All posts by mmhalliday

Frogs, frogs and more frogs..

The frogs arrived back in our pond a week or two before the Arctic cold spell at end of February. The pond promptly iced over. Whether they were under the ice or under the snow, most of them reappeared once normal weather had resumed.

And then they got on with what they had come for….

SCOxit: Putting English Gas O’an a Peep….

Posted on 14 Mar, 2018

Read on to find out where these figures come from …..

There was a report last week, Perfect Storm for Energy Supplies as UK Runs on Empty about UK gas supplies running low in the Siberian cold snap and snow storms we’ve had. It’s in the Telegraph and has a lot of background detail (though they’ll only let you read it once before asking you to register).  In 2004 North Sea gas production meant that the UK was self-sufficient in gas. Since then our production has fallen and  we are now importing about 60% of our needs. And it’s not going to get any better : the National Grid estimates that we will be importing over 90% by 2040. The Guardian has a good article about this too though they are mostly concerned with the fact that a third of the imports are from Qatar.

Here are the facts.

In 2015, UK  production of natural gas, including natural gas liquids (NGL), was 429 Terawatt Hours (ref: Oil & Gas Stastistics) and in 2016 it had climbed to 463 (ref: UKGov Natural Gas, Ch4). This got me wondering how much if that comes from Scottish waters. I expect you see where I’m going with this!

How much natural gas does Scotland and rUK produce?

Overall, 96% of UK oil & liquid natural gas production comes from Scottish waters, so it’s very tempting to think that, post-SCOxit, the situation for England  will be hugely worse when it comes to them having to import  gas!

But then I remembered that the southern sector of the North Sea mostly has gas fields and this sector will be within English territorial waters. So the proportion of gas production from Scotland compared with rUK is much less, though it’s still more than half:

By Gautier, D.L. – US Dept. of Interior USGS Bulletin 2204-C, Public Domain, Link

I’ve also done a bit of researching into other sources for how much gas is produced from the Southern North Sea . It’s all there in the Oil & Gas Authority Offshore Production figures, gas field by gas field, except you need to know which fields are in the south. Fortunately  Wikipedia has a list of North Sea oil and gas fields by sector. So by putting the two sets of info together I’ve got an estimate for gas production coming from English sector of the North Sea. It amounts to around 150 Terawatt Hours in 2017. This is gas from offshore North Sea. There is some onshore gas production and some from Irish Sea sector. That all fits with this 150 tWh estimate being a bit less than the 170 tWh that I calculated from the Oil & Gas Statistics.  

But the main point is that in 2016 we produced 60% of UK’s natural gas and  LNG, liquid natural gas. (Ref: Scottish Government Oil & Gas Statistics)  

How much natural gas does Scotland & rUK consume?

In 2016, UK consumed 891 tWh of natural gas. (Ref: UK Energy Brief, p23) Initially I assumed that 10% of that consumption happens in Scotland, based on us having 8% of the UK population plus a bit because it’s colder up here. But since then I’ve found these stats which show that in terms of gas meters, we only account for  4.5% of UK metered usage. 

However that doesn’t include other ways in which gas is used, the big one being power generation. Now Scotland is fast approaching self-sufficiency in electricity production from renewable sources, ie not from gas fuelled power stations. But let’s be generous and assume that Scotland still takes 8% of total UK gas usage, ie 71tWh. That means rUK consumption is 820 Terawatt Hours. If they produce 170 tWh and assuming that all imported gas, 418tWh,  will go to  rUk then they will still need a further 232 tWH supply to plug the production hole post-SCOxit.

Where do our gas imports come from?

It’s from these countries that we import gas to UK at present:

According to Reuters, Norway won’t be able to plug a post-SCOxit gap (Ref: Reuters, 2012) Another option is to import it from elsewhere in Europe but that in effect means becoming more reliant on  Russian gas.  The easiest option will be for rUK to buy it from Scotland. But can Scotland plug the rUK gas shortfall? No, not all of it.  We’re producing about 260 tWh and using about 71tWh. So we have a surplus of about 189 tWh. In the short -term rUK’s gas imports will look like this. 

OK, so that prompts another question. What’s the wholesale cost of natural gas? And how much income would come to Scotland from exporting 189 tWh of it to England? 

