Question Time 1st February 2024
Malcolm Offord (Conservative)
Ian Murray (Labour)
Kate Forbes (SNP)
Patrick Harvie (Greens)
Fraser Nelson (The Spectator)
Kate Forbes (not her real name, Kate Elizabeth MacLennan), is the SNP MSP representing Syke, Lochaber and Badenoch. Accompanying her Free Church missionary parents, the Dingwall-born 33-year-old spent much of her childhood in India. Despite claiming to be a comprehensive pupil, during this time she was educated privately at Uttarakhand’s Woodstock School. After graduating from Selwyn College Cambridge with a degree in History, Kate completed an MSC at Edinburgh University in Diaspora & Migration History.
Ordinarily, QT Review HQ likes to keep Puffins up to date with school fees (ex-VAT). However, our friends in India don’t make it easy. The subcontinental ‘Indic’ bad habit of peppering big numbers with combinations of two and three digits separated by commas doesn’t help.
As far as I can work out, a year of exceptional education in a diverse international community inspired by an Indian Himalayan environment and an inclusive Christian tradition (during which a pupil will become a visionary, articulate and ethical individual equipped to achieve their full potential in leadership and in life) will set you back £21,000. That sounds pricey for the locale. Puffins on a budget who are still tempted to enrol might find it worth their while checking this humble reviewer of school fees hasn’t confused his lakshas with his kotis.
Despite being a Christian woman in a Christian country, Kate’s Christian beliefs have resulted in her receiving a wall of hate from media-political bubble bigots. Keen on protecting the unborn and terminally ill and not so enthousistic about ‘gay’ ‘marriage’, meant Kate received a ‘furious backlash’ when she stood for the SNP leadership last year. At the time, The Guardian newspaper declared Ms Forbes’ attempt to replace Nichola Sturgeon as ‘over before it has begun’. The voters disagreed, with Kate coming a razor-close 142 votes behind winner Humza Yousaf. QT Review HQ suspects Indic membership numbers and Subcontinental voting in Yousaf’s southside of Glasgow Pollockshieldistan hinterland cost Ms Forbes the contest.
Malcolm Offord (not his real name, Malcolm Ian Offord, Baron Offord of Garvel) is a Scottish businessman and Conservative member of the House of Lords. His Lordship attended Greenock Academy and later graduated in law from The University of Edinburgh. A merchant banker (no, don’t, stop it) at Lazards, his Lordship moved into private equity with 3i and founded and became chair of his own private equity company, Badenoch and Co. Following a donation of £147,500 to the Conservative Party, the 59-year-old was ennobled to the House of Lords. He serves as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Scotland Office.
Ian Murray was educated at Edinburgh’s Dumbryden Primary School and Wester Hailes High School. Upon leaving school at 16, he studied Social Policy, Politics, and Law at the University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Government. Following graduation, he worked for Royal Blind. After that stint in financial services, the 47-year-old pursued his entrepreneurial spirit through a failed dot com start-up called worldart.com and his own now dormant company, 100mph Events Limited. Murray’s political career began in 2003 when he was elected to the City of Edinburgh Council.
In 2010, Ian was elected as the Labour MP for Edinburgh South. At the 2015 general election, he was the only Labour MP returned north of the border, an accolade held until the 2017 election after which he had a battle buddy, Hugh Gaffney of Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill. However, Hugh lost his seat at the 2019 vote, leaving Ian marooned once more. Speaking of maroon and loneliness, Ian is a Heart of Midlothian fan.
Mr Murray copes with the cost of living crisis by holding his hand out. According to a summary in the Scotsman newspaper, Ian has accepted financial hospitality from the Council of European Palestinian Relations, the Falkland Islands Government, the Government of The United Arab Emirates. The Republic of China, the USDAW trades union, the Unite Union and the Community Trade Union. A Miss Mary Hughes, Lord Oakeshott, Messrs Gill Donald, Gordon Dalyell and Mark Bathgate (also a Tory donor), Lord William Haughie and the GMB union. Price Waterhouse Copper, ITV, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Charlotte Street Partners.
Patrick Harvie is the ludicrously titled Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights in the ludicrous Scottish Parliament. Co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Dumbartonshire-born Patrick attended Dumbarton Academy and Manchester Metropolitan University. After university, Harvie began a career in sexual health with the Gay Men’s Project, PHACE West and the Terrence Higgins Trust. His roles included youth worker. Perhaps this is why he was labelled ‘One to Watch’ at the 2004 Scottish Politician of the Year awards?
Previously, Andrew has campaigned against Section 2A of the Local Government Act (known as Section 28 in England), a piece of legislation intended to protect children from local authority-funded proselyting homosexuals. Again, the voters disagreed. In a privately paid-for Scottish referendum, 86.8% voted to keep the clause. The actual number of votes cast in favour, over 1,000,000, was more than any of the political parties achieved in the previous year’s Scottish parliamentary election. Surprise, surprise, the media-political blob ignored the voters. Patrick was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2003 as a Green party list member for the Glasgow region. He became co-leader of the Scottish Greens in 2019.
Truro-born Fraser Nelson is editor of Andrew Neil’s Ghilaine Maxwell supporting Spectator Magazine. His father being an RAF serviceman, he spent his childhood in Narin (near RAF Kinross) and Cyprus. Fraser was educated at Clackmannanshire’s £38,000 per annum (ex-VAT) Dollar Academy. Subsequently, he attended the University of Glasgow where he studied History and Politics and the City University, London, where he was awarded a diploma in Journalism. The 50-year-old is married to Swede Linda, has two sons and a daughter and lives in London’s posh Twickenham. He describes himself as a Europhile, is in favour of same-sex ‘marriage’ and expresses hopelessly naive views on Islam.
