Politically accelerated fuss about nothing in First Minister’s China deal

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, signed a memorandum of understanding committing a Chinese consortium to exploring with the Scottish Government possible infrastructural projects in Scotland n which they might collectively invest  £10 Billion.

The First Minster had not made this understabding public until forced to do so – a matter of which much has been made.

All sorts of hinted conspiracy theories are in circulation as to why information on this deal this may have been withheld. The workaday reality is that the FM may well have been keeping it back for a planned election campaign coup.

Then news came last night that a company in the China Consortium is a subsidiary of the China Railway Group which was blacklisted by Norway after the Norwegian pension fund’s ethics council warned, in 2014, of an ‘unacceptable risk’ that the China Railway Group was implicated in what they described as ‘gross corruption’.

This appeared to be on the grounds of the probability that the company gained contracts to build railways and housing projects in China by bribing government officials.

From this morning’s press throughout the day, there has been much pious sucking of teeth for the cameras by the party leaders who oppose the SNP.

This is election politics in its most unthinking autopilot response mode.

China is an emerging and massive economy – a green field site for entrepreneurs and buccaneers within and without.  It would be naive to imagine that major companies on the up and up in such circumstances are always getting there by pure and transparent means.

And the company involved in the China Consortium with which Ms Sturgeon signed the memorandum of understanding is not the China Railway Group but a subsidiary of it. What sort of a world damns children  – human or corporate – for the improprieties of their parents, with no evidence that they are themselves guilty of the same?

Scotland is in urgent need of serious infrastructural development – without the money to pay for it. It is to the government’s and the FM’s credit that they have had the initiative to get as far as this memorandum of understanding.

It’s not as if here in Britain we have anything to get on our high horse about on the issue of corruption and bribes.

If there’s an honest deal in our arms industry, any of us would have reason to be surprised. It is improbable that this darkest of all industries does not routinely employ bribery.

The Thatcher Government survived the notorious and gigantic ‘Al Yamamah’ arms sale to Saudi Arabia signed off by Mrs Thatcher, with all of the major press, then and since, going public on the role her son Mark played as a ‘facilitator’ and the ‘commission’ he gained.

On 8th December 1994, The Independent, now no longer a print platform – said:’The deal, involving more than pounds 20bn in sales of Tornado fighter-bombers and naval vessels, is believed to have been the largest in history, and the money Mark Thatcher is said to have made from helping to broker it – allegedly pounds 12m – would explain his sudden rise to conspicuous wealth.’

No litigation was brought against any of the papers investigating this affair and making such claims as these.

In a recent interview, the First Minister has said you need pragmatism as well as principal to be successful in politics. This is the reality – and one often, in practice, hard to stomach for most of us.

Commentators like For Argyll have to exercise stable and objective judgement as to what level and variety of pragmatism is defensible to underpin success in the interests of the greater good – and what is not.

In this instance, our judgment is that the First Minister cannot fairly be backed against the wall on the understanding she has reached with this  China Consortium – and really ought to be congratulated for it.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Is it really a ‘fuss about nothing’?
    The China Railway no 3 Engineering Group is the construction company in the consortium that has signed the MOU with the Scottish government, and so it would appear that they will have the job of constructing any project being part financed by the other members of the Chinese consortium.
    It may well be that they would sub-contract a lot of the work to local firms, but is that the way that CRC3EG habitually work in their big third world infrastructure construction projects?
    The Hinckley Point nuclear power project down in Somerset only involves the Chinese in being part financiers, not constructors. Did the Scottish government seek bids in what seems to be the normal EU way – if so, surely there’d have been competing offers organised by some of the Edinburgh financial institutions in partnership with Scottish construction companies, as well as similar offers from other European consortia.
    If not, why not? It surely exposes the Scottish government to accusations of – to put it bluntly – having been ‘bought’ by the Chinese. Suspicions not helped by the seeming desire to keep the deal under wraps, even though the more likely explanation for this could well be to time the publicity for optimum electoral gain (think Knapdale beavers). The government needs to come clean.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

    Robert Wakeham April 5, 2016 10:32 pm Reply
  • No need to use foreign money for infrastructure projects if we replaced all taxes with Annual Ground Rent charged on the owners of every square metre of Scotland’s land . Check out Annual Ground Rent on http://www.conveyancingdirect.co.uk

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

    Graeme McCormick April 5, 2016 11:21 pm Reply
    • GM

      As per your link have studied your presentation on your website

      Please recheck slide 15 in your presentation. There would appear to be a serious arithmetic error which renders your AGR proposal a total NO NO. This may explain why it has gained NO traction with Scottish Govt

      If I am correct, then your AGR proposal yields less then the Council tax,let alone replaces any, or all, of the current direct and indirect taxes levied by Govt (Slide 16) .