The wholesale gas market in Britain has one price for gas irrespective of where the gas comes from. This is called the National Balancing Point (NBP) price of gas and is usually quoted in price per therm of gas. (Ref: Ofgen)

Current price is around 50p/ therm (Ref: ERC Equipose) so that just needs converting to tWh….. OK, 1 tWh equals 34.1 million Therms. UK therms, of course, just in case you’re worried that I’m using the right units. So Scottish exports of 189 tWh of gas will sell for – Wait for it :


Now this exercise isn’t about me finding a new source of income to the Scottish Exchequer. Tax income from this £3billion is presumably already included in the GERS estimates under Oil & Gas Revenue. What this is about is showing that rUK will be dependent on us for its gas supply. There’s no way they can do without Scottish gas imports. So next time we hear some Unionist telling us that independence will put Scottish trade at risk cos they might just stop trading with us, just wait till they draw breath and say: 

Aye, right!! but whit aboot yon 180 terawatt hours of gas ye need frae us?






Scotland 8% of UK Population: Too Wee, Too Poor?

I’m a fan of John Robertson’s website Talking Up Scotland. If you search for ‘8%’ on his website you get a list of his posts where he gives various examples of how Scotland, with 8% of the UK population, repeatedly achieves much more per head of the population than rUK. 

I used one of his posts, about the number of nurses in Scotland compared to England , to make up this visual: 

It proved popular on various Indy supporting Faceboook groups and I know that it’s been shared around quite a lot. So I thought I should produce a set of such visual aids for other examples where Scotland punches above its weight. All of them give a reference for how you can find the original data if you’re so minded. Most of them are taken from Talking Up Scotland, some I’ve found myself. 

I’ve tried to compare Scotland with whole of the UK. But to be honest, England is so much the biggest share of UK, that adding in Wales and NI doesn’t make that much difference to the overall percentages.

Here they are. Don’t know about you but it makes me think that the “Scotland’s too wee and too poor to be an independent country” slogan is just not true. Well I’ve never thought it was true but it’s good to have some examples of just why that slogan is such as insult to what we’re already doing for our society, never mind what we could do if we held all the political lives of power in our own hands.


A Brexit Cat amongst the Scottish Parliamentarian Pigeons?

On 28 Feb 2018, the Scottish Government started the procedures for a Scottish EU Withdrawal Bill. A previous post, Holyrood’s Own EU Withdrawal Bill and Why We Need It
 has video coverage of Mike Russell, the Scottish Brexit Minister, introducing the Bill.  

However before the Bill 
proceedings began, the Presiding Officer, Ken Mackintosh, made a 
statement that in his opinion the Bill does not fall within the legal competency of the Parliament. And while the Presiding Officer does have a duty to say if he considers a Bill incompetent he has quite possibly released a Brexit Cat amongst the Scottish Parliamentarian Pigeons. Because of this the Lord Advocate of Scotland came to the Chamber to give his legal opinion. The video is further down this post.
Why bring in a Scottish Bill? The gist of why it’s happening comes back to the UKGov’s current failure to alter their own EU Bill at Westminster to safeguard the basis of the devolved governments of Scotland & Wales. (Possibly of Northern Ireland too but unfortunately Stormont has not been sitting since last year when DUP and Sein Fein could not agree to work together.) As it stands, neither Holyrood nor Cardiff are prepared to give their consent to the Westminster Bill. In their view, the Westminster Bill contains a “power grab” taking matters which are currently devolved back into Westminster’s remit. So both places have started the introduction of their own Bills which will bring all current EU Law covering devolved matters over into Scottish and Welsh law respectively. EU Law covering matters currently retained by Westminster will be dealt with under the Westminster Bill. 
Why now? Because it’s crucial that EU Law is transferred smoothly to Holyrood when UK leaves EU in March 2019 with no interruption of those Laws. If UKGov does not alter the Westminster Bill to Holyrood and Cardiff’s satisfaction then we run the risk of just such an interruption of legal continuity.. Both the Scottish and Welsh Bills prevent that possibility. But getting a Bill through takes time and if the process doesn’t start now it will be too late. If eventually UKGov alters the Westminster Bill in terms of the power grab section of it, then there will be no need for the Scottish and Welsh Bills and they will be revoked. 
Why is the Lord Advocate involved? It’s normal practice to take legal advice before introducing any Bill that Holyrood is competent to deal with it.  It needs to relate to something that is within Holyrood’s remit. The Lord Advocate (LA), James Wolff, was asked and gave his view on this Bill that it is within the legislative competence of Parliament.
What’s not normal is for him to come to the Chamber. This is unprecedented. He’s doing it because of the Presiding Officer’s very unexpected declaration. The Bill can still proceed but it is open to legal challenge by anyone so minded. We already know from the day before that Labour, Greens and LibDem MSPs support the bill. That only leaves the Scottish Conservative MSPs whose spokesman, Adam Tompkins, describes it as “unwelcome and unnecessary.” So it’s a fair bet that the Scottish Tories are probably going to be so minded to challenge it. But that’s for another day.
The video covers the Lord Advocate giving his considered opinion followed by questions deem MSPs. To make this easier to navigate through here are some times:
Lord Advocate’s Statement:
  • 14.11 He lays out the basics of how legal competency is decided. He also confirms that he considers it is with legal competency of the Parliament. 
  • 14.15 Any Bill has to be compatible with EU Law. Presiding Officer has said that this Bill is not so compatible. LA explains why he considers this to be wrong and why the Bill is compatible with EU Law.
  • 14.19 This Bill is modelled on UKGov Bill. If this Bill is not compatible, then neither is the Westminster Bill. 
  • 14.20 Nothing in this Bill comes into effect until we leave the EU. For this reason it is compatible and it is for this reason that the Welsh Presiding Officer has decided that it is compatible with EU and therefore that it falls within the legal competency of the Welsh Assembly

