. They changed minds – and made the case for a Canadian society of both diversity and shared common interest

And we have to keep winning the arguments to preserve our liberal values:

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LibLink: Malcolm Bruce Scotland’s unionists need a new vision

This is one from a few weeks ago, but worth sharing.

Malcolm Bruce, a former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, wrote in the Scotsman about the need for those who want to stay in the UK to build a stronger and newer vision of why it is so essential to Scotland’s interests.

He argues for a federal UK as the best option. It’s all about focusing on the positives of staying together:

The SNP clearly articulate the disruption that Brexit brings. The same arguments apply in spades to Scotland opting in a fit of pique to leave the UK.

I dislike intensely the ideology of the Brexit-obsessed Conservative Party and despise the cheery incompetence of the privileged clique that constitute the present Government.

But my reaction is to face reality and recognise that the people who share these islands – which whatever the constitution we will continue to do – will need to regain our senses and work for a better shared future.

So what do Liberal Democrats want?

The Liberal Democrats want to build a federal United Kingdom by recognising what we can do together, not concentrating on what drives us apart.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine MP: Coronavirus crisis shows why the BBC is so special

Our public service broadcaster is the focus of Christine Jardine MP’s Scotsman column this week. She highlights the corporation’s role in keeping the nation informed in a way that other broadcasters simply can’t:

In this crisis more than ever in my lifetime I am aware of those two words which set the BBC and to a less extent Channel 4, apart from the purely money-making platforms of the technological explosion: public service.
How many over 75s, or low-income households would have been able to afford pay per view services to keep up to date with health advice or social services?

Would those independent

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Brexit’s real life impacts are already hitting the UK hard

Vince was up in Edinburgh this week (not, contrary to some reports, flying business class and staying in luxury). After an early start to do budget media stuff, he voted on the budget at 6:30 or so and caught a flight an hour later. He and Christine Jardine got to the Edinburgh West dinner at about 9:45 and both were in sparkling form.

In fact, I think that the speech Vince gave was better than his Conference speech. There was none of the schoolboy, carry-on style humour, and just a very simple, effective liberal message. He talked about needing to be honest with people about the future funding of public services – we will need to pay more tax. He talked about Brexit and our desire to stop it too, but he had plenty of vision about helping those who need it most – putting more money into Universal Credit and stopping its rollout until the problems with it are sorted out. He talked of his surprise that Labour had abstained on he Tory tax cut for better off people as he led our MPs to oppose it.

Timed to coincide with his visit was an op-ed in the Scotsman which he used to describe the detrimental impact that Brexit is already having on us:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Trump turns hope of #MeToo movement into despair

Donald Trump’s foul rants about Christine Blasey Ford and his assertion that it’s a scary time for young men in America are not the random uttering of an unpredictable, mercurial leader. It’s much more calculating than that. It’s a carefully targeted message to the Republican Party’s white male base that they are under threat. He wants their votes in the midterms in 4 weeks’ time. Portraying Brett Kavanaugh as the victim of a nasty leftie Democrat plot is all part of that strategy.

It must be a lot scarier for young women thinking about coming forward with allegations of sexual assault …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: The EU champions LGBT rights. Will Brexit Britain?

Christine Jardine has used her column in the Scotsman to highlight the difference that the EU has made in LGBT rights. Lest we get complacent and think that the work is done, she reminds us how Roe v Wade, the landmark decision on abortion in the US that everyone thought was settled could well unravel.

And we aren’t as far on as we thought we were, either:

As a society we have travelled a long way, but this is not the time to relax and assume the work is done. I have LGBT constituents who are still not comfortable holding their partners hand in public, or displaying any kind of affection, in case they draw attention to themselves.

She highlights how the EU and its human rights charter have been such a driver of rights:

It has been used by the Court of Justice to outlaw homophobia, and to make it clear that the sort of incidents we have seen particularly in eastern Europe are unacceptable. Yes, the UK has gone beyond what has been required by EU law, but without the measures adopted by the EU, the encouragement that offered and the legislative background it provided, would we be where we are now? While the Tory government seeks to argue that the protections enshrined in the Charter already exist in British law or will be incorporated through other EU directives, there is really no coherent argument for scrapping it. The Charter is the only international human rights document that contains a provision specifically outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

She went on to talk about Theresa May dancing her way round Africa but not bringing up the subject of human rights in countries where same sex relationships are punishable by lengthy prison terms or worse.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Creative industries face serious threat from Brexit

Edinburgh relies on the creative industries. For a month a year, the city is home to all sorts of weird and wonderful productions from all over the world during its iconic Festival and accompanying Fringe. It’s not surprising that the city’s Lib Dem MP is a massive supporter of the creative industries. Christine Jardine has written for the Scotsman about the damage Brexit stands to do to evens like the Festival.

She outlines the threat to the creative industries:

UK Music has warned that touring and live events will be at risk because of the potential loss of technical talent from the EU. And all events will lose a valuable stream of talent from the EU. Talent which is its life blood.

