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Thursday, November 24, 2005


Letter published Tues in the Scotsman. This was in reply to a previous correspondent attacking the SNP's power policy. Mr Lochhead has actually said some quite sensible stuff about housebuilding so understands economics better than appears here.I assume he is merely defending an indefensible policy. Slight edits, which blunted the particular Scottish elements of my criticism & cutthe terrorism comparison, have been replaced & marked < >.
For Richard Lochead MSP to say that an independent Scotland would be able to end fuel poverty by supplying fuel from our own reserves, presumably at zero or artificially reduced costs shows a lack of economic understanding. Independence will not, of itself, increase our extraction rate, indeed the SNP have often suggested reducing it <, so anything used to subsidise heating must come from our export earnings. Robbing Peter to pay Paul doesn't work forever even in government.>

I agree with him that fuel poverty is a serious problem particularly since we are going to lose the 45-55% of our power from nuclear generators & that, apart from replacing them, there is no practical way of avoiding blackouts. Extrapolating from Help the Aged's English figures at least 2,000 pensioners a year currently die because of fuel poverty in Scotland alone < annually, which perhaps puts terrorism in perspective.>

< SNP policy however would not help.> We know that nuclear power costs 2.3p a unit, the cheapest method, while wind costs 5.4p onshore or 7.2p offshore. Yet the SNP oppose nuclear & support "renewables". < In the South of England, where under 20% of power is nuclear, it may be possible to ameliorate blackouts by buying French nuclear, but, because of the distance, this is impractical in Scotland, For a party which trades on their Scots patriotism > their refusal to face the faults in a policy that is causing pensioner deaths < & will shortly cause far more here > is shameful.

"at least 2,000 pensioners a year currently die because of fuel poverty in Scotland": oh yeah? What can that possibly mean? That the old things won't give up a tot and a fag, so don't heat the house properly? That their children abandon them? That they simply become irrationally fearful about spending, even when they should? That they dress unsuitably indoors? (Those last two points I have seen for myself while dealing with old folk in the family.) I can see that one can die of poverty - i.e. of not being able to afford sufficient (heated) shelter and food. But to focus on one part of a budget - fuel costs -is surely just intellectually dishonest? If they are too poor to survive, dropping the price of food would have the same effect.
You have a point which is why I have been careful always to attribute this to Help the Aged - most events have more than one cause & the cost of fuel will be only one part - this is the part which HA have chosen to focus on.

On the other hand that we allow it to happen unneccessarily is still shameful.

On the third hand some doctor yesterday was on the air saying how young women going out in short skirts & not taking a coat were risking hypothermia so I guess not being entirely sensible is part of the human condition.
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