Monday, 31 March 2008

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I was rather surprised to see columnist Katie Grant in today's "Scottish" Daily Mail headlining her article about Wendy Alexander "Lost Wendy is Living in Neverland" as regular readers of this blog will no doubt remember my post of the 8th of February this year:

Interestingly enough, I cannot offer a link to Katie's story as the mail's website seems only to have UK content - so much for being the Scottish Daily Mail!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Tommy The Trot's Tribulations (Part 967)

According to an "exclusive" in this morning's Daily Record it would seem that the "Flying Squad" are targeting Tommy Sheridan. I just hope this story is a bit more reliable than their load of cobblers about mince which was published earlier this week.

It would appear they took DNA samples when they searched his house last December and they are now off to Denmark to interview Katrine Trolle, a Danish former SSP member who claimed to have had sex with Sheridan in his marital bed. She claimed to have had sex with him on a number of occasions during the period 2000 - 2004. She also claimed to have visited Cupids, the Manchester swingers club, with Sheridan in November 2001. Ms Trolle returned home after the extensive publicity she received during Sheridan's defamation case, which he won, against the News of the World.

A Danish Police spokesperson said: "I can confirm that Scottish officers - after acceptance from Danish police authorities - carried out an investigation in Denmark."

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Independence referendum - our policy is wrong

It is my sincerely held belief that our policy of denying the question of Independence on a referendum on Scotland's future is totally wrong and completely unjustified. This policy, to the best of my knowledge, has never been decided by the sovereign body of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, party conference. Sometimes I feel that the Democrats word in our party name is undervalued.

The referendum should consist of four questions:
1. Return to Westminster only government
2. Status quo
3. Increased powers for Scottish Parliament
4. Independence

Being a Federalist I would vote for option three and I believe that the majority of Scots would also support that position, which happens to be Scottish Lib Dem policy and one that I heartily agree with. Virtually no-one other than the loons of UKIP would favour option one, though I suspect a fair few Tories would harbour that in their hearts. There may be a little more support for option two and there will be a certain belief in option 4 - I suspect somewhere between 20-35% of people would take that option. Polls regularly show that our position of greater powers for the parliament is by far and away the most popular.

The other reason for changing policy and having the Independence question?
The Gnats would lose and be killed stone dead for at least a generation and their electoral support would melt away like snow aff a dyke.

Arrogant Trump Chump

Who the f**k does George Sorial think he is trying to tell us how we should run a public inquiry?

The cheeky git has been reported in the press as saying that the inquiry "must be quick to save money". No George, you are so utterly wrong - the inquiry should take as long as it needs to establish the TRUTH of the matter. Aren't you in agreement with that idea or are you simply hoping for a whitewash?

The pre-inquiry hearing commences in Aberdeen today and the full inquiry is expected to begin in June.

Sky high calling

News today that the UK regulator Ofcom has approved the use of mobile phones on British registered aircraft when they reach an altitude of 3000 feet. bang goes peace and quiet in the air then.

It won't be happening overnight as both the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency both need to give the technology their seals of approval. It will then be up to the individual airlines to decide whether they're going to install the kit.

The idea is that a base unit called Pico cells are installed in the aircraft which bounce the signal to a satellite which then transmits it to a satellite dish then to a switching unit and finally on to the receiving phone.

BBC news website reveals that:
The cost of making a mobile phone call from a plane will be higher than making one from the ground.
In the UK, regulator Ofcom said it would investigate and address any evidence of "excessive charges and abuses of competition" if prices were set unfairly by airlines and mobile networks.

The systems would only work in European airspace.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Scotland's smoking ban two years on

I've possibly mentioned before that I am a cigarette smoker and was interested to read in that 80% of Scots are now in favour of the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, with 84% agreeing that pubs, restaurants and clubs are now more pleasant places.

I'll freely admit to having had severe misgivings when the legislation was introduced and the ban came into force 2 years back but I've come round to agreeing that it was very much the right thing to do, albeit not a very Liberal proposition.

There are numerous reasons for my change of heart and these include:
- big drop in dry cleaning bills.
- I smoke less.
- better atmosphere in pubs.
- save money by smoking less.
- healthier for bar staff.
- not making fellow customers inhale second hand smoke.
It seems to me that this legislation is party of what I hope will become a sea change of attitudes in Scotland. We need to have healthier diets, cut out smoking, cease binge drinking and take more exercise and I plead as guilty as anyone else to having a less than perfectly healthy lifestyle. Hopefully the impending move to Kinross-shire will give me the impetus to start making changes although if I'm truthful, it'll be more to do with the fact that the nearest pub will be four miles away!

