Sunday, 31 August 2008

Message In A Bottle.

This must be one of the strangest press releases ever issued by the Scottish Government, nay Executive, in the history of devolution. Since when was the FM signing a raffle prize news?

"FM leaves message in a bottle ... First Minister Alex Salmond today left a signed bottle of 25 year-old whisky to be collected by the 250th visitor to the Talisker distillery in 2009 - Scotland's Year of Homecoming ..."

"Leaving a message" also has a different connotation in some parts of Scotland.

Drink And Drive.

"A councillor has been banned from the roads for 12 months and fined £500 after he admitted drink driving. John Charteris, 67, of Cullivate, Locharbriggs, is a Conservative member of Dumfries and Galloway Council. At Dumfries Sheriff Court, he admitted committing the offence, in Lochmaben on Sunday, after attending a barbecue. He is the second Dumfries and Galloway councillor to receive a driving ban this year. The SNP's Robert Higgins was banned for two years in May."

Another couple of dodgy Councillors. And Councillor Charteris also happens to be a member of the local Licensing Board. Mr Smith doesn't even have to make it up.

Saturday, 30 August 2008


"Concerns have been expressed after it emerged that only 61% of Lib Dem members across Scotland bothered to vote for the party’s new leader. A senior party source said it was “extremely dis- appointing” that only 2,457 members out of around 4,500 took part in the contest to find a successor to Nicol Stephen. The official lamented that if grassroots supporters “could not be bothered” to return a ballot paper in a pre-paid envelope, what chance has the party of attracting new support."

If four in ten Lib Dem members couldn't be ... why should anyone else?

Special Cop.

As always the accused is innocent until proved guilty, but it appears that even "special" constables are trying to get in on the example set by some of their less lawful police colleagues.

"A POLICE officer is being probed over claims he abducted a teenage theft suspect while off-duty. Special constable Raza Ahmed, 24, admits ordering the 13-year-old into his own car and driving him around."

Strange. Do the police vet their specials?

Friday, 29 August 2008

Small Print.

So, fresh from losing a case in the small claims court to an electrician he refused to pay on a point of principle, it would appear that Labour MP Brian Donohoe has fallen foul of House of Commons' rules by using parliamentary stationery to promote a Labour Party fundraising event.

"A SCOTTISH Labour MP appears to have broken parliamentary rules by using publicly funded facilities to advertise a boozy fundraising dinner for his local party. Brian Donohoe's office sent flyers for a "dinner with Alastair Campbell", the former director of communications for Tony Blair, on House of Commons notepaper - a practice that is strictly forbidden."

He said he gave instructions for the paper not to be used, so clearly there was an oversight somewhere.

The Thin Blue Line.

Things for our hard pressed bobbies don't appear to be getting any better with the news that the SNP Scottish Government has missed its own target for recruiting more police in Scotland.

"THE SNP Government is failing on a key election pledge to put hundreds more police officers on the streets of Scotland. Ministers promised to recruit an extra 150 officers by April this year but figures obtained by Scotland on Sunday show they have already fallen 53 short of that target."

What is the point of making an election pledge if you don't deliver on it?

Thursday, 28 August 2008


"Scotland's prison population has broken through the 8,000 barrier for the first time, triggering calls for urgent government action and the building of more jails."

People are sent to prison as a punishment ... not for punishment. So says Mr Smith.

First Preferences.

It would appear that Scottish Labour Leadership contender Iain Gray MSP has realised that just about the only thing that can stop him from becoming Labour Leader in Scotland is being publicly endorsed by PM Gordon Brown.

"Iain Gray, the frontrunner for the Scottish Labour leadership, has refused to be publicly endorsed by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling amid fears that association with their failing government will damage his chances. Allies of the prime minister and the chancellor have been working behind the scenes to gather support for Gray. In a series of telephone calls to MPs, MSPs and trade union leaders, they have dismissed rivals Cathy Jamieson, the former justice minister, as being “too left wing” and Andy Kerr, the former health minister, as “too nationalistic”.

