Tuesday, 30 September 2008


"GORDON BROWN will hit the campaign trail in the crucial Glenrothes by-election. He has insisted in the past that he supports the tradition of Prime Ministers not getting involved in by-elections. But in the wake of a rousing conference speech, he is set to campaign in the constituency before a date for the contest - believed to be November 6. That way he will not be breaking the tradition."

Tradition probably doesn't apply when you are the Member of Parliament for the seat next door. Tradition will be even more difficult for the voters to understand when Labour loses the seat. Then again Labour losing elections is actually becoming a bit of a tradition.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Another Fine Mess?

Alex of Arabia.

Mr Smith was interested to read that the Scottish Government is apparently approaching middle eastern bankers based in Qatar to try and borrow the cash to keep its spending plans on track.

"ALEX Salmond, the First Minister, has been accused of going cap in hand to the Middle East for money because his schemes to pay for Scotland's infrastructure have failed. It has been revealed that Mr Salmond will visit Qatar to ask for loans for projects such as the new Forth Road Bridge. The practice of borrowing Middle East money is being considered by many Western governments, because there are religious-based laws there against charging interest on loans."

Others have questioned the human rights record of the government of Qatar but that doesn't appear to have put off Mr Salmond. He appears happier to deal with a middle eastern regime, rather than the UK Government.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sold Short.

"THREE MORE of Alex Salmond's economic advisers work for firms that profit from a form of share speculation the First Minister has blamed for the decline of Scotland's oldest bank. One of the companies that "short-sells" shares, Morgan Stanley, last year received a £6 million grant from the SNP Government to boost jobs in Glasgow. It has also emerged that the Scottish Government is funding another business, Timberpost, which creates artificial intelligence for short-selling firms."

Mr Salmond was wrong in his comments that "short selling" brought down HBOS. The reality was that it was bad management by those running the company which resulted in the bank's demise, but the involvement of Scottish Government advisers in the very practice Mr Salmond condemned illustrates that the Scottish Government is more obsessed with style rather than with substance than it ever has been before.

Friday, 26 September 2008


And another dodgy councillor who had to apologise.

"A TORY councillor has been forced to apologise after using the phrase "n***** in the wood pile" during a public meeting. George Turnbull made the comment while discussing a planning application in his home town of Hawick, Roxburghshire ... Turnbull said yesterday: "For the avoidance of doubt, it was an inadvertent, insensitive and stupid thing to say for which I apologise unreservedly."

But he shouldn't have said it in the first place.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Sexist Cop?

"AN anti-terror police chief is being probed over sex discrimination claims by a high-flying female officer. Chief Inspector Allison Strachan complained about her boss and former flatmate Superintendent Keith Chamberlain."

The rest of the story makes interesting reading, and gives a tremendous insight into the life and times of the modern day police officer.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Dodgy Again.

It appears that our elected representatives just can't control themselves.

Is he another dodgy councillor?

"A POLITICIAN has been charged by the fraud squad over his expenses claims. Tommy Williams, 55, faces court after a two-year probe. The Sunday Mail revealed in October 2006 he was one offive Renfrewshire councillors being investigated."


Very strange article in Monday's Scotsman about the latest acronym to grace the Scottish politicial scene ... PATSIES. Yes. That's right. PATSIES ...

"THIS week MSPs will be considering a motion by Keith Brown, the Nationalist MSP, into the welfare of veterans across Scotland. While the former Royal Marine's motion is about veterans of the military variety, some of the more grey-tinged MSPs might reflect that political veterans need some protection too.Holyrood may not immediately be associated with 1980s Yuppie culture, especially after the roasting they gave financial speculators in the aftermath of the HBOS disaster. But the Scottish Parliament has its own form of Yuppies, probably better termed Patsies (politically ambitious twenty somethings) who form the backbone of research and media staff employed by MSPs."

An alternative view might be offered by the online dictionary Mr Smith consulted.

"patsies –noun, plural -sies. Slang.
1. a person who is easily swindled, deceived, coerced, persuaded, etc.; sucker.
2. a person upon whom the blame for something falls; scapegoat; fall guy.
3. a person who is the object of a joke, ridicule, or the like."

