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  • Documents – and many of them – obtained under Freedom of Information and published by us at the time, showed that the then Education Spokesperson, SNP Councillor Isobel Strong, was deliberately kept out of the loop on what was going on for a considerable time.
    This was done with the clear connivance of the Council Leader who was party to much of the correspondence in question. Had he been unaware of the manipulation, he would have expected to see the Education Spokesperson’s name on the circulation list and, properly, would have immediately insisted that she be party to the ongoing planning and discussion.
    The correspondence from which she was excluded was from sources including external ‘consultant’ Keir Bloomer, Education Director Cleland Sneddon – and more junior members of staff who obviously followed the lead given.
    This was disgracefully improper and undemocratic political manoeuvering.
    So there is nothing remotely ‘kind’ about the way we have judged the SNP – and Councillor Strong’s performance in this. Had she been proactive, present, controlling – it would have been more difficult for them to succeed in their evidenced objective of keeping her in the dark as to the closure plans – and on the discussions on how to cook the cases to be presented.
    And in case you object to that statement too, Simon – there is documentary evidence of it in the FoI documents.
    The external consultant advised the internal staff – who went on to take the advice, to suppress the fact that Minard School, one listed to close (and again in the second (Morton/Sneddon) attempt)had the third best HMIE report in Scotland.
    You may not like the picture you see above any more than we do – although for very different reasons – but it is the objective reality.
    We have asked for a counter-list of substantial achievements to match the level of these multiple failures.
    Perhaps you can produce something on that front?
  • What happened with the first incarnation of what became CHORD is that it began as a competition with, as you say, a £10m prize pot. This was to go in major part to the winning proposal for a waterfront regeneration scheme, with a secondary amount to the next best entry.

    This was astonishingly sexy and innovative for a council – at the level of an idea.

    The trouble was that there was no ability to take it beyond an idea – to prepare the specification of practical guidelines to realise the idea. This was beyond the ability of the council – so they threw money at consultants whom they also did not know how to brief or monitor. The first set of proposals were too unable across the board to proceed so the timescale was extended and the consultants retained and tasked with helping the town teams to develop secure outline business cases.

    As matters progressed towards a conclusion, the penny belatedly dropped.

    A competition will produce a winner – but means losers and lost votes. Critically, the Dunoon bid was judged as the least capable so it was not going to win. Dunoon is of course Councillor Walsh’s own patch and that of his colleague James McQueen – there was no way lost votes were coming home to that particular roost.

    So the Council Leader stood up with a flourish at a full council meeting at which we were present and pulled a long chain of linked money out of his sleeve. He announced that all the entries were great. It was impossible to choose between them. So they were raiding the reserves to the tune of a further £20 million or so, making a pot of over £30 million. All five towns would get all get the money they had costed for their projects. Hip, Hip…

    We slammed that at the time for the fiscal irresponsibility, political cowardice and pork barrel lathering it was – and we were a lone voice amidst the universal celebrating of the prospect of the loot.

    And what has happened since?

    How many years is it exactly, from the start of the regeneration ‘competition’ to now: What has been produced in all that time? How much has this charade cost Argyll and Bute – and for exactly what – to date?

    And while the airport may have started under a previous administration, the mess that was made of it was ramped up under successive administrations led by the Alliance.

    Trying to spread blame around patently junior partners is itself an admission that blame is fully due.

    We are identifying the primary source of the canker in Argyll – and while we have said that the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have been greedy bottom feeders in supinely supporting Alliance decisions, we have said that they are not the primary predators.

    When the SNP were minority partners in power, they were clearly asleep on watch. But when they woke up to the reality of what was going on, they tried to persuade their senior partners of the wisdom of binning the Sneddon proposals to close 26 rural primaries.

    When they could not do so, they walked. They put the interests of rural communitiesm parents and children before their party’s role in power and before their own financial interest. In contrast, the LibDems and Conservatives have stayed in power and in the money at all costs – to others.

    We have challenged anyone to come up with a list of stellar achievements of the Alliance led administrations to counter their disasters.

    Let’s hear them. They are the only viable defence. So where are they?

Recent comments by newsroom

  • Supreme Court finds for appellants on Named Persons
    Not in my control and hadn’t noticed this myself [so thanks] – and will pass on your concerns.
    This us likely to be one of the consequences of recovery from recent outages which were beyond our control.
  • Supreme Court finds for appellants on Named Persons
    It is worth noting that in its judgment the Supreme Court said:
    ‘“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get to the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.’
  • Bute refugees suffer from inadequately considered placement
    Eveything you say above applies justly to those who radicalise – but not necessarily to those who are vulnerable to be radicalised.
    When you are young, everything in life is understood in simple binary oppositions. It is only time and broad experience that introduces and embeds the tonalities of understanding.
    Many of the young everywhere, from the need to belong and from the acceleration of peer pressure, are also prone to follow the accepted behavioural norms or fashions of their peers.
    This is why radicalisation is most easily effected in cities and amongst the large cultural enclaves that can form there.
    The young, in their uncluttered understanding, are also idealist – and extremism is a form of idealism perverted.
    What you say about the safety and security that relocated refugees now possess is also correct – but is amended by two considerations.
    One is the automatic perception of all refugees as having the education to hold such an understanding of their situation. Many will be educated – some very highly indeed – but by no means all will have had the opportunity of education.
    The second is that, as may be the case with some of the Bute families, if they feel and look ‘different’ from everyone around them and if they cannot communicate, some will feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, even intimidated – and it is unrealistic to assume that refugees will be universally made welcome in any locality.
    We had assumed that the acceptance of such refugees here would mean the automatic employment of those qualified to teach English as a foreign language and that such classes would be taught in a regular and compulsory schedule.
    This would be a responsible and necessary provision if integration is to be a realistic achievement.
    We do not know if such provision has been made and there seems to be no mention of it.
  • Turkey’s military coup raises issues to be confronted here in Britain
    This is another issue – a procedural one – and one which clearly needs to be resolved while the need can be immediately understood.

    It remains a mystery why, when political party leadership elections require set percentages well above 50% to secure a win, politicians would not have reason and wit to see that decisions taking a member of a significant political union out of that union, changing the nature of the larger union [helpless to prevent that] as well as the nature of the departing member, that decisions of such weight and permanence cannot sensibly be taken by 50% + 1 single vote of an electorate.
    The opportunity for due revision was not taken following the Scottish Referendum, which was run under this rule.
    Something like a 60% threshold would guard decisions against the percentage of transient whim – and/or of misunderstanding and/or of misinformedness – in any vote; and these are the things that that can help to create very narrow majorities on very profound issues.
    Opinion polls declare that their results are subject to a 3% margin for error.
    In the EU Referendum, a 2% change of mind would have produced an even tinier – but legally acceptable – majority in the opposite direction.

  • The measure of Britain – who cares about Gibraltar?
    What was done to the Chagossians – under Harold Wilson’s government so not a matter of distant history but of contemporary moral dysfunction – is an enduring shame on Britain.

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