Johann Lamont right on all counts as FM apologises for misleading Scottish Parliament

Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour Leader, went in to bat at First Minister’s Questions this afternoon, well armed with assured facts on the funding of Scotland’s colleges.

She also went in hard on the performance of Education Secretary, Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute’s MSP, whose contradictory statements to the Scottish Parliament on colleges funding made it certain that he had misled it on one of two occasions. She used this contradiction to say that ‘Now even Mike Russell doesn’t believe Mike Russell.’

In quoting verbatim Mr Russell’s two differing statements, Johann Lamond made a witty remark that Kirk Ramsay, the recent former Chair of Stow College, will appreciate, She pointed out how valuable it was that each of these statements by Mr Russell to the chamber had been recorded.

The First Minister did his usual shouty, sneery, folksy-with-menace, stomach-out wafflefest in defence of Mr Russell who, seated nearby, looked more than a little astray.

Johann Lamont effectively led the First Minister across the top of a heffalump pit – and down he went.

Insisting that the figures he used to rebut Ms Lamont’s claims that funding figures given to the chamber had not been misleading, Mr Salmond has had to go back to the parliament and apologise because they were.

During the crossfire of question and answer – and it gets daily more obvious how often the FM is busking – Johann Lamont had advised the First Minister of the folly of wasting his own credibility to defend a minister who had lost his own.

In this she was referring to the hames the education sector is beginning to look like under Mr Russell and, specifically, to his hysterical public harrying to resignation of Kirk Ramsay of Stow College for having the temerity to record ‘secretly’ [actually in full view of the man himself] Mr Russell’s words at a meeting with around 80 senior figures from the colleges sector.

In the light of events just about to unfold, the First Minister would have benefited from taking the Labour Leader’s advice.

Throughout the Lamont onslaught, Mr Russell, mouth dropping open miming laughter, kept nodding on repeat like a toy dog in the back window of a retro-kitsch car – while the First Minister’s jowls settled determinedly around his collar.

At 5.00pm, a curt and deflated First Minister returned to the chamber and made the briefest of apologies for having misled its members in the figures he had just given. He had wrongly insisted that college funding was increasing where it is, as Ms Lamont said, decreasing.

He also said that Mr Russell would write to Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, offering his own apology in relation to the same matter.

Where they stand now

This was an unedifying session, brightened only by the improvement to proceeding as both Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson focus better on the value of substance, command of the facts and begin to assert those values against the First Minister’s increasingly tedious and distastefully patronising bombast.

Today Johann Lamont was right on the facts and she was right on the First Minister’s judgment on Mr Russell’s reliability in command of his post.

Mr Russell has a record of failure at Environment and at Education – and Scotland is still waiting for the much delayed report of the Commission he set up on the Delivery of Rural Education. It had better be good. It may not, of course, come until after 2014.

Russell would be better placed at Culture, which he occupied briefly, with promise and which is suited to his thespian abilities.

The First Minister is now looking seriously damaged in public credibility.

He suffered the humiliating revelation that he had not even asked for legal advice on Scottish membership of the EU, when he had declared on national television that he actually had this advice.

Now he has had to return to the chamber to apologise for having misled it – after a demand by the Labour group that he go away to check his facts and come back and admit to having misled it. This he had to do.

Johann Lamont made a serious point the SNP would be wise at attend to, in spite of the First Minster’s easy derision.

She said the SNP backbenchers would do well to ask the hard questions themselves rather than leave them to her.

Was that a Gloucester Two Spot that just flew past the window?

Note: See FMQ session here.

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120 Responses to Johann Lamont right on all counts as FM apologises for misleading Scottish Parliament

  1. Johann Lamont may have had Mr Russells head on a plate, but she made an absolute meal of getting it there.

    Watching the Labour opposition during FMQs is cringe-worthy to say the least and it’s easy to see why Mr Salmond has become complacent here, but ultimately, Ms Lamont had done her homework, and for someone who is so self assured, Mr Salmond should take stock. In all fairness, he was back by close of play and made the apology, unlike some who may have dragged it out for days and may never actually admit the mistake.

    I’ll be watching this space with interest – the credibility of the SNP Government may be on the line.

    If Mr Russell is still in his job next week, I’ll be gobsmacked – this is the man who talks about trust being gone,and about acting with integrity when calling for someone to resign. How could he be so careless? how can we trust him and believe he acts with integrity now?

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  2. No surprise the usual cybernats are not on to defend the snp’s very own chuckle brothers after their extremely poor performances recently and finally exploding in their faces today.
    I was delighted to see Johann Lamont get the better of the smug sneering Salmond (not for the first time, though she does not always get the credit).
    The totally inept MSP for A&B Mike Russell is proving as not fit for purpose as the ferries inflicted on the Dunoon – Gourock route.His treatment of Kirk Ramsay chairman of Stow College was a step too far even for Mike Russell, his position has now become untenable, there should be no place for bullying, this is taught to children in our schools, Russell is the Education Secretary.

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  3. Some civil servant got the figures wrong by about £9 million, a drop in the bucket in the national budget.

    AS made a very quick apology. No one has died .
    Still waiting for an apology from the Labour Party for all the deaths in Iraq

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    • It comes as no surprise the first nat to reply would blame a defenceless civil servant.

      AS made an ass of himself with an apology forced out of him by the opposition.

      No one has died you say! This is true, but Kirk Ramsay was forced out of his job by the efforts of two men who have lost any credibility they had left.

      Your other comment is not worthy of a reply.

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  4. Just watched Newsnight Scotland presenter Brewer put it to SNP representative Constance that ‘You were supposed to be different’ refering to voters expectations of the SNP party’s governing compared to previous Labour goverment. Indeed they are ‘different’, thankfully, with one refreshingly obvious difference being that ‘sorry’ is in the SNP’s vocabulary. I was going to mention unlike other political parties, however, I do recall the last leading politician apologising not that long ago, a certain Gordon Brown. The only difference being that Brown had just been rumbled after being recorded on microphone referring to an elderly lady as a ‘bigoted woman’ after she voiced concerns over imigration policy. He felt obliged to say sorry, had he not been cuaght disrespecting this woman’s views there was no chance of saying sorry, a damage limitation excercise only.
    It appears generally accepted that Michael Russell provided the education committee with the correct figures previously so would make no sense for Salmond, further down the line to intentionally falsify the sums, something I’m sure he would have known would blow up in his face.
    Not the SG finest hour certainly and raises questions among some regarding competancy, this best judged in their results delivering what the majority of voters in Scotland voted them into power for.

