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Inside Holyrood: Don’t be mealy mouthed in support of oil and gas workers particularly when others like salmon farmers and gamekeepers all face 'a barrage of armchair critics' mouthing off from 'a sedentary and usually metropolitan position'


By Contributor

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Fergus Ewing.
Fergus Ewing.

Now unshackled from high office and collective responsibility that goes with it, I can and indeed should speak out as a friendly critic of our government.

The work is there to be done; to lift the nation from the despondency, pain, costs and frustration of Covid and all its complicated restrictions. To advance the cause of fair investment in the Highlands’ transport links – it is surely now our turn.

But also, to support our workers across the country and especially those who face criticism from many who profess to know better. These new “minorities” of our time include workers in our salmon farming industry, the oil and gas world, gamekeepers and even our farmers.

They all face a barrage of armchair critics who impart superior knowledge from a sedentary and usually metropolitan position.

We as a country will continue to need a thriving oil and gas industry for many decades to come, as indeed even the climate change committee have stated. Therefore, let us not be mealy mouthed and half-hearted in our support of their work.

Where would the heat and light come from for our homes and businesses? What would the hydrocarbon-based anaesthetic drugs come from? What about the oil-derived plastics essential for so much equipment in our operating theatres? What about travel whether by car, train, road, plane or ferry?

And since our own gas and oil has a lower carbon footprint than most other producer nations in the world, how would dispensing with domestic production not just make climate change worse, not better?!

The North Sea transition deal has seen our producers sign up to among the most ambitious emission reduction targets in the world. That is something for which they deserve praise, not denigration.

Indeed, that whole debate must be reshaped, so that we find a means of all governments in the UK supporting the sector.

A consensus can be found, to replace the brittle political rhetoric. A consensus where we value our oil and gas workers, while planning for the longer-term future of net zero. Some 100,000 of our people deserve better than to be a political football.

And in my opinion, as a veteran in politics, in that type of football, no one ever really wins.

Myself and my team – Danielle, Rebecca and Rosie – would like to take this chance to wish everyone a peaceful and very happy new year.

Best wishes to you all and your families.

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