Thursday, October 20, 2016

Behind the barricades

Checking the  lie of the land on my approach to the SNP conference I was first greeted by 2 older chaps in bright red T shirts proffering "No to NP" leaflets. I refused their leaflet. They pursued me the length of the Hydro building explaining they didn't want child protection via 'Named Person' because they wanted to protect children... which was all rather odd. 

photo credit: No2NP

My next encounter with loose lobbyists was with the RMT. I spotted Gordon Martin with the loudhailer and headed straight for him to let him know that I was a big fan. I am. 

photo credit:RMT

My next encounter was with the Govanhill Ghetto tour touts. I stood a while to observe them. Loudhailer and home-made poster. 

There appeared to be 3 of them. Once they had positioned themselves, the loudhailer began broadcasting:

"Roll up! Roll up! get your tickets for the Govanhill Ghetto Tour. The bus leaves at 12.15! Don't miss out!
This is Nicola Sturgeon's constituency! We'll take you on a tour of rat infested slums! Pishy mattresses on the street! Crime! Squalor! Rats! Rats! Did I mention the rats? Rats the size of cats! Get your tickets! The bus leaves at 12.15!"

You couldn't help but feel for these guys. They were genuinely highlighting a serious issue with private landlords in Govanhill. A problem that has been building for years despite whole blocks of flats being compulsorily purchased by housing associations using Scottish Government funding, this is a community in dire need of attention. It's in dire need of a new Council.

All these lobbyists and protestors from the RMT and No2NP were free to roam about the entrances to the SECC and the Armadillo. There was no hassle, no separation. You could engage with them.

Later in the day I spotted saltires flying outside. I recognised the signature 17 foot flag pole belonging to a friend of mine and went down to say hello.

Immediately, I was struck by a very different scene before me. Where everyone had been milling around loud-hailing there were now barriers up. Everyone with a saltire or a YES t-shirt had been corralled behind crowd control barriers by the G4S security guards employed at the venue. There was also a police presence which hadn't been there previously. 

A sea of flags fluttering above happy smiling faces. All Yessing away in the drizzle... caged like livestock. 

photo: STV

Within minutes, they had adorned the barrier with the "Red Tories Out" banner that appears at all Yes gatherings in Glasgow. It reminds everyone that there is unfinished business in local government in Scotland. Labour's last bastion: The Councils.

I approached the barrier:

 "Why are you standing behind this barrier? 
  Who told you to stand behind this barrier?"

They told me that G4S security guards had told them to stay behind the barrier. 

"And you're just going to do what you're told?
This is a public space. You're in a public place. You can walk right through the SECC like it was a street - because it was once a street."

Talking to the saltired gathering it was full of SNP members unable to get a ticket to conference (there were only 3000 tickets available). Green Party members were there to remind everyone they were "still yes", and some people were there just hoping to get a glimpse of the First Minister so that they could tell her they were "ready when you are Nicola."

Far from being embarrassed* by this gathering, I was enthused by it's presence. It reminded us that Yes is not just the SNP. There are people of every party 
(and none) who are Scottish independence supporters.

Those who took umbrage at the "Red Tories Out" banner zip tied to the barricade ought to have been more concerned about the barricade.

Do check out why I used the*


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Tried to make me go to rehab...

Jeremy Corbyn came to Glasgow this week to give the annual Jimmy Reid memorial lecture at the Jimmy Reid Foundation. It was largely ignored by the press and. despite there being a by-election on in Glasgow on the same day, Corbyn didn't show his face on the campaign trail. The seat went to Roseanna Cunningham's wee brother Chris with a 20% swing to the SNP.

Jimmy Reid left the Labour Party and joined the SNP in 2004 six years before his untimely death in 2010.
Famously the "I didn't leave Labour, Labour left me* is often attributed to Jimmy. But this was his real feeling:

The Labour Party organisation in Scotland is the right wing variety; The #ChickenCoup variety; The Tony Blair fan variety.

For Corbyn to come to the Jimmy Reid Foundation and ask the Scots to come back to Labour is nothing but posturing. Corbyn did not lose Scotland. We were already gone before he was elected leader for the first time in 2015 and Corbyn knows that. 
Labour in Scotland get regular beatings, but yet they get up off the carpet and try and go another few rounds in a fight they will ultimately have to concede. They have used up any goodwill that they ever had in Scotland. 