Questions from MSPs:

  • 14.22 to end.

Siberia Comes to Glasgow

It’s not often that Glasgow gets snow, snow and more snow. But it has just happened. Siberia came to us. Here’s the proof.

Things are slowly getting back to normal. Slowly being the operative word. I got my walking boots and crampons on yesterday to venture out for some milk. Nae milk to be had! McColls had none. Coop had none. And somebody told me that Sainsbury was still closed. Fortunately this morning, McColls had had a delivery and my coffee is white again.

And my car is appearing from under the 25cm of compacted snow it’s been hiding under. And she’s all charged up again, bless her!

And one from the BBC The Social YouTube channel : The Snow Day

Holyrood’s Own EU Withdrawal Bill and Why We Need It.

Why are Holyrood and Cardiff introducing EU Withdrawal Bills of their own when Mrs May has one Ring to Rule Them All (except for the DUP) in Westminster? Sorry, I should of course have said she has one Bill for the strongly and steadily united United Kingdom.  I watched the introduction of the Scottish Bill to find out more. After Mike Russell spoke on behalf of the Scottish Government there was a series of responses from party spokespeople and from individuals. The clips shown here are a breakdown of various statements and questions and each clip should play for a few minutes but in case they don’t,  then I’ve given you the start time for that question.
Mike Russell (photo from his website) is Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, usually shortened to Brexit Minister. Here he tells MSPs what the Bill is intended to do, why it is necessary, and why it is urgent. (start time 16.17)

Below: Adam Tompkins of Scottish Tories declares the Scottish Tory opposition to the Bill on the grounds of it being unwelcome and unnecessary and then  asks three specific questions of Mike Russell:

Below: Neil Findlay pledges Scottish Labour’s support for the Bill and lays the blame squarely on the shoulders on David Mundell and ruth Davidson for the current unsatisfactory situation regarding the UK Bill. He has some concerns regarding the time available to debate it. Don’t know why he apologised for his shambolic keyboard skills! (Start time 16.37)


Below: Patrick Harvie pledges the support of Scottish Greens, describes his view that UK Parliament has handled Brexit utterly incompetently and already eyeing up various powers to retain to themselves. He expresses his appreciation that further time for debate has been included, and asks Russell to confirm that any withdrawal of this Bill – assuming that agreement is reached with the Westminster Withdrawal Bill – will be a decision for Parliament and not only for the Scottish Government. Russell confirms that it will be a decision for Parliament. He also informs Patrick Harvie that this Bill reintroduces  the Charter of Fundamental Rights unlike the the Westminster Bill. (Start time 16.42)


Below: Joan McAlpine, SNP, asks for some more details about reintroducing the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. (Start time : 16.47)


Below: Not sure if Tavish Scott pledges Scottish LibDems support or not but he does deplore the lack of an agreement emerging from talks with Westminster. (Start time : 16.44)


Below: Then we get Bruce Crawford’s heartfelt reaffirmation of the  basis of devolution as set up when Holyrood was reestablished in 1998 and his request for a statement that there will be no agreement to any diminution of Holyrood’s powers.  Mike Russell does not hesitate in giving him that assurance. (Start time: 16.49)


