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?


Mr Smith sees that the Scottish Government is seeking to recruit Front of House Staff.

"A lot of very different people of every age, religion, creed, colour and walk of life visit the Scottish Government every day. As a result, we’re looking for Front of House (security and reception) staff from as wide a range of backgrounds as our visitors. The roles are based in either Edinburgh (Victoria Quay, St Andrew’s House, Saughton House and Pentland House). The position involves working a combination of day, early, back and night shifts."

But the salary at £14,000 - £16,947 might not guarantee visitors a very warm welcome.

Friday, 30 January 2009

The Broons.

Courtesy of one of Mr Smith's Glasgow "readers." Did you see it? Was it worth waiting for?

Dodgy? Until Proven Guilty.

"A MAN accused of a string of sex offences attended a prestigious council gala as a politician's guest. Alan Wilson, 64 - who is due to stand trial in April - was invited to the bash for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club by councillor pal John Holden. The event, held by Highland Council in Inverness, was hosted by Provost Jimmy Gray."

Mr Smith is a great believer in people being viewed as innocent until being proven guilty, but surely Highland Council should be showing a bit more concern for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to the alleged victims of Mr Wilson until he appears in court?

But then again Councillor Holden has previous form as being a bit dodgy.

Just Visiting.

And courtesy of Drumlanrig again, "Being an MSP would be a great job, if it wasn't for those pesky constituents. The new Holyrood expenses also show that eight members have even farmed out the job of showing visiting voters round the Parliament, spending a total of £700 on on-site tour guides to do the job. Step forward Bashir Ahmad, Keith Brown, Malcolm Chisholm, Fiona Hyslop, Richard Lochhead, Kenny MacAskill, Mary Mulligan and Mike Russell."

Mr Smith can understand why Ministers may not always be able to take the time to show constituents around the Parliament as events overtake their diaries, but are the others really that hard pressed for time, and don't the Ministers have staff that could do the job for them?

Thursday, 29 January 2009


Mr Smith admires Mr Salmond's optimism, but Mr Smith believes the SNP have no chance of winning a referendum on independence in the foreseeable future, so what excuse will Oor Eck come up with for not having one? We will have to wait and see,

"Alex Salmond is to press ahead with plans for an independence referendum bill next year despite the economic downturn and the collapse of Scottish banking. The first minister said Barack Obama’s victory in the American election demonstrates that people can vote for change during turbulent times."

No offence to Mr Salmond, but he ain't no Barack Obama, and more to the point, Gordon Brown, whatever his faults, is no George Walker Bush.


Do you have one?

"MOVE over, iPhone; the latest must-have gadget for international men of mystery is the BarackBerry. The president of the United States is to become the proud owner of a secure, souped-up, high-tech personal digital assistant (PDA). It comes fully loaded with encryption devised by the National Security Agency (NSA), which gathers intelligence from cyberspace. The buzz about Obama’s BlackBerry replacement is “almost as exciting as the presidential dog”, reported Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, this weekend. There is speculation that the e-mailer-in-chief will carry a Sectera Edge, made by General Dynamics, the military contractor, and developed specially for the NSA. At the touch of a button it can switch from an ordinary PDA to a secure communications device."

Sounds like a great gadget ... or just a President's boy toy?

Another Bad Cop?

"A POLICEMAN has been accused of assaulting a teenage boy and destroying a recording of the attack. PC Brian Carswell, 48, denies grabbing suspected thief David Shields, 16, by the throat and pinned him against a wall during an official interview. When three other officers entered the room at Ayr Police Station, they found Shields crying with marks on his throat. Slightly built Shields, of Ayr, claimed 15- stone Carswell assaulted him and that he had recorded it on his mobile phone."

The courts will decide.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Tommy's Big Bother.

"BIG Brother star Tommy Sheridan and his wife Gail are to stand trial for perjury. In a court case that could cost £20million, the couple are accused of lying during Tommy's defamation case against a Sunday newspaper. Yesterday, the firebrand politician vowed to fight the charges."

Mr Smith isn't sure where the estimate of £20 million came from, but the court case should be worth a watch. But will our Tommy defy the establishment again and get off? Or will he be one of the few politicians who actually end up being convicted for telling lies?

Kofi Anyone?

Now Mr Smith realises that the Daily Record wouldn't put Alex Salmond at the top of its popularity list, but even he thinks on this occasion their story might not just be trying to create a storm in Kofi cup.