A few days silence go by about Jeremy being in Glasgow because the press saved it up for the Sunday papers when they think we have more time to read (and we do). 

Kevin McKenna in the Observer

Kevin mistakenly thinks that Labour can be salvaged.  Immediately you can read into his prose that Kevin is pandering to an rUK audience when he uses the pejorative term "the nationalists" rather than call the SNP the SNP for consistency. This is a deliberate use of the word "nationalists" because it appears on the BBC approved list of things that are bad, like "insurgents" and "militants" and whispers... 'rise of nationalism... Nazis'.

He says that the SNP "coveted control of Glasgow City Council" like it was just about power, rather than swapping out a Council that was not working for it's people for one that was prepared to. He then tells us that the SNP have "virtually annexed the City". "Annexed"??? "Annexed"???? Again the not so subtle references to Nazi Germany. 

Kevin's writings of late have become brittle against the SNP. The sharp jaggy edges of his language have become more and more pronounced.

In summary, his article is yet another Kevin pep talk for Labour ahead of May's Council elections as he describes "the SNP's antipathy to Glasgow is both real and historic".

Why would an independence supporter like Kevin be so encouraging and 'team coachy' to a party that wants to retain the union at all costs?

We need to talk about Kevin.

But there is a new kid on the block in the Sunday Herald. Andrew Whitaker joined them on 4 October.

The new political editor of the Sunday Herald interviewed Corbyn during his day trip to Glasgow.He gives a good account of the proceedings and I look forward to hearing more from Andrew.

Corbyn reaches out "I understand your anger",goes the headline.
No Jeremy, you do not understand our anger.
Our anger is not just with Westminster. Our anger is with you and your party who took money from the Tories to run the most mendacious political campaign we have ever seen in Scotland: The original Project Fear. 

The Labour party are guilty of targeting and lying to the most vulnerable of our society and the resultant 'no' vote was based on those lies. From telling Polish people that they would be sent home, to pointing at mobility scooters of the disabled and saying they'd be gone with a 'yes' vote, to the ultimate crime: that of telling our 'oldies' that they would lose their pension.
Our anger at the 'no' vote is focused fairly and squarely on Labour.

Andrew Whitaker describes Corbyn's jaunt to Glasgow as the start of a "charm offensive" when it is just plain offensive.

You do not get to put on Jimmy Reid's donkey jacket 
and claim we are all the same. Jimmy Reid rejected Labour. Jimmy Reid wanted an independent Scotland.

You are no Jimmy Reid Mr Corbyn.

Jeremy fails to understand that the wave of Corbynism sweeping over England is but an echo of the social and political awakening that has already taken place in Scotland. Jeremy has nothing to offer us if he does not support independence.

If Jeremy wants the SNP to work with him at WM then I'm sure we have common ground. But if Jeremy wants Scotland to vote Labour, he's ontae plums.

No matter how the press try to rehabilitate the Labour brand in Scotland, there is no getting away from the fact that the UK Labour Party is primarily unionist and a party that would rather Scotland suffered under a Tory Government for all time than be an independent nation. It is also to be remembered that the Labour party did everything in their power to deny Scotland any new powers at the Smith Commission after sending in the 'clunking masonic handshake' of Gordon Brown to promise us the earth.

And there is no getting away from the fact that we have all sorts of evidence (photographic, documents and video) of Labour's betrayal of Scotland spanning decades. There is not one elected member of the Labour party in Scotland that we do not have evidence of them working hand-in-hand with the Tories. Not one.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Back in the Jug Agane

Still locked out of Twitter

Back soon x

FMQS 6 October

Before FMQS kicked off today Nicola made a direct attack on Ruth Davidson in the Parliament. She said that Ruth should be ashamed of herself after the Conservative Party Conference. In response, there was much cheering in the chamber.

Ruth Davidson:

Ruth began the questions with the recently published Strathclyde University's Fraser of Allander report on the risks to Scotland's business that says: Scotland could lose 80,000 jobs and that Brexit could cost every person in Scotland £2000.

Fraser of Allander Report here:

Ruth asked what the Scottish Government was doing to protect Scotland from Brexit risks. Laughter rose up in the chamber.

Nicola said it "was a bit rich asking how we are protecting about risks when it was her Government that created them". Nicola said that Scottish Government was doing everything in their power to protect Scotland and "unlike Ruth Davidson my position hasn't changed" (referring to Ruth's position post EU ref vote where she has moved from wanting access to a single market and accepting Conservative Party HQ line of hard Brexit with no access to single market). 

