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Scottish Local Authorities misuse of Common Good funds is a kick in the teeth for Community Councils who should have control

Oct 2019: Two Scottish local authorities who spent over £42,000 of funds meant for the “common good” on boozy receptions have been accused of delivering a “kick in the teeth for hard working families”.

Aberdeen City Council, which is run by a Labour and Conservative coalition, spent £38,280 of its common good fund on “civic drinks” for events in 2017 and 2018. 

Highland Council, made up predominantly of independents, spent £4,439 on drinks for “civic hospitality” events between 2015 and 2017.

Common good funds are derived from Scotland’s ancient burgh property, such as land, buildings, and investments, and held on behalf of local residents by councils.

Both Aberdeen and Highland councils describe their funds as existing to support “projects that benefit communities”.

The Scottish National Party accused council leaders of having “a warped perception of what counts as common good”. Using the funds to buy alcohol was “a real kick in the teeth for hard working families”, the party said.

The GMB Scotland trade union said that such spending made council leaders “look badly out of touch” and that common good funds “should be directed into the communities and projects that need it the most”.

Aberdeen council said that hosting such events were among its “civic duties” and “part of the fabric of the city”. It stressed that all common good expenditure was “approved through established protocols”.

Documents released under freedom of information law disclose that Aberdeen’s £38,280 drinks tab included £160 for two bottles of malt whisky, £470 for other whisky and a £378 “supply of civic drinks” for the Lord Provost’s sitting room. At an offshore oil and gas conference in Aberdeen in September 2017, £2,240 of the common good fund was spent on drinks.

Aberdeen council suggested that another event, at which £7,260 of the common good fund was spent on alcohol, was granting the freedom of Aberdeen to former Scotland international footballer, Denis Law, in November 2017.

Highland Council’s £4,439 common good spending on booze included £960 on malt whisky, as well as other money spent on wine, gin, vodka, rum and other drinks.

Both councils also spent their common good funds on their lord provosts, Aberdeen labour councillor, Barney Crockett, and independent Highland councillor, Helen Carmichael. Some £11,775 of Aberdeen’s fund was used to buy various items for Crockett’s “gift fund”.

The gifts included £2,403 worth of pens, three carriage clocks totalling £1,381 and £1,190 on cufflinks and cufflink boxes. In addition £1,170 was spent on city lapel badges, £660 on council pennants, £560 on business card holders and £405 on a drinks tray, decanter and glasses.

Highland Council spent £5,979 on various costs relating to Carmichael. These included £2,815 to “relocate” her “lighting columns”, £675 for an interview with north of Scotland business publication, Executive Magazine, and £469 on other marketing costs.

Another £168 was spent by Highland on chauffeur-driven cars, while other costs were for meals, taxis, computer repairs, along with invitation, greeting and business cards.

Common good funds generate at least £20 million a year and are unique to Scotland. Not all councils, or all towns, benefit from such funds, and some councils are unclear what assets they hold.

Where common good assets have been identified they are supposed to be managed separately from normal council resources and used – according to a law first passed in 1491 and still in force today – “for the common good of the town.”

However, politicians, academics and GMB Scotland have questioned whether the funds are always used for the “common good”. In September Highland and Aberdeen councils were criticised for using their common good funds to pay for flights.

Highland council spent £2,000 on flights for provost Carmichael and others to attend events and meetings in France, Germany and Stornoway. Aberdeen council spent £1,350 on flights for provost Crockett to attend events in Mexico, Columbia, London and Portsmouth.

The Scottish Greens said at the time that flights should be “adequately budgeted for elsewhere and definitely not at the expense of communities”. But Highland Council said that such travel costs were “essential in ensuring that the city is represented at the highest city civic level”.

According to Aberdeen council, Lord Provost is an “ancient office with its roots in the 13th century”, who acts as the “convener of the city council, civic head and Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeen”. The Lord-Lieutenant’s “principal duty is to represent the Crown within the lieutenancy area and to uphold its dignity”.

Aberdeen provost Crockett travels abroad frequently and was the highest claimant of council expenses in recent years. In 2018-19, he claimed £26,045, £13,564 of which was for travel, and £11,125 on subsistence, in addition to his £29,742 salary.

In 2018 he was due to make four foreign trips, with a £24,000 taxpayer-funded travel allowance, and in 2019, visited Houston, Texas three times in five months, according to The Press and Journal.

