THE sudden Conservative U-turn on the Scottish deposit return scheme continues to get murkier and murkier.

Although the British Government had originally agreed that glass should be included in the scheme, a couple of weeks ago, and without any prior consultation with the Scottish Government, the Conservatives decided that they'd changed their minds. They didn't want glass to be included in the scheme after all, and the Conservative Government would refuse to give the necessary exemption from the UK Internal Market Act in order for the Scottish scheme to go ahead with glass.

No real explanation has been given for the surprise change of mind, other than what boils down to the British Government version of: "Because we say so, suck it up."

READ MORE: Alister Jack should remember his own advice and 'suck it up'

The last-minute change has thrown the Scottish Government policy into chaos amid accusations that the Tories are attempting to impose their plans for an English scheme on Scotland and Wales.

The move has predictably generated a slew of negative headlines about the Scottish Government in the overwhelmingly anti-independence Scottish media, which has equally predictably glossed over the duplicitous role played in the affair by the Conservatives at Westminster.

Over the weekend it came to light that the Tory U-turn on the inclusion of glass came just a short time before the party accepted a significant donation from a lobbying organisation representing the drinks industry. This was of course merely a coincidence, nothing suspicious to see here at all, move along now.

Viceroy General Alister Jack noticeably avoided answering any questions on the donation when he was asked about it in an interview on the BBC's Sunday Show, although he did find time to mention a totally spurious claim that the Scottish scheme would not see glass recycled, but rather crushed and put into aggregate for roads.

Circularity Scotland, the organisation set up to oversee the Scottish deposit return scheme, dismissed Jack's claim as "totally inaccurate”.

The National: Scotland Office minister Malcolm Offord is facing questions over his link to the whisky industry

And now we have learned that Malcolm Offord (above), the man behind the obscurely funded and suspiciously well publicised No Borders campaign during 2014's independence referendum, is a major shareholder in a whisky company.

Offord, who was later given a peerage for services to astroturfing and is now a junior minister in the Scotland Office, has publicly backed calls for glass to be removed from the DRS.

According to the Lords Register of Interests, Offord is a major shareholder in The Borders Distillery Company Ltd and holds just over 900,000 shares. He also holds a number of shares in a whisky bottlers company Alpha Whisky Ltd. The Scotch Whisky Association has lobbied for glass to be excluded from the DRS for drinks cans and bottles.

Scottish Tory MSP Maurice Golden was condemned for accepting match tickets from drinks producer Heineken before later withdrawing his support for a key part of Scotland's DRS. Golden had previously been vocal in his support for glass to be included.

Of course it could be that the Tories just want glass to be excluded because they don't like transparency.

Talking down Scotland

The National: Glasgow Conservatives manifesto launch for the council elections on May 5th. Pictured is Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP outside the People's Palace on Glasgow Green.

Photograph by Colin Mearns
20 April 2022

Tory MSP Sandesh Gulhane, who himself moved from down south to live in Scotland, has been slated for claiming during an interview on the BBC that Scotland is "not an attractive place to live”.

The comments were made when the cringeworthy MSP was asked if Brexit had anything to do with problems experienced by the NHS in staff recruitment since Brexit. Gulhane denied that Brexit had anything to do with it, insisting it was all the fault of the "nationalist SNP Government," which he claimed had made us all feel "insular and inward looking”. You know, exactly what the nationalist Tories have achieved with Brexit.

Gulhane is obviously not strong on self awareness, but then accusing your opponents of your own sins is rule number one in the right-wing British nationalist populist play book. In Scotland, the Tories achieve the remarkable feat of being a populist party which isn't very popular, and with spokespeople like list MSP Gulhane giving car crash interviews that isn't going to change any time soon.

Labour’s oil and gas claims

The National: One poll has Anas Sarwar's party on course to take swathes of seats off the SNP

Labour's Scottish branch manager Anas Sarwar is coming under pressure for claiming, in an announcement that was way above his pay grade, that a future Labour government would honour all oil and gas exploration licences granted by the Conservative Government.

The claim came after his boss Keir Starmer had pledged that he would ban new licences for oil and gas in the North Sea. The UK Government is expected to make a decision very soon on licences to develop the large Rosebank oil field, which is believed to contain around 500 million barrels of oil.

READ MORE: Labour 'to win 31 Scottish MPs by default' but trail SNP in votes, poll analysis says

Mark Russell, the Scottish Green's environment spokesperson, has said that the development of the field would make it impossible for Scotland to meet its climate obligations and called upon the Labour and Conservative parties to cease their "political grandstanding" and grapple head on with the challenge of securing a well-managed, supported and just transition for all working in the fossil fuel sector, particularly communities in the North East of Scotland.

But instead what we get from the Labour party in Scotland is a promise not to undo any of the damage that the Tories have wrought on Scotland over the past 13 years.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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