Andy Burnham’s call for a moratorium on fracking may be welcomed in many areas, but it still makes him – and Labour – look like a follower rather than a leader.
Too many people will remember that Labour did not support a similar call for a moratorium in January, made by the Green Party and supported by the SNP (if This Writer recalls correctly – Labour was certainly hammered by SNP supporters afterwards).
Instead, Labour called on the Coalition Government to impose a series of regulations that effectively meant fracking would be delayed until after the general election – in the hope that the Tories and Liberal Democrats would be ousted and saner minds would prevail.
This blog supported that choice because it was the only way fracking in England would be halted in the short term; the moratorium plan would not have won support from Coalition MPs but the regulations did – from Tories and Lib Dems who feared reprisals from their constituents if they did not show some restraint.
But Labour did not win the general election – the Tories did – and now the fear is that fracking will go ahead unhindered.
In that context, is Burnham asking for too little, too late?
(Note: A huge amount of crude oil was discovered beneath the Surrey/Sussex border last October. One is moved to ask whether this huge find will be developed and how heavily it will inconvenience the Conservative voters who live above it.)
The former cabinet minister will become the most senior Westminster politician to warn that fracking could pose a danger to communities as licences are “handed out like confetti” on flimsy evidence.
The MP for the Greater Manchester seat of Leigh, who will outline his plans on Saturday at a leadership hustings organised by the Fabian Society, told the Guardian: “I was literally left open-mouthed two years ago when I realised there were about nine licences all over my constituency. Some of them are moving forward.
“These things just seem to be handed out like confetti. That made me really focus on the issue. In my area, we are riddled with mine shafts as a former mining area. Where is the evidence that it is safe to come and frack a place like this? No fracking should go ahead until we have much clearer evidence on the environmental impact.”
Do Tory voters really want this idiotic mob rampaging through their streets and backyards after an innocent creature, intending to rip it to shreds? Well, they support “welfare reform”, which isn’t far from the same.
Some of us knew the Scottish Nationalists were more full of wind than bagpipes, but now we’re all seeing the evidence of it.
It seems the 56 members of the SNP who managed to con their countryfolk into electing them to the Westminster Parliament are set to betray the rest of the United Kingdom in the worst possible way – or betray their own “principled” position – over fox hunting.
Everyone in the UK should be aware, by now, that the Conservative Government is planning to repeal the Hunting Act 2004, in which hunting foxes with dogs was banned in England and Wales.
Scotland banned hunting in 2002, therefore supporters of the SNP merrily told the rest of us that the Parliamentary SNP would be holding to its “principled” position, and would be abstaining from the vote on whether to repeal the ban.
This directly contradicts statements made by party leader Nicola Sturgeon that the SNP would represent the interests of all of the UK. Here’s what she said: “If the SNP emerges from this election in a position of influence we will exercise that influence responsibly and constructively, and we will always seek to exercise it in the interests of people not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK.”
Not only that, but does anybody remember the stink the SNP (amongst others, including notably the Greens) kicked up when the Labour Party abstained from a vote on a moratorium on fracking (in England, not Scotland) in January (this vote was always doomed to failure; Labour was supporting a move to regulate fracking, that would delay any work until after the election)? Or the stench the SNP created over an abstention on a vote (that was actually totally irrelevant) on the Bedroom Tax? These were used very strongly in the run-up to the general election to create the impression that Labour had betrayed the people of the UK and supported the Conservative Party.
In that case, would an abstention on fox hunting not be a similar betrayal of the people of the UK – and support of the Conservatives – by a party that had made a solemn vow to represent the interests of people “not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK”?
Most people in the UK don’t want the Hunting Act to be scrapped. They don’t want hordes of overprivileged stupids riding roughshod across their property, chasing some poor, innocent little creature that will be ripped to shreds if it is caught. Some of us find that barbaric and abhorrent.
Still, supporters of the SNP made it perfectly clear that they were 100 per cent behind an abstention on the “principled” grounds they had mentioned: That the rest of the UK is a foreign country and it is none of their business; their own ban will not be affected.
Then Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “The SNP has not yet taken decision on this. We certainly don’t agree with repealing ban.”
Oh! That puts a new complexion on the matter, doesn’t it?