Ian Borthwick

The SNP-run Dundee City Council also ran into criticism in August when it was revealed that it used £5,500 of its common good fund to pay for a portrait of the city’s provost, Ian Borthwick, a former Labour councillor who now sits as an independent. The portrait of the previous provost cost £3,000 and was funded by the council’s Corporate Services Department budget rather than the common good fund.

The council argued that portraits of all the council’s former provosts were on display in the city chambers, which is open to the public. But GMB Scotland said that the fund had been “raided” by the council to pay for the portrait, which they suggested would be “insulting to the people of Dundee”.

The spending has also prompted criticism from academics and politicians, who have called for new rules to improve management of common good funds and ensure that they are not “frittered away”. This followed an investigation which found many funds to be worth far less now than they were a decade ago.

It is calculated that Dundee’s common good fund was worth 24 per cent less than it was ten years ago, after adjusting for inflation. Similarly, Highland Council, which has one of the country’s largest common good funds, has seen its value decline by £2.5 million over ten years.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities promised that councils would consult with and involve communities in the administration of common good funds. However, they claimed that councils were “committed to administering common good funds in the best interests of the communities they serve and in a transparent way.”

The SNP said that the use of common good funds by Aberdeen and Highland to buy alcohol showed that “council bosses clearly have a warped perception of what counts as common good”.

A spokesperson for the party said: “In Aberdeen, Labour and the Tories have teamed up to force through £150 million of cuts to public services in the city.

“So it’s a real kick in the teeth for hard working families to hear that city chiefs are spending thousands guzzling expensive booze – from funds intended to be for the wider public good – while others are struggling.”

GMB Scotland’s Aberdeen-based organiser, Mel Greenhalgh, said: “A sense of perspective is badly missing among our public sector elite, from Aberdeen to Glasgow our local leaders look badly out of touch.

“No one should need any reminding that we are in a second decade of austerity. Frontline services have been hammered and communities are feeling the effects.

“Money allocated for the common good should be directed into the communities and projects that need it the most – do what it says on the tin.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: “The civic duties of the council, led by the Lord Provost, are part of the fabric of the city and play a valuable role in celebrating achievements of residents, welcoming guests of the city and in wider economic development activity. All expenditure from the common good fund is approved through established protocols.”

Highland Council and lord provosts Barney Crockett and Helen Carmichael did not respond to repeated requests to comment.

Full article here: (https://theferret.scot/common-good-funds-aberdeen-highland-alcohol)

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Sturgeon – James Cook is a BBC journalist of the highest quality – Blackford – “he is a first class, decent and rightly well regarded journalist.” – but many Americans think otherwise and were ecstatic when he was recalled to the UK

James Cook BBC journalist recently recalled from America

There are occasions when the BBC’s mask of impartiality slips to reveal the belief system that lies just beneath the surface.

For instance, in 2017 one of the BBC’s senior North American correspondents, James Cook (now the face of BBC News in Scotland) wrote a piece for the BBC website headlined: “Giving succour to the far-Right, Trump breaks with American ideals”. In the piece Cook opined: “Did American soldiers fight and die on the beaches of Normandy so their president could promote fascism”?

It was an astonishing question, absurd even. To many it may seem offensive even to ask. But it falls to reporters to describe in plain language what we see, and the promotion of fascism and racism is all too easy to observe in the United States of 2017.

Cook posed as a fearless truth-teller. Leaving aside whether his sloppy use of the “f-word” undermined his argument (it’s the kind of usage one can forgive from callow undergraduates of Marxist persuasion, but a seasoned reporter surely should know better), there can be no doubt that this BBC correspondent nailed his colours firmly to the mast. It beggars belief that what Cook wrote could be considered anything other than a serious breach of the Corporation’s doctrine of impartiality.

But, typically and predictably, the BBC’s complaints unit had no difficulty exonerating their man. “It is not unusual” the unit decided “for correspondents to offer their own take on developments……..BBC News does not have an opinion on Donald Trump’s presidency…….we do not aim to denigrate or to promote any view. Our goal is simply to report and analyse…”

But the BBC’s high-handed claims about impartiality and fairness are a sham revealed by their statement that Cook’s opinions were his own and the fact that they appeared on the BBC website should not be taken to mean they had the Corporation’s approval. A doctrine, if widely applied is an open invitation for BBC staffers to mouth-off their personal views on just about anything without fear of reprimand.

