Anti-fracking Labour critics are singing from Green Party and SNP songsheets

Nobody wants to see this in the United Kingdom: Fracked water is set ablaze in the film Gasland.

Nobody wants to see this in the United Kingdom: Fracked water is set ablaze in the film Gasland.

Vox Political’s report on the outcome of yesterday’s fracking debate in Parliament prompted a predictably shrill response from supporters of the Scottish Nationalist and Green parties.

Now, why would that be?

Could it be that these organisations want to split the Left vote, attracting more voters to themselves by presenting an unpleasant image of Labour?

And isn’t this irresponsible at a time when Conservative policies, propped up by Liberal Democrat votes, are causing so much damage to the United Kingdom – including the deaths of many vulnerable people?

Why are they attacking Labour, rather than the real enemy of the people?

Some have claimed that Labour did a deal with the Coalition, agreeing to abstain on a vote for an absolute moratorium on fracking in return for the inclusion of Labour’s list of 13 regulatory procedures – to be carried out before any fracking may be performed – in the legislation.

Even if this is true, it is simply good politics. The entire Parliamentary Labour Party, combining its votes with any others who opposed the Bill, could not have amassed the more-than-300 votes necessary to topple the Coalition’s absolute control over the passage of the Infrastructure Bill into law.

The only reason this writer can see for the Tories to have given even this concession is that we are in an election year and they fear the adverse publicity that would be generated by refusing any kind of regulation at all could harm them at the ballot box.

So, for the Tories, Liberal Democrats, Greens and SNP, it seems to be all about the election. Only Labour seems to have spare a thought for the protection of British citizens from harm.

And what thanks did the party get?

Here’s Nicola Ronnquist: “Labour abstained on clause 9 calling for a moratorium! I would hardly call that a victory! labour is a disgrace! The labour supporters have gone very quiet tonight on some of the threads after pointing out they abstained from a moratorium! ! After the EA commitee recommended it!!! Well done labour!!! No vote on the tresspass law! So they will now be able to frack under our homes. The labour traitors! Im voting green now!”

This Green supporter has posted a further 14 comments on the fracking article thread, stirring up anti-Labour sentiment.

Here’s Chris Lovett, another Green supporter: “Bugger Labliar. Go Green.” No argument – just abuse and a call to split the Left vote.

For the Scottish Nationalists, here’s Lee Thompson, who quoted figures on the moratorium vote from Wings Over Scotland, the ScotsNat blog. No bias there, then! He wrote: “The Head of Scottish Labour [Jim Murphy] was all the way in Scotland playing football! My understanding of politicians is that they are there to represent the wishes of their constituents at all times? 52 managed to vote despite knowing they couldn’t win [including Labour MPs – it is a party that does allow its members to speak their minds]… Let’s consider the example set by our politicians, they get paid by us to vote but don’t. If I told my boss there was no point in doing something, I’d get the sack.”

In fact, MPs are paid to represent their constituents to the best of their ability – and we’ll see how Labour achieved this later in the article.

Clare Tereasa Gallagher, who appears to be both Scottish Nationalist and Green, wrote: “The labour party abstained! Red tory scum, only care about the lifestyles they’ve become accustomed to… Jim Murphy was playing keepy Uppy at Pittodrie!

There were many other comments. Some of them even seem to be by people who were genuinely concerned, rather than pushing their own party line.

The most sensible comment on Vox Political‘s Facebook page came from Steve Gogerly: “The price of oil falling through the floor has made fracking a less than profitable enterprise which suits all of us dubious of its environmental safety. Hopefully a safer method will be discovered before the price rises again.

It seems entirely likely that Labour is aware of this and the regulations that are now part of the Infrastructure Bill are merely a stop-gap measure. Tom Greatrex MP wrote at length about “the reality behind… Tory rhetoric” in an article for LabourList as long ago as last April.

this is not an imminent revolution,” he wrote. “Shale gas in the UK is unlikely to really get going this side of 2020 – peak production is not expected to be reached until 2024. Hinting that shale gas offers a solution to the potential tightening of our supply margins in the next couple of years, as some Tories do, is therefore completely misleading.”

He continued: “Cameron promised that shale gas would deliver 74,000 jobs. This week’s report [from Ernst & Young] cuts that down to 64,000, but within that number there are just 6,000 “directly employed”, 39,000 in the supply chain and 19,000 “supply chain induced” positions. In short, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

“But perhaps the key line from the report was on page 4, when EY acknowledge that ‘it is not yet possible to make any forecast of potential recovery rates’. Whilst we know that the gas is in the ground, we don’t know how much of it is extractable.”

