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Showing posts with label Tavish Scott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tavish Scott. Show all posts

Monday, 2 April 2012

FIRST MINISTER CHALLENGES PAUL MARTIN OVER MINISTERIAL CODE

First Minister Alex Salmond has today referred himself to the independent advisers to the ministerial code after claims made in various newspapers by Paul Martin MSP regarding SNP donors and official engagements at Bute House.

Mr Salmond has written to Mr Martin outlining that he will make the referral after the Labour MSP blundered  the process by which a complaint should be made.

In his letter to Mr Martin, the First Minister writes:

Dear Mr Martin

I write following press reports that you have written to Dame Elish Angiolini making complaints under the Ministerial Code.

I am sure that you are aware that as First Minister I established for the first time an independent panel to investigate alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code to provide a robust and transparent process.  The procedure for making such a complaint is made clear in paragraph 1.6 of the Ministerial Code.  Any complaint should be directed in the first instance to me as First Minister so that I may consider whether the matter should be referred to the independent advisers. Hopefully you will manage to get this simple procedure right on any future occasion.

Despite not having received such a letter of complaint from you, I have decided to refer the issues reported in the media about visitors to Bute House in the Daily Telegraph on 28 March, the Daily Mail on 31 March and again in the Daily Telegraph today.  I would not wish your misunderstanding of procedure to prevent an independent evaluation of the merits of the points you have been so keen to publish.

I have therefore written to Dame Elish Angiolini, as one of the independent advisers, and asked her formally to investigate whether a breach of the Ministerial Code has occurred.  Dame Angiolini has been provided with copies of the three press reports and, of course, will have received your letter. f you have anything further to provide a basis for your complaints then let me know so that this material can also be provided.

The rest of the procedure is now in the hands of Dame Angiolini. The findings of the independent adviser will be published.  I will accept them and I hope that you will now indicate that you will so the same.

It is unfortunate that you have chosen not to follow the procedures set down to investigate allegations such as these.  I am confident that, as on each of the three previous occasions  your party has made complaints of this nature, the independent advisers will find your allegations to be entirely without any foundation.

Alex Salmond

A spokesperson for the First Minister added:

“The First Minister has taken the decision to refer this issue because we have total confidence in our position, in light of this entirely spurious and absurd complaint from Labour.

“All complaints previously considered by the independent advisers  since 2007  were dismissed and we will similarly accept the results of Elish Angiloini’s findings in this case - we ask that Paul Martin does the same.

“No private dining for donors takes place at Bute House, never has under this administration, and never will. Labour, the party of cash for honours and the Ecclestone affair, are guilty of the most appalling hypocrisy.

“Government functions are all in the public domain because, unlike the last Labour-led administration, we publish details of everyone receiving Bute House hospitality at a reception, lunch or dinner. No-one has ever suggested prior to this  that individuals should be excluded from Government events simply because they are donors. This is a totally ridiculous proposition.

“By long-standing practice for many years, First Ministers and before that Scottish Secretaries have nominated personal guests for the Royal Garden Party in Edinburgh, and since 1999 for the Opening of the Scottish Parliament, and offered such hospitality.  It is insulting to suggest any upstanding person should be excluded.  If SNP supporters were to be excluded, by definition that would cover half the population. 

In addition, it should be noted that hospitality costs at Bute House are significantly less for this administration than under the previous Labour/Lib Dem Executive.”

ENDS

PREVIOUS COMPLAINTS  - NONE UPHELD

The list below shows the First Minister has been wholly exonerated in terms of all previous complaints made of him.

Complaint 6 March 2009 by Tavish Scott

Ex-PO’s - Funding of Scottish Inter-Faith Council, 8th January 2009

ES – ‘The Panel finds that the First Minister acted in good faith and presented an accurate account of the Scottish Government’s position on the issue raised with him in debate’

Complaint 5 August 2009 by Iain Gray

Ex-PO’s - Notification to Parliament of absconds from the Open Estate

28th May 2009

ES – ‘The Panel finds that the First Minister adhered to established protocol in terms of which any public announcement’ in respect of any prisoner who has absconded from the Open Estate is an operational matter for the police.’

Complaint 20 January 2010 by Hugh Henry and Tavish Scott

Ex-PO’s - Class size reduction target in relation to commitment in 2007

3rd December 2009

Panel concluded that ‘this referral is not appropriate for the panel to consider’

3rd February 2010 Sir Thomas Legg, HoC Auditor - Additional Costs Allowance Claims

The report said: “Mr Salmond has no issues.”

Complaint 3rd February 2010 by Dr Gordon Macdonald

Sir John Lyons, Westminster Standards Commissioner – on food claims

The letter to the complainant said: “I do not, therefore, uphold your complaint and I now regard the matter as closed.”

