Monday, 2 March 2009

1000th Post ... And Goodbye For Now.

This is Mr Smith's thousandth post.

He didn't think he would make it.

He wasn't sure he would be able to keep it going, but the political machinations of our elected representatives and public servants made it all possible. He tried to comment fairly on the duplicity and contradictions in our political system and intended no real harm. However, he thinks that now would be a good time to take a break and take care of the family business for a while.

Hopefully you felt this blog had value because Mr Smith was fighting for the lost causes and you wanted to keep reading his take on all things Holyrood-ish. But for Mr Smith now it is time to take care of his own lost causes.

Hopefully when things are clearer he will return, but for now he has things to do in the real world.

Goodbye and remember ... you fight harder for the lost causes than you do for any others because they really are the only causes worth fighting for.

Friday, 20 February 2009

True Blue?

As noted by Drumlanrig, "Is the Queen a Rangers fan? On his website, Labour MP Iain Davidson reveals the following: "There was only one picture that I recognised when I went round Buckingham Palace and that was the team photo of my local club Glasgow Rangers which I was surprised to find pasted up in a section of the Palace."

Thursday, 19 February 2009


It would appear the vultures are starting to circle Labour peer Lord Lewis Moonie. How long can he limp on?

"THE LABOUR peer Lord Moonie has been caught up in a fresh sleaze row after his business associates were arrested in a police probe into alleged fraud in the NHS. The Sunday Herald can reveal that Richard Nawrot and George Henderson, who run Fife-based Americium Developments, were arrested in London last month on "suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and misconduct in a public office". Americium currently pays Moonie, a close ally of Gordon Brown, up to £40,000 a year in consultancy fees. The peer's relationship with the company dates back to October 2006."

Kings Of The Castle.

And from Drumlanrig again, "What short memories Holyrood's security guards have. It wasn't that long ago that Sir George Reid, was king of the castle as Presiding Officer, but when he came back last week he had difficulty persuading security that he should be admitted. Reid sniffily commented that he found it easier to get back into the House of Commons, even though he ceased being an SNP MP 30 years ago ... Spare a thought for Reid's successor Alex Fergusson, who has been seen limping around Parliament. When asked what the matter was, the Old Etonian replied "a spot of gout". As he nurses his aching joints, Ferguson can console himself with the fact that fellow sufferers included Henry VIII, Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo."

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Browne-d Off.

Mr Smith never realised that Labour MP Des Browne had any connections with Sri Lanka. Clearly he doesn't according to the Sri Lankan Government, which means it is another purely political appointment. Mr Smith is sure the good people of Kilmarnock and Loudoun will be relieved that Des won't have to worry about heading off just yet and can continue as their Member of Parliament for a little while longer.

"Des Browne, the former Scottish Secretary, found himself at the centre of an embarrassing diplomatic spat last night after the Sri Lankan Government flatly rejected his appointment as Gordon Brown's Special Envoy to its country, claiming the move smacked of imperialism from its old colonial master." "Discussions are on-going." Bit of an understatement really.

For Charity.

Courtesy of Drumlanrig, "Alex Neil's promotion to the position of Housing Minister has cost the SNP's arch trouble-maker £50. The likeable Alex, had previously been limited to a role as the Nat's backbencher on the telly, where he regularly defended Alex Salmond's team. After one appearance on STV's Politics Now, then-presenter Michael Crow, now a Tory spin doctor, bet Neil £50 he would eventually make it on to the front bench. Neil, a long-standing thorn in the SNP leadership's side, insisted "hell would freeze over" first and instantly accepted. Drumlanrig hears that Crow has graciously donated the £50 to the Sick Kids in Edinburgh."

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Strike Four.

So President Obama lost another of his nominees, the fourth one in a couple of months.

"President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Commerce Department, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, has withdrawn his nomination. The Republican lawmaker cites differences with the Democratic president over policy issues, including an economic recovery package nearing final approval in Congress. Senator Judd Gregg's announcement that he was withdrawing as President Barack Obama's nominee to be commerce secretary shocked much of Washington Thursday."

Getting elected it seems was easier than governing.

Bad Cop ... Again.

He may have been provoked by what can only be described as a bunch of neds ... but that doesn't make his actions and what he went on to do right. The Police are held by the highest standard, and this officer failed to meet it.