Cook and the BBC conducted a lengthy and sustained campaign portraying Trump as unworthy, incompetent and wicked. It did not determine the outcome of the US election, but it had some effect. Trump may not have been a perfect president……but, as in the case of many previous incumbents…..he was a flawed individual who, despite the campaign of vilification he was forced to endure did manage so do many good things.

The closing point is that the BBC is impervious to criticism of its claims of impartiality and fairness. But the ill concealed contradiction between the BBC’s claims of impartiality and Cook’s biased utterances encourages the view that the corporation’s sugared blandishments are a sham and Americans, are now aware of the reality lurking beneath the rhetoric.

This adds urgency to the many requests from Scots for legislation formally committing the organisation’s vows of impartiality to statute.

(Summary of an article in “The Critic”, written by Robin Aitken, MBE. who is a British journalist who for many years worked for the BBC. His 2007 book “Can We Trust the BBC?” alleged pervasive and institutional liberal-left wing bias at the national broadcaster

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Lucy Fraser Tory MP -We should do what Cromwell did and banish troublesome Scots to the colonies as slaves – SNP leadership – No comment

Lucy Frazer appointed Solicitor-General

She has also been admitted to Privy Council having been approved by the Queen.

As Solicitor General, she oversees the work of the law officers’ departments which include the Crown Prosecution Service and Serious Fraud Office, and the Government Legal Department and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

She also carries out a number of functions in the public interest, such as considering unduly lenient sentences, and taking action when there has been a contempt of court.

Nothing remarkable so far but this is the lady that echo’s Boris Johnson’s dismissal of Scots as a nation of “wasters” sponging off the success of England.

In her 2015 maiden speech in the Commons, she praised Oliver Cromwell, who was born in her constituency for his treatment of the defeated Scots after the “Battle of Dunbar” when he despatched over 5,000 captive soldiers into slavery.

Amid much laughter on the Tory benches, she went on to offer her colleagues a view that the answer to the “West Lothian Question”, might be to follow Cromwell’s lead and banish troublesome Scots to the colonies as slaves.

The speaker added insult to injury when he refused to intervene stating that she was free to say anything that she wished in Parliament. A decision that needed to be set against his rebuke of Scottish MP’s only a few days before when he told them that “clapping” was not allowed in the Commons.

Clarification by him of one of the unwritten rules of the game for Scottish members of parliament. Incredible that the rules of the Commons accept the proposal that troublesome Scots MP’s should be clapped in irons to be sold as slaves and shipped to the colonies, but Honourable Members must not support the proposal by clapping.

Dismissing the banality of her speech might have been possible to dismiss and the disgraceful conduct of her colleagues had her comments been off the cuff but they had been carefully crafted, written and well-rehearsed beforehand indicating complicity revealing the patronising ambivalent attitude of Unionist MP’s towards Scots.

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Sturgeon insists Scottish Civil Servants comply with Stonewall’s Diversity Objectives or else!!

Controversial policies for the SG dictated by “Stonewall”

People are questioning the influence of “Stonewall” on Scotland’s civil service after it emerged that controversial policies have been introduced in alignment with Stonewall’s political aims. These include a compulsory “Diversity Objective” for all staff to make the Scottish Government “a more diverse and inclusive place to work”, training on “intersectionality” and “unconscious bias”, and the use of gender-neutral language.

The Civil Service is also included on Stonewall’s “Diversity Champions Index”.

Lobby groups

Transgender and non-binary policies have been revised with the collaboration of Stonewall Scotland and the Scottish Trans Alliance (STA). And guidance has been co-produced by controversial lobby group “Mermaids” for SG employees who have a child who is transitioning or who identifies as non-binary.

Politically impartial?

The Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, said:

“The extent of Stonewall’s influence on the Civil Service is alarming, particularly given the controversial nature of some of its political aims. Stonewall’s stance on trans issues is strongly opposed by women’s organisations, medics and faith groups. Yet, the Civil Service appears to endorse it wholesale. How does this fit with the Service’s duty to remain politically impartial? Staff are encouraged to attend training sessions on “intersectionality” and “unconscious bias”. These controversial ideas are disputed in wider society. So it’s concerning that they are written into the training schedule for Civil Service employees. The compulsory “Diversity Objective” also raises questions. What happens to staff members who hold religious beliefs which differ from those championed by Stonewall? Are they marked down? This could constitute direct discrimination on the grounds of religious belief.”