But it’s not just the impact on culture. It will have an impact on the tourism it supports. Tourism is worth around £127 billion a year to the UK. That’s about 9 per cent of GDP. Across the UK, it supports approximately 3.1 million jobs. It incorporates about quarter of a million small and medium-sized enterprises. Its growth is on a par with the digital sector we hear so much about.

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Liblink: Christine Jardine: My shock at Islamophobia wrapped up in Union flag

Twice recently, Christine Jardine has visited a Mosque in her constituency.

When she’s posted the pictures on social media, the nasty, racist comments started to flow. She wrote about that experience in the Scotsman this week:

I was brought up in Glasgow where sectarianism is almost commonplace. But I had never experienced anything like this. After removing a string of offensive and abusive comments from my page, I posted another comment asking people to be more respectful. That was a waste of time. It seems my offence was to cover my head, something my Church of Scotland-going grandmother long ago taught me

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LibLInk: Alistair Carmichael: Theresa May’s liberal rhetoric a surprise

Alistair Carmichael has written an article for today’s Scotsman in which he matches up Theresa May’s words on entering Downing Street to her actions in government. Certainly we can all remember Margaret Thatcher’s warm words about bringing peace and harmony when she entered No 10, and we know how that turned out.

For many people there were three main reasons for being pleased to see Theresa May enter No 10 Downing Street last week. Firstly she was not Boris Johnson; secondly she was not Michael Gove and thirdly she was not Andrea Leadsom. As a father, I felt it could have been worse. Mrs May, a vicar’s daughter we are told, delivered a little homily for the benefit of the world’s media outside her new residence. The rhetoric was good. I know from five years in coalition government that getting some Conservatives even to acknowledge the inequalities of modern life can be difficult. Here we had a Conservative prime minister not just acknowledging them but promising to tackle them.

But her record so far doesn’t quite reflect this:

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LibLink: David Steel: We need liberalism more than ever

David Steel has written an article for the Scotsman explaining why liberalism is needed more than ever in the face of both domestic and international challenges. He praises both Tim Farron and Willie Rennie and urges liberals to “re-assert themselves and support them.”

His comments about the SNP also struck a bit of a chord with me. It’s not just that they stitched up the Scottish Parliament with their majority, giving themselves control of the committees so that they couldn’t be effectively scrutinised, it’s their general attitude to politics. They are reminiscent of Labour in the ’80s and ’90s, with such a sense of entitlement to power and objection to even the mildest, most evidence based criticism. Yesterday, we had three shouty nationalists in the space of a couple of hours in our office. Clearly such intimidatory tactics are designed to spook us. Actually, we enjoy the fact that they are clearly rattled by the scale and success of our campaign. It is very like the days in Derbyshire when Labour thugs would shout at you as you delivered leaflets and it’s sad to see that kind of politics.

Anyway, back to David’s article. He wrote:

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: Scottish Tories are a referendum themed tribute act, draped in union flag, singing Rule Britannia

Willie Rennie has written a scathing attack on the Scottish Conservatives for the Scotsman newspaper. He accused Ruth Davidson’s party of being nothing but a “referendum themed tribute act.”

In contrast, he set out a strong statement of the values the Liberal Democrats stood for:

I want liberal-minded Yes voters to know they can vote for the Liberal Democrats because Scotland needs strong liberal voices in parliament to stand up for investment in opportunity through education and good health, to guarantee our civil liberties and to protect our environment. We need a strong outward-looking, internationalist, altruistic, tolerant, reformist, pro civil liberties, pro-Europe, pro-environment, pro-business party in Scotland. You don’t get that with anyone else and Yes voters as well as No voters should back us if they want that platform.

The Tories are trying to portray themselves as the true guardians of the union, trying to characterise Labour and Liberal Democrats as flimsy at best because we won’t chuck independence supporters out of our parties.

Willie says that the Tories and the SNP are feeding off each other and trying to continue the independence debate when Scotland’s focus needs to be on its own public services:

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LibLink: Michael Moore: The Smith Commission has delivered

The Vow deliveredThis was the week that the Government unveiled the 44 clauses of the Scotland Bill which will be debated after the General Election. Former Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore was a member of the Smith Commission upon whose report the clauses were drafted. He says in an article for the Scotsman that the Commission has delivered and “the Vow” has therefore been kept:

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LibLink: Sam Ghibaldan: Time to end constitutional quirk

england-flagEnglish votes for English Laws has become the great rallying cry of the last week ever since David Cameron decided it was appropriate to use the exact moment that almost half of the 85% of Scots who voted in the referendum said they wanted to leave the UK to pick a fight with Ed Miliband over what has been traditionally called the West Lothian Question. Sam Ghibaldan was Special Adviser to two Liberal Democrat Deputy First Ministers in Scotland and he has some advice for Ed in an article in today’s Scotsman.   He urges him to stop prevaricating and embrace the potential change.

