Direct Action and the British State 320

The draconian sentencing to jail of anti-fracking activists for non-violent direct action has received insufficient attention. It is a confident state that can undertake to bring back a level of repression not seen for decades – eight decades, in fact, since environmental activists received this kind of lengthy jail sentence, despite generations of tree climbing and road blocking.

Non violent direct action has been an area of tacit complicity between state and protestors. I have over the years participated myself – the occupation of the building site of Torness nuclear power station was a defining moment for my generation in Scotland, and I will cheerfully admit I participated in criminal damage of plant and equipment. I have blocked the road at Faslane occasionally too. While a week or two of my life in jail always seemed a threat, the idea of 16 month jail sentences for such protest appeared a nightmare from a distant age.

The judge in the fracking case, Robert Altham, is evidently a vicious old Tory, descended by his own account from the judge who conducted the infamous Pendle witch trials. His parents, John and Linda Altham, have the same name as the owners of Althams, a company supplying the offshore oil and gas industry. The company is also Lancashire based and it seems very probable they are the same family. Given that the judiciary allowed a judge to handle Julian Assange’s bail hearing, despite the fact that she was married to a former Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, who had started a consultancy together with the former head of MI6, I am not in the least surprised that a corrupt Establishment allows such prejudiced judges to act so viciously – in both cases.

The local community around the fracking protestors are overwhelmingly opposed to the development, and indeed the local council banned it but were overruled by the Tory government. To cite traffic disruption to the local community as the reason for the vicious jail sentences, when the local community supported the action and will suffer far worse disruption from the fracking itself, shows how dark and twisted is Altham’s logic of repression.

In the same week, we saw another assertion of state force against the people when the Tory Government, which has never polled above 28% in Scotland, calmly announced it would not permit another Scottish Independence referendum before 2027. The notion that the self-determination of the Scottish people is subject to a veto by an overwhelmingly English Westminster parliament is not one that most Scots would accept.

I have long argued that after the scare it gave Westminster in 2014, when Scottish Independence proved much more popular than the unionists had ever imagined, Scotland would next time face a Catalan situation rather than a 2014 rerun. That has now materialised. I cannot better this excellent article by James Kelly on the ramifications.

Indeed I believe that the widespread and vocal approval and endorsement of the Francoist beatings of Catalan voters, from governments and politicians all over Europe and from the European Commission, in the name of the “rule of law”, has helped form a political climate that led to, among other things, the Tory MEP’s defence of Orban and the jailing of the fracking protestors. Repressive, even violent, state power is the order of the day.

James Kelly is mildly optimistic about the SNP leadership taking up the challenge, as the Catalan government did. I am worried that there are too many with comfortable berths within the devolved UK settlement, who crave “respectability”, and do not have the stomach for a struggle if Westminster deems it illegal. But I do believe such haverers will find themselves swept aside by the Yes movement, should they stand in front of it without actually moving.

Which brings me back to the noble fracking activists. Like them and like the Catalan leaders, political prisoners for a year now, some of us Scottish nationalists may need to suffer on the road to Independence, from the vicious ill-will of a resurgent and emboldened unionist establishment. Some of the steps we need to take will be deemed illegal. Very few Independence movements have ever succeeded without that. We will also be subject to all kinds of dirty tricks and provocations from the UK security services. It is not going to be simple or comfortable. But if we meekly bow our heads to the alien Tory diktat, we do not deserve to be called a nation.


I feel compelled to add an anecdote about the Torness occupation. It was billed as a demonstration and march to Torness from Dunbar. The site was protected by a high mesh fence topped with barbed wire. There was a massive police presence, concentrated at the gate. But we had to march alongside the fence for a long distance before reaching the gate, and protestors simply moved a haystack from the other side of the road up against the fence, then everyone scrambled over and dropped down the other side.

Tents sprang up everywhere, and within the same day stages, PA systems, catering units and all kinds of stuff appeared. The Police were passive and friendly in a way it is hard to imagine happening now. I cannot remember how long the occupation lasted, I was there several nights.

Now my confession. I was not given to vegetarian food or sleeping eight to a tent. Once the occupation was under way the police had us effectively blocked inside the site – the haystack mound was the other side of the fence and the gate remained secured. I therefore spent the first afternoon scraping a hole under the fence, and after dark wriggled out and walked in to Dunbar to stay the night in a hotel, before breaking back in again the next morning. I did this every night!

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320 thoughts on “Direct Action and the British State

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  • james

    the state apparatus is clearly working for the state, which at this point seems to mostly include the top % earners, movers and shakers… anyone opposing them is in for a rough ride.. this gives the idea of ‘uk law’ a very bad name, but most knew that already..

  • Mist001

    I’ve said it before on here that in my view, the current SNP leadership don’t have the stomach for another referendum. They lose it and their whole ‘raison d’etre’ goes out the window and quite possibly, would spell the end of the SNP as a significant political party. My hunch, and it is only my hunch, is that post Brexit, Scotland/SNP will be offered devo max (which remember, Alex Salmond tried to add as an option on the ballot paper in 2014 but was rejected), and the SNP will gleefully snatch the offer and spin it to the Scottish people as a victory.

    My belief is that the only way Scotland will achieve independence is by UDI, not through any ballot box but as I say, nobody within the leadership of the SNP has the conviction to make that declaration. Some kind of coup at Holyrood or Bute House would be interesting though.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Why don’t they raise income tax by 3% before the referendum since they will need to do so post-Independence to fund the State ?

        • Paul Greenwood

          It is in the devolution legislation

          “The Scottish Parliament is currently able to increase or decrease the basic rate of income tax paid by Scottish Taxpayers on income (other than interest and dividends) by up to three percentage points.2 This power has not been used to date.

          With effect from 6 April 2016, the Scotland Act 20123 provides that each of the main rates of income tax to be paid on the non-savings and non-dividend income of ‘Scottish Taxpayers’ must be calculated by reference to a single Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) set by resolution of the Scottish Parliament.”

          • JOML

            Paul, you said that “they” will need to raise income tax by 3% post-independence. The devolution legislation makes no mention of this “3%” (why would it?) and this legislation would be irrelevant anyway, post-independence. Your response suggests you just made this figure up, making your comment worthless.

      • Mr Shigemitsu

        If an independent Scotland has its own sovereign, fiat, non-convertible currency (without which, btw, any idea of independence is illusory), then its central bank can purchase any goods and services available for sale in that currency.

        The limit to its spending will not be how much money the central bank can create (the amount of which is infinite), but the capacity of the *real economy* (labour, materials, land and energy) to absorb that spending without overheating and causing inflation.

        Taxation serves simply to mop up previous govt spending, by being imposed on initial and each subsequent transaction, removing money from circulation in order to prevent the massive inflation that would otherwise inevitably result from continual, year-on-year government spending, were that spending to remain untaxed.

        Taxes *do not fund spending* in a nation with its own sovereign fiat non-convertible currency; the spending happens first, and the taxes return (“revenue”) to the Exchequer later, automatically.

        All government spending will eventually be expunged in this way, at any positive rate of tax, in order that the whole govt public spending process can continue, ad infinitum.