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  5. Salmond boasted he had provided “as an exact an answer as anyone had ever given to parliament”.
    Russell and Swinney nod by his side in agreement.

    The forced apology from Scotland’s most arrogant politician was certainly not his finest moment.

    We should not lose sight of the fact that college funding is being CUT by the snp.

    Good day for Johann Lamont and Labour’s education spokesman Hugh Henry.

    Embarrassment for Salmond and Co.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. So Alex Salmond has apologised to the Scottish Parliament for quoting college funding figures for 2011/12 that were inaccurate.
    An own- goal, and quite spectacular as it goes.  That college funding and Education Secretary Michael Russell would have been the focus at this week’s First Minister’s Questions was a pretty safe bet, so to get funding figures wrong was inexcusable.
    Mr Salmond’s apology though was humble and sought not to apportion blame – “I take full responsibility for what I say in this chamber” he said.
    The immediate response from Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was graceless and demonstrated a lack of judgement.  Her decision to interrupt proceedings with a point of order that was little more than an ill-tempered rant, that brought a series of rebukes from the Presiding Officer (PO), was unseemly.
    Ms Lamont levelled a string of allegations against Mr Salmond that even the most ardent of Labour supporters would admit were an exaggeration at best and false at worst.  Ms Lamont glowered at the PO as he sought to intervene, and finally, clearly exasperated, the PO ended the intemperate tirade by saying “I think we’ve had enough Ms Lamont”.
    Claims from Labour that Mr Salmond had “deliberately” misled Parliament were ridiculous, given that Mr Russell had some weeks ago provided a written answer to the Education Committee that contained the correct figures.  It is beyond comprehension that the First Minister would deliberately seek to then present false figures to the chamber.
    Johann Lamont is of course no stranger to misleading the Scottish Parliament.  In October 2011, when Deputy Leader, Johann Lamont described the experience of a rape victim who had been subjected to a harrowing cross examination at the trial of her alleged attacker.
    The problem for Ms Lamont though was that the trial she claimed took place, was complete fabrication.  Indeed an investigation by the authorities could find no mention of any such case and the newspaper was forced to issue an apology after admitting that the reporter had invented it.
    Fortunately for Ms Lamont no-one made an issue of her mistake, not even BBC Scotland.  Had they done so then she may well have lost out in the contest to replace Iain Gray as Scottish Labour leader a matter of weeks later.
    Unlike Mr Salmond, who also made an honest mistake, Lamont has yet to apologise for the false rape story.
    The Salmond apology will be covered comprehensively by BBC Scotland, and others – and that is as it should be.  Interviews will be given and allegations will flow.  Mr Salmond’s media and political opponents will have a field day.
    However, BBC Scotland reporters will be faced with Labour MSPs eager to make capital out of the SNP blunder. 
    So, it is surely now time to approach allegations of misleading parliament in a fair and balanced manner and ask representatives of Scottish Labour to address Ms Lamont’s now year old false rape story.
    Presenting falsehoods as fact might also cause BBC Scotland itself to finally address, why, in January this year, they allowed a Labour MSP to broadcast claims against the Scottish NHS that were demonstrably false – and that the BBC knew were false for fully two days prior to broadcast.
    Last night Gordon Brewer asked SNP Minister Angela Constance an accusatory question on Newsnight Scotland, that began, ”You were supposed to be different…”. 
    Well apologising when you make a mistake is certainly different from the BBC and, if the false rape case is anything to go by, very different from Johann Lamont.

    Newsnt Scotlnd

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      • Well spotted Jamie Black. Clearly Puffer (or is it G A Ponsonby) is an SNP plant. No doubt he (or she) will now change their alias. As with statements by SNP Ministers in the Scottish Parliament, we can ignore anything that Puffer / Ponsonby says.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • What is meant by referring to individuals as ‘plants’? This suggests that those who support the SNP party are using this platform expressing their opinions when nobody should be aware of their presence. There are individuals of all political persuasions, surely all welcome.
            Whilst you have every right to say, I take exception to and wholeheartedly disagree regarding your accusation of ‘not having the guts to put their names where their mouths are’. Politics like religion can be a very divisive topic which is why many of us do not go about our every day life declaring our allegiances to all. Choosing anonymity has absolutely nothing to do with ‘guts’ or courage, just practical for some and to suggest cowardice would imply that those who do not give their name are posting something to be ashamed of, not much of that on here thankfully.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • We see a great deal from where we sit in this business, so our evidence on this is useful.
            The reality is that there are indeed SNP ‘plants’ [who may be self appointed] who come in quick and hard just to rubbish anything they see as against the party interests.
            The MO is always to play the man not the ball. They never engage on the issue – and in our case, our criticisms are issue based and evidenced so we get a lot of simple abuse in return.
            Again, from what we see, this pattern of focused tactical behaviour, licensed or unlicensed, is not replicated in any other party.
            There’s the odd individual who defends their party of choice occasionally but the behavioural patterns are very different.
            The SNP camp’s strategic clogging of criticism is deeply unattractive and has to be of real political concern.
            It is mirrored in the First Minister’s conduct, which is consistently bullying; and it is mirrored in the behaviour of senior Ministers like Michael Russell – whose conduct is clearly normal to and approved by the First Minister.
            There will be a time – and it may well be too late – when it is more generally recognised that the First Minister is less of a good politician than he is the insistent single voice that yells down and rubbishes all others.
            Part of the Union or independent, we really cannot accept this sort of political culture; and if we do not oppose it, it will not stop at its current level.
            We will get what we deserve and that, jib at the word or not, is a genuinely fascist regime. They all have to start somewhere.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • OK Robert. The Lib Dem comment was just a joke (although it is hard to deny the Lib Dems have as much presence in Scotland as Sean Connery does).