Record amount of mince!

Nothing like a good scare story to get a newspaper some more readers and the Daily Record yesterday ran a front page story suggesting that Scottish mince is under threat from the EU and, of course, Gnat MEP Alyn Smith waded in too.

The Daily Record today followed up with this story:

Butchers warn EU Scots mince ban would be 'unworkable'
Mar 25 2008 By Craig McDonald
BUTCHERS yesterday branded a ban on traditional Scottish mince as "unworkable" - and impossible to enforce.

They hit out at new health rules which state meat used to make mince should be cut less than six days after an animal's slaughter.

Our butchers traditionally hang carcasses for 14 to 28 days to increase the flavour.

Butcher Duncan McKenzie, a three-times past president of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders, said: "I totally disagree with this rule change - and so does everyone I've spoken to.
"I would also be surprised if it actually happens.
"I would like to know how they are going to monitor it as it's totally unworkable.
"How can an inspector know for sure how old mince on a butcher's counter is?
"I would say the vast majority of people will just laugh in the face of these rules and say, 'Don't be daft'.

"I don't think Environmental Health will want all the extra work and hassle either.
"There have been rules in the past which are so preposterous that no one really does anything about them.
"It's just a waste of everyone's time and money."

Eurocrats want to end the sale of properly aged beef mince largely to protect the French from poisoning themselves with raw steak tartare.

However, E Coli expert Professor Hugh Pennington said meat would be no safer at six days than at three weeks.

Duncan, 49, whose family have been butchers in Greenock for almost a century, said: "The annoying thing is these new rules are purely and simply for the French market."

The Food Standards Agency opposed the moves but lost and are now in the process of telling butchers to implement the rules immediately.

Yesterday, politicians vowed to beat the mince ban. There are fears it will push up costs and lead to meat being binned.

Well that is a load of old mince. Here is the piece I posted the website of my employer Elspeth Attwooll MEP back in July 2006:

Mince and tatties still on the menu
3.45.30pm UTC (GMT +0000) Thu 13th Jul 2006

Euro MP Elspeth Attwooll has reacted to recent reports that a EU regulation means that meat hung for more than six days cannot be used for mince.

Elspeth said: "The regulation is supposed to apply only to wholesalers who produce mince, mainly for supermarkets. It should not affect the local butcher shop, which makes its own. If people do think their business is likely to be adversely affected, then there is a procedure where they can apply, through the Food Standards Agency, for an exemption."

So, what's changed since then? Nothing at all!

Does the case for mega bridges always stack up?

The following letter was published in the New Civil Engineer magazine dated 20-03-08 and is from Catherine's Dad, Ross Carruthers. In it he highlights the enormous costs of the Scottish Governments proposals.

"I write with regard to the proposed replacement Forth crossing.

The Chinese intend building a crossing from Macao to Hong Kong: 36.3km of bridge and tunnel for £2 Billion (£57.9 Million per km)

The English are considering a road and rail link in the Thames estuary: 7.6km of tunnel for £1 Billion (£131.6 Million per km)

The Scottish Government is pushing ahead with a replacement bridge over the Forth: 2km bridge plus 3km approach roads for £4.2 billion (£840 Million per km)

The second Severn crossing is 5.125km long, has a 456m main span (the Forth's navigation channel is 450m wide) and cost £331 Million in 1996 (£64.6 Million per km)

Shouldn't the Scottish Government spend the few thousand pounds needed for a shallow seismic soil survey upstream of Rosyth to establish how much cheaper a second crossing - keeping the original open - would be?

Once the old bridge is repaired - at an estimated cost of between £95 Million and £122 Million there could be the existing number of car lanes, two bus lanes in each direction, a light rail link across the new bridge, no diversion of traffic in high winds, and no destruction of ancient woodland, listed buildings or SSSI." D.R. Carruthers, Perth.

It would be very interesting to ear why the Scottish Government are pushing forward with their current proposals in light of the above information.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Lib Dems in Holyrood & Westminster united over Iraq inquiry

Good too see some joined up thinking by both our Holyrood and Westminster Parliamentarians over their calls for a public inquiry into the Iraq war.