24th February 2010 Stuart Allan, Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner – auctioning of lunches

“Having fully considered the terms of the complaints and the terms of your own response (jointly with Ms Sturgeon) and other evidence, I have concluded that . . . the complaints, as submitted and insofar as within my jurisdiction, are not relevant and that there is no evidence of sufficient substance warranting further investigation. I have, therefore, dismissed the complaints for the reasons set out in the attached Note of Decision.”

Complaint 27th November  2011 by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Jim Sheridan MP alleged that FM had intervened to secure a knighthood for Brian Souter

First Minister ‘wholly exonerated’ in breach of Ministerial Code’.

Mr Sheridan’s allegations were wrong and ‘ill founded’.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Cash for access and influence–don’t forget the LibDems–the ‘squeaky clean’ party!


This is the party most distrusted by the electorate, reduced to a pathetic rump in Holyrood by the Scottish electorate last May, and who would be obliterated by the UK electorate if the Coalition fell tomorrow.

But they see themselves as squeaky clean …

This is the party that accepted “in good faith” a £2.4m donation from a convicted fraudster, Michael Brown, which they refused to repay to the people who had been defrauded when the facts became known because “the money was already spent”. (BBC report)

But they see themselves as squeaky clean …

Here they are at their conference in September 2011, allowing access for cash - £800 a head for lunch – with influential LibDem ministers to tobacco companies and God know who else. Here they are trying to prevent Channel Four News reporter Michael Crick from gaining access for truth.

Meanwhile, Tavish Scott bleated bitterly last year about how his party, not to mention his career, was blighted by the LibDem pact with the Tories. Tavish, throughout his feeble leadership of the Scottish LibDems conspicuously failed to distance himself from the UK party because of his pro-Union and virulently anti-SNP views. He now favours remaining in the UK for Orkney and Shetland - or UDI from an independent Scotland.

We have a LibDem, Danny Alexander as a member of the notorious Coalition sofa government cabal, the Quad, and Michael Moore, a LibDem, as Scottish Colonial Governor – and in Scotland, Willie Rennie

They are all – needless to say – deeply committed to remaining within the UK, and implacably hostile to their country’s independence …

THE TORY CASH FOR ACCESS SCANDAL






ALEX SALMOND - Letter to DAVID CAMERON


"Yesterday’s Sunday Times report regarding Peter Cruddas is a matter of substantial public concern.

One important aspect is that Mr Cruddas is reported to have discussed the issue of Scottish independence with you, in somewhat pejorative terms. I would like to know directly from you the details of this discussion.

The paper reports that Mr Cruddas personally was a major donor to the “No to AV” campaign, reportedly funding the campaign to the tune of £1.2 million.

You will also have noted that Mr Cruddas was willing to discuss accepting political donations with persons purporting to represent an overseas wealth fund, which of course is prohibited by law from making a donation to a political party in the United Kingdom.

As you know, the Scottish Government’s proposals for a referendum on independence in autumn 2014 set out clear rules about donations to the campaigning groups for the referendum. These rules are based on established electoral law, and our consultation document proposes that they would be rigorously enforced by the Electoral Commission.

Given the revelations in the Sunday Times and subsequent resignation of Mr Cruddas, I am asking you to agree that there is now even more reason to ensure that the terms governing the conduct of the referendum are determined by the Scottish Parliament, and are not dictated by Westminster – a threat that was discussed by senior Conservative Party representatives as recently as last weekend at your Scottish Party conference.

You will realise the importance we attach to holding a referendum which is beyond reproach and free of the sort of impropriety which is so clearly pointed to in the Sunday Times report."

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Orkney and Shetland – the mandate for Scott and McArthur’s claims?

Given the extraordinary statements made by the Orkney and Shetland MSPs in recent days about the stance of their respective constituencies if Scotland becomes independent, it seems relevant to look at their mandates in the last election – May 2011.

POPULATION AND THE ELECTORATE

Using 2010 figures, the population of Scotland is 5,222,100, that of Orkney 20,100 and of Shetland 22,400. The combined populations, 42,500, represent 0.81% of the Scottish population.

At the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, Liam McArthur, LibDem MSP was returned as MSP for Orkney with 2,912 votes, representing 35.7% of votes cast. The turnout was 8,152 from an electorate of 16,535 = 49.3%  (In the 2007 election, McArthur polled 4,113 votes, representing 47.5% of votes cast.)

At the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, Tavish Scott, LibDem MSP was returned as MSP for Shetland with 4,462 votes, representing 47.5% of votes cast.  The turnout was 9,391 from an electorate of 17,586 = 53.4% (In the 2007 election, Scott polled 6,531 votes, representing 66.7% of votes cast.)

In combination, Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur received 7,374 votes out of 17,543 votes cast, i.e. 42.03%

They received 7,374 votes out of an electorate of 34,121, i.e. 21.5%

Their 7,374 votes represents 17.4% of the total population of Orkney and Shetland, and represents 0.14% of the population of Scotland.