            My point was that just because someone vociferously their party doesn’t make them a plant; just a bit blinkered. A little more recognition of errors and more adult approach to politics by our politicians would be a welcome and productive development.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • Newsroom -

            What on earth is a ‘self-appointed plant’??!?

            The whole point about a plant surely is that it/they are planted.

            It really is incredible how anyone supporting the current government of this country and its policies is immediately labelled a ‘cybernat’, a ‘plant’, a ‘dupe’ or some other derogatory description.

            Is it really so unbelievable that there is a sizeable body of literate and informed opinion that regards the current government and its policies as generally a good thing for Scotland? How exactly do you think the SNP achieved its remarkable overall majority?

            (Ducks and awaits the barrage of ‘thumbs down’ from the Unionist veg patch)

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • SR: sometime ago and either on here or elsewhere you trashed the work in nuclear energy of Professor Wade Allison entirely on the basis of the only negative review of his book “Radiation and reason”. You described this review as the only one by a competent person. You ignored positive reviews by Professor John Ridd and others.

            What newsroom describes,
            “The MO is always to play the man not the ball. They never engage on the issue – and in our case, our criticisms are issue based and evidenced so we get a lot of simple abuse in return.”
            That sums up your approach precisely and the description of a self appointed plant fits.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • Mr. Blix,

            I suspect it was elsewhere. You have engaged me in a similarly irascible and personal manner on my own blog in the past.

            I wonder if I am the only one that has noticed that your more irrational posts are always late at night.

            What on earth does my distaste for the attempts by the nuclear industry to re-write the book on radiation safety have to do with my supposed political leanings?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. I’m simply amused that neither the First Minister nor Education Minister seem able to do easy sums. The FM doesn’t seem to understand English either, by not understanding a direct question about receiving legal advice.

    Are they on the same planet as the rest of us?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • What is significant here is that Mr Salmond made much in the chamber, at the start of his answer to Ms Lamont – of having been PREPARED for this question on the funding of the colleges – since it had been tweeted earlier in the day by an adviser of the Labour leader’s.
      If he was indee so well ‘prepared’ – and since he had notes there is no reason to doubt him – it is hard to know how he made a genuine ‘error’.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Wonder when Johann will apologise for making up a false rape claim to embelish her nonsense wit?

    Wonder when Jabba Baillie will apologise for her continuous lies too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • It would be better if your accusation was correct.

      Lamont didn’t make up a false rape claim, someone else did (nad as far as I know, to this day nobody has confessed to making it up) and her mistake was not substantiating the facts before bringing it up at First Minister’s Questions.

      Her mistake was still a hefty one and I totally agree she should have apologised for it but it is not the same as actually making up a rape case and attempts to portray her as having done that cheap and should be beneath anyone.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. For me this story epitomises everything that is wrong about politics and politicians. No doubt at all that the SNP made a cock up here and have been rightly criticised. Lamont then, understandably, seized an opportunity to score some public political points. In terms of the ‘level’ of the cock up made that is really all that was merited. It was far from the gravest error in political history and merited a degree of criticism without overkill.

    Instead we get an excessive rant by Lamont which is then subject to scrutiny with people making claims about whether she did well or badly and highlighting her being basically curtailed by the presiding officer. The attention is then partially taken off the SNP and Lamont has not only missed her chance to make a valid criticism but has also turned some of the spotlight on herself, and her party. It hasn’t been a good week for the SNP and sensible behaviour by Lamont could have put a bit more pressure on them but she went down a daft path instead.

    Neither party, or party leader, has come out of this looking particularly impressive and we once again see the important business of politics degenerate into more of a school ground tit for tat flamed by personal egos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. My original comment seems to have disappeared…….with no explanation.

    It’s back now (and with an explanation too)
    When will Johann Lamont apologise for telliing lies about a rape case (that didn’t actually exist) to bolster her puerile drivel

    Here are some links to the story


    When will Jackie Baillie apologise for continually telling lies?
    When will Johann Lament tell the truth about her views on Trident?
    When will the Lieboor party stop telling lies that they are socialists?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • What has this to do with original post by newsroom? That’s right nothing.

      Obviously snp supporter with no real comment to make.

      Who is sam anyway? Or does sam just mean “same auld mince”,

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • It has everything to do with the original post. It’s about lying politicians isn’t it. Not just SNP liars, but all parties’ liars. Perhaps I missed something in the last 10 years and the Labour party doesn’t have any. As far as Ms Lamont is concerned, the terms pot, kettle and black spring to mind, as somebody has already pointed out. It is a sad reflection of politics in Scotland that a minor lapse by a Minister gives the opposition such a sense of success when they point it out to him. It is even sadder that the press have given it such prominence. Are Labour successes so rare these days? In Scotland, I suppose they are, and rightly so.

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          • In the context of the lies we have been told in the past, it was trivial. Iraq war, McCrone report, “I didn’t fiddle my expenses”,etc. I haven’t heard any of those who lied apologising, certainly not within a couple of hours. We’re still waiting many years later.

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      • It has everything to do with with it “gus”!
        It shows that the LIEboor party are and have been telling lies for years
        “whiter than white government” as announced by Tony Bliar in 1997 when LIEbor won in 1997 – wonder what happened to that – no apology from Bliar
        Even funnier -
        “ethical foreign policy” – another LIEboor stunner – wonder what happened to that too
        “no more boom and bust” – gordon “psycho” broon – look how that LIE turned out
        “I saved the world” – see immediately above
        Apparently Lord “Firebug” Watson has been allowed to rejoin the LIEboor party, a spokesman said he hasnt joined Scottish Labour Party but the party in England
        His membership was supported by Lord Foulkes – no stranger to telling lies himself and also teh holder of a conviction for assaulting a policeman and an elderly woman.

        LIE- there is no such political party as the Scottish Labour Party – check with the Electoral Commission – there is only the Labour Party with its HQ in London

        P.S – Who is “gus” or does it just mean gullible unsophisticated sophistry –

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  11. What is going on with the ‘Like or Dislike:’ system here? I’ve just been going through the comments and find that, with no seeming links, the majority of ones I either ‘Like’ or, equally, ‘Dislike’ jump up 2 points….!

    have a look at the software please FA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I suspect that’s just because someone else has clicked like or dislike in the time taken for you to read the comment and hit the like or dislike button.