"A POLICEMAN punched a 14-year-old boy after he threw burning wood at firefighters. Constable John Carr then smashed the heads of the boy and another teenager together. Yesterday, he was convicted of two charges of assault after police lied under oath."

Monday, 16 February 2009

Indygal MSP.

So Scotland's newest MSP, Anne "Indygal" McLaughlin, has been officially sworn in. But remarkably her "surreptitious" pictures of her now MSP colleagues taken on the day the Scottish Parliament didn't pass the original Scottish Budget, appear to have disappeared from her blog.

It's amazing how little actually being "elected" has on the habits of our elected representatives. But never mind. Mr Smith made a point of downloading all of the offending images a few days ago. But it makes you wonder what else will disappear from Indygal MSP's blog going forward. Maybe even the blog will go?

Bad Cops.

Very officially two bad cops. But lots of cops resign before they are forced to.

"TWO disgraced cops who lied to fit-up a law student and his pal have quit before they could be fired. Community officers Neil Jones, 35, and Andrew MacRobert, 28, were found guilty of making up breach of the peace charges against William Reid and Callum McCaig. They were suspended on full pay after the incident in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, in February 2006. Following a trial last April, a judge at Hamilton Sheriff Court told the Blantyre-based constables they had shamed their force."

Sunday, 15 February 2009


"BOSTON -- The controversial street artist who gained fame with his red, white and blue posters of President Barack Obama was arrested in Boston Friday night, Boston police said. Shepard Fairey, 38, was arrested on two outstanding warrants as he was about to enter an exhibition of his work at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Fairey was charged with damage to property for having painted two Boston area locations with graffiti, spokesman James Kenneally said."

Nae luck. One man's art ... is another man's graffiti.


From The Herald Diary, "SCOTS Secretary Jim Murphy, was attending the Subsea 09 oil conference in Aberdeen yesterday where he stopped at the stand of pipeline leak location company Brinker, and asked the company rep what they did. "We stop leaks," she told him. "You could go and work for the government," Jim replied."

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Suspended Annimation.

"A SCOTTISH policeman has been suspended on full pay for the past four and a half years, Scotland on Sunday can reveal. The Strathclyde officer, who has not been named, is understood to have clocked up at least £100,000 in wages since he was sent home on full pay in 2005.The officer is one of five individuals at the force who have been on suspension for more than a year while they await criminal proceedings and internal disciplinary hearings."

Is he a bad cop? We don't know. But should it really take four years to find out? Justice delayed is justice denied, especially for the officer involved.

Nae Luck George.

It is not as though Labour MSP and peer and lobbyist George Foulkes really needed another job, but Mr Smith is amazed that so many people voted for Iain McWhirter. A bit of a landslide really.

"JOURNALIST Iain Macwhirter was last night voted in as the next rector of Edinburgh University. Mr Macwhirter beat Labour MSP George Foulkes to fill the three-year post, taking 69 per cent of the vote. Thousands of students took part in the ballot to elect the university's 50th rector."

Friday, 13 February 2009

Dave'll Fix It.

But what if devolution ain't really broke, just being deliberately misused to create tensions that don't need to exist?

"DAVID Cameron pledges today that as prime minister he will end the cross-border war between the UK and Scottish Governments, and insists he will introduce a new "maturity and respect" for Scotland. The Conservative leader, writing in Scotland on Sunday, says if he is installed in 10 Downing Street, he will insist on far closer relations between the two administrations than has occurred under Labour.And he reveals that SNP ministers and Tory shadow ministers have begun talks to discuss their potential roles, with discussions between Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney and shadow chancellor George Osborne having taken place."

Is Mr Smith the only one who sees some contradictions between the alleged status of the Conservatives as a "unionist" party, and their close relationship with a nationalist administration in Scotland?


Maybe not as dodgy as some of the antics of Scotland's Councillors as previously chronicled by Mr Smith, but Councillor Coleman should have known better given the length of time he has spent in elected office. It makes Mr Smith wonder why he forgot to declare an interest on this occasion?

"A leading councillor is expected to face an inquiry by the public-sector watchdog over claims he helped award a £1m public contract to a firm of which he is a director without declaring an interest. Jim Coleman, the deputy leader of Glasgow City Council, is accused of potentially breaching the Standards Commission's code of conduct by not declaring his interest in The Wise Group when the council committee, which he was chairing, awarded it the contract. The two-year deal, worth more than £540,000 annually, will see the Wise Group run a community service-style scheme for fine defaulters, known as Supervised Attendance Orders, on behalf of the council's social services department."