He went on to say that shale gas extraction should only happen within a framework of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection, and with local consent – and must not be allowed to develop at the expense of the UK’s climate change commitments.

Put that all together and you’ve got an industry that is on (forgive the poor taste) extremely uncertain ground. Is fracking worth the potential disruption of who-knows-how-many British citizens, not to mention the further harm to our environmental credentials, for the sake of an unknown – possibly very low – yield and only around 6,000 jobs?

The more one examines this matter, the more likely it seems that Labour has skilfully employed a delaying tactic; these new regulations will put any fracking operations on hold while the businesses involved go through the regulatory procedures. After this has been done, it is possible that a Labour government will have been returned to power, and will put an end to the process altogether, in favour of methods that are proven not to harm the environment.

Of course, this won’t happen if the Greens and the SNP succeed in their greedy bid to split the left-wing vote. If the Left is divided between several parties, the way will be clear for the Tories to sweep back into office and do whatever they like, to anyone.

Is that really what you want?

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28 thoughts on “Anti-fracking Labour critics are singing from Green Party and SNP songsheets

  1. Marcus de Mowbray

    Fracking is a matter of National importance. All those against it should unite behind the cause and stop inter-Party bickering. The Con-Self-Servatives are masters of “Divide and Rule”, all energy should be focussed on them!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I agree. The current storm in a teacup is simply because the supporters of the other Left parties don’t understand what happened.

  2. Neil Ross

    Crikey, the ‘Vote Labour or else Tories’ argument. One of the most mendacious lies. Didn’t work the last time, and it’s spectacularly defunct up here, because we sent 59 Lab MPs to WM, and look what we got.

    The reason we SNP/Green/PC supporters have got the bit between our teeth, is because there’s a wide gap on the left to claim. Labour have slid to the right and left it for us to take.
    That 59 mostly abstaining in the last few weeks, has shown their constituents that they aren’t representing their interests, thus fuelling the hunger for change.

    I accept NC9 couldn’t have been won, but the principle is that Labour are the opposition, and should act as such. How it’s seen is very important too: every time this happens, there’s less to pick between Lab and Tory.
    Bearing in mind that Amber Rudd’s brother is a Milliband adviser, and that the Lab/RS commission on fracking featured a hedge fund manager who advises fracking companies…we’re quite right to question all of this.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No – it’s the ‘other parties are trying to split the vote’ argument. Slightly different. Mendacity on the part of the Greens and SNP, certainly.
      Yes, Scotland sent 59 Labour MPs to Westminster and those MPs have been working extremely hard for the Scottish people. Saying “Look what we got” merely displays a lack of understanding of our Parliamentary system.
      Labour was further to the right in 2005 and the smaller parties made no headway then. It was further to the right in 2010. Why are you taking issue with Labour when it is returning to its left-wing roots? Feeling insecure?
      Your talk about the Scottish Labour MPs abstaining – I’ve seen this before, and whenever I’ve checked it out it has been proved to be a lie.
      Why do the SNP/Green parties lie about such matters, if they’re in such a strong position?
      The Opposition should indeed act as such – when it is necessary. What Labour did was an extremely clever piece of politics, as my article clarifies.
      Extremely smart.
      How it is seen is indeed very important, that’s why it is necessary to pick apart the fabrications of the ScotsNats and the Greens before they can gain traction.
      Question, by all means – but SNP/Greens have been making things up – and that’s no good for anybody.

      1. kittysjones

        Very well said, Mike. Yes they do tell lies, not so long back both the Greens and SNP tried to claim that Labour had abstained on the bedroom tax vote – it was a debate that Labour themsleves had tabled. I had to post the Hansard record of the vote to show the lie for what it was. And it was an INTENTIONAL lie, not a ‘misunderstanding’. There are many. I want to be fighting the Tories, not challenging and evidencing lies from so called ‘socialists’ . If they bothered investing as much energy in attacking the Tories as they do Labour, we may have made more progress. As it is, they just scatter energy and get nasty when you do challenge them.

        How ‘socialist’ is it to employ the politicking methods of the far-right? Answer: It ISN’T.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        That’s right – there’s a Helen Price on the VP Facebook page at the moment, who has twice mentioned on the same comment thread the lie that Labour habitually abstains. I’ve called her out over it but that doesn’t stop her.

