The potential for Scottish Wind Power is even greater than we thought. Could a single wind turbine power a whole Scottish city?



Having written an already really positive comment on the 10th January, I was impressed to discover that this success was based on what is in fact quite an early stage in the development of wind power. I wrote this headline on the 10th:

Two new records for Scottish wind power ‘underline the massive progress Scotland is making in securing an ever increasing proportion of its electricity needs from wind power and other clean renewable sources.’

 The Independent newspaper had headlined with:

‘Scotland’s wind turbines provided more electricity than the country needed four days in a row’ and went on to enthuse with this:

 ‘The total amount of wind energy produced on Christmas Eve was also the highest ever, with more than 74,000MWh sent to the National Grid – equivalent to the average daily electricity needs of 6.09 million homes. And, as energy use fell on Christmas Day, wind turbines provided 153 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs.’

What I had not but maybe should have realised was that these achievements are being made in the very early stages of the development of wind power technology and that more, much more, is on the way, to make wind power an even more optimistic strategy for Scotland’s energy future. I stumbled across this staggering headline in a European Bank report:


Here’s an extract from the report:

‘The blades of the world’s biggest wind turbine are 80 meters long, the wingspan of an Airbus A380. The circle they make when they sweep around is larger than the iconic London Eye ferris wheel. And not one but 44 of these turbines are set to be installed in the Norther windfarm, 22 kilometres off the coast of Belgium. But not only are wind turbines getting bigger. Thanks to technological advances and financing from banks, such as the European Investment Bank, wind power is also increasingly affordable. The EIB’s renewable energy division’s senior engineer David González says technologies need a certain level of take-up to become competitive. “Technologies that we now consider well established such as combined cycle gas turbines were still having issues even in the 1990s,” he muses. “Electricity generation technologies take long to mature. For instance, steam turbines took nearly 80 years to become widespread. So for wind turbines to mature, you will need enough trial space and enough R&D investment for the same to happen.’

 Reading this has taking my optimism about Scotland’s energy future, based on the Independent newspaper report of our already encouraging success with current levels of technology on to a new level. It seems to me that, over the next few decades with breakthroughs in energy storage, wind power has the potential to make Scotland a massive exporter of power as well as self-sufficient and secure.

The Herald and BBC Scotland are at it again. A presumably competent doctor but definitely a trades union guy with an ‘axe to grind’ is allowed to distort the reality of NHS Scotland and to malign the SNP Government’s management of it

This is a bit of re-tread but I’ve been forced to expand and re-use part of my previous attack on Dr Bennie, Chair of BMA Scotland again.

The Herald, headlined today (16.1.17) with:

NHS stretched to breaking point, says British Medical Association chief

This claim comes at a time when those who watch BBC News at 6 or read the English press will know, from actual statistics, just what a ‘breaking point’ looks like, in the reality of NHS England. At least time his title is more accurate though not clear as to its main Bob Crowe-like function. The Herald had headlined on the 27th December 2016 with:

‘SNP priorities on health all wrong, warns leading Scots doctor’

Gordon Brewer gave him time on Sunday 15th January 2017 to repeat or have repeated by as Tory MSP, evidence-free, around ten times his claim that the NHS Scotland staffing was ‘stretched to breaking point.’ You’ll know, of course that that phrase might well be applied accurately to NHS England but there is absolutely no evidence of such a crisis in Scotland. It was repeated on Reporting Scotland that night and the Herald led with it this morning. All we have here is a warning from a trade union leader that his members need 4% more funding or such a crisis is coming. He also suggested that many GPs would just emigrate (and make it worse presumably) if they didn’t get more attractive conditions! Nice. He has of course been warning for more than a year now that such a crisis would hit over this Xmas/New Year period. It hasn’t.  We even had Reporting Scotland admit it grudgingly but with many ‘buts’ on the 12th January 2017, like this:

‘We’ve heard a lot in the last few days about the NHS crisis (emphasised) in England. I think it would be fair to say the picture in Scotland looks better…’

If we look at the figures for A&E, the figures show we’re better off, as the First Minister said, we’re 10% better off…’

‘In terms of social care, we are doing some good work on the ground….’