Mr Smith agrees. Stay as far away from Gordon as you possible can Iain, but it interesting to read how Brown-ites see the other leadership contenders.

On The Sick.

"HUNDREDS of Scots police are calling in sick every day - costing taxpayers at least £23million a year. An investigation reveals that 153,774 days were lost to sickness last year, with 420 officers off on an average day. And the true figure could be even higher because our study is based on just six of the country's eight forces."

That's a lot of police time and Mr Smith suspects that all of it can't be accounted for by officers being off having been injured in the course of duty.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


From the Scotsman.

Follow The Leader.

So Tavish Scott has become the new Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats ... but does anyone really care given that he was always the "shoo-in"?

"The Scottish Liberal Democrats have elected Tavish Scott as their new leader north of the border. He secured 1,450 votes, representing a 59% share of the turnout. Ross Finnie polled 568 votes (21.3%), and Mike Rumbles won 439 votes (17.9%). Mr Scott, 42, succeeds Nicol Stephen, who stepped down earlier this year to spend more time with his family. The former transport minister and Shetland MSP was tipped to win, but not by such a big margin."

Hardly a "big margin." He got under two thirds of the vote in a three way contest, albeit securing a majority on the first ballot, but that was against Ross Finnie MSP and Mike Rumbles MSP, hardly inspiring alternatives. Roll on 2011.

Team GB.

Mr Smith has been watching the gyrations of our politicians following the end of the Olympics with bemusement. It is said that success has many fathers and failure is an orphan. The Olympics have reinforced that no end, with PM Gordon Brown suggesting that there should a GB Olympic football team at the 2012 Olympics in London, a proposal which drew short shrift from FM Alex Salmond, and with the SNP Sports Minister in the Scottish Government, countering that there should be a Scottish team in the Olympics.

Perhaps our politicians should just stay out of sport.

There will be a Scottish team in the Olympics when Scotland votes to become independent ... and not before, and there is no chance of Gordon Brown's suggestion of there being a UK Olympic football team for 2012, if for no reason other than the fact that Gordon Brown will be long gone as PM well before then.

Maybe the politicians should just get on with politics and leave sport to the athletes? Then again if bandwagon jumping was an Olympic sport we would have no problem fielding a very strong British or Scottish team ... composed of our politicians.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Bad Cop?

The courts will decide ... eventually.

"A POLICE sergeant is expected to appear in court today on a charge of attempted murder. Sergeant David Beattie, 46, was arrested by colleagues from his own force after a disturbance in Glasgow. He and his son Calum, 19, suffered stab wounds. A 30-year-old man suffered a fractured skull and was seriously ill in hospital last night. Sergeant Beattie, his son and two teenagers were arrested. All four are due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court."


Courtesy of Alba, "OVER the summer, the Costa café in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood has undergone a transformation into a small shop, after MSPs demanded an in-house outlet selling the necessities. Three products on sale are Nurofen tablets, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and deodorant.If MSPs are in desperate need of something to fix headaches, clean their mouths out and cover up bad smells, one wonders what this says about the state of politics."

Monday, 25 August 2008

Getting Sporty.

Vote Labour.

From the Herald Diary, "IT'S confusing, this electing-a-Scottish-leader malarkey for the Labour Party. Over at the SNP, leader Alex Salmond has revealed that three of the SNP's MSPs have votes in the Labour leadership election, presumably through membership of Labour-supporting trade unions. So who will they vote for? Alex says he has asked each of them to vote for a different candidate so the SNP cannot be accused of favouritism."

On The Fringes.

From the Scotsman, "ALEX Salmond was in his element at the Glasshouse Hotel. He seemed full of the spirit of the festival spirit as he posed for an array of "colourful" pictures with various performers to promote 2009's Homecoming Scotland celebrations. But what shows has Mr Salmond, who waxed lyrical about Edinburgh's "world-class festivals", actually managed to see? He confessed to attending just two – a performance of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and a book festival event, with the FM as the main attraction."

Sunday, 24 August 2008

T Time.

Straight from the school of "we think we know what he meant" ...

