The Art of Party Management 51


Am now blogging direct from the Conference Hall. We just had a fascinating insight into party management. The proposer of the motion on fracking, on behalf of Leith constituency, stated in her speech that their motion as submitted called for a complete ban on fracking, but that the text had been amended by the Standing Orders Committee to delete a ban and insert support for the Scottish Government’s temporary moratorium. She added that many constituencies then submitted amendments for a complete ban, but they were all rejected by the committee. Nonetheless, she stated we should support the bowdlerised motion to “show trust for the Scottish Government”.

A remit back was proposed on the grounds that the resolution was insufficiently radical. This was defeated 550 to 420. There could be no clearer illustration of the grip of the party leadership over the conference and the unswerving loyalty, even in plainly indefensible circumstances, of the bulk of the delegates.

I see that we are not to have a referendum in the next five years, but we are likely to have unconventional coal gas extraction or some other variant on fracking.


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51 thoughts on “The Art of Party Management

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  • Robert Crawford

    There is no bloody difference between the SNP, New Labour, the Tories and all other political parties.

    Fracking is a certainty!

  • Hugh kerr

    Craig in my Newsnet Scotland article the other day I predicted the leadership would get away with it but I never thought they would be close to defeat, only Tommy Sheppard’s speech saved them. However we now need to demand a major review of democracy in the SNP the Standing Orders Committee have far too much power and MPs and MSPs should not have the right to put resolutions and dominate the agenda and debates! Also lets get organising so that our next conference in the spring takes tough decisions on fracking TTIP and NATO!

  • Giving Goose

    Fracking may be an option worth considering when the ability of Scotland to pursue renewables is simply not there.

    In a perfect world we would be exploiting offshore wind and tide, with the appropriate financial backing from the centre but Unionism will not allow that, so we do have to consider the unpalatable in this case.

  • Andy G

    Craig, for someone so cynical you’re alarmingly naive at times. The SNP are just as control-freaky and manipulative of the democratic veneer and their cohort of useful idiots as all other political parties with no real competition.

  • sam mcc

    What is wrong with fracking?

    As far as I know the British Geological survey does not disown the practice. It points to what will need to be done which includes protection of the environment. It states it will have a role in providing information to the public.

    There seems to be little danger of contamination to water sources. Drilling targets are likely to lie some way below an impermeable layer of rock above which lies the water table. What danger there is lies in not sealing the drill hole. But many, many drill holes have been drilled without incident. And onshore drilling for oil and gas in the UK has been taking place for many years without incident.

    There is no certainty that shale oil and gas can be extracted commercially. That will not be known until drilling exploration is done in different locations.

    Comparing what will happen if there is fracking in the UK with what happened in the USA is not appropriate.

  • Gordie

    Craig, my mate is up at conference and he just said that the motion to remit Land Reform bill won the day. Message from conference? SG has to be bolder.

    Still trust the SG on Hydraulic fracturing, etc. Stood up to pressure on GM and I Will wait to see what comes out of that.

  • Pam McMahon

    Agree with you. The current SNP leadership appears to have lost sight of its fons et origo again, as it has on many occasions over the years. It is the only viable political vehicle by which the people of our nation can achieve re-independence, and that’s ALL IT IS.

    If it has decided to turn it’s back on independence to become a party of devolution, I will find another party of independence to vote for next May.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Hmmm. None of this even becomes an option unless oil prices rise. Although exploration is under way, it’s doubtful that fracking will become cost-effective any time soon. There are significant technical obstacles to the process as applied to the Midland Valley resource. On the other hand it is quite a large resource – note that what is extractable is a fraction of the resource figure: a median estimate of in-place gas being 80.3 trillion cubic feet, and of in-place oil 6 billion barrels.

    (source: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/360471/BGS_DECC_MVS_2014_MAIN_REPORT.pdf )

    (this does require some acquaintance with the jargon. And indeed the science)

    Given the prospect of fuelling a small independent country, strapped for foreign exchange and unable to rely on renewables, with antique nuclear stations or none, and with the N. Sea field nearly depleted, even if production could be resumed cheaply, I think Sturgeon would be mad to close down the fracking option. And no, I’m not a pro-fracker.

    Face it, too, the first mineral oil extraction business in the world was near Edinburgh, and the entire Midland Valley is riddled with old coal mine shafts, adits and chambers already. It’s hardly pristine ground.

  • Robert Crawford

    Funny how Scotland’s oil is running out when lots more wells are being opened.

    Scaremongering rubbish coming out of England, as usual.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Funny how Scotland’s oil is running out when lots more wells are being opened.