      That said, you do get peculiar results at times. I have noticed that you sometimes get the opportunity to like or dislike more than once if a few days has elapsed. You can obviously vote more than once if you log on at a different router – which might explain some of the strange voting results that you sometimes see.

      All in all, the thumbs up/thumbs down is just there for a bit of fun. I wouldn’t give it too much credence.

      On topic, I notice that the Herald gave Ms Lamont’s rather less than gracious response to the FM’s apology a metaphorical thumbs down. They also considered it unwise and a wasted opportunity. A simple welcoming of the apology and gratitude that the FM now confirmed her point about college funding would have been far more effective than a rant about an affront to democracy (which she seems to interpret as a majority of MSPs not agreeing with Labour).

      Another bad week for the FM though. Although an apology is welcome and the mark of a mature politician it would have been much better to avoid the need altogther.

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      • I find watching and listening and reading about so many of our politicians unbearable – if it’s not Mr Russell taking a hissy-fit, it’s Johann Lamont! How to turn a situation that is clearly in your favour to one of mild embarassment that completely missed the point. Mr Salmond must thank his lucky stars for the opposition he has! He is a superb politician but needs to be watched so closely and kept in check – there is no-one capable of doing that properly at the moment which is dangerous for politics and our country.

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    • I’m wondering if you have a high level of sensitivity set on your cursor and if, without your knowledge, it’s triggering ‘touches’ as it passes across these?
      I’ll pass this on to our experts, though – and thanks.

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  12. ” well armed with assured facts…..” you said. So what’s all this about her question being transmitted on twitter before she asked it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • This doesn’t at all contradict what we said, you know. She had the facts and she stuck to them.

      It does though, look like some ego-driven assistant who wanted the world to know ‘it was him wot done it’.

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      • Just as it always is…

        I was sure that somewhere in our fine country there had to be someone who thought that Johann Lamont was anything more than a disgrace, a living breathing insult to every labour voter who ever walked the earth…

        and here you are! how delightful!

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  13. When it is all done and dusted ordinary people struggling with the challenges of the real world will be left scratching their heads.Pressures on the incomes of the poor,job opportunities for our young people difficult to say the least, and Welfare Reform to come in in 2014 through the bedroom tax likely to make unemployed single people[ homeless .
    Could I say in all naivety these are the issues that should have been discussed in Parliament yesterday.

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    • Was I wrong or did no-one in the chamber question on the unemployment figures for Scotland? Is there some agreement where you need the person in the hot seat advance notice and this was too current?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Not naivety but a proper sense of priorities.
      Youth unemployment – in Scotland and across the UK – is one of the most serious issues we have to address. Its impact affects our entire society and does so down the generations as each batch of the abandoned ages.
      Addressing this will need a radical revision of how we look at and arrange our education system – and how we velue the role of work in life.
      It will not need the quick fix it is likely to get – which is more unmonitored ‘apprenticeships’ and short crash courses in very little – the standard, pointless and short termist political responses. This is designed to avoid blame but not to address an endemic problem seriously.

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  14. Good point barmore2, if you are on a mobile device you can’t like or dislike a comment (not that it is the be all and end all of posting). Also the comments don’t show up as answering each other, but show as posted in time order. Something else for the tech dept to maybe look at?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • This is a fairly common way of posting responses….

      and we do have the means to ‘pop’ our responses in just after any that we wish to respond to….

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  15. This latest ‘scare story’ has been blown way out of proportion. Firstly, Why on earth would the First Minister apologise within hours in the Scottish Parliament, at the FIRST OPPORTUNITY, rather than ignore it…which is what he would have done had he been attempting to mislead anyone? He came straight out within hours of his MISTAKE and put his hands up and apologised? What part of that don’t people understand? There have been many ‘Mistakes’ within the Scottish Parliament which have never been properly addressed nor apologised for, by the Labour Party in particular, some of which are mentioned above. At least the First Minister had the decency to apologise in a professional manner…unlike the ‘fishwife’ response he received from Ms Lamont. Her conduct within the Scottish Parliament leaves a lot to be desired and she is an embarrassment to Scotland. The actual budget for the college funding hasn’t changed any, it is what it is…..the cut to the college funding SHOULD have been MUCH deeper, due to the cuts that Scotland has had to endure from Westminster, were it not for the juggling of finances from John Swinney. This piece of journalism is extremely badly written & biase in content….whatever happened to journalists being impartial?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • This is no scare story – although Scotland’s colleges are in a but of blured place right now.
      The story is not about the colleges and the decrease in funding – minor at the moment perhaps but estimated by Audit as adding up to 24% over the next three years – a mighty whack.
      This story is about a material deception of the Scottish Parliament – deliberate or accidental – and the added damage this does to the credibility of the First Minister and of the Education Secretary.
      The business of the colleges is a matter on which we will focus later but it is not the focus of this piece and it is mischievous to describe this as ‘a scare story’.

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    • @Evelyn:

      whatever happened to journalists being impartial?

      This is a blog, with a large percentage of the articles being highly slanted opinion pieces written by the same person. I don’t think that can be considered journalism in the normal sense, do you?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I think we can all read where the biase is in Evelyn’s comment. I was a supporter of Alex Salmond in the past but gave up on him some time ago. I was sick to death of the never ending comment that Westminster was to blame for everything. It appears that Evelyn has been taking some SNP lessons.
      It is clear that Alex Salmond returned to the Chamber to apologise because he had no option. He had well and truly been caught out (not for the first time). It is certainly now difficult to believe anything that we hear from this Government.
      All most of us look for in politics is honesty. As far as the current Scottish Government is concerned, we are all being short changed.

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      • “whatever happened to journalists being impartial?”
        Journalists are paid for their work, “who pays the piper calls the tune”. Could anyone name a media outfit which has not got an agenda, From the NoW (no more) to the BBC. There is no trust any more, that’s why the majority block of people do not vote any more, the majority do not trust the “leaders”, which links into the Yes, No vote, if the majority block are neither Yes or No, where do we go.