"ALEX Salmond has claimed Scots "didn't mind" Margaret Thatcher's notorious 1980s economic policies. The First Minister also praised the Tories for being "constructive" in the Scottish parliament in an outspoken interview with a right-wing pundit. The SNP leader told Iain Dale that Scots only rejected Thatcher's social policies - but not her economic policies that devastated industries and put millions on the dole. He said in an interview with Total Politics, out today, that the Nats have become more business-friendly. And he added: "The SNP have a strong social conscience, which is very Scottish in itself. One of the reasons Scotland didn't take to Lady Thatcher was because of that. We didn't mind the economic side so much. But we didn't like the social side at all."

Er ... actually Alex ... we did mind her economic policies. The fact he had to call a radio phone in programme to "clarify" his comments illustrates just how big a gaffe the FM had actually made.

Mr Smith thinks the SNP leadership aren't looking as Teflon coated as they once did and Mr Salmond will be buying Mrs T antique silver tea sets next ... just like Labour PM Gordon Brown did.

Bad Cops ... Officially.

"Scotland's second-biggest police force failed to follow up properly a "significant" number of complaints against its officers, including accusations of criminal behaviour, instead filing them as "miscellaneous inquiries", the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland has found. In an unprecedented examination of Lothian and Borders Police's complaint handling over a four-year period, Jim Martin found that 133 complaints had been misfiled in the lesser category, including 16 that would "reasonably be taken to allege criminality on the part of officers". However, despite the seriousness of the latter allegations, in nine of the cases there is no evidence of any attempt to notify the area procurator-fiscal, who would decide whether to bring any prosecution, Mr Martin found. The commissioner, whose post was introduced in April last year, also found evidence that the force had misled complainants, including an MP, as to how their grievances had been handled."

Pretty damning criticism on a massive scale. Looks like the cops were looking after their own. Lots of bad cops ... and it's official.

Ya Dancer.

Mr Smith never though of the Lord Advocate being a ballet dancer, but the Herald Diary knows better.

"Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, presenting awards to teenagers attending the summer academy at Strathclyde University's Jordanhill campus, told them in her address to set themselves ambitious goals and go for them, however unrealistic they might seem. She did admit, however, that her own early dreams of becoming a dancer were just too unrealistic and perhaps she could now be regarded as a failed ballet dancer rather then a successful Lord Advocate."

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Help Wanted.

"THE taxman is taking two months to open letters due to a massive staff shortage. Student Iain Stewart revealed the backlog after HM Revenue & Customs failed to reply to his demand for a £700 refund. He was told that Centre One staff in East Kilbride were still opening letters from June."

That's one way for the taxman to avoid having to pay out tax refunds, just don't open the letters. Bet the taxman wouldn't accept that excuse if they were chasing Mr Smith for outstanding tax.

Blooming Great.

"MEMBERS of Scotland's biggest council have been banned from junkets after the Record revealed £24,000 was spent on trips to foreign flower shows. Glasgow councillors' far-flung trips have been ended after the Record used freedom of information laws to obtain details of trips which have cost the city's council tax payers a total of £24,258.74 over the last three years. A council insider said that Labour members had been told to avoid the flower show trips amid claims they were taking "holidays at tax payers' expense" and added: "It was made clear these trips were not on the agenda any more. I think it is fair to say that you will see fewer councillors off to explore the horticulture of distant lands in the near future." Glasgow councillors have flown to Tokyo, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Belfast and Baden Baden to attend "rose trials" where growers show new varieties. Our April probe revealed that the Tokyo trip attended by Partick Labour councillor Aileen Colleran cost £6555.47. Her party colleague Gerald Leonard, who represents the city's North East ward, went to Barcelona, and Easterhouse councillor Ronnie Quinn enjoyed German blooms in Baden Baden."

Good to see that a bit of press scrutiny has saved the taxpayers some cash. Visiting flower shows ... tut tut tut. Funnily enough Councillor Colleran doesn't mention the trip on her own blog.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Scottish Government - Nil Points.