"ALEX Salmond is desperately trying to organise a visit from Kofi Annan - after jumping the gun by announcing the former UN chief was coming to Scotland. The First Minister told the Year of Homecoming launch on Saturday that he had accepted an offer from Burns fan Annan to deliver a lecture on the Bard. Now an embarrassed Salmond has issued an official invitation to the Ghanaian statesman - and aides are praying he will accept."

There are protocols to be observed in these things and Mr Smith thinks the FM shot as usual from the hip without thinking before hand. Our Eck is growing increasingly impatient these days.

Who Dares ...

Mr Smith is reminded of the old expression, "be careful for what you wish for."

And why should the Scottish Government get a free pass from opposition parties for its budget? The Scottish Government is fond of reminding us that it is a minority administration, and minority administrations can't expect a majority of MSPs to automatically vote for its plans. We'll see. Mr Smith thinks the budget will pass.

"MINISTERS last night dared opponents to vote down today's Holyrood Budget, claiming they would pay a heavy political price for blocking a Budget designed to take account of hard times in the current economy."


This is normally an accolade reserved for our local authority representatives, but Mr Smith has no qualms in extending the nomenclature to Mr Nigel Don MSP. It is perfectly proper for the taxpayer to meet the legitimate and unavoidable expenses incurred by MSPs, but when even they admit to engineering a move of house in order to be able to claim expenses they wouldn't otherwise be able to claim isn't the whole process increasingly coming into disrepute?

"A MINISTERIAL aide has admitted "coordinating" £765,000 in property deals to claim a controversial mortgage allowance that was about to be scrapped. Nationalist MSP Nigel Don was unable to claim mortgage interest on a flat in Edinburgh as he lived in Dundee - which was too close to Holyrood for the subsidy. But the SNP politician sold his family home of 19 years, bought a house in Aberdeen and then used his new found eligibility for the taxpayer-funded perk to buy a property in the capital."

Is it any wonder that the average voter has little time left for their elected representatives, especially when one of them living in Dundee ups sticks and moves to Aberdeen because it is in the political interests of the SNP? For the record Mr Don denies any wrongdoing.


From the Herald Diary, "SO, are our expensively-paid politicians at the Scottish Parliament coping with new technology? Well, what about the committee meeting this week when convener Trish Godman of the Labour Party declared: "I ask those who have mobile phones and blueberries to switch them off." This stirred the LibDems' Ross Finnie, who asked: "Blueberries?" Replied Trish: "BlackBerrys. Perhaps some of you have blueberries." Brambles?" continued Ross, having, we suspect, a bit of fun with the convener. "If you have brambles, or anything else, please switch them off," said Trish. But then it got all boring again, so we switched off. "

Mr Smith seems to recall that we have been here before.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Most Expensive.

In all the coverage of the latest set of expenses claimed by Members of the Scottish Parliament, "posh bloke" and Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader, Tavish Scott MSP earns the dubious title of having claimed the highest level of expenses of any of the 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament. He does represent Shetland, but other MSPs represent other constituencies that are arguable just as remote and some many times the size of Shetland.

"MSPs claimed more than £10 million worth of expenses last year including toilet rolls and management guru guides, figures revealed yesterday. The individual expense claims of all the MSPs for 2007-8, as published by the Scottish Parliament, came to a total of £10,250,471. The sum was £10,815 less than the year before, despite the fact that it also included the amount given back to 42 former MSPs who either retired or were voted out of office in May 2007."

Nice work if you can get it. The overall bill may be falling, but there are still in many cases more questions than answers.

The Gorbals.

Never has the Gorbals has such prominence in the field of international relations.

"BARACK OBAMA made a historic phone call to Gordon Brown yesterday - while the PM was in the Gorbals. They discussed the global economic crisis for the first time since Obama became US president. The talks, which included plans for a summit in London in April, came minutes after Brown arrived at the City Building training academy in Glasgow's Gorbals."

For Information.

Is it just Mr Smith or might Mr Dunion just be better getting on with his "day job" before taking on external commitments. After all, there doesn't appear to be an shortage of Freedom of Information requests needing answered, or pursued when government refuses them.

"THE new lord rector at St Andrews University, Scotland’s information commissioner Kevin Dunion, will be officially installed in early March."