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  16. The SNP spindoctors have all been put in to bat on this article and Evelyn is the latest incarnation. You and your masters are running scared evelyn as we all can see, Salmond and the trinity… one, have been exposed for what they are, bullies and liars who can’t be trusted.
    And as for journalists being impartial, don’t patronise us with your false naivety. I’m sure you’ll be trolling the Sunday Herald tomorrow to see what Paul Hutcheon has to say, have you ever known him to sit on the fence…… how many of your SNP liars has he taken down?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • “And as for journalists being impartial, don’t patronise us with your false naivety.”

      Actually, I’m absolutely horrified by this site. I have landed here for perfectly innocuos reasons. Just moved to the area, and followed an article about local broadband, and then my Jaw hit the floor.

      You realise that this website does not identify as an anti-nationalist personal blog? it represents itself as citizen journalism “For Argyll”.

      This level of bias actually makes the site of Guido Fawkes look quite level handed.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Storm in a very tiny thimble — the smallest of small thimbles, so small that only J-Low cares.

    A miscalculation with an apology for it is all there is… not a story, a non-story, a yawn story.

    Mr Salmond fortunately has the grace and good will to apologise for his mistakes; J-Low has not apologised for using a phony rape case to score political points and probably never will because she’s lacking any class and decent behaviour.

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  18. I noted a comment on SNP plants; all I will say to that is that this appears to be an open forum for comments therefore anyone has a right to add comment… if you dislike an opinion argue it. You gain nothing by claiming it’s nasty SNP people being nasty to you.

    Just to clarify an earlier post, I forget who by. Lamont indeed was not the originator of the ficticious rape and murder which was then used in a debate to ‘illustrate’ that the SNP were soft on violent crime. No, that was Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, who has never apologised for misleading Parliament with that, nor to the people she represents for lying about the number of jobs related to Trident in Scotland. She claimed several thousand, in the region of six, if I recall correctly, jobs would go if Trident was removed. This figure was bandied about widely and used to justify Trident’s retention and replacement. Except the Ministry of Defence’s own assertion on the jobs in the wider area related to Trident are in the region of five hundred and fifty. Baillie lies, gets caught out and STILL never apologises.
    Not one of the mainstream broadcasters or newspapers is remotely impartial. That accusation is completely justified. However one broadcaster has a charter which states very, very clearly that they will report the news without bias. That broadcaster is the BBC, and they are as guilty of ignoring that section of their charter as it is possible to be. Now, all we want to see from the state broadcaster is the even handed impartiality that they’re meant to show; I don’t think that’s a hell of a lot to ask for.

    You can call me an SNP plant, vegetable, possibly so far as brassica if you like, but it does not alter the fact that no matter what people think of the SNP, or Alec Salmond, or the entire SNP Government, all I find myself able to really wonder about is this.

    Who, out of the current crop of complete political non-entities would you actually prefer to see running the country? Lamont, who manages to look like she loses even when she’s got a point? Davidson, who is even less capable than Lamont? Or Willie Rennie, a man so anonymous that most people couldn’t even point him out in a room with only Willie Rennie in it. Of course, he’s a Lib Dem and they’ve already committed political suicide so they can be pretty much ignored. Oh, by all means criticise the SNP. Feel free, no one’s perfect, but if you’re going to criticise you really should be acknowledging that there is no better option as well.

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    • We feel that the freedom everyone has here to say what they wish is hugely valuable – including contributions from plants, rare species or self-seeders.
      We take no offence at the abuse we get from time to time because we know the game and we assume our readers are as canny as we are.
      We do wish that the strongly affiliated were more interested in being informed and debating on the issues, testing evidence properly, their own and others. This does happen and it will be fun to see it grow. We believe it will, over time.
      Our politics – and our governments – will only get better when we are all of us prepared, when they deserve it, to criticise those individuals and parties we hope to see succeed. Unless we do that, we breed the dangerously unworthy.
      The ‘rubbish / rhubard / nonsense / who do you think you are? ‘ responses are pretty tedious but they are an authentic part of what passes for debate in Scotland and everywhere, so they have as much right as anything else to be present.
      And In any situation, where there is no imperative for change, if the best available option [and it is highly debatable that this is currently the SNP] is not good enough, it is weak-minded to take it rather than wait and work to better it or another.

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      • Newroom, one of the problems I have when we talk about criticising to improve governments is that as everyone is well aware, we have the hugely important referendum in 2014 awaiting. Constant negative reporting on the SNP’s performance and policies serves not only to highlight your view of their supposed deficiencies but also like the BBC and the media in general has an impact on swaying those who have not decided which way to cast their vote come the referendum. Sadly, I believe many who I encounter on this and other forums fail to or choose not make the distinction between the the media’s view of the SNP’s performance in government and the ‘Yes’ campaign or how a future independent Scotland would perform. This would maybe contribute to explain why SNP supporters and or party members are so defensive and vocal on these forums, these reports have the potential to lose votes for what many have dedicated a lifetime in pursuit of. Granted, proper forensic and researched responses to your criticism are ideal but not everyone possesses these attributes but still wants their voice to be heard. Lets also take into account that prior to the internet those who favoured an independent Scotland had no voice, little or no representation but now a chance to give their side. Unionists just had to sit back and let the what they believed to be the unstoppable pro-union media machine keep on rollin, ever so slightly changed days thanks to these platforms.

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  19. Alex Salmond & Mike Russell used the figures that were given to them by officials in good faith. Turns out they were wrong, Salmond hares back to parliament to apologise & the usual suspects jump on his back. When did any FM or PM ever apologise previously? Indeed, I have yet to hear a dicky bird of contrition from ‘Scottish’ Labour on their disastrous PFI policy that is bleeding public services dry, the treachery of Labour’s McCrone’s report in the ’70′s nor the Iraq imbroglio.
    As for the funding issue, the bottom line is that with a £59 billion cut in real terms
    Scotland has to decide whether it sits meekly back waiting for others to decide on priorities or to step up to the plate & become, as a country, grown up decision makers.
    The 3 London parties – Tory/Labour/Liberal – bleat about cuts to college funding in Scotland, but rooted as they are in a political culture of dependency, not one of them question the legitimacy of the cuts to Scotland’s budget nor how the national body politic addresses these challenges. Where are the Oppositions ideas on growing the economy? On supporting the FE sector within a massively slashed budget? On buttressing the common weal?
    Rather than echoing Labour’s press releases For Argyll ought to give some thought to the elephant in the room – the lack of sovereignty that underpins this country’s impotency with regard to national decision making, an issue that can only be resolved by a successful ‘Yes’ in the 2014 referendum.