"THE Scottish Government has been banned by Westminster from talking to Norwegian officials about radical plans to connect Scotland's electricity grid to the continent."

Very naughty of the Scottish Government to open up bilateral talks with a foreign government without the approval of the UK government. It would appear that the SNP Scottish "Government" will do anything to cause a fight.

Is this really what devolution was meant to be about?

Life's A Beach.

"AN ISLAND MSP has rubbished internet claims that he walked hand-in-hand along a beach with another man.
Nationalist politician Alasdair Allan yesterday hit back at a website posting by an ex-SNP councillor. Blogger Angus Nicolson wrote that he saw an unnamed politician with his boyfriend on the Isle of Lewis. The politician was later identified as Allan, who has been the island's MSP since last May ... But yesterday Allan said: "Let me just say this. I am not gay. The idea that anyone with a secret gay lover would take them walking hand-in-hand through a village on Lewis on a Sunday is quite a leap of imagination."

Mr Smith tends to think this is an example of a political vendetta by an aggrieved former SNP political hack, but it goes to show that in the days of the Internet everyone can be a citizen journalist ... for both good and bad.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


"Scottish Liberal Democrats have been warned by their auditors that they may be forced out of business if they do not tackle their financial debts. The party has been told it may be deemed, in accounting terms, to be no longer a going concern, after nearly a tenth of its expenditure last year was not met by income. Yet the Scottish LibDems, who are used to operating on shoe-string budgets, face much lower deficits than their SNP and Labour rivals, which have not been issued with similar warnings."

Presumably the Lib Dems have been singled out because they aren't bankrolled by the trade union movement as are the Labour Party or by wealthy celebrity donors as is the case for the SNP.

But does anyone find it concerning that three political parties that are helping to decide how over £20 billion a year is spent in Scotland, can't even balance their own books?

That Sinking Feeling.

Is it just Mr Smith or is the fact that our politicians never thought to protect their decision to lower class sizes in Scotland in legislation a bit of an oversight, or some would even say, a big b*lls up.

"FLAGSHIP government policies to reduce class sizes in Scottish schools have been thrown into confusion after a landmark legal case. A mother yesterday won a placing request appeal to send her daughter to the primary school of her choice, despite the fact West Lothian Council had previously blocked the move, claiming the class group was already full. Although the authority agreed to the placing request before the full hearing at Linlithgow Sheriff Court, solicitors and education unions argue the case highlights the fact the only primary class size underpinned by the law is 30 - contained in regulations passed in 1999."

They were obviously too busy discussing their expenses at the time to spare the time to deliver a "flagship policy."

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Left A Bit ...

"WOULD you mind moving a little bit to the left?" the photographer asks Cathy Jamieson, sizing up a shot. "I can always manage that," she replies, quick as a flash. The candidate for the Labour leadership at Holyrood, taking a quick break from campaigning last week, bursts into a proper belly laugh ..."

Tres drole ... tres drole. And so goes the interview with Cathy Jamieson MSP.

Its been a long time since Cathy Jamieson could correctly be described as "left-wing," and even if she was Mr Smith is not sure what Labour needs in Scotland is to be more "left-wing."

Mr Smith lost what respect he had for Ms Jamieson when as Justice Minister she stonewalled attempts in the Scottish Parliament to have American Government rendition flights via Scottish airports investigated by Scottish police. So much for being "left-wing." As Justice Minister, she didn't even want to act to investigate possible abuses of human rights taking place on Scottish soil.


"Information on how to deal with one of Scotland's most notorious alien species, the signal crayfish, will be published today. The species is an increasingly common sight, particularly in Loch Ken where it has become the dominant species. A new leaflet on the signal crayfish and the threat it poses will be launched by Environment Minister Michael Russell at the Galloway Game Fair. Mr Russell said: "Alongside the grey squirrel, Japanese knotweed and the American mink, the signal crayfish is one of the most problematic invasive species introduced to these shores. As well as competing with valuable native fish such as trout and salmon, the holes they bore into river banks for their nests can leave the land weak and lead to a greater risk of flooding. The leaflet I am launching seeks to raise awareness of the signal crayfish, which is a particular problem in the Galloway area. Any angler who catches one is urged to kill it on sight, not to throw it back into the water or take it away alive and contact the Scottish Government, Fisheries Research Services, Scottish Natural Heritage or SEPA."

