Friday, 29 February 2008

Hey Jimmy.

From the Herald Diary, "FIRST Minister Alex Salmond, asked a question by Jim McMillan of Sunny Govan Community Radio, after Alex had delivered a lecture on broadcasting this week, surprised the audience by loudly replying: "Hey Jimmy!" Alex then added: "Sorry about that. I've always wanted to say that in Glasgow."

Mmmmm. Enjoying power then Eck?

Lead Balloon.

Interesting insight into the current political thinking, amongst other things, of Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Nicol Stephen MSP in the Scotsman.

"What have you got on your iPod, if you have one, or what was the last CD you bought?I am still of the era of Bowie and Led Zeppelin and that sort of stuff. I didn't go to the Led Zep revival concert, but somebody on this corridor did. They went online and got tickets really quickly – but they didn't take me. What do I have in the CD player in the car? At the moment I've got – heavily influenced by my children, who are 12 and ten – Green Day, Maroon 5, Leona Lewis and the Killers. I went to see Blue Nile when they were doing their most recent tour. They are probably my favourite Scottish band."

So Nicol lost out because someone didn't want to take him along to a Led Zeppelin concert. He's older than he looks and obviously has no real mates. The Scottish Lib Dem's current fortunes are going just about as well as a lead balloon at the moment never mind Zeppelin. Trying to win the votes of the SAGA generation Nicol?

Courtesy of The Scotsman.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

And another one ...

Mr Smith is beginning to wonder if any of our MSPs have actually read the Scottish Parliament's and Scottish Government's rules in relation to the disclosure of MSP interests. The latest of our elected representatives to be caught out is MSP Jim "mind mapper" Mather.

"THE ENTERPRISE minister Jim Mather was accused of breaching the ministerial code of conduct, after it emerged he had failed to notify Scotland's most senior civil servant of his shareholdings when he joined the Scottish Government. Mr Mather had a portfolio of £350,000 of shares – £100,000 in the Glasgow IT company Integrated Environmental Solutions and £250,000 in Optos, a Dunfermline eye-care company – when he took office last May. He still owns them."

Ignorance of the rules is no excuse. It's just a pity that a few more of our MSPs don't seem to have realised that.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The One Million Pound Man.

So, "The police investigation into allegations of perjury in the Tommy Sheridan defamation action has cost more than £1m, with an average of 14 police officers committed to it for more than a year ..."

There have been a lot of questions asked about whether this is a good use of public money. Mr Smith says that if someone allegedly breaks the law, especially in a very high profile and controversial way, then whether they like it or not their case will be paid a lot more attention by the police and legal authorities.

Nae luck Tommy. And even less so for Mrs Sheridan.

"GAIL Sheridan was "livid" last night after she was suspended from her air hostess job over stolen booze allegations. British Airways bosses sent her home after police seized miniature bottles of alcohol during a raid of her home. Gail, who is married to former MSP Tommy, was collared by BA bosses when she boarded a flight to start her shift at Glasgow airport yesterday. She was taken off the plane and interviewed at the airport."

... and Michael Winner?

Separated at birth ... Lord Foulkes ...

Monday, 25 February 2008


Mr Smith is happy ... or should that be not so happy ... to highlight one of the recent publications on the Scottish Government's website, "Leaflets on religious male circumcision."

And yes ... you've guessed the leaflets are accompanied by a "covering" letter. Ouch.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Lapping it up.

So, "MSPs are being handed out new laptops at a cost to taxpayers of up to £94,000. The computers – which replace ones issued five years ago – are intended to allow politicians to do parliamentary work when they are away from Holyrood."

Great ... but our politicians will probably end up using them as big screen DVD players during their extended Parliamentary recesses.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Wendy's House.

From the Herald Diary once again, "Hard Labour ... does the leader of the Scottish Labour Party," asks a criminal lawyer, "ever worry about the fact that the Special Unit at Barlinnie Jail was known as the Wendy House?"

Friday, 22 February 2008

Lady Ming the Merciful.

Interesting interview with former Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Menzies Campbell's wife, "Lady Ming," in the Sunday Times at the weekend. In amongst dodging questions about the "merciless" manner in which Sir Ming was removed from his Party's Leadership she makes a strange confession.

"One of the first people to call up to offer his sympathy last October was Sir John Major. “John Major is one of my pin-ups,” she says, chuckling again. “He said, ‘I know how you feel – I’ve been through this’.”

