The public purse and the ‘Yes’ campaign budget

Recent information on the Scottish Government’s diversion of significant numbers of civil servants to producing ‘work packages’ on different aspects of the independence proposition was already alarming.

Then this morning it was revealed that the First Minister has appointed an academic to ‘negotiate’ with Brussels on entry for an independent Scotland to the EU. Professor Andrew Scott is to be paid a substantial salary on a three-days-a-week basis.

Both of these actions – part of the party political campaign for Scottish independence – are to be paid for, not by the budget for the ‘Yes’ campaign, but by all of us – through the diversion of the revenues that are raised and given to govern Scotland as it is today – part of the UK.

This raises immediate issues of fiscal propriety in the diversion of substantial sums of public money to the political interests of a minority [this is purely factual] – and in the context of inadequate funds to look after our most vulnerable people – the less or unable elderly – and to repair our roads.

This also has to raise the issue of where the line of probity must be drawn to separate a party of current government from a party pursuing its own political interests.

The two sometimes, but not always, share boundaries.

At the moment, Scotland is a full member of the United Kingdom, from whose overall government the powers and the funding devolved to Scotland are handed down.

Scotland today has a government whose core raison d’etre is achieving independence from the UK for Scotland.

That government is currently leading a campaign which will culminate in October 2014, with the country as a whole taking the decision through a referendum to become independent from the UK or not.

Until that decision is known, the current government has been elected to govern Scotland as it is – and that is what – and only what – it is funded to do.

Should the referendum opt for independence, between then and whatever date separation was formally effected, there is a defensible argument for deflecting funds and the work of public servants into the preparations for that moment.

Independence would then have been specifically mandated by the majority of those eligible to vote. From the moment of that decision, Scotland’s future would be democratically irrevocable. Working and spending to bring this about – judiciously and with regard to everyday responsibilities for the Scottish people and for the economic growth of the country – would therefore be entirely proper.

But it is not proper now.

On the available evidence today, this is not a point the country is likely to reach in the referendum.This probable outcome faces us with two serious problems on what is happening today – and has been for some time – in the disposition of government resources.

The first problem  is immediate, in the strongly challengeable propriety of diverting funds and state-paid human resources away from the job for which they exist- to enable the government of the coutry as it is.

The second is the situation which is likely to face the country in October 2014.

Scotland will arrive there following a period of little actual government for straegic economic development. That is already essentially being left ‘until afterwards’, regardless of what shape ‘afterwards’ takes.

The distraction of ministers from their core responsibilities is already evident in, for example, the contract for the Clyde and Hebridean ferries – which should have been concluded in the early Autumn of this year, 2013. This has had to be put back for no fewer than three years, to the Autumn of 2016, on the explicit grounds that more time is needed to prepare for it.

There could be no stronger proof of the level of distraction than the extent of this unreadiness for a contractual date known as soon as the contract was originally signed; and with procurement the daily bread and butter of government.

In October 2014, Scotland is likely to vote ‘No’ to the independence proposition presented to it. This means that on top of having struggled through a period of government where ministerial concentration had been elsewhere, there will be a hiatus, which will prolong the time Scotland exists on tickover.

A goverment that will have spent years willing its political endgame into being will have to force its attention back to picking up the reins on which it should never properly have slackened its grasp.

It will, in the interests of Scotland, have to get cracking to recover the ground abandoned; and it will have to do that in the context of the low morale that follows defeat.

Scotland will also be facing a situation where there will be a plethora of civil servants who are out of touch wth the jobs they were initally appointed to do ; and it will be feeling the loss of funding diverted from development and maintenance in the years running up to the independence vote.

None of this is proper.

The ‘Yes’ campaign is fully entitled to spend its smoney on hiring and directing as big and as expensive a staff establishment as it deems necessary in identifying and specifying all of the work to be done following the event of a ‘Yes’ vote for independence.

It is also entitled to spend as much as it likes on employing whoever to talk to whoever about EU memberbership or anything elese – on behalf of the ‘Yes’ campaign.

Although this campaign is wholeheartedly backed by the Scottish Government, it is not the Scottish Government.

Consultants acting in its interests would represent the ‘Yes’ campaign in exploring hypothetical situations. They could not properly represent the Scottish Government or Scotland on such business at this stage.

It is surprising that none of the other parties at Holyrood have asked for specific information on how many civil servant, of what rank, on what salaries, since what date/s and on what topics, have been diverted to these ‘work packages for a hypothetical independence.

To set that ball rolling, we have lodged a Freedom of Information request to this effect to the Scottish Government.

In it we are asking for information relating to the specifics of the deployment of civil servants to working up aspects of the preparation for potential Scottish independence.

We are also asking for information in relation to the employment of external experts on a contract basis, to carry out specific responsibilities in the work of preparing for potential Scottish independence.

The specific questions asked are then for answers on:

  • - the overall number of civil servants deployed to such work;
  • the numbers so deployed full time;
  • the numbers so deployed part time – with a note of the average hours ‘part time’ describes in this instance;
  • the numbers of civil servants so deployed from each hierarchical rank involved;
  • the salary spectrum applying to each of the ranks involved;
  • the anticipated expenses involved for staff in total in respect of each single work package;
  • the topics or titles of each of the work packages to which any are deployed;
  • the numbers deployed to each work package;
  • the starting dates of each deployment to each work package;
  • the number of external experts contracted to work on aspects of preparation for potential Scottish independence;
  • the overall costs of such employments;
  • the costs of anticipated expenses involved in each piece of such contracted work;
  • the topics or titles of their separate contracted responsibilities.

We also ask for a note of which of these deployments are NOT paid for from the public purse; and, in each case where this may apply, what is the source of funding for their work? ‘

When we get that information we will return to this subject. In the meantime, constitutional and procedural propriety in the diversion of funds and the work of governmental civil servants seems to be being ignored.

The same will be true with any funds and diversion of civil servants’ time by the UK government in support of the ‘Better Together’ campaign – although, since the UK is together at the moment there might be rather more validity in the same action from that side of the fence.

The limbo Scotland is in until October 2014 is a confused and befuddled situation at the best of times. If we cannot distinguish between the proper uses of the public purse and individual campaign interests, it will become a great deal worse.

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145 Responses to The public purse and the ‘Yes’ campaign budget

  1. How much of our money do you suppose the NO campaign are spending?

    In the interests of balance, why don’t you send a similar FOI request to the Westminster government?

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  2. The current Scottish government were elected on a mandate to put an Independence Referendum to the Scottish people. The recent Edinburgh Agreement provided the formal basis for this to take place. Both Scottish and UK governments are using their respective Civil Service resources for this to take place. The Scottish government was not responsible for the mis-management of the UK economy which has led to the current disastrous situation. Scotland does not get all its’ share of what it contributes to the UK Exchequer; lets spend a little of what we do get to ensure we can control our own affairs.

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    • I take it there is more than one David Graham contributing comments to these articles. The one I know would never have written this unless he had joined “LabourforIndy”. Tell us all David, or Davids. :-)

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      • Hi Andy
        Tell me when you were last a member of the Labour Party and I will add Dunoon after my name so you know who is who!
        I take it you are Andy from the Bullwood who had an SNP poster in your window at the last election.
        SNPforIndy is more up front than “LabourforIndy” if you are an SNP supporter.
        There again it might be someone else who lives in your house!!!!!