Fraser is also a director of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), alongside the likes of Lord Spencer of Alresford and Lord Strathclyde (not his real name, Thomas Dunlop Galloway De Roy De Blicquy Gilbraith). According to documents lodged at Companies House, the CPS’s business is ‘Publishing of learned journals’. Oooo listen to them! However, their online shop sells only donations and associate memberships. The Marquis de Sade can rest easy as reference to Amazon shows no Centre For Policy Studies ‘learned journals’ for sale. Further examination of the CPS online presence reveals that the organisation’s publications can be downloaded for free. Again via Companies House, the CPS has a turnover of over £600,000 per year.
Where does the money come from if not from selling its learned publications? From donations. Who are the donors? We aren’t told. Open Democracy’s Who Funds You? research tells us the Centre For Policy Studies is a ‘dark money’-funded organisation and one of the six least transparent think tanks. Steve Goodrich of Transparency International UK further informs us, ‘Think tanks can play an important role informing policy in Westminster, yet opacity about their funding can raise suspicion that they’re peddling positions in favour of vested interests.’ Keep this in mind every time Fraser Nelson’s lips move.
The first question wondered about the Scottish government’s COVID transparency given its submissions before the UK COVID enquiry sitting in Edinburgh.
Kate had been in front of it. She defined the ensuing rammy as ‘deep feeling’. La Bruce moved the conversion to Ms Sturgeon deleting WhatsApp messages and wondered whether that was, as Sturgeon claimed, government policy. Kate didn’t know but what she she did know was that lessons had been learned. Not only learned but learned ‘absolutely!’ She had an attack of the absolutelys. She listed lots of lessons to be learned absolutely.
Tellingly an audience member thought that the former first minister had had a ‘Paxman moment’ before the barristers and judge.
Patrick focused on data and the retention of data. In doing so, he nailed the issue. Ten or fifteen years ago these conversations between ministers would have been casual, informal and oral. There would have been no written record and no opportunity for subsequent ‘gotcha’ moments. Politicians, media and the legal profession are scoring points and nitpicking their way through these enquiries. Yes, enquiries, there is another one planned just for Scotland.
La Bruce asked Patrick if he deletes his WhatsApp messages. ‘None of your business,’ he should have replied but didn’t.
Borisphobia virus broke out in the audience. Everything was Johnston’s fault, not Sturgeon’s.
It’s not about the London media pleasuring itself over an endless game of gotcha complained pleased-looking London journalist Fraser Nelson, it’s about how Scotland is governed. Time and time again we see Scottish decisions made by the first minister and an advisor, not by the Scottish Cabinet. We will never find out exactly what’s going on as the evidence was conveniently deleted, and on the 25th anniversary of devolution too. ‘Gangsterism masquerading as government,’ he concluded while making a fool of himself.
The audience continued to obsess with England, mentioning the parties in Number Ten. The Scots really are the neighbours with the telescope who obsess about the other family. But Mr Johnson resigned and rightly so, pointed out Fraser.
Lord Malcolm conceded his party leader had deleted all his messages too but regrets it even though it is government policy. This is not a political football, as important issues arose from the messages that were not deleted.
Can we have trust in government, asked Ian Murray. If the evidence has been deleted, we can not know. We can’t learn lessons without properly recording evidence. Do you keep your WhatsApp messages, asked La Bruce. Touche. ‘I’m not in government,’ parried Mr Murray unconvincingly.
Question two was about a ceasefire in Gaza. More specifically when will the UK government call for one? The Scottish government already have, but their influence on world affairs is zero. The foreign secretary is talking to the Americans about a lasting ceasefire, Lord Malcolm assured us. Which, given what’s continuing to happen in the Middle East and America’s role in it, suggests the UK government has no influence either.
When is that likely to happen, wondered La Bruce? Conversations are going on. We want a two-state solution. What Lord Malcolm omitted to mention is that the two warring protagonists don’t.
Israel has unleased a larger reprisal against the Palestinians than the original atrocity, began Patrick. There needs to be a ceasefire. The least you can do is call for one, to say that it must happen.
Kier Starmer takes the government line, Ian, mentioned La Bruce. Israel has been cashing a blank cheque regarding the right to self-defence, Ian Murray replied. Despite persistent questioning from the chair, Ian refused to choose between Scottish Labour and London Labour’s different pathways to a ceasefire.
What matters is what the United States wants, British calls mean nothing, observed Fraser. Joe Biden is the one pulling the strings. Really? Fraser has spotted an approaching permanent ceasefire revolving around hostage and prisoner swaps. It could be we are about to reach the beginning of the end, he concluded deluded.
Back to the audience. Why does the Scottish parliament have an opinion? Foreign policy is a UK matter. Holyrood should be shut down. It is a bad experiment.
‘In a war, women and girls pay the price,’ decided Kate. The Palestinian people have no part in terrorism, she continued. Not sure she’s 100% correct with either of those claims.
Question three, given the black hole in public finances, should free prescriptions and free travel for young people end? No, they shouldn’t, said Patrick, young people need free travel to get to their courses or jobs. Plus, buses help climate change. Patrick wanted ‘progressive’ taxation. If you’re wondering what ‘progressive’ means when translated from Scots to English, in this context it means ‘more and higher’.
Fraser thought the spending was at fault, not the raising of taxes to cover it.
The cause of the financial problems are because of … the English! according to Kate, specifically Mrs Truss. The economy will grow by having more people living in Scotland, said Kate while looking enviously through the telescope towards all those jam-packed immigrant ghettos running with milk and honey south of the border!
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