The SNP Scottish Government really does seem to believe that its few genuine scrutineers are as blindly trusting and as ill-informed as the bravehearts.
Following the swerves and sleights of hand over where the vast bulk of the immediate flood relief money was coming from – with the SNP contributing only £2M of the vaunted £16M [the other £14M will come from Westminster via the Barnett Consequentials of 10% of extra spending on flood relief in England] – they have been caught ‘at it’ again.
The troubled Environment Minister, Aileen McLeod, made a flourish yesterday of announcing £235M the Scottish Government would be spending on its Flood Action Plan, making it sound like a new and responsive initiative.
SNP Ministers were then today left with no alternative but to admit that all of this was already planned and funded before the December 2015 floodings – and funded over a five year period at £42M per annum.
With this already budgeted spend of £210M, the only new money is a top up of £25M which may prove little more than a contingency for the pre-existing plan.
There appears to be no – nor has there been any mention of – a post-December 2015 situation analysis setting the flooding that actually happened and the damage that was done against the existing Flood Action Plan.
It may well be that the last month has seen flooding in areas for which this existing plan had had no reason to make flood protection provision. For instance – that Ballater and Peebles were hit and that they were hit to the extent that took place, may well require not only re-planning but new planning – and very substantial new funding.
Scottish Labour’s environment spokesperson, Sarah Boyack is saying that the works trumpeted by Aileen Mcleod are not new works, are not responsive at all to the recent flooding – and is among several who are disgusted by what has simply been a cosmetic re-presentation of ongoing and funded plans, which may not even be relevant to the latest flood vulnerabilities made evident.
Scottish Conservative’s finance spokesperson, Murdo Fraser, called the stunt ‘pulling a fast one’, noting that the Scottish Government is just adding ‘a little bit extra on top’ to what was going on anyway.
This sort of hollow scam – on people whose homes and businesses have been physically wrecked, left sodden, filthy and stinking, with belongings and stock ruined – devalues politics, if that were still possible.
Meeting honest despair and sheer gutsy survivalism with shoddy little smartass deceptions is about as low as it gets. Scotland is worth much more than this patronising spivvery.
The tragedy of today’s Scotland is that many will find this sort of behaviour acceptable – or will certainly say so.
But it’s not alright, you know.