        • MikeBerks

          Mr S – great to see a friendly username on here! I’ve been a long time lurker, but never commented. I enjoy (most) the politics, and very much appreciate the alternative viewpoints to the MSM, but do get frustrated at much of the shonky economics, so some MMT enlightenment is long overdue.

          Perhaps I should start trying to be more proactive myself… fancy taking a crack at Off-G and Moon-of-Alabama too..?

        • Charles Bostock

          Exactly so; It is the difference between the budget of an individual household and that of a country, which do not work in the same way. But are you sure the “non-convertible” bit is right? 🙂

          • MikeBerks

            Yep, that’s why it’s called foreign exchange. You can’t convert one currency for another you can just swap it if you can find a willing taker. Every exchange transaction requires a willing buyer and seller.

            Of course on the gold standard, there was convertability to gold, but that ended years ago (for good reason) with the end of Bretton Woods.

          • Charles Bostock


            Not sure I’ve understood you here -are not all European currencies freely convertible? It would be good if Mr Shigemitsu clarified his comment.

          • MikeBerks

            Not that it’s my place to speak for Mr Shigemitsu – but pretty sure he’s using the same context for non-convertability as me.

            I’m not sure what you mean by European currencies – do you mean countries within the Eurozone? If so, we’re treating the Euro as a single currency (I know the indvidual member countries issue their own bank notes, but from the purpose of monetary theory and operations it is a single unified currency with the ECB as the ultimate monopoloy supplier). Of course that means none of the euro member countries are monetarily sovereign, which is why any MMT-er thinks a) the structural design of the EU/euro is a really bad idea and b) an independent Scotland – or anyone else – would be mad to want to join such a monetary union in favour of having their own sovereign currency.

            If you mean any other currencies – Euro, dollars, pounds, AUDs – non-convertibility means as I stated. You can’t convert any one into any other. If I have X US dollars I (or anyone else) can’t *convert* that into Y pounds. I can make the swap on a FX market, ie someone buys my X dollars for Y pounds if both parties are happy with the price (and of course with the massive volume of international trade there is enough liquidity in the FX markets that there’s almost guaranteed to be someone happy ot make the trade – which is why you can always walk up to a bank/post-office and make such a trade) – but after that transaction both X dollars and Y pounds are still in existence, they’ve just changed ownership.

            The only sense in which any of those currencies can be converted is when they’re extinguished as payment of tax in their country of denomination. At which point I’ve converted my dollars (effectively an IOU from the US government) for the redemption of my tax liability (so the US government can’t use it’s force majeur powers to lock me up for tax evasion). Being able to impose and enforce such liabilities (and the societal backing of said enforcement) is what gives fiat money it’s ultimate value – hence the MMT phrase (usually accredited to Warren Mosler) – “taxes drive money”.

            That may seem like trivial semantics or pedantism – but understanding such operations allows you to make sense of things like trading balances, capital flight etc. and understand the power a monetarily-sovereign government has to serve the best interests of it’s people. Now I’m neither Scottish nor have a particularly strong view on Scottish independence (although I wholeheartedly agree with the view that it is a matter for the scots people and not London to decide) – but having such an understanding is crucial if the pro-independence side want to put forward a coherent economic framework that would serve an independent Scotland – which is what I think Mr Shigemtisu’s original post was stating.

          • Charles Bostock


            I take note of your explanations. But tell me : when Mr Shigemitsu wrote “non-convertible currency”, he was presumably making a distinction between non-convertible and convertible currencies and so admitting that some currencies are convertible. Why make that distinction if, as you say, no currencies are convertible (except in the sense you point to in your penultimate paragraph). I think Shigemetsu used “non-convertible” in the sense meant in the post-war period for about 15 years and, to take a recent example, in the sense that Mr Varoufakis meant when he envisaged the creation of a parallel national currency (parallel to the euro, that is) in the event of an enforced shut down of the Greek banks: that currency would be used for internal payments only but would have no status in the matter of obtaining foreign currency (including the euro).

            But perhaps we should let Mr Shigemetsu explain what he meant?

    • Jo1

      “which Alex Salmond tried to add to the ballot paper”

      Not true. It wasn’t quite like that. In fact, Salmond’s government consulted widely ahead of the referendum and the matter of which options should be on the ballot paper was specifically addressed. A majority wanted so-called Devo Max included. So it wasn’t something Salmond personally just threw into the mix. It was in response to the consultation.

      Cameron said no.

  • Kenneth G Coutts

    It is shamefull, Craig.
    If it comes to it.
    There is nothing finer than standing on the front line.

  • Frances Leader

    fi am the Admin of a facebook group called Anti Fracking International and I am one of your fans.
    I admire your candour and sharp incisive way of getting to the root of every subject you discuss.
    This time you have struck me right in the heart of my current campaign and I wanted to thank you on behalf of the 10,000+ members we have and many others who have been campaigning for 7 years.
    You have nailed it, pin-pricked it like a star in a pitch black sky.
    This is indeed a vicious battle between the establishment, invested in and related to the oil and gas industry and the ordinary common people.
    We have stuck rigidly to the rules. We studied, we lobbied, we informed and we responded to consultations in our thousands.
    We burnt the midnight oil to understand the scientific papers and the complex reports from the US and Australia.
    We talked, made films and we handed out leaflets. We are worn to a frazzle, Craig. Really we are.
    Four of our number mounted those trucks as a last moment, desperate effort to stop this juggernaut of an industry from steamrollering our objections under a forceful deluge of corporate bullying.
    They are a teacher, a soil scientist, a gardener and a young father.
    They are not wrong. They are not criminals. They are our heroes and now…..
    So are you. Thank you!

    • Sandra Crawford

      Is it possible for them toappeal under article 11 of the human rights act , freedom of peaceful protest?

    • Clark

      Francis Leader, you need to know why justice is being perverted; I am certain that behind the scenes your campaign is being treated as a “matter of national security”, because the UK has no energy security, and the Powers That Be wish to keep the public and their MPs in ignorance. Last March, the UK gas supply was less than 24 hours from running short, because Centrica Storage exploited critical infrastructure for short-term gain; please see my comment below:

      You also need your own website; Facebook is useful for publicity, but cannot be trusted in such important matters.

      • Charles Bostock

        If fracking would bring about greater energy security for the UK, why should you be against it? Do you wish the UK’s current energy insecurity which you identify, to persist?

        • wonky

          Maybe, because “energy security” is altogether less important than the security of the planet and life itself?

          • Charles Bostock


            You could certainly argue that. But if the two notions are antithetical, how should individual countries proceed? How does one square that particular circle?

          • Makropulos


            If energy security and life on earth are antithetical then the case in support of the former is clearly suicidal.

        • Clark

          Charles, during four decades of misrule by market-worshipping governments supported by disinformation from the corporate media, the best opportunities have been missed, but it is surely time to stop digging the hole any deeper. The UK can only be harmed even further by damaging its geology and poisoning its groundwater.

          If we examine the energy sector it is easy to see that renewables, particularly wind power, have soared past nuclear, in a third of the time and on a fraction of the investment. Solar photo-voltaic (PV) was a little later in development as it required greater advancement in technology, but is now equal to nuclear. Time to cut our ties to outdated technology and invest in the future.