Now they’re damned either way.
If they abstain, they betray Nicola Sturgeon’s promise that the SNP would use its influence “in the interests of people not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK.”
If they vote, they betray the “principled” position claimed by supporters, that they would not vote on matters that do not affect Scotland.
There is no way out of this dilemma.
Now, can you imagine the torrent of abuse that flowed from SNP supporters on Twitter as this matter was tweeted out on Saturday (May 16)?
Don’t bother; here are some examples received just by this writer.
In this exchange, we see SNP supporters claiming that Scotland is a country completely separate from the UK, implying that SNP MPs voting on fox hunting in England and Wales would be similar to French, German or Luxembourg MPs voting on it (the difference being that those really are separate countries, with no representation in Westminster. The SNP has put MPs there, so it has a duty to vote on legislation there):
Here’s a little more on SNP “principles”, claiming the rest of us don’t understand what they are, along with more about the rUK being a foreign country:
Then there are the person attacks. Here are some milder examples that were aimed at this writer yesterday. Notice that very few have anything to do with the subject at hand:
This one is based on the oft-repeated lie that Labour’s support of the Charter for Budget Responsibility was also support for £30 billion of spending cuts planned by the Conservative Party. There is no mention, in any of the charter’s 20 pages, of any spending cuts at all. The Charter has been available for many months – plenty of time for everyone to read it. Therefore anybody suggesting Labour supported any cuts at all, by supporting the Charter, is a liar – including Oscar Carr.
The SNP is, indeed, to blame for the SNP planning to abstain on the Hunting Act repeal. This Writer isn’t causing problems, though – just bringing them to public attention.
They all know This Writer supports Labour – this was a weak attempt to pour ridicule on that party by association.
This one is absolutely bizarre. One can only posit that this person lost the capacity for rational thought.
Nobody mentioned any “wide spectrum” of SNP supporters; the discussion was focused on those involved in the conversation.
This one seems to think Yr Obdt Srvt tweets for the Labour Party:
Finally, here’s someone who’s a bit confused. Presumably they had read the dialogue and presumed that the Hunting Act under (loose) discussion related only to England, because in a weak bid to attack This Writer, they tweeted:
Yes, Mr Buckley. Welsh MPs will definitely vote on the repeal of the ban on fox hunting in England and Wales.
These are just examples – mild examples – of the personal abuse that comes from SNP supporters when anybody dares to question the actions of their party (apart from the last tweet, which was a mistake, made in a mistaken belief). It was time somebody made this behaviour public.
But will the SNP itself do anything at all to bring its supporters’ behaviour back to acceptable levels of conversation? Or does the SNP revel in it?
After all, what could do more to help the cause of Scottish independence than an impression that Scottish people are insensitive, selfish bullies who’ll do their best to batter opponents into submission by whatever means are available?
The Guardianis reporting that regulations proposed by the Labour Party and approved by the Coalition Government mean fracking will be banned from two-fifths of the land in England.
[Image: The Guardian.]
Labour faced harsh criticism last week, particularly from the Green Party of England and Wales, after it failed to support that party’s call for a moratorium on fracking that would have banned it altogether. Green supporters suggested that Labour had done a deal with the Coalition to abstain on the moratorium in return for support over the 13-point regulation scheme.
In fact, according to the newspaper, “Ministers were forced to accept Labour’s new environmental rules last week to avoid a rebellion by Conservative and LibDem backbench MPs, many of whom are facing opposition to fracking from constituents.”
So there was no dirty backroom deal and 40 per cent of England is free of fracking whereas, if Labour had supported the Green moratorium, none of England would be protected.
The article continues: “Neither the government nor Labour have stated how much of the land available for future shale gas drilling – 60 per cent of England – would be affected by the new bans. But a Guardian data analysis has revealed it is 39.7 per cent, with large swaths of the south and south east off-limits, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and Peak district.
“An independent analysis by Greenpeace also found that 45 per cent of the 931 blocks being licensed for fracking in England were at least 50 per cent covered by protected areas, which it said was likely to make them unattractive to fracking companies.
“Just three per cent of of the blocks have no protected areas at all, Greenpeace found.”
Well played, Labour! That was a good afternoon’s work.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.