Below: Mairi Gougeon, SNP, asks how Mike Russell will work with the other devolved administrations to ensure no diminishing of devolved powers. Russell speaks about the identical interests of the Welsh and Scottish Governments and regrets that no Northern Irish voice is now present at the Joint Ministerial talks in the absence of a Stormont Adminstration. (Start time: 16.52)


Below: Donald Cameron Scottish Tory asks something. Can’t be bothered to listen again to find out but don’t want to be accused of not including Conservative opinion.  (16.54)


Below: Richard Lochhead states his support for the Brexit Secretary but asked him to play close attention to any special Border arrangements that may be made for the Republic of Ireland that could leave Scottish economy at a disadvantage in international trade if we are not also part of that. (16.56)


Below: Two questions from SNP members Christine McElvie and Ivan McKee which give Mike Russell a chance to spell out the difference between a UK single market which he says does not exist and a UK uniform market which is what we have at the moment which has different powers in the four UK countries as required. He takes minimum alcohol pricing as an example of how Scotland in some instances diverges from UK and hence needs its own arrangements. Another example would be fracking. (time: 17.00)


Below: And finally Alex Neil, SNP, asks for a guarantee that the Scottish Government will fight tooth and nail any challenge by the UK Government to this Bill in the light of the Presiding Officer’s view of its lack of legal constitutional competency. (Start time: 17.03)

#DebunkingUnionism_001: NHS Scotland

I’m a fan of John Robertson’s blog Talking Up Scotland. He scans stories in the Scottish media and where it’s needed – and it’s often needed – he debunks pro-Unionist propaganda: first of all by making it plain where the media outlets are using Labour, Tory or LibDem press releases verbatim and without any fact-checking and secondly by putting the information into context.

One of his posts  on NHS Staffing is about the run of anti-NHS Scotland stories about what a shambles the SNP is making of it. These stories are appearing all over  the Union-supporting Scottish media, which is to say most of the Scottish media.

I quite enjoy taking his info and putting it into visual format. Here are a couple I’ve just done. 

Denying the Facts

A couple of years back I did a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called Denial101x run by the University of Queensland. It is a very, very good introduction to how climate change deniers misrepresent and twist information about climate change to suit their agenda. Their agenda being that “it isn’t happening”, or at least “it’s not happening very quickly”, or “it’s not happening where we live”.  This will take you to my post on Denial 101X if you want to find out more.

These days that climate change denial industry has expanded to other subjects. Donald Trump is a master of using outright lies and misdirection to get his agenda across. Unfortunately social media allows his followers to spread that misdirection to a huge audience. In fact to a huu-uuge audience. Of course he has his own denial about climate change too: “It’s a hoax invented by the Chinese

Even more unfortunately, pro-Union supporters employ the same sort of tactics against the Scottish Independence campaigners. They’re just not so good at it.  Or maybe they think we have the attention span of a gold fish and won’t remember what they said on Twitter before they deleted what they said. Or maybe they just think our heid buttons up the back.



Police Scotland Join Calcutta Cup Celebrations

Scotland 25-13 England at Murrayfield yesterday. It’s been a long time coming. Thank you #SRU !! Police Scotland were obviously keeping on top of events  🏆🏉 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

#ElectricDriving: My First Long Trip

South: Glasgow to Oxford, 3 stops                                         North: Oxford to Glasgow, 2 stops

Mid-November 2017, after six weeks of pottering around our local area in our new BMW i3 REX, we set off for Oxford. Big adventure.
Continue reading #ElectricDriving: My First Long Trip

#ElectricDriving: Charging My Car

I’ve been the proud owner of an electric car for four months. BMW i3 REX 96. I don’t do much mileage myself and with a full charge of 100-125miles depending on the weather, I’m only needing to charge it about once a week, if that. Even at 3.4C, I’m getting the equivalent of 125 miles. Yesterday’s range of 109 miles was when the battery was at 87% of full charge.

Continue reading #ElectricDriving: Charging My Car

#ElectricDriving: My New Electric Car

In October last year , I took possession of a new car. This one. It’s electric. BMW i3 Rex. It’s new and I financed it with the standard £4500 discount for any new electric car, covered by UKGov, and an interest free loan for the rest from a ScotGov fund to promote electric car ownership. 

Continue reading #ElectricDriving: My New Electric Car

North Sea Oil – Still Game After All These Years?