Between them, Scott and McArthur received 10,644 votes in the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary elections but only 7,374 votes in 2011, a loss 3,270 votes, equalling 30.7% of their support.

COMMENT

Anyone can play games with election statistics in a democracy, especially when the lamentably low turnouts in British elections are taken into account. The bottom line is that both were re-elected and now represent their respective constituencies in the Scottish Parliament.

But given the lamentable performance of the LibDems overall in the Scottish election of 2011 and the present record of the LibDems in Coalition Government, the major decline in support for both Scott and McArthur in their own constituencies and the above statistical analysis, it seems to me an act of folly and arrogance to make such radical claims and threats as those they have made this week on behalf of the people of Orkney and Shetland.

Purely on the basis of a narrow mandate they secured last May - without as far as we know any wide ranging consultation with the total electorate - they have effectively threatened to opt out of Scotland, a nation they have been party of since the 15th century, at a crucial moment in its history.

The SNP and the Scottish Government, bluntly, have been less than impressive in their responses to this, and yesterday's statement SNP admits Shetland and Orkney could opt out of independent Scotland and Liam McArthur - Angus MacNeill authorised or not, astonished a number of people, including me.

I hope a wider and more representative range of voices from the people of Orkney and Shetland may be heard soon.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

LibDemmery

Michael Moore, Colonial Governor and representative of nothing but a failed and discredited political party, will attack the SNP today. We don’t need to know anything else, because he and his party don’t matter to Scotland or Scots. I thought of saying more, but Ian Bell has said most of it today in the Herald, as have others, including letter writers.

I occasionally get correspondents saying that I don’t have enough discussion and comment on my blog, and that this is a factor of my moderation constraints, .i.e. Google or other ID required for comment. No such requirement exists on my YouTube channel, TAofMoridura, and that’s YouTube’s lack of constraint, not mine. So a lively debate rages on some of my YouTube videos, sometimes for months or even years after they have been posted, and believe me, there’s a helluva lot of work involved screening out – by pre-moderation - the incoherent, incomprehensible, obscene, obsessive, libellous, repetitive, irrelevant and sometimes just plain vicious comments that come in my inbox each day. I can of course, block all comment, but it is something I’m reluctant to do because there’s so much good stuff.

I posted a video clip of Michael Moore three months ago. The comments keep coming, and I have screened out at least as many – from all sides of the argument – that were unacceptable in any civilised discourse. As for my older clip on David Starkey and Brian Cox – well, I could fill a week’s blogs with those …



 

  • A lot of postulation and conjecture in this unionist litany

    Alex462047 6 hours ago

  • A parcel of rogues in a nation.

    Does anyone in Scotland still vote for the Lib Dems?

    Thumbs up for Scottish independence.

    scotsskier 3 weeks ago

  • Michael Moore, like most unionists, is an enemy to Scotland.

    segano1 1 month ago

  • Michael Moore is better known as The Secretary of State AGAINST Scotland, he just stands by while his Tory Hatchett man colleague Danny Alexander lays into Scotland. SNP, SDA, Solidarity, SSP and Scottish Greens are all working to free us from the shackles of this union, good on them.

    iamtehmunkie 1 month ago

  • Inertia in people is much the same as inertia in objects, as the body in motion will tend to stay in motion, the old thought process and habits will continue without a good reason, or a “safe” way to ensure change.

    segano1 1 month ago

  • The SNP argument is that it’s just a natural step to take. The Unionists argue it’s a chasm. The conservative voter, for the most part, will not step. That is a fundamental definition of conservatism. The Union argument is more fear and scare tactics, these will often work with the more conservative voter.

    segano1 1 month ago

  • Support on union is based on negativity simply because there's not much positives for Scotland to stay in the union from a Scottish perspective. Scotland paying it's neighbours to speak on it's behalf while claiming in public that Scotland contributes nothing and is a 'subsidy junkie' nation.

    Britain is an ailing bankrupt state.

    Time this rancid Union parasite was removed once and for all from the body of Scotland. Only with this parasite cleansed from Scotland, can we as a nation succeed.

    segano1 2 months ago

  • Maddening! Westminsters approach each week, each year, each decade, is to tell Scotland that we're getting an, unfairly, good deal from the union, that our economy is not strong enough to support ourselves and to promise that London is on the case to make that economy stronger in the future. Within the UK Scotland will never be able or allowed to fulfill it's potential and all the double talk from London won't change that.

    Westminster also allows our most popular party to be called neo fascist

    mesmiths 2 months ago

  • A Lib Dumb and a Tory as colonial governors for Scotland, could you have any other two figures who are less representative of the Scottish people?

