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."

Sunday, 8 February 2009


Interesting item on the agenda of a recent meeting of the Scottish Parliament's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

"6. Guidance for MSPs on handling difficult correspondents or constituents (in private): The Committee considered and agreed draft guidance for MSPs on handling difficult correspondents or constituents."

Mr Smith isn't a big fan of items being considered "in private" by the Scottish Parliament unless it is really necessary. The fact that this item was considered behind closed doors presumably means the public will never get to see the contents of the "guindace." Mr Smith thinks we all should get to see it.

Flash Gordon?

Courtesy of the Herald Diary, "MEMBERS of Parliament: what a hard-working bunch they are. abour's Ochil and South Perthshire MP, Gordon Banks, put out a press release this week stating that: "Gordon was busier than usual in Parliament last week as he took part in four separate debates." Three of the debates were on the same day, and in two of them Gordon merely asked one question. So he spoke in parliament on two days last week, and that merited a press release. Well done, that man."

He's been a busy boy or maybe not. Mr Banks gets his first "menshie" on Mr Smith's blog. For the record, according to various parliamentary monitoring sites, he is "above average" in terms of parliamentary activity, albeit that he never rebels against the government line. A safe pair of hands.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Yes Police.

"An influential committee of MSPs has criticised Scotland's top police officers association, warning it is unaccountable and should be subjected to closer scrutiny. The Scottish Parliament's public audit committee has called on the government to investigate measures to bring the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) under effective inspection."

Given the prominent role which Acpos fulfills and its major role in deciding the policing priorities for Scotland, Mr Smith would agree there needs to be far more political and public scrutiny of their activities. We'll see how long it takes for that to happen. Mr Smith won't be holding his breath waiting for it to happen.


He's a bad cop ... albeit by accident.

"A POLICE officer on a drugs raid lost a notebook containing top secret information on suspects and operations. It was left behind after a raid carried out as part of Operation York, one of Scotland's biggest drugbusting operations. The book contained details of interviews with suspects - which could have been vital as evidence - as well as a list of about 40 suspected dealers and crucial personal information."

Friday, 6 February 2009

We're Doomed - Not.

"Politicians yesterday heaped criticism on a health boss who forecast "unprecedented catastrophe" for humanity and an economic disaster worse than any since the Great Depression. In a report for the Scottish Government, Dr Laurence Gruer, director of NHS Health Scotland, warned of upheaval and ruin ahead as the nation falls victim to the economic downturn. Dr Gruer, Scotland's most senior public health official, told ministers to expect increases in crime, child abuse, obesity, depression and suicide as decades of "have it all" economic policy catch up on the world. "This upheaval can be expected to create changes in socio-economic conditions in Scotland of a magnitude not seen since the early 1980s," he said."

But seriously, these comments seem to sum up the typical attitude of most health professionals in Scotland. They are always on about the risks in public health terms of just about anything, without recognising that Scots are massively better off now than they have ever been in terms of their health and well-being, especially by comparison with 1929. Cheer up Dr Gruer. And give us Scots a break.


"A LABOUR PEER AT THE centre of the "cash for laws" row is facing fresh controversy over his work for one of the world's biggest defence companies. Half the parliamentary questions tabled by Lord Moonie, a close friend of prime minister Gordon Brown, relate to areas of commercial interest to US-based Northrop Grumman Corporation."

In case people have forgotten the history.

In the last review of the boundaries of Westminster constituencies when the number of seats in the PM's backyard of Fife was reduced from five to four, it was Dr Lewis Moonie who selflessly bowed out the game of political musical chairs in Fife by standing down from the Commons thereby avoiding pulling the current PM Gordon Brown into an embarrassing nomination fight with the other Labour MPs in Fife. His selfless act was of course recognised by his elevation to the House of Lords, but Mr Smith thinks if Lord Moonie is dragged further into a lobbying scandal in the Lords it will unavoidably rub off onto the PM. Unless of course our Gordon can keep Lord Moonie out of it somehow?


You can pick your friends, but not your family as the old saying goes. And that applies as much for US President Barack Obama as much as anyone else.

"THE half-brother of President Barack Obama was arrested yesterday for alleged possession of marijuana near his home in a Nairobi shantytown. George Obama, who is in his 20s and barely knows the President, had one joint of marijuana on him, said Joshua Omokulongolo, the police chief in the area. "He is not a drug peddler," Omokulongolo said. "But it's illegal, it's a banned substance."

Thursday, 5 February 2009


The "special relationship" between Britain and the US is still alive and kicking. At least as much as it has ever been, which is probably not saying very much.

"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has paid tribute to Britain's "special relationship" with the US, saying it "stands the test of time". She was speaking after meeting UK counterpart David Miliband, her first ministerial-level talks since President Barack Obama's inauguration last month."

