Scottish farmers made a strong protest at Holyrood today, 10th March – and it was good to see them spot the difference between a genuine gesture from the Scottish Government and the utter sham that is the proffered address to the crisis of EU farm subsidies already unpaid by three months.
Billed by the eyes-wide-open First Minister as a move to ‘speed up’ these belated payments, the reality is that the Scottish Government’s offer will not see it divvy up one single penny until later than they had already promised all payments would be made – by the end of March.
The First Minister’s trumpeted prompt assistance to stretched and stressed farmers boiled down to the Scottish Government waiting until April to see how many farmers had not been paid by the end of March after all – at which point only they would pay those remaining farmers a proportion of their overdue subsidy out of the £200 Million of public money they have set aside for this purpose. This amount – two thirds of the remaining £300 Millin due, is enough to suggest that they expect little to be paid between now and the end of mach.
But they’re still not going to pay a penny until April.
All that this ‘offer’ protects farmers from is a prolonged shambles at the criminally useless £200 Million IT project long predicted to cause just this sort of chaos. Delaying dipping into their own funds until April indicates that the Scottish Government expects this disaster to run on.
At the protest today, the beleaguered Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead babbled: ‘We’ll fix the payments, It will all get sorted out’. Aye right? But when? Next year’s farm subsidy applications are due in the near future, making 2017 already look like a second silly season.
Finance Secretary, John Swinney, briefly addressed the protesters, assuring them that: ‘Your voice has been heard’.
This is where George W Bush comes into it.
With his characteristic lack of mask, he once said to someone with whom he disagreed: ‘I hear you – but I’m not listening.’
If Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney had been listening to the plight and anger of the farmers, they would have paid them upfront months ago.