    BonnieBlueFlag1314 2 months ago

  • RBS Successful = British. RBS Unsuccessful = Scottish. Bailing out a bank with more English employees than Scottish was a wise move for the UK. Making themselves sound so generous to Scotland for doing it, is simply ludicrous.

    dauntless111 2 months ago



  • Tuesday, 20 September 2011

    Cash for access – the LibDems are at it again …

    Yesterday, a trio of LibDems attacked the SNP, they were at it again in their conference yesterday at Birmingham and Michael Moore will be at it again today. This is the party most distrusted by the electorate, reduced to a pathetic rump in Holyrood by the Scottish electorate last May, and who would be obliterated by the UK electorate if the Coalition fell tomorrow.

    But they see themselves as squeaky clean …



    This is the party that accepted “in good faith” a £2.4m donation from a convicted fraudster, Michael Brown, which they refused to repay to the people who had been defrauded when the facts became known because “the money was already spent”. BBC report

    But they see themselves as squeaky clean …

    Here they are again yesterday, at their conference, allowing access for cash - £800 a head for lunch – with influential LibDem ministers to tobacco companies and God know who else. Here they are trying to prevent Channel Four News reporter Michael Crick from gaining access for truth.

    Meanwhile, Tavish Scott bleats bitterly about how his party, not to mention his career, was blighted by the LibDem pact with the Tories. Tavish, throughout his feeble leadership of the Scottish LibDems conspicuously failed to distance himself from the UK party because of his pro-Union and virulently anti-SNP views.

    And now we have a LibDem, Danny Alexander as a member of the notorious Coalition sofa government cabal, the Quad, and Michael Moore, a LibDem, as Scottish Colonial Governor – and in Scotland, Willie Rennie, who is not only squeaky clean, but squeaky …

    What have you got to say about all this, Willie?

    Long Live the Union? Long Live the Dirty Money?

    Monday, 19 September 2011

    The M.A.D. Men of the Unionist parties

    THE FUNDAMENTALS

    The Scotsman is in full unionist mode today – it might as well have put the Union Jack on its masthead, given the space it devotes to the anti-independence voices now clamouring to be heard. Before I come to that – and other matters – let me re-state what I consider to be the fundamentals of the current state of the union -

    The choice has to all intents and purposes come down to devolution max or full independence. All the talk of economic factors, of the currency, of borrowing powers, of taxation and of the detail of independence is smoke and mirrors – the last redoubt is defence and foreign policy.

    Why?

    Because no country can truly be a nation unless it controls its own foreign policy and defence.

    No country can be a nation if it lets another nation decide in what cause - and when - to place its servicemen and women in harm’s way, and to sacrifice their lives if necessary.

    No country can be a nation if it permits another to determine its fate in the most fundamental areas of nationhood.

    Scotland cannot be a nation again unless it is fully independent.

    The above principles are entirely distinct from defence alliances and treaties, which can be entered into voluntarily and exited from at will. (An independent Scotland would undoubtedly enter into such alliances, and would also have a range of flexible and common sense areas of cooperation with other nations short of formal alliance.)

    Do all of my fellow Scots men and women agree with me on the above principles?

    I don’t know the answer to that – I don’t even know if my fellow nationalists agree with them. I don’t know if every member of the Scottish Nationalist Government agrees with them. I must assume that Scots committed to the Union don’t agree with them, or if they do, they only do so for the entity that claims to be a nation – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Only a referendum will determine the answer, and that is why the Scottish electorate must be very clear on the fundamentals – not the detail – of what independence means before they answer a question - or questions - at the referendum ballot.

     

    WHY DEFENCE AND FOREIGN POLICY MATTERS TO UNIONIST POLITICIANS

    A sharp distinction must be made between why defence and foreign policy matter to Scottish unionist voters and why they matter to unionist politicians, including the Scottish variety.

    Scottish unionist voters either have a vaguely romantic notion of Britain’s imperial glories, or they are afraid that Scotland could not defend its security against threat and its international interests independently of the UK. They are rarely, in my experience, clear about what such threats could be, and what Scotland’s international interests are. All they have to do to achieve clarity is to look at any small European or Scandinavian nations, something they rarely do, except to patronise or deride, e.g. the tired old ‘Arc of Prosperity’ jibes. From my perspective, Scottish unionist voters are the victims of 300 years of unionist propaganda and imperial myth, exactly the kind of paranoid, jingoistic narrow nationalism that they falsely accuse the SNP of displaying.

    Unionist politicians believe that defence and foreign policy - especially the nuclear deterrence policy, nuclear weapons and nuclear bases - matter fundamentally, because they are the passport to global politics, international roles, power, prestige – and money, money, money

    Tony Blair, a lawyer and subsequently an MP for an obscure North East of England constituency, Sedgefield, now has an estimated annual income of in excess of £15m, and a personal fortune variously estimated at £40/60m. Such wealth was not created by democratically representing the electors of Sedgefield or the interests of the electors of the UK as Prime Minister, it was built on the back of an international career involving death, destruction and war.