          • Charles Bostock


            Thank you for that. By the way, I wasn’t advocating nuclear power. Or indeed any other sort of power, I was asking a question. And I honestly don’t believe that – in the UK (you do live in the UK, don’t you?) – solar and wind power are going to provide energy security. Now, someone on here once wrote that the Sahara could provide all of Europe’s energy needs via solar power; even of that were true, though, that electricity would be imported into the UK and so the UK would not have security of supply, would it.

          • Herbie

            “And I honestly don’t believe that solar and wind power are going to provide energy security”

            Thing is, yer solar power provides all the energy to support all life on the planet, and has done for quite some time. Yer winds have the energy to mess with everyone’s plans bigtime. Then there’s sea power.

            Just a matter of us all getting our heads together and devising more efficient ways of harnessing even a smidgin of the energy contained within these powerful sources.

            I think I’ve seen that a few countries have done a day or two on Renewables alone. Could be Green propaganda, of course. Dunno.

            There’s much too much wastage of energy anyway.

            The elite solution: Smart Meters for the peeps.

            I’m sure the big corporates operating in UK waste far far far more energy per annum than all the peeps in the UK combined.

            There’s yer problem, right there.

            The peeps didn’t demand plastics, did they.


            But it’s all their fault anyway. And all the poor polar bears poking through bins in Canadian towns is their fault too.

            Complete cnuts, the peeps.

            Plastics, Oil, waxes, emollients, eh. There’s a history there. The Oil industry.

        • Nevermind

          No doubt you have experienced black outs and energy insecurity, but not in this country.
          Please do link to one incident of this fable, oh coitus interuptus Habbakukie.
          Or else STFU about issue you don’t understand

          Many thanks to Francis Leader and the brave protectors in Kirby Misperton and Preston New Road, who for weeks held public meetings attended by thousands of people, informing them of these environmentally polluting bad practises.

          The UK had got the highest alternative energy capabilities in Europe, it has the abilities to develop simple mechanical energy generators, a massive wind capacity, sea currents, solar opportunities, but its run by a cabal of colluding gangsters who haven’t aclue what sustainability means.

          Judge Altham should be going to jail for using the law for party political purposes and for assisting offshore taxed merchants to pervert planning law, collusion with the police and for fleecing the taxpayers to pay for this environmental vandalism.

          This will be a GE issue because Labour will stop this madness. Not long to go now.
          Please write to the protectors in jail, they deserve our support for protecting our national assets.

        • John2o2o

          If people do not want it then it should not happen.

          It is for those who promote fracking to convince the people that it has benefits. If they cannot do that then they should not be permitted to proceed.

          It is as simple as that.

          I am deeply, deeply skeptical about this activity. The companies that promote it are aggressive, corrupt and greedy. They care not one ounce for the people or the land. Their aim is profit. Profit which will undoubtedly leave these shores untaxed.

    • Charles Bostock

      @ Francis Leader

      “This is indeed a vicious battle between the establishment, invested in and related to the oil and gas industry and the ordinary common people.”

      Nonsense. It is a case of the state upholding the law against not “the ordinary common people” but against those of your “10000+ members” who seek to impose their will on everyone else by resorting to “direct action” (a term which usually mean “breaking the law”).

      • Clark

        Last march, the state was 24 hours from freezing to death ordinary common people in their homes, by very nearly letting the power fail, all in the interests of boosting yet further the obscene wealth of the establishment.

        If you want the law upheld, get the board of Centrica Storage into the dock for breach of their contract with the government. They owe the ordinary common people a billion pounds worth of repairs to the long-term storage facility at Rough.

        • Charles Bostock

          I am in favour of the law being upheld whoever is concerned, Clark. I realise that viewpoint is unpopular with people of a certain persuasion.

          • Ort

            You’re the last of a dying breed of paragons of civic responsibility, I fear; it brings to mind an illustrous, if fictitious, predecessor:

            “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
            “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
            “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
            “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
            “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
            “Both very busy, sir.”
            “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

            — Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” (1843)

          • Herbie

            Aye, but what if the laws are bad and the lawmakers tyrants

            What shall a man do then.

            Thing is, you see. There’s revolution all around.

            States splitting hither and thither, old alliances dying, new ones forming.

            Didn’t like the rules created by the elder members, so creating their own club with their own rules.

            There’s of course a fightback from the elder members. A small club now. UK, Netherlands, Switzerland. Financial centres. Make nothing. Do nothing, but consume.

            It’s a very powerful financial system coming to blows with some real heavy opposition from commodity and producer countries.

            Your Rentier class comes face to face with the representative of an equally powerful Labour class

            I mean, it’s like Russia is the shop steward for all the other less powerful commodity and producer countries.

            This has evolved as a result of Trump dumping all his client states to fend for themselves.

            Almost as if he were trying to increase the Russian business in this area.

            But anyway. He won’t be making decisions like that.

            He’s just the on-air talent.

      • Tridac

        I tend to agree with that. Nothing wrong with peaceful protest, but wheh it get’s in the way of lawful business, repeatedly, then something must be done about it. The other side have rights as well. Sentences do seem a little harsh, but i’m sure these people had enough gentle warnings before that happened. It is, after all, a tiny minority who are against fracking, despite all the agit prop. In reality, this is just one piece of the jigsaw of ending fossil fuel usage. So many blind and unreasoning people, softly softly led by the nose via the lie of the noble cause. The whole progress of humanity has always been driven by access to cheap and plentyful supplies of energy and discoveries in the sciences. We were supposed to have worked out all the humanities stuff thousands of years ago, but sometimes wonder…

        • Clark

          Centrica Storage should be in the dock. They and their ilk have spent decades creating the situation that has driven this country to the insanity of fracturing its own geology and polluting its own groundwater in a desperate bid for the remaining dregs of gas.

          The protestors should have been acquitted; breaking of minor laws is protected when the objective is to prevent a greater crime, and I can’t think of much worse than creating earthquakes and poisoning the water for future generations.

          • Charles Bostock

            So it is all the fault of Centrica? The nationalised energy industries bear no responsibility? Can you set out in just a little detail exactly how “Centrica and their ilk” have created the situation you deplore?

            As for the protestors, I’d say the sentence was about right. Any longer might have been seen as disproportionate and any less would not have provided sufficient disincentive for further law breaking of a similar nature. In the latter context, it may well be that the protestors had” previous” and might re-offend if just given a slap on the wrist; after all, there is in Britain a community of professional demonstrators, so to speak, who travel the country in search of causes about which to demonstrate (they are mostly hippy type misfits who have never done a proper day’s work in their lives).