The Civil Service response – Diversity Objective

“All staff have mandatory diversity objectives and those who participate in the network use this work as evidence of meeting their objective. Performance is assessed their line manager at their in year review and end year review.

Progress is also discussed at monthly conversations. We also set out on our performance appraisal intranet page guidance on diversity objectives for individuals including ‘support, participate and be an effective member of one of our staff diversity networks or committees.

The guidance for managers states that they should “ensure that staff who participate in our staff networks are recognized through the performance management process, ensuring that this activity supports the outcome that the Scottish Government is to become a more diverse and inclusive place to work”.

Training

An example of employee recognition in an appraisal might record: “A” is very aware of and committed to raising the profile of diversity issues. He is active on the committee of the LGBTI Allies network and has also:

• completed the Stonewall Allies Follow-up Training.
• participated in the Diversity Networks Workshop.
• attended an Intersectionality seminar.
• presented at a team meeting on diversity issues and circulated guidance material afterwards.
• attended an unconscious bias training event.

Gender-neutral language

policies have been updated to increase inclusion of gender identities and same-sex couples.

Paternity leave policy

The policy applies to all employees and a reference to ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’ includes same-sex partners and spouses. The policy now states: “Paternity leave is available to you where you are the father, partner or spouse of the child’s mother (or, in the case of adoption, you are the adopter’s spouse or partner); changed ‘adoptive father’ to ‘adoptive parent’.” ‘non-binary’ employees are enabled to use the title ‘Mx’.

Revised trans/non-binary policies

The project reviewed all intertwining aspects of trans and non-binary activity in the Scottish Government and produced six core projects:

A data set on staff experiences comprised from Stonewall questionnaires.

A revised HR policy on trans/non-binary for the Scottish Government (SG). It is intended that this policy is co-produced with key stakeholders (including but not limited to Stonewall Scotland).

Guidance for line managers underpinning the HR policy

Guidance for members of staff who have a child who is transitioning or who identifies as non-binary. The intention is for this to be co-produced by “Mermaid”, who specialise in advice to parents and families on trans/non-binary enquiries.

A communications and engagement plan to ensure knowledge of the policy and accompanying parental guidance is widespread throughout the organisation. The core aspect of this work will be developing a training offer for Scottish Government staff.

Frequently Asked Questions documents. These will be comprised of three brief and accessible documents: (1) for those who are transitioning within SG; (2) for colleagues; (3) for line managers on how best to support a trans/non-binary member of staff”.

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Sturgeons government is comprised of 28 persons evenly split between men and woman which is contrary to best business practice (22 men and 6 women) and establishes probable cause for the many hugely expensive cock ups by incompetent ministers costing Scottish taxpayers £billions in wasted financial write offs.

Opening Statement

Sturgeon’s scornful and dogmatic dismissal of major concerns from respected institutions and individuals about the adverse impact on Scottish society of her ill conceived attempts at social engineering is deeply damaging and divisive. She should shelve her proposals immediately so that the drive for independence can be sustained.

Social engineering – The psychological manipulation of the behaviour of people through government legislation.

In recent years policy-makers in the Scottish Government have made oft repeated claims that sex discrimination is the primary source of unfairness in the labour market and encouraged by an ever increasing range of lobbyist groups they have forced radical feminist agendas on Scottish society; eg the equal opportunities act, family friendly employment, sex discrimination and transgender recognition.

But the relentless pursuit of radical feminist equality, by a minority group of work centred women has backfired since its aims and aspirations defy logic and reality. They continue to be a minority since they mainly focus on activities in the public sector, in politics, sport, and the arts and they slot their family commitments in around their work, many remaining childless, by choice.

Work Ethics by Gender

80% of men are work-centred

Men retain their dominance in the labour market, politics and other competitive activities, because they are prepared to prioritise their jobs over lifestyle choices. In consequence they are more likely to survive, and become high achievers.

20% of women are work-centred

This group remains a minority, despite an influx of women into higher education and into professional and managerial occupations. Work-centred women are focused on competitive activities in the public sphere, in careers, sport, politics, or the arts. Family life is fitted around their work, and many of these women remain childless, even when married. Qualifications and training are obtained as a career investment rather than as an insurance policy.