Which one is it? You decide.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Wizard Idea.

"MILLIONAIRE Harry Potter author JK Rowling has given a £1 million donation to the Labour Party, the party announced today. The donation comes as a major boost to the cash-strapped party and its leader Gordon Brown as the annual Labour conference starts in Manchester. Rowling, whose fortune was estimated at £560 million in this year's Sunday Times Rich List, is known to be a personal friend of Mr Brown and his wife Sarah. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I am delighted that JK Rowling, who is one of the world's greatest ever authors, has made such a generous donation. "I thank her for supporting the Labour Party and our values of social justice and opportunity for all."

But the People's Party is still in debt to the tune of an estimated £17 million.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to write a cheque for one million pounds as a political donation?

He's A Fire Starter.

Is it just Mr Smith or were the comments last week by new Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray in his first First Minister's Questions in relation to the demise of HBOS rather intemperate?

Suggesting that speculators, whom Mr Gray thought brought down HBOS, deserved to be heading to "the fire" seemed more worthy of a middle eastern totalitarian regime rather than an allegedly enlightened western democracy.

Here's hoping Mr Gray learns how to tone it down a bit, or we might just find that we have ended up with a religious fundamentalist in sheep's clothing.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Parking Bays.

Mr Smith is all for equal rights for people, but Jackie Baillie MSP's proposals for legislation on strengthening the powers in relation to the misuse of disabled parking bays may be one idea that goes to far.

"Plans to hammer able-bodied drivers who park in disabled spaces could have big financial consequences for Scottish councils. Dundee City Council has revealed that the cost of setting up and running the scheme would be around £330,000 in the first year."

If it is going to cost Scottish councils millions of pounds to enforce the new legislation and the actual benefit of the moves may be quite limited by comparison, this seems to be going to far. The whole point of disabled parking bays is to make it easier for disabled people holding blue badges to park, but that is not a right, it is merely an additional benenfit which society has chosen to create.

To Mr Smith this smacks of the Dog Fouling Act and the Breastfeeding Act which were well intentioned measures when the Scottish Parliament passed them but which have generated minimal public policy benefit.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Go West Young Man.

Mr Smith thinks there are probably a lot of youngsters who didn't think through fully the implications of becoming councillors last year, with the result many of them are now having a serious change of heart.

"A 20-year-old deputy civic leader was urged to quit his post he prepares to return to university. John West, who at 18 became Scotland's youngest councillor in May last year, is due to begin a degree in history with politics this month at Aberdeen University. He previously studied law at the university, but dropped out last year."

Mr Smith thinks the bottom line is that if you have committed to being a Councillor and are drawing at least £16K a year as a salary for doing it, you should do it to the best of your abilities. If that isn't possible then you should resign and let someone else takeover.

After all, no-one was forced to put their names forward for election. We do live in a democracy.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Bread And Butter.

Wouldn't it be nice to forget about constitutional politics and get back to the nitty gritty of public policy? More jobs, better schools, better healtcare, lower taxes .... on yourself Annabel. You're onto a winner ... at last.

"ANNABEL Goldie, the Scottish Tory leader, yesterday took her party's campaign to Northern Ireland, with the message that Conservatives on both sides of the Irish Sea want to work on "bread and butter issues" instead of the constitution. "

Big Government.

Mr Smith was interested to read the latest figures relating to public sector employment in Scotland.

"THE number of Scots working in the public sector has risen by nearly 50,000 since devolution. As new figures revealed unemployment creeping up, statistics also showed nearly 576,000 people worked in the public sector in the second quarter of this year."

That's 576,000 people that don't have to worry about losing their jobs in the forthcoming economic recession, at least compulsorily. But does Scotland really need a public sector that big?

Friday, 19 September 2008

Tax And Spend.

"FORMER First Minister Henry McLeish claimed Scotland's power to vary taxes by 3p will never be used. Henry McLeish told the Calman Commission on devolution that he believed the tax varying power should be scrapped. And he told the Commission that the power was a "real problem" in negotiating further powers for the Scottish Parliament."