    Peter Mandelson, an architect of New Labour, had to borrow money from a businessman to buy his first London house. He is now a Lord, an immensely rich man, and is in the process of purchasing an £8m house. Such a fortune did not come from his earnings as a Member of Parliament, nor from his modestly lucrative salary an perks as a European commissioner, not from his liberal daily expense allowance as a Lord – it came from international consultancies and directorships that relate directly or indirectly to defence and foreign policy.

    Under Labour, the Ministry of Defence, the legendarily incompetent - but unfailingly lucrative - body that fails to adequately equip our young men and women in the armed forces, spent an average of £5.6m on entertaining each year under Labour and probably far in excess of that under the current regime. We don’t have to be told who they were entertaining, boozing and eating lavishly with while Scottish soldiers died – while Fusilier Gordon Gentle died because his vehicle was not fitted with an electronic bomb detector.

    No defence minister has retired poor: no senior MOD official retires into poverty or even a modest pension. They slide effortlessly through a revolving door into lucrative directorships and consultancies with the merchants of death, or with brutal foreign dictatorships of the kind now being overthrown by the people of the Middle East in the Arab Spring.

    Scottish MPs on the high road to Westminster head for the lucrative, blood-soaked pastures of defence like heat-seeking missiles – they know where the money and the power lie.

    After all, the bloody trail has been blazed for them by their predecessors. Only a state with its operating principle as eternal war, fed by inducing eternal paranoia in the electorate, can satisfy the insatiable greed of the powerful, the privileged, the amoral bankers and the military/industrial complex that ultimately controls this sham democracy, bleeding the people dry in every sense of the word.

    The unionist politicians are M.A.D. men in the acronymic sense – they are committing the reluctant component nations of their dying empire to mutually assured destruction.

     

    THE MUNDANE AND THE QUOTIDIAN

    Back to worldly matters and today …

    Scotsman headlines –

    I’ll get the whole Cabinet to make the case for Scotland staying in the UK – Moore.

    We can’t allow Salmond & Co to shut down opposition (Tavish Scott)

    Blair’s secret Libya talks reopen Lockerbie row

    So we have Michael Moore – the Colonial Governor, a member of a party reduced to a pathetic rump in Scotland and wholly discredited in the UK, and a failed and bitter former leader of that party in Scotland, Tavish Scott, spewing their bile and frustration against the choice of the Scottish people and the decisive democratic mandate they gave to a party committed to Scotland’s independence. This from the federalist party, while the two solidly unionist parties desperately proclaim their independence from Westminster, wrapping themselves hastily in an ersatz kilt. And the Blair/Libya story appears, fairly presented by David Maddox, while the unionist spinners are doubtless trying to revive the tired lie that somehow the Megrahi release was a result of connivance between Blair, Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill, a fiction so bizarre that it beats Fonzie jumping the shark.

    A few days ago the Institute for Public Policy Research tried - in a letter to the Scotsman by Tony Dolphin - to correct the distortions that the Scotsman had placed on their report on the public sector in Scotland. The IPPR denied that report had described the Scottish public sector as bloated, that it relied on out-of-date figures and was an attack on the SNP’s proposals for lower corporation tax. Needless to say, in the best traditions of Hearst-style yellow journalism, The Scotsman (was ever a paper so misnamed?) did not give the prominence to these denials that it did to its original anti-SNP coverage.

    But in the Scottish Perspective section, Lesley Riddoch has interesting and objective things to say - Politicians failing to focus on now especially in this mordant paragraph -

    Bizarrely, the people talking most about independence right now are the politicians who viscerally oppose it - helpfully pre-airing independence scenarios, pumping the oxygen of publicity into the whole project and making sure that a once inconceivable future can now be visualised by many voters with some clarity. And the SNP haven't even started campaigning yet.”

    Gaun yersel, Lesley … that’s journalism! That’s comment!

    Monday, 9 May 2011

    O schadenfreude–can I resist you?

    Alex Salmond has been magnanimous and generous in victory to the three other party leaders following their resignations.

    I am cut from lesser cloth, I’m afraid …

     

    From Alex Salmond and The Three UK Stooges - plus Patrick Harvie

    LEST WE FORGET WHY THE THREE UK STOOGES LOST






    Wednesday, 13 April 2011

    Tavish the Doublethink–a train wreck interview with Gordon Brewer

    Tavish Scott is a pathetic spectacle these days, reflecting all the pressures that are destroying his boss Nick Clegg’s credibility and morale, but with the certain knowledge that he and his Scottish ‘party’ will face the wrath of the electorate just over three week, while the architect of his misfortunes and his fellow jerry builders may be able to defer the consequences of their folly for year or so.

