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The truths they don't want you to read....

Friday, March 30, 2012

Unblogged the Jedi has

My post makes no sense without the full impact of the article, so it has been hidden. Pending developments.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Council candidates

Some very interesting contests are in the offing, if the people who have told me they are standing are actually standing.

The SNP candidates look to be having a hard time against some ex-SNP independents, which is going to raise all sorts of interesting questions in the minds of the voters; and may explain why the SNP letter writers have been fulminating about (Labour) "Independents" and why you shouldn't vote for "Independents".

I understand that the Labour list will be formally announced later today, or tomorrow, as they are still not 100% certain of their numbers.  Better late than never, I suppose, but hardly the way to run a campaign.

Labour candidates are reported to number anything between 1 and 12, depending on who you speak to, put I think it is going to be in the range of 5-8, if my numbers add up.

As the likely "official opposition" in the new Council, it seems Labour's biggest enemy is Labour, and I foresee wonderfully eccentric policies being expounded, revised and disavowed as the two (three?) sides fight for control of the moribund beast. 

Interesting multi-cornered fights look likely in South Uist & Barra, Stornoway N&S, North Lochs, Point and Broadbay, where incumbency may be as much a problem as an advantage; and where Party candidates look likely to face still opposition from those who have left the Party.

To the victors, the spoils.  Which in this case means severe budget cuts, a centralising Government in Edinburgh, and a very limited set of options for enhanced service delivery.

Good luck one and all.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A poet writes .... with apologies to TS Elliot

Dr Allan, Dr Allan
  there's no one like the Doctor
He reads the SNP script out loud
   like a tired actor
His powers of vacuity
   would make a fecker stare
But when the public want answers
   Dr Allan isn't there

You may seek him in the streets
   and look up in the air
But at the hint of protest -
   the Doctor isn't there

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The SNP view on ferry fares

Which SNP Council candidate and MPs assistant gave the following memorable quote about today's rally:

We have a 4,500 majority, so what do we care?

I'm sure the people of Ness will bear that in mind when they come to vote.

Conspicuous by their absence

I attended the Outer Hebrides Transport Group march and rally in the town centre today.

There was an excellent turnout of 1,000 (?) marchers and 50+ lorries and vans.

I had a chat with, and spotted a lot of, candidates for the local Council elections and if I hadn't been shepherding three kids around I would have spoken with many more.  I wasn't being rude, just busy with kids and a flight to catch.

Absent from the entire march were any SNP Council candidates - although one activist was on the fringes, obviously to report back - which, as Angus Campbell says, tells you all you need to know about their position on RET.

Woody made an excellent point that has been missed in much of the debate, which is that there are incremental increases in the fares over the next three years adding £600 to the cost of an lorry across the Minch.

All that will come out of YOUR pocket, as food prices rises; as deliveries cost more; and, as the other businesses on the island have to pass on the costs.

I hope that the press coverage is good, as this is such a major issue for the islands.

Gail Robertson, the organiser of the campaign, deserves to be roundly congratulated for taking the bull by the horns.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Who has your name and personal details?

The Information Commissioner was established to protect individuals from organisations who took personal information and tried to use it for their own personal gain.

I've blogged on this topic many times before, and yet the same culprits reappear, thinking that the law doesn't apply to them.  You will remember the denial of any responsibility, followed by the swift registration.

The Register of Data Controllers is available here, and you can easily check for eligible organisations by searching by postcode.

So when  voter gets the following through his mail box...

With this document
 and a return address of this

Which given that the Western Isles Constituency SNP are not a registered Data Controller, means that this mailshot is illegal.  Again.

But that's not all, the Electoral Commission have issued guidance for Political Parties after it appear that (particularly Asian) families were being forced to hand over real and fraudulent postal votes to political parties.

The guidance is very clear, and reads:
Candidates and canvassers are advised:
  • not to handle or help voters complete their postal ballot papers;
  • to encourage voters to post or deliver ballot papers themselves;
  • if asked to take a completed ballot paper to make sure that the voter has sealed it first, and to post or return it to the Returning Officer immediately;
  • to ensure that voters complete ballot papers in secret and seal them personally; and
  • not to solicit completed postal ballot papers from electors.
Obviously with special exclusions for Lochs and Harris.  Although voters may wish to test this by complaining to the Information Commissioner.

Of course, opposing candidates may wish to point out to the Returning Officer that the cost of building this database of 16,000 (?) voters should be spread over the election expenses of each of the SNP Candidates - along with postage and printing.  Alternatively, the database was provided in breach of the Data Protection Act by a Data Controller.

In addition, as the SNP Council web site claims to have been commercially produced by a web design company, then a share of that cost too, needs to be added.  Unless the web designer is lying about his clients.