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    • Well said Ron. Like many others (I suspect) I am growing tired of simple points scoring by the opposition: where is the (costed) vision of where the unionist parties would like to see Scotland in, say, five years time? So far the only vision seems to be lie down, keep a respectable quiet and take the medicine we are going to dish out to you.

      If you are poor. if you are sick, if you are young and single, if you’re a parent, if you are out of work, be afraid, be very afraid. Labour or Tory, it is all the same: we are the ones who will suffer.

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    • Sovereignty for Salmond? What a strange thing to say. Independent or devolved, there are elections in 2016 and the Scots people will once again decide the make-up of their parliament.

      Or do you believe Salmond intends to declare himself President for life in the event of a Yes vote?

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      • We have a potential FM-in-waiting in Nicola Sturgeon…

        We will also have a lot of decisions to take (hopefully via referenda) after 2014 regarding where we go, and who we go with…

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        • You surely don’t believe that if the SNP win the referendum they will ask those living in Scotland for their views of a way forward via referendums!?

          The SNP don’t even seem to understand the meaning of ‘consultation’. i.e. You ask people for their views, analyse the results and respond taking everything into account.

          SNP ‘consultation’ appears to be: we decide what we want, we ask the people what they want, we continue with what we want, we ignore the consultation.

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          • We have these great big public “consultations” every few years. Great things they are – we call them “elections”

            And I think the SNP understand them just fine – after all, they won the last one with the largest land slide Scotland’s devolved parliament has seen.

            I expect that until the various political leaders wake up to fact that we Scots do not react well to childish, petulant and negative behaviour and start to actually be a functioning opposition, the SNP will continue to win.

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    • John Swinney has balanced the budget every time – it’s the law….! This is more than Gideon does in Wastemonster!
      Meant to place this in response to Mary Walker’s point about mathematical skills! Sorry about that…

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      • “John Swinney has balanced the budget every time – it’s the law….!” are the budgets balanced with debt. I thought there was a promise lead by Swinney to investigate all the private funded projects, has this one been kept. Is it true that Mike Russel, the Education Minister is backing a PFI funded new high school in Oban. The sum of £30 million has been mentioned. Out of that £30 million, how much profit is being taken off. How long is the contract for. Do some maths, £30 million divided by contact time, divide that by number of students. But before we go any further who can we trust to do the calculations.

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        • “John Swinney has balanced the budget every time – it’s the law….!” are the budgets balanced with debt.”
          Presume you missed the ? at the end of this… If so, then the answer is YES, in Wastemonster, not in Holyrood!

          Where did you get the Oban school story? Can you provide a source for this? Until you can – no comment though I doubt your PFI remark.

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          • Funding has been made available from the SG to ABC to fund a new Oban High School. This was a bit of a surprise to the Councillors (and the general population) but it is true. There has been little done yet in identifying an actual site for the school but it won’t be on the existing High School site because of site constraints and the need to be able to provide education while the new school is built.

            My source: Mike Breslin who was able to fill in some of the details when he recently visited Barcaldine Primary and had a meeting with the Parent Council.

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          • …and carried on, after initial retreat, by the SNP in the form of NDOs – which may not be quite such an eye-watering rip off as the PFI/PPP initiators of the ‘flash now, pay big tomorrow’ way of doing things.
            The cost of the forest of NDOs lavished on education buildings in the current regime has yet to be tallied – one headed for the new, foolishly out of town, Oban High School [shelf life of the school is 25 years], destined for the dread named and mistaken ‘Dunbeg corridor’.
            When will councils learn that the main approaches to a town make it or break it?

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          • I thought the first model was the Sky Bridge, was Michael Forsyth behind that one. It may not of been called PFI, but was funded by private money. I think people got criminal records opposing that one, is it still going. Can anyone give an update on that one.

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          • PFI / PP projects weren’t introduced by Labour. They were introduced by John Major’s Tory government was back in the early 90s due to a fear that borrowing was spiralling out of control. Tony Blair’s Labour government took the schemes onwards and ‘upwards’ with rather shallow claims of focusing on delivering value for money (which was clearly nonsense – a point proven by the ridiculous contracts entered into and the spiralling lifecycle costs of the projects) and pointing out that the public sector was notoriously bad at project management (a fair point). All of this despite the fact that Labour were hugely critical of PFI when the Tories brought them in. The SNP were critical of Labour for continuing and expanding the PFI concept.

            However a change in name is nothing more than a change in name. NPD is not that far removed from PFI/PPP and will also leave a long term liability for the public purse in much the same way PFI/PPP projects do.
            Bottom line is that PFI / PPP was a woeful idea and this has been proven by the monster it transformed into.

            The Labour Party, Tories and National Audit Office (who gave the concept the green light) have a lot to answer for and local authorities will be picking up the tab for many years to come. The SNP’s opposition to them is somewhat diluted by the fact they have adopted something which is broadly similar and has a similar impact.

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          • John Sinclair – no-one minds the odd spelling hiccup but that bridge is to the Isle of Skye and not part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire.
            My recollection of the original financiers was (believe it or not) that they had Colombian connections (that’s the South American drug republic, not the record company) – and maybe this added to the pressure that saw them bought off by the government.

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  20. 1.”Where did you get the Oban” school story, more than one source.
    2. “I doubt your PFI remark”, I am sure I read about it pre-election thats why I said “I thought there was a promise lead by Swinney to investigate all the private funded projects, has this one been kept”

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    • John

      PPP and PFI are pretty much the same thing.

      There isn’t nearly as big a difference between PPP/PFI and NPD as some will have you believe (and funnily enough NPD was actually introduced in Scotland by the previous Labour administration rather than the SNP).

