Talk turns to RET, and my friend caustically points out that the SNP had 30 years of formulating a policy and supporting RET for commercial and domestic traffic, only to claim after 2 years that the policy which has proved successful in Norway doesn't work (but only in the Western Isles).
The real decision, they confirmed, was all about saving some money. The decision to blame the hauliers was taken at the last moment, without any evidence, and with the full knowledge and support of Alasdair Allan (MacNeil seems to have absented himself from this view).
Civil Servants have been unable to find any evidence to support the Government's stance, which is now the official position, which the "consultation" is expected to confirm.
The Civil Service took the view that if there were 'profiteering' by local hauliers, then it will only be a matter of time before mainland hauliers (or new local firms) exploit the opportunity, driving prices down. By reverting back to the old system of volume discounts, the Government are creating barriers to new hauliers entering the market, which will - perversely - keep haulage costs higher for the islands.
Meantime, we see the attempts to justify the decision appearing in the local press, without any evidence to support the arguments. My friend confirmed that SNP Press Officers are busy churning out template letters and briefings to affected constituencies putting forward the view that a cut in subsidy is A Good Thing.