As the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference gets underway this week, key manifesto pledges and the integrity of its MPs are firmly under the microscope.
News that test drilling for fracking is to begin in Scotland has infuriated people who believed SNP energy minister Fergus Ewing’s call for a temporary halt to fracking.
Ewing said in January, “I am announcing a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking.”
Chemical giant Ineos, which has exploration licences across 700 square miles of land in central Scotland, said it “welcomes” the news of test drilling.
Its billionaire boss Jim Ratcliffe met with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on the same day as Ewing’s call.
And during the summer Ratcliffe claimed the SNP had assured him that it is “not against fracking”.
This was at odds with the “Frack Off” badges, posters and placards the party produced for the general election and the pledges of many of its new MPs.
The SNP moratorium and “evidence based” investigation will be in place until a year after the 2016 Scottish elections. It is nothing but a simple bid for votes.
Anti-fracking campaigners, including many new SNP members, are furious at the test drilling and believe it is a step towards fracking in Scotland.
News that the SNP is preparing to award tax dodging Anglian Water a £350 million contract for supply of water services to the public sector has also caused uproar.
The contract was previously with a subsidiary of the publicly owned Scottish Water.
SNP politicians blame European Union (EU) procurement law for the fiasco, as they did when a tendering process for CalMac ferries opened and threatened privatisation. So it’s a wonder the party leadership is so keen to stay in the EU.
The SNP also blamed “Westminster” for handing out a £6 billion ten-year deal for Scotrail last year.
It could have delayed or changed the terms of the contract to favour a public bid but it didn’t. The SNP’s favourite message is, “Our hands are tied”.
It should all leave little doubt about the central pro-business streak at the SNP’s heart.
When independence supporters give the party the benefit of doubt because they see it as the only vehicle to break away from Britain, they let SNP leaders off the hook.
The SNP has happily passed on austerity and underspent cash while the poorest are targeted by cuts and working class living standards plummet.
Its “anti-austerity” image is a sham and we need to build resistance now to expose it.