Iain Gray and Scottish Labour’s fracking U-Turn
In 2014, Scottish Labour voted against a fracking ban.
At the time Labour MSP, Iain Gray, was quoted in the Scotsman suggesting that Labour didn’t vote to ban fracking because Scotland needed it for energy security.
Labour’s Iain Gray said there were growing concerns about future energy supply as conventional power stations are closing and the country’s two nuclear power stations, Hunterston and Torness, will not be replaced when they shut down.He said: “We urgently need a hard-headed realistic, comprehensive plan about how we transition to a de-carbonised energy market while still protecting security of energy supplies.”
The country is in “no position to shut down another potential energy source”, especially without the scientific evidence for the reserves available.
Iain Gray’s previous pro-fracking stance didn’t stop him giving Labour credit for the ban when it was finally voted for this week.
Not that there is anything wrong with changing your mind.
While I respect the Green stance of always being in favour of a ban, the SNP stance of preventing fracking via the planning system in the short term was probably the more sensible approach. We discussed why a while back. Basically, an outright ban can result in costly and lengthy legal challenges, so you need to spend a lot of time consulting before doing such a thing, or else the ban may be overturned.
The SNP position in 2014 was that they don’t particularly like the idea of fracking but it is better to have a moratorium before banning it. Labour, on the other hand, argued we needed fracking for energy security.
Check out our blog explaining the fracking moratorium for more detail.
This week, the Greens and the SNP voted in a way that is consistent with their 2014 positions.
Even the Tories who voted against the ban have been consistently pro-fracking. It is true that Labour became anti-fracking under the leadership of Kezia Dugdale which is a perfectly acceptable and welcome U-turn. Yet, it is a U-turn as, unlike the Greens and SNP, their current position contradicts their previous one. So it’s hard to see why they are giving themselves so much credit for supposedly bringing about the ban.
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