Nicola will keep the red flag flying here

Nicola will keep the red flag flying here

by Calum Miller
article from Friday 22, February, 2019

IT WAS A DULL DAY in November 2016 when Nicola Sturgeon opened the office of the Chinese State Development & Investment Corporation (SDIC) in Edinburgh. As she welcomed SDIC subsidiary Red Rock Power to Scotland the German vice chancellor was in Beijing complaining about merciless capitalism from the communist state; “It’s not on that Germany sacrifices its companies on the altar of free markets, while at the same time our own companies have huge problems investing in China," said Sigmar Gabriel.  A week later, Scottish internet unicorn Skyscanner was swallowed up by the Chinese travel company Ctrip, with barely a murmur of disapproval from the Scottish Government.

As our First Minister’s flight touched down in Beijing last April, it was lift-off for Red Rock Power in Scotland. Before the first chopstick had passed her lipstick, Nicola handed the directors of the Chinese company a fortune cookie that effectively read; 'need a monster transformer on the Scottish foreshore? No problem. Stuff what the locals say, just plank your shed on the site of the old Cockenzie Power Station'.  Concerns over the visual impact of this wind-farm transformer on the Forth coastline were quickly washed away with a few large baijius: one ministerial aid quipping that it would add a bit of oriental spice along the John Muir Way.

As Nicola and her entourage wined and dined for Scotland, one of her more diligent Westminster representatives was back home preparing the country for Brexit. Alan Brown MP(Kilmarnock & Loudon) was listening to reports that his boss wanted to “strengthen our overseas links” and export more “high quality food and drink” to China. He had just given a speech in London backing a “strategic high frequency high capacity motorway with the sea connection” at a “new gateway port at Cockenzie”. Trouble is, Mr Brown, the SNP's Westminster spokesman on Transport, Infrastructure and Energy, wants the new gateway port on the same land that Nicola has offered for Red Rock's giant transformer. Now a new Scottish strategic communication link with the world is under threat because the SNP leadership team aren’t talking to each other.

When the First Minster declared that Scotland and China “face common challenges” she was oblivious to the irony; both countries suffer control freaks who can’t delegate decision making. Nicola’s power grab on local planning reeks of the same authoritarianism that Xi Jinping presides over. If the people of East Lothian can’t be trusted with planning decisions, then perhaps Nicola should also relieve us from the burden of democracy; that would seriously impress her hosts on her next jolly along the silk road.

When Chinese renminbi’s are needed for investment in offshore wind; Scottish intellectual property, along with the seabird population, is dispensable. So too are the Scottish jobs lost to exorbitant energy costs, driven ever skyward by subsidy-hungry wind farms. As the shuttered factories around the Scottish central belt attest, energy prices here are double those in the USA, China and India. Chinese industrial strategy is only too happy to keep the energy cost imbalance in their favour and there is no shortage of willing fools to help them achieve their aims.

Jack Ponton, professor of engineering at the University of Edinburgh, recently calculated that Scotland’s impact on climate change is so small as to be almost unmeasurable. Our First Minister is virtue signaling her green credentials by turning off the Scottish manufacturing lights. Her whole Cabinet should be dragged round the shuttered world that is Livingston industrial estate to see how their policies look outside the Holyrood CO2 bubble.

Like the oil before, the floor from under our feet is being sold cheap to any foreign company looking to flog us our own energy resources. The last Scottish wind turbine maker went bust in 2018: it’s foreign companies, that are using foreign technology to exploit the Scottish environment. Last month’s announcement that the Dutch firm Boskalis won the £180 million contract for the Inch Cape wind farm foundations was the latest example. The sole role for Scots is to stump up for the rip-off energy charges from overseas suppliers. The former power station site is undoubtedly of national importance, it’s just unclear which nation the Scottish Government is serving.

Calum Miller is an entrepreneur based in East Lothian.

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