60% of women are adaptive

Comprising the largest group among women, they are to be found in substantial numbers in most occupations. Their preference is to combine employment and family work without giving a fixed priority to either. They want to enjoy the best of both worlds. Certain occupations, such as school-teaching, are attractive because they facilitate a more even work-family balance. The great majority of women who transfer to part-time work after they have children are adaptive women, who seek to devote as much time and effort to their family work as to their paid jobs.

In certain occupations, part-time jobs are still rare, so these women often choose other types of job, if they work at all. For example, seasonal jobs, temporary work, or school-term-time jobs all offer a better work-family balance than the typical full-time job, especially if commuting is also involved.

When flexible jobs are not available, adaptive women may take ordinary full-time jobs, or else withdraw from paid employment temporarily. Adaptive women are the group interested in schemes offering work-life balance and family-friendly employment benefits, and will gravitate towards careers, occupations and employers offering these advantages.

20% of women are family oriented

This group is significant yet relatively invisible given the current political and media focus on working women and high achievers. They prefer to give priority to private life and family life after they marry and are most inclined to have larger families. They avoid paid work after marriage unless the family is experiencing financial problems. This may be why these women remain less likely to choose vocational courses with a direct economic value, and are more likely to take courses in the arts, humanities or languages, which provide cultural capital but have lower earnings potential. This group of workers is most likely to drop out of work centred careers relatively early in adult life. ( A female psychologist brain hacker)

Comment: The SNP Scottish government is comprised of 28 persons evenly split between men and woman which is contrary to best business practice (22 men and 6 women) and establishes probable cause for the many hugely expensive cock ups by incompetent ministers costing Scottish taxpayers £billions in wasted financial write offs.

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That Leslie Evans did not resign is incredible, that she was not asked for her resignation by the First Minister is a depressing episode in Scottish politics.

Evans role in the botched revised complaints procedure

Evans claimed responsibility for the unfair, unlawful and biased complaints process and the Parliamentary Committee’s report was coruscating of her actions. The Scottish Judiciary System and system of government were subject to public disrepute and enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money were wasted. That she did not resign is incredible, that she was not asked for her resignation by the First Minister is a depressing episode in Scottish politics.

The Holyrood Finance Committee Debacle

Evans absence from work was only discovered when she was invited by Holyrood’s Finance Committee to share reflections and insights into her role working for the government when, in a discourteous letter to the committee chair a representative from the Office of the Permanent Secretary wrote: “Ms Evans is enjoying an extended period of leave …. and will not be able to speak to the committee on behalf, or represent the views, of Scottish ministers”.

Comment: But Evans 90 day’s paid “gardening leave” from January until the end of her employment on 31 March 2022 was a Scottish government imposed requirement for the employee to be absent from her place of work on dates not of her own choosing and was not therefore official leave since at the end of her employment she was awarded a payment for 19.5 days of annual leave that she had not taken. The committee could have insisted she attend, but didn’t!!!!!

Instead, in a rare, excoriating letter, the committee convener Kenneth Gibson, an SNP MSP, said the committee was:

“extremely disappointed at the discourtesy shown to the Parliament. Indeed, as we indicated in our invitation, the session was due to focus on broad issues within the committee’s newly-added public administration remit, such as how government functions, the capacity and capability of the civil service, culture, and how policies are developed and implemented. We are therefore extremely disappointed at the discourtesy shown to the Parliament by your failure to engage directly with the committee at any stage regarding our invitation, despite our best efforts. When we finally received a response, it was not from you, but from the Office of the Permanent Secretary, stating that, as you are now on a period of leave … you are not able to speak on behalf, or represent the views, of Scottish ministers. At no point have we asked you to do so. We have been absolutely clear at all times that our interest lay in your own reflections, not those of ministers, to support the committee in developing a clearer understanding of the workings of government in our new public administration role. Very few people have the opportunity to gain your level of experience in government, which we considered would have been beneficial in informing our future scrutiny. We are firmly of the view that it is in the public interest for the committee to hear from civil servants as part of our public administration remit. You remain in the employment of the Scottish Government and we do not accept that your period of leave exempts you from giving evidence to a parliamentary committee, in the way suggested in the response we received. But the committee does not “intend to waste any more time pursuing this matter”.

through the looking glass
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Leslie Evans – a back door exit with a “wheen” of taxpayers money

Civil Service Annual Leave policy

The Civil Service annual leave allocation of 30 days supports employee choice and helps them enjoy a good quality of life, work-life balance.