I’ll get to the main point soon but I need to deal with the ‘British Medical Association Chief’ and the earlier ‘leading scots doctor’ bit first because the first title still suggests the same need for unquestioning respect as did the second . Peter Bennie is chairman, elected union leader, of the British Medical Association’s Scottish branch. I’ve had a wee search but I can find no sign of him being a leading doctor. There’s no sign of awards for exceptional practice nor research publications presenting cutting-edge findings to move practice on nor is there even sign of him having managed anything much. It looks like he might be a leading trades unionist though, again, he’s no Bob Crowe, late of the RMT and the BMA Scotland is pretty wee. If he’s leading anything it’s in an essentially political role and not medical role so he’s not a ‘leading doctor’ and ‘convener’ would be more accurate than ‘chief’.

I’m not knocking being a trade union leader by any means. I was a lifelong member of the teachers’ EIS union. I remember many of its ‘leaders’ at different levels. Often good trade unionists, I don’t remember any of them have been leading educationists. They were usually people who had become more interested in the political role of the unions and gradually rose within those organisations on the basis of popularity.

So Doctor Bennie is primarily getting attention in the Scottish mainstream (Unionist) media because he is a trade unionist in a union with posh sounding personal and organisational titles and a very Unionist sounding, name.

Right, on the main point – what are the actual priorities that he says the SNP were and still are presumably getting ‘all wrong?’ Well, he was a bit short on detail in December and is no better in January. He just seems to want more money spent on NHS Scotland. He had little, for example, to say about the big SNP priority of integrating social and health care which is receiving praise:

( wales?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=socialshare)

and looks like working in terms of, for example, reducing bed blocking by the elderly in the way English hospitals are being paralysed by. So, like all trades unionists, he asks his members if they want more money and resources and they say yes, please. Is that how he thinks you run anything at all?

Back in June, I posted a list, fully sourced, of fifteen ways in which NHS Scotland was objectively doing well, by UK and global comparison, regardless of his judgement that more cash was needed or we’d be heading for a crisis. I’ll repeat the link for them at the bottom of this. First, though, here’s a novel idea. Here are some things that NHS Scotland, thanks to the SNP-led Scottish Government, is NOT doing….badly….unlike Tory-‘managed’ NHS England:

  1. We’ve had nothing you could call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in NHS Scotland. Red Cross chief executive, Mike Adamson, said: ‘The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country [England].’ Indeed there is no evidence of anything like a system wide crisis in Scotland. Reporting Scotland have scrabbled around for something/anything as in their sad Twitter plea for pregnant mothers who have been inconvenienced which found five who had to travel an extra 7 miles for a bed. See:
  2. We’ve had NO junior doctors’ strikes causing thousands of cancelled and delayed operations because the SNP unlike the UK Tories haven’t tried to bully them into new contracts. Thank goodness for BBC News at 6 telling us this because Reporting Scotland won’t touch the story with a disinfected endoscopic probe.
  3. NHS Scotland has NOT been cancelling large numbers of urgent operations like NHS England ( If they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
  4. Scottish hospitals have NOT been told to put thousands of operations ‘on hold’ over Xmas and New Year to ‘free up beds.’ ( Again, if they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
  5. There is NO social care and bed-blocking crisis in Scotland because the Scottish Government has been integrating the two for years now (
  6. Bed blocking by the elderly is down 12% in Scotland ( and up 80% in England for the same reason (
  7. There’s NO evidence of a crisis in Scottish Maternity wards despite a shamefully distorted Reporting Scotland story (

So, as so often before, the Unionist media shamelessly ‘weaponise’ NHS Scotland with apparently no care for the possible effects on anxious prospective patients. Who knows how many they’ve scared into delaying requests for treatment.