Significantly, the US State Department website gave equal billing to the Milliband-Clinton meeting and the one between Secretary of State Clinton and the German Foreign Minister, of which she said:

"We have had an excellent and broad discussion. Germany is one of our closest allies, and we greatly value opportunities like today to discuss the issues that affect our nations and the international community as a whole. ... You know, the longstanding and enduring German-American relationship is close and firm. And as our meeting today made clear, we rely on Germany's support and assistance to face global challenges together."

Looks like the US has loads of "special relationships."


"FINANCE secretary John Swinney last night apologised for the petty squabbling between parties that saw Scotland's £33billion budget hit the buffers. He admitted: "I don't think it was parliament's finest hour."

That was nice of him, but at least he recognises his partial responsibility for the shambles.

On The Tab.

Courtesy of Drumlanrig, "RAISE A GLASS TO THAT ... When the SNP Government released information last week on the amount they were spending on booze at official functions, there was one omission on the records. The sums spent on drink at a dinner held for First Minister Alex Salmond's Council of Economic Advisers in September 2007 is unrecorded as there was "no accurate invoice". Must have been a good night."

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Mr Smith sees that the SNP seem to be coming very close to alleging election fraud in last year's Glenrothes by-election because of the fact that the marked register for the by-election has gone astray.

"THE official register of all those who voted in the crucial Glenrothes by-election in November was lost within days of being handed over by the returning officer to the sheriff clerk in Kirkcaldy, it has been revealed. The loss has prompted an investigation by the Scottish Court Service, but Tricia Marwick, the SNP MSP for Central Fife, yesterday called for an independent inquiry."

It is a major cock-up by the Courts Service, not the first, but does anyone seriously believe that someone forged a few thousand votes in order to let Labour win a by-election that it wasn't expected to, and all in Fife which is actually controlled by an SNP-Liberal Democrat Council which had responsibility for running and overseeing the election? Mr Smith is known to believe in the odd conspiracy, but this isn't one of them.

Glitch Pickings.

By Mr Smith's reckoning that is no fewer than three senior cabinet appointments which President Obama has not been able to get through on the basis that his appointees has dodgy tax records and have been forced to withdraw.

"US President Barack Obama has said "I screwed up" over his handling of a controversy that led two politicians to decline posts in his administration. Tom Daschle was to become the new secretary of health, and Nancy Killefer was Mr Obama's choice to oversee budget and spending reform. They both withdrew when questions were raised about their tax affairs."

Why is it so many US politicians seem to have problems paying their taxes on time?


"HOLYROOD BOSSES lack "focus and structure" and do not have a "clear vision" for the Scottish Parliament, according to a secret report released last week. The findings also found that the parliament had become a "stale" organisation with "fatigued" managers working in a "silo culture".

Naw never. It can't be true. Can it? Mr Smith thinks they could have built a better "silo" for £413 million.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Business As Usual.

Better Late Than Never.

Good to see that someone has finally woken up to the potential conflicts of interest (as previously highlighted by Mr Smith) between the various roles of Lord George Foulkes as a member of the House of Lords, as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, and as a "lobbyist." It took a while, but things should become clearer when the complaint that has been raised is resolved.

"A SENIOR Labour MSP is facing a Holyrood investigation into his lucrative work as a lobbyist in the House of Lords. George Foulkes, who doubles up as a peer and MSP, is being paid £36,000 a year to provide advice to a law firm."

Holden On.

"A HIGHLAND councillor’s disability allowance has been stopped as he is investigated over allegations of benefit fraud, the Press and Journal has learned. Labour councillor John Holden, who has represented Inverness South since the 2007 election, has been the subject of inquiries involving the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Northern Constabulary since last September. The DWP expects to complete its investigation into his benefit claims within a fortnight. A police investigation that has focused on Mr Holden’s role in organising car boot sales in Inverness is continuing."


"THE SNP government spent more than £36,500 on alcohol at hospitality events in its first year at Holyrood, almost double the bill posted by the Labour/Liberal Democrat regime in 2003-4. Scottish Government spokesman said: "These ministerial events are for good causes and promote Scotland's interests."

And all at the same time as the Scottish Government are involved in a political crusade to stop everyone else in Scotland from availing themselves of Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) promotional offers at their local supermarket.

Presumably its OK for foreign visitors to be knocking back the free booze courtesy of the Scottish Government given that any adverse health impacts will largely be met by their own health services in their own countries? Or maybe just double standards of the most blatant kind?

Monday, 2 February 2009

Normal Service Resumed.

Mr Smith must admit to being surprised by the defeat last week of the Scottish Government's budget, especially by the margin of 65 votes to 64. Mr Smith didn't think that our political representatives at Holyrood had it in them. Well it would appear that MSPs of all parties are now falling over themselves to pass a slightly amended SNP budget in exchange for a few baubles.

"ALEX Salmond was last night on the verge of rescuing his government's battered Budget by making enough concessions to bring all the opposition parties on board. Just a day after seeing it thrown out by the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister believed last night he could secure the unanimous backing of every MSP for the Budget just by making a series of simple changes."