      Please clarify

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      Scotnat April 6, 2016 11:16 am Reply
    • Does this suggestion include agricultural land ???

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 11:55 am Reply
      • KH

        Go to the link that GM has provided:-(http://www.conveyancingdirect.co.uk/)

        Click on ‘Annual Ground Rent’ for his power point presentation

        You will will see it includes ALL land..

        Please check Slides 15 and 16. By my arithmetic GM has made a mega mistake with the math ( as they say in the USA) . Do you agree ?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

        Scotnat April 6, 2016 12:28 pm Reply
        • Had some dealings with this company a while ago… dare say they have signed a MOU with the SNP… 😉

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 5:11 pm Reply
    • Graeme – a nice wee sneaky link to your business website.

      According to your figures the average house with a garden will pay £1,120 per year based on a Urban rate of £3.93 per m2. A total land coverage of approximately 285m2.

      There’s a 2 bedroom mid terraced house for sale in Bonawe with an asking price of £89,500. An ideal starter home for a young family offering approximately 75m2 living accommodation and a nice little front garden for the kids and a back garden with space for a clothes line, little patio area and single garage. Total land coverage approximately 160m2. At a rate of £3.93 this property would pay £628.80

      With a 10% deposit a young couple would need to be earning at least the minimum ‘living’ wage full time on one salary (40 hrs pw) and part time (20 hrs pw) to meet the criteria for a mortgage.

      The primary earner would pay £2,339 (or save under proposal) per year on tax and NI.

      A lovely little 2 bedroom basement flat in Abercromby Place, Edinburgh is currently on the market at an asking price of £425,000. No garden or garage, floor coverage is 134m2 or 159m2 (lets say for arguments sake 160m2) if you include the wine cellar. At a rate of £3.93 per m2 this property would pay £628.80 per year.

      With a 10% deposit someone would need to be earning in the region of £85k to £90k pa to meet the criteria for a mortgage. An earner on £85k would pay £28,233 (or save under proposal) tax and NI per year.

      Two similar properties each paying £628.80 per year with potential savings, based on tax and NI alone, of £2,339 for one and £28,233 for the other…. doesn’t seem quite fair somehow!?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      John M April 6, 2016 3:11 pm Reply
      • John M

        I suggest you have another look at GM’s website as the arithmetic may not add up

        See comments above re possible errors on slides 15 and 16.

        As this is the 2nd time in a matter of weeks that GM has floated his tax panacea, and he is also on the advisory board of Business for Scotland, a committed SNP supporters club, I look forward to his clarifications

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

        Scotnat April 6, 2016 4:44 pm Reply
  • FORARGYLL said this
    .
    “In this instance, our judgment is that the First Minister cannot fairly be backed against the wall on the understanding she has reached with this China Consortium – and really ought to be congratulated for it.”
    .
    thank you.
    .
    I note that Bernard Ponsonby said something similar on “Scotland Tonight”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    KEITHO April 5, 2016 11:38 pm Reply
  • Absolutely Graeme however I doubt this blog would support your progressive policy.
    I do,and want to here more of your ideas on here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

    A.Salmon April 5, 2016 11:46 pm Reply
    • AS

      Have you checked the site and his arithmetic?

      It does NOT add up.

      Please re-check and tell me where I may have gone wrong

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Scotnat April 6, 2016 3:28 pm Reply
      • I have listened to Graeme at conference,for many years.
        The basis of his theses is sound,in my opinion. Like many pioneering ideas,it needs righting before it would fly. That said,this would be the way forward for a progressive,Independent Scotland.
        I’m personally extremely please that we have people of Graeme’s caliber amongst us.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        johnmacmillan1@icloud.com April 6, 2016 7:27 pm Reply
        • Hi John

          I’m struggling slightly as to how you view Graeme’s proposal as progressive.

