Question Time 22nd April 2021
Douglas Ross (Conservative)
Anas Sarwar (Labour)
Keith Brown (SNP)
Willie Rennie (LibDem)
Lorna Slater (Green)
If British politics is a Westminster village then Scottish politics is a dank and dreich cave halfway between Kirtlebridge and Kirkpatrick-Fleming where a long-suffering Mrs Spider tries and tries and tries to spin her wee web while being distracted by five self-absorbed, moaning, scrounging, racist troglodytes blaming all of their inadequacies on ‘The English’, ‘austerity’ and ‘Boris Johnson’.
From outside in the daylight, a voice is heard. It is Blair asking of a pro-independence majority in post-election Holyrood. Would the UK parliament in London (AKA the effing English) have the moral right to stop a referendum?
Douglas Ross (Conservative) was against a referendum but noted the danger of a ‘wild cat’ vote being called by nationalists without the permission of the Westminster Government.
Douglas is the leader of the Scottish Conservative party and the MSP for Moray. A QT Review biography of Mr Ross appears here. Interesting observations being that he is a north of Scotland gentleman farmer and a UEFA and FIFA qualified referee.
Keith Brown (SNP) spoke very quickly, which is unhelpful. He saw the Tory Government as being the wildcats with their high court overturned attempts to prorogue the London parliament during the post-Brexit impasse. No, they aren’t, replied Bruce, decked out in Saltaire background blue. Prime Minister Johnson has made it clear that he won’t allow a referendum and, legally, it is a UK issue.
Suspiciously, nearly all of the contributors from the Zoom audience were against an independence referendum. Take care, Puffins, this tells us more about the BBC than of the Scottish voter.
Keith Brown is an MSP, ‘depute’ leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party and the former Holyrood Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work. He is also a former Royal Marine, having joined after school and served for a three-year stint which involved fighting in the Falklands War. As such, he joins a proud cadre of former ‘Bootnecks’ involved in politics such as arch Remainer LibDem Paddy Ashdown and Conservative Party supporting honorary Royal Marine Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile OBE KCSG.
Other senior SNP officials in uniform have included Arthur Donaldson who led the Scottish nationalists between 1961 and 1969. Pictured here with the Hitler Youth and wearing his own unique fatigues, Donaldson sided with the Nazis during the war. To this day there is an annual SNP Donaldson lecture. Shame on them.
Likewise, one of the founding members of the SNP was barrister and Paisley Grammar School old boy Andrew Dewar Gibb who was leader of the party between 1934 and 1940.
Gibb’s biographer, Dr Catriona Macdonald, says of him, “Gibb was clearly sympathetic to Nazism” and “shared its anti-Semitic anxieties.” Mr Gibb frequently quoted Hitler in his public speeches and in his own diary wrote that he “made no secret of my distinct Fascist leanings”.
If ‘anxious’ of Jews, Mr Gibb was more forthcoming in his views of the Irish. In his 1930 publication Scotland in Eclipse he wrote,
“Wheresoever knives and razors are used, wheresoever sneak thefts and petty pilfering are easy and safe, wheresoever dirty acts of sexual baseness are committed, there you will find the Irishman in Scotland with all but a monopoly.”
Perhaps Mr Brown would be better suited to the Kriegsmarine? And perhaps, dear Puffin, if Scottish nationalists were to cede from the Union, we’d be better off without them?
We need to bring people together, said Willie Rennie (LibDem) and we won’t get that togetherness from a referendum.
Lorna Slater (Green) reminded us that there already is a referendum majority in Holyrood as the Greens are in coalition with the SNP. She expected that situation to continue after the election and for there to be a subsequent independence vote.
Anas Sarwar (Labour) said it was a mistake to assume that independence would be a quick and easy ‘light switch moment’. Far from it. Brexit took four and a half years. There were more important issues that had to be addressed, especially in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The panellists were now speaking quickly and all at once. Among the babble, I was able to make out ‘Brexit Tories’, ‘climate crisis’ and, unexpectedly, ‘bedroom tax’.
Another Unionist spoke from the audience, post-Covid recovery was more important than a constitutional issue that had been settled in 2014 with the previous ‘No’ vote.
Willie Rennie mentioned drug deaths in Scotland which are three times higher than in England. Nichola Sturgeon had taken her eye off that ball and it would remain off it if an obsession with independence was allowed to continue.
Brown rhymed off some giveaway SNP manifesto commitments such as free school meals. The Tories in London managed to deliver a hard Brexit during a pandemic, it is possible to do two things at once.
Anas Sarwar began asking statistical questions of Brown who said nothing in return and then spoke over him. Nuclear weapons, Boris’s veto. One at a time, insisted Bruce. Nuclear weapons, the rape clause.
Anas Sarwar is the leader of the Scottish Labour Party and a Glasgow region MSP. A comprehensive QT Review biography of Mr Sarwar can be found here. Privately educated Comrade Sarwar sends his children to public school. Previously, he inherited a Westminster seat from his father who gave up his British citizenship to return to Pakistan and become involved in his homeland’s corrupt and toxic politics. Anas has taken political donations from a British Virgin Islands based business, from a notorious sex offender and from a business associate of his own brother. Mr Sarwar’s expense claims have included 2p for a pencil sharpener. Another brother was convicted (but subsequently acquitted) of an £850,000 fraud in the family business. A business that pays less than the living wage, doesn’t recognise trades unions and in which Anas Sarwar has a 20% stake worth £4 million. Mr Sarwar senior was charged with vote rigging and refused a peerage etc etc etc. There are lots more nasties regarding the Sarwar clan, easily found online, none of which were mentioned on tonight’s QT.
