One of the qualities a real Government needs to have and which the Scottish “Government” lacks is courage

Time and time again the SNP Government twists in the wind to please its supporters and try not to upset anybody else who might join the crusade for separation. An example is putting higher rates of income tax up by 1p which raises virtually nothing but sends an anti-enterprise signal which in the long run will lose money – just crowd-pleasing cowardice.

“A just and fair transition to a Green economy”. A phase trotted out in various forms with little actual meaning but designed to show Nicola and her crew are going to do something worthwhile – when in fact their interventions have lost money and achieved nothing. The absurd ambiguity towards Scotland’s oil industry which provides many thousands of high-quality jobs – does the Scottish Government want it to go away or to support it? It really is not clear. I heard Kate Forbes speak on this a few days ago. It was hard to gather so much meaningless guff and on-trend buzzwords into a few minutes but she managed it. The message was clear – despite us having made a mess of nearly everything and not really having a clue what to do we need more powers.

There is a fast-developing crisis in the energy-supply market which gives the Scottish Government the opportunity to show some courageous leadership.

The wholesale price of energy has rocketed this year. This is largely because of significant increases in the wholesale price of gas, the burning of which regularly supplies more than half of our electricity. Essentially gas prices currently determine the retail cost of our electricity.

The Scottish Government is running headlong towards power generated from renewable sources to the exclusion of everything else. Who can argue with this given the problem of global warming we face? Well, actually anybody sensible should argue with it.

The problem of renewable power for Scotland is that it is simply not reliably available. Our hydro resources are relatively modest and mostly already exploited, relying on solar energy is – for Scotland – not a good plan, tidal and wave power are promising but decades away from a material contribution. We are staking everything on wind and when it’s a still winter evening that gives us a big problem.

The Government thrashes around and babbles about storage – which for the foreseeable future can only help for hours not days – and hydrogen. Hydrogen will have its place but it is very expensive to produce.

For now the dash for wind is leaving the UK, including Scotland, increasingly reliant for dependable power on interconnectors with other countries and, above all, imported gas – which as the current crisis in the energy market is showing can vary wildly in price.

The Scottish Government does not (thank goodness) have all the levers of power but there are two things it can do to show leadership – both of which are politically difficult.

The first is to stand behind our oil and gas industry. It is received wisdom in SNP circles that the evil Margaret Thatcher destroyed the coal industry but the Scottish Government is in danger of doing just that to our world-class oil and gas industry. They should ignore the Greens and support it.

Second, they need to support the one and only solution currently available to keep the lights on while we transition away from carbon – nuclear power. Scotland currently generates the lion’s share of its electricity from just two nuclear plants – Hunterston B and Torness – Hunterston will close within a year and Torness, which we will then be far too reliant on, has with a bit of luck about a decade of life left.

The Scottish Government is hostile to nuclear power. In contrast, the UK Government has done a deal with EDF as a result of which a new nuclear power station is being built at Hinkley Point – the power from that plant looked like it was going to be relatively expensive but now it looks like the deal of the century for consumers.

The Scottish Government should have the courage and the sense to roll out the red carpet to the nuclear power industry to build another plant here. Thousands of high-quality jobs involved in its construction and reliable baseload power for decades to come are the prizes. Go on, be brave.

Guy Stenhouse is a Scottish financial sector veteran who wrote formerly as Pinstripe