Here's a thing - at First Minister's Questions in Holyrood today, Kezia Dugdale (Labour)(Lothian list)(Leader) claimed that a third of all rail routes in Scotland have services that are late more often than not. Later, Neil Bibby (Labour)(West of Scotland list)(Transport and Town Centres) tweeted that it was a third of all trains.
That table comes from Scotrail's monitoring of its own performance and can be found here. Let's first knock Mr Bibby off track - that's a list of stations, not trains. To think that a third of stations equates to a third of trains means that Labour's transport wallah thinks that all stations in Scotland are as busy as all the others. It means he thinks that Arbroath is as busy as Glasgow Central and Balloch as busy as Edinburgh Waverley - only an eejit would believe that.
Assuming that El Bibster simply mistweeted and meant to ape his boss, let's see about Kezia's take. She said it was a third of all routes and you could see that that's a possibility but I spotted that Arbroath is the worst performing station and, since I come from Dundee, I know a little about the railway up that way and any train that stops at Arbroath also stops at Carnoustie which is also in the third getting less than 50% so that shrinks the number of routes by one. Over on the west coast Glasgow High Street is listed but trains travelling through GHS serve Helensburgh Central, Balloch, Milngavie, Dalmuir, Springburn and Cumbernauld which are all also listed as being less than 50%. The number of stations doesn't represent the number of trains or the number of routes.
Besides which, not all of Scotland's stations are listed (although Newcastle is) so there's no way of knowing how many services are affected by looking at those figures - Labour might have been better off if they'd looked up the National Timetable.
That's not all - you'll notice that those figures have a train being late if it it gets into the station more than 59 seconds after the time it was meant to. 59 seconds! Seems quite stringent and it turns out it is - Network Rail uses the European standard definition of more than five minutes for commuter trains and ten minutes for longer distance. You can see on that chart that the punctuality of ScotRail is currently at 90.6% against an England and Wales score of 87.4%. It seems ScotRail is holding itself to a higher standard when measuring punctuality and it gets pelters from Labour for trying.
Oh what a tangled web they weave when first they try to score cheap political points and get easy newspaper headlines - or something like that. Labour is truly appalling at opposition, truly teeth-grindingly awful.
Thursday, 6 October 2016
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Peter Chapman MSP
Browsing through Holyrood's register of interests, I came across Peter Chapman MSP.
There are these four farms listed under heritable property -
Until 14 July 2016 I owned a 50% share of a farm in Aberdeenshire with a total market value of between £400,001 and £500,000. The property yielded a gross annual income of between £40,001 and £50,000. [Amended interest 05 September 2016, Ceased interest 05 September 2016]
Until 14 July 2016 I owned a 50% share of a farm in Aberdeenshire with a total market value of between £600,001 and £700,000. The property yielded a gross annual income of between £80,001 and £90,000. [Amended interest 05 September 2016, Ceased interest 05 September 2016]
Until 14 July 2016 I owned a 50% share of a farm in Aberdeenshire with a total market value of between £1,000,001 and £1,100,000. The property yielded a gross annual income of between £80,001 and £90,000. [Amended interest 05 September 2016, Ceased interest 05 September 2016]
Until 14 July 2016 I owned a 50% share of a farm in Aberdeenshire with a total market value of between £400,001 and £500,000. The property yielded a gross annual income of between £40,001 and £50,000. [Amended interest 05 September 2016, Ceased interest 05 September 2016]Seems a bit of a thing that; selling four farms in one day - surprising that no newspaper picked that story up, too; MSP sells four farms in one day - especially given that the market value is £2.4m to £2.8m and he managed to get the register amended on the day that the interest ceased. It's possible to transfer your interests to another person and change the register because there's nothing in the legislation that says you have to declare your spouse's interests, for example, so you just transfer title and the £240k to £280k annual income from it to your wife and say no more about it. Or you could transfer ownership and the attendant income to a company you own and neaten it all up - a shorter listing in your register. Doing either would look like covering something up, though, and no politician wants to look like they're dodging the question, do they?
Anyway, that wasn't the important bit, it was just the bit that captured my attention. There was this bit just dangling there, trying to look casual, chewing on a matchstick, looking at its fingernails, you know the kind of thing -
Remuneration and related undertaking: I am a partner of Peter Chapman and Co. (of South Redbog, Strichen, Fraserburgh, AB43 6RP), a farming partnership. I receive remuneration in the form of utilities for my home, which are paid by the partnership to a value of between £5,001 and £10,000 per annum. I also receive interest payments on my stake in the partnership of between £5,0001 and £10,000 per annum. I expect to spend 2 days per month in this role. [Amended interest 05 September 2016]
Until 9 August 2016 I was a director of Aberdeen and Northern Marts (of Thainstone Centre, Inverurie, AB51 5XZ), a livestock auction mart. I received the equivalent of £3,000 per annum and spent 2 days per month in this role. [Amended interest 05 September 2016]
I am a director of Chapmans Chickens Ltd. (of South Redbog, Strichen, Fraserburgh, AB43 6RP), a poultry rearing company. Until 3 July 2016 I received £25,000 per annum and spent 2 days per month in this role. [Amended interest 05 September 2016]Now that's interesting because you can go to this DEFRA payments search page and put in the postcode and it'll tell you about taxpayer payments to this farm under the CAP schemes - a total of £101,669.44 last year and £99,320.66 in 2014 (those are the only two years available) This journalist-run website (which doesn't seem to have been updated recently) indicates that about €900,000 was paid to this partnership between 2002 and 2008 it also shows Chapman Chickens (see that last bit above) getting €142,529 in 2012. Now, it's a partnership so he doesn't trouser all that cash himself but I'm guessing that the other partner is probably this other Peter Chapman who seems to have interests in the same companies.