John Major ... a pin-up? Well I suppose it worked for Edwina Currie.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Fourth Estate.

Mr Smith notes two changes in the roles of members of Scotland's Fourth Estate with the news that the Scotsman's Scottish Government Editor and former spin doctor, Peter MacMahon, is to become the paper's Business Editor, which follows the recent decision of the Herald's former Chief UK political correspondent, Catherine MacLeod, to bale out of the Estate totally and go to work as Alistair Darling's Special Adviser.

Part of the regular flow of two way traffic between government and journalism, but not an easy time to be working for the Chancellor, but might be explained by La MacLeod's comment on the Chancellor, "I have a huge degree of respect for Alistair Darling, I've known him for a long time."

She may be one of a dwindling band.

Democracy on the cheap.

So, "THE COST of last year's Scottish election fiasco soared by £9 million more than the previous election to £25m, figures released today reveal. This has led Scottish Nationalist MSP Keith Brown to call on the company which supplied the electronic counting machines to offer a rebate."

Mr Smith would point out to our elected representatives that the major reasons why the costs of the elections rose so significantly was because our politicians in their infinite wisdom decided to change the electoral systems for local government to a system of proportional representation, as well as holding the elections for the Scottish Parliament and local government on the same day.

The fundamental reasons why costs rose so much was because politicians made bad decisions about the running of the elections. To try and pass the buck onto the makers of some counting machines that turned out not to work very well really is a bit rich.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Sheilas' Wheels.

From the Herald Diary, "Bruce spots Sheilas ... we hear that East Lothian Labour MP Anne Moffat took her two female office staff members out for lunch, and, owing to the appearance of the sun, the roof on her car was down, and Anne had even succumbed to the need to put on a pair of sunglasses. As they pulled up at a working men's club in the constituency, a chap coming out looked at the three of them and declared: "Would you believe it? - Sheilas' Wheels."

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Property Ladder.

A Million Air Miles.

So the Commons Speaker, "Gorbals Mick" Michael Martin, is at it again, this time involving his son, Paul, who also happens to be a Member of the Scottish Parliament.

"COMMONS Speaker Michael Martin and his MSP son were last night embroiled in a free flights scandal. Martin, 62, used one million Air Miles funded by the taxpayer to treat seven relatives to business class trips from Glasgow to London. Martin's son Paul, the MSP for Glasgow Springburn, was among family members to benefit from the flights. Speaker Martin got the free tickets using Air Miles clocked up flying business class paid for by the taxpayer with his wife Mary, 63, between Westminster and their Scots home."

Two points occur to Mr Smith. Firstly, it has been a while since he flew on BA between Glasgow and London, but in his experience was that 'Business Class' wasn't really something which existed, everyone tended to get the same standards service irrespective of what they paid for their ticket, but how on earth could any MP manage to rack up one million Air Miles, and wouldn't they have been better used on flights to somewhere more exotic than Heathrow?

Monday, 18 February 2008

Move over Darling.

So, "ALMOST half of voters think Alistair Darling should be replaced as Chancellor of the Exchequer following his difficulties over Northern Rock, Capital Gains Tax and the taxation of wealthy foreign 'non-doms', according to a poll released today. By a margin of 44% to 27%, people taking part in the YouGov survey said that Darling should be removed from the Treasury ..."

Mr Smith recognises that YouGov polls can be rather dubious, but given the decision yesterday of the Treasury to nationalise Northern Rock, a decision that came after the poll was produced, the pressure on the Chancellor has probably increased even further. But given his close connections to PM Gordon Brown it is very unlikely he will be made to walk the political plank.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Mr Stevenson.

Mr Smith reads the latest example of political rhetoric failing to match up to political delivery on environmental matters.

"... The Climate Change and Transport Minister, who claimed he would try to ditch his ministerial car to help the environment, has been caught burning rubber. Stewart Stevenson came to power last year pledging to only use his chauffeur-driven limousine when it was strictly necessary. While in Edinburgh, he added, he would try to walk between meetings in order to reduce his carbon footprint to a minimum.But published records show that Stevenson's taxpayer-funded limousine has been busy at work. The minister made 165 trips in the car in his first five months in office, using Volvo S80s or Honda Civic hybrids just as much as his predecessor in the job ..."