Hang on. If the Scottish Parliament won't ever use its existing tax varying powers and they should be abolished ... what would the point then be in replacing them with different powers over other forms of taxation?

If the Scottish Parliament doesn't feel it can use its powers to raise or cut income taxe rates why should they should be trusted with powers over even more forms of taxation?

In The Bag?

Another dodgy Councillor?

"AN ABERDEEN councillor is at the centre of a police investigation into an alleged theft at the city’s airport, the Press and Journal can reveal. Conservative Alan Donnelly, who works part-time for a baggage-handling firm, has been reported to the procurator fiscal’s office. The member for Torry and Ferryhill last night described the allegations as a “big hullabaloo”, which had been “blown out of all proportion”.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Times Are Changing.

It would appear to Mr Smith that the landscape of Scottish politics is shifting.

Last week we had Conservative Leader Annabel Goldie MSP call for cuts in Council Tax, and over the weekend we had a call from Liberal Democrat Leader Tavish Scott MSP for the Scottish Parliament to use its powers to cut two pence off the basic rate of income tax in Scotland to alleviate some of the pressure from increasing household bills.

Suddenly, Scotland is being offered tax cuts by politicians who haven't offered that choice before. Mr Smith finds it all very strange. But the sad thing is that Mr Smith doesn't think they are actually being serious.

They've Been Tango-ed.

They are the boys in orange.

"ID photos of new recruits are causing police bosses a headache because they are too orange. Some warrant-card photos for the Strathclyde Police rookies have had to be electronically adjusted because of their lurid colour."

You couldn't make it up. Too much Tango perhaps, or fake tan?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


And he's a former Catholic priest to boot. It makes it more difficult for people to question his motives.

"TO HIS colleagues, he was an unlikely assassin. A former Catholic priest who quit his vocation to pursue his political ambitions, David Cairns was a loyal Labour MP who had never voted against the government and had been rewarded with a ministerial post in the Scotland Office. But last night, he became the most senior member of the party to call for Gordon Brown to go, after he was outed as the minister who, 24 hours before, had threatened to resign if Labour lost the Glenrothes by-election. That forced him to step down. His resignation from the Scotland Office came as a surprise to those close to him: only 12 hours earlier, he had not been planning to quit."

And ironically it managed to overshadow the appointement by new Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray MSP of his first Shadow Cabinet. The curse of Wendy Alexander is still alive and well.

He Fought The Law.

Proof that there is indeed life after Holyrood and controversial court cases ... at least for the moment.

"TOMMY SHERIDAN is to start studying to become a lawyer this month. The firebrand ex-MSP, who defended himself against sex and drugs claims, won a place at Strathclyde University."
Given all of his experience of courts and prison cells, the exams should be a walkover for our Tommy.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Mr Harper.

Mr Smith was sorry to read of the imminent departure of Green MSP Robin Harper as one of his party's Co-Leaders and as a Member of the Scottish Parliament in 2011.

"Robin Harper, the veteran leader of the Green cause in Scotland, is standing down from the party leadership with a reform plea to his party. The Lothian MSP, 68, became the first Green parliamentarian in Britain when he won a seat at the first Scottish Parliament elections in 1999. He gives up his leadership role in November, when a replacement will be elected, and he is to stand down from parliament at the 2011 election."

Who would want to the Leader of a Scottish political party? Only SNP Leader Alex Salmond and the Conservatives' Annabel Goldie still remain from before the last Scottish Parliament elections of just last year.

Mr Smith thinks the Greens will have a hard time holding Mr Harper's Regional seat in 2011 and the Scottish Parliament will be a more boring and less colourful place than it already is. Any chance of changing your mind Mr Harper? Please?

Monday, 15 September 2008

That Sinking Feeling.

From today's Edinburgh Evening News.

Iain's The Man.

Mr Smith is not sure whether to congratulate Labour's new Leader at Holyrood Iain Gray. The position is a bit of a poison chalice as attested to by the fact Mr Gray is Labour's fifth Leader in Scotland since devolution, but what did surprise Mr Smith is that Cathy Jamieson MSP came second to Mr Gray who eventually won with 57% of the vote having knocked out Andy Kerr MSP on the first ballot.