          Amazon have an estimated UK wide turnover of £6.4billion. If we assume the turnover in Scotland is roughly £1.3billion based on Graeme’s proposal a Scottish Exchequer would receive an annual tax bill from Amazon of £500,000 approx.

          The RSPB has a UK wide income of £99million pa mainly comprised of membership fees and donations. They are currently responsible for 87,000 acres of land in Scotland. Excluding further charges for offices/shops/depots they may have and based on a 50/50 split between rough grazing and forestry their annual tax bill would be £7,745,958, 15x more than Amazon. Progressive?

          The Forestry Commission’s annual tax bill would be £194,256,000, at least 3x more than their annual turnover!

          A Scot on the minimum ‘living’ wage might pay/save £2,000 in VAT each year, yet someone with a few pennies who fancied a nice new car could save 10x this amount in one transaction. Progressive?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

          John M April 7, 2016 1:04 pm Reply
  • I don’t see a lot of pragmatism in SG policy on fracking or electricity generation. I’m as dubious about this nonsense as I was when PFI was first dreamed up by some nameless buttock of a conservative party policy advisor in the 1990s; private capital is only interested in making money, so there must be a business case for whatever infrastructure is being paid for. If there is a business case for the infrastructure there is no reason other than stupid made-up PSBR rules not to use government borrowing to fund the work by the state.

    The recent watering down of land reform to remove the requirement to identify the beneficial owner is another act of cynicism that is pandering to the rich and part and parcel of rules which lead and perpetuate things like the Panama revelations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    db April 5, 2016 11:53 pm Reply
    • Going the outside investment route may well have something to do with the fact that John Swinney has already – and covertly – been borrowing very substantially without making the matter known and without the purpose of the borrowing yet being known.
      The institute of Fiscal Studies estimated that by 1919 he would have borowed £50 Billion
      In this context, the attraction of a potential £10 billion for infrastructural development from external investment is not had to see.
      And pragmatism is indeed not yet evident in the FM’s supposed stance on fracking – but it will be when the SNP give it the go ahead.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      newsroom April 6, 2016 11:35 am Reply
  • Just reading the papers here: With the focus on corruption, the SG would do well to start carrying out due diligence at an earlier stage , prior to MOU… seems one of the companies involved in the “agreement” with the SG is owned by a firm which is blacklisted by Norway’s oil fund because of an “unacceptable risk that the company is involved in gross corruption”… “CRG and one of its subsidiaries have apparently bribed civil servants to secure contracts to build railways and housing projects”

    It’s just as well the process is at a very early stage, and that there is no confirmed investment and no specific set of projects being discussed…as we can see in the media, a mere whiff of accotiation with and financial wrong doing and they are onto folk like a pack of jackals…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 5:50 am Reply
  • Not sure what “accotiation” is… but there certainly are “associated” issues with not having an edit function on this blog……..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 5:53 am Reply
  • It’s funny how when it suits the SNP fraternity, MOUs are the beesknees, to be applauded, show the SNP being for Scotland and bringing in business….but when the shit hits the fan, it’s only a MOU and means nothing….The SNP in this case are hugely embarrassed and desperate to have us believe this means nothing at all…

    Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The signing of this MoU will allow the signatories to work together in the development of the Batwind battery storage solution.

    “This will help maximise the renewable generation of the Hywind offshore wind farm, whilst informing the case for energy storage and demonstrating the technology’s ability to support renewables in Scotland and internationally.

    “A recent industry and Government report, produced by the Carbon Trust, concluded that if the energy market was adapted to appropriately recognise the benefits of electricity storage to the wider system, this could lead to savings of up to £50 a year on an average energy bill and a system wide saving of up to £2.4 billion a year by 2030.”

    Read more at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/business/business-energy/statoil-pilot-battery-storage-hywind-7599483#UQgctmyJGLvkpJUx.99

    From the Herald The memorandum of understanding commits officials on both sides of the border to working more closely to boost transport connections and economic growth. “I look forward to this memorandum of understanding contributing to a cross-border transport network that will benefit us all.”

    These Memorandums of Understanding eh? Another Sturgeon classic maybe – ‘A Memorandum of Understanding means it ain’t gonna happen’?

