Much has happened since my previous column but in some ways things have not changed!
We have a new First Minister and I congratulate Humza Yousaf on winning the recent SNP leadership election.
If that leadership election process reminded us of one thing – it was that all the candidates had one singular priority, to break up our United Kingdom.
This must never be forgotten – although it is often conveniently forgotten by SNP candidates in the run up to elections, because they know it puts many voters off.
A recent poll showed some 14% of SNP voters don’t want independence.
At the last Holyrood election, Nicola Sturgeon was telling voters to vote for her to deliver arecovery from Covid, not for independence.
But of course, as soon as the votes come in, every one of those votes was counted as a vote for independence – even if they still didn’t add up to a majority!
So, it came as no surprise that the new First Minister’s first action was to confirm he would seek another divisive and damaging independence referendum.
Even though there is no more evidence that a majority of Scots wanted one than when his predecessor sought one.
We have a long way still to go to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-livingissues caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Through the pandemic, billions of UK Government support was provided to support jobs and the economy – including the furlough scheme and business support grants and loans.
Again, through the worst of the global cost of living crisis, when energy costs were at their highest through the winter, the UK Government stepped in to make sure that the typical home paid approximately half of what otherwise would have been without that intervention.
At the Spring budget – among a range of further economic support measures, particularly for those hardest hit – an additional £20 billion was announced for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS)
This was great news for the Acorn project at St Fergus, which currently holds the unique status as the reserve cluster in Track-1 of the UK Government’s CCUS sequencing programme.
And last week, in their ‘Powering Up Britain’ statement, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced, not only announced the launch of Track-2 of this process, but also that Acorn was one of two clusters currently best placed to be delivered.
Predictably, SNP politicians – including here in Banff and Buchan – were only to eager to talk down this positive development.
Humza Yousaf himself complained that Acorn had been ‘relegated’ to Track-2, showing a wilful ignorance of how the process works.
The truth is that the Acorn Project developers and Scottish Cluster partners were absolutely delighted by the announcement last week and – despite SNP rhetoric to the contrary – have never stopped developing the project, with a target to be operational by 2027.
But, just like the election of Humza Yousaf as the ‘continuity’ First Minister, when it comes to SNP pollical point scoring, the more things change, the more they stay the same.