In his questions to Alex Salmond in today's FMQs session Scottish Lib Dem Leader Nicol Stephen used the opportunity to ask if the SNP would support the Scottish Liberal Democrats in our desire to see a public inquiry. The response was in the affirmative which means that including the Greens and Margo MacDonald there is now a majority (66 of 129) in the Scottish Parliament who favour an inquiry being held.

I've noticed that there seems to be an increasing amount of co-operation between us and the Gnats which makes me wonder just where the wind might be blowing. Interesting times ahead perchance?

Servile Donohoe meekly follows party line

My local MP Daimler driving Brian Donohoe (Ayrshire Central) last night meekly followed the Government line and voted to continue closing Post Offices much to my discontent. Frankly I've never thought much of him as a Parliamentarian and he seems to me to be pretty 3rd rate. In contrast I have a much better opinion of my local MSP, Irene Oldfather, who is also Labour - don't get me wrong I wouldn't vote for her even if she lugged a barrow load of fivers up my path, but she is better than Brian "Coronation Street" Donohoe.

Anyway Brian's voting record pretty well says it all:
- voted against a transparent parliament.
- voted for a smoking ban (in England).
- voted in favour of compulsory ID cards.
- voted for foundation hospitals (in England).
- voted for student top-up fees (in England).
- voted for the Iraq war.
- voted against investigating the Iraq war.
- voted for replacing Trident.
All in all a good little piece of lobby fodder who if a whip asked him to jump, he would ask how high?

Salmond to face grilling by all MSPs on Trump

Gnat 1st Miniature Eck "two jobs" Salmond is set to be questioned by all MSPs over his involvement in the Trump planning application for a golf course hotel and hundreds of houses on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire. Of course the Gnats MSPs will be their usual supine lick-spittle selves and try to do everything in their power to give their boss an easy ride.

The debate is being called as the parliament's Local Government Committee voted 5-3 for a debate in Parliament with the three Gnats on the committee trying to stifle debate.

There are six key points in the report:
1. Trump tried to influence Salmond by sending him newspaper cuttings suggesting that the project may be moved to Northern Ireland.
2. trump phoned Salmond personally before the application was called in.
3. Despite his insistence that he was acting as a Constituency MSP, the 1st minister's office was closely involved in the process surrounding the Trump proposals.
4. mandarins were worried that wee Eck would meet Trump when he went on his jolly to New York.
5. Former worst minister, new labour's soon to ermine clad Jack McConnell, was keen to have his then administration involved with what he deemed as a "good news story".
6. Eck's staffers have had worries about the legitimate opposition to the plans and the fact that he seemed to be ignoring their concerns.

More to follow on this one.
Gnat MSP Kenny Gibson suggests that "most people are bored rigid with this affair". As usual Gibson's talking through his arse and even if that were true it is no justification for the Gnats puerile attempts at stifling debate on the issue.

Formula 1 on the BBC

I wonder how many million license fees have been squandered on this nonsense then?
Lets get it straight - formula 1 is not now, never has been and never will be a sport. calling this environmental madness a sport is akin to calling bear baiting harmless fun.

You'll guess that I don't approve then and you'll guess quite correctly. The environmental impact of this exercise in boys playing with their toys is enormous, mind you the BBC don't seem to give a toss about the environment themselves. Which faceless BBC mandarin decided to splurge untold millions of OUR money on this bollocks then? They are so afraid of the public response that they have not even disclosed how much dosh they are pissing against the wall.

This malarkey should be banned on environmental grounds.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Farewell to the Caley Ale House

After the Scottish Lib Dem Executive meeting on Saturday a gang of us went across to our usual post meeting watering hole the Caledonian Ale House to say farewell to a fine pub. The Caley as it's universally know is being demolished to make way for a major intersection of Edinburgh's new tram system and the pub closed for good on Sunday. I heartily approve of the tram system but am much saddened by the loss of the Caley especially as the other two pubs close to HQ aren't just up to the same standard.

I hope that all the efficient and friendly staff find suitable alternative employment and I thank them for their service over the last 5 and a bit years that I've been visiting their establishment.