    You’ve got to laugh! SNP 1 2 to watch it all unravel fasten than a dropped ball of wool…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

    JB April 6, 2016 7:50 am Reply
  • With the other Party’s struggling with coherent policies,why would you assume the SNP will unravel.
    That will only happen once Independence is secured.
    By all means vote SNP 1&2.It will confirm your intelligence. As for voting for others,a waste of time and effort.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

    A.Salmon April 6, 2016 8:53 am Reply
  • The opposition parties have descended into a rabble of time wasters who now play no constructive part in the political process. Like baying children in the kindergarten their howls of mock outrage at was is a good news story where the Scottish Government were exploring potential Chines investment opportunities. With criticism like this, and flip flop wet brained policies that change by the day, Sturgeon has done the right thing to ignore the rabble – and the electorate will do the same. Looking for potential investment opportunity is what our country’s government is about. Baying and wasting everyone’s time in a howl of inane faux criticism is not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

    Willie April 6, 2016 10:02 am Reply
  • The criticism of the SNP Government is having a negative effect. Had a chat with a Scottish EU Diplomat in the lounge here at CD Paris.
    He stated that the Scottish elections were tarnished by poor Yoonion defending parties. He also stated he will be voting for SNP this time round. He used to be a Tory voter but disgusted with their policies against disadvantaged in society.
    He expects the result to be a landslide SNP win,bigger than is specked at present!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

    Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 10:33 am Reply
    • I don’t think it wise of Newsie to allow Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt. Surely you could have kept the story going and thus put pressure on the Splittists.
      Are you going to come out for Michael Russell now?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

      R.B Stoker April 6, 2016 10:57 am Reply
    • “Scottish EU Diplomat” LOL…what the hell is one of these ???

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 11:58 am Reply
      • Something that lives in HJ’s toy cupboard, perhaps his mum has got him an ‘action man’

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

        richard April 6, 2016 1:40 pm Reply
        • Given your self proclaimed gravitas in Argyll,I asked the Diplomat if he knew of you.
          He didn’t!!!,!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

          Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 1:59 pm Reply
      • A diplomat who’s Scottish and works in the eu,you plonker!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

        Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 1:57 pm Reply
        • There is no such thing as a Scottish Diplomatic Service…maybe you are refering to “Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service” … this is the diplomatic service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland… EU diplomat ???… you mean a UK Diplomat… are you really so insecure that you have to go pythonesque “you are making it up as you go along” Keitho…just like your false persona, give us a break…

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

          Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 2:23 pm Reply
  • It is not about giving NS the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Nicola S learnt from her previous boss Alex S, who would issue a MoU for simply offering him a coffee,that in the real commercial world, an MoU is meaningless. But in the political world a MoU offers a mirage of intent and achievement

    Where are the 2 mega offshore wind turbine manufacturing plants in Scotland that Alex signed MoUs a few years ago with Gamesa(Spain) and Areva( France )? No where.

    What happened to these MoU ‘s Alex S signed up to in 2013/2014 with Chinese Co’s : _
    http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Strengthening-Sino-Scottish-relations-e54.aspx

    and

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-24805790

    The issue here is not the MoU per se, but Scottish Govt ‘s refusal to reveal why they delayed making an announcement of such potential munificence to the Scottish economy.

    On the 21st March , the day this MoU was signed , Scottish Govt made 21 press releases mostly with a feel good factor , as Scottish Govt went into purdah for the May elections. But bizarrely , no press release on this Chinese deal

    Or was it because Scottish Govt wanted to delay any announcement till the Tata /Liberty negotiation for Dalziel was a done deal?(23 Mar) .

    It would have been politically awkward for Scottish Govt to sign a MoU with a Chinese Co just as Scottish Govt was intervening to rescue Scottish steel, from the ravages of Chinese steel imports.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

    Scotnat April 6, 2016 12:15 pm Reply
  • Quite agree HJ when you say that the opposition parties and their incessant rannygazzoo are having a negative effect. The exploratory discussions with China about potential inward investment opportunities is exactly what you would want your government to be looking at, and folks know that. Like turkey’s setting themselves up for an early Christmas, the chorus of clowns are showing themselves up as the absolute no users that they are. Scotland deserves better, and the folks know it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    Willie April 6, 2016 12:22 pm Reply
    • There’s a case to be made for Scotland deserving better than to be found in bed – in the dark – with some large and possibly grubby beasts from China, and with no indication – as yet – that any others were considered as bedfellows. Love at first sight?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham April 6, 2016 1:34 pm Reply
      • RW, unfotunately it’s us the tax paying electorate who are going to get f——d.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

        richard April 6, 2016 1:46 pm Reply
      • The Tory’s are doing that to you right now. Do keep up,Robert.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

        Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 2:02 pm Reply
        • I thought TAX was a devolved issue Jazz….. ??? so who is screwing who ????

