This was first posted on Facebook on 29th January 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The 2021 news is going to be about vaccine supply.
All governments want as many of their people as possible to get vaccinated, as fast as reasonably possible. The UK got vaccine approval pushed through early, before we lost the emergency provisions available to us through the EU: the EU countries were able to move at more leisure, but without any delay.
The total population of the EU is about 450 million. In August, the EU signed a deal with AstraZeneca for 300 million doses, with an option for 100 million more – that is, enough vaccine to fully-immunise almost half of the EU population. This vaccine would be produced at the UK-Swedish multinational’s plants in the Netherlands and Belgium. Those plants have reported production delays: their CEO says production at those plants is “basically two months behind where we wanted to be” and a EU official is quoted as saying that instead of receiving 100 million doses in the next two months, the EU is now expecting only 25 million by the end of March.
When I published Leaning Towards No, I expected reaction from Yes voters who’d been hoping I would come down on their side of the fence.
I wasn’t expecting the reaction to be so supportive of the SNP. From the reactions, [hardly anyone]* who plans to vote Yes intends to challenge the SNP’s plans to install devomax “currency union” in place of our present devolved system, and while some actively support the plan, many simply don’t see changing the SNP’s policy as possible.
*Not quite “no one”, as I initially wrote.
It therefore seems likely that – much to my annoyance and disappointment – I really don’t have any choice but to vote No. I don’t support devomax. I never did. I won’t vote Yes to have devomax replace status-quo devolution, and that’s what the Scottish Government’s White Paper says is going to happen.
Let me go through the various objections I’ve received to this, beginning with the silliest. (None of these are direct quotes from anyone, so if you recognise yourself in them, it’s purely coincidental.)
925 million people are hungry.
Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.
That’s one child every five seconds.
There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005.
The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty.
This year has been one of the wettest on record. In Edinburgh, we had the wettest April, May, June, and July since records began at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the 19th century. Across the UK:
Potato harvests are down by half in some areas. The NFU’s Scottish cereal survey indicated wheat yield was down by 18% from 2011, winter barley yield down 7%, spring barley yield down 18% and winter oilseed rape yield down 26%.
I’ve discussed this before (Scotland’s Food Programme) and also, for World Porridge Day, how stock brokers gambling on food prices rising is itself creating a bubble of high food prices to profit investors and make people hungry.