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  3. This is not correct – on evidence. If it were, the proportion of those shown in opinion polls to support independence would equate to the majority SNP vote gained in the Scottish elections in 2011.
    Many of those who voted for the SNP in that election voted for it as the competent government of and for Scotland it had been for much of its first term as a minority administration.
    No one knows what the percentage of such voters was – but the opinion polls – or the poll of polls – are the nearest insight into it that we can get – until October 2014.
    October 2014 will whether your assumption or our analysis is correct.

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    • Complete and utter rubbish newsroom

      The SNP’s manifesto was there for ALL to see – anyone who didn’t realise that the SNP’s number one aim is INDEPENDENCE for Scotland is either thick, stupid, deluded, ignorant, imbecilic or just a typical unionist.

      Opinion polls are not an insight into what “we” might get in the slightest – remember that even up to a few days before teh MAy 2011 election – these “opinion”polls were predicting a LIEBOOR win and elmer fudd would be first minsiter
      They are just the opinion of a small group of folks

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    • I think the vast majority of SNP voters at the 2011 election knew that a referendum on independence was a core part of SNP policy.

      Voters rarely agree with every single thing on a party’s manifesto. However, they weight things up and vote for the party they consider the best on balance. By doing so they give the winning party a mandate to carry out their entire manifesto, not just the bits they like.

      A percentage of voters may have voted for the SNP in spite of their promise of a referendum instead of because of it, but David is still right to say that the SNP were elected with a mandate to hold it – even the Westminster government recognises this.

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      • There is more than a degree of hypocrisy at work here. I am sure I remember FA lambasting the Scottish Government (aka the SNP) for not having all the facts about independence worked out before now. But now, when they put in place a sensible measure to improve the position of Scotland post a Yes vote, they are criticised wasting money.

        As has been said, the Scottish Government was elected on a manifesto that included a referendum. They have a moral right not just to conduct the referendum but also to take actions in support of their aim of an independent Scotland and to ensure that any consequences of independence are managed in the best way for the benefit of the Scottish people. If you don’t like what they do then feel free to vote for another party at the next election. And if you don’t want Scotland to be independent then vote No. This is your democratic right just as it is the democratic right of the Scottish Government to govern.

        As to there being better things that the money could be spent on, many of believe that only through independence will we be able to tackle the inequalities and downright inefficiencies that Westminster is inflicting on all of us. Looks like money well spent to me.

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        • “As has been said, the Scottish Government was elected on a manifesto that included a referendum. They have a moral right not just to conduct the referendum but also to take actions in support of their aim of an independent Scotland and to ensure that any consequences of independence are managed in the best way for the benefit of the Scottish people. ”

          A moral right? According to whom? As far as I’m concerned, they have a moral right to ask me about some key issues as well, such as EU membership and Nuclear power/weapons but I don’t see that happening either. The answer to that is simple as I’ve been told before – it’s not in the manifesto. So where does that leave us? With a Scottish Government who represent only those who agree with them.

          Before I go to far tho, your response is to say vote for someone else? Sure – there were how many viable options? hmmm…two.

          Great choice Fletcher. I can’t wait for Indy. SNP will railroad everything they want, and the other parties will not have an idea what to do.

          Yet another reason not to vote Yes.

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          • There’s nothing like willful ignorance on the parts of onionists
            Think you’ll find son, that they were lected by peopel who agreed with them, therefore they are obviously representing those folks – DOH!
            If you didn’t vote for them, then that was your choice, no point in complaining about the fact that they aren’t doing as you want FFS
            I didn’t vote for the current scumbags rersident at westminster, but it is blatantly obvious that some suckers did.
            Do you think that westminster government should be asking me what to do and implementing what I want even though I didnt vote for them or agree with anything they do whatsoever
            DOH!

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  4. “Scotland today has a government whose core raison d’etre is achieving independence from the UK for Scotland”
    The SNP’s core reason for exisitence is the pursuit of a better more prosperous Scotland. They have proved last term and the time since their majority success in 2011 that they are not a single issue party.
    What a hell of a lot of chickens tallied up in your article Newsroom. I’d have thought the 2011 election when the SNP party, in the space of a month, wiped out a 15 point Labour lead when recording a record 45% constituency vote gaining an overall majority would have taught many not to measure the drapes in planning a ‘No’ post October 2014.
    Granted, the polls indicate the ‘Yes’ campaign must pull a rabbit from the hat, that said, look where negative campaigning got Labour in the Scottish elections. Also, there will come a time in the not to distant future when Alasdair Darling can stall no more and will have to try and sell a ‘No’ vote to the undecideds, what apart from the tedious, gloomy status quo does this offer exactly?
    When the SNP party won narrowly by one seat in 2007 elected for the first time, this was largely a step into the unknown, Scotland has not sunk without trace.

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    • a reply from London – haw haw haw haw haw haw

      The only folk who get a reply from London are the Lieboor, Tory & LIE-DUMB stooges who have to ask their London masters what day of the week it is

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  5. Opinion polls are opinion polls. They are most certainly not electoral mandates. As far as I understand it, the current SG has a majority electoral mandate.

    More important however is the point brought out in the article is that Scotland is a full mmber of the EU. As such the EU impacts on every aspect of the lives of the people of Scotland be it fishing, farming, grant funding, consumer legislation, subsidy, quota, exemption, derrogation, regional assistance, energy, or whatever.

    The Scottish government or the civil service would be in breach of their duty if they did not interface with the EU on an ongoing basis on the multiplicity of issues that affect the lives of the people in Scotland.

    In fact the people of Scotland would be outraged if Scottish interests were not represented in the EU.

    Jeez, talking about asking questions to waste everone’s time, if I may opine. Of course civil servants are speaking to Europe, and you don’t need to demand a long long list of questions to know that.

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    • The SNP may have won the majority of electoral votes, but they certainly cannot claim to represent the views of the majority of Scottish people.

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          • We are- then put it this way
            “Statistically true, but they have a very much better claim to do so than the current UK governmentand how they represent/govern Scotland

            No point sticking yer heid in teh sand son, or indeed putting yer hauns over yer lugs and shouting nah nah nah I cant hear you on this – the UK government is shafting Scotland and other parts of teh current UK too

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          • Oh – a moment of enlightenment

            “the UK government is shafting Scotland and other parts of teh current UK too”

            So it’s not just Scotland eh? It’s not Westminster vs Scotland after all. Just fancy that…

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          • Lowry, if you are determined to willfully fail to see the relevance of my response let me put it a little more simply.

            With over 45% of the votes cast in a general election the current Scottish government have a very much better claim to be representing the Scottish people than the other government allegedly representing Scotland – i.e. the UK government.

            Are you sure you understand how representative democracy works?

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        • Jaimie,
          I don’t think I’ve ever said that westminster is only shafting Scotland – have you ever been to teh North East Of Engerlandshire – it’s in as bad a state as areas of Scotland.
          Fortuanteley we in Scotland have now a referendum to rescue us from teh wilfull neglect of westminster, it’s a real pity the engerlandshire outside of London and teh soith east don’t have that oppertunity

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  6. Oh and Newsroom it might be a better waste of time, well if wasting time can ever be called better, if you asked Westminster question about how their civil servants spend their time,

    What is it they talk about, how many are full time, how many are part time, what their salary spectrum is, how many of them are there, what is the overall salary cost, how many external consultants are there, how much expenses, the work packages that civil servants do, dates civil service started working, dates civil servants finished working, do they get paid overtime, how many hours worked.

    That should keep em busy down the road in Whitehall.

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  7. Talking about London Sam, reports are now emerging that Tory ministers were warned two years ago that drug laden horsemeat was illegally entering the food chain.

