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They Think It’s All Over!

The SNP are the equivalent of 2-0 up with twenty minutes to go in the Scottish election campaign. I have been thinking for some time that the SNP would have to beware, because sooner or later Labour would wake up and realise that this wasn’t a Westminster election and that they could really criticise the Condem coalition all they wanted to little or no effect

I was amazed to read this morning’s Herald therefore, which reports a re-launch of Labour’s campaign. Although Gray and co seem to have woken up to the fact that it’s the SNP they need to take on in this election, amazingly their re-launch was more of the same old negativity and scare tactics.

Gray spent the re-launch talking mainly about Alex Salmond and the SNP. He focussed on independence.

Has defence ever been the best form of attack?

It’s 3-0 and the rest of the party look at Gray as he inexplicably volleys the ball into his own net!

Fifteen minutes to go. Even Alex Ferguson must be worried now.

Oh Lord!

Lord George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, FRSA, FRSE, PC will I fear be choking on his breakfast croissant this morning when he looks at how the SNP are now surging ahead in the polls. George it was who famously proclaimed that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead.

Whatever the effect on ‘nationalism’ It certainly hasn’t done the SNP any harm.

Keep Well – Stay Out of the Sun

I’m certain that although the SNP seem to be moving in the right direction in the polls, Eck will have very mixed feelings about the Scottish Sun’s front page this morning:

The certain thing is that just as the last time the tabloid supported the Nats (“Rise Now and be a Nation Again”) this will be a temporary tactic because it suits the paper’s agenda for one reason or another. For every action by Rupert’s organ, an equal and opposite reaction can be expected somewhere down the line.

On the other hand I suppose it is refreshing that the traditional media antipathy towards the SNP in Scotland seems to be abating somewhat. Even the party’s most vehement of critics seem to be laying off a bit and it appears that the good old Pavlovian Daily Record are the only ones left to cheer lead for Scottish Labour.

Maybe this will be the time when Scotland finally splits with it’s curious blind loyalty to the party.

The Sun also damns Labour with this article. I’m sure that readers who know the area will puzzle as to why Howattshaws Rd in Dumbarton has been pinpointed. Knowing the town as I do, I’d be amazed if Howattshaws Rd was in the top ten poor streets in Dumbarton/Vale of Leven area let alone the top fifty in Scotland. It could be that the ‘high flats’ there have skewed the equation somewhat.

Poor old Iain Gray though. Here, two chaps called Fin and Geishy pay homage:

“Feel the rain like a Scottish summer
Hear the notes from a distant song
Stepping out from a back door Subway
Wishing life wouldn’t be so dull

Ah, we fade to gray, fade to gray
Ah, we fade to gray, fade to gray
Ah, we fade to gray
Deperir a gris
Ah, we fade to gray, fade to gray
Deperir a gris”

The Scottish election is by no means done and dusted but the support of the Sun, despite all the baggage and the almost inevitable pie in the face somewhere down the line, could be a pivotal moment in the campaign.

Come on the Nats

In my time I have voted for all the major political parties, and some minor ones (with one exception – I have never voted Tory). I listen to the arguments and based on that, make my decision sometimes on the basis of local matters and sometimes those of national importance.

I have been generally impressed with the way the SNP has gone about its business as the minority government in Scotland since 2007. Mostly I’ve agreed with what they have done and have tried to do. Even on those occasions where I have had issues with proposed legislation (eg the alcohol pricing proposals) I recognise that opposition was generally politically motivated.

How else would one explain the Condem coalition proposing similar measures for England and Wales?

The SNP in government has done its best to help a cause very close to my heart i.e. arresting the decline of town centres in Scotland. The £60 million Town Centres Regeneration Fund wasn’t much but it was at least a step in the right direction. Rates relief for small businesses was another initiative which helped in a small way to begin the journey of regeneration of our town centres and ergo, communities.

Let me say here that my own business did not benefit by one penny on the rates relief measure but a few smaller businesses I know did.

The issue of derelict town centres, with retail properties lying empty all over the country as a result of disastrous town planning decisions and the profusion of out of town shopping centres, surely has to be addressed somehow?

That’s why the proposal by John Swinney to levy a tax on the very largest retailers to raise £30 million for the Scottish exchequer is to be applauded.

The tax based on property will affect only 215 out of 215,000 business premises and is I would suggest a ‘no brainer’.

However Labour and their friends the Tories and Libdems are opposing the proposals for the same reason that they and the Scottish media always oppose the Nats. No matter how good and popular the policies, no matter how able the politicians by comparison to their opponents, no matter how imaginative their ideas and frankly no matter what they try to do, they must, it would appear, be stopped at all costs.