Finally, here’s the link for the list of 15 I published in June:

Is the BMA Chair in Scotland relieved to be in Scotland after seeing Theresa May savage his English colleagues and blame them for the crisis in A&E? Not a bit of it!


Gordon Brewer (c)

Following on quickly from the question in the title of my earlier piece today (15.1.17):

‘As Theresa May scapegoats English GP’s will Scotland’s Royal College of General Practitioners and the BMA Scotland Branch now begin to show some respect for the Scottish Government?’

I was able to check the answer only hours later as BMA Scotland Chair, Peter Bennie, appeared on Sunday Politics with Gordon Brewer. Gordon did introduce the debate to follow with:

After weeks of headlines detailing problems in NHS England, what is the state of the NHS in Scotland?

‘Problems’ is put it a bit mildly but, anyway, Gordon left the question hanging, we never got an answer,  and asked Bennie the question he really wanted to be asked about funding stagnating. So, without presenting any statistics or empirical evidence whatsoever, Bennie launched into an extended list of claims of ‘staff stretched to breaking point’ and of unfilled vacancies contributing to that situation. Over the piece, we heard that phrase over and over (ten times?) without once being offered any indication of research demonstrating it to be true and not just anecdote from a trades union leader. Remember, despite the respect offered to him by people like Brewer, Bennie is no more to be trusted as impartial than the leaders of UNITE or of the RMT.

Brewer made no attempt to introduce the abundant evidence of superiority in the operation of NHS Scotland nor of the many pieces of research demonstrating it (see my earlier piece). He, astonishingly, given his opening comment, did not return to the horror stories emerging from NHS England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Instead Bennie was allowed, un-contradicted, to insist GP jobs needed to be made more attractive or they’ll all go abroad. What and give up on Scotland’s golf courses? Aye right. Also, he was able to say ‘the majority of staff are working way beyond what they ought to be doing’ without, again, being able to refer to any reliable source of the statement’s accuracy. Would the leaders of UNITE or the RMT be treated so respectfully? I doubt it.

A short debate between a Tory and SNP MSP followed. The SNP MSP pointed out that they had already invested an extra £500 million over inflation but this pretty important figure was not put to the BMA guy to challenge him in any way. The Tory just ignored it and Gordon treated him kindly as if he was a member of a completely different party from Theresa May. The Tory also repeated the scurrilous BBC tale of five women turned away from the Southern General and sent 7 miles away to the RAH. OMG, what a scandal! They think they have it tough in England?

I hope you’re grateful that I watched this for you!

I skipped by the Andrew Neil bit of course, keeping firm control of my squirming guts as he flashed by.

As Theresa May scapegoats English GP’s will Scotland’s Royal College of General Practitioners and the BMA Scotland Branch now begin to show some respect for the Scottish Government?

‘The Prime Minister has expressed frustration at the failure of more GP practices to offer extended opening hours, amid intensifying pressure on NHS [England] hospital services.

Downing Street warned surgeries in England which refuse to move to 8am to 8pm opening, seven days-a-week will lose funding unless they can prove there is no demand from patients.’ (Daily Mail, 14.1.17)

There’s deep irony in the UK Tories turning on the English GP’s and blaming them for the ‘humanitarian crisis’ in English hospitals after the years of campaigning by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the BMA, in collusion with the Unionist parties and media, to undermine the Scottish Government’s management of NHS Scotland and by implication the case for independence..

As far back as 2013, we could read this:

‘Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee Alan McDevitt also said Westminster’s changes would have a “negative impact on general practice in Scotland”.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“We would very much hope, even at this stage, that the Government will show English GPs the same respect as Scottish GPs have been afforded. We find it very hard to understand why GPs in England are being discriminated against [when] there is a deal that is acceptable north of the border, which is not an imposition.”