What exactly is the point of voting down a budget because it didn't include major items, like a 2% cut in taxation, or major expenditure to try and offer more help to those made redundant in the current economic downturn, when apparently a letter from Alex Salmond is now enough to placate at least the Liberal Democrats?

Mr Smith thinks our politicians risk doing their credibility damage with the voters and, yet again, let Mr Salmond emerge from a crisis largely of his own making, looking like the cat that got the cream.

Surprise, Surprise?

Straight from the school of "tell us something we didn't already know."

"ALMOST a third of people in England think Scotland receives more than its fair share of government cash, a survey revealed today. The latest British Social Attitudes report found 32 per cent of people in England felt that was the case. That compares with a total of 22 per cent in 2003, revealing growing concern about the amount of public spending north of the Border."

Going Cheap?

The Chairty Regulator will decide. Even their own Council colleagues want an inquiry. All a bit dodgy?

"Five Aberdeen councillors could face an investigation by charity regulators after it emerged that a residential school was sold for £4million less than the highest offer. Governors of the former Oakbank School, which closed last summer amid financial difficulties, could soon be at the centre of an inquiry by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (Oscr). Board members confirmed last night that the school had been sold to city-based developer Carlton Rock last July for £7million – despite offers of up to £11million being on the table."


And again from Drumlanrig, "MAN BEHIND THE BEARD ... Budget day always has a good turnout of MSPs, with even the most rarely seen faces on show to cast their vote. But who was that chap on the Labour backbenches with what almost passed for a beard? None other than former First Minister and now our man (sometimes) in Africa Jack McConnell. You'll need to come up with a better disguise, Jack."

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Tunnocks Rip Off Scandal.

Fom the Herald Diary, "MEP Struan Stevenson stuck to his Tory principles while chairing the European Parliament Burns supper in Brussels last week, by insisting that all bids in the charity auction be in pounds rather than euros. Just to show how parlous the state of the economy is, a shiny ingot-style block of 18 Tunnock's wafers was described as the new Scottish reserve currency, and was sold to a sweet-toothed expat for £75."

Mr Smith thought that the European Parliament was trying to stop consumers from being ripped off? £75 for a box of Tunnocks wafers is a rip off, even if it was for charity. By Mr Smith's reckoning you could have gotten 444 Tunnocks wafers for £75 and that is at Tesco prices.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Feeling Perky.

Mr Smith thinks this is all very dodgy. The Deputy Chief seems to really like rugby, but the other details demonstrate just how entertaining being a senior cop can actually be.

"ONE of Scotland’s most senior police officers accepted dozens of gifts from private firms and sports organisations, including tickets to rugby matches, golf tournaments, theatre performances and a pop concert. Tom Halpin, the deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders, is believed to have accepted more corporate hospitality than any other senior officer in Scotland. Over the past three years he has attended at least 10 rugby internationals as a guest of the Scottish Rugby Union, including a France v Scotland match in Paris. He also accepted two invitations from the Royal Bank of Scotland to attend golf tournaments at Gleneagles and the Euro 2008 qualifier between Scotland and Italy in 2007 at Hampden, where he was treated to a champagne reception."

And all at the same time as the thin blue line is looking increasingly under pressure.

"Police officers in Scotland took an average of 10 days’ sick leave last year, almost double the amount taken by private-sector workers. Injuries suffered during non-frontline duties and stress because of rising paperwork have been blamed for the high sickness rates among Scottish officers, many of whom are off for months at a time."

But why are so many big companies so keen to keep on the good side of the cops?

Charlie's Darling.

Another disclosure about the expenses claims of one of our MSPs.

"The son of Charlie Gordon MSP has received more than £26,000 in parliamentary expenses for work carried out on behalf of his father with additional payments also made by at least one other MSP, it emerged last night. Figures show that Gavin Gordon was paid for work carried out on his father's website, call handling and other consultancy work, which amounted to £15,246 for the 2007-08 session alone. Payments have been made to Gavin Gordon for the past three years after invoices from his enterprise, GMG Solutions, run from his home in the Whiteinch area of Glasgow, were sent to Holyrood. He received £9747 in 2006-07, and £1400 in 2005-06. But the website address given for GMG Solutions on the invoices does not exist, with the domain name not registered and a search on the internet does not throw up any trace of the sole trader." And, for the record, Charlie's denial of the story.

Not So Green.

Another insight into the expenses claims made by our elected representatives, courtesy of Drumlanrig, "GREEN BUT CERTAINLY NOT NAIVE ... How do former MSPs earn money when they get kicked out of parliament? Easy – they live off their colleagues' expenses. Green party leader Patrick Harvie lists among newly revealed expenses a payment of £1,200 on "consultancy work" for an organisation called EMBE. This body describes itself as an "environmental communications" company run by none other than Mark Ballard... the former Green MSP."

A bit of back scratching going on?