Thursday, 12 February 2009


As Mrs Thatcher once famously said, "you turn if you want to ... the lady is not for turning."

Well Alex Salmond and the SNP Scottish Government obviously don't share Mrs T's perspective. Amidst all the bluster from John Swinney MSP about why the Government had to back down, the fundamental reason, which he didn't mention, was that the Scottish Parliament didn't actually have the power to introduce a local income tax under the terms of the Scotland Act.

"Alex Salmond stood accused of the most humiliating U-turn of the devolution era after the Scottish Government yesterday ditched its pledge to replace the council tax with a local income tax. Finance Secretary John Swinney blamed the economic downturn, Westminster cuts and Holyrood arithmetic, but Labour called it "the most humiliating climb-down since devolution" and evidence of a "government in meltdown". Mr Swinney told the Scottish Parliament the government would not be proceeding with its plan to introduce a Local Income Tax before the next election in 2011. Instead, he railed against the Treasury and plans for £500m of cuts, and attacked Labour and the Conservatives for being opposed to the plan."

Feel The Power.

So, it would appear the old emnities within the Peoples' Party are flaring up again, with the Westminster Parliamentary posse wanting to curtial the powers of their Scottish Parliamentary colleagues.

"SCOTTISH Labour was facing a fresh internal split last night after the party's MPs called for its MSPs to be stripped of some of their powers. The Westminster group – which includes Prime Minister Gordon Brown – told a private party meeting on Friday that Holyrood should no longer have decision-making powers over crucial policy areas such as energy and national security.The move has sparked a backlash among party MSPs, who not only want to keep the powers but also expected more powers to be devolved. MSPs accuse the MPs of "bad politics" in demanding powers be returned to Westminster."

Mr Smith thinks that they need to bury the axe, preferably not in each other, and get on with running the country. It is all somewhat reminiscent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

You Are Invited ... To Resign.

Mr Smith likes the symbolism of SNP Scottish Government Ministers being "invited to resign" by First Minister Alex Salmond rather than just being sacked. But why is that only junior Ministers in Mr Salmond's administration seem to be incompetent, whilst all of their Cabinet Secretary colleagues are performing so brilliantly?

"THE first reshuffle of the SNP Government yesterday saw three ministers depart, another moved to the heart of the administration and two former foes of Alex Salmond brought in from the cold. The point was passed last summer where this administration was the longest without change in the devolution era, and when Mr Salmond's first re-shuffle came it spared his immediate cabinet colleagues. However, culture minister Linda Fabiani, schools minister Maureen Watt and sport and housing minister Stewart Maxwell were all sacked. "

It is well seen that we are heading for the SNP's Independence referendum next year. The timing of the reshuffle means it was not so much a "night of the long knives", as an almost St Valentine's Day Massacre.

Too Close To Call.

Scotland is apparently on a knife edge with support for independence on a par with support for the Union. Or is it?

Mr Smith is very sceptical of the results of this poll. He still doesn't believe that in the current economic climate Scots would actually vote for independence, and as the uncertainty increases over the next few months he believes that will become even less likely.

"SUPPORT FOR independence has hardened in the face of the global recession, despite Labour predictions that the crisis would see more Scots turning to the Union for protection. The latest TNS System Three survey for the Sunday Herald found support for leaving the union rose three points during the last quarter, while opposition to a separate Scottish state fell to its lowest level since the poll began 18 months ago. The findings suggest the public has ignored Labour warnings that a breakaway Scotland would be doomed to join Iceland in the "arc of insolvency".

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Snap Happy.

So, the ink isn't even dry yet on the SNP press release unveiling Anne McLaughlin as a new Glasgow MSP, when the Daily Record manages to come up with a story about Scotland's newest political representative taking surreptitious snaps of MSPs and putting them on her blog.