    Tavish and the Scottish LibDems quite simply are expendable in the Cleggite game plan, and Danny Alexander and Michael Moore, having tasted the heady delights of the illusion of power, are focused firmly on their Westminster fortunes, and the next general election. Poor Tavish, a nice guy in the LibDem feeble and ineffectual LibDem mould of niceness, knows this all too well, and could be forgiven for looking enviously at his predecessor Nicol Stephen, now Baron Stephen of Lower Deeside in the City of Aberdeen, sitting comfortably in the Lords. Retreat to the farm must be a seductive prospect for Tavish the Panicking.

    But he puts a brave, if logically incoherent face on things, because what he ‘hears on the doorstep’ – the politician’s last defence when all around him is crumbling – is different from what the polls say, from what the media says, from what the pundits say.

    I don’t doubt it – faced with this shy boyish grin and self-deprecating style, exuding vulnerability and lack of confidence, it would take a heart of stone not to try to say something reassuring lest he burst into tears. And last night’s Twitter comments towards the end and just after the interview tended to the Poor Tavish, nasty Gordon Brewer type, including from those who did not share his politics.

    I have a heart of stone (in political, if not in cardiac terms) when it comes to ineffectual politicians. I don’t want nice guys crying in their beers – I want robust, decisive, analytical politicians with sound values, pragmatism and a belief in Scots and Scotland.

    Go back to the farm gracefully, Tavish, and live happily ever after – the political kitchen has got too hot for you, and you just can’t stand the heat. Otherwise, you may find that the American phrase he bought the farm, meaning a sudden end, may acquire a certain resonance.

    And my thanks to Gordon Brewer for this political dissection.

    It is the job of political interviewers to reveal the inconsistencies, evasions, factual inaccuracies and policy contradictions in politicians, a job that democratic accountability demands they do well. Like all dissections, it is not always a pretty sight, but nonetheless vital to a healthy democracy and a free press. Last night Gordon Brewer did it clinically and professionally, without giving way to either disgust or pity.




    Sunday, 10 April 2011

    Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond –and the Three UK Stooges

    Isabel Fraser quizzes the Holyrood opposition leaders on why they blocked the SNP's attempt to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol, a measure supported by medical experts, nurses, the police, alcohol harm reduction agencies, etc.

    Iain Gray trots out his ridiculous argument that the measure would have been illegal, only to have it gently pointed out to him by Alex Salmond that the government is prohibited by law from introducing a bill for legislation that would be illegal, and that the law authorities in Scotland has certified that the bill was legal.



     

    Iain Gray clearly does not understand the contradictions inherent in his policy on knife crime - after all, he is advised by Andy Kerr, who gave a train-wreck interview to Gordon Brewer on this recently.

    But Annabel Goldie is a lawyer - she must know the implications of what she is proposing, yet she peddles this backwoods Tory nonsense for expedient electoral gain.

    Tavish Scott at least emerges from this with some credit.

    Only Alex Salmond offers calm, reasoned criticism of the Labour and Tory policy. He, of course, listens to the police and those who understand law and order and justice issues, unlike Gray and Goldie, who seem driven by the tabloids and misguided populist instincts



     

    If you are a public sector worker in Scotland - listen carefully, and decide where your vote should be cast on May 5th. Only the SNP unequivocally supports the public sector and respect its vital role in Scottish society and the commitment of its workers.

    If you are a public sector union member in Scotland, ask yourself why your union leaders slavishly support the party that is committed to attacking your jobs - or "reducing bureaucracy", as Iain Gray prefers to call it.

    If you are a public sector full-time officer, try to forget your career aspirations and the high road to England for long enough to serve the interests of your members, instead of supporting the Scottish Labour Party.

    If you are a public sector Tory, God help you - the Tories are the sworn enemies of the public sector, except when it provides cosy sinecures for their favoured few. Remember which coalition parties are trying to destroy the NHS.

    Vote for a vibrant, well-resourced, well-respected public sector -

    Vote SNP on May 5th!


    Sunday, 6 March 2011

    LibDems and Clegg in denial at Scottish Conference


    After managing to avoid the demonstrators, Clegg manages to avoid the real issues, and gets a quaich for his pains. Party claims new members, but little evidence of them in the vacant seats in the hall.

    If the Coalition survives, Clegg and his Westminster gang have four more years of ministerial salaries and cars. No such hope for Tavish's ragged band, facing meltdown on May 5th. Desperate to pretend that they are different from their benighted Westminster party bosses, they belatedly take the SNP position on tuition fees, promising to fund this by penalising Scotland's pensioners and the sick, by removing free bus travel and re-instituitng prescription charges.
    .
    The Westminster party, faced with the nightmare of a general election if they withdraw from coalition, are unlikely to show any courage or spirit. Only the membership can force withdrawal from the doomed alliance.

