The SNP Government abuse the “green” word as a passport to advancing the interests of the corporate lobby

Scotland being sold off to the corporations

In years gone by lots of stories about the relationship between the SNP and corporate lobbyists have circulated.

But it is only when you put it all together you get a real sense of just how deep the process runs.

By laying out a series of examples, we begin to see the unity between the SNP leadership and the corporate establishment, importantly, at the expense of workers and their communities.

At present, Scotland has a lobbying register.

Fought for by a range of democracy organisations, the idea is to generate transparency between lobbyists and politicians by ensuring that such interactions are placed on the public record.

The system, however, contains all kinds of loopholes.

For example, say you were a lobbyist for Shell and wanted a conversation with a government minister, without it being recorded.

You could simply use the phone, and since it is not an in person meeting, it won’t be registered.

In 2020 alone, hundreds of meetings between multinational corporations and wealthy individuals took place with Scottish Government ministers. In a wide-ranging investigation the following was reported:

“Analysis of Scottish Government ministers’ engagements in 2020 shows that meetings, potentially of key public interest, were not in the register, including those between ministers and companies awarded multi-million pound UK and Scottish contracts to supply the NHS in the run-up to Covid-19.

“As these meetings took place by phone they did not fall under regulated lobbying rules, an exemption which means they don’t need to appear on the lobbying register.

Others in this category included meetings between ministers and the billionaire steel tycoon behind GFG Alliance, Sanjeev Gupta.”

Sanjeev Gupta, as it happens, has paid just £5 (five pounds) towards the acquisition of a Highlands smelting plant – with taxpayers financing the rest of the £330 million deal. The research also found that:

“…engagements with big business, including energy companies and renewables chasing Scotland’s booming renewables sector, dominated the diaries of several ministers.”

Let’s just think about this. The First Minister announces a National Energy Company in 2017.

Nothing happens. Then, in 2021, SNP members want to raise the issue again to add some urgency to the plan.

They vote overwhelmingly for the policy at their conference.

Again, nothing happens.

At the same time government ministers were having meetings, outside of the public record, with big businesses seeking to cash in on Scotland’s renewables industry.

Before we know it, the Scottish Government launches a “green investment portfolio” worth £3 Billion of Scottish green assets.

This package, a substantial component of Scotland’s economic future, is to be bought up by private and foreign capital.

As we know, ScotWind has already seen large tracts of renewable wind energy sold, cheaply, to the likes of British Petroleum.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s six offshore wind farms have paid a derisory £150,000 to nearby communities in the last 12 months.

This, of course, is packaged as a boon not for the multinationals, but the environment.

The Scottish Government are fond of greenwashing their big business partners.

Indeed they extend use of the word “green” as a passport to advancing the interests of the corporate lobby in a range of settings.

We see this through, for example, the Scottish Government’s embrace of freeports, rebadged as “green freeports”, but serving precisely the same function.

“Freeports” are bound up with the Tory incarnation of Brexit.

The are special zones that, as the TUC report, “sit outside the UK’s main tax and tariff rules, with lower regulations to attract investment and business.”

This means that once again the dice are loaded in favour of big business and against workers and local communities.

They are also loaded against SNP conference decisions which are effectively superfluous to events, as the SNP Trade Union Group noted in relation to the “green freeports.”


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