Wednesday 16 June 2010

McAveety is disgraceful

Frank McAveety has been in the news a bit for his tasteless comments about a member of the public during a Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee meeting. His comments were lewd, sexist, a tad colonial and imperialistic in tone, and, frankly, unprofessional.

This former Labour Culture Minister, though, should also hang his head in shame for this bit:
"She looks kinda . . . she's got that Filipino look.
"You know . . . the kind you'd see in a Gauguin painting. There's a wee bit of culture."
Gauguin in the Philippines? I think not! Tahiti and a couple of other islands in French Polynesia, yes - nowhere near the Philippines.


Friday 11 June 2010

Told you so

Following the realisation that Edinburgh now definitely, absolutely cannot afford the tram project, council officials and TIE representatives will meet with John Swinney soon to ask whether the money received from the Scottish Government will have to be paid back when the project is cancelled. Told you so!

Some time ago at a briefing in the Scottish Parliament we were told that investors were champing at the bit to get a slice of the Edinburgh Tram project but that TIE wanted to build it with public money (we were told that you could raise 100% of the dosh in London or Munich) - wouldn't that be a solution (he asked in all innocence). I still haven't had that other briefing ...

There's nothing worse than falling flat on your face and getting your nose stuck in a tramline (unless you fling your leg over the wire at the same time). Tramatic it is!

Mind how you travel ...

Friday 4 June 2010

Let's support England in the World Cup

After all, they're our nearest neighbours and dearest friends, and they've never won it before, have they? No, no, laddie that was a Swiss referee and a Russian linesman. England is, after all, the greatest footballing nation in the world - although they are so modest about it you would hardly know - and they play beautiful and graceful football with good manners and great sportsmanship. Pip pip for our boys in white with the three scrawny leopards on their chests, and if we need any more inspiration, let's turn to their national bard:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height.
On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war.
And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.
The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

The game's afoot indeed - mind how you go!

Thursday 3 June 2010

More Nats

There are Labour MSPs wandering around Parliament just now wearing badges that say "More Nats". En route to Damascus?

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Holier than who?

Turn your back for two minutes and the Lib Dems are at it again, preaching piety and claiming superior probity and all the while they're dipping the till. Remember Clegg of Clegg Hall in the pulpit saying he was out to clean up politics, that MPs ripping off their expenses was a "symptom of a deeper malaise" and that MPs had been "abusing the system on an industrial scale". There was a new sheriff in town, though, a superhero - Nick would deliver "fair, decent, transparent politics". Of course, he'd need a few expenses to do the job - £83,824 should do it, including £160 a month for a gardener to prune his fruit trees and maintain his rose garden (no, honestly).

He had a damned fine rationale for it all, though, “It was in a state of complete disrepair, the garden was a complete eyesore, it hadn’t been touched for ages." Great reasoning - he bought a hovel so we should pay to clean it up - he can't be expected to wield a pair of secateurs by himself, after all, and it is "a modest semi-detached home" after all (you know, the kind of place that thousands of people aspire to have as their only home), not a palace... I wonder if he's stopped making claims on our money for his refurbishment of this white elephant he bought with our money?

And so to David Laws. He knew that he shouldn't have been paying rent to his partner since at least 2006, admitting that he and his partner should "probably have changed our arrangements". Probably? It goes further, though, the house was paid for partly by David Laws - and that was after the rule change that meant he was no longer allowed to pay his partner for accommodation. He was, in effect, paying himself rent for his second home using his Parliamentary expenses. Its different in detail but surely not in degree from Nigel Griffiths and his first office scandal or, for a more contemporary comparison, Elliot Morley's phantom mortgage.

David Laws has referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner - whoop-de-doo, I'm not sure I can contain myself. The behaviour to which he has admitted is criminal, he's committed fraud, he shouldn't be in the rector's office worrying about a bad report card, he should be in the police station worrying about a court case. Just to top off the ridiculousness of his position, Clegg and Cameron have both said that Laws might return to Government at some point in the future - I wonder who else they might be considering for a return to the fray?

We shouldn't be surprised, of course, the Lib Dems have a reputation for encouraging their MPs to use Parliamentary allowances in ways that were never intended.

Let's polish off wee Danny Alexander while we're at it (what is it with politicians with that surname) - there was a stooshie over his sale of his London home and not paying Capital Gains Tax. He was, of course, entitled to relief under the three year rule (as would Hazel Blears have been if she'd thought to claim it) and so not obliged to pay CGT. I can't help feeling that the biggest part of the story has been missed:

Mr Alexander bought his London home in 1999 when he was a press officer for the Britain in Europe campaign. In 2004 he got a job as press officer for the Cairngorm National Park (how did someone living in London get that job?), and in 2005 he was elected as an MP and immediately designated his London home as his second home in spite of not owning another home. He rented a place in Aviemore but the home he owned in London was what he called his second home.

Here's the thing, though - he'd owned the London home for six years before getting elected but as soon as he got elected he started spending money on doing it up, a new boiler, repairs to the roof, and so on - £37,000 worth in two years, then he sold it. Basically, he charged us for the costs of doing up a house he already owned and then he flogged it at a huge profit (about £150,000) and bought another (and charged us for the costs of moving as well) - I wonder whether he's been charging us for the refurbishment of this flat as well?

The Lib Dems - never knowingly underclaimed.

Mind how you go!