Salmond turns renewable heat on Labour


by G.A.Ponsonby

Alex Salmond has sent the clearest message yet that Scotland’s economic future is green as the SNP launched their manifesto in Glasgow yesterday.

The headline grabbing policy may have been the pledge to freeze the council tax for a further five years, a move that has opened up a clear gap between the Nationalists and Labour over local authority funding.  However the theme from the SNP team in this election campaign has been one of vision and ambition.

Yesterday’s energetic manifesto launch fitted nicely with the First Minister’s pledge to have Scotland powered solely by renewable energy by 2020, with the excess exported.  The estimated 130,000 jobs the sector will bring makes this a goal worth going for and listening to Alex Salmond one has the distinct impression that nothing will get in his way as he moves the nation forward.

Marine, wind, hydro, carbon-capture and bio-mass were all highlighted in a manifesto that placed energy at the heart of the economic revival.

It’s been a dark two weeks for Labour, and the First Minister’s ‘can-do’ message contrasts sharply with Iain Gray who last week claimed that renewables would not be able to fully power Scotland for another twenty years.  Labour’s front man has insisted that nuclear will be part of Scotland’s energy mix should Labour triumph on May 5th.

The SNP’s subliminal message is clear; move forward into the renewable light with the Nationalists or remain wrapped in Labour’s nuclear comfort blanket.  The spectre of Fukushima, now as serious as Chernobyl, still hangs over Labour’s nuclear power pledge and energy is yet to emerge as a serious issue in this campaign.

It wasn’t just the renewable big picture that the SNP presented, there was also the announcement of £50 million for low carbon transport and a further £50 million worth of investment to deliver energy-efficient homes in those communities worst affected by fuel poverty.

The bread and butter needs of ordinary Scots who cannot afford to buy homes remains a priority for the SNP who have pledged further affordable house building that will add to the 3,300 council houses already built this term.

With Labour having built a mere six in their last term in office the contrast between the parties on this issue could not be clearer.

There has been talk of pacing yourself in this campaign and thus far the SNP have traversed the political rapids with a steady hand.  Their manifesto launch carried a clear message that the nationalists see positivity as the key to this campaign and are energised for the three weeks that now remain.