BY BILL HEANEY
The election is well and truly upon us — although whether it will still take place on May 6 in the middle of the pandemic is far from certain.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to be drawn on that this morning at her daily briefing.
She also refused point blank to conflate the Covid 19 crisis with the election, but yet again allowed herself to to comment that “this was a cross party matter”.
Her pledge at the outset of the coronavirus catastrophe was that the pandemic was a matter of life and death and that politics should not be allowed to stray into dealing with it.
Even now, the First Minister would have to agree that this has all been about politics since the beginning.
And that her daily TV floorshow from the basement of St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh has made it almost certain she will continue to occupy her sixth floor office on the East Wing there.
She would also keep the keys of Bute House, of course, the First Minister’s official residence which we have seen and heard so much of during the so-called Salmond Inquiry.
Unless, of course, events dear boy, as Winston Churchill succinctly put it, intervene to bring her down by establishing that she broke the ministerial code by lying to parliament and in consequence will be forced to resign office.
Last week, we had the “shock” resignation of the Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard which, as I wrote elsewhere, was never a shock at all.
Just when he thought he was safe, his colleagues (always be aware that the enemy is behind you) put the skids under him when the penny finally dropped that Labour could not win an egg and spoon race with Richard in charge.
There was also the question of money to pay for Labour’s campaign, and the only one with the money or at least the contacts with cash, was Anas Sarwar whom Richard beat fair and square last time in the internal poll to decide who would succeed Kezia Dugdale.
The doughty Glaswegian Monica Lennon has thrown her hat in the ring, but she has no chance of beating Sarwar and any cash she and her supporters propose to spend on a campaign have her elected would be more judiciously redirected to her local food bank.
Our own Jackie Baillie, the Dumbarton MSP who is currently deputy leader of Labour in Scotland, will astutely be stepping aside and allowing Sarwar and Lennon to get on with it.
Jackie Baillie MSP, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Tony Giugliano.
The ubiquitous Jackie has her own battles to fight to keep the Dumbarton seat which she has held for the past 20 years.
Her opponent will be the SNP’s Tony Giugliano, who won the the prospective candidacy in dodgy circumstances when the contest was taken out of the hands of the local constituency association.
Local SNP chairman Graeme McCormick, council leader Jonathan McColl and a whole raft of SNP locals were made to sit on their hands and watch while party Big Beast, the so-called European Minister, Michael Russell, was drafted in from Argyll to oversee the selection of carpetbagger Toni Guigliano.
Giugliano has failed to bring success to the SNP in other other constituencies, but his path was cleared for him in Dumbarton by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, Peter Murrell, who is full-time party official and the SNP’s chief executive officer in Edinburgh.
The Sturgeon-led golden circle at the top of the SNP ensured that neither Cllr Karen Conaghan, the SNP education convener on West Dunbartonshire Council, who was favourite to win the nomination, or Cllr Caroline McAllister, deputy leader to Cllr Jonathan McColl, were, for want of better words, comprehensively shafted.
As the chosen candidates began to put their heads above the political parapet today, the SNP’s Toni Giugliano published a survey to find out what local people think of Flaming Land’s proposals for Balloch.
These have already been refused but have mysteriously come back on to the agenda of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park planning committee via the questionable quango, Scottish Enterprise.
This is a quite remarkable thing to do for Giugliano, a person who has claimed to be well-acquainted with this constituency, its environs and its population.
Why, if he he has roots here, and is au fait with what’s happening in this place, would he not know what the community thinks about Flamingo Land?
Every dog in the street knows we don’t want it. The largest petition ever against anything in Scotland said No.
Did Giugliano miss the crowded public meetings and the protest marches which stated very clearly what the local public think of the Flaming Land proposals to change Balloch?
Make no mistake, were this to go ahead the Lochside would be changed, changed utterly, as the place of welcome for the millions who bring themselves each year to see the Bonnie Banks.
People all over the world don’t want a new, major, cheap and disruptive attraction to Loch Lomond in which ever shape or form Flamingo Land proposes.
If those who support Flamingo Land would only open their eyes, they would see that the Bonnie Banks themselves are the attraction of Loch Lomond, second only to Edinburgh Castle in the number of visitors it attracts annually.