Still, as Stornoway resident Philip McLean said, I am the enemy within

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Absent Allan

Poor Mr Allan can't make the rally on Saturday due to an unspecified and possibly mythical diary clash.

One can only suspect fear of conflict has filled the diary, as a senior source confirms that there are no official appointments, and Allan had planned to be canvassing with SNP Council candidates this weekend - until the rally was announced.

Never mind.

The semi-literate content of the letter indicates panic, BS and obfuscation.
I have been in touch with the Transport Minister on behalf of around a dozen of them in recent days to convey their feelings. I am very willing to take up the case of any other company or community affected in the days and moths ahead...
I'm reliable informed that the dozen (or so) hauliers are actually two major hauliers, and a few other small hauliers who have been cold called and whose anger has been expressed, and ignored.

However, the moths seem to be on the same intellectual level...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The triumph of ignorance

What an open goal has been left by our MP when discussing the constitutional future.  No doubt he has been summoned to be given a severe dressing down, for letting 80 years of policy formulation unravel in one inglorious sentence.

With only a few decades to try and iron out these issues, and only a few million lines from the spin-doctors on what to say, one of the sheep has upset the entire flocking debate.

If there had been less emphasis from SNP HQ on obedience, and more on intelligence, when selecting candidates then this sort of problem wouldn't have arisen, but instead there is now a huge an unnecessary debate about a non-topic that has suddenly been given legs.

With 25% of oil revenue taken out of the equation, John Swinney's numbers look ridiculous, and that axle will be ground for the next two years.

But it is the phrase allowing an opt out for communities:
“if there was a big enough drive for self-determination”
that really intrigues.

If 75% of Edinburgh voters opt to reject independence, does that mean they remain part of England (with the Parliament in a foreign country?!)?

As in the 1979 Referendum, is there to a be a 40% of the potential voters hurdle to prove "a big enough drive"?

Would 30% of all voters for independence versus 25% against be enough of mandate, or would 70% not supporting be "enough of a drive AGAINST self-determination"?

Can Point cede from Scotland?

Can of worms.  Both barrels shooting through both the feet in the mouth.  Idiot.

The focus of the debate has now moved to oil and the economy, and not in a good way for the SNP.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


We may have seen RET dismantled, ferry fares spiraling, ferry services getting worse and ADS stopped for business travel, but if anyone needs to know about the potential frequency of non-existent flights from Prestwick to Ekaterinburg, then Angus MacNeil is your man.

Perhaps he could ask the Secretary of State to lobby the Scottish Government to reinstate RET and ADS, if he has nothing better to do.


The tag "A vague attempt at humour" tends to be a give away.

Let me just make it clear that none of the alleged Labour Council candidates have ever:
  • Headbutted comrades in the Strangers Bar of the House of Commons
  • Had an affair with a girl 1/3 of their age
  • Claimed more than £1m in travel expenses
  • Had a father who idolised Hitler
  • Been photographed in compromising positions with ladies of the night by the News of the World
  • Brought half of Glasgow to tears
  • Murdered their nanny
And no-one in their right mind should try to match the list to any people real, dead, imaginary or standing for Council.

One helpful tip to the Labour Party........

If you are going to run some candidates in the election, it does assist the electorate if you make an announcement BEFORE the polls close.


I'm just wondering if I should changed the second paragraph to start "To the best of my knowledge...".

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's the economy, stupid! (updated thrice)

With the population in the islands expected to crash by nearly 11% in the next 25 years the demographics look ominous for the islands.

It is not so much the absolute change that is the scary factor, and more the relative ageing of the population that poses such a threat the future economic viability of the islands.

The curve is more a death spiral, with - for instance - future school provision requirements looking to be grossly over-estimated at the moment.  There will be fewer pupils attracting smaller grant support to pay for ageing and more expensive buildings.

The lack of economic development in the islands is a very major issue.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it may be the potentially terminal issue if it is not addressed.  For without economic growth there won't be the children to fill the schools or build new businesses or inherit their parent's hard work.

When was the last time that the Scottish Government announced something positive for the future economy of the islands?

Just this week we are told to be grateful for the reinstatement of single-journey fares for hay lorries and vivier tanks.  A discount that should never have been abolished, and we are expected to cheer to the rafters when it is reinstated our MSP makes false claims of his successes.

Businesses cannot plan if they cannot be sure about the future.  With commercial RET up and down like the proverbial, how can long term investment be secured, when the Government doesn't know (or won't say) if a policy is staying, going, being amended or "out to consultation".

My good lady wife is away this week meeting with large existing clients to discuss extending the services we provide.  This has huge potential, not least as the clients are keen to see what we can do.