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

          Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 2:25 pm Reply
          • It’s sad but people have short memories,you can bet on Swinney leaving a note for his successor saying that he’s spent the lot and left us in debt for the next 40 years.
            Whatever your politics are a government and First Minister who don’t believe they are answerable to anyone are a threat to democracy.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

            richard April 6, 2016 2:53 pm
          • Well the SNP are certainly hoing for the regimes as well as anybody in Westminster…thats for certain…Of course …

            The sooner we the people realise that the snp are beyond reproach…have no infighting…misconduct…get suspended… fiddle expenses…rent pandas for £20,000 a week or do deals worth ten billion with dodgy regimes with dubious human rights ( Saudi, China) and flood scotland with cheap steel the better … stop pandering up to these loons.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

            Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 3:18 pm
  • “Nicola Sturgeon has refused to say if she knew about corruption allegations surrounding the owner of one of the Chinese companies that she signed a £10 billion investment agreement with.”

    Well only two reasons why she would not answer… she either knew ( which I doubt, which is te usual SNP MO) or she didn’t know…( which is the usual SNP MO)… she should have asked HJ’s Scottish Diplomatic corp, or McMI5…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 2:58 pm Reply
    • Well I wonder what’s next for the Yellow hand gang…

      The nat trolls on here are in a state of panic it would appear, although I do empathise with their pretty dire predicament. First Minister in a PR free-fall and receiving little if any help from her yellow shirt lieutenants,we all know what that can indicate (?)

      I dare say the wee eeck has been on the phone to have a nice quiet word with a few of the inner sanctum perhaps? if it’s about to blow get as far away from the explosion as you can eh ?

      Can’t help but think Tasmina would make a great FM !?!

      According to yet another poll there is a further gain for all the unionist parties against the SNP when looking at the regional vote… what is important here is the trend! and a predicted 72% turnout too, going to be very interesting to see the swing.

      Just to add to the SNP’s misery… I see that the Melville chap from Dundee has been charged with racism… (he must have been taking some pointers from the natrolls on here)… yet another to add to the long list that has embarrassed the party over recent months…watch this space, plenty more to follow…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

      Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 3:06 pm Reply
    • More a matter of being a solicitor and not incriminating herself, naivety is no excuse for bad judgement, if she were an employee of a PLC she’d be fired and as a solicitor she would have a field day in court prosecuting someone for the same behaviour.
      The SG is so hell bent on ‘we can do anything Westminster does better’ along with the belief that they can create a flat social structure through Taxation and benefits. Aspiration and Ambition only exist in the political bubble called Hollyrood.
      The thing I find most frightening is that only the Tory party has a manifesto, all the others are making it up as they go, a bit of a rerun of Indyref mentality including upping the anti on whatever promises the others make.
      Here in the ‘sticks’ I have yet to see or hear any politician but then anything outside the central belt is merely an irritation that can be fobbed off with a few promises that will never happen.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

      richard April 6, 2016 3:38 pm Reply
  • You could not make this up… First Minister ??? my children know not to talk to strangers, let alone let them into our home…

    “Even the simplest checks would have revealed cause for concern but the First Minister did not ask basic questions before putting pen to paper. She seems prepared to sign up to any agreement at any time, no matter the consequences for corruption and human rights.”