      The SNP claim NPD will do away with private firms making excessive profits in the manner they do with PFI projects. However there are huge similarities between both models. Under both there is still a ‘special purpose vehicle (SPV’ which is a private sector organisation that is responsible for the core design, construction and ongoing operation of the asset(s).

      This SPV is a combination of firms, rather than one firm. i.e. a construction firm, facilities provision/mgt firm and normally a private equity group. The SPV then finance the project through private debt arrangements and a small percentage of private capital from the SPV members.

      The big difference (and what is in favour of NPDs) is that whilst in PFI projects the SPV capital investment includes a small amount of private equity, for NPDs the members investments are loans. This has the effect of capping the returns that SPV shareholders will get and any additional surpluses which are left when the contract expires are given to an agreed charity. In a PFI model these surpluses would have been passed to SPV members as dividends. This is the ‘Non-Profit Distribution’ concept.

      However this makes NPD contracts unattractive to private sector bidders. Transaction costs tend to be very high and the procurement process drags on and on and there is a clear issue around monopoly pricing. All these factors mean that the idea that NPD projects are going to eliminate excessive profiteering are, at best, hopeful and I don’t think the model has been properly explored before being implemented. The charitable donation part of it sounds nice in principle but it is an uncertain amount and there is a big question mnark over whether it is the most efficient way to generate a charitable donation!

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    • If I remember rightly Lochgilphead Scool was built under and NDO with claims that the surplus would be ploughed back into the community. It’s all been a bit quiet since. Here’s a challenge – have a look on the Council’s website & see if you can find anything about the financial arrangements of the new schools built unde NDO. Transparency? – er, no.

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      • Keith,

        Like Evelyn, you have got it wrong. Argyll & Bute was the first council in Scotland to go down the NPDO route. The largest school in Argyll & Bute (Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh) along with a number of others was secured under the NPDO project.

        At no stage was there any suggestion that the “surplus” would be “ploughed back into the community”. The NPDO allows for surplus profits to be recycled back into the Council’s schools.

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        • Ponsonby is right. A&B Schools (Hermitage) was the first project to NPD project to close. He is also right in that the surplus isn’t always committed to be put into either charities or communities (this was the general model) – it can also be ‘reinvested’ into the public sector (which basically means the surplus goes back to the local authority).

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          • ABC Schools Ltd built the school at Lochgilphead, are they involved with Oban Primary Campus. I am sure when I did some research into them, there was a return of profit to a charity. The information was via Company House, it gets costly to follow the food chain, there is also ABC SCHOOLS (HOLDINGS) LIMITED.

            Info of one of the directors controlling our schools

            David Fulton Gilmour

            Director Summary

            David Fulton Gilmour has 60 current or previous company director or secretary appointments.
            Short name – David Gilmour
            Director ID : 915850815
            Year of Birth: 1963

            C/o Infrastructure Managers Ltd 2nd Floor
            11 Thistle Street
            EH2 1DF

            Company Summary
            Company Name Company Status
            CATCHMENT LIMITED Active
            CATCHMENT TAY LIMITED Active
            FCC (EAST AYRSHIRE) LIMITED Active
            NVSH HOLDCO LIMITED Active
            NVSH TOPCO LIMITED Active
            COVESEA LIMITED Active
            SUMMIT FINANCE (WISHAW) PLC Active
            VLE HOLDINGS LIMITED Active
            LH PROJECT LIMITED Active
            ABC SCHOOLS LIMITED Active
            WCEM (HOLDINGS) LIMITED Active
            ESP (HOLDINGS) LIMITED Active
            KE PROJECT LIMITED Active
            BANNOCKBURN HOMES LIMITED Active (Director Resigned 04/03/2011)

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  21. Thank you Integrity
    “Under both there is still a ‘special purpose vehicle (SPV’ which is a private sector organisation that is responsible for the core design, construction and ongoing operation of the asset(s).”
    The first two parts, core design and construction have got a set short time frame and a logical argument for out sourcing it from our council can be made. The final part “ongoing operation of the asset(s)” should remain firmly under our control via the council. Why, there appears to be a 25 year life of many projects and change will happen so why lock yourself in a deal where there is so much unknown. Are there not PFI projects through out the land which do not fit then current and future needs, but must still be funded.

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  22. Integrity comments that “it is hard to deny the Lib Dems have as much presence in Scotland as Sean Connery does”.

    Sorry Integrity, I must disagree with you. At least we do see the odd Lib Dem kicking about in Scotland. We even have one or two in Argyll such as Morton, Currie and ?. Sorry, I am struggling to think of who the others are. Oh yes, we also have Alan Reid MP, the guy we are lucky to see once a year (it’s unlikely anyone would want to see him any more than that even if they could?).

    As far as Sean Connery in concerned, he is happy to support the SNP and independence on tha basis that he will not want to live in Scotland to suffer the consequences. A patriotic Scot? Don’t make me laugh.

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  23. Robert Wakeham says:
    November 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    John Sinclair – no-one minds the odd spelling hiccup but that bridge is to the Isle of Skye and not part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire.
    My spelling “problem” really annoys people sometimes,I am what I am. Any way I thought it has been renamed. “The Gaelic name for the “Isle of Skye” is An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (or Sgiathanach, a more recent and less common spelling)” Two ways of spelling the Gaelic name, so whats wrong with two ways of spelling it in English. Do we have freedom of spelling, bit like we should all talk in the same way, I remember when Scottish accents were not allowed on the BBC.

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        • A good question, and one thing that intrigues me is how there seems to be public acceptance of inappropriate English-language place names in Scotland. How can Skye, Islay and Arran all be ‘isles’ when they’re surely easily big enough to deserve being called islands?.
          The custom that really does seem cringeworthy to me is calling Scottish counties ‘shires’ – isn’t that really so very English that it’s totally inappropriate here? There are no ‘shires’ anywhere in Ireland.

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          • Tut tut Verger, sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool, rather than open your mouth and prove it!
            The Scottish shires date back to the middle ages (the same time that the term was introduced into England), and was used in preference to county right up to the nineteenth century.