"JUST MINUTES after being elected as Scottish Labour leader, Iain Gray set himself on a potential collision course with London. As he declared victory, the former Scottish enterprise minister said that the nature of his win effectively made him leader of Labour in Scotland, not just of the MSPs in Holyrood. His comments immediately brought a rebuke from Des Browne, secretary of state for Scotland, who said he expected Gray to "respect the structure of this party".

Mr Smith sees it didn't take him long to upset his Westminster Labour colleagues. Start as you mean to go on says Mr Smith.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Not Named And Shamed.

Mr Smith is all for protecting peoples' civil liberties, but when you are a local government councillor drawing an annual salary of £16,500 plus with council tax debts of £500 that seems less important. They should clear their debt or be named and shamed.

"The convener of Highland Council yesterday defended privacy laws which protect the anonymity of any serving councillor who owes the authority hundreds of pounds in unpaid council tax. The Press and Journal has learned that an unidentified councillor was yesterday £570.04 in arrears of council tax."

Another dodgy councillor albeit one that is currently anonymous.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Pension-ed Off.

Wouldn't it be nice to have the taxpayer cough up £32 million to cover a deficit in your pension fund?

"The Treasury accused the SNP of "gesture politics" over the row which saw Holyrood ministers claim they were forced to find £32m to fund a new police and firefighters' pension deal because they were given no money to match an English agreement."

Is there any issue in the world of the SNP controlled Scottish Government that isn't a potential source of disagreement between Holyrood and Westminster? Mr Smith thinks that the more of these argumetns that are had, the more credibility and goodwill the Scottish Government loses in the eyes of the Scottish voter.

There is a limit to how often you can cry wolf, and what happens when there is an issue that really matters?

Friday, 12 September 2008

Spun Off.

Mr Smith thinks more and more of Gordon's team of spinners will be trying to find themselves new berths as the General Election approaches.

"Gordon Brown was last night said to have suffered a "huge embarrassment" after it emerged that his Scottish spin doctor is quitting No 10 to work for an American PR company just weeks before the Glenrothes by-election. Paul Sinclair, who had previously worked as a special adviser to Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, moved to Downing Street three months ago to focus on Scotland."

Embarassing ... probably not, but he can't afford to lose his backroom team. That will just make things even worse for the PM.


"A LOCAL MSP is asking people to wear something pink to help raise money for research into breast cancer. Dr Ian McKee is joining forces with charity Breast Cancer Campaign for its fundraising event, Wear It Pink, on October 31. He said: "I would like to encourage everyone to support Wear It Pink."

But will Dr McKee be pretty in pink?

Thursday, 11 September 2008


As spotted by Drumlanrig, "The CBI has complained much about the sub-standard level of education in the country. Spelling is poor, for example. But in the programme for its annual dinner in Glasgow last week, the confederation referred to an 'acheivement'. Altogether now, 'i' before 'e' except after…"

They were obviously too busy basking in the glory of Gordon Brown's speech to their annual dinner to spell check.

Friendly Advice.

You don't get helpful advice very often from government, but it would appear that in some cases exceptions can be made as reported by Drumlanrig.

"Documents released under freedom of information legislation last week revealed a little more about how the SNP activists running the newly formed Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) won funding from the SNP Government. After a private meeting with Alex Salmond, the SIF people were told that £200,000 would be on its way, and so they set about writing up an application. One official e-mailed to advise how the application should be written. "Just set down in a couple of pages what you want to do, why it needs to be done and how much it would cost. Nothing too elaborate…" Quick as a flash, the taxpayers' money came back. If only bank managers these days could be so accommodating."

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Malawi Bound.

Courtesy of Drumlanrig, "A ripple went through the Scottish Parliament's media block last week when a press release from Jack McConnell arrived, suggesting that there be a free vote on the matter of Wendy Alexander's suspension. Labour were being whipped to vote against the plan, so what could the former First Minister have been wanting? Surely not to put the boot in one last time? We will never know, as McConnell found a convenient excuse to miss the 5pm vote on Thursday evening. What a surprise!"

When are you leaving us Jack?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Chain Gang (2).

