Friday, 10 October 2008

Snake oil, snake oil, get yer lovely snake oil

Shéyòu, perhaps, but I accuse the Liberal Democrats of sharp practice.

I wrote yesterday of their shameful distortions of reality and I take up a similar theme today.

Lib Dem concealment
Firstly, I learned from a colleague that the Lib Dems' websites do not accept searches by the internet archive (the way back machine) - one wonders what they seek to hide that they've said in the past?
Harry Wills - electoral liability
Secondly, I then had another look at the biography of the Lib Dem candidate in Glenrothes and wondered why it was that the details of his political life were so sketchy. I wondered, for example, why his 2007 council candidacy wasn't listed, then I thought that it's probably because he came 6th. Five people beat him, he couldn't even get into the reckoning in a four-member ward.

Here's the numbers (first preference votes, quota was 1,369):
Fiona Grant SNP 1807
John Beare SNP 1613
William Kay Lab 1354
Kay Morrison Lab 787
David Mole Con 504
Harry Wills LD 411
Alex Lawson Ind 164
Morag Balfour SSP 114
Paul Smith UKIP 90
The first four were elected and the Conservative stayed ahead of Mr Wills all the way. In his early days he was a Robert Maxwell hatchet-man, but Harry Wills has never matched Helen Liddell's success in anything.

Tavish goes a-wandering
Thirdly, I read today that Tavish Scott is alleging that improving the A9 is a political stitch-up. People die on the A9, Tavish.

The Lib Dem leader's fatuous comments in calling for a quango to be set up to take the political decisions on transport are a little tart when you consider the decisions that Tav himself or his Lib Dem colleagues made when in power: The Waverley Line battered through in haste to seek political advantage in the border seats where the Lib Dems were struggling, for example. Now having to be rethought and recapitalised in harder times.

If that wasn't enough, how about wasting half a billion pounds (£500,000,000) on trams in Edinburgh? The tram project is opposed by a majority of supporters of all parties - including the Greens (we asked) - and is not wanted in Edinburgh, but this vanity project was forced through on Tavish's watch as Transport Minister. It's forcing SMEs out of business, it's causing chaos and mayhem, migraines and stress, and the council doesn't have the money to make its ridiculously expensive contribution to this white elephant.

Councillor Wheeler
Fourthly, and lastly for now, Councillor Phil Wheeler. Since he lifted his snout and endorsed a survey done by Nurofen which allowed it to get a bit of product placement on the BBC's news website, I had a wee look at his Register of Interests.

Look here:
19/06/07 Lunch, £35, Lothian Buses plc - 13 June 2007
11/11/07 Dinner and Hotel Accommodation, £160, tie Ltd - 29 October 2007
21/01/08 Travel and Lunch, £150, Lothian Buses plc, 7 November 2007
05/02/08 Tickets for Match and Hospitality, £200, tie Ltd, 3 February 2008
20/02/08 Lunch, £30, Transport Edinburgh Ltd, 13 February 2008
18/03/08 Dinner for two, £60, Lothian Buses plc, 15 March 2008
10/04/08 Dinner, £30, tie Ltd, 8 April 2008
11/06/08 Lunch and Book, £40, Lothian Buses plc, 10 June 2008
28/08/08 Dinner, £45, Lothian Buses plc, 27 August 2008
Each of these is paid for out of public funds - Lothian Buses is publicly owned and tie and Transport Edinburgh are the bodies set up using public money which will end the profitability of Lothian Buses. £750 of public money to entertain one councillor?

Why does an Edinburgh councillor need to be treated to meals by public bodies at such regular intervals?

Why would an Edinburgh councillor need hotel accommodation from the Edinburgh tram project?

Why does an Edinburgh councillor get match tickets and hospitality from the Edinburgh tram project?
Here's something else:
02/06/08 Dinner, £30, ASH GUPTA, 29 May 2008
Ash Gupta is a successful businessman in Edinburgh, a PR guru, marketing guerrilla, lobbyist, call him what you will. His political acumen may not be very good, but one wonders why this Edinburgh councillor needs to take lunch from a lobbyist?

Surely Edinburgh's transport supremo never had lunch with this lobbyist to discuss some of his clients' products? Like Dialight who make traffic lights for example?

And one more for the road (as it were):
20/05/08 Travel and Subsistance costs, £400, Optimum Conference Organisers, 15/17 April 2008
Ever heard of Optimum Conference Organisers? Neither have I, and the only reference I can find on the web is in Mr Wheeler's Register of Interests. He could mean the Optima Media group which organises conferences, but he wouldn't take anything from that group, would he?

In conclusion
It's time for some truth, honesty and openness from the Lib Dems. It's time they fessed up.

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