Is the UK North Sea Oil Sector its Last Legs?
During the 2014 Scottish Independence campaign it certainly seemed that North Sea oil was at the end of its useful life. We kept being told that independence would be a disaster for Scotland. We’d be bankrupt, not least because the oil was about to run out.

The Scottish Government White Paper on Independence used the oil industry’s own estimates of 24billion barrels of still recoverable resources. Then Sir Ian Woods intervened in the debate  saying 15-18 billion barrels was more likely and that by 2050 an independent Scotland wouldn’t have any oil revenue income. (Ref: BBC, Aug 2014). Sir Ian doesn’t support Scottish Independence. That doesn’t mean he was being biassed in his estimate but his opinion was given a great deal of weight by the Unionist-supporting media (ie nearly all of the UK media) and less was given to the oil industry’s opinion.

Continue reading North Sea Oil – Still Game After All These Years?

Please, Norway, Could You Help Us Look After Our Oil?

Let’s start with this impressive statement of intent from Norway about its oil resources:

“The overall objective of Norway’s petroleum policy has always been to provide a framework for the profitable production of oil and gas in the long term.
It has also been considered important to ensure that as large as possible a share of the value creation accrues to the state, so that it can benefit society as a whole. This is partly obtained by the tax system.”
(Norsk Petroleum)

That’s called responsible stewardship.

Continue reading Please, Norway, Could You Help Us Look After Our Oil?

Experts? Bah Humbug!!

Michael Gove is famously quoted as saying – during a Brexit campaign interview with Sky News on 3 June 2016 – that “the people of this country have had enough of experts”. In fact that was the first half of a sentence which the interviewer interupted. The whole sentence was :

“I think that the people of this country have had enough of experts with organisations from acronyms saying – from organisations with acronyms – saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong, because these people – these people – are the same ones who got consistently wrong.”

Gove got handsome applause from the audience for this statement. But then I don’t suppose many of them were experts… 😉

Continue reading Experts? Bah Humbug!!

Budget Day at Holyrood

Yesterday was Derek Mackay’s big day – presenting the Scottish Government’s proposed Budget for 2018/19. 

Photo credit should read: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA Wire

The Scottish Daily Mail headlined their Front Page with their take on what the budget means for Scots:

Scotland’s working population was 2,604,000 in Jan2017 (UKGov Source). The Mail says that  3/4million of them will be “hit” with paying more tax,

  • that is a bit less than 30 % of the working population. The 30% who are the highest earners in Scotland.
  • The Mail could have put it another way : 70% of the population will pay less income tax and the other 30%, who are the highest earners, will pay a bit more.
  • I guess that’s too many words for a snappy headline though.

What does ScotGov say? “7 out of 10 Scots to pay less tax.” That’s actually quite snappy.

So are middle class earners going to be “hammered” like wot the Mail says?

Here is what the changes Derek is proposing will do to your income tax bill: 

To explain the green graph – showing the difference between income tax paid this year compared to next year when the changes come into effect:

  • overall Scottish income tax revenue will be realigned so that less income tax comes from lower paid workers and more of it comes from those with higher incomes. 
  • average income in Scotland is around £24K. If you earn £33K or less and your income stays the same next year, then you will be paying LESS income tax next year than you are this year. (Mind you if you’re a nurse currently getting less than £30,000 then your income will in fact go up by 3% but that’s another story…)
  • from £33K upwards, you will be paying more income tax.
  • At £40K you’ll be paying about £40 more. At £90K, you’ll have £315 less in your pocket. Over the whole year.
  • To put that in context, £40K a year is about £150 per working day and you’ll be paying 15p more per day in tax next year. £90K a year is about £364 a working day and you’ll have an increased daily tax bill increase of  £1.20 or about half  a cappuccino.

To explain the blue graph – showing the difference next year between income tax paid in Scotland and in rUK:

  • it compares what someone living in Scotland will pay in income tax next year compared to someone with the same salary living in England.
  • it’s not quite the same as the green graph because there will be differences in when the various higher tax bands come into play. But overall if you’re living and working in Scotland and earning about £90K then you’ll contribute about £1100 more in income tax than if you worked in England. Thats about £4.23 a day out of your daily earnings of £364. 


Hammered? Nah …

Just helping build a civilised, decent and fairer society, 

as ALL of the increased tax revenue is spent in Scotland. 

And as Nicola tweeted earlier today…

"There is no Grinch in the 'Nightmare Before Christmas'!! Is this more evidence that you can't believe what you read in the Daily Mail? ;-)" @NicolaSturgeon