Here is Ruth's position in July:

Ruth then moved on to underground coal gasification.
(Ruth wants us to become a world leader in this area). She made mention of an expert report on the Scottish Government's website.(The report is about fracking, not UCG).

Nicola said that "Ruth seems to think that we should ride roughshod over environmental concerns". She recognised that reports on UCG and fracking were on their way to the Scottish Government and "Paul Wheelhouse will report back and we will proceed with caution".

Ruth moved on to the food and drink aspect of the Fraser of Allander report. "Latin America has a huge market for Scottish Whisky" and claimed that "below Texas, Scotland has no presence in America". Ruth asked the First Minister what trade links would be set up to encourage international trade with Scotland. 

Nicola said Ruth has moved from UCG to fracking and says that Ruth doesn't seem to know the difference between the two.

Nicola said the SDI are doing excellent work and there will be new investment hubs in London Paris and Dublin - so that we are not reliant on Boris Johnson to protect Scottish trade.

SDI info:

Ruth then accused the FM in being more interested in her (Ruth) than in Scotland. The rebuke before FMQS was obviously still hurting.

Ruth repeated that she believes that EU citizens are welcome in Scotland.

Nicola said in response that Ruth has "flipped and flopped over and over again over the EU referendum".
Nicola said: "She wants control of immigration to stay in the hands of the xenophobes, I want it in the control of the Scottish Govt".

[Interesting to note, Ruth Davidson never says: "protect Scotland's interests".] 

Kezia Dugdale:

Kezia Dugdale's questions concentrated on transport. She claimed that passengers were getting short-changed by Abelio (winners of the Scotrail franchise).

Kezia said there were too many cancellations and delays and that 1/3 of services were late more often than on time. She finished with:"The rail network is working for the transport bosses not the passengers".

Nicola said there is an improvement plan in place with Scotrail and there are ongoing meetings with the Transport Minister.

Kezia suggested "the FM gets on a train to find out how overcrowded they are". And finished with "What's she going to do to get things back on track?"

Bruce Crawford: 

"HSBC are transferring 200 jobs from Stirling and I am concerned about consultation". 

Nicola repsonded "Scottish Enterprise are supporting and PACE if required (if there are redundancies)."

Bruce went on to ask about Stirling City deal and Nicola responded that she was supportive of that.

Neil Bibby:

Neil asked about Bus Services and noted that Glasgow bus routes are changing. Many services have been lost and passenger journey numbers are down."How many more bus services can be withdrawn before the FM does anything to help?"

Nicola responded: "First Glasgow should consult with communities and we shall monitor the situation via the Transport Minister".

David Stewart:

David asked the FM to welcome Dunoon to Gourock ferry campaigners to the Parliament. (They were present in the public gallery).
David said they were concerned that the Procurement
process for the Ferry Tender pay special attention to Town centre to town centre transport.

Nicola responded that she knew many of the campaigners from her days in a ministerial role and that she was well aware of their concerns but: "As we are now in official tender the Scottish Government cannot comment".

Willie Rennie:  

Willie referenced Liam Fox's reported comment that EU nationals were "cards" to be played in Brexit negotiations.

He also said that it was deplorable that listing foreign workers was being recommended by Amber Rudd.
"People that voted for Brexit did not vote to send their friends home".

Nicola said we have taken steps to assure EU nationals and that she did so on the morning after the vote. She said:

"Unfortunately I do not have the power to grant the right for EU nationals to stay in Scotland".

"I wish the UK Government would stop using human beings as bargaining chips and give them the right to stay here in Scotland".

Willie moved on to a question about Amazon:
"Amazon have recruited people below the living wage and we are giving them funding".

Willie refers to this story:

Willie asked "Does she still intend to do anything - or is she happy that they do not have a living wage?"

Nicola replied: "I wish I had the right to legislate on wage levels so that I could bring the minimum wage up to living wage" and "You should join me in campaigning for those powers to be devolved to Scotland".

(It is to be noted that the Lib Dems joined Labour in blocking Employment Law being devolved to the Scottish Government during the Smith Commission negotiations that took place shortly after the first independence referendum).

Clare Haughey:

Asked for the Tories to reveal their Brexit plan and directed her gaze to Ruth Davidson.