Monday, 26 January 2009


You would think before embarking on trying to deliver its plans for a local income tax, the Scottish Government might actually have bothered to check that it had the legal powers to do so.

"The Scottish Government is to be told there is "no legal basis" for its plans to introduce a local income tax, it emerged today. The SNP Holyrood administration plans to introduce the charge to replace the council tax. Finance secretary John Swinney has said previously his preferred option is for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to collect the tax. But it emerged David Hartnett, the head of Revenue and Customs, is to send a letter to Scotland's top civil servant Sir John Elvidge, the draft of which states: "There is no legal basis for a local income tax along the lines outlined in the SNP consultation document." A spokesman for Mr Swinney today insisted: "We have every right and ability to scrap the unfair council tax and replace it with a fair local income tax to fund local authority expenditure."

Mr Smith isn't a constitutional lawyer, but he tends to think that the powers on this issue are reserved to Westminster and as such the Scottish Government doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. What next Mr Swinney? And in how many other areas of policy which the Scottish Government is hoping to legislate on doesn't it have the powers to do so?

Thom and Ecky.

Mr Smith paraphrases tennis player John McEnroe: surely The First Minister cannot be serious?

"FIRST Minister Alex Salmond may soon be adding a new line to his extensive list of careers on his CV – that of singer. Mr Salmond has worked as an economist, visiting professor, MP and MSP, but next month at Banff he will reveal another of his talents when he performs a duet with Sandi Thom on stage at the Fife Lodge Hotel."

Can he? What's next?

Bad Former Cop.

"A FORMER police officer who crashed his car while almost three times the legal limit was banned from driving for 18 months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday. Gordon Glass, 45, of Lochearnhead, Perthshire, crashed his Renault Clio into a barrier on the A7 just outside Newtongrange, Midlothian, in November 2007. He left Lothian and Borders Police after the crash."

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Interior Decoration.

Given the shambles that is what's left of Scotland's financial services industry it is good to see that other potential industrial giants are emerging to replace it.

"A FAMILY-OWNED Scottish textile company is set to have a key role in helping the Obama family redecorate the White House. Biggar-based Calzeat Ltd are expected to produce the fabrics that will be used by the celebrity interior designer Michael Smith when he begins work on redecorating the presidential home over the coming months."

Good luck to them and great to see the Obamas doing something for Scottish business.

Bonfire Postponed.

Every politician promises the "bonfire of quangos." Very few ever deliver it. There never seem to be enough matches to go around, but the fact that the Scottish Government has admitted that it is having to delay a piece of legislation for three months suggests that all is not going well at the Lubyanka that is St Andrew's House. Whatever the official line, when one piece of legislation is delayed, it is usually because others have been as well, and things are running less smoothly than expected.

"MEASURES to reduce the number of quangos and watchdogs have been delayed by three months. The public services reform bill will not be introduced until late May to allow more work on it. It aims to reduce public bodies by 25 per cent, and also set up arts body Creative Scotland."

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Once ... Twice.

Here's hoping it wasn't an omen of the shape of things to come.

"Barack Obama has been sworn in as US president for the second time in two days, because one word was given out of order during Tuesday's ceremony. The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, John Roberts, administered the oath again at the White House. The decision to repeat the oath was taken out of an abundance of caution, an official said. But Mr Obama joked: "We decided it was so much fun...." before adding: "We're going to do it very slowly."

Happy Consulting.

Mr Smith isn't sure that Audit Scotland spending public money on external consultants is in the same league as other public bodies that should know better spending even more cash, but perhaps they should also be more careful about how they spend public money?

"SCOTLAND'S SPENDING watchdog is paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to consultants each year despite criticising other public bodies for the same practice. Audit Scotland last week published a damning report on the use of consultants across government, concluding that a lack of strategy and planning was costing taxpayers a fortune. After looking at how central government and 38 quangos (excluding itself) spent £114 million on consultants in 2006-07, it calculated £13m could have been saved by better management."

Councillor Deans.

Mr Smith has commented previously on the antics of "hokey cokey ... in out" Councillor Colin Deans who defected from the SNP group on Glasgow City Council to join the Labour Party, then perhaps not join the Labour Party and instead become an Independent.