Normally our politicians are in favour of a bit of wildlife, but clearly not Mike "The Exterminator" Russell. Watch out you grey squirrels.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Happy Birthday Mr President.

He is 62 ... and his middle name is Jefferson.


"THE SNP has come under fire for digitally altering a photograph on a Scottish tourism website to show a Saltire rather than a Union Flag. A photograph on the Scottish Government's Homecoming Scotland website of the British flag flying at Edinburgh Castle was reportedly changed to show a Saltire in its place.Royal British Legion Scotland described the move as an "insult" to Scottish war heroes."

Despite the denials of the Scottish Government the whole thing does smack of pettiness. Welcome back to the best wee country in the world where every flag is a saltire ... even if it wasn't originally.

Monday, 18 August 2008


"BLUNDERING bureaucrats wrote to a pensioner to tell she was off a housing waiting list ... because she was dead. And incredibly, deceased Isa Thomson was invited to appeal against the decision. Her devastated relatives were furious at the letter - sent just three weeks after she died of septicaemia."

A real insight into the mindless administration all too prevalent in Scotland's town halls these days.

But the saddest thing is the fact that the Housing Manager involved actually signed the letter personally and then tried to blame it on a high volume of letters generated that day. They should be disciplined ... if not sacked.

Tax Avoidance.

Great to see that the Scottish Government is keen to avoid having to pay unnecessary tax to the UK Exchequer.

"The Scottish Government and the controversial authority set up to make savings across the police service have been accused of a botched attempt at tax avoidance and "undemocratic" practices. In the latest twist in a row over police centralisation, it has emerged the government wants the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) to retain hold of all IT staff transferred from the country's eight forces in April - but not the hardware or control of contracts. Such a split would prevent the SPSA from incurring a VAT bill of £3.5m. However, the governing body of Scotland's largest force has accused Holyrood and SPSA of proposing "nothing better than a tax avoidance measure".

It appears that enmity between the SNP controlled Scottish Government and the UK Government knows no ends. Mr Smith needs a good tax lawyer to look after his offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands. Perhaps he should give the Scottish Government a ring ... 0131 556 8400 ... Tax Avoidance Department please.

And more bad cops to boot ...

A Family Affair.

"AN MSP used an official parliamentary motion to praise his daughter for winning a school prize. The SNP's Kenneth Gibson astonished colleagues by congratulating Heather, 11, at Holyrood."

Pretty ridiculous, but is does add real insight into the Scottish Parliament's claim to be "family friendly." But Mr Smith is not sure that this is what they had in mind back in days of drafting the Scotland Act establishing Holyrood.

But it's not the first time that Kenny "Love Rat Nat" Gibson has gotten into trouble.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Regarding Henry.

"Former First Minister Henry McLeish is a strong contender to take on the SNP at the forthcoming by-election in Glenrothes."

And the story has also been reported in other publications over the weekend.

Someone should tell Henry not to do it before it is too late for both himself and the Scottish Labour Party. Henry has too much history to make a viable by-election candidate, not least because of his close connections to the SNP over the last year. It has all the potential of a long-running disaster movie filmed in slow-mo.

Mamma Mia.

From the Herald Diary, "WHAT do politicians do on their lengthy summer holidays, a reader asks. Well, if you are Glasgow Labour MP Tom Harris, you go to the pictures - but the blockbuster Mamma Mia!, it seems, was not to his liking. As Tom writes on his website: "Do yourself a favour: if you haven't already seen this movie, don't. Instead, go out and buy Abba's greatest hits CD, and have a sing and a dance in the privacy of your own home, in the sure and certain knowledge that, however embarrassed you may feel, you'll be turning in a more entertaining performance than the cast of Mamma Mia!" Somehow the thought of MPs dancing around in their living rooms to Abba is one to be quickly expunged." Maybe he should just stick to reading books on his holidays?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Mr Smith MEP.