Nicola said: " 3 months on we have nothing from the UK Government. It will cost people of Scotland lost jobs and lost wages. Meanwhile the current decisions by the PM are designed to appease the Tory right".

Douglas Ross:

Raised his concern about the extension of electronic monitoring to registered sex offenders
He referenced a Mr Andrew Flannagan of the Scottish Police Authority who says there would be a concern if it was used for sex offenders.

Nicola responded that "it was not for the Scottish Government to intervene in the judicial process and that sentencing was a matter for the courts".

Daniel Johnson:

Daniel brought up the fact that there had been a major rupture of the water main in Liberton in Edinburgh. He said there had been "major destruction" with many families affected. Then he said it was "fortunate that the only reason there had not been a loss of life was that an elderly family were in a care home". 

He then went on to say that water main valves are causing Scottish Water great problems in Edinburgh and other cities and asked the FM what steps were being taken to remedy.

Nicola responded that it was a matter for Scottish Water and that she was aware of the water main problem.

Tavish Scott:

Tavish asked about the goings-on at the Crofting Commission. referring to this story:

Tavish described the convener's behaviour as "problematic" and asked the FM to intervene.

Nicola replied that it was not normal practice for the Scottish Government to intervene in third party organisations, but that the Scottish Government did have a stake in this one and that if required there would be an intervention, but in the meantime the Minister responsible was monitoring.

Christine McKelvie:

Christine asked for the FM's opinion on Scottish Attitudes survey's findings that prejudices were on the decrease in Scotland.

She then went on to contrast this with the Conservative Party conference as a "disgraceful display of reactionary right wing politics".

The First Minister agreed that the Scottish Attitudes Survey was encouraging but that there was much work to do. "How do we build a tolerant inclusive society? We do that by standing strong. By not judging people by where they were born or the colour of the passport".

Nicola noted that "Theresa May's speech was praised by Marine LePen and that Nigel Farage said everything that was said by Theresa May was said by him in recent months".

Ross Greer:

Ross asked the FM to denounce the "Hateful disgusting rhetoric" of the Tory Party Conference.

Nicola agreed and said she "Would stand full square with any company that withheld the information suggested be collected by Amber Rudd".

She then went on to note: "Named and shamed!" 
"as if there was something shameful about". The language used by Amber Rudd is shameful and disgusting.

Anas Sarwar:

Anas commended the fact that hate crime was down in Scotland but: "We stilll have bad things happening"
Anas said: "Prejudice and hatred has no place in Scotland.Cases of Islamophobia are up 89%"
Anas asked:

"What is FM doing to make sure this is on the agenda?"

Nicola said: "should make diversity a key strength of our country".

Donald Campbell:

Donald asked about drug-related acute hospital space and what sort of a problem was it for the NHS.

Nicola answered that there was an issue in the NHS with problem drug use and that NHS staff were working with other agencies to reduce the harm.
She said "there is an ageing cohort of drug users and we are working to identify and understand the needs of these individuals".
Donald said: 
"there are 500 people, 250 of them live in deprived areas, the most deprived areas have the biggest problem"

Nicola says the trends highlighted that younger people were not using drugs in the same way as this generation that were now needing hospital care.

Kenneth Gibson:

Asked the FM to agree that:
Drug related crime has fallen and that nationally drug taking among the general population is falling.
The First Minister agreed.

Jackie Baillie:

Jackie asked about EU spending rules and suspensions. The question was unclear and vague and the First Minister responded only to be told by Jackie that the people advising her must have got their responses mixed up.

The FM explained that suspensions by the EU have been lifted on the projects she referred to.

"She's answered  a different question" laughed Ms Baillie

Jackie said there was a £900m funding gap on Capital Projects. Jackie claimed capital had been transferred from Scottish Water and housing to finance other projects.

The FM assured Jackie that all the capital projects were funded.

This was a messy exchange where both questioner and questioned were talking about completely different things.

Murdo Fraser:

Murdo referenced the Auditor General's report and said that £14m had been lost due to financial incompetence.
Nicola responded that the EU suspensions have been lifted and that project monies were being reimbursed
She said "We've learnt lessons and we have applied those lessons".

Emma Harper:

Asked about the proposed deadline of March 17 for the triggering of article 50 and called the Conservatives "deeply irresponsible".

The FM responded that we needed direction 
Direction on how the UK plans to exit from the EU
On exit from the single market
"Financial services passporting has
real implications for each and every one of us".