Well he is a millionaire, don't you know .... and used to spend his time driving Alex Salmond around before he became First Minister. Old habits are hard to break.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

"Brotherhood of Naan"

On occasions Mr Smith cannot beat the self-deprocating spin ...

"The failure of the First Minister's diet plans is laid horribly bare in the latest information disclosure which shows him taking limousines several times a day, and regularly to his favourite curry house, the Raj restaurant in Edinburgh. A spokesman for Mr Salmond admitted he was "a big fan of the brotherhood of naan" but insisted car use was no higher under the current administration than the last. In his first six months in office, Mr Salmond used government limousines around 1700 times, and every journey is detailed in the latest official disclosure from the government."

Given the role of First Minister, using Ministerial cars 1700 times in a year is probably justifiable, but using official cars to nip out for a curry really is pushing it a bit.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Heading for the exit.

So, Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster are beginning to wake up to the dangers of the tactics of their Labour MSP colleagues in the Scottish Parliament seeking more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

"LABOUR in Scotland was on the brink of civil war after a senior MP launched an outspoken attack on Wendy Alexander's calls for Holyrood to be given more powers. The MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was "hostility" at Westminster to Ms Alexander's Scottish Constitutional Commission - and predicted that its recommendations would be rejected by the House of Commons."

Mr Smith thinks the independence train has already left the station and it is ironically the so called "unionist" politicians that are stoking the fire by trying to regain political credibility with Scottish voters by endorsing developments which can only make it more likely that Scotland becomes independent, sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Mr Martin's Xbox.

From the Herald Diary, "Game for a laugh ... after Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander's dodgy financial donations, reader Jim Waugh in Germany notices on the website of website designer Streamline that it has given Wendy's fellow Glasgow Labour MSP Paul Martin not money, but a free Xbox 360 video game console as a thank-you for letting them design his website. We wonder if Paul plays the biggest selling Xbox game, Halo 3, in which you become the Master Chief, a cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier, waging war against alien races. And does he picture SNP leader Alex Salmond, or perhaps even Wendy, as he blasts away at the aliens?"

Surely Mr Martin could have afforded to just buy one himself if he wanted one? Or asked his father, House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin MP, to get him one for his Christmas or next birthday?
Now we know what Paul does in between Parliamentary debates at Holyrood.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Wii anyone?

So, it appears that the video games console bug has even reached Downing Street.

"GORDON BROWN does not have a reputation as much of an athlete, and now he has confessed his four-year-old son John beats him on the Nintendo Wii video game console. The prime minister has said in an interview that John, not content with beating his father at tennis, has now challenged him to a boxing bout. “I have played a game of tennis, but I didn’t succeed, and my son has challenged me to a game of boxing,” he said."

But do Wii do a virtual Prime Minister game? That must be what Sarah and Gordon get upto on those dark winter nights

Water, water, everywhere ....

The scandalous waste inherent in Scotland's water industry is revealed ...

"SCOTTISH Water should be fined over the "profligate" waste of one billion litres of treated water a day, angry MSPs demanded last night. The state-owned firm has already spent more than £2bn of taxpayers' cash replacing pipes, but every 24 hours, water treated at a cost of £190,000 continues to leak into the ground. Two years ago Scottish Water promised a "historic drive" to crack down on the waste, but it has missed the target set by the industry watchdog by a staggering 44 million litres daily – enough to fill 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools."

Given that billions of people around the world don't have ready access to running treated tap water, with milions of people dying every year because of untreated water, we should be ashamed at the waste of a valuable resource that our wealthy society presides over. And what have our politicians done about it over the last ten years? Nothing apparently.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Let there be light.

"Scottish Parliament bosses are turning their back on a key part of architect Enric Miralles' vision for the Holyrood building. They are to install stronger lighting in the entrance foyer after complaints it was too gloomy – even though Miralles intended the area to have a "subterranean" feel. The new lights will be fitted next week, during the parliament's half-term recess, as part of a £115,000 programme of repairs and refurbishments throughout the building."

On the one occasion Mr Smith visited ... it was rather dark. Hope they use energy saving light bulbs.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Call him Al.

So former Labour Minister and MSP Allan, "Man at M&S" Wilson (middle ... no right) is being touted as the new General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party.