    Seems that a manager in the Meat Hygene Service and now part of the FSA assisted draft a letter to Defra warning of the illegal practice.

    The Tory minister Ms Spellman is it appears refusing to comment. Eh, seems you have a point.

    Suggestion to Newsroom. One simple question to London. Were, or are Government now, aware of any concerns being raised about drug laden horsemeat entering the food chain.

    The Westminster government, as was the case with BSE, and we all remember John Gummer feeding his daughter a burger, have been saying there is no health risk. So yes, a good question for London.

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  8. Such viscious critisism of Westminster. Postive campaigning my backside.

    The finger pointing by the SNP folks is simply amazing, they might as well start atacking the EU and how those to blame for the issues there as well. But wait – the SNP want to be part of that as if it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

    Eh? Surely not.

    A question for the SNP and Yes Men & Women – do you think that Scotland under Independence and having negotiated it’s way into the EU would be exempt from rules, regulations and laws made in the EU and not by the people of Scotland? Yes or No will suffice, more detail if you wish.

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    • Jamie, aren’t you rather getting away from the original point of this article, which was to do with concern that Scottish civil servants might be spending some of our money on information that might help the YES campaign.

      How much taxpayers’ money do you think the NO campaigners are spending? Do you think it is more or less than the YES campaign? How do you think Alastair Darling finds time to satisfactorily fulfil his duties as a constituency MP when he is fronting the multi-party NO campaign?

      Too much thread drift and random nat-bashing here.

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      • Webcraft, true, but I’m responding to the Nationalist contribution to this thread, which I suppose you could call Westminster bashing. I get a bit sick of people who think they represent me and my country constantly talking down ANYTHING related to the United Kingdom. It gets tiresome.
        But, back to the point – the United Kingdom government, but it’s very nature, has a mandate to protect the UK and it’s interests. So that would be an automatic yes to the question of apporoving money to oppose Independence.
        THe Scottish Government do not, I believe, have that mandate.
        In the same way they did not put a pledge to hold a referendum on the EU or Trident, they did not pledge to spend tax-payers money trying to work out and prove advantages of Independence. That should have been done years ago from party funds, not my money.
        Happy to be proved wrong tho – I’m sure the good Nationalists will have the section of the manifesto which states they will spend tax payers money and divert tax payers resources doing the work they didn’t do before they came to power.
        The Nationalists are compeletly unprepared for this referendum and now using tax payers money to fund the leg work, without mandate.

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        • But, back to the point – the United Kingdom government, but it’s very nature, has a mandate to protect the UK and it’s interests.

          Oh come on Jamie. If that is the case – which, phrased like that, it is hard to argue with – then it makes just as much sense to substitute the words ‘Scottish’ and ‘Scotland’ in the above statement.

          The Scottish government is elected to best represent the interests of Scotland. The current democratically elected Scottish government believes that independence is in the best interests of the country.

          So – if it is an ‘automatic yes’ for Westminster to spend money to oppose independence then why is it not an equally automatic ‘yes’ for the Scottish government to spend money to promote it?

          I find it disappointing that after the Edinburgh Agreement and the 100% compliance of the Scottish government with the suggestions of the electoral commission yourself, Newsroom and others are still trying to interfere with and call foul on the process.

          It’s a level playing field for once. If you can’t welcome it then you should at least try to get used to it.

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        • awe boo hoo hoo, the big boys won’t listen to my puerile aruments, so I’m away to chuck my toys out of my pram…………………again

          there, there, there jaimie – would some calpol help?

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        • Really – how come they kept electing him then?

          Funny how you forgot to mention the LIEBOOR folk who did similar and gave hee-haw away

          Lard Foulkes
          Maigrit Curran ( who can’t even remember were she lived and worked)
          Cathy Jamieson
          Donald Dewar
          there’s even plenty more, never mind the convicted fraudsters like Devine who fiddled thousands

          deary, deary me son – you’ll have to do better than that at trying to throw crap about

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    • Awe poor jaimie – struggling to cope that somepeopel don’t agree with him

      I would say something positive about westminster and/or it’s atitude to Scotland, but alas there is nothing even remotely worth saying – that’s not being negative, that’s being realistic

      One otehr thing son, something which continuously escapes you funnily,
      After independence we can elect any flavour of government we choose too, who says the SNP will win that 2016 election

      A question for jaimie and the other unionist mugs – will teh UK still be in the EU by the end of the decade, will the likes of nissaan, toyota, honda all have shut up shop if UK leaves EU, will the likes of the fascist ukippers and their fellow tory travellers still be blaimng johnny foreigner for UK being a bigger sh!thole that it is currently?

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  9. What was it now that Westminster released the other week?

    Was it a 90 odd page legal opinion on something about Scoland’s status in the world were it to choose independence.

    How much did it cost and why did the Prime Minister take the very unusual step of releasing legal opinion normally kept confidential.

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  10. Jamie, there is a very valid and widely held view that Westminster does not properly protect the people in Scotland. If that was not so then the people would not have voted in their droves in the way that they did at the last election for the Scottish government.

    You, and some others like you might find this hard to stomach, but that is the democratic position.

    The party of government, and whose name I will not mention for fear of upsetting you, are there because folks believe that they are best suited to look after Scottish interests. Moreover, in having a clear policy to offer all of the voters a choice, that is exactly what they are now doing.

    And yes, the people of all persuasions will choose. That is their right and that is their choice.

    And finally, if you think it is me that is representing YOU and your COUNTRY and making you sick, can I simply say that I don’t represent you, and that your sickness is nothing to do with me. Man up man, as I believe the young folks say these days in good humoured jest. I hope you can agree. Cha!

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  11. Ask Westminster the same questions… ie
    “- the overall number of civil servants deployed to such work;
    the numbers so deployed full time;
    the numbers so deployed part time – with a note of the average hours ‘part time’ describes in this instance;
    the numbers of civil servants so deployed from each hierarchical rank involved;
    the salary spectrum applying to each of the ranks involved;
    the anticipated expenses involved for staff in total in respect of each single work package;
    the topics or titles of each of the work packages to which any are deployed;
    the numbers deployed to each work package;
    the starting dates of each deployment to each work package;
    the number of external experts contracted to work on aspects of preparation for potential Scottish independence;
    the overall costs of such employments;
    the costs of anticipated expenses involved in each piece of such contracted work;
    the topics or titles of their separate contracted responsibilities.”

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  12. So many comments I can’t answer all!

    I’ll say this again and keep saying it until you understand. I am not anti-SNP. I’m anti-Independence. I’m not convinced there is a need for it or that any party is fit to govern a fully Independent Scotland, be that SNP, Labour or any other. It’s so dependent on oil and whiskey, neither of which involve me at all (in terms of employment etc) that it’s all too much at risk of collapse.

    In yet another ironic twist, if the SNP did not get returned to power in 2016, I dread to think what would happen as no other party will even think about how to govern.

    It is the truth when I say that I might even vote for the SNP were they to drop their destructive Independence campaign. I fully believe that it’s possible to fight for Scottish interests WITHIN the context of the UK. But that idea makes SNP folks reel, laugh and wring their hands. I’ll get ridiculed for the idea shortly no doubt!

    Incidentally webcraft, devolution did not give powers to the SG to fight for Indy – the Edinburgh Agreement gave them authiority to hold a referendum – something Mr Salmond said they already had and yet months later he willingly sent Ms Sturgeon to sign the agreement and seemed to forget that he thought he already had the power.

