Some of you will have noticed I haven’t been blogging much of late –n o cheering at the back. There are a few reasons for this. First, the weather has been lovely and the chance to make the most of it when I no longer go to work is overwhelming – you should see my legs.
Second, I’ve spent the last week on jury duty at Glasgow Sheriff Court. This is known as hingin’ aboot. Fifty good citizens and true turn up every day expecting to sentence a miscreant (in my case a Unionist) to death. While we wait around looking glum the fiscal negotiates with defence lawyers to see if a trial will proceed. Why they can’t do this before we give up our time, nobody explains. On Thursday we waited two hours in the morning and had to take a lunch break before they actually tracked down the defence lawyer who hadn’t bothered to turn up. Then we were sent home. Heaven help any accused who goes to trial on a Friday after a week of this…
Then, instead of writing, I opted to bite my lip. So much misdirected bile has been spilling out since the election that I couldn’t write without expressing some of my own. So I kept a lid on it. There is a wider interest in shared objectives in the long term that is worth sustaining. Nor am I going to rehearse old arguments now. I stick by the case I made before voting – that everybody should vote the way they wish and do it with pride. That’s what I did and I am proud. I have no regrets about supporting the party that encapsulates my priorities best.
What I truly can’t stand is hearing anyone say a vote was wasted. No democrat can make that claim. Every vote counts and every vote is equal. The only vote that is wasted is the vote that isn’t cast.
Anyone who doesn’t get elected failed by not getting enough votes – just like the indyref. Blaming the voters is facile.
It’s clear there are interesting things going on at Holyrood while the boys and girls settle in. I laughed at the irony of the old guard who can’t get used to change. The SNP were rightly criticised last time for appointing their own Presiding Officer. Yet when they back a Labour candidate, it’s a Nat conspiracy. Well, maybe it is. Like the ferry contract going to Cal Mac because the SNP were intimidated by Torquil Crichton into breaching EU law and discriminating against Serco. (Who were of course their preferred bidders because the Nats are Hell-bent on privatising ferry services, as everybody who reads Brian Wilson knows.)
This is an extraordinary story which says so much about our small country and the influence of a handful of extremists whose hostility to the elected government is obsessive. From what I saw, the ferry row was started by Brian Wilson and taken up by his mini-me’s at the Record and Kevin McGuire of the Mirror who seems to simply copy down and reproduce what Wilson says.
Wilson is highly regarded by the remaining Labour diehards searching desperately for something to campaign on. The myth of privatisation was pushed as if it were an SNP policy position instead of a bidding competition demanded as an EU legal requirement and confirmed by the previous Labour/Lib Dem Executive which got clarification from Brussels (against SNP objections). It was still being reported that way today across the old newspapers and even given credence by Common Space which headlined it as Victory for the Campaigners. Technically, it is. It’s a ‘victory’ for all of us who prefer Cal Mac. But the implication that a campaign swung the decision is as inaccurate as it’s insulting. The law demands, among other things, transparency and absence of discrimination in public contract bidding. Any evidence – as opposed to emissions of lie-infested hot air from Crichton and Wilson – that sentiment or politics played a part in denying Serco a fair hearing could provide grounds for an appeal. It won’t happen of course, as Serco knew their bid was ruled incompetent in any case – the real and openly-declared reason they lost – but the outpouring of mendacity by the unions and Labour praising themselves for their campaign theoretically threatened the Cal Mac success…a success achieved by Cal Mac staff who were the last to be congratulated by the Labour drones.
Serco failed because their bid was non compliant. They sought changes to commercial terms aimed at striking a balance between the risks and rewards involved. It seems they couldn’t make the numbers work to squeeze enough profit out of the deal prepared by the Transport Scotland – the very opposite of Wilson’s windy claim that the government’s plan was to privatise.
Labour voices are now claiming it shouldn’t have gone to tender at all – relying on the short memories of a public sick of lying politicians. It is also clear that the very fact of competition helped to drive up the quality of the Cal Mac bid resulting in a better deal for the customer and the taxpayer.
Within this scabrous little affair we see how damaging to the public interest and how corrosive to the body politic the scheming and destructive anti-Nats can be. A straightforward tender process is subverted by unprincipled politicos and a complaint media.
There is no reason why a campaign in favour of Cal Mac should not be run to make clear public opinion – although care is needed not to assume there is 100 per cent approval in the Western Isles for MacBraynes. Like so much else with the defeated Left, this turned out to be a false flag campaign with dishonesty at its heart.
When we look at Labour and try to divine what went wrong for them, this case offers evidence. There is a bitter resentment at unending defeat, a curdled sense of entitlement, belief that the bigger the lie the more chance of success and contempt for the people…yet with tentacles reaching across civic Scotland that are still capable of doing damage.
I am very happy Cal Mac won and can’t wait for my next trip but I will never associate the red funnel with the red rose of the corrupted Labour party. Cal Mac belongs to Scotland.by