"New Nat Msp Caught Taking Sneaky Snaps Inside Holyrood ... SCOTLAND'S newest MSP has posted sneaky snaps from Holyrood on her website - before she is even sworn in. Nationalist Anne McLaughlin - who blogs under the name of "Indygal" - was last night accused of "lacking respect" by MSPs furious at her secretly taking photos of them inside the parliament building. The 42-year-old activist, who has been working at Holyrood as a researcher, will be sworn in as a list MSP this week to replace Bashir Ahmad, who died of a heart attack on Friday. Her photos, taken on the day MSPs threw out the budget last month, are accompanied by mocking captions. And last night, Labour's Margaret Curran demanded McLaughlin make an apology to parliament."

Mr Smith also sees that our Anne is a researcher to SNP MSP Bob Doris who has been noted for having some issues with his staff members in the past. Obviously not with our Anne given he buys her the occasional gin and tonic. Mr Smith has nothing against former political researchers becoming MSPs, but wouldn't it be nice for them not to go STRAIGHT from being researchers to being MSPs, maybe having to "pass go" and maybe also getting a bit of real world experience which would broaden out their political and personal maturity? Even if they are already 42.

Jamie Dodger II.

Mr Smith seems to recall this isn't the first time that Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor has had questions raised about his expenses claims to the Scottish Parliament.

"A SENIOR Conservative MSP is facing an investigation into the tens of thousands of pounds of public money he has handed his wife for "research" services. Sir Jamie McGrigor says he pays his spouse Emma up to £7000 a year for reading newspapers and typing "stuff" at their home in Argyll. This is on top of him billing the taxpayer for a full-time aide and services from a Conservative research unit that includes media monitoring. Professor David Miller, of not-for-profit monitoring organisation Spinwatch, has written to the Scottish parliament's corporate body to call for an investigation into the work carried out for the MSP. McGrigor was one of 27 MSPs who last year declared the employment of a relative. The Highlands and Islands MSP's wife is listed as an "assistant/researcher". However, parliament sources told the Sunday Herald it was unclear what research McGrigor's wife carried out. Emma McGrigor is not mentioned on the parliament's internal staff list and does not have a Holyrood email account."

Water. Water.

But no risk to anyone's health.

"HOLYROOD WAS last night in the grip of an outbreak of the deadly legionnaires’ bug—just days after MSPs had been told it had been dealt with. Legionnaires’ disease bacteria was discovered in the water supply in parts of the parliament building last June, although MSPs and staff were not informed until the end of last month when they were given assurances it had been dealt with. However, yesterday parliament chiefs were forced to alert the 1200 people working at Holyrood that the potentially- fatal bacteria had been discovered again."

But it still shouldn't be there.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Bashir Ahmad MSP.

Mr Smith's sympathies go to Bashir Ahmad's family at this time of loss. He was by all accounts a decent man who came into politics for the most decent of motives. He will be missed.

But Mr Smith was waiting to see which publication would be the first to name Mr Ahmad's successor who will be "elected" by default from the Glasgow Regional List to the Scottish Parliament, despite actually failing to get elected in 2007. Step forward the Herald Diary with the information.

"DENNISTOUN'S Anne McLaughlin, who is set to become Scotland's newest MSP for the SNP, reveals in her blog that her first Saturday job was at Woolworth's in Greenock, where she was not cool enough to work on the record counter, and instead was sent to the jewellery counter. "Unfortunately," writes Anne, "I caused such chaos that they demoted me to the sweetie counter. Apparently there was a regular stream of complainers each Monday morning with complaints ranging from that wee lassie gave me a Timex guarantee for a Sekondo watch' to instructions for cleaning silver chains are nae use to me when I want to wind up my cuckoo clock'. The full-time workers loved to utter the words, all them O Grades and nae common sense'." A Government post will surely beckon soon with such talent."

Very Adventurous.

Wouldn't it be nice to work for a public body in Scotland?

"PUBLIC BODIES have been criticised after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on "away days" and bonding sessions to boost staff morale. A survey of Scotland's public sector has found councils, police forces and quangos have been sending employees on golfing junkets and adventure breaks. Activities included treasure hunts and "It's A Knockout" sessions ... Scottish Enterprise (SE), the quango set up to boost economic growth, spent £99,910 on a "staff conference" at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in October ... The quango also shelled out £9000 for an away day in Glasgow and £4680 for a session at Hampden Park. All told, the public body spent £119,824 on team-building events.
In addition, Scottish Water used £33,990 of public money on away days over the past 12 months. This included a £23,265 strategy session in Kirknewton Stables, provided by team-building events company Maximillion."