    A question for jaimie and the other unionist mugs – will teh UK still be in the EU by the end of the decade, will the likes of nissaan, toyota, honda all have shut up shop if UK leaves EU, will the likes of the fascist ukippers and their fellow tory travellers still be blaimng johnny foreigner for UK being a bigger sh!thole that it is currently?”

    And sam, sam. What did I say about negativity? Funny thing is, I believe the UK will vote to stay in the EU but think it’s no bad thing to be offered the choice, even tho it is a blatant bribe. I can’t see the Tories getting back in anyway, so it’ll never happen. I’d vote to stay in. If the SNP think it’s so good and the Scots are all for it, then why not ask the question?

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  13. In yet another ironic twist, if the SNP did not get returned to power in 2016, I dread to think what would happen as no other party will even think about how to govern.

    I find that comment depressing as essentially you seem to be saying the Scots are not capable of governing themselves.

    I think that in the event of a YES vote you would very quickly see the rebirth of Scottish Labour as a vital and truly Scottish party. It might even attract a few ‘big beasts’ instead of the dreary rabble currently forming its ranks.

    Whatever happens, I believe that in an independent Scotland in 2016 there would be plenty of political talent on offer and that we could trust the Scots to elect the best government possible in the circumstances.

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    • Webcraft, there is certainly very little “political talent on offer” at the moment when you look at the standard of the MSPs who are supposed to be representing us. I would not give most of them the time of day.

      The problem is that many of the SNP MSPs never expected to be elected and only put themselves forward as a name to fill a space on the ballot paper. The standard was poor in the past but since 2007 it has certainly got worse.

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      • So when you standing for lection then Jaimie – I belive the monster raving loony party are looking for candidates of your calibre

        Failing that the rather more insane UKIP will take anyone

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    • Where there’s life there’s hope you mean…?

      Hopefully the current crop of Mrs Graham et all will feel so disappointed at a Yes vote that they will all resign?

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  14. A couple of points to make here.
    Firstly the 2011 majority gave the SNP a mandate to take forward their manifesto commitment of a referendum. I and most of my colleagues recognise that this majority did not neccesarily reflect support for independence but an endorsement of Scots right to choose their own future.

    Secondly The Edinburgh agreement handed the responsibility for the process of the referendum to the Scottish Government. David Cameron said ” It is quite clearly the responsibility of the Scottish Government to make the case for leaving the Unoion”

    The Scottish Parliament voted last year overwhelmingly in favour independence being its settled position.

    The above means it is the responsibility of the Scottish Government to lay out the detail of both the process and sustance. This will be done by tabling a white paper in November. For Argyll would be the first to complain if this Government paper were light on detail. This responsibility therefor is legitimate Government business and quite rightly is a legitimate Government expense in my view.
    The YES campaign is something completely seperate. It is not a Government or SNP campaign but is campaigning nevertheless for the Independence option which the Government will promote. That will be despite who is in Government post 2016.
    Whilst the SNP Government will make the case for leaving the Union it will be for the two campaigns to garner support for their particular side. As the UK Government has handed over responsibility it is unclear as to whether any money spent by them can be considered legitimate public expenditure.
    A final note.
    The accusation that Scottish Government Ministers or civil servants or anyone is distracted from the serious business of running the country is absolute poopycock. I can assure you that from my personal experience that I have never met such a dedicated and hard working collective who spend every waking moment working for the betterment of the people of Scotland. Albeit with one hand tied behind their back due to the reserved matters which deny them all the tools that this nation requires.

    FInally, I wonder how much time and resource have been committed by the Scottish Government and other public bodies answering FOI requests from For Argyll for information much of which is already in the public domain?

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    • This is only the second FoI For Argyll has made to the Scottish Government. [The other one was to Transport Scotland in respect of the contract for the Northern Isles Ferry Services.] Receipt of this request has not even been acknowledged yet – while the parallel one to the UK government was acknowledged quite quickly.

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    • “The Yes campaign is not …a SNP campaign” I can’t remember when I laughed as much as when I saw that porkie being repeated here again . How you can come on here Ron and spend your energy defending the indefensible when we see the consequences of SNP decisions here in Argyll & Bute for example 35% of hospital beds in Campbeltown being cut and Struan lodge shut . What do you have to say about these vital local issues ?

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      • “Yes Cowal” comprises of Greens, Socialists, Labour for Independence, Women for Independence,Liberals, The SNP and a significant number who belong to no party. They are all equally represented on the committee.
        They are struggling to find a venue big enough for their innaugral meeting such are the numbers interested.
        What is indefensible are the Westminster cuts which are forcing Councils all over Scotland into very difficult decisions. People will start getting angry when the worst of this starts to bite in April. New Taxes, benefit cuts, Fuel tax increases, rising heating costs and food prices. Stop being so niave and see the bigger picture.

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        • Probably the “wee hen hoose” next to Jane Villa car park would do for the meeting. They spend nearly every day in there plotting and scheming,could it be they are posting on here without giving names.
          Trying to be serious for a moment, though this is difficult having read the first paragraph, are you really trying to have us believe they are struggling to find a venue big enough for a meeting.

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      • Dear Islay–do you want the airport in Mull to close to save your hospital beds— more people are being cared for at home because thats what they prefer— or do you wish to pay for empty hospital beds as well.

        Identify your cuts from the budget!!

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        • Dougie clearly does not know what he is talking about as the beds at Campbeltown have nothing to do with the Council budget. The beds issue is down to the NHS and has nothing to do with the Council or Mull airfield.

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  15. Not sure what locus the UK Govt would have had on that one. There is a specified timeframe for responding to FOI and I would be very disappointed if you had no response within that timescale. You have often reported in the past “following an FOI request yadda yadda yadda” but accept you may not have been the source of the request so I apologise for assuming. Perhaps you could give us figures for any other FOIs’ you have requested of bodies such as the council for example?
    As for the substance of the blog above, these questions were being asked in Parliament three weeks ago and the First Minister gave answers. The numbers and costs are already out there. A wee bit of investigation would have revealed the answers without the costly process of FOI on this occassion.
    This site has called on occassion for a positive honest debate on the independence debate. I am not bleating because we have diffent views but I am very surprised at the negative tone and twisted scaremongering that appears on this site and has done so for the last 6 months. . If you want a positive debate, bring it on, you do yourself and your readers a great disservice. I have been effectively out of action for the last year or so and you can imagine my surprise over the last few weeks as I have been catching up on all the back posts. We have known each other quite a while and I have always had a great respect for you, I have always championed this website and in fact tried very hard against fierce opposition to get you involved in a project with the local authority. I have nothing personal against you, I feel we had worked well in the past, I even communicated with you from my hospital bed last year when it was looking like I wouldnt be here this year, Lynda I am so dissappointed. You were always someone I felt I could have a good intelligent discussion with and could disagree with without either being disagreeable. I now am starting to find your reports disagreeable. Your hatred of the SNP is looking extremely bitter and twisted. It is clouding your judgement. What happened?
    As I say I do not have a problem if you disagree with me politically, that is your right. What is unfortunate is that you are letting it take over your work. Twisting and Interpretating rather than the factual and interesting news service you used to provide. As I say if you want a positive debate on the union lets have it. Please make a positive case if you can find one rather than trying to justify a wrong turning you took a few miles back.
    Sorry but I miss the old Lynda Hendersn!

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    • Point of fact: we have neither a set nor an automatic opposition to anything or to anyone; and ‘hatred’ of anything is totally absent from any of our psyches.