          • Tridac

            That’s a different issue, so lets not change the subject. The real background to all this is the fact that the UK is almost entirely dependent on unreliable energy sources, many of which are not democratic, or are even repressive police states. We’ve been winging it for decades. Supplies could be interrupted at any time, so self sufficiency in energy is of primary concern. It’s right that the government should encourage investigation of alternative sources, not to mention the ethical issues around who we are currently forced to deal with. If there are risks, then legislation should able to deal with that and if you want an example of how we deal with such risks, nuclear power here has a 50+ years serious accident free record, a potentially much more dangerous technology. The facts are that apart from early problems during development, fracking has been a great success in the US and that’s a country that has a reputation for riding rough shod over regulation. Properly regulated, it could possibly be a big contributor to energy independence for this country…

        • Nevermind

          There is nothing lawful about vandalism, and your puppywalk here is wasted.
          The laws were bent to suit these unaccountable operators.

          • Charles Bostock

            “There is nothing lawful about vandalism”

            I’m glad we can agree on that at least.

            “The laws were bent to suit these unaccountable operators.”

            The law is the law is the law. You may not like it but the fact is that the fracking companies are working within the law (and are accountable to it) and the protestors are attempting to prevent a company going about its lawful business. In the same way as many pickets attempted, in the bad old days, to prevent people from exercising their lawful business (eg to deliver goods to a manufactory or to go into work themselves).

        • J

          “get’s in the way of lawful business”

          Laws drafted by corporate law firms and industrial lobbyists (clearly conflicted by their interests) and for example when drafted by those with ill intent, the Nazi race laws for example, do considerable injustice. Making the argument that law is the only reasonable arbiter in the case of fracking and should be respected as an absolute is clearly a fallacy. The law has been re-written and also ignored to allow fracking to commence in the first place, having been rejected locally, rejected at every level by every legal or democratic process.

          “The other side have rights as well.”

          Indeed. the other side has all the rights. It can demand that democracy and civil liberty and the right of local residents to a liveable environment be suspended to further it’s short term profit model, possibly at the expense of a survivable climate.

          “The facts are that apart from early problems during development, fracking has been a great success in the US and that’s a country that has a reputation for riding rough shod over regulation.”

          You dismiss the evidence of the consequences of fracking because you have to ignore actual experience and evidence in order for your argument to function.

          Some facts:

          “It is, after all, a tiny minority who are against fracking”

          Which is of course the precise opposite of the truth. Government polls show that support for fracking is the tiny minority at 24%. All polls consistently show that support is falling and in fact, the only polls which have shown any majority support at all are those carried out by the fracking industry itself.

          “In reality, this is just one piece of the jigsaw of ending fossil fuel usage.”

          In reality it is business as usual and continuing the use of fossil fuels for as long as possible. The exact opposite of your claim. The propping up of dirty and expensive industry based on flawed ‘economic models’ to the tune of more than $100 billion in global state subsidy contradicts you. As does the slashing of renewable subsidies here in the UK. Which brings us to our next disagreement.

          “self sufficiency in energy is of primary concern. It’s right that the government should encourage investigation of alternative sources”

          Which they hope to achieve by slashing funding for alternative sources and increasing subsidies for traditional fossil sources.

          “So many blind and unreasoning people, softly softly led by the nose via the lie of the noble cause.”

          When you’re not lying in order to construct an argument you’re unintelligible.

          • Tridac

            That’s quite a long post, to much to respond to everything, but a couple of points:

            “Laws drafted by corporate law firms and industrial lobbyists (clearly conflicted by their interests) and for example when drafted by those with ill intent, the Nazi race laws…”

            Paranoid conspiracy theories and unrelated extreme example association, doesn’t really cut it, sorry.

            “Which they hope to achieve by slashing funding for alternative sources and increasing subsidies for traditional fossil sources…”

            So you don’t disagree about the need for energy independence, just the methodology ?. Ok, Slashing funding, perhaps because it’s poor value for money ?. The result of all the subsidies has been that we have much higher energy prices. As a regressive tax, primarily falling on the poor and the old, but the cause doesn’t give an f**k about pensioners freezing in their homes in winter, right ?. Anyone who thinks renewables, wind, solar etc will ever replace primary generators has obviously not done the sums. While wind especially has something to contrbute, just check out the gridwatch site to see how much they actually contribute, daily and averaged over a year. You would need to carpet half the uk with turbines to equal the output from one gas or coal fired station. But, don’t let facts get in the way of a good story :-).

            “Indeed. the other side has all the rights. It can demand that democracy and civil liberty and the right of local residents to a liveable environment …”

            Absolutely, but let decisions should be backed up by real science, not agit prop and lies.

            “When you’re not lying in order to construct an argument you’re unintelligible….”

            Roflamao. Unsurprising, when all we get from orgs like Greenpiece and Friends of the Earth is gross exaggeration, unjustified alarmism, transparent bias and economy with the truth. Sure, we all want to protect the earth and not rape it, but until they stop the bs and start dealing in facts , it’snoone will take them seriously long term. The noble cause ?, meh. Put your own house in order first…

          • J

            But in essence you lie without regard, you are unable to argue or refute, you can not provide any evidence for the assertions you make, and you feel that accusing opposing arguments of ideology is sufficient proof of your own, no matter how daft or demonstrably false. Did I leave anything out?

      • wonky

        You afraid, laws might get broken? Haven’t the firms involved turned daily law-breaking into their business model, aided by.. the LAW, written, literally and more often than not, by.. lobbyists? And watched over, as in this case, by corrupt judges (..oh no, the ole cyclops pyramid again..!) ? If resisting obvious lawlessness by “direct action” is illegal, then not just laws must be broken, but quite a few jaws, too.

        • Charles Bostock

          Sorry, wonky, but in this particular case. what laws had been broken by the fracking companies?

          As for having to break quite a few people’s jaws, well, that’s just armchair warrior talk, isn’t it. You’d be the first to run a mile if your intended victim turned round and threatened to clock you.

    • John2o2o

      You are correct Craig. My only gripe is that you have conflated these two important issues which in my view deserve individual treatment. Some commenters are (understandably) focused on Scottish Independence, while others (equally understandably) are focused on the imprisonment of fracking protesters.

      It is appalling. I fear that the jailing of these protesters is due to an Americanisation of our state in advance of our leaving the EU. The EU has it’s faults, but I have always believed that it has kept Tory right wing extremism in check. Now the EU’s hand is no longer squeezing the Tory Establishment scrotum I fear greatly that we will see much more of this American style oppression.

      I fully expect that the state will also become a good deal more militarised.

      As for Scottish independence I have no great passion one way or the other. Two of my uncles voted for it and at least one of my cousins, but my mother – born and bred in Scotland – was denied a vote as she lives in England. She does not consider herself English. I hope that independence campaigners will correct this injustice in time for the next vote.

    • Jo1

      Just found your FB page and joined.

      Thanks for letting us know about it. It’s very informative.

  • Squeeth

    “I do believe such haverers will find themselves swept aside by the Yes movement, should they stand in front of it without actually moving.” Give them 16 months.

