Friday 14 December 2007

The Valkyrie are riding - apparently ...

My attention has been drawn to the wonderful and mythical lands of Westminster wherein a certain Member of that Parliament saw a rough chance for a bit of publicity yesterday.

During a section of proceedings known as 'Business of the House' (where MPs ask what debates are coming up and that kind of thing), Mark Lazarowicz, for it was he, thought he'd get in a dig at the SNP Scottish Government thusly:

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): May we have a debate on local democracy and devolution? I ask that because of the growing scandal in Scotland, where the Scottish National party Government have been interfering in an unprecedented way in the local planning process in support of a development proposed by the Trump Organisation. Should not the First Minister be reminded that the point of devolution was to bring power closer to the people, not to have power devolved to Edinburgh, only to have it taken away from local government and centralised in Edinburgh?
13 Dec 2007 :
Column 469
Ms Harman: I will take up my hon. Friend’s point with the Secretary of State for Scotland. The whole point of having a Scottish Parliament was to devolve power from Westminster to people in Scotland, not to suck up power from local authorities in Scotland and place it in Edinburgh instead.
I shall, in my fair-minded way, leave aside that the powers that were used to call in the application were introduced by Labour in the 2006 Planning Act to take care of exactly this kind of situation - readallaboutit on page 3 of this Parliament briefing

I shall also ignore the fact that these two politicians have missed the point of devolution - that decisions about Scotland should be made in Scotland (Scottish solutions to Scottish problems as someone once said), and leave it to the leader column of the Press and Journal to put it succinctly:

The only consolation was that any credibility Edinburgh MP Mark Lazarowicz hoped to gain by seeking the high moral ground was instantly nullified by the support of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, that doyenne of political propriety. Politicians should learn when to keep their mouths shut and, where this issue is concerned, that time is now.
Meanwhile, I'd like to thank all you wonderful people who flooded me with comments about last night's posting. You know, you all got so het up that every one of you forgot to leave your name - I was terribly sorry at not being able to reply to you all personally and to repay your kind invective. I also regret not being able to publish any of the comments you made - such filthy mouths!

Let's answer the points, though. As some of you pointed out, Alex Salmond appears to welcome the development but isn't allowed to get involved (I am, of course, paraphrasing here) and, as others have pointed out - he's no daft.

Walk through it slowly, now - Alex Salmond wants the development to go ahead, he's quite bright, and he's not allowed to get involved. Therefore, logic would tend to lead you to suspect that he would avoid doing anything which might harm the development's chances of going ahead. A little bit of thought would lead you to know that Salmond stayed within the boundaries and didn't do anything inappropriate.

I am not Alex Salmond's biggest fan, but I can tell you that he knows how the game works and, in spite of what is said about him by some other people, he plays a safe and canny hand in politics.

Don't forget to write now!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr Cashley,

I left a couple of questions at the post on scottishtoryboy at but the substance is repeated below to let you deal with them on your own blog.

First, what does the 2006 Act have to do with the decision to call in under s 46 of the 1997 Act? The amendments made by the 2006 ACt to s 46 are very minor and do not impact on the general power to call in to any great extent. Why are you using the 2006 ACt to support your case? The only amendment to s 46 is available here: . This amendment changes nothing on the substantive issue of call in.

The second issue is if this is a matter of national importance why did the SNP not call in the decision prior to the Infrastructure committee reaching a decision, or the area committee expressing a view? If this is a matter of national importance, surely it should have been called in long before Aberdeenshire Council resources were wasted on futile hearings and decisions in relation to the case?

In planning decisions processes need to be followed precisely, and things need to be done properly and be seen to be done properly. As I explained on the scottishtoryboy blog I am not sure about the merits or demerits of the development. But I know that if things are not done, and not seen to be done, properly then any decision reached (and indeed the decision to call in itself) could be subject to a protracted legal challenge, which - while it may not be successful - could substantially delay the project if it is ultimately to go ahead.

I have posted a series of questions on the process on my own blog at . These questions concentrate on the processes, and answers to them should identify whether any of the smoke and mirrors about cars and meetings are at all relevant. If there are satisfactory answers to the questions I ask at then I suspect that all of this will blow over.