Despite this show of good will by the Scottish Government, of hard evidence that Scottish GPs are more content than most in the world and that there are more of them per capita than in the rest of the UK (see below), the RCGP and the BMA have mounted a long and weary campaign of misinformation and vague accusations against the SNP and found it well-reported in the Scottish Unionist media. Here are the links to the evidence of the second and third point above:

So, the RCGP and the BMA in Scotland have much to be satisfied with especially in the light of recent attempts in England to scapegoat them for the failures of the Tory government there. Yet, they have repeatedly provided suspect, often just wrong, but headline grabbing stories for the Scottish media to enable the construction of a climate in which it seems the Scottish Government is failing to manage NHS Scotland.

In March 2015, I wrote:

‘This time it’s a crisis in GP numbers. There is a shortage, by the BMA’s estimation, of around 1 in 5 unfilled posts. Whose estimation? The BMA or British Medical Association like the Royal College of Nursing has a name saturated in goodness and authority, so we can trust them can’t we? No, we can’t. Remember what I said about the RCN? It applies to the BMA just as much. This is a just a posh trades union. The BMA says so on its website and acts in ‘the interest of its members’ aspirations’. That means the same as ‘wur members’ aspirations’ except the BMA aspirations are dizzyingly high compared to those of the average paid worker. I’m not saying there isn’t a shortage of GPs, but we don’t know what kind of shortage or how bad a shortage until we get independent research. Like a coal-miner or a railway-worker, they might be manoeuvring to get more money for shorter hours.

Finally are these research findings of a formal, reliable, nature or just impressionistic ad hoc surveying by partisan ‘researchers’? No such research report is published on the seriously reliable BMJ research journal site. The BMA doesn’t seem to have a research section at all and a search of their site reveals nothing. The BMA press release does indicate there was a 61% response rate but gives no other details that we might use to judge its quality. Of those practices who responded, 17% had at least one vacancy. Let’s have a wee second opinion using the BMA’s press release figures, on this patient arithmetic, shall we?
GP practices in Scotland                                             988
Responses                                                                               463
Actual response rate                                                  463/988*100 = 47% NOT 61%
Respondents with at least 1 unfilled vacancy            17% of 463 = 79 practices or 1 in 6
Or if non-respondents had no vacancies                    79/988 = 8% or 1 in 12 practices’

In early 2016, we had these headlines:

‘Almost nine out of ten Scottish GPs believe patient care is being jeopardised by a lack of resources, according to a new poll.’ STV News, 28th April 2016

‘Top doctor blasts SNP for lack of funding as he warns of longer waits to see a GP and a future without family doctors’ Daily Record (Glasgow) 27th January, 2016

Again at the time I wrote to demolish these claims:

‘Leaving aside the obvious difficulty in relying on a sample of 150 GPs out of a population of around 5 000 Scottish GPs (0.3%) and the RCGP’s frankly simplistic reading of the results, there are real problems with this reliance by ComRes: on self-assessed online surveys with sometimes leading questions, and all-to-predictable results.

Here’s just one example of a leading question.: The above headline: ‘89% of GPs say they worry that lack of resources is putting patient care at risk.’ was in response to a question, more of a prompt really: ‘I worry about lack of resources putting patient care at risk.’ Ask any health professional that question and who among them do you expect would admit to not worrying if such a thing were to be the case? Further, the headline omits the fact that only 42% ‘strongly agreed’ with the prompt while 47% only ‘somewhat agreed.’ Who wouldn’t ‘somewhat’ agree that a shortage of resources might ‘somewhat’ worry them? These are people ‘somewhat’ high in empathy according to psychopathy tests.

For those with other lives, I’ll sum up. Small sample, online surveys of ‘caring’ professional groups (teachers, nurses, doctors), based on respondents’ self-assessment of their feelings, to questions about how stressed and over-worked they feel, are damned near SFA-use and carry a big health risk (pun intended) if you intend to say anything confident about them. OK RCGP Scotland Region? Do pay attention.’