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14407526.Sturgeon__not_aware__of_corruption_links_to_Chinese_firm_before_signing___10bn_deal/

    So who are the Trolls going to blame this time around….????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 4:58 pm Reply
    • Where are the trolls?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      richard April 6, 2016 7:17 pm Reply
      • Have a look in the mirror Dick!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

        Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 7:19 pm Reply
        • I was just going to say that when I noticed you had already said it. Trolls don’t have a mirror reflection though, or is that not just ghosts? Either/or he does not half haunt this place.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

          Murdoch MacKenzie April 6, 2016 8:35 pm Reply
      • It would be interesting to know how much this visit by the Chinese cost the Scottish Tax payer ?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

        Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 7:53 pm Reply
    • I understand the “first Minister” stated due diligence would have taken place before entering any deal.
      You should practice due diligence yourself!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

      Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 7:18 pm Reply
      • Bullshit Jazz and you know it, let’s move on to what the people of Scotland are demanding.
        The Scottish NHS is a mess and has been underfunded year in year out by the SNP, whenever the SG has received extra money through incremental spending by Westminster on the English NHS Mr Swinney has either held back the money or o lying given a fraction to the Scottish NHS.
        This has to end, over 1500 operations were cancelled in the 1st two on the of this year, A & E targets are missed or manipulated.
        We have a

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

        Richard April 6, 2016 8:37 pm Reply
      • Bullshit Jazz and you know it, let’s move on to what the people of Scotland are demanding.
        The Scottish NHS is a mess and has been underfunded year in year out by the SNP, whenever the SG has received extra money tuhrough incremental spending by Westminster on the English NHS Mr Swinney has either held back the money or o lying given a fraction to the Scottish NHS..

        This has to end, over 1500 operations were cancelled in the 1st two on the of this year, A & E targets are missed or manipulated.
        We have a

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

        Richard April 6, 2016 8:39 pm Reply
  • So we have the usual suspects telling us the opposition are a ‘rabble of timewasters’ – but actually, the complete opposite is true.

    Between them, Labour, the Tories and Libdems are giving cause for great debate – something any SNP supporter should welcome. The key issue is taxatino – Tories want it to stay the same and maybe go down, Labour are committed to raising it and investing wisely, as are the LibDems. The SNP meanwhile can’t get out the blocks – they are stuck right in the middle, which Sturgeon thinks is ‘about right’, but is proving what many suspected – the SNP are not really the progressive party that want a fairer Scotland.

    But of course, the REALLY interesting bit it this – with devolved powers over taxation, the Tories will do nothing, Labour and LibDems will use them, and the SNP? Nothing. Hanging of the coattails of George Osborne no less.

    Then there are universal benefits – Ruth Davidson is accused of ‘hidden taxes’ or some term – so hidden Ruth Davidson stated it on National TV! What a fail from Swinney. And on universal benefit the SNP are happy for the rich to get the exact same as the poor – progressive my backside.

    And today Nicola Sturgeon is banging on about reducing APD – something Labour will not do, which, one way or another, will result in more cash than if APD was reduced. And the SNP? Well, they are happy to reduce the travel bill of the big corporations massively – progressive, eh? It’s not your SMEs who are sending people to London, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester every day of the week, neither is it people on low incomes who may, if they are fortunate, travel once a year.

    We know who’se side Nicola is on – and it’s not that of the poorest.

    So contrary to the assertions by our resident SNP sheep – this is one of the most interesting campaigns we’ve had, and the SNP are barely on the pitch – they will do well only by virtue of the referendum effect, not on their policies, and most certainly not on their track record.

    (Btw, I’ve not mentioned Named Person, but Ruth Dvidson knows she’s on to something – people are waking up to it. They realise that behind the good intentions, there are many possible unintended consequences).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    JB April 6, 2016 8:34 pm Reply
    • There are 56% of people in Scotland not going to vote for any Yoonionist Party.
      I wonder why!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

      Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 9:21 pm Reply
  • Might want to get ready for the proverbial Sh1t hitting the fan… seems that the Chinese Railway group… has some un answered human rights abuse questions… reference DRC.

    Author: Amnesty International
    This report documents human rights violations and abuses arising from the operation of both artisanal and industrial scale mining, including forced evictions of communities from around mine sites and violations of the rights of artisanal miners…The organization found evidence of a number of serious human rights problems at [Tilwezembe] site, including: exploitative and harmful labour conditions; child labour and ill-treatment of artisanal miners…

    The following companies responded [to Amnesty]: Glencore Xstrata, Groupe Bazano and Misa Mining.

