NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Well, that’s Scottish independence up in the air. The “calamity without caveat” has happened to the SNP.
BBC Scotland’s political guru Brian Taylor got it in one when he came out with that superb line to describe the resignation of Derek Mackay, Finance Minister in Scotland’s SNP government.
“Wha’ll vote fur ye noo then?” seems a fair question to ask here in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll, where we voted for two Nationalist MPs now sitting in the Westminster parliament. That could be a matter for regret.
And we also voted in the elected members who have made West Dunbartonshire Council an absolute laughing stock
It really is one calamity after another for the hubristic, arrogant tinpot dictators and gauleiters of Church Street and Hall Street. The politicians and their handlers whose modus operandi appears to be to outTrump the Donald.
If you want to make God laugh, then tell him what your plans are.
If there is any truth in that old saw, there must be choirs of angels in stitches in Heaven right now.
All of them laughing through their feathered wings at the presumptions being made about the future of Scotland by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Independence has become a mirage in the desert of Scottish politics.
Here, in West Dunbartonshire, it really is one calamity without caveat after another.
Last week, it was Cllr Jonathan McColl, the SNP leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, “coming out” with the fact that he was suffering from a serious mental illness.
But stating defiantly that he would be staying on in his £40,000 a year post to impose what he sleekitly calls a “No Cuts Budget” when he knows fine well it’s nothing of the kind.
Today, it is laughing boy Mackay, who has had to admit on Budget Day of all days for a Finance Secretary, that he won’t be turning up to deliver his fiscal pearls of wisdom in relation to the near £50 billion the government has to spend in a year in Scotland.
He has brought shame to the Scottish Parliament and the decent members of the gay community in this country, of whom there are many who are reputedly dismayed at what has happened.
This is because he has been “outed” by investigative reporters at The Sun newspaper for what amounts to grooming on social media a young and vulnerable, 16-year-old schoolboy rugby player “who warned him not to try anything”
And this is the guy Cllr Jonathan McColl was waiting with bated breath to hear from before he showed his hand with what’s planned for our council tax and our own Budget here in West Dunbartonshire.
Sturgeon, McColl, Mackay, White and Conaghan.
McColl knows Mackay well. After all, when he was asked to have an official meeting about austerity cuts here, he decided they should take place “over a pint” in a hotel in Stirling and not at the Government offices in Edinburgh, which was expected by opposition members of the council.
It may be hard to believe for some people, but having watched the SNP’s cack-handed way of dealing with the members and officials who broke every rule in the book in regard to the awarding of council contracts worth £ millions, I for one am not surprised the roof has at last fallen in.
The SNP then had the brass neck to endorse a move against Community Party member, Cllr Jim Bollan, for having the temerity to ask to have those guilty parties sanctioned in some significant way.
That has never happened, although there has been a clandestine reshuffle of the management team by the CEO without reference to all the elected members.
It’s the SNP who should be carpeted by the Commission for Standards in Public Life – and not Cllr Bollan, whom Chief Executive Joyce White has in her sights, and she was elected by no one.
As for the Labour, Tory and Independent members of the council, they are the equivalent of a football team playing a man short. They have missed one open goal after another when defeating the SNP should have been the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.
As for hearing the details of what Cllr McColl and his mumbling Finance convener, Iain Dickson, have in store for us, I can’t wait.
The number of members of the public now wishing to attend that debate is likely to be more – many more than this Council has room to accommodate. And that’s after £17 million of your money and mine has been spent on refurbishing the Burgh Hall. No wonder they wouldn’t tell me what the final cost was when I asked for it. Send them a Freedom of Information request. At least that would give them something worthwhile to do.
The SNP education convener, Cllr Karen Conaghan, has told us that there’s no need to make adjustments or put special arrangements in place for anything of that nature. Astrology must be making a comeback in the SNP.
We’ll see what happens on the day, but I have a feeling that things won’t happen in the way she foresees. Are we looking at another lock out situation here? I hope not.
The public reaction to the Council’s “No Cuts Budget” is already emerging on social media.
Andy McCallion said: “Tell [this] to the workers that are losing their jobs and the workers they will need to do the work left behind by not filling posts – “On top of the hundreds already struggling to cope. It’s already gone way too far.”
Paul Alderdice says it can only be a no cuts budget because services at present show they have already been cut to its fullest.
“Only bullshit headlines to make them look good,” he added.
Jackie McMonagle said: “What a load of tosh. Management adjustments are cuts and more cuts. How many jobs and how much reduction in services to our most vulnerable will this year’s management adjustments bring. Honest and transparent is quoted all the time. Let’s see some honest transparency. Publish the real cost of these adjustments. A cut is a cut no matter how you dress it up. Shameful.”
My own contribution to that debate was this: “There’s going to be £17 million not spent. They’re calling it slippage. I’d call it cuts. They’ll bring that money forward into election year, pretend its new money and tell the public they’re getting a great deal. They’ll maybe even cut the Council tax. Don’t be fooled. You couldn’t be up to the SNP.”
- Some readers have expressed concern that I have made reference to Cllr Jonathan McColl’s serious mental illness. However, if he continues to believe that it’s not serious enough for him to carry on as normal then I have to take that as a signal that I too – and everyone else in local government – must carry on as normal. It’s my duty as a journalist to hold truth to power, no matter how many sanctions they decide to take to stop me. Editor