      We tell things as we see them – on evidence – and our [and my own] current political change of view – which like everything else, is not set in concrete because life and events are evolutionary – is down purely to failures in competence in the SNP administration – and, frankly, also to failures in integrity, simple honesty and straightforwardness.
      All of this has been a profound disappointment to us; but we would be dishonest and would mislead our audience if we did not respect the evidence we are seeing.

      This change of position has aggravated by the current government’s bullying culture an increasing lack of respect for fundamental democracy – evidenced by, for example, the treatment of informed consultation objections to wind-farms – in specifics and in volume; and the current refusal to allow the Scottish people – and under a putative independent government – to have a say on whether or not Scotland should join the EU / euro.

      On the FoI matter, If you have – or know the online location – of all of the information we have requested under the FoI we published, it would be very helpful to have it here. We were unable to locate this range of data. If you can give it to us – or account for the locations of satisfactory answers to every part of it, we will happily cancel the FoI submitted. [And we have still had no recognition of receipt of this request from the Scottish Government.]

      Apart from the FoI’s mentioned already, we have submitted in the past, two FoIs to the MoD in respect of the RAF base at Machrihanish when they put it on the market; and something like five to Argyll and Bute Council in respect of school closure issues and of the online spying activities of the former communications manager. It is worth noting here that we have never asked any FoI source for information held in any from concerning ourselves. Life’s too short and our focus is outward, not inward facing.

      And that’s it. We are very sparing and not at all indiscriminate in our use of FoI; and we would never use this system in an undisciplined manner – or mischievously, as some do, blizzarding a local authority or a government department.

      Your assumption is correct – that many FoI’s we mention in articles are not raised by us but we have been given access to the released material in relation to particular investigations of our own. This is standard.

      In the case of the few FoI submissions we have made to Argyll and Bute Council, the responses were almost invariably late and obstructive but, with a small team at the time, we did not have the luxury of pursuing this very evident behaviour to a proper conclusion. Our situation now is different and we will actively resist improper or obstructive response to any FoI’s we may issue.

      Personally, we’re delighted to see you back in robust action and were very disappointed that your illness prevented your successful return at the 2012 election. During the 2010-2011 wars on illegitimately evidenced school closure proposals, we were on the same side and our own contacts with SNP members were both constructive and regular.

      When the party went into power in coalition, we did not abuse those former contacts at all. We made a decision – which we know is mad in terms of normal media practice [but we are an eccentric outfit]. We would have felt uncomfortable in seeking information from contacts made in different circumstances and would have felt like ‘users’ if we had even tried to use those contacts when your party was in power. So, with a single minor exception in the first ‘settling in’ couple of weeks, we have made no contact with any SNP councillor to seek information.

      The other part of managing relationships in this unequivocal way is that it is our job to be objective and we cannot do that from a position of being on the inside of anything.
      So we must and do work as outsiders.
      Anyone and everyone may disagree with us on anything at any time but we are, as absolutely as it is possible to be, our own masters. We cannot be bought,silenced or frightened.
      It’s not perfect, often graceless, sometimes clumsy but it is honourable.
      Lynda

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      • Newsroom – in addition to the above, could I point out that in ForArgyll you are attempting to produce an internet newspaper. While any and every professional newspaper in the past has had an opinion column, in which the editors and/or proprietors views were exposed to comment or agreement, the professional ones, until the last few years kept clearly apart their opinions from their presentation and coverage of the news or facts. The best, like the Guardian and the Times still show this separation quite well. The BBC lately has become the mouthpiece of the Government or Unionist view, much opposed in principle to its Charter declaration. If you wish to be taken seriously as a professional outfit of professional journalists you could be well advised to separate news from opinion as has been done by the best in the past.

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        • Gerry
          In the spirit of this article – Do you think its worth an FoI to establish how much tax payers money is being spent by the BBC promoting the Union?

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  16. Lynda, surely if you want to be objective you have to get both sides of the story so I am surprised you haven’t (apart from one minor exception) contacted any SNP councillor. Does this also apply to other councillors in administration?
    You admit this is mad in terms of normal media practice not to maintain your contacts made in different circumstances and I would agree. It is easy for anyone to position themselves as outsiders enabling them to sit and snipe from the sidelines. To be a serious news service you have to check your stories and what better way to do this than pick up a phone and get information straight from the horses mouth.
    You claim you are not perfect, often graceless sometimes clumsy but honourable which is honest and accurate of you but why in your view is it not ok for anyone else to be the same?

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  17. I think readers will make their own minds up about the objectivity and impartiality of what is being presented as news in the ForArgyll.

    My own opinion is that what started out as something quite good has turned into an ill willed partisan rant in favour of one individuals views. Such things happen, folks are not perfect, but consider the ForArgyll’s content lite rants, with other online newspapers such as Newsnet Scotland.

    The difference is quite remarkable.

    So yes, a local online news medium can be a good thing that folks enjoy, but it’s unfortunate when the content is reduced to to nothing more than a misleading content lite rant. So, try benchmarking the ForArgyll against other such enterprises and see what you come up with.

    Make the journal something folks of all persuasions and none can respect as a local focus for quality news and articles that they can put their groat’s worth of comment to.

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  18. Woodward and Bernstein set the bar for investigative journalism during the Watergate scandal when they stuck to the self imposed rule- “We print nothing unless it has been confirmed by 2 sources.” That is now the Industry standard. The fact is, normally there are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Otherwise the piece is the interpretation or opinion of the story teller and should be labelled so. One recently published article on this website contained almost a thousand words and gave birth to a lot of comments. As we know many people believe what they read in the papers and the same is true here. It is also known that people tend to believe what they hear first = point of human nature. Rebuttal tends to be fu tile in peoples natural phsyche. The article to which I refer had some basis but by the time the article appeared here it was clearly opinion, misinterpretation etc. The only fact about it was that it contained not a singleword of fact, NOT ONE!. Nevertheless people believed it and rushed to add their comments, further embelishing as they went along. For Argyll went ahead on that occassion to publish this piece of fiction without picking up the phone and checking with any of thier impressive and growing list of contacts. This is made all the worse by mentioning names and slandering Indiviuals. Now that may be legal or it may not, I dont know but you can be assured it definetly is in the printed media. I am accquainted with a number of people at the top of their game in the media and they are horrified at some of the articles appearing on this site, quoting some of it “actionable – £££” and “sackable offences” if it occured within their trade. The definition of the word “blog” – is a regular written commentary, opinion or information sheet or pamphlet. I would suggest that this site should revert to calling itself a blog unless of course it wants to refine its practices and ethics so that it can call itself a news service again. The site started with public money with a worthy aspiration, I for one would really like to see it get back to that. Whilst I am more than happy to offer genuine, honest, clear and transparant information whenever you need it – and please take the offer with sincere and genuine intent – you will need to make steps yourselves. Argyll and Bute is facing really difficult times, we need to come together and be positve about what we can do in Argyll. It is time for a new chapter. The problem with being in a hole is that the first move in getting out is to recognise that you might, just might have a problem. It gets easier after that!

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  19. I suppose what I am saying above is that with the admirable thing that you are trying to do here comes responsibility. With the internet you have a worldwide audience at your fingertips. They are currently getting a very negative view of Argyll. Please excersise that responsibility with some honour.

    Its a time for many Truces!

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    • When this site originally appeared I applauded it as being in the tradition of the legendary West Highland Free Press.

      It has fallen off that pedestal and into a desperate pit of often bitterly expressed personal opinion.

