Tuesday 29 September 2009

What Exactly is The Scottish Futures Trust? ..and can we trust it to build our schools...??

The Education secretary has announced 14 new Secondary Schools* across Scotland. These schools are to be financed by traditional methods of borrowing.

So what, I hear you say, of the SNP's flagship "Scottish Futures Trust", the all singing all dancing replacement for PPP, the magical money making machine that was to do away with the hated PFI and provide enough money to match the previous, Labour-led, administraton's school-building programme "brick for brick"? Whatever happened to the SFT?

The SNP says that these schools will use the SFT. But they will not be financed by the SFT. How can that be?

Well. It seems that the "Scottish Futures Trust" has been transformed (without actually telling anyone) from

...."an all singing all dancing financing mechanism that will help match the previous school-building programm brick-for-brick",

into ...

..."a wee office in Glasgow where 5 civil servants will use Project Management Software to report on the progress of a few new schools that are actually financed in the same old way as before..."!!!

Right. So no Scottish Futures Trust and just 14 schools and none of them likely to be completed by the end of this Parliament.

That's why we voted SNP, is it?

As I said elsewhere: the SNP lack of vision and ambition for the people of Scotland is so disappointing. Disgraceful actually.

*Any new school building is good news, but to put this figure in context: there were 3 Secondary and 3 Primary Schools built in my own council area by the last administration. So only 14 in all of Scotland, and not likely to be completed any time soon, is pretty mean, is it not?

a little p.s. 6th Oct. 2009.

There is to be a debate at Holyrood on Thursday on the provision of schools. Apparently Fiona Hyslop ducked the last big Education debate (on teacher numbers). Will she hide away again?

Thursday 17 September 2009

Arguments for (and against) independence

Richard Thompson has promised to give his arguments for believing that independence is the best route for Scotland, I will respond and anyone else is free to join in (subject to moderation for insult and obscenity and irrelevance).

Over to you, Richard...

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Referendum? What Referendum?

The most intriguing thing about Alex Salmond's scheduling of legislation for a referendum this year is the lack of excitement it has caused.

The blogs are not full of it, nor are the comments columns in newspapers nor even the letters pages, where you would expect to see the nat letter-writing teams trying to whip up a false furore in favour...

Why is that? On the face of it, the SNP administration's only reason for wanting power (and therefore for voting them into power) is to get this referendum. But when it comes, indifference rages. Nobody seems to care...

I think the main reason is the shallowness of support for independence. When questioned by pollsters a certain number of people will always say that they are “in favour” of independence. But when you probe a little deeper you find that it is not their top priority, or even their tenth priority.

What people really want, their real priorities, are more jobs (or in the recession job security) and better health care and education and roads and policing and housing. If I, or a close friend or relative, lose my job or have a serious health issue, it can be the talk of the steamie. A referendum? On idependence? Yawn and yawn...

So the voters are not really engaged by the idea of a referendum. It's a distraction, a waste of resources and a misdirection of political energy. It shows that the SNP has got its priorities all wrong and out of kilter with the real needs and desires of the Scottish people.

The SNP is playing political games while the economy struggles and Scots are losing their jobs and are just not all that interested in a referendum on independence.

They have other priorities, and it is these priorities that the SNP administration should be addressing instead of wasting their energy, and ours, on a futile party political exercise.

Sunday 6 September 2009

SNP MSP and the Property Developer

MPs and Msps expenses, their relationships with money and who they consort with have been big news recently. The need for total transparancy has never been greater for those in public life.

This story in the Sunday Herald is headlined "Msp Criticised after backing friend's planning application", looks suspiciously like more than friendship. Kenny Gibson, Msp for Cunninghame North, has supported a planning application by a friend for a development on Arran, which is in his constituency, while living in a house rented from that same friend and after the main social housing element of the development was dropped. As Margot NacDonal Msp is quoted as saying "....a planning application plus friendship and a tenancy equals a load of trouble...."