First of all he sets the context:

In the 18th century, of course, the whole political system was largely corrupt and the rotten boroughs provided yet more opportunities for bribery. The West Lothian Question does not do that, thankfully, but it is nevertheless a serious democratic aberration, pushed back to the top of the political agenda by the independence referendum.

The concern is something we British like to think of as our own: fairness. Why should Scottish – or for that matter Welsh or Northern Irish – MPs, vote on English issues, when their English counterparts cannot vote on Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish ones?

The answer to that – they shouldn’t – is so obvious that most Scottish voters, let alone English ones, oppose their MPs voting on English issues. It is one of those rare constitutional questions that chimes with the electorate, appealing directly to their inherent sense of justice.

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LibLink: John Barrett: Independence is about country, not cash

Former MP for Edinburgh West John Barrett has made a surprise intervention in the debate on Scottish independence. Writing in the Scotsman last Saturday, he became the only senior figure so far to say that he doesn’t yet know how he’s going to vote in the referendum on 18th September.

He said that the debate so far has become polarised and is switching people off:

There are good people on both sides, who genuinely believe in what they are arguing for. Unfortunately, as they are entrenched in their own positions, they are often unable to view many important issues in a non-party

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LibLink: Tavish Scott: Cuts plan is Osborne masterstroke

Well, we almost choked on our tea here in LDV Towers when we read that headline. Then we remembered that Tavish is hardly best buddies with the Tories, nor with the idea of the Coalition.  What was his latest article in the Scotsman all about? Well, possibly getting his wooden spoon out and stirring it a bit. This article was even quoted in Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions by Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm.

Tavish looks at Osborne’s assertion that there must be £25 billion further spending cuts:

Fast forward to this week and Chancellor Osborne is positioning his party against both Labour

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Campbell-Bannerman, School Meals Pioneer

There has been some controversy about Nick Clegg’s sudden announcement last September that schoolchildren would get a hot meal every day at school for the first 3 years. Some within the Party feel that resources could be better spent. Others argue that it does make a difference, having a direct effect on children’s learning ability.

Clegg though, is not the first liberal to be associated with such a policy, as former Special Adviser Christine Jardine wrote in the Scotsman this week:

Exactly a century ago, the last Liberal government to win a majority at Westminster made their policy compulsory to ensure councils

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LibLink: Tavish Scott: One party rule is harming Holyrood

This week, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick put forward proposals which she said would strengthen the Parliament’s role in holding the Scottish Government to account as the Herald reports:

Under her plan, conveners of Holyrood’s 20 committees would be elected by their fellow MSPs, rather than installed by their party chiefs.

The move, which would be one of the most far-reaching reforms of the Parliament since its creation in 1999, would help remove party politics from the often sensitive work of committees, she believes.

Ms Marwick also threatened to put time limits on exchanges at First Minister’s Questions.

Trouble is, her proposals kind

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A Sunday afternoon read – Rosie Wallace: The Sisters

Earlier this year, I talked to Rosie Wallace about her first two novels which I’d devoured in a couple of days over last Christmas.

Her third novel is still a work in progress but the Scotsman featured her short story The Sisters as part of its The Write Stuff series. Here’s a snippet:

The younger one has always been a chatterer. Silence is a vacuum to be filled with whatever thoughts are passing through her mind. As she wraps a china lamp base in old newspaper, she explains how her daughter could have been a doctor if the physics teacher

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LibLink…Tavish Scott: Courting election woe with party first

Nobody ever goes near a court without there being severe stress involved. Whether it’s for a criminal matter, because you’re in debt or going through a horrendous family situation, being able to access the justice system easily is critical. The SNP Government in Scotland seeks to centralise court proceedings, meaning long journeys and increased pressure on already over capacity city courts. Last week a Holyrood committee, with a majority of SNP MSPs, backed the Government’s approach. What was striking was that they all spoke up for their own local facilities before voting to close them.

Tavish Scott used his Scotsman column …

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LibLink… Willie Rennie: The fear in a continental drift

Willie Rennie - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe last time I heard the phrase continental drift used was when I was half asleep in a Geography class more years ago than I care to remember.

Willie Rennie uses it in today’s Scotsman to talk about the problems which he thinks would ensue an independent Scotland joined the EU and the rest of the UK left it. I certainly have been susceptible to thoughts that, although far from my first choice, an independent Scotland in the EU would be preferable to a …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine – Balance of Scottish power

Until the Summer, Christine Jardine was deep at the heart of Government as a special adviser on Scottish media based in Downing Street. She’s now returned to Scotland and full time Liberal Democrat politics.

This week, in the Scotsman, she argued that over reliance on land based wind farms can hurt the communities where they are based and predominantly benefits the landowners who pocket the subsidy and don’t pass it on to local people. She argued that more attention should be given to offshore and tidal projects, like the one Scottish Secretary Mike Moore was so enthusiastic about a few …

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