      I too would love to see it get back on track.

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        • The comments section is for opinion and debate . . . articles claiming to be journalism are expected to adhere to a few standards.

          We are talking about the difference between an online newspaper which adheres to the normal standards of journalism and a personal blog, which obviously doesn’t have to.

          Newsroom needs to decide if this is her personal blog to go a-crusading on whatever mission she is currently on, or whether she is going to practice journalism. Claiming you are doing one while actually doing the other is not on.

          (Which is not of course to say that Newsroom should never express her opinions – just that it should be made clear in such articles that they are opinion pieces)

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    • This website is allowing the good people of Argyll the right to have a say. It allows us all to express our views – unlike some folk who would rather those that disagree with them were kept quiet. Now what is the correct term for that? Somehow, trying to shut folk up doesn’t seem to be healthy, to me.

      People from further afield may read this website and understand that there are a wide variety of views and opinions held across Argyll. This is what is known as ‘normal’.

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      • It is also expressing its own opinion based on factually innaccurate information. When these atricles are so obvious how can the reader trust any of the other content?

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        • Oh, now you really are pulling my leg! If the SNP government can give such misleading information on details such as whether or not they have received legal advice on EU membership or more recently try to detract from failings to deliver on major projects who are you to state anything about expressing an opinion on “factually inaccurate information”?

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  20. Ron, as an ex-snp councillor what kind of impression do you think a “worldwide audience” will have of a Council that shuts an Old Folks home in Dunoon? And takes away milk from primary school kids?

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    • What kind of impression do you think a worldwide audience has of a Westminster Government who are imposing welfare cuts of such a draconian nature that prey on the elderly and vulnerable, that is imposing a bedroom tax that means 100,000 Scottish households may be unable to pay their rent come April (1400 in Argyll and Bute),Who employ ATOS to suspend the benefits of genuinly disabled people, Whos austerity measures are slashing budgets leaving Local authority’s in the unenviable position of having to even consider the type of decisions you refer to. Lets start being clear where the blame really lies.

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    • Who took the milk away was that a Mrs Thatcher? —
      Home is still open —come on simone tell us how you will save it –we are all waiting…………..and waiting………………………..waiting……………….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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  21. Funny how I can’t remember any complaints from the Snp about FA when it was supporting separation.
    Nat supporters have come and gone since then with comments on FA.
    Here we have what appears to be an official complaint/threat from Mike Russell’s office helper trying to tell FA how to run this website.
    Sounds to me like desperation never mind separation!

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  22. Have you noticed EVERYTIME I ask a snp supporter for their view on the SNP Council’s decison to close Struan Lodge / take away milke from primary schools kids – they disappear from here???

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  23. The recent farce involving Breslin and Roddy which Russell tryed to manipulate to his benefit by the letter he sent to the SNP. meeting certainly doesn,t enhance the local council by any means.Fellow councillors in the alliance are left wondering what they got themselves into.
    The way the last Administration went about there business was a joke and certainly did n,t make Argyll look good.
    If the SNP don,t want to be tarred with the same brush your councillors and MSP.would be advised not to treat us all like idiots.They are not that clever.
    Locals people will support our council even with very difficult financial decisions if they are straight and honest with them.Breslin and Blair,s abstention over Struan Lodge along with the bedroom tax tory certainly is not the way to encourage all of us to try to accept that difficult decisions have to be made and our councillors are playing it straight.
    If the SNP want to debate the truth start with Breslin instead of worrying if the world is reading FA.
    Cheers Neil.

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      • Well can you Ron Simon tell us what you think of Councillors Breslin and Blair in the Struan lodge’gate’ affair.
        Do you understand what people need to know as your opinion will be respected. silence is not golden in this matter.

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  24. Ron Simon.
    In May 2011 I used both of my votes to vote for the SNP for one reason and one reason only. To ensure that I got my free bus pass when I become 60.
    I will be voting NO at the referendum in October 2014.
    I shudder to think what will happen if the Scottish electorate vote in favour of independence because the current batch of MSP’s are mostly “jumped up” town councillors!!

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  25. “what will happen if the Scottish electorate vote in favour of independence?”
    You will have a Government which implements policies and takes decisions in Scotland designed to benefit the people of Scotland.
    I am glad that you recognised in 2011 that the best way to keep your bus pass was to vote SNP and it still is. Labour have confirmed that they would probably do away with it along with free prescriptions and education.
    Rather than voting on a narrow self interested basis I would like my kids generation to have the option if that is still seen as a priority to have these same benefits. Remember Independence isnt just for christmas, nor for one term nor till your bus pass expires but forever, the people will elect the government they want based on the manifestos they stand on. What we will get is the Governmemnt that we vote for!

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    • Labour have confirmed that they would probably do away with it along with free prescriptions and education.

      I wonder about this. I tried to research where this was stated, can anyone give me a link? I’ve found lots, but nothing that is as categorical as Ron’s statement (clever use of ‘probably’).

      Who said this and do you have a quote?

      THanks

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      • Google it and the Internet is full of quotes including Liam Byrne mp Richard Baker msp and Johanne Lamont msp.
        The most recent Parliament Example would be THIS WEEK Tuesdays debate in Holyrood
        S4M-05652 Michael Russell: Tuition Fees—That the Parliament believes that access to higher education should be based on ability to learn, not ability to pay and will not introduce upfront or backdoor tuition fees. Watch it on playback on holyrood tv and you can see sstraight from the horses mouth Labours commitment to scrapping all sorts of universal benefits.

        Labour’s 2011 manifesto commitment not to introduce upfront or backdoor tuition fees is still published on their website at http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/no-price-tag-on-higher-education yet they argued against it in the Chamber and at the end of the day abstained.
        Now excuse me for being so cynical but the words sheer and utter hypocracy spring to mind.

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    • What are your views Ron
      1. re Roddy McCuish’s ‘standing down’, and
      2. the 2 snp councillors in Dunoon abstaining on a very important vote.
      PS how would you have vote re Struan Lodge?

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      • I dont know what Roddy’s reason s for standing down were. He told his colleagues some weeks ago but it took a bit of time before it filtered through to me. He has cited personal reasons and that is good enough for me. I respect his decision. I am absolutely certain though, that he was NOT put under pressure by anyone to resign as has been falsly reported. In fact quite the contrary.
        I have not been party to all the information so dont know what I would have done on the Struan lodge issue. I know that during my time I always voted with principles and with my community, it so happens that on every occasion this was consistent with the SNP group. I was lucky I suppose.
        Due to the very nature of what the council does cut backs of any type are going to be of a sensitive nature, people will be involved. So if it wasnt Struan Lodge it would have been something else just as contentious. Sometimes, and it might not seem like it at the time abstention can serve the greater good although I do feel its got to be pretty exceptional circumstances. I dont envy these guys in the difficult position they are in. I do know that they have agonised over it. There are now approx 9 months where Struan Lodge can be saved, and if it is a decision might have to be made to take the savings somewhere else which may be just as emotive. Everyone who enters politics would like to be there in times of rising budgets but unfortunately that is not the position at this time. Everyone I know of whatever political hue in local government went into it not for money nor patronage nor any reason other than to help their community be a better place, its awful when they have to cut or close or reduce services. I say cut them some slack, all of them.

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        • So there we go —
          1. ‘i dont know what Roddys reasons were for standing down were’
          2.’ i am not party to all of the information, so dont know what i would have done on the Struan Lodge issue’

          SO THERE WE GO __ DO YOU ADMIT TO KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY

          I do thank you though for having the guts to respond. Well done for that.

