First a National Bank, now a National Energy Company: More good ideas from the SNP Conference but would the EU allow it?



The Scottish Government is to explore setting up a not-for-profit publicly-owned energy company. I can hear the cheering around the country as we all think back to our most recent rip-off bill from SSEB (Scottish Super Executives Bonuses).

The pledge to do so was in the manifesto. The FM said:

‘Energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible. No shareholders to worry about. No corporate bonuses to consider. It would give people – particularly those on low incomes – more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.’

That is music to my ears though I wonder how the EU would react? I’m guessing here, but isn’t one of the reasons Norway stays out of the EU and in EFTA, is so that they can have a nationalised oil and gas company which prevents multi-nationals ripping them off and which has enabled them to tuck away £1 trillion from fields considerably smaller than those in the Scottish sector of the North Sea and Atlantic?

I think there’s a growing awareness that the SNP needs to drop its uncritical acceptance of the value of EU membership which probably cost it seats at the last election, explain EFTA and, by all means, promise a post-independence referendum on joining the EU again but, this time, one with all the information on the table for the people to consider.

See this for a fuller critique of the EU:

Uncritical EU loyalty not the suggestion of IndyRef2 was to blame for SNP losses. As the EU abandons the Catalans, it’s time for us to abandon it


20 thoughts on “First a National Bank, now a National Energy Company: More good ideas from the SNP Conference but would the EU allow it?

  1. macgilleleabhar October 11, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    Lots to ponder there John.First consideration would be the legality of this but I am sure that has been well looked into. I remember talk in the 1950s of free energy from hydro power being Tom Johnston’s aim.( Now that was a Secretary of State for Scotland).
    We probably won’t ever get there but putting domestic energy into efficient public ownership would be a start.
    As regards the EU I have always believed that cooperation wins over conflict eventually but I do not have any real grasp of the present EU system apart from noting that, excepting the Balkans, there has been no major European wars in my lifetime whereas my father saw two. There have also been many social advances.Until recently I have regarded the EU as a benign organization but I feel perhaps some would still be comfortable in Jackboots.
    In the case of EFTA I have even less knowledge so my conclusion is we need an intense education/ information campaign setting out honestly the advantages and disadvantages of both the EU and EFTA .
    WTA would be inadvisable from what I have observed recently so it boils down to EFTA, EU or Status Quo?


    • johnrobertson834 October 11, 2017 / 3:01 pm

      Status Quo? They will be looking for a new member. Sorry, too soon? Seriously, we need to hear more. Perhaps a reader could tell us more about EFTA?


      • macgilleleabhar October 11, 2017 / 3:46 pm

        The new release from ‘Quo is titled “Mocking All Over the World “is a comment on Brexit . ( I know ………shakes head sadly.)


  2. gavin October 11, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    I thought the EU objected to State subsidy for uncompetitive industry, leaded to an unfair market, not State enterprises per se.
    But I personally prefer to keep the EU at arms length–though I regard it as a plus in this world. Certainly a better bet, trade wise, than NAFTA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 October 11, 2017 / 3:02 pm

      I thought I red that Jeremy’s plan to renationalise the railways was contrary to EU regs?


      • Alasdair Macdonald October 11, 2017 / 7:05 pm

        What about Abellio? Is it not the Dutch national railway service?


      • gavin October 11, 2017 / 7:29 pm

        Cannot fathom that, John. Many “natural monopolies” in Europe are under national control.
        It’s a great pity for UK consumers that generations have struggled to build up social assets, only to see them sold off cheaply, by Red and Blue Tories. Everything from electricity to the Trustee Savings.
        Nothing sacred when compared to the power of the buck.


  3. gavin October 11, 2017 / 7:31 pm

    Cannot fathom that, John. Many “natural monopolies” in Europe are under national control.
    It’s a great pity for UK consumers that generations have struggled to build up social assets, only to see them sold off cheaply, by Red and Blue Tories. Everything from electricity to the Trustee Savings.
    Nothing sacred when compared to the power of the buck.