Well he is still listed as a Scottish Labour Party Councillor, but in his very sparse declaration of interests on the Council website, dated 23 May 2007 (which surely must mean it is very out of date and not actually compliant with the legislation under which it is lodged,) he also gives another fascinating insight into his activities by stating:

"I am a freemason and hold office, I have taken higher orders and expect to make future progress."

This might explain why he appears to be so popular with so many of his fellow Councillors in Glasgow. Of all parties.

Friday, 23 January 2009


Mr Smith has reported previously on the oft used political phenomenon of "put out the trash day" when our political masters use the fact that some events generate so much media coverage that they can sneak out bad or controversial news which then gets less media coverage and scrutiny than it would otherwise.

A case in point appears to be the announcement, on the day of President Barack Obama's inauguration, of proposals by the City of Glasgow Council to close and amalgamate over twenty schools across the city.

"TEACHERS from Scotland's largest local authority are facing redundancy in the wake of controversial proposals to close 25 primary and nursery schools. The move follows an announcement by Glasgow City Council that it plans to shut 13 primaries and 12 nurseries in the city to bring in savings of £3.7m a year. Up to 100 teaching staff at the closure-threatened schools have been assured there will be no compulsory redundancies, but officials said some staff cuts would be made, either through voluntary severance or early retirement schemes."

Now if Glasgow needs to close schools and can do it without children's' education being damaged then so be it, but the fact that they used a loaded news cycle to avoid initial scrutiny of the proposals in Mr Smith's opinion really sucks.

He Was Evicted.

So Tommy Sheridan leaves the Big Brother Hoose with his head held high and no cops were involved - for a change. He didn't win. He didn't really lose. He wasn't first. He wasn't last. A bit like how it will be for everyone in Scotland after the Revolution. Very egalitarian, but he can leave the programme secure in the knowledge he has his cheque to fund his new legal career.

"SCOTTISH Socialist firebrand Tommy Sheridan was booed by crowds as he became the fifth celebrity to be voted off Big Brother last night. The former MSP, who went on the reality television show to pay for his law degree, told host Davina McCall last night: "I was very pleased when they called my name."


Isn't this the sort of thing that caused all sorts of political ructions in East Lothian when the Chief Executive of the Council decided to retire only to have the decision reversed and him eventually walking away with nothing?

It smells to Mr Smith. Ironically this is perhaps one occasion when they should have employed an external consultant.

"A HOLYROOD OFFICIAL will walk away with a £270,000 golden goodbye as a result of a job losses plan she personally drew up. Carol Devon recently proposed the five parliament directors' posts, which include her own £95,000-a-year job, should be cut to four."

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Jings. Crivvens. Help Ma Boab.

The Broons.

"Oh! Michty me! There's sure tae be a stooshie at the Burns supper at Number 10 this week. That's Number 10 Glebe Street, not Downing, when Prime Minister Gordon Broon' and First Minister Big Eck' Salmond, both turn up for a taste of Maw Broon's haggis, neeps and tatties, to celebrate the Bard's 250th birthday. In true Broons style, a mix up occurs when the twins think they are having salmon for tea only to be amazed when Paw returns home with Mr Salmond instead."

This we have to see. It is almost on a par in Scottish terms with Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration this week.

Any Questions?

Mr Smith agrees that the bosses of the big banks should be called to account for their dismal handling of their businesses not least Sir Fred "the Shred" Goodwin for his management of Royal Bank of Scotland which led to losses this week of £28 billion being reported. But Mr Smith thinks it should be Westminster that does the cross examination and not the Scottish Parliament.

"The former bosses of Scotland's biggest banks yesterday faced calls to appear before a Scottish Parliament inquiry after Labour suggested that Holyrood should have its own probe into why the captains of the banking industry fell so low. Labour wants Sir Fred Goodwin, of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Andy Hornby, of HBOS, to be held to account for their "mismanagement".

If Westminster doesn't act though then someone should be asking some questions publicly of the banks given that the great Scottish public are effectively all bankers now by massively underwriting most of them. But some MSPS might be prefering to forget the fact that many of them supported and tabled a series of Motions in the Scottish Parliament praising RBS as far back as 2005. The most fawning Motion from February 2008, lodged by Murdo Fraser MSP, stated:

"That the Parliament congratulates the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) and HBOS plc for achieving year-end pre-tax profits of £9.9 billion and £5.47 billion respectively in 2007; welcomes the strong profit margins, which have come during an unstable time for the banking sector across the world, thus underlining the strength and success of these two major Scottish-headquartered companies; recognises the importance and contribution that both banks make to the Scottish economy and applauds their continued positions among the world leaders in the banking and financial sectors; also notes the various foundations and charities that RBS and HBOS donate to and work with, as well as the importance that they give to corporate social responsibility; and believes that all Scotland should celebrate the continued success of RBS and HBOS."