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          • Hi Phil—

            What reductions in service do you propose in order to keep Struan open
            1
            2
            3
            4
            5
            6
            7
            8
            9
            10

            Nope I didn’t think you had any!

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  26. If we had to close Struan Lodge to save £400,000 and the care packages for our elderly are being reduced is a free bus pass that important.The nearly £200 million that is spent in my mind should be going to help with our elderly care.Argyll will face a massive problem in the years to come and we are slashing budgets now so hard decisions will have to made and a free bus pass would not be a priority for the likes of my mum who is 86.
    Cheers Neil.

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  27. It also seems that the SNP believes it’s ever so important that those of us who can afford them receive free prescriptions instead of increasing money to councils to help our frail elderly and other front line services.

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    • Respect your opinion but you will find that a very large percentage of Scots are concerned about the bus pass. A very good example is Treble T who posted on here earlier that it was the only thing he based his vote on! In a democracy we vote for the Party we want to deliver the Government we want. Its intruiging to note that some people are advocating that the SNP are bad guys because they are honouring their manifesto commitments. But then again its something we are not used to under any other party colours

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  28. Ron, please for once, can someboidy from the SNP STOP EVADING and just say what they think of their local SNP council:-

    1. Their SNP council voting to close Struan Lodge
    2. Their SNP council taking the milk away from the primary school weans, and,
    3. The cowardly actions of yon two ‘Bs’ – Bresling and Blair for not having the courage of their convictions to actually vote against throwing old people out of their homes?

    Now Ron, if you don’t understand these questions – just let me know and I’ll draw you a picture. Otherwise, please, just answer the quwstions….

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    • Now now Simon keep calm
      You will note I was replying above as you wre posting this. Unfortunately due to “having a life” I am not able to sit on this site 24/7
      This is the only page on FA I post on. I am still trying to decide if its worth even that. I am not a spokesperson for the SNP although I am a member. I post here in my own name. If you want a reaction from the SNP contact them and ask them, oh sorry you cant do that can you, you would need to use your real name!
      Your syntax is so familiar but I just cant put my finger on it.
      Why dont we have a wee event for charity. Lets gather donations for the Struan Lodge fighting fund in return for you revealing your identity. Like Kendo Nagasaki. Challenge is laid, hopefully FA readers will chip in handsomely. What do you say Simon? are you in favour? or will you abstain?

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      • Let’s be straightforward here, Ron.
        You say ‘This is the only page on FA I post on. I am still trying to decide if its worth even that.’
        You simply would not be engaging if you thought it wasn’t worth your while – and necessary for your party.
        You and your boss keep trying to rubbish For Argyll, saying nobody reads it [although the stats and the energetic response from our audience demonstrate the opposite].
        So why, since you and your superior feel that nobody reads For Argyll, are you so anxious to appear on the editorial pages that nobody reads that you send us fleets of press releases every day?
        It also has to be pointed out that the SNP-led attempt to raise private funds for Struan Lodge is not about trying to save Struan Lodge.
        Your party could have done that at source had it chosen to do so.
        This is about a desperate attempt to save the political careers of those SNP politicians whose contradictory actions on this matter have left Dunoon profoundly disenchanted.
        It will take one hell of a lot of ‘wee events’ to raise £400,000 per annum.

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        • “You simply would not be engaging if you thought it wasn’t worth your while – and necessary for your party.” I dont have to and it isnt, far from it. I originally came on to express disappointment at the quality of some of your reporting.

          My boss speaks for himself and I for myself when not at work. Yes I know a lot of people who say they dont read this anymore.

          You are on our press circulation list AT YOUR REQUEST- REMEMBER! However i am happy to remove you and will do so with immediate effect.
          You rarely use them unlike many others or you twist them beyond all recognition or you miss out parts of quotes which changes the context. An overtly deliberate and political manouvre on your part.

          Hardly fleets, can be a couple some days when there is a lot happening or can go days on end without one.

          As you have no doubt read elsewhere the SNP Grassroots do not believe that Struan Lodge should close. There is a campaign raising funds just now to support a staff run social enterprise or similar model. I have personally had no hand in it as yet but no one is foolish enough to think they are trying to raise £400000.per annum! Except yourself and maybe Simon.

          I was trying to contribute to the debate which you claim should be open to everyone, as recently as this week you were championing the fact that visitors to this site would see that there were a wide range of opinions in Argyll and Bute. This intervention seems to indicate that my posts dont meet with you position or interpretation of the world. OR should I say Misinterpretation in my view. ANd what I have posted is purely that, my view, as an individual I am not a spokesperson for anyone although I am known as a member of the SNP nor do I nor have I ever hidden behind any alias ( which you have done yourself Newsie- several at one time – remember?) My joining the fray seemed to be stimulating debate and I was beginning to enjoy that but this intervention makes me wonder if my boss was right to switch off and not read it anymore, let alone contribute.
          Simon et al, I have enjoyed the exchanges, thank you, perhaps we will meet up on another forum and the offer still stands for you to unmask. This is an ex reader, it has ceased to log on..
          Sorry Simon you will have to go back to your questions being completely unanswered.

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          • Ron – simple points of fact:
            We have never asked to be on any politician’s press release list – but we are happy to receive them, or not.
            We edit any material we receive from any source – that is standard practice.
            We have never distorted what anyone has said – while we do openly challenge any media statement from any source, as we see fit.
            We try to omit empty slagging of other parties from any politician who goes in for this outdated and tedious practice – because this is what discredits politics.
            It is mischievous to suggest that we have any view whatsoever on your posts. I myself have neither seen nor read most of them – simply because I have other work that I must prioritise; so moderation is very largely done by others.
            I responded [above and in this chain] to one post of yours which I happened to see – and because, while availing yourself of access to our lively audience [which you are welcome to do]- you had simultaneously suggested that we had no audience – a somewhat contradictory position.
            I found – find – this double-your-money trick grubby and dishonest and decided not to let it pass unchallenged.
            The response I made, as here, was in relation only to remarks you had chosen to make about For Argyll and about no other aspect of what you had to say.
            Lynda

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  29. Ron, now oyu are taking the Michael “the SNP are bad guys because they are honouring their manifesto commitments”

    The SNP, in the personna of Jim Mather, promised in their to build two new ferries for Dunoon Gourock – where exactly are they?

    And, while we are on it – just exactly where in the SNP manifesto did they promise to shut an old folks home in Dunoon and take away the milk fae the weans??

    No hiding now Ron, no evading – just for a change try answering the questions.

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  30. I know Jim Mather regretted making that remark. He did try.
    To be clear the Manifesto 2007 said that the SNP were “committed to providing an unrestricted vehicle and passenger, town centre to town centre ferry service between Gourock and Dunoon” this was repeated in the rather excellent 2011 publication. As far as I am aware that still the aspiration.
    The local Government 2012 Manifestosaid ” The SNP recognises that due to budget restraints eminating fom the Westminster Government that difficult.decisions will have to be made by Councillors to fullfil their legal obligation to set a balanced budget for their local authority. We will take those difficult decisions but will do our utmost to mitigate their impact.”
    So, me no hiding.
    But you still are

    Come on and answer the question I ask – Will you reveal your identity to save Struan Lodge?

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    • Ron,- Sorry to interrupt yourself and Simon.

      Couple of quotes you might want to comment on with regards to the ferry fiasco.