  3. Chris Lovett

    In many many posts (not here) I have suggested that if you live in a constituency where Labour stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning in May, you vote Labour. EVERYWHERE else you vote Green. OK? That just might result in a little left influence being brought to bear on things.

  4. Neil Ross

    We’re not splitters. We’re your conscience.

    Take my Mr Brown as an example: 12% attendance. Hardly working hard or boxing clever is he? Never answers tweets or emails. Never.
    He’s just about the worst, but he’s not alone.

    Do not pull the ‘you don’t understand’ line on me Mike. I’ve watched, listened and learned a lot these past three years or so. I may make the odd mistake, but to err is human, and to admit them is one way to learn.

    But I’m damn sure I’ll be voting for a party who listen to people, and stand up for that where it counts. Whoever it is, it won’t be Lab unless there’s some Damascene revelation in the offing. I’ve watched them lie, wheedle and take their position for granted. It’s ugly and I’m against it.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Are you speaking for all your colleagues when you ask me not to “pull the ‘you don’t understand’ line” on you? And what about all your colleagues who are so quick to say that nobody south of the border understands what’s going on in Scotland? I’ve watched, listened and learned as well – and what I’ve learned about Scottish nationalism in the last six months or so has been extremely unpleasant.
      Have you really watched Labour – en masse – lie, wheedle or take their position for granted? Or are you merely claiming that and hoping nobody picks you up on it?
      I’ve debunked many, many claims that ScotsNats have made about Labour. They’re wearing extremely thin.

  5. ubych

    How can you continue to defend the Labour party on this Mike, this farce of a vote along with Labour voting with the Tories for continued Austerity and the renewal of Trident.
    Is there a line in the sand for you Mike? or is it just Labour at any cost.
    Time to change those tinted glasses.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      My article presents a thesis and supports it with evidence.
      On what do you base your comment?
      “Voting with the Tories for continued Austerity”… You really haven’t been paying attention at all, have you? Go back and read my article on that for a more balanced view.

  6. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    I admire many of the Green Parties policies. Sadly anyone voting Green (at this time) is assisting the Tories at the expense of Labour which is the only real alternative to the greed and corruption of many of the Tories. If you vote green as a matter of conscience (at this time) the result could well be a return to Conservative bullying and the loss of a real alternative for good for all with Labour.

    1. Chris Lovett

      Doesn’t that depend on where you vote? I can happily vote Green living in Surrey. If I lived in a Labour seat, I’d vote Labour. But I think everywhere outside Labour seats – or possible Labour seats a Green vote’s best. We could annihilate the LibDems, for instance.

      1. Chris Lovett

        You asked “where did tactical voting get us in 2010”? Why, it got us a the FibDems of course. And this time it could get rid of them. Further, as I live in a totally Tory constituency, perhaps you might suggest who I should vote for?

  7. Jane Hartley Jacques

    Agree with your analysis, have heard similar re shale gas elsewhere. I live in Lancashire and do not want fracking but will support Labour to the hilt and there is no alternative to the Tories for Government

  8. kittysjones

    Labour played clever on this. It’s unlikely any fracking can go ahead for at least a year, now, but the Tories were planning to fast track it, now they are scupperred. The moratorium would not have worked, for the reasons Mike laid out. Labour did the best possible, under the circumstances, let’s not forget who did this – the TORIES. Yes, the greens and SNP should put some effort into attacking Tory policy instead of electioneering, grandstanding and attacking Labour, smearing Labour MPS, policies and grassroots supporters. What the hell is wrong with you people! Lying, half truths, black and white thinking, and you think this will gain credibility and respect? It won’t, because those tactics are no better than the ones the Tories use.

    I’m anti-fracking, always have been. I live green and vote Labour, that’s Labour, who gave us the Climate Change Act in 2004. The Labour Party are basing any actions regarding fracking on EVIDENCE gathered from the ongoing inquiry, such evidence will place them in a stronger position than we currently have now.

    And it was Labour who got a result.

  9. Michelle Harfield (@thepoliticogal)

    It seems the Greens and SNP are not clear on a vital area of being in opposition. Sometimes, you have to do the grittier job of chipping away at policy rather than making sweeping statements like the moratorium. And if Labour did a deal to get this in place for now, then so be it, it’s stopped the Tory’s for the moment and if the SNP and Greens stop titting about and help unite the Left rather than divide, then I would gather this policy along with other damaging Tory policies can be eradicated…. but then I don’t expect anything more from two political groups stuck in the terrible toddler years.

