Thursday 2 December 2010


When is the Labour leader going give some thought to the questions he asks and thus deny the First Minister the opportunity to do a weekly party political broadcast.

Today’s subject was police numbers. Based on conversations he had had with two, yes 2, police officers Elmer concluded that the government’s claims to have more police on the streets was a sham. Some research would have unearthed the Scottish Police Federation’s statement fulsome in its praise for the position of the government, saying that they had understood the needs of policing and wishing that some local authorities, Labour ones, would step up to the plate and take the same attitude. Ooops!

Eck was able to point out that Labour was the only party in the Chamber which did not support an increase in police numbers. He quoted 1190 (the number of additional officers on about 5 occasions, and repeated that recorded crime is at its lowest levels in Scotland for 30 years.

When will Elmer ever learn?

And so to Annabel:

...who once again proved that FMQs doesn’t have to be a battlefield. She turned, appropriately, to the question of snow. Much of Scotland is under the worst November weather, Annabel said, for 40 years. She praised people who had made it to work, particularly those in caring and neighbours and friends looking in on the elderly or frail. She asked the FM to join her in praising them.

This he was happy to do, and gave examples of the security guard in parliament who was up at 4 am, collecting his colleagues in his 4 x 4 for the early shift and Perth and Kinross Council which had got to all but 2 of its vulnerable residents, but who had assured themselves that these remaining two were being looked after by neighbours.

{On a personal note here, I’ve been touched by the way people have helped each other out during the awful weather. My own mum has had countless offers of help, and when I knocked on the doors of some older people around me, I was hearing the same thing. We Scots can be proud of ourselves I think.}

In reference to school closures Annabel suggested that headmasters should be left to make decisions on opening. The FM agreed and referred her to advice to schools to that effect from the Cabinet Secretary for Education. Harmony.

And so to Tavish:

...who wanted to refer Eck to the review that the English transport minister had ordered of the way that transport had handled the snow and what was the FM doing along these lines. Alex said that we could have any number of reviews after the event was over, in the meantime the government was concerned with the practicalities of keeping Scotland moving.

Tavish asked about the fact that Edinburgh airport was closed today and suggested that in view of the government’s attempts to bring winter tourism to the country it would be a good idea if they could keep the capital’s airport open. The FM whilst praising Edinburgh’s fight to keep the runway open agreed that there might be lessons that could be learned from Aberdeen, Dundee, and Highlands and Islands airports, which had remained open.

Questions about snow; sectarianism; PE in schools and a Single Police Authority followed from members. One particular line from Eck I thought was worth a mention. Richard Baker asked about a Single Police Authority and when the First Minister had answered the point he said... I’m tempted to remind Richard Baker, although of course I won’t, that he said.... and proceeded to remind not just Mr Baker, but anyone listening, what he had said... the just of which was that there were 7 police forces ...when there are actually 8. He pointed out that Mr B would be better to know how many there were before he started trying to abolish them.

And so to lunch for them ....and tea for me!!


  1. Tris

    How many FMQs to endure before Alex is finally shut up..........Not Many

  2. I second your point about the weather bringing out the good in people. My wife and I are not in our dotage (although perhaps I may appear so at times) but the daughter of one of our neighbours called round to see if we were all right and asked if we would like her parents to shop for us.

    This is the sort of unlegislatable, social help which really keeps the world going and is mostly killed stone dead by official intervention - which, I think, Mr. Cameron is trying to do with his "Big Society" and corps of state funded activists, who will end up with something in common with the "Blockleiters" of Nazi Germany or their equivalents in Cuba today.

  3. Maybe about 500 Niko.

  4. Tavish have a point about Edin airport. In New York for example, even in some of the heaviest snowfall - their airports are kept open. Is it really beyond the skills of 21st C Scotland to implement reforms and introduce new techologies to ensure that we can do likewise?

    It is a good point to be discussed tbh. Alex needs to do more than just churn out the typical 'learn and listen' guff - lets see some reform of handling procedures and snow-based capacity please!

    But generally, I do agree with the broad thrust of this post. I was amazed that whitshisname of that Liebore Party never even thought to ask a question about the snow, given that it is costing millions in the Scots economy day-in-day-out ... you'd have thought it a priority!

    But hey, probably best that zanulabour lot didn't bother, lest they would blame the 'seperatists' for causing the skies to fall in!

  5. I agree Mr S. It’s good to see people taking the care to check up on others, not just older ones.

    But although I like to see people doing things for themselves, and for others, and not depending on the state for help, it has to be done properly and voluntarily. People who naturally do this sort of thing do it with love and care.

    I don’t want to see this Big Society being forced upon people. The state can’t force people to do things well. It can only force them to do the things. People who are forced to do things rarely do them well.

    I think Cameron is wrong, and I mistrust his motives. I think that he wants to replace what the state pays for with voluntary workers doing it all after their day’s work. Reducing costs is a laudable aim, but welfare that is depended upon must be professionally organised.

  6. Yes I thought that Tavish's question was reasonable. And I think that Edinburgh airport should be open 24 x 7.

    The trouble is that in New York, Montreal, Stockholm, Oslo and Reykjavík the snow comes every year; it's heavy and it lasts for weeks, if not months.