It was signed by a number of MSPs, namely, Jamie McGrigor, Derek Brownlee, Alex Johnstone, John Lamont, Elizabeth Smith, Nanette Milne, John Scott, Stuart McMillan, Jackie Baillie, Mary Scanlon, Jamie Stone, Bill Aitken, Iain Gray, Gil Paterson, Liam McArthur, Rt Hon Jack McConnell, Tom McCabe.

Mr Smith wonders if they will be rethinking their support in light of more recent events.

Vote For Sale?

Mr Smith thinks there is a fine line between an elected representative legitimately using their influence to benefit their constituents and hawking their vote to an administration for a few million pounds a pop.

"THE SNP were yesterday accused of trying to "buy" a vote in favour of their budget. Finance secretary John Swinney's spending plans include a £3.5million grant for Edinburgh after pressure from independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald."

Margo is an Independent so she has little influence in the Scottish Parliament other than by using her vote on an issue by issue basis, in exchange for whatever she can get, but does that make it right? But it is ironic for the Labour Party to be complaining about it given that PM Gordon Brown did exactly the same thing last year, only on a massively bigger scale when he had to "buy" the votes of Ulster Unionists to keep his government's plans to allow the detention of terror suspects for 42-days on track in the House of Commons. For the record the Government denied a deal had ever been done.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Yes He Can

Bridge To Nowhere.

What a jolly political wheeze from the Confederation of British Industry In Scotland (The CBI) to use the confusion over the financing of the new Forth Road Bridge to attempt to resurrect it's call for the privatisation of Scottish Water.

"SCOTTISH Water should be sold off to pay for the new Forth road bridge, one of Scotland's most prominent business leaders will claim today."

Perhaps it is just Mr Smith, but when any government has to flog off its assets to pay for major infrastructure projects then they are probably already on the slippery slopes that no government wants to be on. And shame on the CBI for putting it's perspective ahead of that of the country as a whole.

Save The Snail?

Is this really all the Scottish Government should be worrying about?

"Bugs, snails and starfish to be protected ... A new vision for the conservation of thousands of Scotland's animal species has been set out today. Invertebrates, such as insects and shellfish, make up around 98 per cent of Scotland's animal species and a new strategy will aim to ensure they are valued and conserved for future generations."

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

A New Day In America.

And hopefully the world.


Breaking up is never easy to do ... even if you are George Galloway. Commiserations George. But the article also provides an interesting insight into what life is currently like in Chez Galloway.

"GEORGE Galloway was divorced by his second wife yesterday on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour."

RBS ... Making It Happen.

Voice Of Liberty.

A really strange article in today's Scotsman, with Conservative MSP and Justice Spokesman Bill Aitken highlighting some of the problems around the Scottish Government's proposed clampdown on extreme pornographic materials.

"Art will suffer under porn ban, warns MSP ... A CRACKDOWN on extreme pornography by the Scottish Government will be difficult to enforce and could end up banning art, critics said yesterday. Downloading images of rape and other extreme material will be punishable by up to three years in prison under laws to be unveiled next month, The Scotsman yesterday revealed.But Conservative MSP Bill Aitken, the convener of the Justice Committee, which will have to scrutinise the proposed Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, said he had grave concerns over how a new law might work, especially as the new laws on downloading images of rape and serious assault could include simulations between consenting adults."

When Scots have to rely on Bill Aitken to be the voice of liberty in the Scottish Parliament we should all start to be worried about what our politicians are doing with the law and what that ultimately means for our civil liberties.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Burns Supper USA.

"ALEX SALMOND is attempting to form his own special relationship. The First Minister is trying to schmooze Barack Obama by inviting him to a glitzy Burns Supper in Washington, even suggesting that the President-elect shares some of the qualities of Scotland's national poet."

Mr Smith has a funny feeling that President Obama might be busy, wither washing his hair or solving some of the major problems facing the world's largest remaining superpower.

