What are the priorities of our politicians?

In recent weeks there has been an object lesson in contrasts in terms of those priorities.

The SNP-Green Scottish Government took significant time from the Scottish Parliament’s busy schedule to hold yet another debate on independence.

As their increasingly discredited and exhausted government staggered towards the parliamentary recess, they clearly wanted to throw some red meat to their restive activists and MSPs.

The debate itself offered nothing new. No one could possibly think it was the best use of parliamentary time, least of all in the current economic and political climate.

Just a week earlier, Keir Starmer came to Scotland to announce Labour’s transformative plans for energy policy if he wins the next UK general election, which is expected next year.

In the midst of both cost-of-living and climate crises, he laid out a vision to help people with their energy bills, to deliver high-quality jobs in Scotland, to boost the UK’s energy security and to play our part in tackling the climate crisis.

The contrast with the Scottish Government’s priorities could hardly be starker: as people across North Ayrshire and beyond struggle with their energy bills and our less affluent citizens face the choice between heating and eating, Keir Starmer offered serious, radical solutions.

He confirmed that Labour in government will make Britain a clean energy superpower by 2030.

It will establish Great British Energy: a publicly owned, clean energy generation company to harness the potential of our sun, wind and waves in the interests of our people, not private profit.

Scotland clearly has enormous potential as a clean energy hub. But that potential has been squandered by this Scottish Government, which has now scrapped its own promise of a public energy company, and which has long forgotten its early pledge to make Scotland “the Saudi Arabia of renewables”.

Labour’s plans, by contrast, will save households across North Ayrshire up to £1,400 on their annual energy bills. In addition to supercharging our efforts to drive down emissions and achieve net zero, they will also represent a major boost to Scotland and the UK’s energy security – more vital than ever, given the global situation and Putin’s appalling war against Ukraine.

What is more, at the core of these plans are the creation of thousands of high-quality, long-term, secure jobs in clean energy and related sectors.

Keir Starmer and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar have confirmed that Scotland will be the headquarters of GB Energy – in order that the company can benefit from the skills and insight of Scotland’s energy industry and our world-leading research institutes, and also the employment it will create.

With the winding down of Hunterston, not to mention its natural geography, North Ayrshire is well-placed and well-equipped to become a clean energy hub, with opportunities to re-purpose our existing infrastructure, and existing skilled workforce, into good quality future jobs, attracting jobs and investment to this area.

For too long North Ayrshire’s energy potential has been squandered. But by harnessing the green resources of our natural environment, the human potential of our workforce, and the vast economic might of the UK Treasury, we can tap that potential for the benefit of local people and of our country.