The above is only a small selection of my responses to BMA and RCGP Scotland branch over the last two years but to finish today, here’s an example of the astonishing kind of thing being said as recently as April 2016 by RCGP chair Dr Miles Mack:

England now has the security of knowing that its general practice service is safe and will remain. To give Scotland, birthplace of the NHS model, comparable security, we would need to see £270 million more invested in general practice in 2020/21 than there was in 2014/15. This is a defining election issue, right at the heart of Scottish life.’ Dr Miles Mack, Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland (RCGP) in the Herald (April 23rd)

As we watch the English ‘NHS’ fall apart with, for example, repeated junior doctors’ strikes, appalling failures in A&E and health boards generally and attempts to privatise ambulance services, our first reaction to the Scottish RCGP’s suggestion (above) is likely to be disbelief.

In June 2016 we had this in the Herald and many others like it across the Scottish MSM:

‘Herald View: GP shortages point to perfect storm for NHS’

Even as recently as the 3rd January 2017, as NHS Scotland coped and the others collapsed, we saw this kind of thing in the Evening Telegraph:

‘A leading Dundee GP has likened the [Scottish] national doctor shortage to “a slow motion car crash”, saying things are going to get worse before they improve.’

I suspect Dr Mack now wants to forget he ever said the above. Goodness knows what the ‘leading’ Dundee GP is using for evidence. Hopefully the BMA and the RCGP in Scotland have ‘smelled the coffee’ and realise how lucky they are. Perhaps, now, they might desist from their naked Unionist propaganda?

Complaint to BBC Scotland re social media stalking submitted today

First half of UK Postcode
Type of complaint
BBC News (TV, Radio and website)
Which news service is it about
General News
Complaint category
Contacted us before
Complaint title
Incitement of complaints against NHS Scotland
Complaint description
On 12th January 2016, BBC Scotland Newsdesk tweeted: ‘Have you been affected by Glasgow’s QEUH maternity unit being closed to new admissions? Let us know your story.’ at: At 6.30pm on13th Reporting Scotland headlined with ‘A Health board apologises to five pregnant women who were turned away from the maternity unit at Glasgow’s ‘flagship’ hospital because of a shortage of beds.’ Along with commentators under the original tweet I see this as unethical behaviour contrary to your Royal Charter. One wrote: ‘Have you been affected by the death of journalism by lazy social media stalkers? Let us know your story’ while another equally sarcastically wrote: ‘Impressive start in establishing public trust by Donalda’s new BBC Scotland regime.’ This is behaviour worthy only of the gutter press and not the national broadcaster with a commitment to educate and to inform. Further the story is not newsworthy (STV ignored it) Five pregnant women had to travel an extra 7.3 miles for a bed, taking as long as 19 minutes to do so. Those of us not living in an inner city area may well remember much longer journeys from our home to the nearest maternity unit, 30 or more miles away. In the face of the kind of catastrophe affecting NHS England, Wales and NI, you’d think BBC Scotland would either praise NHS Scotland or if they can’t bear to do that, just shut up. The above report is both pathetic and unethical and was the 8th negative NHS Scotland story in 8 days. STV had only 3. Reporting Scotland should be ashamed

‘Have you been affected by the death of journalism by lazy social media stalkers? Let us know your story.’ BBC Reporting Scotland’s desperate trawl for dirt on NHS Scotland

‘Have you been affected by the death of journalism by lazy social media stalkers? Let us know your story.’ BBC Reporting Scotland’s desperate trawl for dirt on NHS Scotland

I’m indebted to a reader for the idea for this story and to a Twitter respondent to a BBC Scotland tweet for the headline above.  I’ve been writing for some time about BBC Scotland’s disgusting use of NHS Scotland as a weapon with which to attack the Scottish Government. After a grudgingly but complimentary piece comparing NHS Scotland favourably with NHS England’s current ‘humanitarian crisis’ on the 12th, one reader sent me this:


I thought the most perceptive responses below the BBC tweet were these two:

Robertson Malt ‏@Robertsonmalt  22h

@joe90kane @BBCScotNewsdesk Have you been affected by the death of journalism by lazy social media stalkers? Let us know your story.