    LibDems - face the truth - bring this poisoned coalition down now, and recover your self-respect and some shreds of LibDem values and principles.

    Friday, 4 March 2011

    Barnsley, the LibDems, the ill-fated coalition - and the Labour Party


    The Barnsley result tells it like it is - and so did I, way back last May. Here’s what I said at the time -

    Moridura blog - May 9th and 10th 2010

    Sir Menzies Campbell - Ming the Unionist - a very parfit gentil knight, a British establishment figure, waffles on about the national interest (by national, he doesn't mean the country of his birth, Scotland - he means the UK, the political entity that knighted him) dances around Jon Sopel's questions, but the reality of the present situation is all too clear - Nick Clegg is set to do a deal with Cameron, abandoning cherished LibDem principles along the way, and putting in power a Tory government that is anathema to Scottish voters.
    If such a deal is done, the LibDems are dead as a political force, especially in Scotland. The feeble Tavish Scott is unlikely to stand up for the interests of Scots - after all, he rejected a coalition with the party he had most in common with - the SNP - because of his blinkered unionism.
    There's still time not to press the self-destruct button, Nick ...



    I listened with increasing incredulity to John Reid, former Labour Home Secretary and Cabinet Minister as he calmly rubbished the prospect of a LibLab pact and a rainbow coalition just after Gordon Brown, the Labour Prime Minister had already fallen on two of his swords his premiership and his leadership of the Labour Party to permit negotiations to go ahead with Nick Clegg and his team to try and stop a Cameron-led Tory Government.

    David Dimbleby's loaded question was - Did John Reid think there was a danger of a coalition of the losers ?

    Since Reid is too old a hand at responding to BBC inquisitors - however exalted - to be gulled into an ill-considered expression of views, we must assume that every word was uttered with a purpose.

    Reid opened with a token remark that Gordon Brown was wise and dignified in saying that he would step down, but this was immediately followed with a " but I'm afraid that I think it is a very bad mistake to contemplate and to propose and I suppose, to entice a LibLab coalition."

    Don’t hide your feelings John say what you mean!

    "I think it is bad for the country. I think it will prove pretty disastrous for both parties in it in fact, I think its bad for Gordon as well."

    He went on to say that such a coalition would be inherently unstable, since Labour and the LibDems have no overall majority and would be dependent on the votes of assorted Scot nationalists (sic) and the parties in Northern Ireland.

    Reid went on in similar vein, coldly ignoring the fact that his fellow Scots - especially his fellow Labour voters - had just delivered a massive Niet to the Tories and to a Cameron government, having been specifically and repeatedly enjoined to do so in the Labour campaign by virtually every member of the Labour Cabinet.

    Scotland has just delivered a resounding No to a Tory government, and after Gordon Brown's dual sacrifice of his premiership and his leadership of the Labour Party, with a finely-judged negotiating strategy and the support of his fellow Scots, that outcome could just be achieved.

    But John Reid has his eye fixed on the national interest. By this he means of course the UK, not the nation of his birth, and in this definition of the national interest at least, he is squarely in the camp of his fellow Unionist and Scot, Sir Menzies Campbell.

    But why not? After all, both of them have had glittering careers courtesy of the high road to England and the British Establishment.

    With friends like Reid, Labour doesn't need enemies.


    Friday, 28 January 2011

    Tavish the Evasive - no principle is sacrosanct if a coalition deal is on offer.

    Although the Gaelic forename and surname belie it, it has occasionally been suggested that Tavish Scott had some Viking blood in him, presumably because of his Lerwick roots and launching his candidacy for the LibDem leadership among a group dressed as Vikings at Up Helly Aa in 2008.

    I must say that, as a short-legged and once black-haired, wee Glaswegian, I would not have been in the least intimidated if Tavish had jumped off a longboat and ran up the beach at me in a horned helmet in days gone by. The instant assessment of the opposition required by a Glasgow east end childhood and young manhood would have instantly classed him as big safty - nae problem, Jimmy …

    He’s a nice big guy, but niceness is something I value in people only if they don’t have difficult decisions to make that affect my life, in which case I readily sacrifice niceness for decisiveness, integrity, principle, and bluntly, cojones. And so to Tavish Scott, faux Viking and putative coalition member in the post May 5th Holyrood.

    I never know whether to attack the LibDems or not, in these confusing political days we live in, since some evidence suggests that disillusioned Scottish LibDems are shifting their allegiance mainly to Labour. Presumably the closet Tories among the Scottish LibDems are not disillusioned, and are rather like CofE people creeping towards the Church of Rome in search of ultimate certainties. But who knows?