  • Alyson

    The Lancashire Nanas, led by Tina Louise Rothery have blocked the gate to the PNR fracking site for 2 years, through winter ice and snow, and summer rains and drought, when water for the fracking industry was not restricted. Preston New Road is a group of older ladies, sometimes supported by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who bring uncomfortable lock-ons to try and hold back the trucks, and who are deeply concerned for the environment, and future generations who will not have clean water, clean air, or soil that can support crops if the planned vast area of fracking goes ahead – against the planning refusal by Lancashire County Council. Police have been brought in from far afield to bruise and injure the older ladies, forcibly removing them, or knocking them aside. Jacob Rees Mogg was interviewed on television together with Tina Rothery, and he inadvertently made it clear that he was motivated to push through legislation overruling local democracy, to force through fracking applications, by revenge for Labour putting a coal mine in his mother in law’s garden… He has had £7.5million to put her house and gardens back as they was, I believe.

    There is also the concept in this legislation, of privatising national assets, simply by ‘proving’ that such land use is more profitable financially. Publicly owned commons, such as national parks, forestry, free car parks, etc can be exploited for profit for private enterprise. Kate Raworth is a brilliant economist who has costed the rebalancing of the economy and the environment. Her donut economics are influencing political ideology. Labour under Corbyn is a Green Party and is cooperating closely with the Greens, to put clearly costed renewable energy policies at the heart of their jobs and infrastructure plans for Britain. Without an unbiased media however, it is difficult to convey that there is a better way to do business for the benefit of communities and industry. Sending fracking protesters to jail, for surfing the lorries carrying fracking equipment is draconian enforcement of these new laws introduced by Rees Mogg, on behalf of the fracking industry, INEOS. Sussex already has earthquakes, under Gatwick, linked to oil and gas extractiion. Protesters against fracking in Sussex, and others at at Stanstead protesting unlawful removal of vulnerable asylum seekers, are being hounded by the most callous and discriminatory government most of us have ever known

  • Robyn

    UK column covered the jailing of these protesters last Monday. They interviewed anti-fracking hero Ian Crane who compared the sentences in this case with the suspended sentences handed down by the same judge for in two cases of serious child pornography offences. The interview is here – start at around 15 minutes in

    • Charles Bostock


      Those two sentences certainly appear strange when set against each other. But that is what you get when sentences are at the discretion (within the established legal parameters, of course) of individuals judges. I’m not sure you can make your case for saying that the fracking sentences were too harsh merely by pointing out that sentences handed down for another, thematically unconnected offence were too lenient.

  • Casual Observer

    Lets assume, for the sake of argument, that 50% of the supposedly frackable reserves are actually recoverable.

    It would represent a windfall to the UK that far outweighed that brought by North Sea Gas.

    Now, who seriously thinks that such a cash cow would be ignored ?

    The heavy sentences meted out might be as a result of HMG tipping the wink so as to give pause for thought to those who might seek to prevent the UK tapping into a lucrative resource in the post Brexit winter ?

    • Alyson

      The issue is not the short term profitability of fracking. It is the long term damage to the environment which will impact generations to come. Who will take responsibility for the gases leaching up through the cracked rock after the well head is closed off? Who will clean the water table of the toxic chemical cocktail that is used to frack the gases from below the fractured bedrock? Who will fund the treatment of respiratory diseases caused by flaring the gases at the well heads? Who will compensate home owners for damage from earthquakes? The costs for future harm need to be factored into the profitability equation. Incidentally the profit will only be short term, and only for investors in the gas and oil markets. A combination of renewable energies and battery storage would benefit the population more, along with hydrogen or electric fuel cell vehicles

      • Casual Observer

        Even assuming that the touted reserves are exaggerated, hence my 50% reference above, they seem to have the potential to be far in excess of the gas and oil reserves that funded the ‘De-industrialization’ of Britain during the Monetarist consensus that followed that of the Butskell years.

        Given that the dream of a new ‘Golden Age’ of independence is admitted even by its supporters to entail a decade or so of austerity, we can be confidant that any UK government will seek any means to ameliorate yet another poor policy decision driven by short term outlook.

        In such a scenario, the potential victims you highlight will be easy to ignore, at least until the ‘Boom’ is in decline, and its proponents have reached the safety of retirement.

        I keep an open mind on the issue of Fracking, and realise that many if not most of the problems associated with the process stem from the peculiarities of the American experience. Realistically the ‘Protestors’ may serve to ensure that contamination potential is given adequate safeguards,but given the likely windfall for HMG, hopes of preventing Fracking entirely seem essentially quixotic.

        • Alyson

          To quote from Tina, and give an indication of the level of support the protesters/protectors have:

          ‘We are NOT the ‘shouting few’ Claire Perry MP for the Devizes Constituency would wish us to be… nor are we a bunch of NIMBYs from ‘the Desolate North’ that Lord Howell of Guildford tried to paint us as and nor are we some fringe bunch of ‘swampies/militants/outsiders/professional activists/paid teams ‘ etc. as many of the sensationalist media would have their readers believe… we are determined, committed, intelligent, diverse and resourceful people acting with honour and as much dignity as we can muster in this ugly and brutal fight that has raged in our communities and individual lives for 8+ years.
          no amount of threats, violence, sentencing, fines, imprisonment, inconvenience, abuse, trolling, character assassinations or unpleasantness – can possibly stop us because
          How the hell they ever imagined we could be moved is quite mad – that’s asking us to relinquish our absolute responsibility as parents and grandparents and leave our young at the mercy of profit-driven, corner-cutting, unaccountable companies. NOT HAPPENING.’

          The link below, to this comment also includes the open letter, signed by so many it would block up the bandwidth of this page:

      • Tridac

        Sorry, gross exaggeration and generalisation is obvious and doesn’t convince anyone with a brain. Just like crying Wolf, eventually people just ignore you. If you can’t convince people by telling the truth, then you don’t deserve to win. Facts matter, not endless political ideology and propaganda…

    • Nevermind

      Very casualobserver, they don’t even know yet whether this old shale will produce enough gas to make them rich. The galling issue is that the public is paying to police these polluters and water wasters.

      • Charles Bostock

        Wrong again. The public is paying to police the right of companies to go about their lawful business. Or to put it even more simply, policing costs are incurred because there are some people who are determined to impose their own point of view even if that means preventing a company from going about its lawful business.

        • Makropulos

          Quite right: “The public is paying to police the right of companies to go about their lawful business.” i.e. the public is paying for the right of companies, not for the right of the public.

  • BrianFujisan

    Shocking treatment of peacefull protestors Craig.

    Sinister ations by the Establishment, A judge with self / family interests in the oil industry ( Althams )

    Sinister too that Police Scotland tried to label Anti Fracking protesters as Domestic Extremists.

    It was absolute overload policing at Faslane a couple of Saturday’s ago.. there was at least 600 of us there for the March, and International Rally.. They wanted to call us Domestic Extremists too.. the majority of that 600 were in their 50’s 60’s 70’s.. but there were a lot of young children there too.

    Then there is Historic Environment Scotland, ( HES ) saying we can’t Have our Rally in Holyrood Park on Saturday.. We’ll see about that. We’re going for a Picnic. Maybe see ya there.

  • James

    You’re a comedian without the wit, Craig. I read your crap books, and think The Big Breach by that appalling author is better, quite a margin.
    No amount of horseshit, to use your silly phrase, will make good your lack of native writing style or indeed the matter to write about.
    Woeful crerinism, and you should know better. Embarrassing in fact.

