Colin Brazier: Nicola Sturgeon will be remembered for making Scotland the UK's capital of woke

Colin Brazier: Nicola Sturgeon will be remembered for making Scotland the UK's capital of woke
Colin Brazier

By Colin Brazier

Published: 10/11/2021

- 21:11

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:50

'If Nicola Sturgeon moves to the States, let her pay a carbon levy on transatlantic flights. But don’t let her get away with this'

There are rumours that Nicola Sturgeon is not long for Scottish politics. That she may be eyeing-up an academic post in America.

She leads a party committed to the partition of Britain. And in that she’s been thwarted – so far. But though the SNP leader has failed to break-up Britain, her leadership has coincided with the growth of Caledonian Cancel Culture.

Whatever Nicola does next, the Sturgeon era will be remembered for making Scotland the UK’s capital of woke. For instance, her political powerbase of Glasgow made history when the city’s university became the first institution in Britain to offer to pay reparations for the transatlantic slave trade.

A feat of self-loathing that not even Oxford or Cambridge had pulled off. That was a couple of years ago and it was a story of Glaswegian Guilt that was widely covered in the news media. But last week nobody noticed when Nicola Sturgeon used an address in Glasgow to inaugurate a new concept of atonement.

She was speaking at COP26, and whether it was the rival attractions of Leonardo di Caprio, Sleepy Joe Biden or indeed Greta Thunberg, the Sturgeon speech hit home with a whimper not a bang.Which is a pity.

Because contained within Sturgeon’s Glasgow Declaration was a hand-out of taxpayers money that amounts to governmental self-flagellation.

The amount of cash wasn’t big, just £1m. A fund to help developing countries deal with the damaging side-effects of climate change.

But tucked away amid the enviro-verbiage was this paragraph: “Unless countries like mine – we’re standing here in the city that helped propel the world into the industrial age – countries like mine that have benefitted so much from climate change, that have done so much to cause climate change, unless we step up and pay our debt to developing countries now living with the impact, we will fail, and that failure will shame all of us.

There’s so much that’s objectionable in that one paragraph it’s hard to know where to start. That final line “will shame us all” is bad enough – the easy assumption that she can speak for everyone.

But that’s just rhetoric and cant. It’s the substance that should enrage us. Here, in one sentence, is a philosophy that survives no logical scrutiny, but which has obvious fashionable appeal. Like Glasgow’s slavery reparations, it relies on the idea that WE owe poorer nations a debt.

Sturgeon even uses that word. In this case, not for the enslavement of people, but for starting the Industrial Revolution.Now, it’s worth for a moment considering the role played in the Industrial Revolution – Sturgeon calls it the Industrial Age – by Glasgow.

So powerful a dynamo for innovation was it, that Glasgow became known as the Second City of Empire.But Sturgeon’s argument begins to dissolve when you start looking at what emerged from Glasgow.

Yes, there were emissions, obviously, but also life-enhancing inventions that improved lives for millions. Not just, here, but – in time - everywhere.

Just think about the Glaswegian discoveries of James Watt in the 1700s and Joseph Lister in the 1800s.

Watt pioneered a new type of steam engine that made possible railways and a degree of free movement never before thought possible. Lister came up with the first surgical antiseptic – carbolic acid and thenol – a breakthrough that has unquestionably saved millions of lives all around the world.

The point is that it will strike many people as unfair that Sturgeon can construct a ledger that puts the achievements of the Industrial Revolution only onto the debit page.

Yes, when it comes to industrialisation, we got there first. Yes that meant the chimneys and furnaces and foundaries started spewing out pollutants here first, but so did the species-enhancing inventions.

This wasn’t like stumbling across oil. Yes we had coal, but our wealth was created by discoveries. By brain, but also by brawn. And that took a toll that’s easily forgotten. Our ancestors bled and toiled and perished for the inventions that others now enjoy.

Yes, we got their first, but to focus on the greenhouse gases and not the good things – the reductions our inventions made possible in global poverty, pain, hunger,and boredom, is to tell a very one-sided story.

If we are to pay, as Nicola Sturgeon want us to, for the damage done, then we might just as well present developing nations with an invoice. What would their lives look like without the fruits of OUR Industrial Revolution? By all means, put a price on carbon emissions.

If Nicola Sturgeon moves to the States, let her pay a carbon levy on transatlantic flights. But don’t let her get away with this. Backdating compensation for producing the stuff – without taking account of all the good things that came with it. That's the Brazier Angle.

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