"I hope everybody in this chamber will call for staying in the single market".
She then went on to say that
"May has no mandate from Scotland"

Liz Smith:

Liz asked about
Head injuries in sport further to her communication with the FM on this subject in 2015.

Firstly, the FM said "Parliament coveys condolences to Mike Towell's family and friends".

Then she said "Scotland was the first country in the world to introduce guidelines on head injuries in sport".

Liz said that Nicola's response to her letter on this subject made mention of updates. "Have the updates taken place?"
(The Medical expert panel asks for Standard approach and we have differences from Sport to Sport).

The FM said that she would take Liz's questions on board and that they should continue to have dialogue.

Sin bin again

The Yoons have had me put in the sin bin again....
Mr Malky Twitter account should be back soon.

Malky be full of righteous indignation like:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

YES is not party political

I read Cat Boyd's "The spirit of radical politics lives on, and it's needed more than ever" in the National today and the lid of my laptop slammed down.

I don't normally get properly annoyed at Yessers. I'll occasionally block if I regard a Yesser to be abusive, but that is a rare event indeed. I want to hear all the voices. That's why I did so much doorstep canvassing for Indyref 1. 

I have total respect for people that have been out on the doorsteps of Scotland to listen to their concerns and ideas... but here's the but:

Yes is not about party politics

Yes is simply about achieving enough 'hands up for an independent Scotland' to get us out of a union that is simply not working in the best interest of our nation.
I don't want to see an 'us and them' within the Yes movement. I don't want to see point scoring or cheap jibes. The British Establishment will lap this sort of divisive stuff up. So when I read: 

      "We didn't choose to campaign in     Labour-voting, urban working class areas because we felt these voters would be easiest to manipulate or the most confused about currency"Cat Boyd

I'm like: Whit? Whit????

If this is your campaign strategy laid bare I have some serious concerns.

All doorsteps are equal Cat. All doorsteps must be visited. All voices must be heard. 

And then to use the 2 main arguments that unionists use to seed doubt in the minds of Scots...... Aaaarrrgghhhh.

   "Meanwhile, the economic case for independence hasn’t advanced, leaving aside the contested matter of the European Union. In many areas, like oil and currency, the case has weakened. There are solutions, but they aren’t solutions of the political centre. The campaign must move right – embracing a smaller state, as Mike Russell and others have suggested – or move left by arguing for progressive taxes."Cat Boyd

Independence is not going to fix everything overnight. Independence just kick-starts everything. Independence gives us the freedom to choose all these things. Independence is not dependent on the "what currency will we use" or "what is the oil price?"
To make these questions legit arguments against us being independent only panders to the unionists who would have you doubt your own capabilities as a nation. They use these questions over currency and oil price to caw the feet from you.

It is for us to make Indyref 2 a non-party political campaign. 
It is not about what currency we will use or oil price. 
It is about ending London rule.

  "We never intended to be tireless workers for Alex Salmond's economic programme. We certainly didn't want to be Animal Farm's Boxer, the cart horse who is working all hours while the pigs feed."Cat Boyd

This is grossly insulting to all yessers. If you cannot see that the SNP are a only a channel to independence - a temporary holding position - to protect Scotland until she becomes independent - then take a step back and look again.

And by the way - Alex Salmond is not the leader of the SNP.

I watched the #RIC16 conference on Saturday via the fabulous Independence Live peeps with great interest and heard some fantastic voices from the panels and more especially, from the audience. That was great stuff. Real ideas backed up with passion and belief. I live tweeted it. Thoroughly enjoyable.

I recently followed RIC to find out more about what was going on in this central belt organisation. 

Having lifted their own lid in this article, I have to say, I'm a bit gobsmacked. Do you want independence or do you want to form the perfect government? I am not getting you. Independence is everything. Everything else comes after indy.

Let's work together for an independent Scotland without insulting each other. I have enough grief living under yet another unelected Tory Government. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tenement Scots

As a Scot, I'm not in the least bit insulted by John Cleese's 'half-educated tenement Scots' tweet, for it is aimed squarely at the Scottish unionist Journalist class who spend their lives ingratiating themselves with those in England who consider them second class citizens.

Overnight it has dawned on the criticised that it might not just be John Cleese that holds this elitist view of them as "obedient retainers" who crave "social status".