    1. Chris Lovett

      Sorry to say that sounds like a Tory viewpoint, whether blue or pink. My 69 years on this planet lead me to think change – real change – is needed. I suspect you feel similarly, but for me time’s been up for years, patience is at an end, compromise is as it always was, ammunition for the opposition. 1979 was the last year I wasn’t continuously politically angry. (If that’s understandable!)

      The thing that stops free thinking here and polarises voters – even though there are few differences between the LibLabCon parties – is of course this stupid first past the post system. A Podemos or Syriza could only happen in the UK under some form of PR. Then the left COULD unite in a real coalition. And it might even be a real left, a Socialist left, not a name only remnant of what the Labour party were when I was born in 1945.

      An example of compromise: I voted against AV solely to deny Clegg his ambition – did many of you do that too? How wrong I was. As was he in lying about my kid’s tuition fees. Did he compromise? Oh yes. Did I? yes again. Two wrongs.

  10. Rachel

    The anti-fracking movement is a broad church when it comes to politics. From your out and out radical lefty anarcho types all the way over to Tories.

    The clue is sort of in the name ‘ANTI-fracking’, not the ‘we want regulated but still climate destroying, water poisoning, uncontrolled release of methane, toxics and possibly radiation into the environment, movement.

    Labour ignored the masses of public opinion so stop throwing your teddy out of the pram because tthe electorate aren’t stupid enough to fall for your PR game.

    Oh and ‘if you don’t support Labour you let the Tories in argument is really wearing thin. Why don’t Labour try and come up with policies that people want and support instead of trying to scare people into voting for them.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Needling.
      You know what that is?
      It’s when you don’t really have an argument so you try to undermine the other person somehow.
      Examples include insulting something the other person believes in (“why don’t Labour try and come up with policies that people want and support instead of trying to scare people into voting for them” – only tangentially to do with the issue at hand but you think that, because I’m a Labour supporter, this will upset me. Have you read my article about Rachel Reeves today?)
      I can play that game too: If the ‘if you don’t support Labour you let the Tories in’ argument is really wearing thin, why don’t the parties accused of this behaviour actually, you know, attack the Tories? They are, after all, the real enemy here.
      Back to needling – your comment “the electorate aren’t stupid enough to fall for your PR game” is another example – shading into argument by personal charm, which is another false argument as it contributes nothing genuine to any debate.
      Obviously “stop throwing your teddy out of the pram” is also needling, and an ‘ad hominem’, as it is insulting me by comparing me to a baby.
      What’s left? Not a lot, really – just your comment “The clue is sort of in the name ‘ANTI-fracking’, not the ‘we want regulated but still climate destroying, water poisoning, uncontrolled release of methane, toxics and possibly radiation into the environment, movement.” Without evidence that Labour’s regulations – you were referring to them, weren’t you? – will not prevent the things you mention, this is worthless; just unsubstantiated supposition from an admitted sceptic.

    2. Chris Lovett

      As someone soon to be living in Greece, would you care to join me in congratulating SYRIZA in winning the recent election?

  11. Neil Ross

    Hark! What is that I hear? Why, ’tis the Scottish Government issuing a moratorium on onshore fracking!
    I’m sure you’d join me in congratulating them. And picking the one hole in their otherwise admirable action. (I’ve left a clue in the first paragraph)

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If the Scottish Government could do that unilaterally, why wait until after a Westminster vote on the subject?
      Could it be possible that they realised public opinion was against fracking and wanted to curry favour with the electorate?
      Never mind the politicking; it was the right thing to do, so you are right – they are to be congratulated.
      I take it that offshore fracking is to be rife, then?

      1. Neil Ross

        For one, they were being careful not to fall foul of WM or the extractors (see Cuadrilla vs Lancs as an example). For a second, there was sone ‘debate’ within the SNP as to how to proceed. But, after prodding from the Scot Greens and their new members, they’ve listened. Hooray.
        They’re still over a barrel as regards Ineos, having chucked £9m at them to keep Grangemouth open, but they’ve chosen us rather than them.
        Offshore is reserved to WM, but thankfully that should come back to us if the Smith Comm recommendations come through. For now, we’ll have to hope that Cluff Energy’s plans to do UCG under the Forth can be spiked by refusing applications for their onshore support utilities.

        I’ve come back around to my gut feeling of Monday, that a blanket moratorium would’ve been simpler and more effective. For us in Fife, as well as Lancs and Sussex and the rest.

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