"MEP helps to get 20 cows pregnant ... A Scots MEP has completed a fortnight's farming work experience - including helping to get 20 cows pregnant. The SNP's Alyn Smith worked as an artificial insemination technician in Dumfries and Galloway as part of his agricultural training."

Mr Smith is even more impressed given that Alyn is by his own admission ... gay.

Beginning Of The End?

"A former Scottish minister’s grim warning that fulfilling the pledge to bring devolution to Scotland could prove “the beginning of the end for Labour” was strongly rejected by the party’s politicians. Brian Wilson, a former energy minister, dismissed the contenders for leadership of Labour at Holyrood as “worthy but scarcely inspirational”, and said the “obsession” with constitutional reform had been “a disaster” for Labour in Scotland."

Mr Smith tends to agree. But, it is well seen Mr Wilson is a former politician.

Small Print

Belatedly Mr Smith recalls a salutory warning that one should always read the small print.

"A Scottish MP who was sued by an electrician over an unpaid call-out fee was ordered to pay up. Brian Donohoe was taken to court by Dale McNair after he refused to pay the £64 bill, claiming that he had been taking advantage of free advice offered by the electrician in an advert."

Nae Luck Mr Donohoe.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Unlucky For Some.

"THE contenders for the Labour leadership in Scotland learned a key pointer to their fate yesterday when nominations closed, giving Iain Gray more support from MSPs than rivals. He received 13 nominations from MSPs, compared to 12 for Cathy Jamieson and 10 for Andy Kerr. Mr Gray also appeared to confirm his new position as bookmakers' favourite, providing most trade union support, with 15 bodies, as well as seven affiliates."

Here's hoping Mr Gray isn't superstitious, what with thirteen MSP nominations.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Gray Man.

"THE frontrunner in the race to became Labour's new Holyrood leader has suffered a blow after a YouGov poll showed that three-quarters of Scots barely knew anything about him. Only 4% of respondents in a YouGov poll said they knew "a lot" about Iain Gray, the East Lothian MSP who has taken an early lead in the contest. The sample found that 8% were familiar with his leadership rival Andy Kerr, while 17% said they knew "a lot" about the third candidate, Cathy Jamieson. The snapshot, commissioned by the SNP this month, found that 76% knew "little about" Gray or had "not heard" of him at all."

But of course the research was commissioned by the SNP which seems to be quite keen on Iain Gray not being Leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Mr Smith wonders why? Could it be because he might just be Labour's best hope as Leader?

Booked Up.

Is it just Mr Smith or should the PM's focus at the moment not be on writing, but instead be on solving some of the country's economic woes?

"He may have his hands full with economic crises and leadership worries, but it seems Gordon Brown can still find time for a spot of writing. The prime minister is preparing to write his third book in four years, he revealed at the weekend. The book, which will include a contribution from Harry Potter author JK Rowling, is on being British. Mr Brown's previous titles include Courage: Eight Portraits and Britain's Everyday Heroes."

Mr Smith thinks the PM has most definitely take his eye off the ball and isn't doing the job he should be doing. Apparently he will only be writing a chapter for someone else's book, but he still found time to write the other two ...

What's In A Name?

From Drumlanrig, "Wales has stolen a march on the SNP after its Assembly decided last week to apply for a new domain name for its internet address, to be known as .cym. This has now emboldened the Nationalists to press ahead with their own change which could see all Scottish Government departments soon end in .sco. No doubt Labour peer Lord Foulkes is already gearing up for a bitter tirade against creeping nationalism."

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Mr Salmond Is Away.

"FIRST Minister Alex Salmond is to spend his holiday playing golf in Scotland. Mr Salmond will take a short break on the west coast of Scotland, his spokesman said. He will go on leave and will return to work next Monday."

Somewhere in the West of Scotland. If you see him let Mr Smith know.