    • SA

      I bet you have not read the ‘crap books’. If you have please be so kind as to explain why you thought they were crap?
      I have so far only read Murder in Samarkand and found it a well written book both in a literary way and in showing the facts and the way the establishment works. Craig has been vindicated several times in his stand against illegal behind the scenes actions of the state and continues to expose wrongdoings. Your challenge is to come up with some proof of your meaninglessly abusive post.

      • certa certi

        Having worked with a few people who were in Nigeria during those years I scanned the Catholic Orangemen of Togo online to see if any names or aliases got a mention and was bemused to read the author’s account of trouble sending with his old satphone. The old satphones we were issued with were Thrane and Thrane and used inmarsat. The dish took no time to align with altitude and bearing and you then gently adjusted til the signal beep became rapid. Typed message and encrypted offline, dialled up and fired off. Then PGP wipe and shredder. The author claimed it took him hours and the only time this happened to me was during the Iraq invasion 2004 due to media streaming on the Indian Ocean sat. I had to switch to the Pacific sat low on the horizon, weak signal but messages fired off eventually. I don’t think this is the same event that complicated things for Mr Murray though. Other than 2004 the whole process with the old satphone was always quick.

  • Kula Danga

    Craig, equating MEPs defence of Orban with repressive state power is just plain ignorant.

  • jazza

    just like preeti patel’s viscious “how dare you criticise us” comment from the recent bruges group meeting – see the twitter page – tories believe dissent is criminal and should be outlawed – and that is their intention – this out of control, rabid regime would be removed from power with a more sensible and sensitive population – sadly few in britain care beyond the end of their own noses or why else would melanie shaw still be in gaol??????

  • Paul Greenwood

    If you look at Hambacher Forest in Nordrheinwestfalen you see the same picture. Having disposed of nuclear power and gone overboard on windmills and solar, Merkel’s administration continues to tear up villages and forests to exploit lignite reserves. This forest has been occupied by protesters in tree houses and tunnels for 6 years – now the police are ordered to clear it.

    So far one journalist has been killed and one female activist severely injured. Quite why Germany is still burning lignite in power stations but shuts down nuclear (but imports nuclear energy from France) is inexplicable. Anyway it is analogous to England using State Power to push fracking.

    There is incidentally a new purpose-built facility in Sachsen-Anhalt – A complete German village at Schnöggersburg built as a military training place for NATO to deal with civil disorder. They are building another in Bavaria near Bonnland. Paramilitary and NATO units are training to deal with internal disorder (Art 6 NATO Charter)

  • Stephen

    Not a word about the draconian punishment handed out to Tommy Robinson Craig? Really?

    • JOML

      I look forward to you posting your thoughts, Stephen. Why wait for others to do what you want?

    • EricsEars

      Stephen Weatherspoon Lennon is a serial inciter of violence towards ethnic minorities. You may prefer to see him as ‘a peoples hero’… Lennon is a nasty racist. I’m surprised he has managed to stay out of priz for as long as he has. But you know that really. Unless your surname is Bannon.

    • Nevermind

      He. Doesn’t comment onfakes, nor does this selfserver need any more publicity for his rants.

    • Kula

      Craig’s showing his Tory roots. Hungary is a repressive state power and Tommy Robinson’s experience falls outside of his ‘right-on’ protest. Gimme a break. If anyone knows how a nation’s interests are misrepresented at every turn by the UK, the US and the EU, it’s you, Craig.

  • RuilleBuille

    In Ireland the English made it a policy to murder opponents and civilians who they claimed were UK subjects when their power was threatened. Don’t be surprised how vicious they will be when threatened.

      • IrishU

        The focus on the Glenanne Gang is the latest cause célèbre of Irish Nationalists and Republicans. I always find it somewhat galling to be lectured on morality and murder by the likes of Sinn Fein.

        ‘They colluded or sanctioned the murder of hundreds of civilians’, I am assuming you have evidence and sources to back this up?

        I am always amused when the issue of collusion is brought up. It certainly happened, I make no denial of that. However, the idea that it was state directed policy falls down. If the British Sate was willing to arm, train and unleash Loyalist hit squads on Republicans and innocent Nationalists, why did the British state not use its vast intelligence take to target the Republican leadership of Sinn Fein and the PIRA, INLA?

        If anyone cares to debate this, I would be most keen. However, please respond with something more than the English don’t value Irish lives or some version thereof.

        • Spencer Eagle

          What’s amusing about the collusion? Why wouldn’t it be state directed? Just because they didn’t go straight to the top of the organisations doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The British government has a long and very dark history of manipulating conflicts, primarily by getting one faction fighting against the other. Same old, same old in Iraq and Afghanistan, get the SAS to plant a car bomb at a Sunni mosque and blame it on the Shiites – divide and conquer. The Glenanne Gang isn’t a cause célèbre, it’s damning evidence that our state, security services and politicians can’t lie straight in bed at night.

          • IrishU

            The idea that collusion was state directed is amusing as (i) there is no creditable evidence; (ii) if the State was directing collusion it would need to lead to something beneficial, in the eyes of the British. Divide and rule was not beneficial to the British. During the period of the Troubles, Northern Ireland contributed very little to the British state, either by way of the economy, natural resources or defence. So your assertion of divide and rule along historical, colonial, lines does not stack up.

            The Glenanne Gang has become quite the cause celebre in Northern Ireland. Irish Republicans, most notably Sinn Fein, are using it to paint and erroneous and distorted picture of: (i) collusion; (ii) blurring the distinction between the actions of a minority of embittered Loyalists within the RUC and UDR and the majority of individuals who served in both organisations. Obviously, it suits their agenda to do so, by pointing out egregious acts of violence against ‘their’ community by State forces allows them to divert attention away from their own deeds during the Troubles and helps improve their self-defined image as lowly freedom fighters defending their people against foreign / state directed violence.

  • Paul Jennings

    Scottish independence will surely be unstoppable should Brexit actually happen and should the Tories somehow cling on to power at Westminster. Under those circumstances watch the queue of English refugees form at the new border! It seems to me that the most likely obstacle to independence would be a Labour Government coming into power and offering a new devolution settlement all round. Even if Scottish Nationalists might dismiss it as an empty package, it would probably be enough to preserve the Union for a while longer.

    • MaryPau!

      I am English and in sympathy with Scottish independence. However I wonder a) how you would replace English subsidies which are quite significant contribution to Scottish economy b) what currency you would use, given UK government has ruled out sterling and c) how you would tackle EU membership, seeing as they do not seem disposed to admit Scotland to membership. BTW my sister in law is Scottish and opposed to a 2nd referendum, at present.

      • Rod

        I, too, am English and I believe that the people of Scotland have the right to self determination, but having said that I would hope for the reasons and questions you list above that they vote to remain within the United Kingdom. I would not wish our two nations to become embroiled in another border travesty even though there is little likelihood of violence erupting as in the case of the north of Ireland. I’ve seen Brexit protest placards asking the question ‘Is it worth it ?’ and I do not believe, in the final analysis, that it is.

      • iain

        To bolster your point you might also have pointed to the economic collapse of all the other countries that thought they could survive independently without being ruled by London.