    It is worth the massive investment in snow clearing vehicles, which here might sit in a garage not being used for 15 years. So in fairness to BAA you have to cut them a little, but not much, slack.

    Yes, Whatisname probably hasn't noticed the snow. Probably some primary school child said to him "Ask Tubby Eck about the polis mister". Whatisname would be grateful for the question and would jump into it as if it were a hole, with both feet, not a thought in the world for the possible battering he was going to get.

    And poor old Niko has such faith in him...

    What's his name again Niko?

    PS: Can I just say that the SNP had nothing at all to do with the snow coming. If we could do things like that we'd have achieved independence by now!!

  7. Did you hear BBC Newsdrive as 'what's his name' wasn't mentioned once or his party lets hope it continues forever.

  8. That's a nice thought CH

  9. I think we should all use winter tyres from November-March plus get a second set of wheels. Then when you sell your car you also sell the summer/winter tyres. The nonsense of people driving on high temperature tyres is ludicrous.

    More expensive I know, but a great deal safer.

  10. It's what they do in Switzerland and Scandanavia SR, as you'll know. Illegal not to. Do they do that in Germany too?

  11. Been doing that for 40 years come on you at the back hurry up. Its great fun driving on snow as its a learning process, the problem today is that cars have things like ABS etc and people think the car will look after them rather than learning how to drive that model. The best car I had was a Fiat panda, 999 fire engine, would go anywhere and driveable without using the clutch which I had to do more than once when the cable snapped.

    The fun has gone out of motoring with all 'safety' add ons which has allowed over cautious drivers a false sense of security making the roads more dangerous.

  12. LOL... CH... not like the old days, huh...

    Nah you're right. Anyone can drive now.No need to double declutch, or steer properly, or peer out the side windows like they used to have to do with these old cars.

    Automatic transmission, power steering and 3 speed windshields that even come on when there is a trace of moisture have taken the skill out of it.

  13. Whats the use of keeping the airport open if the trains are not running and the roads are not clear. We would just have a lot of amazed forigners at Edinburgh airports, incredulous that we can't have any sort of joined up transport policy. All thanks to the cack-handed devolution settlement where if the English don't want to spend money on trains and roads and snow clearing equipment our pocket-money parliament does not get a consequential.

  14. I'm actually beginning to feel quite sorry for Mr Gray. His performances are getting quite embarassing with no hint of improvement. He always reminds me of an infant struggling to read in class.
    He's be much better throwing his script away and speaking from the heart. He should also be advised to pick on subjects that Salmond cannot use to destroy him and, by extension, his pathetic party.

  15. Tris

    Is it just me, but every time I see Richard Baker on TV I think of Private Pike from Dads Army.

    Pity the BBC did not stay to the end of FMQ to see Private Pike, sorry Baker being humiliated watch it at Holyrood TV.

    Mind you Pike was funny, Baker is just pathetic, silly boy!!!

  16. You make a good point there Munguin. Airports reopened this morning, but I gather it is nigh on impossible to get to them by train or road... However, if it is any comfort, even the Germans and the Swiss, icons of efficiency appear to be having problems, and Geneva’s airport is closed, so I heard.

    In a not very joined up way, I read that in England they have cleared the motorways (essential, said the fool Hammond, for communications throughout the country) but they have neglected to clear the slip roads... which means that you may, or more likely may not, be able to take the exit you want, and may end up having to drive and drive and drive.... until you run out of motorway or petrol or splash into the English channel, whichever comes first.

    Joined up.... Britain.... I don't think so.

    PS. Hammond was on the radio this morning about his review, and he talked about a “weather event”. I couldn’t help thinking that he was about 30 years too old for snappy, cool, trendy, terminology. It’s just weather you dolt.

  17. I know what you mean John. I listen to this babble every week and think, surely he can't be as bad as last week, and then he is and I'm wrong again.

    I don't think they'd let him speak without notes though in case he forgot where he was and started making a party political broadcast.... oooops!

    Would you like to give him a few tips about what subjects Salmond can't destroy him?

    Maybe the colour of daffodils in his garden, or the suit he is wearing, or.... nope that's it.

    Competition time: What can Gray pick Salmond up on that won’t get thrown back in his face?

    Answers on a postcard, and the best one wins points. And points mean.........?

  18. Dubs....

    Aye that was a corker wasn't it. it was cruel though. Poor wee baker probably has difficulty once he gets past 4.

    That's the trouble with these people. They are rank amateurs. The only half decent ones they have went to London where they see a glittering future in international politics, mixing with the glitterati, starting wars and being insulted behind their backs by American Ambassadors and the like.

    Whereas, the SNP don’t send their best to London. We keep them here to run our country.

    God help us if that lot of wannabes get any kind of power.

    Private Pike was hilarious, Richard Baker is disastrous. Eck makes a pretty good McMainwaring though don’t you think? Stupid boy.

  19. Tris:

    Entry for your competition

    As soon as he stands up he could ask the question

    "Why don't you fuck off, you fat prick?"

    Sorry, Tris's mum.

  20. Erm, right John. I have the feeling that the PO might think that that was unparliamentary, even for Elmer.

    Oh boy, you better do some serious grovelling to mumsy. She's gonna be well cross with you.

    Ouch!!!! :¬)

    Glad it was you that siad that and not me.