There was a contradiction over drugs. An audience member said that the drugs death rate in Scotland was the same as in England despite being three times higher. Drug deaths are a social issue, repeal the misuse of drugs act, insisted Lorna.
Question two considered the long term future of the oil and gas industries.
Lorna of the Greens was concerned about hydrocarbon workers and saw that industry’s decline being replaced by employment in renewables. A brief QT Review biography of Lorna is available here. She claimed a huge potential in Scottish green energy. As I type (via the excellent Puffin authored Gridwatch website) it can be revealed that wind is contributing only 3% of our electricity. A fair and green recovery from the pandemic would allow Lorna to phase out oil and gas across the next ten years. As I type, Brent Crude is trading at $65 a barrel, around about the average price for the last six years. The North Sea has a future at that price, politicians leave well alone.
Keith Brown wanted something similar to Lorna but across a much longer time period. Douglas Ross has previously suggested a very long transition, ‘over decades’. How does that match with Boris Johnson’s commitment to cut carbon emissions by 78% ? asked Bruce. Good point. Douglas waffled.
Willie Rennie wanted to convert heating to electricity (13p/KWh) from gas (3p/KWh). A price increase of 400%. Somehow this would make energy bills cheaper. Reducing demand, said Willie, new technologies. He was just making it up as he went along.
We moved on to the party’s manifestos and the necessity of a magic money tree. The LibDems were going to spend a lot more but hadn’t said where it was coming from other than from a magic ‘well affordable medium-term financial estimate’.
No QT Review biography of Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie is available despite him having recently appeared on the programme. Furthermore, during that review, your humble reviewer didn’t know who he was and referred to him throughout as ‘Alex Rennie’.
I make no apology.
The programme involved was badly produced garbage from a fourth-rate regional broadcaster called ‘BBC Scotland’. The Scottish Leaders’ Debate began with all of the captions mixed up and Mr Rennie introduced as ‘Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour Party’. All of the other panellists, and host Sarah Smith, were also introduced as ‘Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour Party’. In among the grunting, muttering, mumbling and odd camera angles I was able to make out ‘Rennie’ and then had a stab at ‘Alex’.
Now fortified with a real name, I can reveal …… not much of interest. William Cowan Rennie graduated from Paisley Technical College with a Degree in Biology and commenced further study at Glasgow College where he emerged with a Postgraduate Diploma in Industrial Administration before taking up a career in communications. Having pictured Mr Rennie up a telegraph pole in a gale in the Highlands, building masts in the desert or racing across a prairie with a sackful of letters (pursued by a hail of Red Indian’s arrows), I was disappointed to discover that the communications involved were being a PR wallah for the LibDems. :((
William’s father was a minister of religion. William has lived in Kelty, famous for its sack of coal race. Between 2006 and 2010 William was Westminster MP representing Dunfermline and West Fife. In March 2008, dear taxpayer, you paid 40p for Willie to park his car. In May 2007, he charged you 80p for five paperclips and 70p for a roll of Blutac. In January 2008 you spent £470 on an accountant to fill in Willie’s tax return. In February 2008, you forwarded him 24p for two boxes of staples. And, drum roll, wait for it, wait for it, just after he’d entered parliament (hint, hint) you spent £17.63 so that Willie could have a DVD of his own maiden speech.
Never mind all of that, what about Alex Rennie? I may have been thinking of the John Moores Painting Prize winning London based contemporary artist, specialising in oil painting. A more likely candidate would be the late Alex Rennie who made 197 league appearances for St Johnstone and 63 for Dundee United between 1968 and 1978, before going on to manage Hearts, St Johnstone and Stenhousemuir. I wonder what he would have made of a Super League?
Bruce was puzzled by the Green’s manifesto, as it would be funded by using tax powers that Scotland doesn’t have. There’s an option B, using local taxation powers said Lorna. But Lorna would be kind enough to allow Boris Johnson to do as she told him under option A. Anas wanted an Amazon tax to make all the things you buy online more expensive.
An audience member asked how can ordinary people pay more tax if they work fewer days under the Greens four day week? Lorna is going to tax the very wealthy and big corporations instead.
Douglas was going to cut taxes and business rates and invest in wifi.
The SNP are going to give free dental care. I’ll vote for that. I can’t get an NHS dentist, neither can anybody else, and the NHS is supposed to be the best in the world.
The next question was about the NHS and how it will cope with the challenges ahead. Willie Rennie promised to spend an extra £2.5 billion of your money. Mental health, he repeated over and over again.
Keith Brown matched the £2.5billion but Bruce pointed out that there was a bigger increase in England. ‘Those figures are disputed by experts,’ claimed Keith. A junior doctor was pulled out of the audience. She highlighted the problem of there being nowhere to discharge elderly patients to. A biotech industry person spoke next. She was expecting a tsunami of diseases with long names. She itemised them. They haven’t been adequately treated during the pandemic and are going to present themselves to the NHS as the pandemic eases.
Anas wanted to build the buildings and increase the wages of the trades unionists who fund the Labour Party. Douglas supported a 4% NHS pay rise but it was presently out to review and hadn’t been decided. Lorna was going to restructure the economy and build a national care system with a universal income and more housing. Everything for everybody! ‘Mental hair,’ she said. She meant mental care.
Ryan in the audience said that because of the lockdown restrictions we’d all ‘Had a year in which to think about things.’ He’s not wrong you know.
© Always Worth Saying 2021
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