Mr MacAskill's comments on "chain gangs" couldn't of course be designed to deflect attention away from the record overcrowding levels at Barlinnie reported elsewhere in the press today?

"Overcrowding at Barlinnie has hit an all-time high and is approaching almost double its design capacity. The design capacity for the Glasgow prison is for 1018 inmates, but the latest total was 1718, the highest in its 126-year history. It has risen from 1600 since July and accounts for a large proportion of the Scottish record total of 8013, which was recorded on August 25." Spin, spin, spin? As well as being ridiculous.

Back On The Chain Gang.

You really couldn't make this up.

"IN MATES in Scotland's biggest prison should be let out to work on major construction projects including new facilities for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the justice secretary said yesterday. Kenny MacAskill said it was "ridiculous" that there were 1,500 prisoners stuck behind bars in Barlinnie jail when they could be used to fill the labour gap in the construction industry. He said that instead of using prison gates as a "revolving door", offenders should be required to do "hard work" on building and engineering projects that could be hit by labour shortages."

Ignoring the fact that we are on the brink, if not already in, the worst economic recession for a generation which will hit the construction industry harder than any other industrial sectors, are we really happy with the average inmate from the Bar-L being let out even if they are doing hard labour? People are sent to prison as a punishment, and if you let them out on some weird kind of day release to sledgehammer some rocks what kind of message are we sending them?

Mr MacAskill MSP is fast reinforcing his position as the John Prescott of Scottish politics. Mr Smith thinks the Justice Secretary should recognise the seriousness of the role he occupies and engage his brain a bit more before he comes out with these ridiculous pronouncements which undermine the credibility of his office, if not his own.

Between Jobs.

From the Herald Diary, "POLITICAL candidates will look for any favourable signs that they are going to do well in an election. We bump into Peter Grant, the local council leader who is the SNP's candidate in the Glenrothes by-election who tells us excitedly: "I've just got a new tax code from HMRC with a letter saying We believe you are currently between jobs'.
"Do they know something I don't?"


Monday, 8 September 2008

Goodbye Scottish Secretary?

"THE post of Scottish Secretary will be scrapped after more than 300 years. The role, which was established in 1703, will be replaced by a Secretary of State for the Nations. It was reported today the move came as a consequence of the IRA being declared redundant as a paramilitary organisation."

Pity. It's the loss of a bit of Scotland's political history, but more significantly it would appear that the current government seems to be gradually surrendering what's left of its role in the governance of Scotland. That can only lead to increasing the odds of Scottish independence being achieved, and sooner rather than later.

Fat Cops.

Mr Smith couldn't believe it when he read it. It's in the Sunday Times so it must be true.

"FAT police officers face being banned from traffic duty unless they slim down because they are risking taking their squad cars over the maximum legal weight limit. Tests have found that some patrol cars are so heavy that burly officers could tip them over the legal threshold. Some cars, with two officers present, are within 14 stone of the maximum, meaning that they can carry, at most, only one additional passenger. A patrol car containing obese officers, which stopped a vehicle with two suspected criminals, would have to radio for assistance."

Who would want to be a Scottish traffic cop. They should get themselves one of those shiny "granite and steel" salad bars they've got down in the Scottish Parliament and watch the pounds drop off.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Cashing In.

"Olympic cycling hero Chris Hoy last night voiced his dismay at attempts by politicians to "cash in" on his success in Beijing. Shortly after becoming the first Briton in a century to win three gold medals at a single Games, Hoy became embroiled in a debate over the feasibility of a Scottish Olympic team. Edinburgh-born Hoy felt controversy was timed to capitalise on his achievements."

Naw. Never. Chris Hoy is correct, but his comments come straight out of the school of "stating the obvious." Sad, but true. Perhaps he should turn the tables and become a politician? He couldn't do much worse than most of the ones we currently have.

Caption Sensible.

Mr Smith noticed a recent caption contest in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Mr Smith's suggestion: "Nicola to Shona: I'm looking forward to that currant bun."

What is it about health ministers these days? They always seem to running around.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pie And Beans.

This says more about Frank McAveety trying valiantly to generate some cheap press interest than anything else.

