By Democrat reporter
Helensburgh-based Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara is having about as much success asking questions of the Government as I am having asking questions of the SNP and West Dunbartonshire Council.
He now knows how it feels to be fobbed off by shysters, who play fast and loose with the idea of open and transparent government.
Mr O’Hara told the Deputy Speaker at Westminster that during an urgent question on 7 October, on US tariffs being imposed on single malt whisky, he asked the Minister of State, Department for International Trade, Conor Burns, what discussions his Department had had with both the European Union and the United States specifically between 2 October and 7 October.
He added: “The Minister was particularly unclear from the Dispatch Box. I therefore submitted no fewer than 15 written questions, seeking to find out exactly what discussions had taken place between those dates. The Department replied yesterday, having grouped the questions together, and palmed me off with what was, essentially, no answer at all, instead telling me what it is currently doing.”
Now that sounds familiar and frustrating for anyone asking questions since Mr O’Hara is part of the SNP boycott of The Democrat.
Not only are their answers to us unclear, they are non existent, but we persist in our efforts to enlighten the public.
The fact that he is a novice in political ways is of no great assistance to Mr O’Hara.
And so he had to ask Dame Eleanor Lang, the Deputy Speaker, to assist him – “Will you advise me, Madam Deputy Speaker, on an issue of such huge importance to my Argyll and Bute constituency and the Scottish and UK economies, on how I can find out exactly what engagements the Department for International Trade had between 2 October and 7 October with the European Union and the United States on the imposition of US tariffs on malt whisky?”
Dame Eleanor thanked Mr O’Hara for his request, but added: “But he will not be surprised to know that it is not technically a point of order for the Chair.
“However, I appreciate—and I mean appreciate—that he is a great champion of the Scottish whisky industry, and so he should be.
“He and his colleagues have raised this matter in various ways in the Chamber over the last few weeks, so I fully appreciate how important it is and would like to give him whatever help I can.
“In the first instance, he may wish to seek the advice of the Table Office on how to pursue the matter, as he has tried to over the last few weeks.
“If he remains concerned about not receiving answers, or about not receiving them on time, he might wish to consider referring the matter to the Procedure Committee.
“I know that he will persist, and that he will have a lot of support in persisting on this subject.”
So, there you have it Brendan from Robert the Bruce himself, that great icon of the Scottish National Party whose home is said to have been at Mains of Cardross, in your constituency no less.
Bruce and the Spider. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.