"EX-MINISTER Allan Wilson yesterday emerged as front-runner to be Scottish Labour general secretary. The job involves overseeing the party's reorganisation following their Holyrood defeat last May. Wilson - who lost the Cunninghame North seat - has been acting as an advisor to Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander.
He is a former deputy enterprise minister. Wison will be interviewed this week with three rivals. They are former Livingston MSP Bristow Muldoon, Dumfries and Galloway councillor Colin Smyth and Andrew Rowe, a former Executive special advisor."

It provides part of the answer to the old question of what happens when Labour MSPs lose their seats in the Scottish Parliament, but who would want to be General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party at the moment? A job which in itself carries dangers. Ask Alex Rowley.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Tartan Barmy.

The Scotland On Sunday reports that "AS FIRST Minister, Alex Salmond has cultivated a presidential style which exudes gravitas and statesmanlike poise. But a video which has become a cult hit on YouTube reveals that in the past the SNP leader was more willing to let his hair down. A video diary which has been posted on the internet shows Scotland's future leader partying with Tartan Army foot soldiers in the World Cup in France in 1998.In the film, which has never been broadcast on TV but has been watched by hundreds of people online, Salmond is pictured posing with his arms around fellow football fans on the day of Scotland's clash with Morocco in St Etienne.But despite clearly being in a holiday mood, the grinning SNP leader deftly bodyswerved being photographed with a potentially embarrassing flag."

Judge for yourself ... it's worth a look, but blink and you will miss him.

But it is also a salutory reminder to our politicians and everyone else that in these days of mobile phone technology there is no such thing as true privacy when you are "out and about."

Monday, 4 February 2008


So the curse and arrogance of being in power has now struck the Scottish Government's Finance and Climate Minister John Swinney.

"RED-FACED Finance Minister John Swinney has been caught taking a chauffeur-driven limo on a 200-yard trip - to avoid a walk in the rain. The government's climate campaigner even left his engine running for 20 minutes as he popped into the BBC studios."

He obviously doesn't like Pina Coladas and taking walks in the rain. And all for the lack of a decent umbrella which he could have bought for as little as a tenner on the SNP's own shopping website. A small price to pay for saving the planet ... and Scotland's little bit of it.

Toast ... maybe?

Mr Smith is getting tired of trying to predict the imminent downfall of the Leader of the Scottish Labour Group in the Scottish Parliament (LOSLGITSP), Wendy Alexander MSP.

Mr Smith has been saying she is Toast for the best part of the last two months, but still she hasn't had the decency to resign and in light of the latest developments in Wendy's case, namely with her case being refered to the Procurator Fiscal, Mr Smith is forced to revise his view of Wendy and won't be asking for her resignation.

His revised view is that Wendy is sadly lacking in political honour and is now locked into a political strategy which means that her resignation can and will only come when Inspector Knacker of the Scottish Constabulary is literally slamming the cuffs on her and escorting her into the back of the police van. She is being so badly advised, and so dependent on the political patronage of others that she can no longer think and act for herself.

It won't be long now until she goes and it means that the Scottish Labour Party will find itself even further away than it was last May from taking back power in the Scottish Parliament. Can you see that yet Wendy?

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Not so Happy Meal.

So, it appears that former Labour Minister Andy Kerr MSP has become the latest Scottish politician to be implicated in allegations of breaking political rules as regards not declaration of the receipt of hospitality.

"LABOUR WAS involved in a second investigation last night after it emerged former health minister Andy Kerr had also been reported to the Crown Office - over an allegation that he failed to declare a £1000 gift. Holyrood Standards Commissioner Dr Jim Dyer - who has already reported Wendy Alexander to the Crown Office - has also declared Kerr may have broken the law. Now police are to question the former health minister about hospitality he received from fast food giant McDonald's and which he did not include on the official Register of Interests in breach of the MSPs' Code of Conduct … He has already admitted failing to record the gifts and hospitality in the allotted time. MSPs have 30 days to register hospitality and while the other MSPS did so, Kerr only recorded it four days after the deadline."

And all for the sake of declaring a "gift" four days late. But then again what is the point of having rules and then not enforcing them? The article goes on to highlight that Mr Kerr is not the only Labour MSP to have succumbed to the curse of McDonald's hospitaly. Labour MSP Ken McIntosh was also pulled up over breaking the rules in not declaring properly McDonald's hospitality three years ago.