  4. Ludo Thierry October 11, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    Hi John, Hi all.

    Douglas Fraser (wish he was half as good a journo as Mrs. Fraser is) says in his piece on beeb Jockland website regarding the power supply project:

    State aid, for instance. The rules may (or may not) change after Brexit. But for now, there is a risk that the Scottish government is challenged legally by one of the commercial companies competing for a share of the energy supply market.

    If, for instance, it brings the government’s huge marketing budget to bear, that could be seen as state aid and a distortion of the market. And even more so if it uses government funds to subsidise bills, say for disadvantaged households, or the administrative expenses of the new company.

    I’m unaware of anyone suggesting the proposed Power Supplier would be doing any of those things – but I suppose it fills column inches.The same article reports on an existing ‘social’ power supply group called Our Power Energy which has been established in Scotland already:

    In 2015, a new not-for-profit energy supply company – Our Power Energy – was founded by 35 organisations including some of Scotland’s largest housing associations
    It planned to be selling heat and power to tenants in 200,000 homes across Scotland by 2020

    One imagines the SNP Scot Gov plans will involve offering a similar service to Our Power Energy but more widely spread across Scotland. My understanding is that many of the niche ‘social’ suppliers that have been establishing themselves in various parts of Scotland and rUK rely on on-line metering being available – but the on-line metering roll-out has hit various problems and is nowhere near completed yet. I don’t know if Nicola’s proposed public sector company will require on-line metering – time will tell.

    Speaking for myself I would prefer to pay my bill to a Scottish ‘public’ sector company rather than my current ‘privatised’ supplier (even if the bill remained pretty much the same). Especially if I knew that the Scottish ‘public’ company would be using any profits towards improving the service for all those using it in the long term (rather than profits being siphoned off to pay the mega bonuses for the company execs as happens currently).

    Another aspect of Nicola’s speech that doesn’t seem to have had the same sort of coverage as the power supply proposals was her ‘warning’ to Scottish (britnat led) councils that if the social housing grant money wasn’t being used used then the remaining monies would be reclainmed and distributed around the councils who demonstrated that they can use the grant money to build social housing (see below):

    Delivering her 2017 conference speech to SNP members yesterday, the party leader repeated the Scottish Government’s commitment to delivering 50,000 affordable homes over this Parliamentary term – including 35,000 for social rent.

    However, while ensuring funding is given to councils to deliver social housing, Ms Sturgeon said the funding will be redirected to other councils if not used.

    The First Minister said: “We’ve already set out how much money councils will be allocated each year. And we will not allow any of it to be diverted to other priorities.

    “Let me make this clear to every council today. If you don’t use all of your allocation to deliver new housing, we will take back the balance and give it to one that can.

    “On money for housing – if you don’t use it, you will lose it.

    I suspect that this development will be really important – encouraging even the most frothing mouthed britnat council groups to think twice before trying to delay projects or other silly beggar games to try and make the ‘targets’ be missed etc.

    She is a smart cookie is Nicola (as well as a nippy sweetie when it is needed).

    Cheers, ludo

    Liked by 2 people

    • macgilleleabhar October 11, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      If the energy supply scheme was set up as an Arms Length External Organization with charity status operating as not for profit supplying only a section of the population then I suspect any commercial supplier would have difficulty in challenging it.


    • johnrobertson834 October 12, 2017 / 8:32 am

      Ludo, I’m following you now as you follow me. You cover nearly everything I’ve missed.


  5. Gordon Dunbar October 12, 2017 / 4:11 pm

    We’ve been told that we are leaving the EU and will not get back in, so no problem!


    • Alasdair Macdonald October 12, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      But, if it suits the unionist narrative, then we will get back in if it is baaaaad.


  6. trispw October 13, 2017 / 9:29 am

    We should remember that Scottish water is run by a company wholly owned by the government. Of course, there is no competition. No one else supplies water.


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