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  24. From the BBC news website:-
    “Labour has called for a review of Holyrood’s procedures after the first minister apologised to the chamber for quoting an incorrect figure.
    The party said a new “independently enforced” code of conduct was needed that “compels ministers to be honest and accurate”.”
    They got one small thing right and they are not letting go of it. Instead, they are milking this for all it is worth. How sad for a once great party that they are reduced to this petty behaviour to get a little bit of good press. The BBC in Scotland, of course, will give them that good press.
    I have not yet found, anywhere on the BBC website, any mention of Ms Lamont being ticked off by the Presiding Officer for talking “mince” (good word, Gus!) . Maybe I just havent looked hard enough.

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    • Clearly another paranoid Nat who thinks everyone is against them, even the BBC. At least the BBC is not in the pockets of the SNP just like the SNP was in the pockets of Rupert Murdoch and News International.

      The SNP is the one party who cannot accept any criticism, even when they try to mislead our Parliament. There were certainly a lot of gloomy faces on the Government side (from First Minister down) in the chamber last Thursday at 5.00 o’clock when humble pie was on the menu. All the smirks and smiles had been truly wiped from their faces.

      There certainly needs to be a review of procedures, including how complaints against the First Minister are handled. How can anyone accept that it is up to the First Minister to decide if a complaint against him is justified? A crazy system that sees judge, jury and defendant all rolled into one. It will take more than a code of conduct to force the Government to be honest and open with all our elected representatives in the Parliament.

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  25. “I thought there was a promise lead by Swinney to investigate all the private funded projects, has this one been kept”
    Can any SNP members help to clarify what I am saying, yes or no.
    Found this on
    “Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre offered to help draft a Bill. After I’d said I’d step up my efforts to have the really offensive PPP/PFI contracts renegotiated, I had offers of help from project managers, account executives and a public commitment for a review of these private/public contracts from Finance Minister John Swinney, if he’s elected tomorrow, and in the same job.”

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  26. If a school is built under the PFI scheme then it is in the same condition at the end of the contract (say 25 years) as it was when it was brand new. The Skye bridge was constructed under the PFI scheme.
    If the Scottish Parliament had been built under a PFI scheme would have cost a fraction of the £403 Million it ultimately cost to build it and the taxpayers would have to pay for parts of it falling down.

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    • “If a school is built under the PFI scheme then it is in the same condition at the end of the contract (say 25 years) as it was when it was brand new.”
      The only PFI scheme I have been directly involved with was Balfron High School, many problems and I would hope it was in better condition than when newly built.
      Firm involved in maintaining Balfron High collapses
      Apr 9 2010 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
      BALFRON High is at the centre of a legal minefield following the collapse of the company involved in building, maintaining and servicing the school.
      Jarvis Plc, the company from which the council leases the school under a PFI agreement, and which is also responsible for facilities management on the site, went into administration two weeks ago.
      Now council officials are trying to unravel the situation and taking legal advice on the implications for the council and the school itself.
      The new Balfron High School building was completed in 2001, and was something of a test case for the subsequent major PPP programme to replace all of Stirling’s high schools.
      As the first school to undergo the process, the contract is believed to be slightly different from those involving the recently-built schools.
      As well as being a school, the campus is also a community facility.
      Under the agreement with Jarvis, Balfron High was to have become the property of the council in 2027.
      Jarvis’ responsibilities include catering, caretaking, security, waste disposal, energy, utilities, building maintenance, communications, cleaning, building services, grounds maintenance and health and safety.
      The council is giving assurances that pupils will not be affected by the situation when they return after the Easter break, and that the school will run as normal. Teaching will not be affected and it is believed that janitorial, catering and maintenance staff will continue working at the school in the meantime.
      But, it is unclear as yet, what the cost, if any, will be to the council to ensure the facilities operate as normal in the interim, or if any potential expense can be recouped.
      Council officials say it is “early days” and that the situation is ongoing and being monitored, with work underway to look at any legal and contractual issues.
      As the Observer went to press yesterday (Thursday) the council had not confirmed whether the original agreement allowed for the school building to be passed to the local authority if Jarvis found itself in the sort of difficulties it is in now.
      A Stirling Council spokesperson said: “The council is in discussions with the administrator appointed to oversee the current situation at Jarvis.
      “The council’s priority is to ensure continuity of services to both Balfron High School and Balfron Primary School.”
      Phil Bowers, Deloitte partner and joint administrator, said: “We have received significant interest in the Jarvis Accommodation Services (JAS) business and are working closely with all the key stakeholders to seek to reach solutions on all contracts over the next few weeks.”
      The administrators added that they were not in a position to give further information or comment on specific contracts at this time.

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    • And who can doubt the wisdom of what Mr Harvie is calling for?

      I just hope that sensible debate will be possible above the febrile screaming that will only increase in volume as we near the referendum. He makes a good point about no-one having a crystal ball (a point I’ve made myself) but both sides need to be honest about the fact that there are no guarantees in or out of the Union and what this debate is truly about is who gets to makes decisions about Scotland and how best that is managed.

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      • The bottom line with this Yes or No debate is politicians will still rule the people. The deeper question is how are the people going to engage this process. No one on the Yes or No side will answer the question of what should happen if the majority block are non voters. The people of Scotland marched against the last illegal war in the Gulf but were ignored, and when I see how Donald Trump with his money and power can trample on individuals with the backing of our government, I do question the ability of our politicians from all sides. Alex Salmond is the last of the BIG politicians, I can remember him giving a speech on Calton Hill to stop the closure of Ravenscraig, he stood up in a suit and Jim Sillars had walked with the workers from the steel works to Edinburgh. That was my first impression of the guy. He has done well, but…..

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  27. Enjoyed watching Mike Russell squirming on Newsnight, the sight of him trying to talk his way out of last weeks misleading statements on college funding and his disgusting treatment of Kirk Ramsay made for good viewing.

    Interesting how he repeated time and time again how he and the FM had apologized as soon as THEY had realised their mistake.

    Asked if AS had asked him to, or had he considered resigning, Mike said no. Fair enough!

    But we all know smart Alex would not want any more bad press at this time, more likely Mike will be moved at the next reshuffle.

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