"A LABOUR MSP today challenged First Minister Alex Salmond to a 100 metres sprint after a Holyrood spat. Labour's Frank McAveety threw down the gauntlet after Mr Salmond made a jibe over a "pie and beans" episode four years ago which saw the then arts minister forced to apologise to Parliament."

Mr Smith says forget about the hundred metres sprint (Mr Salmond has a well documented back problem) and instead why don't we resurrect the political score evening technique of pistol duelling last practiced by then British PM the Duke of Wellington in 1829.

Let's face it there isn't anything that Alex Salmond can't do better than anyone else ... at least in his own mind. Frank would be a goner by sheer force of Eck's ego.

Je T'Aime.

Courtesy of Drumlanrig, "Alex Salmond was in Shetland the other day (though only a cad and a bounder would connect his visit to a new report which found those northerly isles to be the porkiest part of the United Kingdom). The First Minister was doing what he does best, posing for a few pictures with some local ladies. Our source informs us that when the women expressed concern about getting their photos taken the gallant Salmond stepped in with some advice. "Let me tell you about the tip I got from my good friend Sean Connery," he is said to have declared. "Look at the camera and say 'I love you'." Remember that the next time El Presidente is smiling through the goggle box at you."

Friday, 5 September 2008

The One That Got Away.

So, Members of the Scottish Parliament did it, or rather 72 of them did it.

"Former Labour leader in Scotland Wendy Alexander escaped a Holyrood ban today after MSPs voted against imposing the sanction. The Scottish Parliament's Standards Committee had recommended Ms Alexander be barred from Holyrood for a day after it decided she broke the rules by failing to register donations to her leadership campaign within the required 30 days. But MSPs rejected that by 49 votes to 70, with two abstentions."

What is exactly having the point of having rules, if you can break them without any sanction being imposed? And what kind of justice allows your party colleagues to get you off the hook when you have been found guilty by a process they are meant to uphold? Parliament has made itself look even more disreputable than it already did in relation to the whole Wendygate affair.

She is the one that got away, and in doing so proved that there is indeed one law for them and one law for us.

Salad Days.

Mr Smith is surprised that Scotland's hack pack have not picked up on the revelation in last week's Scottish Mail On Sunday that the Scottish Parliament has equipped itself with a shiny new "granite and steel" £23,000 Promart salad bar in the Parliament's Garden Restaurant to which only the 1,000 parliamentary pass holders have access.

Perhaps the fact that the hacks are some of the beneficiaries has made them reticent about reporting on their new facility? But Mr Smith can't imagine the average journalists tucking into a rocket salad when the other delights of the Parliament's restaurant menu are on offer.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The 20,000.

And from Drumlanrig again, "Confusion reigns at the Boundary Commission, which is again looking at changes to Scotland's 73 constituencies. The muddle centres on Renfrewshire, home to five seats. The Labour Party has apparently estimated there are around 250,000 voters in the area – which would mean one of those seats gets the axe. But we hear Wendy Alexander (Paisley North), below, is insisting the figure is 270,000. This would ensure that the area kept hold of its five seats (including the deposed former leader of the Scottish people's party). Surely brainbox Wendy would never get her figures muddled up?"

Does Wendy know something we don't? A mass migration of punters into Ferguslie Park? Or an alien invasion ... of the extraterrestrial kind?

Beam Him Up.

And from Drumlanrig again, "This softer side to the abrasive Mr Salmond is also evident elsewhere. In the same interview in which he notoriously declared that Scotland "didn't mind" the economic side of Margaret Thatcher, the First Minister was asked some personal questions. When was the last time he cried? "There was an episode of Star Trek that was particularly poignant," he declared. And what music makes him dance? "My guilty secret is that I like country and western music," he admitted. "I am a devotee of Tammy Wynette." What price 'Stand By Your Man' as Salmond's election theme song next time round?"

Mr Smith seems to recall that SNP MSP Roseanna Cunningham is also a bit of a space cadet ... er sorry ... Trekkie.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Positive Discrimination.