Tommy The Trot's Perjury trial next week

Former SSP MSP Tommy Sheridan and his wife Gail will stand trial for perjury with proceedings commencing next Thursday (27th March) in the Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Sheridan famously won last year a £200 000 libel settlement from the News of The World "newspaper" over allegations that he had visited a swingers club in Manchester. Subsequent investigations by Lothian & Borders Constabulary have seen 7 people, all of whom testified on Sheridan's side, arrested and charged with perjury. The News of the World is awaiting the outcome of the perjury trial before launching it's appeal against last year's verdict. Interestingly there is no maximum sentence in Scotland, technically someone found guilty could be sentenced to Life Imprisonment!

Sheridan's wife Gail has also been arrested and charged with the theft of miniature bottles of alcohol from her employer British Airways.

The impact of the original trial on the SSP was drastic as a large number of members and one other then MSP left with Sheridan to establish Solidarity. All SSP & Solidarity MSPs lost their seats in the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections. In the recent Cambuslang East council by-election Solidarity could not stand a candidate and the SSP polled a derisory 32 1st preference votes out of 2594 cast.

Overzealous plods confiscate the champers

Humble East Fife FC haven't won anything in sixty years or more, so were justified in breaking out the champagne at the end of Saturday's match in which they beat East Stirling 3-0 to become 3rd division champions.

Unfortunately PC Plod was of the opinion that the two dozen bottles of champers which the players and staff were celebrating with breached the Criminal law (Consolidation) act of 1995, which banned the consumption of alcohol ate football matches, except in certain designated areas.

It seems that officers threatened to arrest a club direct when the bottles were removed to the dressing room.

Club Director Jim Stevenson said that little alcohol was being drunk as "most people were wearing it." East Fife fan Eugene Clarke added that the Police behaviour was "ludicrously authoritarian."

A spokesperson from central Police came out with some mealy-mouthed platitudes which I quite frankly can't be arsed to repeat.

Police state or what?

Yet another Tory MP in the merde

I wonder how many Tory MPs haven't been in the shit recently? It feels that there is another rumpus for one of them every time you turn on the news.

Latest villain is Nicholas ("Fatty") Soames who represents Mid Sussex and is the Grandson of Winston Churchill. He has been charged by Police with riding a quad bike on a public road and towing two unsecured children along in a trailer.

He will appear at Crawley Magistrates Court on the 16th of April charged with insurance and safety offences.

Pity we abolished hanging!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Scottish Government should not endorse Chinese violence

Scottish Government Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop is due to visit China later this month to foster better links with the Chinese Minister for Education.

Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott has correctly called for her to cancel the visit due to the atrocities being visited upon the Tibetan populace by the Chinese oppressors.

Tavish said: "I have written to the Education Secretary appealing to her to abandon her visit until the crisis is satisfactorily resolved."

"It cannot be right for the International Community to go on as if nothing is happening and we cannot turn a blind eye while pro-democracy campaigners are being brutally attacked by Government forces."

He added: Now is the time for every supporter of democracy to send a clear message to the Government of China that this violence must stop and China must respect the rights of the people of Tibet to self determination."

Hear, hear Tavish very well said especially in light of the craven doublespeak of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao who has blamed the Dali Lama and his followers for the violence. He also accused them of robbery arson and violence. In contrast the Dali Lama has called on Tibetans to refrain from violence and to protest peacefully.

China's foul abuse of human rights in occupied Tibet and in mainland China should have prevented the Olympic games from being awarded to them. The Olympic Movement have been spineless in their attitude to China.

Most people, self included, have not yet called for a boycott of this year's Olympic games but those voices will start being heard, with increasing authority, if China is allowed to further their genocidal behaviour.

The Chinese authorities have claimed that 13 people have lost their lives in the demonstrations but international observers reckon the toll in around 80 and counting.

Information on the Free Tibet campaign

Monday, 17 March 2008

Slagging off Smeato

BBC Scotland Political Editor Brian Taylor today blogs about the attacks on John Smeaton, who was one "hero" of last year's attack on Glasgow airport. He's fairly neutral on the subject of whether John is a hero or not and correctly suggests that the bigging-up of John was not of his own doing but that of the media looking for one "face" of bravery.

