Scotland, know your place. Our exalted Viceroy General Alister Jack – He Who Must Be Obeyed – has said that the UK Government is considering plans to build a nuclear reactor in Scotland, despite fierce opposition from the Scottish Government and even though planning is a devolved matter. 

Jack told a committee in the Lords that he expected a "Unionist regime" to gain power in Holyrood after 2026 and said that he has asked ministers at the Department for Energy and Net Zero to plan for a nuclear reactor to be built in Scotland as part of a UK-wide programme.

The National: Alister Jack

Although planning is devolved to Holyrood, energy policy is reserved to Westminster. This means that even though Westminster is committed to an expansion of nuclear energy generation, the Scottish Government has a de facto means of blocking the development of nuclear energy in Scotland as it can refuse planning permission for new nuclear power plants. 

Jack's remarks suggest that the UK Government is preparing to overrule Holyrood and impose new nuclear power plants on Scotland against the will of Scotland's elected representatives. 

The Scottish Government is strongly opposed to new nuclear power plants in Scotland, favouring instead a greater development of Scotland's vast renewable energy potential which is already capable of supplying more energy than Scotland requires for domestic consumption. 

Any new nuclear power stations which the UK Government builds in Scotland will not be built because Scotland needs them, they will be built in order to meet the energy needs of the rest of the UK, but these needs could also be met by greater investment in and development of Scotland's renewable energy potential. 

Moreover, given the years long timescale that is required from the commissioning of a new nuclear power plant, any new nuclear reactor that the UK commissions in Scotland would not be on stream until 2033 at the very earliest. New renewable projects can be brought in stream and contributing power to the grid much quicker. 

Hinkley Point C, the UK’s first nuclear plant in more than two decades, was estimated to cost between £25bn and £26bn in 2015. The first reactor will not be in use until at least 2029, two years later than the most recent 2027 goal, and could take until 2031 if electromechanical work runs into problems. 

The projected cost is now between £31bn and £35bn in 2015 figures and up to £46bn in today’s money. 

This dwarfs the cost of a new wind farm. The British Government has allocated just £800m for investment in offshore wind farms. The massive onshore Whitelee wind farm south of Glasgow cost £1.5bn to construct. It has a total capacity of 539 megawatts and can power over 350,000 homes annually. 

Jack’s behaviour is ‘menacing’ 

Jack has been condemned by John Swinney for keeping his plans for new nuclear plants in Scotland a secret from the Scottish Government. 

The First Minister was asked about Jack's comments by SNP MSP Rona Mackay at FMQs. She said: “This week, the Secretary of State for Scotland confirmed that planning is underway to develop new nuclear reactors in Scotland despite opposition …” 

She was interrupted by the boors on the Tory benches cheering at the prospect of the democratically elected government of Scotland being overruled. 

After the Presiding Officer hushed the adolescents, she went on: "Despite opposition from the democratically elected Scottish Government. Scotland doesn't need expensive nuclear power. We already have abundant natural energy resources. Can the First Minister advise if the UK Government has approached Scottish ministers about these apparent plans?" 

The First Minister replied: said: "I'm often lectured in this parliament about the importance of good intergovernmental relations. The Secretary of State for Scotland has made no mention of this proposal to the Scottish Government. 

“This is utterly and completely incompatible with good intergovernmental working and is illustrative of the damaging behaviour, the menacing behaviour, of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Scottish Government will not support new nuclear power stations in Scotland.” 

He added that “supporting the announcements of formidable investments in the renewable energy potential of Scotland” was “the policy agenda of this government, and we have nothing to do with nuclear power”. 

But Jack says – don't get above your nuclear power station, Scotland. 

Starmer is an unprincipled liar 

Keir Starmer has launched his new pledges for government at an event in Essex. The event had been widely trailed as the announcement of a new high profile Conservative defector to Labour, but in the end being seen with Starmer was too embarrassing even for a shameless Tory. 

The National: Keir Starmer speaking today in Purfleet, Essex

Starmer unveiled his drastically slimmed-down list of pledges which he said would be central to Labour’s strategy if it forms the next government. Apparently, we are supposed to believe he will keep these promises unlike every other he has made in his political career. 

Starmer failed to mention Scotland at any point during the event, which tells you just how important Scotland really is to him. 

The pledges, for what it’s worth, are: 

  1. Deliver economic stability
  2. Cut NHS waiting times
  3. Launch a new border security command
  4. Set up Great British Energy
  5. Crack down on antisocial behaviour
  6. Recruit 6500 new teachers

Most of them are very vague and devoid of any specific targets, allowing Starmer plenty of wriggle room to get out of them. They are notably less far-reaching than the “five missions” Labour has previously touted. 

Labour apologists insist that criticising Starmer helps the Tories, but if pointing out that Keir Starmer is an unprincipled liar helps the Tories, then maybe Starmer shouldn't be an unprincipled liar.