1 reply .60 retweets 93 likes

Lord of the Bings‏@joe90kane

@Robertsonmalt @BBCScotNewsdesk Impressive start in establishing public trust by Donalda’s new BBC Scotland regime

On the 13th January 2017, at 6.30, BBC Reporting Scotland headlined with:

‘A Health board apologises to five pregnant women who were turned away from the maternity unit at Glasgow’s ‘flagship’ hospital because of a shortage of beds.’

Viewers who watched the UK News at 6pm before Reporting Scotland may well have been underwhelmed by the report that meant essentially:

Five pregnant women had to travel an extra 7.3 miles for a bed, taking as long as 19 minutes to do so. Those of us not living in an inner city area may well remember much longer journeys from our home to the nearest maternity unit, 30 or more miles away. Even a town as large as Ayr/Prestwick (>70 000) has no maternity unit and the nearest in Irvine is around 15 miles away. I did it four times not counting false alarms. Those who did watch BBC at 6 would have heard this kind of thing along with distressing images taking up much of the thirty minutes:

‘More than four in 10 hospitals in England declared a major alert in the first week of the New Year as they encountered unprecedented pressures. ‘Sixty-six out of 152 trusts raised the alarm as mounting bed shortages led to large numbers of patients experiencing trolley waits and delays in A&E. Data leaked to the BBC earlier this week suggested only one trust hit its four-hour A&E target. But now official figures have revealed more about the scale of the problem. The number of major alerts, which used to be known as red and black alerts, is the highest of the winter.’

In the face of this kind of catastrophe, you’d think BBC Scotland would either praise NHS Scotland or if they can’t bear to do that, just shut up. The above report is both pathetic and unethical. They should be ashamed.

No ‘humanitarian crisis’ in NHS Scotland according to new BBC Reporting Scotland Health Correspondent: There isn’t? Surely there’s just a wee crisis at least. Haven’t you been saying that all the time? Astonishing!

After years of reporting fake news of crises in NHS Scotland, in a determined attempt to undermine the SNP Scottish Government and save the Union, BBC Reporting Scotland, last night (12.1.17) appeared to give ground for the first time with more than one phrase recognising the superior performance of NHS Scotland. It was of course grudging and qualified with more than a few ‘buts’, but, nevertheless it was an absolute shock for those of us who have been monitoring them since before 2014. Read and be amazed that they said these:

‘We’ve heard a lot in the last few days about the NHS crisis (emphasised) in England. I think it would be fair to say the picture in Scotland looks better…’

If we look at the figures for A&E, the figures show we’re better off, as the First Minister said, we’re 10% better off…’

‘In terms of social care, we are doing some good work on the ground….’

‘We’re maybe (!) not using the term ‘humanitarian crisis to describe the state of the NHS in Scotland….’

Now, I know all the above were followed by a ‘but’, but what followed was never a piece of evidence to cast serious doubt on the preceding good news. Mostly it was a vague comment about vague, unquantified, future challenges or the failure to meet the Scottish government’s own very high targets.

If you need a reminder of how intensive their ‘weaponising’ of NHS Scotland has been in the past two years, see most pages in this below or search this blog for ‘NHS’.

Any way you look at it, this is a big surprise and it’s hard to explain why it happened. Are they embarrassed by watching the real crises unfold in England? Are they worried that their viewers are starting to make connections having first watched the English news from 6pm? Have they had lots of complaints about this? Was it to do with the staffing on the night? We had Sally Magnusson in the chair and new Health Correspondent, the kind of likeable and mild-mannered, Lisa Summers, in the field. I have no hard evidence, but I can’t imagine Jackie Bird and Glen Campbell or the former Health Correspondent, Eleanor Bradford, saying these things without gagging or fainting on the spot.

Of course, these were not headlined. The programme started off with ‘The First Minister is under fire over delays to new trauma centres’ and let Ruth and Kezia rant for the cameras about something they had clearly misunderstood. They did, however, give the First Minster enough time to clarify that we already have excellent trauma centres operating and that the delays are to further but not ‘life-or-death’ developments.

What do you make of this then?

Je suis estomaqué.