That other one in the middle there is a kind of cooperative (and isn't it nice to know that a Tory MSP is interested in cooperatives?) that does the obvious (livestock auctions) but also has other interests -
The Group is committed to its core business of livestock marketing, but is also highly diversified with interests in the land market, non-agricultural auctions, events and the catering/hospitality industry.If you go back to the DEFRA page and put that postcode in you'll find that it got a bit shy of £50k in public subsidy in each of the past two years.
It's that chicken thing, though -
Interest in shares: Until 3 July 2016 I owned ordinary shares in Chapmans Chickens Ltd, a poultry rearing company, with a value of £36,450 which represented approximately 16% of the issued share capital. [Amended interest 05 September 2016, Ceased interest 05 September 2016]
I own ordinary shares in Redbogs Renewables Ltd, a wind energy company, with a value of £350,000 which represents 7% of the issued share capital. [Amended interest 05 September 2016]
Voluntary: I am a member of NFU Scotland.
I own 10 £1 shares in Chapman's Chickens, a poultry rearing company of Aberdeenshire. [Registered 05 September 2016]He's got rid of his shares so the value is down from £36,450 to £10 but it seems he remains a director of the company - that's an understanding and a half, especially since he got £25k last year for two days work a month. That's less work than I do!
Then there's Redbogs Renewables with its two turbines generating a subsidy from the power companies. You can try to work it out for yourself by getting the details of Redbogs and looking at the House of Commons research paper on renewable obligations.
Anyway, the thing is that this MSP's business has sooked in a fair bit of public cash to bolster its earnings, which may explain why he gets so anxious about subsidies for farmers. What it doesn't explain is how that bit about his house works - how does he get between £5,001 and £10,000 of utilities paid for his house from the company? That's between £416.75 and £833.33 a month - what size is his house? Is he running a small factory there?
Old Eddie here is the 4th Baronet of Oare Manor and Brendon (Oare Manor is in Somerset and Brendon is in Devon) and his company also pays for the leccy at his hoose rather than fling him a few quid (given that these people own these companies you'd think they'd get some coin out of it, no?) but it adds the insurance on as well that brings it up to between £35,001 and £40,000 a year or between £2,916.75 and £3,333.33 a month. Now I'm no expert but I reckon that's a wee bit expensive for your average house...
Delfur Farms got £131,960.09 in 2015 and £133,745.23 in 2014 (for some reason you have to search on the name of the company rather than the postcode for this one) and there are a couple of entries for it on the older site, too. He's a busy lad and someone wrote a song about him but it's clear that this wholesome Tory chap whose family fortune came from screwing the insurance market also takes a substantial wodge of cash from the public purse.
Burnett of Leys
He has a portfolio of interests well worth taking a look at but he still found the time while managing them to claim nearly £25k from DEFRA in 2014 and over £22k last year (search for Burnett and then look for Burnett of Leys). You'll also find that he's had a pound or two in the past as well. He at least pays his own gas bill, though.
I haven't gone through the whole Tory group so there may be others (although, to the best of my knowledge, RuDa hasn't claimed any CAP money) but my point is this - Tories are delighted to have money paid from public funds so long as they're benefitting so when the debates on social security payments start in Holyrood, keep yer lugs open for these whizzers decrying the poor and the sick and the infirm. When they start questioning whether some family where no-one has a job is worth a few quid a week to survive on, maybe we should be asking them how they did with public subsidy in their 'time of need' and whether they ever had to wait until giro day to get the heating back on.
Social Security benefits won't be easy for Holyrood - no dosh over and above what Westminster was paying and cuts coming down the line from the UK Government - but when some politicians are actually trying to get something done (and I anticipate those coming from every party) don't let these people who have had a fortune from public funds say that the poor are not worthy. There's going to be debate and there should be debate about how to serve the country well but if and when Tory MSPs get to their feet to bore the hell out of us with their social engineering theories that rely more on Darwin than on common human decency, let's tell them to get tae France and Freuchie and Farfar - and the same for any bawbag blawhards from other parties. If anyone's getting called a benefit scrounger, let's make sure we know who's taking most public cash.