When we watch the likes of Andrew Neil and Fraser Nelson, or those that work in the unionist press, Scots don't see success stories, we see those who are 'bought and sold for English Gold'. We see those who actively work against Scottish self determination and fear our independence because their jobs depend on peddling the union. 

Cleese has flushed them out. There they are in their naked outrage screaming "racist!" when their hurt is nothing to do with race. Their hurt is at being called out as obsequious toadies who try to lose their Scottishness in order to fit in with the London Britnat Establishment. Gone are the rolled r's. Polished is the accent.

What Cleese has done is remind them that they are barely tolerated.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sin Bin

In the summer of 2014, my Twitter account was, over a period of four months, 'locked' by Twitter seven times.

I couldn't post, I couldn't access. I was in the sin bin.

The reasons for my being locked out varied from: "suspected spam" to "suspicious behaviour from your account" and one happened just after a complaint from someone who took umbrage at me calling them a "big fibber". 

To find yourself locked out of a social media platform is annoying and perplexing in equal measure. Your 'Grrrr meter' goes off the scale and righteous indignation is your default emotion. 

Sometimes it took me minutes to unlock, other times it was days. Every time it was:

I have never actually had my account suspended, so when I woke up to the news this morning that one of the top 3 political bloggers in the whole of the UK was suspended, I was pretty shocked on his behalf. What had it taken to warrant a suspension?

I often report porn accounts to twitter.

I report racists.

There is nothing on the Wings timeline that I could see that has ever warranted a suspension for Rev Stu.

One thing I do know: The person who instigated the complaint is one of the nastiest members of the NUJ I have ever come across. Far from keeping the values of journalism in her heart, this one tells whoppers for the Daily Express. She's appeared from nowhere. No-one has heard of her. But she has been pouring out anti-Scottish propaganda for the Express for some months.

She has accused 'Wings' of orchestrating a hate attack against her and that she has received death threats. The woman publishes lies every other day in the Express and these are just more lies.

I hope that 'Wings' gets up and running again soon.
Without the "Wee Blue Book" from Rev Stu, we'd be still in the 30% for Yes in Scotland and the MSM would reign supreme. He has taught us to call out the liars. This Express liar must not be allowed to prevail.

The truth will out.

They didn't sin bin Wings. They suspended the account on the request of a freelance journalist with 1700 followers who has been gigging for the Express.

It all sounds a bit dodgy.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Four years ago

Four years ago, I was probably like most people: comfortably attuned to my usual radio station and habitually picking up the same newspapers I'd read since the age of 14. 

That was until I heard a Radio 4 "Today" Programme interview that painted Scotland as a "One Party State". It was the then Secretary of State for Scotland (the now disgraced liar) Alistair Carmichael. The phrase "one Party State" popped up four times in a seven minute piece and that was just the interviewer. There was a narrative of hatred towards the SNP that didn't match up with my experience of the SNP.

Four years ago I'd have taken time to look at the headlines on the Newsagent's paper stand. That was until I started noticing the anti-immigrant themes appearing across multiple titles.

I challenged my local Newsagent (who's a Scot from Pakistan) why he was putting these racist papers up for sale? I held up a copy of the Daily Express and said:

 "Ahmed you are selling racists more racism! This paper supports UKIP!" 

He shrugged and smiled sheepishly: 

"They keep sending them". 

Since that conversation, Ahmed now just sets them aside as returns.

Four years ago I bought the Guardian, the Herald, a few copies of the P&J, and Scotland on Sunday.

I was saddened as these titles began debasing their brands by punting out anti-Scottish BritNat propaganda and I ditched them. Their language had become offensive towards anyone that wanted Independence.

Four years ago I would have watched BBC News and let it waft over me.

Now I find myself like the little girl watching the news in the film V for Vendetta

She has a one word reaction to the BBC: "bollocks".

Four years ago, I was like most people: unaware of how biased and anti-Scottish the media were.

I am awake now.

The Day Job

The Scottish Parliament is only just back from the summer hols and my tolerance of unionist ‘whataboutery‘ is non-existent.

The first First Minister’s question time of the season, and the opposition (there is no formal opposition in the Scottish Parliament. It's not like Westminster, so if you are not in charge, you are part of the opposition) parties are woefully unprepared for the business at hand. 

The opposition unionists went straight in with pre-prepared soundbite attacks specifically designed to catch the ear of BBC News Editor Sarah Smith. Sound bites destined for inclusion in the “news where you are” at lunchtime and teatime.