    Where? I see Statoil’s on a roll in the Norwegian sector, and there’s still some interest in exploration even in the UK fields. But production? Details, please. Last I heard the oilcos were blackmailing Osborne for tax breaks or they’d shut down, and the major opportunity in the Scottish industry was scrapping old platforms.

    Might be worth noting that a good bit of the Midland Valley frackable shale is sitting under the Firth of Forth. Must we assume that offshore fracking is much more evil than drilling reservoirs?

  • fred

    One thing I noticed about the Hands Across the Firth demonstration was that people seem to consider fracking and underground gasification as synonymous, they aren’t they are entirely different.

    I see underground gasification as the way forward, utilise the energy of our vast coal reserves without the deaths usually associated with mining both from accidents and disease. Power stations could be built directly above a coal seam, the coal gasified underground turned to electricity without transport costs and the carbon dioxide and other unwanted bi-products returned underground where it came from. With advances in electric cars this could be a carbon neutral way to save the environment and reduce our dependence on oil.

  • sam mcc

    @ Ba’al
    “None of this becomes an option unless oil prices rise.”

    Yes. But once fracking begins, assuming it does, the UK industry may be able to follow the USA and learn from the geology in such a way as to decrease costs. Some USA frackers are still profitable at $50 a barrel.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Thanks, Sam. You’ll see from the paper I cited above that the BGS (and probably more so the companies) are keenly aware of the American experience of this. However the geology of the area is not like most American plays, and some innovation may still be necessary. Lysias will also see from the paper that the seismicity aspect has also been factored in: it’s not unknown in Scotland from abandoned deep coal mines, and the paper supplies a map of earthquake locations. Which cluster on coalfields. As I said, the ground isn’t in a state of nature.

    Regarding profitability, fair enough, it’s debatable. But for known, easy geology, the development costs will be lower and $50 must be the bottom of the feasible range. The equation would change, perhaps, if the alternatives consisted of importing foreign oil or fracking your own – transport and foreign exchange penalties would apply. Refineries might have to be reconfigured, too – looks as if this stuff is of pretty random grade.

  • Kempe

    ” Funny how Scotland’s oil is running out when lots more wells are being opened. ”

    Production from the new wells isn’t coming close to replacing declining productivity from the older fields. The latest find will produce about 5,000 barrels per day but in the last ten years production has declined by over 200,000 barrels per day every year. By 2020 production will be down to a third of the peak.

    No wonder the SNP aren’t eager to completely rule out fracking.

  • nevermind

    A few Edinburgh earth quakes are not the only thing to look forward to.
    How about the price of pristine water?, 1 million gallons of clean drinking water that is mixed with a secret cocktail of chemicals companies do not have to divulge to us, and then injected into a rock strata with total loss of control over where it flows, once pumped down there these chemicals will accumulate without control.

    I million gallons would set us household consumer back by roughly £75.000, but I doubt that these feckers will pay anything at all for this drinking water they are wasting.

    Those who think that fecking will bring down energy prices, think again, this is one devolution the Scottish people will not get control over.

    BTW. still waiting to hear whether this now means that a EU referendum will not entice the SNP elite to provide/ask for another Independence referendum. If this is so Ms Sturgeon has u-turned.

  • Briar

    What is wrong with fracking?

    It locks us into using fossil fuels when we desperately need to stop using them.

    As far as I know the British Geological survey does not disown the practice. It points to what will need to be done which includes protection of the environment. It states it will have a role in providing information to the public.

    The BGS would not exist without the big corporations, and it knows it. Most geologists earn their money seeking out mineral and other resources: without big business, geology as a science would be relegated to amateurs.

    There seems to be little danger of contamination to water sources. Drilling targets are likely to lie some way below an impermeable layer of rock above which lies the water table. What danger there is lies in not sealing the drill hole. But many, many drill holes have been drilled without incident. And onshore drilling for oil and gas in the UK has been taking place for many years without incident.

    Little danger is not no danger, likely does not translate to certainty, and incidents must be reported honestly for us to know about them.

    There is no certainty that shale oil and gas can be extracted commercially. That will not be known until drilling exploration is done in different locations.

    It will not be extracted commercially with oil at its current price. Fracking only became a possibility when the price sky-rocketed. Any promise that fracking will lower prices for the consumer is dishonest from the start.

    Comparing what will happen if there is fracking in the UK with what happened in the USA is not appropriate.