      • JOML

        a) very debatable that Scotland is subsidised, given the lengths Westminster has gone to undermine independence (I.e. it must be an asset).
        b) it was subsequently admitted that the rUK couldn’t stop Scotland using sterling – and probably to mutual advantage in the short term, while alternative is chosen.
        c) we’re going out of the EU and, once independent, the Scottish electorate will decide with how much vigour a place in the EU is sought. Of course, the EU may decline an application but this would be unusual, given our previous membership.
        The way these questions were worded, suggests they were based on assumptions rather than a factual base… same old regurgitated crap.

        • IrishU

          Is it not possible that Scotland can be both a net recipient of the Union but an asset in a wider sense?

      • Morag Branson

        Less of the patronising please. There is no such thing as subsidies from England and those that perpetuate this should be embarrassed at their gullibility.

        We’ll use whatever currency we decide.

        EU has always been pragmatic about membership and so will be in this case too. Many have stated that there is no obstacle to us being accepted.

        Your relative is obviously telling you mince, sorry!

        • IrishU

          Use whatever currency you decide? Hypothetocally, if Scotland decided to use Sterling but without a formal currency union, what sort of indpendence would Scotland have if monetary policy was set by a foreign power?

        • MaryPau!

          If Scotland is indeed able to be totally self sufficient financially and does not need the subventions of the Barnett formula, and will take its chances in using sterling as a currency and on not being allowed into the EU in the foreseeable future, then I wish you well with independence.

          If this is indeed so, I wonder why the SNP is fighting shy of another referendum. Could it be because the Scottish political classes are in fact comfortable with the way things are at present.?

          OS What does “telling you mince” mean? Is it some traditional Scottish expression?

  • Sue Greenall

    Hi Craig, I always enjoy your articles, and this one resonated, particularly with regard to the frackers. I shared it twice, and now I am unable to get into Facebook.! You are clearly a ‘dangerous’ man! Either that, or it didn’t like my use of the Phrase “these frackers …”!

  • Andyoldlabour

    Not just the state working for the state, but the politicians working for the people who fund them – big business.
    Anyone who thinks politicians work for the electorate is sadly deluded – so that is about 90% of the electorate who do not have a clue how politics works in the real world.
    If someone gives you £100K, £1 million etc, are you going to do what they want you to do, or are you going to do the bidding of the sheeple who vote for you?
    The sheeple are simply an annoyance for the vast majority of politicians, who are totally unaccountable when it comes to following through on their policy pledges when they get into power.
    Corruption and nepotism are rife, they are a plague which has infested our political landscape.
    Until we have complete transparency with regard to the funding of political parties, then the military industrial complex will have total influence and subsequent control over every single decision our government takes.
    This latest, disgusting fracking fiasco is simply an example of big business, colluding with government to run roughshod over the people.

  • Mark Russell

    Living just four miles from PNR, I am acutely aware of the incredible dedication and sacrifice shown by the ‘protectors’ who assemble every day to take a stance against this repugnant industry and its political masters. This despite outrageous brutality from the police and security personnel – and regrettably opposition from a not insignificant number of the local community in Lytham St Annes.

    Given all the evidence of environmental harm and pollution, one might expect absolute opposition from local residents, but unfortunately that is not the case. Money is more important that principles or human lives – the indifference and tacit support of BAE Systems who have supplied the Saudi’s with Typhoons and weapons for their civil war in Yemen from their Warton base, just outside Lytham, is another illustration of why this is simply not just a political problem.

    Hardly surprising the establishment acts with impunity when we are cursed with such cowardice in our midst.

  • Clark

    Craig, thank you very much for highlighting the British state’s harsh authoritarian repression of the anti-fracking protesters. On Monday I met some of their supporters outside Chelmsford crown court where, after a nerve-wracking six months of delays and adjournments, the Stansted Fifteen anti-deportation direct action protesters have at last begun their trial, which is expected to last six weeks.

    Various MSM reporters were present, and I asked them if they knew that the UK was less than 24 hours from rolling power cuts when the UK’s gas supply nearly ran out, back in the cold weather in March, right at the start of the Skripal distraction:

    Not one reporter had even heard of the crisis. It seems that our establishment is careful to cultivate the ignorance of voters and MPs alike, yet somehow the message that gas supply must be supplemented at any cost manages to reach the relevant judges, from the local level right up to the High Court, which has, I believe, ruled against fracking bans by the Scottish government and English Heritage.

    Of course it is impossible to replace the vast supplies of the North Sea and Russia with the pathetic dregs of gas that can be squeezed out by fracturing subsoil geology and destroying the natural groundwater purification process, but logic can only be applied in an environment of openness and honesty, which are the polar opposites of the establishment’s priorities. The people who should be prosecuted and imprisoned for very nearly freezing the UK’s most vulnerable families to death are those who have profited enormously by running the UK’s infrastructure to ruin in pursuit of short-term fortunes: note the gas price graph at the bottom of this comment:

    The UK is not run for its people and its media propagate ignorance and trivia. Both are controlled by the City for the secretive global elite and their vast wealth:

  • Mighty Drunken

    The draconian anti-protesting injunction in force till 2020 shows exactly who is important in our country, it’s not us. The Conservative government have been promoting fracking over other energy generation, with tax incentives and “stream lined” planning rules

    What makes this ridiculous is the anti wind farm position of the Conservatives. Pretending to put local concerns first with legislation which makes it much easier to block onshore wind farms. The new rules were so effective that planning applications dropped by 94% after 2015.

    How is that for joined up thinking? Making it much harder to build one of the cheapest forms of energy which many people support, while promoting a form which most people dislike.

  • laguerre

    It all sounds very traditional, going back centuries. He’s a ‘hanging judge’ from the 17th century – they all came from ‘county’ families, and didn’t hesitate to string up lines of riff-raff. Judge Jeffreys (1645 – 1689), for example, who hung 160-170 after the Monmouth rebellion. He came from a knighted landowning family in Shropshire. I can’t see the difference with this Altham.

    • Charles Bostock

      It is hardly surprising that various English judges sentenced lots of people to hand at a time when hanging was the penality for hundreds of offences, surely?

      But I wanted to ask you something else since you live in France. Namely : is there any fracking going on , or proposed, in France? Or do the French authorities feel that nuclear power is doing the trick as far as energy security is concerned?

    • Cynicus

      “Judge Jeffreys (1645-1689)… hung 169-170……. I can’t see the difference with this Altham.”
      Tell us then: how many have been hanged by Altham? If it is 150, say, then the difference is 19 or 20 in Altham’s favour.

      • laguerre

        Hanging is no longer the habit of the moment. Altham could well have done it if it were the practice, but it’s no longer a choice open to him.

        By the way, he’s obviously quite dim, grammar school and UCL, as Sharp Ears points out. Needs the Freemasons get where he is.

        • Cynicus

          “By the way, he’s obviously quite dim, grammar school and UCL”
          Had be gone to Eton and Baliol he might be as bright as Boris Johnson!

          What’s French for “moving the goalposts”?

