Fracking and smacking bans show the Greens now call the shots

Fracking and smacking bans show the Greens now call the shots

by Murdo Fraser
article from Saturday 28, October, 2017

IT HAS BEEN a bad week for the SNP Government. The roof is falling in at Bute House, meaning that Nicola Sturgeon and her husband have had to move out and into a hotel (at our expense, of course) until the necessary repairs are completed.

On Thursday, we had a damning report from Audit Scotland on the state of the NHS. This listed concerns over missed targets, longer waiting times, stalled improvements, and growing pressure on budgets. Crucially, there had been a 99 per cent increase in the number of people waiting more than twelve weeks for an outpatient appointment, the majority of key national performance targets have not been met, and general practice faces significant challenges, including in recruiting and retaining GPs – and low morale.

Earlier in the week we had confirmation from the SNP that fracking has been banned in Scotland. In a parliamentary debate, the Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse set out the SNP’s case, one which rejects the science (even the SNP’s own expert scientific panel said fracking could be carried out safely in Scotland, if properly regulated), and is entirely hypocritical. For we will continue to import vast amounts of shale gas from the US, and indeed elsewhere in the world, to meet our needs.

The SNP’s stance on fracking seems to be that it is fine anywhere else in the world, but we don’t want it here in Scotland. Indeed, when I challenged Mr Wheelhouse to state whether there were any countries in the world, regardless of environmental standards, that he would rule out importing shale gas from to use in Scotland, he did not name a single one. It is little wonder that his predecessor and Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, who is known to hold much more sensible views on fracking, was nowhere to be seen during the debate.

All this comes hot on the heels of the confirmation that smacking is to be outlawed, criminalising parents who should have the freedom to discipline their children in the way they see fit. You do not have to be an advocate of smacking to recognise that this is an unwarranted interference in family life, perhaps not surprising from the Party and Government that gave us the toxic “Named Person” policy.

What the bans on fracking and smacking have in common is that they have both been pushed vigorously by the Scottish Greens. Despite having only 6 MSPs out of 129 in the Scottish Parliament, and achieving a meagre 13,000+ constituency votes at the last Scottish Parliament election, it seems it is now the Greens who are calling all the shots.

This does not augur well for the forthcoming Scottish Government budget. The Greens have already set out their plans for substantial increases in Income Tax, determined to clobber middle income and higher earners. And the mood music from the SNP is that they are prepared to follow suit, and do a deal to hike taxes, and pick the pockets of hardworking Scottish families.

We know from a series of surveys of Scottish public opinion that Scots are no more enthusiastic about paying higher taxes than people anywhere else in the UK (or indeed in the Western world, for that matter). And yet, the extreme agenda of the Greens is going to determine Scottish Government policy on tax, just as it has dictated the position on energy policy, and on family life.

With an SNP administration lurching to the left, and increasingly dancing to Patrick Harvie’s tune, it is no wonder that they are continuing to lose public support. It can only be a matter before the Scottish people pull the roof down on Nicola Sturgeon and her failing SNP Government for good.

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