Courtesy of Drumlanrig, "The Scottish Labour leadership contest has not pleased the brothers in Scotland's big unions. The unions all get a vote in the election process but, as they have never done it before, they are all now having to get a new list of all their members and send out ballot papers to them. For the biggest union in Scotland, Unite, this is expected to cost at least £100,000. "That's money which we could have spent campaigning to get the party back in power," complained one Union chief. Yet another add-on cost of devolution, it seems."

Democracy ain't cheap.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Around The World.

Looks like we have the antics of another Councillor being quite properly exposed.

"A SCOTTISH councillor is at the centre of a £26,000 expenses row after claiming enough mileage in two years to have driven twice around the globe. North Lanarkshire councillor Charles Cefferty claimed back 54,000 miles in work-related car travel between April 2006 and April 2008, four times higher than any other member representing the same ward. Last year alone, Cefferty claimed mileage worth £16,000 – higher than his £15,000 salary – and thought to be the highest of any councillor in Scotland."

He doesn't look much like Fileas Fogg and another insight into the murky world of Lanarkshire politics, although he is an "Independent."

Monday, 11 August 2008

Bog Standards.

"SCOTLAND'S top firefighter has splashed out £5000 of public money on a luxury ensuite bathroom for his office. Controversial Brian Sweeney ordered an upgrade of all the toilet facilities at Strathclyde Fire and Rescue HQ in Hamilton, Lanarkshire. His bathroom now has a heated towel rail. But a Brigade spokesman defended the cost, adding: "It is the first time in 20 years that it has been refurbished." Sweeney was criticised last year for joining a £16,000-a-year private dining club then dating the director."

You really couldn't make this sort of thing up.

Sunday, 10 August 2008


Is it just Mr Smith or does this appear to be another example of one law for a Councillor and one law for everyone else. Very dodgy.

"Councillors have overturned an official’s recommendation and granted Lochaber’s provost consent for a house development. Allan Henderson sought approval to change the use of an existing holiday unit in the grounds of his Gantocks home at Achintore Road, Fort William, into a stand-alone house. But planning official Stephen Fair claimed the sub-division would result in inadequate spacing between the two properties."

Would Joe Public have gotten such a sympathetic decision?

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Dream Ticket.

"Tavish Scott and Nick Clegg will make a "dream ticket" for the Liberal Democrats, said former UK leader Sir Menzies Campbell. His endorsement came with that of former Scottish leader Lord Wallace, meaning that Mr Scott now has on board four peers, eight MPs and seven MSPs, giving him an unassailable lead among the party hierarchy."

Mr Smith thinks just about the only thing that can possibly stop Mr Scott from becoming Scottish Lib Dem Leader is an endorsement from Sir Menzies Campbell MP. He looks a certainty, but does anyone care?

Friday, 8 August 2008

Councillor Kalashnikov.

"An SNP councillor in Glasgow has been suspended over allegations that he fired a Kalashnikov assault rifle while visiting Pakistan. The incident was said to have taken place during a family holiday in 2005. A party spokesman said there was no suggestion that Jahangir Hanif had broken the law but it appeared to be "foolish and inappropriate conduct". Councillor Hanif said the incident took place before he was elected. He will now face a disciplinary hearing."

Mr Smith thinks that the introduction of proportional representation last year for local council elections has certainly had an impact on the calibre of Scotland's 1,200 councillors. Unfortunately, not for the better as this story makes clear. How many other dodgy Councillors avoided adequate scrutiny from the voters last year?

A pat on the back to the Evening Times for breaking the story. He should be forced to resign by the SNP Leadership.

Head And Shoulders.

"A FORMER Labour minister has launched a withering attack on his "arrogant" Westminster colleagues whom he accuses of being "resentful and contemptuous" of the Scottish parliament. Tom McCabe, a one-time finance minister who ran Wendy Alexander's campaign to become Labour leader last year, warns his party will be "pushed to the fringes" for "a very long time" if it does not radically reform itself."

Scenario: The average Westminster Labour MP, who is head and shoulders in calibre above the average Labour MSP, being "resentful" of the Scottish Parliament.

Really? Hands up who believes that one.

Er ... Anyone?