To achieve a strong and enduring constituency for Yes, significant positive policies are needed. If these can be delivered, the results will promote independence as being the settled will of the Scottish people.
The Scottish Government already has a good track record with the devolution of social services, their policies mitigating the cruel actions of mean-spirited Westminster, and many of the voting public recognise this.
But what of the big issues – infrastructure and energy for example? There are an increasing number of voices highlighting the government’s lack of progress in these areas. If progress could be accomplished it would convert lots of undecideds, as well as strengthening the commitment of those already on-side.
For a few years now I have been aware of initiatives being announced and not delivered.
A good example is Nicola’s announcement, at the 2017 SNP conference, of a publicly owned, not-for-profit energy company that would “sell energy to customers at as close to cost price as possible”. With annual electricity bills slashed, imagine the boost that that would have delivered to Scotland. And what happened? Nothing.
And renewables, the promise of a Scottish renewables industry, with attendant manufacturing delivering tens of thousands of jobs. Years later, where is it? We couldn’t even save BiFab at Methil. And land ownership and taxation. Very little has been done.
These issues are all related. Like Scandinavian countries, we should have tunnels between islands, dual-track electrified railways beyond the Central Belt, and the dualling of long-distance trunk roads. We had hundreds of billions from the North Sea to build all of this, but it was stolen from us. Now there is a second opportunity with renewables, but the same thing is happening.
Only independence can fully safeguard our renewable assets, but we should be doing what we can now, and be seen to be doing it. The bonny Hill o’ Fare in our locality is about to be despoiled with 16 turbines 200 metres high. The wind farm application was submitted this week. There is huge local opposition, but you can bet your life that it will be passed by the Holyrood. No matter that we already generate many times more renewable electricity than we use, no matter that the developer is Renewable Energy Systems Ltd, based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, and that the profits will go furth of Scotland; no matter that despite a few sweeties distributed to the neighbours, the main individual who benefits will be the landowner of what was a commonty, ie common ground, who lives in West Sussex.
There is a growing backlash against prominent on-shore wind farms despoiling the landscape for the benefit of companies outwith Scotland. Surely our government must be aware? The place for large wind farms is offshore, with subsea HVDC links for transmission. But at the very least, where a case can be made for on-shore wind farms with relatively minor environmental and landscape impact they should be developed for the common good, with the energy generated being used to ease the energy bills of the population of a cold country.
If for some reason wind farms are given the go ahead on privately-owned estates, then legislation should be enacted which levies an annual tax on the land. Taking the Hill o’ Fare as an example; this is part of a 53,000 acre estate. I don’t think the non-Tory Scottish population would be that unhappy if this was taxed, say at£10/acre, generating £530,000 annually for cheaper electricity bills or local infrastructural improvements.
The Scottish Government needs to get radical and to do whatever it can to achieve concrete results for the people for whom they govern. If they can do this they will shift the country significantly towards Yes. If not then they are at great risk of going backwards, being displaced by Labour and maybe even seeing an increase in constituencies electing a Tory. Save us from that please.