Last night's Spectator debate produced a resounding victory for the forces of light. Votes were held on the motion "Scotland's energy policy is a load of hot air" before and after the debate. Struan Stevenson and I were ahead after the first vote, although not strongly so, but produced a strong swing during the course of the evening which left us with a resounding victory.
I think many of the audience will have been unimpressed with the tactics of our opponents. Niall Stuart, the CEO of Scottish Renewables, had written a speech that opened by suggesting that I had misled the audience on the facts and then proceeded to tell them I had said several things in my speech that I hadn't. For example he told them that I had said that wind "doesn't work". In fact I had said "Don't get me wrong, this [wind] can be done, but at a cost".
His whole speech was unbelievable, but I must say I had no opportunity to correct what he said:
- he talked about wind creating jobs when of course these jobs are created at the expense of destruction of jobs in the rest of the economy and of course to the extent that a technology creates jobs it is an expensive technology;
- he said that DECC has shown that renewables will make consumers pay less for their energy, although IIRC this is because DECC assumes that consumers will consume only half the amount of energy they do now;
- he talked about the cost of wind approaching that of mainstream power sources, a suggestion that involves the use of the levelised costs fiddle;
- he talked about shale in the UK being limited in extent, a suggestion that involves only considering the reserves - the amounts identified by Cuadrilla - and not the resources - all the shales that have yet to be tested because the government hasn't issued licences yet.
It was an amazing performance. The whole thing was filmed so with a bit of luck we can give it a more thorough going over at some time.
Stuart Haszeldine's talk was less outrageous, although I don't think he won many friends by trying to personalise the debate - he showed a picture of the Hockey Stick Illusion with a rather snide remark about it being "marketing" rather than anything more useful. An audience member later asked him if he had read it, and he admitted that he had only looked through it, so he ended up looking a bit silly.
I was pretty nervous about giving a formal speech - I'm used to speaking to slides in a relatively informal way. Also, having Andrew Neil as chairman was intimidating, because he is so good at picking out the weaknesses in an argument. In the end it went pretty well though and I got laughs at all the right points.
A very satisfactory evening.