But as it is a business flight, there is no ADS available, increasing fares by 167% which is just enough of an impediment to make us consider if the journey is really necessary.  We are trying to win work for the islands, but Government cost-cutting is affecting our ability to create employment.

I know of one large capital investment that has been cancelled, as the additional costs for transporting building materials have tipped the balance - and that was in the service sector.  How is affecting those who have to use the large hauliers as a matter of course?

Incoming Councillors must be forced to pledge to continue the fight against this policy before it drives the economy, and the future of the islands, over the edge.

Update: I can't use specifics for professional reasons, but Ian MacIver can.

Update 2: I'm told that the poor truaghan Alasdair Allan has resorted to telling hauliers that tale that full RET will be reintroduced in an Independent Scotland.  Presumably with the choice of gold or silver cutlery in the dining room.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Labour Council candidates

I have just been leaked the list of candidates standing for the Labour Party at the Council elections in May

I'm told that they are all held in the highest regard by the selection committee of Pugh, Pugh, Barney MacGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb (Chair).
  • Eric Joyce  (St Kilda North, excluding the Puff Inn until the leg tag comes off)
  • Max Mosley (Point, but planning to get beaten)
  • Craig Whyte (South Uist & Barra)
  • Lord Lucan (Not disclosed)
.....More to follow

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Missing, presumed very lost

A sad appeal for a missing family pet.

Until recently, it was a strong, upright animal, roaming it's wise-ranging territory and ensuring that all was well in the land.

It looked after women and children and civil servants, and all it ever needed was a small amount of feeding and the occasional pat on the head from its owner.

Just a few years ago it suffered a sad accident, when the original owner was sectioned and the new owner released from his secure accommodation to cause serious harm to the unsuspecting beast.

A series of self-inflicted injuries followed as the once proud animal had a funny turn and started running into walls at full pelt.  Repeatedly.

Sightings of the dog ceased in January, although there are wild stories of a possible reappearance before May.

In desperation, the one-time owners would ask that if you see the animal, you take it to the vet to check for any signs of life.
The dog answers to the name: "Western Isles Labour Party".

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Comhairle view on RET and ferries

It is worth reading the Urgent report to Transportation Committee for today (sadly only available on the web 6 days after it was issued), in the name of the SNP Group Leader, which unequivocally states the position of the Comhairle.

It clearly explains why the Western Isles are being (and have been ) ill served by Government transport policies.

I don't know the outcome, but I sincerely hope it was supported without significant dispute and can be supported by everyone in the community.

(Unless I've missed something.)

Monkey see, moonkey do.....

Whilst the would be SNP Councillors berate the Comhairle for not awarding the schools contract locally - conveniently omitting to mention that it was wholly support by thre SNP Group and the one independant Councillor who has now joined the SNP - we see that fault actually lies with the Scottish Futures Trust, who directed exactly how the tenders were to be constructed, issued and then finance awarded.

The Scottish Futures Trust is - surprise, surprise - the brainchild of the SNP, and was triumphed as being able to deliver better, more efficient and cheaper capital projects.

But don't just take my word for it.  An economist who was lionised by the SNP in minority Government has said the same.
SCOTTISH firms could have bid for more work on the new Forth bridge if the contracts had been split into smaller parts, an economist has told MSPs.
So the local builders have been done down by none other than the party who now tries to disavow it's own core policy from the last but one election.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Council Tendering

A report to the Audit and Scrutiny Committee contains the majestically understated phrase at para 1.14:
In the tender process the Comhairle has had a number of high profile events in this area which have led to either litigation or having to go put the contracts through a re-tendering exercise. There is scope in this area for contracts to be identified as high value/high risk and having a higher level of strategic input from the start and that the key officers involved are trained so that they can minimise and manage the risks involved.
As I - and others - are aware, the Chief Executive has a report in his filing cabinet in which a Director admits breaking contract regulations to stop the top bidder winning and confirms he would do so again, I suspect that 'training' may be a tadge ineffective.

Ah, well.  One for the new Councillors to cut through the lies and hold people to account.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

No blockade

It was with great disappointed that I learned of Alex Salmond's decision not to visit the Western Isles tomorrow (Friday), as the hauliers were keen to explain the impact of the RET decision to him.

Apparently pressing constituency business at 2pm at Doncaster and Lingfield meant he couldn't unveil the plaque at the new media centre, where hauliers had intended to confront him.

In an exclusive telephone interview today, I asked him if he was prepared to discuss the issue with those affected.

"I'm not coming to Stornoway to be blockaded by some stupid truckers."
At least that sounded like what he said.

It looks like democratic debate is a good thing, but only if you agree with what Salmond says.