Those who oppose the Nats should be careful what they wish for.

The sobering thought s that should the polls prove correct then it could be Ian Gray for First Minister.

Perish the thought.

Gray Day

The whole stushie about the resignation of Scottish transport minister Stewart Stevenson resigning is a microcosm of the blame culture we live in.

The Labour party and Ian Gray are at the forefront of this culture it would seem. When it became clear that if Stevenson didn’t resign there would be a no confidence motion, then he had no choice.

What I have still to hear is what should have been done prior to the completely unprecedented and freak weather conditions which befell Scotland last Monday. Some say they were forecast but is that so? The forecast was almost identical to that of the previous week when conditions were not nearly so bad.

Should Stevenson have stepped in and closed the motorway network on the Sunday night? How foolish would that have been if the snowfall had been not quite so bad and an hour or two later?

How much fun would the Record and Sun have had at his expense then?

So now any transport minister faced with freak weather conditions has to resign if there is ensuing chaos on the roads.

Mr Gray may well rue the day he set the precedent.

Independent Mind

“I dinna ken muckle about the law,” answered Mrs Howden; “but I ken, when we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o’ our ain, we could aye peeble them wi’ stanes when they werena gude bairns – Bit naebody’s nails can reach the length o’ Lunnon.”

Walter Scott, Heart of Midlothian. Via Lallands Peat Worrier

Rauf Justice?

I have over recent years voted SNP. This is quite a shift for someone who registered a double “No” in the devolution referendum (There. I’ve admitted it). I remember being quite mystified at the celebrations on the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

Hooray! Another tier of lawyers spouting law at us!
Hooray! We’ll get Labour as a governing party instead of….er….Labour!
Hooray! This’ll cost a fortune!
Hooray! Our lives will be governed by failed Westminster candidates and glorified cooncillors!

I became nostalgic for the days when one parliament governing Scotland was considered a sufficiency of the bloody things (instead of the current three)

However, over time I came round to the idea, the Labour/Liberal administration worked as the two parties seemed to co-operate fairly well. There was representation too for other minor parties who hitherto had not had a proper parliamentary voice. Then of course in the last Scottish parliamentary elections we (I say we, and I include myself here) elected, albeit in a minority situation a genuine alternative government for those matters deemed unimportant enough to be dealt with in Edinburgh.

(Get on with it – Ed)

The SNP seemed to provide a refreshing change to politics here. And somehow they didn’t seem to have the same level of sleaze associated with them as their Nulab and Completecon counterparts. The intervention on the Trump planning decision despite all the huffing and puffing, was exactly what Labour would have done in the same circumstances. The release of Megrahi seemed to some of us at least as the correct decision for the right reasons no matter the straying off the path of procedure by Kenny McAskill.

Now however, hot on the heels of the news that Eck has been billing folk £9k for the pleasure of his company for lunch at the Parly, comes the astonishing story that his deputy Nicola Sturgeon wrote a letter on behalf of her constituent in Govan, Abdul Rauf pleading for him not to be given a custodial sentence.

Mr Rauf it turns out is a serial thief and fraudster, having amongst other things, been found guilty of theft of £65,000 benefit money when he was a sub postmaster. The current case centres around Mr Rauf’s claiming of income support between 2001 and 2005 whilst simultaneously living in a £400,000 house and failing to declare rental income on a £200,000 property in Edinburgh.

In her letter to the court Ms Sturgeon said Rauf had already repaid £27,000 of the money owed and had said he was going to sell one of his properties to repay the rest of the cash.

The MSP for Glasgow Govan, who said she became aware of the case in July 2008, also pointed out in the letter that Rauf had suffered from poor health for a number of years and had a family with children under the age of 10.

She asked the court not to jail him because of the impact that might have on his health and family life.

Sheriff Alan MacKenzie told Rauf that a jail term was “at the forefront” of his mind but said he would defer sentence for three months and released him on bail.

Nicola Sturgeon says she was “duty bound” to submit a letter on Mr Rauf’s behalf

Having read the opinion of several of M’learned friends, she was not “duty bound” at all. One prosecutor who has had a whole working life in the legal profession says that this is the first such instance (of a [politician submitting such a letter) he can remember.

Mr Rauf is clearly a man who does not mind spending some cash* in his endeavours to stay out of prison. I’m sure the services of Donald Findlay QC did not come cheaply.

One is left hoping that Ms Sturgeon’s letter is just an act of folly and spectacular misjudgement*.

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