      1.”only a change from the Labour/Lib Dem Government at May’s elections will guarantee Dunoon the proper unrestricted vehicle carrying ferry service that it needs”.

      2.It’s time to put the problems right and deliver the service the people in Dunoon really need. I know Jim Mather and the Snp can and will deliver that service.

      3.Gourock – Dunoon Ferry – a way forward

      You may not want to recognize any of them but they are from the Snp publication “Saltire” Argyll and Bute For Independence – Spring 2007.

      I would say they are far removed from your comments and to then assert the 2011 publication is rather excellent is pushing it!

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  31. Hi Ron,

    Well you did it!!!!

    You posted, evaded, avoided and then evaded again.

    What do you have to do around here to get ANYONE from the SNP to give you a straight answer???

    So, Ron – in case you’v eforgotten the questions were – what do the local SNP folks think about-

    “1. Their SNP council voting to close Struan Lodge
    2. Their SNP council taking the milk away from the primary school weans, and,
    3. The cowardly actions of yon two ‘Bs’ – Bresling and Blair for not having the courage of their convictions to actually vote against throwing old people out of their homes?”.

    In your own time…..

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  32. Now, now Simon that red mist must be descending and obscuring your vision as your spelling goes when you get in a wee tizzy….or maybe it’s time for your tablets, thanks to the SNP you can get them free on the NHS ;)

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  33. The Snp repeatedly tell us about the quality of our Universities, can’t disagree with them.
    It will be interesting to see how they explain the result of the mock election result from Glasgow University on the referendum question. Granted the turn out was not great but it was better than many opinion polls and gives us a terrific view of how many young people are thinking(yes I know there are mature students also).
    1614 voted NO 62%
    967 voted Yes 37%
    As iv’e said turnout was not great but can you just imagine the Snp trumpet blowers if the result was the other way.
    The Yes campaign put plenty into winning this but surely even they must admit this is a big setback given the national coverage it has received.
    Well done to those from both campaigns for taking part and hopefully some of the other Universities will organize similar elections before 2014 to try to engage with more young people.

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  34. Neil MacIntyre and Ron Simon.
    My future bus pass is important to me and with no children I could not care less whether they closed all the small primary schools in Argyll & Bute or not.
    I believe in looking after number one.

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  35. Well thats all folks!
    Ive tried to answer everyone above bfore bowing out. Life really is too short and I fear Lynda Henderson has “lost it” after all.
    You cant blame a man for trying!

    Lynda, give me a shout if you ever come to your senses but dont leave it too late or you may destroy something that had so much promise but for now, you are BARKING!

    Ta Ta!

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    • I think Ron Simon has done well to try and explain away some funny goings on in the SNP recently, some of them self inflicted. They, the SNP, have lost ground and and the confidence recently that previously went hand in hand with their slick operation.
      Its a great pity that Ron is not still in situ in Dunoon as an elected member replacing the ‘twa mutes’, Breslin and Blair.

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      • Phill,- It’s not often if ever I have to disagree with your post, however the long winded rants from ex councillor Ron Simon above are enough to convince me the voters in the Cowal ward made the right decision not to return him at the last council elections.

        The two B’s will stand or fall by their own decisions, time will tell, agreed they have not made a great start.

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        • I take your point Gus. I was merely emphasising the fact that current Cowal/Dunoon elected members simply are hiding re current matters and that an ex Councillor has at least taken the time to give an opinion, albeit an unconvincing one.

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      • Do you think making fun of a disability to get at your political enemies is clever then Phil you are mistaken and should apologise without reservation.

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  36. Before you go Ron, in the interests of good debate, could you answer my question – it probably got lost above.

    Labour have confirmed that they would probably do away with it along with free prescriptions and education.

    I wonder about this. I tried to research where this was stated, can anyone give me a link? I’ve found lots, but nothing that is as categorical as Ron’s statement (clever use of ‘probably’).

    Who said this and do you have a quote?”

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  37. Ron – “Ive tried to answer everyone above before bowing out.” Bollocks.

    You deliberately evaded answering the three questions put to you at 31 above and repeated again at 34 above.

    For Gawd’s sake it’s a sad day when even SNP members won’t try to defend SNP policy!!

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  38. Jamie,

    AFAIK SLAB haven’t had the balls to openly say they would abolish the universal benefits of free prescription charges, bus passes etc, and conveniently forget that universal benefits are still in favour with their Westminster masters.

    Instead it is endless weasel words about how damaging these benefits are and how Alex Salmond is personally giving away cancer sufferers’ money to all these millionaires who are swanning about on the buses downing their free diazepam and bloating ther portfolios with their winter heating allowance.

    SLAB are a bad joke at the moment.

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    • I agree, but let’s be honest, what they appear to actually have been suggesting is that we need to review universal benefits in the context of tough economic times – the same tough economic times that the SNP don’t even seem to acknowledge or when they do, think they should not be a Scottish issue!

      I see JLs proposal/thoughts as pretty reasonable, but the SNP have taken it rather to the extreme and turned it into something it is not.

      When I saw the hysteria about the ‘cuts commision’, I thought Labour had gone daft, but when I actually read up, found that what Johann Lamont said was actually fairly moderate and very balanced. Rare praise for someone I think is totally out her depth.

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      • I think the attack on universal benefits is largely a diversion to hide the paucity of SLAB thinking and lack of direction.

        It would be more credible if they could produce a fully costed account of just how much means testing current universal benefits would save – if anything. Don’t expect this any time soon though.

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      • Jamie is right. All Johann Lamont has announced is that she, and therefore Scottish Labour think there needs to be a policy review which covers all free universal benefits awarded in Scotland. It is not a definitive policy that all will be ended , or that any specific ones will be ended. She did however promise to end some of these benefits and in doing so made a pretty pathetic attack at the SNP about what they do award. She neatly side stepped the fact a vast amount of the benefits now being targeted by Scottish Labour were either introduced or supported by Labour.

        That, of course, isn’t to say that a party who once introduced or supported a benefit can’t or shouldn’t change their mind. Different economic times call for different priorities and sometimes reversal of previous policy. All parties need to embrace that and all parties will have their own view on what should and shouldn’t be cut. A review of benefits is not necessarily a bad thing, what should be subject to judgment will be the outcomes of any such review.

        However I would prefer to see it being done with a little more humility rather than seeing our political leaders once again taking every opportunity to air brush history and score political punches which are thrown with scant regard for the truth or their particular parties own history/stances.

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        • Labour

          1 Don’t support any Trade Unionist however just their cause during any industrial dispute in case it upsets the political elite- but still take the money from the unions member’s.
          2. Remove free education from colleges and Universities thereby ensuring that the millionaires sons and daughters have more options due to the absence of the meddling working and lower middle classes who wish to get on in life
          3. Ensure employment opportunities still exist for failed Labour politicians by ensuring Patronage continues at the Lords eg Foulkes
          4.Ensure the poor pay for the mistakes of the wealthy but at the same time blame them
          5. Extract all resources from Scotland ASAP so the populace can return to serfdom/slavery.
          6. Ensure all young people work for nothing in companies who pay NO tax but call them lazy
          7. Spend billions of £’s on nuclear weapons in order to make us safer although they cannot be used and at the same time support the loss of conventional forces by closure of airfields, reduction in armed forces etc to save money
          8.Never ever use the terms, social justice, socialism, fairness, equity etc etc
          8. PLEASE FILL IN YOU OWN RESPONSE —–

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          • Dougie tends to forget about the SNP (Tartan Tories) millionaire friends who get all the freebies at the expense of the low paid.

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