WHY was Alok Sharma greetin’ at COP26? Possibly he had an onion in his hankie? Because the COP president is no friend of the Earth.

He has consistently voted to protect fossil fuel industries, he supported fracking, and opposed calls against its impact on climate change and the environment.

Sharma voted 17 times in the Commons against measures to prevent climate change.

He has also received funds from the chair of Foresight Group, an international conglomerate with interests in offshore and onshore oil and gas production. And also from Aquind, which is seeking to build the undersea power connector between Portsmouth and Normandy.

There is no suggestion that he has done anything wrong. The donations are recorded in the parliamentary register of financial interests.

Aquind’s majority owner is the controversial Russian oil and gas tycoon Viktor Fedotov. Three Conservative ministers have already had to recuse themselves from the decision-making process over the Aquind power link because of their connections to the company.

In other news, Sharma consistently voted for the mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities, against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK, against more powers for local councils and, of course, transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament. And 49 times for a reduction in spending on welfare.

Write opportunity

Monday morning at crowded Euston station and it’s a sprint for the unreserved coach on the Glasgow train. It’s more of a steeplechase, hurdling the wheeled luggage people drag behind them and fending off the elbows of the others in the race. There are casualties.

Fortunately, the train isn’t too busy and I have a table to myself until Preston when three charming ladies of a certain age join me.

They’re from Kilwinning and have been, I assume, to Blackpool for the weekend. In such close proximity it’s impossible not to overhear their conversation as they tell their yarns. I’m a willing audience, which they acknowledge.

The one sitting opposite me is Catherine who tells a great tale of when she was at school and she had a Valentine’s card for a boy in her bag, together with matches. When she was leaving class some kind of spontaneous combustion set fire to her satchel and she exited in flames. The card did not find its target.

And there was the one about being on holiday in Benidorm, reading a magazine on a sunbed in her bathing costume and falling asleep. When she woke she realised she had been sleeping on the magazine. She didn’t think much more about it until people started giggling at her and it was then that she discovered that part of a headline had transferred to her back. It read: “I am fat!”

When we reached Glasgow, one of her companions said to me “I hope you enjoyed our company”. I did, I replied, and Catherine, who is clearly some kind of savant, said: “He’s probably a writer taking a note of all this.”

“I already have,” I answered.

No time to dye

I KNOW Anas Sarwar’s dad a lot better than I know the young shaver. Well, truthfully, I’ve only met him two or three times and not recently. But here is the most important political question of the week. Is Anas dying his hair? It certainly looks like it.

I saw him on TV during the week and he was puce at the temples and not through apoplexy about the perfidies of the SNP. It reminded me of that press conference where Rudi Giuliani’s hair began to melt and leak dye under lights and dribble down his face. Even Donald Trump seemed perplexed.

If they still make Grecian 2000, Anas, I’d try that.

Modern warfare

A NEW British army regiment, the 13th Signals, has been launched to “prevent frontline operations from digital attack”, reports the UK Defence Journal. Reboots on the ground, you could say.

£1m is Nat enough

NICOLA Sturgeon, despite being treated like a bad smell by Boris Johnson, spent more time at COP26 than the Prime Minister did. She did selfies with almost everyone, so I’m surprised she missed out on playboy eco-warrior Leonardo DiCaprio, or maybe that was behind closed doors?

She was praised for pledging £1 million to developing countries affected by climate change. All well and good, but that’s nothing. She’s pledged £586m to Sanjeev Gupta and his loss-making Lochaber aluminium smelter.

Not what they PR

IN August this year, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, someone you may not have heard of, launched Project Love, something you certainly didn’t know of or care about. Stay with me! It was a naive plan to bomb the Scottish media with stories about how wonderful the Union is.

To do that four hacks were hired, on salaries from £57,000 to £80,000. You have to ask, looking at the results so far, how’s that going and what do they do all day?

Journalists are routinely portrayed as purveyors of fake news by wackos on Twitter.

No, it’s press officers, those who go to the dark side, who are paid to dissemble and protect their paymasters who are the villains, like those four.

You may not know but somehow PRs are allowed into the National Union of Journalists.

This isn’t about the Union or nationalism, this is a rant against the paid manipulation of truth – and yes, the SNP are as guilty – and the avoidance of blame. PRs are just the insulation against consequences.

The four well-paid special advisers here, known as spads, are Magnus Gardham, late of Herald Towers, Geoff Mawdsley, Tom Peterkin and John Cooper.

Cooper was, until he was plucked from it by Jack, editor of the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, one of the few independent weeklies left, owned by a real belted earl – the Earl of Stair, aka John Dalrymple.

Jack’s constituency includes Stranraer and its airts so it’s a pretty fair bet that Cooper was well known to him.

They do debar MPs from holding directorships, but not, apparently, simply handing them over to one’s wife for safe keeping, which is what Jack did.

He has, of course, retained his substantial shareholdings in a dozen companies although one, Fishfigure, is dissolved, according to Companies House. Do keep up, Al.

In two of the companies, Cantco and Mollin HEP, Jack, as it’s put, is a person with significant control – basically, he owns them.