Alex McIlveen, who has been reported as slagging Smeato off in the media seems to me to devalue his own brave contribution to events by having a public pop at him. I'm sure he feels sore and let down that he has not had similar levels of accolades but I, for one, am only too happy to give my thanks to all the ordinary men and women who helped prevent terrible tragedy on that day.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Bear faced cheek

I saw this story on the BBC news website and just had to share it - please bear with me!

Temptation was too great for the bear
The taste of honey was just too tempting for a bear in Macedonia, which repeatedly raided a beekeeper's hives.
Now it has a criminal record after a court found it guilty of theft and criminal damage.

But there was an empty dock in the court in the city of Bitola and no handcuffed bear, which was convicted in its absence.

The case was brought by the exasperated beekeeper after a year of trying vainly to protect his beehives.

For a while, he kept the animal away by buying a generator, lighting up the area, and playing thumping Serbian turbo-folk music.

But when the generator ran out of power and the music fell silent, the bear was back and the honey was gone once more.

"It attacked the beehives again," said beekeeper Zoran Kiseloski.

Because the animal had no owner and belonged to a protected species, the court ordered the state to pay for the damage to the hives - around $3,500 (£1,750; 2,238 euros).

The bear, meanwhile, remains at large - somewhere in Macedonia.
By Paddy Clark of BBC News

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Wee Eck "Cavalier" in attitude to Trump development

The Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee has just published it's report on concerns over the Scottish Government's behaviour regarding Donald Trump's proposed $1 Billion golf development in Aberdeenshire.

Committee Convener, Duncan MacNeill MSP, suggested that: "The committee believes that, far from taking a precautionary approach, the first minister was cavalier in his actions and displayed, at best, exceptionally poor judgement and a worrying lack of awareness about the consequence of his actions"

The BBC reports that Several SNP committee members disagreed with a series of its conclusions. Quite frankly I would be astonished if any Gnats didn't back their heid honcho to the hilt as they seem to believe that shouting nothing is wrong loudly and often will make people believe that all was done properly. They are going to be sorely disappointed though. I'm sure there will be many more blog posts about Eck and Trump before all the alleged dirty linen has been aired.

Be glad that you're not an Ethiopian banker

News today that the Ethiopian national Bank is to inspect all the gold in it's vaults after the discovery that some "gold" ingots were actually gold plated steel.

It seems that the problem only came to light when the Ethiopian bank sent some ingots to South Africa who promptly sent them back saying that they were fake.
A number of arrests have since been made including a gold trader, officials from the National Bank and officials from the Ethiopian Geological Survey.

The fraud is expected to have cost the country millions of dollars and there are serious worries that considerably more of the Bank's reserves may be fake.

I hope they're having a wee shufti in the Bank of England's vaults.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Dud Darling deliberately damages drams

Plastic Mac Darling obviously cares not a jot for the Scotch Whisky industry and the thousands of people employed therein. By pushing up the price of a bottle of whisky he will damage sales which leads to less profitability and subsequently to the possibility of workers being laid off.

He wilfully ignored the lobbying of many Scottish MPs and the Scotch Whisky Association who recently met with Exchequer Secretary Angela Eagle MP. Speaking before the meeting Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive of the SWA, said:
“The Government has recognised the benefits of a fairer alcohol duty policy in recent years and we will be urging the Minister to maintain that welcome policy by freezing spirits duty in the March

“The Budget is always a pivotal date in our calendar but this year’s Budget comes at a time when the industry is facing rising input and energy costs. Spirits duty stability boosts competitiveness and has helped distillers to invest heavily in their operations and supply chain across Scotland, benefiting the wider economy and ensuring Scotch Whisky is well placed as new opportunities develop in the highly competitive international market.

“Calls for higher duties to tackle alcohol misuse are misplaced. We are working with government to promote responsible attitudes to alcohol and agree with the Treasury’s long held view, repeated at the weekend, that duty rises are not the way to tackle a minority’s irresponsible drinking.”

It's interesting to note that excise duty accounts for around 72% of the cost of a bottle of blended whisky. A half pint of beer, a 125ml glass of wine and a 35ml measure of whisky all contain roughly the same amount of alcohol. The duty on the beer is 19.2p, the wine 22.2p and the whisky 27.4p and that was before the budget.

Darling is an embarrassment to Scotland.