    Why not? VW’s tinkering with emission-measuring software/hardware was carried out in both countries. The predilection of capitalists to lie if it profits them doesn’t depend on which country they are operating in. And we have other shocking examples of the failure of regulation to prevent dishonest practice in this country too. Two words. “Horse meat”. The current government is bent on reducing all public services, amongst them the very regulatory bodies we are supposed to rely on.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Can I suggest separating what you are quoting from what you are saying, Briar? Thus:

    It locks us into using fossil fuels when we desperately need to stop using them.

    Let’s say ‘us’ is an independent Scotland, which is the context of this discussion. It has hydro power, which, I gather, is pretty well at the limit of what is feasible. It has wind power, which is still contentious onshore and expensive offshore, though more reliable there. It has nuclear power, which supplies about 50% of Scotland’s electricity demand, and the SNP’s policy is not to replace it when it ages. And there are tentative developments of tidal and wave power. Coal: thankfully the last plant, Longannet, is to close next March.

    None of these power sources can be used directly to drive a truck, and Scotland’s intercommunication by rail is fragmentary, while unlimited car use is regarded as a sacred human right. Oil is still needed and will be needed for some time, until, and if, replacement technologies and attitudes mature. So ‘we’re’ locked into using oil already. Irrelevant whether it is fracked, pumped or synthesised from coal (which was the South African solution, and may yet be)

  • Tony M

    Kempe your figures are meaningless as the proportion of that 200,000 bpd or indeed the new 5000 bpd, of the total production in that year is not given. There are factors such as choosing to reduce production when prices are lower, not because it is forced on them or priced out, but because it is sound resource management and economics to do so, prices, the trend, can only and will only increase. At which point the pumps are primed and in good repair and advantage and rewards can be fully taken. Governments through the boom years, urged flogging the fields, the infrastructure and the workers to the max, to mask their economic incompetence and to strut on the world stage using oil as a weapon in the cold war and in their middle-east delusional neo-imperialist, divide and rule and if that fails, slaughter, stategy.

    But looking at how that last ten years, or the last forty years have been bonanza years, Scotland has nothing, repeat nothing to show for it. No long-term investment, no industrial regeneration, decaying cities, outdated hard to heat inefficient public housing stocks, unemployment, sickness, fear, wealth and security disparity widened, a shrunken rail network, sunken pot-holed roads, an unintegrated transport system, environmental degradation and pollution. The union has functioned as a funnel to collect and direct every last penny and pound from Scotland’s people and their resources, into the South-East in tarting up a foreign capital for property speculators to fill their boots, and as stakes for the city wide-boys to gamble compulsively and recklessly with that which is not theirs, to piss away.

  • Robert Crawford

    Tony M, well said.

    When the barber and the Occupational Therapist gets up in parliament and say something like that, I might change my mind as to their suitability to represent me and Scotland in Parliament.

    Well done, keep it going.

    We need more like you on our side.

  • Kempe

    ” your figures are meaningless as the proportion of that 200,000 bpd or indeed the new 5000 bpd, of the total production in that year is not given. ”

    What?

    Overall production has been falling for some time regardless of decent oil prices. North Sea Oil is a declining resource. Any one of a number of sources will confirm this. Why can’t you accept it?

    https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/media/images/73184000/gif/_73184635_north_sea_oil_and_gas_624.gif

    ” No long-term investment, no industrial regeneration, decaying cities, outdated hard to heat inefficient public housing stocks, unemployment, sickness, fear, wealth and security disparity widened, a shrunken rail network, sunken pot-holed roads, an unintegrated transport system, environmental degradation and pollution. ”

    Sounds just like the rest of the UK.

  • Robert Crawford

    Sounds like the rest of the UK.

    Then where is all the money going?

    I think you need to watch DuggyDug on You Tube,- Scotland’s Oil.

  • Robert Crawford

    Anglican water have got hold of Scotland’s water Nevermind they might charge Ineos for water, then again pigs might fly.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    “There is no bloody difference between the SNP, New Labour, the Tories and all other political parties.”

    ________________________

    In other words, do not go a-whorin’ after false gods, Mr Robert Crawford (Mr Corbyn, the SNP, Mhairi Black……Mr Harold Wilson in his time…..).

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    A gloomy warning relayed by our Transatlantic Friend:

    “Groundwater contamination is not the only thing to fear from fracking. What’s causing Texas earthquakes?”

    __________________

    Does he know that he is trespassing on Mr Trowbridge Ford’s favourite territory (earthquakes)?

  • K Crosby

    This is what happens when you support a bourgeois liberal partei, while retaining a conscience. Clearly the Snat leadership is more interested in its perpetuation than anything as vulgar as principle. It was obvious when Sturgeon was elected and immediately underwent a metamorphosis into a premature grandma; good job I had a sickbag handy. Support the Snats to get independence then dump them for working-class representatives.

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