    The following companies did not respond: China Railway Engineering Corporation (CRECG), >China Railway Group Limited<, Compagnie Minière de Luisha (COMILU) [China Railways & Gecamines joint venture]

    Furthermore: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Railway_Group_Limited

    Failed contract in Poland

    Furthermore: http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/1398918/president-china-railway-group-commits-suicide-reports

    Furthermore http://etikkradet.no/en/recommendation-10-october-2014-to-exclude-china-railway-group-ltd/

    "it was decisive for the Council’s assessment that CRG did not respond to the corruption allegations uncovered in the company nor did it seem to have implemented adequate measures internally to prevent corruption in the future."

    Furthermorehttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-06-08/hong-kong-top-court-blocks-u-s-fund-s-congo-china-suit-citing-immunity

    Yawn…furthermore:
    http://www.opendevelopmentcambodia.net/news/impact-assessment-not-yet-conducted-on-chinese-rail-project/

    it goes on…and on…On 1 November 2012, a high-ranking civil servant in Hainan Province was sentenced to life imprisonment for having received more than NOK 16 million in bribes from CRG. Up to the date of his arrest, the company had allegedly paid state employees a total of NOK 20 million in illegal kick-backs to secure contracts relating to a housing project with an estimated value of NOK 770 million.27

    Well that was 10 minutes worth of due diligence … no wonder she wanted to keep her mouth shut.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    Karl Hughes April 6, 2016 8:44 pm Reply
    • If this sort of stuff comes home to the subsidiary company, it will be more uncomfortable for the FM – but so far the has been no such mentiom.
      A difficulty on the human rights issue is that Britain went along with extraodinary rendition – and what is known makes unbelievable any repeated assurances that Ministers knew nothing about it.
      Neither Jack Straw nor David Miliband would survive a rigorous and objective investigation into their respective roles in this sorry saga.
      Britain also went along with the British owned / American leased Diego Garcia being one of the sites for the torture sessions following extraordinary rendition flights into Diego Garcia.
      Prestwick Airport was used as a refuelling stop for onward extraordinary rendition flights.
      And Britain was a willing partner on the Guantanamo Bay internment and interrogation camp, where Shaker Aamer’s evidence on th nature of our involvement is disturbing at the very least.
      We also do enthusiastic business with Saudi Arabia whose record on human rights is of serious concern.
      Because we live in a country that, on evidence, is not overly respectful of human rights itself, that does not mean that we should condone abuses of such rights by other countries or corporations; but it does mean that we have scant moral ground upon which to stand on the issue.
      Where prior corporate checks appear not to have been adequately carried out in tis instance, the SNP pays the same sort of knockabout faux-appalled political price it pays for its carelessness in not properly vetting its candidates in the UK General Election last May.
      However, objectively, it is hard to sustain a position on this that can fairly find the SNP government and/or the FM guilty of any great moral or political crime.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      newsroom April 6, 2016 10:28 pm Reply
  • JB — nowt as so blind to see..

    As for sheep…. ba ba black sheep have you any steel
    no sir, no sir, we sold it for a bean,
    one for the French, one for the Chinese and one for the middle man who lives in panama!!

    Apologies to all excepting of course the tory greedy followers. Quite odious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    No Cheese Here April 6, 2016 8:46 pm Reply
    • NCH’s finger is on the pulse here, Well said that man.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      Murdoch MacKenzie April 6, 2016 8:58 pm Reply
    • Well said NCH. Let’s get leathered into them now.
      Don’t waste any time.
      YES2 will be on us Shortly!!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

      Hugh Jazz April 6, 2016 9:24 pm Reply
    • Deflection, deflection, deflection. Yes indeed, some just can’t see…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      JB April 6, 2016 10:33 pm Reply
      • Not much deflection more an own goal, called a liar on the front of a national paper, a civil servant coughing the truth?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        richard April 9, 2016 6:24 pm Reply
  • The SNP >where ‘due diligence’ means ‘gross negligence'<, 'independence' means 'dependence', and 'mandatory' means 'not compulsory'.
    In George Orwell's 1984 the practice of distorting meanings of words and phrases to fit their own ends was called "Blackwhite". And Nippy and the perfidious SNP constantly talk a load of blackwhite. Do Scotland a favour. Vote these sinister clots out in May.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    ORWELL'S ASINUS April 7, 2016 5:57 am Reply

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