It's in the bag

Well Chancer, sorry Chancellor, Darling was wishy washy about bringing in a ban on plastic bags so it's good that Mike Pringle Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh South has agreed to reintroduce his bill which would ensure that in Scotland if you wanted a plastic carrier bag then you would be charged 10p. The idea being that we should all go back to carrying a shopping bag with us.

Personally I believe that a charge of 10p is not enough but before increasing it I would ensure that the Scottish Government delivers a free recycled shopping bag to every household in the country.

before you ask, I do practise what I preach and have quite a collection of shopping bags - they are a great way to get a message spread!

At our recent Scottish Lib Dem conference we had a stand in the exhibition selling bags. This company is called Go Green Bags. Their website is at and I would encourage you all to pay them a visit.

11p on cigs - you're a rip off merchant Darling

When will the grasping New labour Government ever learn that simply whacking a rip-off rise onto cigarettes just doesn't work in getting smokers to stop?

I'm a smoker myself and intend to give up in the near future. I'm giving up because I don't want to stink of smoke any more, because I fear for my long term health and because I'm moving in with a non smoker and don't want her to have to put up with my fumes (not that I smoke indoors anyway). I'm not giving up because my cigarettes will cost an extra 11p a packet.

When I take a holiday in Poland I can buy Benson & Hedges menthol for under a Pound a packet. These are made in the UK but not for sale here, if they were they would be about £5.50 a pack. I don't smoke any more than I do in the UK as price is simply not the issue.

If darling is serious about cutting the number of smokers then he should make all cessation products completely VAT free and add resources to the NHS to give more advice and support to those trying to quit not hike prices and pretending that it's an incentive to help people quit.

Rant over but probably more on the budget later.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Can you equal my score?

Sad anorak that I am, I've just taken the quiz on the BBC Scotland section which reports on last weekend's Scottish Lib Dem Conference. A challenge then to my fellow Scottish Lib Dems, can you equal my score? You certainly can't beat it 'cos I scored 10 out of 10! Smug grin appears here.

Quote of the week from Nicol Stephen

In today's First Ministers Questions Scottish Lib Dem Leader Nicol Stephen MSP caught Gnat 1st miniature, Alex Salmond MSP, an absolute cracker on the Gnats evasion and broken promises regarding student debt.

He said "Who should we believe; Fiona Hyslop or Fiona"

This is in relation to the fact that Education Miniature Hyslop told a bare-faced lie last week when she denied that the Gnats had ever promised to abolish student debts.

Here's the quote from her own website: Yes. The outstanding student loans, with the exception of those sold to the banks, is owed to the Scottish Executive. This can be written off.

So Fiona, fib or faux pas?

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Gnat Committee Convener becomes censor

The Gnat Convener of Holyrood's Rural Affairs & Environment Committee today turned into a censor by banning a legitimate line of questions which Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles was about to put to SEPA (Scottish Environment protection Agency) officials who were appearing before the Committee.

Mike was trying to ask questions as to why SEPA officials had withdrawn their objection to proposals to make major alterations to the MacDonald Highland Resort in Aviemore when Gnat MSP Roseanna Cunningham ruled the line of questioning "Out of order", leading to Mike leaving the meeting in protest. The owner of the MacDonald Highland Resort gave the Gnats a £30 000 donation last year.

Mike Rumbles has now lodged a complaint with the Conveners Committee in the Scottish Parliament.

He commented:
"I am outraged at the gagging order imposed by the SNP Convener of the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee.

Our committee is conducting an investigation into flooding. My question to SEPA officials about why they had withdrawn an objection to a planning application in Aviemore clearly fell within the remit of this investigation.

The Convener’s spurious reasoning that the Local Government Committee is examining the Aviemore planning scandal is simply untrue. No other committee is examining this issue. Regardless, that would not justify preventing SEPA officials from answering straightforward questions designed to expose potential flooding risks to this new development in Aviemore.

I am appalled that the SNP Convener has played party politics with such an important issue and I believe that she has risked bringing the Scottish Parliament’s well regarded committee system into disrepute.”

MEP expenses report published

Dutch MEP Paul Van Buitenen has published the recent controversial report on MEP's expenses, which the Socialists and Conservatives on the European Parliament's Budget Control Committee voted to hush up. It certainly makes interesting reading and gives even stronger credibility to the ALDE calls for greater transparency in expenses and the introduction of an "Assistants Charter" for Parliamentary staff.

The summary report can be found at:

Hat tip to Consider This.