    What adjectives come to mind in describing Tavish? The ones that jump to my mind are nice, diffident, ineffectual, vulnerable, uncool, lacking in street savvy. But he got elected and leads his party, you say - he must have qualities other than these? Well, maybe not, since these are the very characteristics that define a certain kind  of LibDem and presumably appeal to a certain group of LibDem voters.

    I don’t like pulling the legs off flies, or watching them being pulled off, and my toes curl when I watch Tavish’s attempts at humour in Holyrood, reading his laborious jokes and bon mots intently from his notes, flanked by equally nice, nodding colleagues, smiling bravely as their Leader dies the death, but with no hook coming from the wings to drag him offstage. Alex Salmond tries not to make it look too effortless as he swats him away at FMQs.

    But here he is on Newsnight Scotland with Gordon Brewer, who is only too happy to pull the wings off anything that moves, and regards Tavish as light exercise, a limbering-up before the main bouts with other, more worthy opponents.

    The LibDem leader deploys his limited arsenal of pea-shooter and water pistol against the Brewer Magnum, with the inevitable result - the diffident smile, the engaging laugh, the please-don’t-hit-me-again body language and the self-deprecation are no match for the Brewer neo-Paxman assault.

    But unlike many of these often sterile encounters, this one actually illuminates an essential political truth of LibDemmery in the Coalition era - nothing is sacred, expediency is everything, and every value and principle may be sacrificed, every promise broken on the altar of power in coalition. Tavish will do what he has to to get into the big boys’ gang, just as Clegg, Cable, Alexander, Martin and the rest did.

    Just tell me what I must do to join the club …

    Of course, a pretence of Scottishness must be maintained. The beaming Tavish, on the studio backdrop image, sports a saltire badge, and in the interview he claims his independence of Westminster - “I'm not one of them …”. Nonetheless, he lists the Coalition ‘achievements’ that “didn’t happen under Laaaybah …” And so Tavish ducks and weaves, and dances round the ring on tiptoe until Gordon Brewer is ready to hit him, and then the principles fall, one by one.

    Brewer asks, in essence - what are the deal breakers? Give me one policy, one principle, one value that you won’t trade for a place in government. “Can you give me a single Liberal Democrat policy that you would commit tonight - personally - that you would not sell in a coalition deal?”

    The opposition to tuition fees, or any form of student charge, dies painlessly under the questioning, and incredibly, so does the refusal to rule out a coalition with the SNP despite the heretofore implacable opposition to Scotland’s independence. Tavish’s desperate and feeble attempts the throw up a smokescreen over the Scottish Government’s ‘failure’ to present an independence bill (to witness its inevitable defeat by the united unionist opposition presumably) is blown away effortlessly by Brewer pointing out that independence is going to be central to the SNP’s campaign.

    So Tavish goes off home to don his Viking helmet with the marshmallow horns, make fierce faces at himself in the mirror, and dream of coalition after May 5th with - well, anybody, really …


    Wednesday, 24 November 2010

    The staggering hypocrisy of the Holyrood opposition parties

    While demonstrations and riots take place in London, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow against Labour's destruction of the UK economy, Nick Clegg's broken LibDem promises to the electorate and students specifically - and the damaging and ill-conceived Tory cuts, aided and abetted by their tame LibDem partners, the tame Scottish representative of the three London-based parties nonetheless have the effrontery to attack the Scottish SNP government on a non-issue - the totally irrelevant SVR tax, a tax that has never been used, never will be used, and has been ignored by all Scottish parties.

    Astonishingly - and contemptibly - they are supported by the two Scottish Green MSPs in their attack on an honest man of high integrity, John Swinney, the Scottish Government Finance Minister.

    While young people demonstrate and riot in cities across the UK against their Westminster parties, Scottish Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats whip up wholly synthetic anger and indignation, posturing and shouting in Holyrood.

    Fortunately, the Scottish people have more sense than to pay any attention to this self-serving nonsense. They know who sent their sons to die in foreign wars, are still sending them to die, and who wrecked the economy and blighted their futures - Labour.

    And they know who broke their promises and got elected on a false prospectus - the Liberal Democrats.

    They know who is directing a programme of draconian cuts against the poor and vulnerable and who is attacking their public services - the party that was comprehensively rejected by the Scottish electorate in May 2010, a dying party in Scotland - the Tories.

    And they know who are the compliant allies and agents of the Tories in coalition - the feeble LibDems.

    But above all they know which party has the interest of Scots and Scotland at heart - their ain folk - the Scottish National Party.


    Sunday, 24 October 2010

    Scotland’s Three Stooges–Scott, Gray and Goldie

    The Hollywood Three Stooges were funny - these three are not ...

    What are they stooges of? Why, Westminster and the London-based parties, of course - a term they hate, because it's true. Nuk,nuk,nuk!

    Send them all doon the Forth of Firth (sic: Tavish Scott) on a raft wi' nae paddle.