But it appears that Our Alex will spin any story for a cheap headline. Very unstatesmanlike.


Very dodgy.

"LEADERS of a council have agreed to spend £15,000 of taxpayers' money attending a golf tournament in Dubai the same week they were criticised for closing a local swimming pool. Four members of staff at South Ayrshire Council will join its provost and council leader on the trip to the Dubai Desert Classic Golf Tournament later this month, where they plan to promote the south-west of Scotland as a tourism destination during the Homecoming Year."

It is nothing more than a junket and South Ayrshire Council should just pull the plug on it before it causes any more embarrassment.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

LATE Edition.

It was the last word in Sunday politics and today was the first Sunday in eleven years it wasn't broadcast.

Mr Smith has been watching it for years and following the death last year of Tim Russert, the host of Meet The Press, Mr Smith's Sunday mornings will never be the same.

Goodbye LATE Edition. The jury is still out on LATE Edition's replacement: State of The Union.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Thinner Blue Line.

When we have to make cuts in the numbers of police officers being recruited on order to protect the pensions of those that are already serving or have retired then it seems to Mr Smith that something is not right somewhere.

"Up to 30 fewer police officers are to be recruited in the north-east than was planned after councillors moved to plug a force pension funding shortfall."

Lucky Nigel.

"NIGEL Griffiths, MP for South Edinburgh, is to be an official guest at the inauguration of Barack Obama as US President on Tuesday. Mr Griffiths was invited to attend the event by Steny Hoyer, leader of the majority Democrat party in the House of Representatives. The two met when Mr Griffiths was Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. He was due to fly to Washington today."

Lucky him, but surely Scotland has people better qualified to be at President Obama's inauguration?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Truth Hurts.

"Alex Salmond is at the centre of two separate investigations into the "veracity" of replies to MSPs."

Mr Smith dares to suggest that if our politicians were forced to actually tell the truth then the number of them that would be left sitting in the Debating Chamber in the Scottish Parliament could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Good luck to the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alex Fergusson MSP, with his inquiries but Mr Smith suspects they will be quietly buried before they actually have to force MSPs to do something which they are genetically preprogrammed to be incapable of doing, namely telling the voters the truth.

Should Do Better.

It would appear that Scotland's much heralded educational system really isn't as good as Scots thought.

"A lost generation of pupils aged eight to 14 is being failed by Scotland's education system, with concerns over literacy and numeracy and poor performance in subjects such as maths, languages and science, according to a landmark report."

Perhaps is the Scottish Government spent less time on the distractions of Scotland's constitutional position and more time sorting out the issue it already has responsibility for then more Scottish kids would have a better chance of a healthier and better life? Who needs Independence to sort out Scotland's educational system?

He's A Bad Chief Cop.

"THE HEAD of a police force today apologised after being caught speeding. Tayside Chief Constable Kevin Mathieson was caught doing 72mph in a 60mph zone on the A9 near Kingussie last September."

But will the Chief face the disciplinary proceedings that would probably result is any of his officers found themselves in a similar position.

He's a bad cop.


"CCTV FOOTAGE has revealed how a senior councillor drunkenly smashed his car into a neighbour's Toyota and threatened another man with a baseball bat. The pictures show how Gordon Beurskens, a kingmaker on the SNP-led council in West Lothian, went on the rampage on the A71 outside a hotel he used to own. The incident, in 2003, led Beurskens to plead guilty to drink driving, dangerous driving, and assault. He was later elected to the council as a health campaigner."

Mr Smith is sure that the voters of West Lothian are thrilled by the calibre of their political representatives. Mr Smith thinks at least three of them have now been proven to be very dodgy. A higher proportion than any other Scottish Council ... so far.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Party Hack.

"THE SNP has been accused of cronyism after appointing party member Graham Houston to chair the Scottish Qualifications Authority. Mr Houston is leader of Stirling Council and a leading member of the Scottish Nationalist Party."

Mr Smith thinks that perhaps the time has come to take politicians out of the process of appointing senior public sector officials. Maybe the process should be handled independently by a group of qualified HR professionals who make the decision not on the basis that someone is a party hack, but actually on the basis they can do the job. But Mr Smith also thinks that the bleating from Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians is totally hypocritical given that they got away with it during the first right years of devolution in Scotland and they never listened to opposition concerns in appointing their party members to well paid public sector jobs.