  • Clark

    Decades of mismanagement have made the UK utterly dependent upon immediate gas supply. Specifically gas. New Labour wanted to “lead Europe” in reducing CO2 emissions, and therefore prioritised gas. Local authorities nationwide were encouraged to fit gas boilers in social housing. Gas electricity generation was prioritised, and over half the UK’s generating capacity is now gas; note that the left dial, Demand, goes up to 55GW, and the fifth dial, CCGT or Closed Circuit Gas Turbine, goes up to 28GW:

    But the UK’s long-term gas storage facility has been trashed. The storage facility was a depleted gas field off the Yorkshire coast called Rough. It was sold to Centrica Storage, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centrica the energy supplier, a supplier of gas. The contract stipulated that Centrica Storage would maintain Rough, but instead they used it for commercial gain by repeatedly pressurising and depressurising it, so that Centrica could take advantage by selling gas whenever the price peaked.

    Selling Rough to a wholly-owned subsidiary of a gas vendor was an obvious conflict of interest. Predictably, Centrica Storage allowed the facility to fall into disrepair. This billion pound breach of contract has been quietly approved by the government:

    Who has gone to prison for exposing the UK population to the risk of hypothermia? Oh yes, some anti-fracking protestors. Of course.

    • MaryPau!

      There has been a general UK state policy for some time that there will always be sufficient gas available via the Interconnect with Europe. I have always considered this to be madness but the will to devise better energy security seems to be lacking at the political level. This policy must have been conceived and is maintained at civil service level in the relevant government department . Security of UK energy supplies does not seem to be an area in which politicians take any interest.

      • Charles Bostock


        Is your “madness” comment limited to gas imports via the inter-connector or is it more general, ie, does it encompass the idea of the UK being dependant on energy from non-UK sources?

        If the latter, you would presumably be in favour of fracking in the UK?

        • MaryPau!

          I am away from home at present with a poor WiFi connection which keeps crashing. Unable therefore to reply to you at present. (Tried twice and it crashed both times.)

      • Clark

        “there will always be sufficient gas available via the Interconnect with Europe”

        The interconnects have only a small fraction of the necessary capacity.

        “the will to devise better energy security seems to be lacking at the political level”

        Since the 1980s, every government has worshipped ‘the market’. Sharp peaks in prices increase profits for vendors, traders and speculators. The UK’s long-term storage facility at Rough would have prevented those peaks, but it was sold into private hands, left unmaintained, misused for monetary gain and finally collapsed about a year ago.

        “This policy must have been conceived and is maintained at civil service level in the relevant government department”

        Partly, but the civil service are required to implement government policy. There has also been misinformation from academia, which itself has been under ever increasing private sector influence.

        • MaryPau!

          Briefly: Agree about misinformation from academics, many of whom have actually promoted idea there is no need for longer term storage.

    • Chris

      Agree with your argument completely, Clark, but to nit-pick CCGT = Combined Cycle Gas Turbine, and is a very efficient way to use gas, if we must.
      Years of lousy capacity planning by our lousy governments means ever more use of inefficient Open Circuit Gas turbines and even dirty diesels to meet demand peaks.

      • Clark

        I always welcome corrections Chris; thanks.

        Yes, various industrial gas users were cut off and forced to use their emergency diesel generation. Thank goodness it didn’t include hospitals this time, as has previously been the case.

  • Sc

    It’s shocking how our society works more and more for the rich and the establishment. Any gains for rights of ordinary people seem to be slipping away. Total respect to those fighting for good causes in this environment. What can we do?

  • Sc

    It’s shocking how our society works more and more for the rich and the establishment. Any gains for rights of ordinary people seem to be slipping away. Total respect to those fighting for good causes in this environment.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Preamble: The next 6 months in British politics are likely to be the most fluid in modern times. Policy is driven by sentiment and the sentiment of English nationalism is insular and exceptionalist. With a hard Brexit people will be faced with a harsh, binary choice between an independent Scotland either in the EU or the EEA and remaining in the present arrangement and subject to an unrestrained English nationalism.
    Point: In such turbulent times individual positions will shift. Demonising individuals based on their position in 2014 is counterproductive. Creating derisive pigeon holes (Youns) is childish and counterproductive. All is up for grabs. Ex leaders of Scottish Labour (perhaps in the plural) could come on side. Successful writers of children’s literature could be in play, even Ruth Davidson could see the writing on the wall and convert. People let’s not fuck this up by name calling and division.

  • Crispa

    Thank you for drawing attention to this and the surrounding issues. I was horrified when I saw the reports of the sentences but little critical comment in the msm. It is certainly worrying.

  • Jayne Venables

    Check out recent case in York of Heather Stroud who put forward her case as reclaiming democracy — an act of self-defence against ecocide, using international law.

    She chained herself to fracking gates at Kirby Misperton. See York Press letters re the outcome.
    Contrasting approach of her judge and prosecution. Shows what can be done if justice system works with integrity.

    Lancashire frackers should not be jailed for protesting against the non-mandated destruction of our land and natural environment.

  • David Webb

    Sounds too lenient to me. you can’t have pinkhaired people with dreadlocks and dogs on strings stopping energy exploitation.

  • Keith

    This Tory government knows it’s lost the argument with the public which is why they are now overruling local planning decisions and forcing through fracking licences under state approved permiited development rights. This judge is clearly re-inforcing the “might is right” logic of a state no longer answerable to the public it serves, irrespctive of the long term consequences to the planet which the protestors clearly hold as a higher value.

    “Sentencing the men, the judge, Robert Altham, said he thought the three men posed a risk of reoffending and could not be rehabilitated as “each of them remains motivated by an unswerving confidence that they are right”. He added: “Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions. Given the disruption caused in this case, only immediate custody can achieve sufficient punishment.”

    • Charles Bostock


      “This Tory government knows it’s lost the argument with the public..”

      I wouldn’t accept that, actually. But if it were true, would that not be yet another example of nimbyism carried up to the national level – in other words, the UK public wants energy security but is opposed to providing that security through the exploitation of local UK ressources?

      • Clark

        It’s not ‘nimbyism’. Earthquakes and pollution of groundwater affect far more people than just the locals, and burning gas releases greenhouse gases. All affect future generations.

      • Keith

        We can get national energy security through our renewable natural resources – I don’t think most people object to the “exploitation of local UK ressources” as long as they don’t cause the level of pollution, disease and environmental damage that fracking and other fossil fuels have been shown to cause. You seem to be missing the point, probably deliberately.

        • Charles Bostock


          “We can get national energy security through our renewable natural resources ”

          There are 264 things I could say about the above, but for the moment just this: does anyone seriously believe that?

          Perhaps you meant to say “partial national energy security”?

          • Keith

            You clearly have no concept of the pace of technological development in the renewable sector and if we as a country had only diverted a fraction of the proceeds from coal, oil and gas production 20-30 years ago into developing more advanced tidal, solar, wind, geothermal and hydro electric we would already have the vast majority of our electricity produced by renewables. Instead the head in the sand folk continue to think burning fossil fuel is the future, and as a result of that short sightedness we will continue to need nuclear until we eventually realise this is also yet another disaster waiting to happen.

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