Ruth Davidson wanted to know why Scotland wanted to incorporate the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland implying that they should be left alone to be a Great British Transport Police. 

This was an inexplicable question because during the Smith Commission and throughout the Scotland Bill discussions, it was agreed that the responsibility for Police was devolved to Scotland and that the Transport Police would be incorporated into Police Scotland. 

Nicola said this would have to be legislated for and that Ruth could bring up any of her concerns during the relevant debates.

Ms Davidson pressed on telling the Parliament that 300 police officers from the British Transport Police had written to her and that the British Federation of Transport Police had said that they were not being consulted:

 "this could leave the whole network unguarded"

Nicola easily defused Ruth with quotes from the Federation of British Transport Police saying they were:

"working constructively with the Scottish Government".

Kezia asked about mental health provision for young people and told the Parliament that 900 young people had called the Childline charity with thoughts of suicide - hoping that the Parliament would see a causal connection. 

She asked about referral times and when pushed on the question of how many young people had waited 52 weeks for a referral, Nicola replied: "One".

Nicola said there was much to do in this area of health and that the Scottish Government were the only part of the UK to set targets for mental health treatment.

The two main opposition party bosses could nary land a blow on Nicola.

BBC Scotland coverage provided a post-match discussion from Brian Taylor with his hand-picked unionist journalist pundits. And it was all very chummy and complimentary of Ruth and Kezia. They relish the scraps of today's skirmishes like hungry dogs.

The business of running Scotland is a serious thing. The business of the BBC seems to be #SNPBad and salivating at which unionist opposition MSP got the better of Nicola - not the running of Scotland.

You can avoid the BBC version of events by watching First Minister's Questions on Scotland's dedicated Scottish Parliament Channel where you'll get no commentary, just coverage. 
Here's the link to Parly TV:

The question time runs for 45 minutes and the Presiding Officer, our version of the Speaker, has made sure the back-benchers get airtime and to that end managed to fit in lots of topical questions:

  • Oliver Mundell gained assurances that everything was being done to help Penman Engineering.
  • Sandra Whyte gained a promise that the Scottish Government will do everything to help the Clutha families.
  • Patrick Harvie got confirmation that the Scottish Government will not give grant funding or taxpayer guarantee schemes to the tax dodgers that are setting up shell companies in Scotland.

The big 'stooshie' of the day came from the SNP and went unreported by the BBC.

James Dornan called for an apology for the disgraceful treatment of Christian Allard at the hands of the Tories – and the First Minister spotlighted Ruth Davidson and said she expected an apology. This is not going to go away.

Murdo Fraser got to his feet to lie about a fictional £6000 union dividend and dodgy GERS figures and got booed like a pantomime villian when he said "why do you want to take that away from people?"

  • Liam McArthur asked for decommissioning work to go to his patch.
  • Jenny Gilruth got an update on the International Council of Educational Advisors and Liz Smith said she wanted more autonomy for schools.

Sticking with education, Iain Gray asked about standard assessments. Nicola wondered why he was asking as Labour MSPs had already agreed to standardised assessments. Doh! Have a drink of water Iain!

Gordon Lindhurst asked what the FM was going to do about a reported decline in inward investment (A single report). Nicola said 2015 was a record year for inward investment and that there were plenty of other assessments that said Scotland was viewed as a great place to do business. 
Lindhurst then blamed a:

"threat of a dark cloud of a further independence referendum" 
(and got heckled).

"The people of Scotland have spoken in plain English. No means no. When is she going to accept that" he persisted checking his soundbite had been delivered as planned, he looked up at the gallery for approval.

Nicola pointed out the only threat was uncertainty over Brexit and that the Tories were now like:

“An arsonist trying to blame the Fire Brigade”!

Jackie Baillie rose to her feet to join Gordon Lindhurst in Better Together camaraderie blaming both a threat of Independence and Brexit for a reported drop in inward investment.

Nicola remarked that she remembered Jackie had toured the country with the Tories telling people we'd be kicked out of the EU if we voted Yes and that, given the mess Labour had got themselves into, she would just leave her to "stew in her own juices".

Liz Smith asked about train services and asked for a special commission into train safety. She had a delegation of RMT union peeps in the gallery with an important message about driver only trains. 

The first FMQs managed to hear a lot of topical questions from back-benchers. Kudos to the Presiding Officer for tweaking the format.