"The SNP was accused today of "disgracing" Glasgow after it failed to take action against a city councillor caught firing an AK-47 assault rifle. Labour leadership contender Andy Kerr said the party's credibility on gun crime was now "in tatters".

Mr Smith agrees. How can SNP Ministers ever comment on the issue of gun crime ever again with any credibility?

Mr Smith thinks that it was only reverse discrimination which saved Councillor Hanif from dismissal from the SNP. Sad.


What exactly is the point of Nicol Stephen MSP?

"TAVISH Scott, the new Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, has named his 15-strong campaign team charged with taking politics outside the Holyrood bubble. Only Nicol Stephen, who stepped down as leader two months ago to devote more time to his young family, has been left without a portfolio."

Nicol is the only Lib Dem MSP who is "without a portfolio", allegedly because he under pressure on the domestic front. But we shouldn't forget that Mr Stephen whilst Deputy First Minister had a reputation as a bit of a slacker who didn't even turn up at events where he would have been expected. So is Nicol really under pressure or is he going to spend some time topping up his tan?

Drunk And Disorderly.

"A SENIOR police officer who runs a family protection unit has been suspended for being so drunk he was put in a cell by his own colleagues. Detective Inspector James McLevy, who is in charge of sensitive cases involving women and children, was detained in Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square after being spotted drunk on CCTV. He had spent the night drinking with fellow off-duty detectives."

He's probably a bad cop?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Big Mouth.

"A CONFIDANTE of the late Donald Dewar has said Labour leadership hopeful Andy Kerr is unlikely to win the contest because of past disloyalty to colleagues. Sam Galbraith, the former education minister, said there was a "black spot" over Kerr because he used to act as a "mouthpiece" for former first minister Jack McConnell. He also said the shift to the left by Cathy Jamieson, another leadership contender, would result in her not being trusted by the party."

Mr Smith thinks all of these comments are a fair assessment. Mr Galbraith should return to front line Scottish politics. His honesty is refreshing.

The Long Goodbye.

"A former chief executive of NHS Western Isles will finally leave the health board’s employment next week – two years after he quit the top job. Dick Manson quit as chief executive in August 2006, but was seconded to another post within NHS Scotland. He is one of three chief executives at the health board in recent years. In a statement released yesterday, NHS Western Isles confirmed Mr Manson would leave their employment on September 5."

That's a very long goodbye, but what a waste of taxpayers' cash.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Us And Them.

Mr Smith is amazed that the Scottish Parliament is even considering reversing its earlier decision to suspend Wendy Alexander from the Scottish Parliament for breaking Holyrood's rules.

"A LIBERAL Democrat MSP who voted to suspend Wendy Alexander from Holyrood says he will resign his post if the Scottish Parliament does not back his committee's decision. Hugh O'Donnell, whose vote was crucial in delivering a fatal blow to Alexander's leadership, says MSPs will "undermine" the Standards Committee if they overturn the proposed ban after a debate scheduled for Thursday. MSPs could vote down the one-day suspension plan on the grounds that Alexander - described yesterday by Chancellor Alistair Darling as "not likeable at all" - has suffered enough by resigning."

Either Wendy Alexander broke the rules or she didn't. And if she did, she deserves to be punished. One law for them and another for us?

But the fact that Mr O'Donnell has already been "reshuffled" off the Standards Committee by his new leader seems to suggest that MSPs will probably let Wendy off the hook which will set a precedent leading to lighter punishments for MSPs that break the rules going forward.

Maxwell's House.

"BANKS should treat Scottish customers more favourably than their English counterparts because the housing market in Scotland is more resilient, the SNP housing minister has said. Stewart Maxwell said he would "encourage" any moves by mortgage lenders to take into account the fact Scotland's housing market has not been hit as hard by the credit crunch as England."

Mr Smith thinks this is little more than the latest attempt by the SNP Scottish Government to stoke up a bit of tension between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Wouldn't it be great to get a better deal on mortgages in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, but the main reason why we can't is buried in the article.

"But leading industry body, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), rejected the idea, saying that a lack of liquidity in the banking sector was the main reason that mortgage criteria have been tightened up."

Even if Scotland was independent it is unlikely that that position would change.