Employees whose employment ends during their leave year, will be entitled to a proportion of their annual leave entitlement calculated from the beginning of their leave year, (April) to the last day of service.

Where the last day of service is known well in advance, employees are required to take outstanding leave before the last day of service. Payment in lieu of untaken leave will be made, only when an employee has been specifically prevented from taking leave by management.

Employees have a responsibility to ensure they take their full annual leave entitlement each year (all employees are required to take at least 20 days’ paid leave annually, including two weeks leave during the summer months.

Employees should take annual leave within their leave year. Managers have a duty of care to ensure they do. Employees may apply to carry over some of their annual leave entitlement from one leave year and are required to take it during the next leave year. For full-time employees, managers may approve carrying forward leave of up to ten days for employees who are entitled to 30 days leave. These limits also apply to employees who have been prevented from taking leave on the specific request of management.

Leslie Evans Terms of Exit From the Civil Service Shrouded in Mystery

Evans last day in St Andrews House was on 31 December 2022 but she remained in employment until the end of March, taking three months of “paid accrued leave annual leave”.

Comment: An impossible calculation given the rules applicable to leave entitlement and attaching conditions. In effect she benefitted financially from 3 months paid “gardening leave”.

A FOI request later revealed that Evans had received an additional payment for 19.5 days of annual leave that she had not taken. On her £175,000 a year salary, that would be worth around £13,000.

Comment: Another impossible calculation given the rules state that employees are required to take at least 20 days leave in the year including 2 weeks in the summer. In any event the 19.5 days if genuine, should have been subsumed into the “gardening leave

The Controversial Compensation Payment

Business appointment rules governing the conduct of ministers, special advisers and senior civil servants as they leave government, state that Permanent Secretaries are “subject to a minimum waiting period of three months between leaving paid Civil Service employment and taking up an outside appointment or employment” because “of their role at the highest level of Government, and their access to a wide range of sensitive information.” The rules add that it “may be appropriate to continue to pay former civil servants, including special advisers, who are required to observe a waiting period before taking up an external role.”

It is not known how much compensation Ms Evans was paid, but it was agreed “subject to consultation” with the UK Government’s Cabinet Office. However, details of payments, released under Freedom of Information, reveal that Ms Evans was then “compensated” to cover a separate “three-month unpaid waiting period.”

The Seven Controversial Years of Evans

Evans was a key figure in the Alex Salmond affair, overseeing the disastrous internal probe into sexual misconduct claims against the former First Minister. Alex successfully challenged the process in a judicial review, showing that it had been “tainted by apparent bias” as the Investigating Officer had prior contact with one of the women who had complained about him. That resulted in the Court of Session ordering the Government to pay him £512,000 in costs.

An investigation by a Holyrood committee into the unlawful probe singled out Ms Evans for criticism, saying that she was one of only a “few people who had been aware of the prior contact of the Investigating Officer”. And despite that, she had prolonged the court case by not telling the Government’s lawyers. MSPs on the committee said this “individual failing” was “as significant as the general corporate failing.” Despite the blunders on her watch, First Minister Sturgeon stood by Evans throughout and refused to sack her.

Evans’s three months “gardening leave” were only discovered when she was invited by Holyrood’s Finance Committee to share reflections and insights into her role working for the government.
She was repeatedly reassured that the committee did not want to re-run the Salmond affair or revisit events examined by a previous Holyrood inquiry into it. However, in March, the Office of the Permanent Secretary wrote to the committee refusing on her behalf, letting the MSPs know that as Ms Evans was on leave she was “effectively no longer a post-holder within the Scottish Government and is not able to speak on behalf of or represent the views of Scottish Ministers”. The SNP committee convener Kenny Gibson accused Ms Evans of “discourtesy.”

A spokesman for Alex Salmond told The Herald on Sunday: “The Parliamentary Committee unanimously found that Leslie Evans as Permanent Secretary was not just corporately but personally responsible for the ‘prolonged, expensive and unsuccessful defence’ of the Judicial Review of her procedure which the Court of Session found to be ‘unlawful’, ‘unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’. The Committee said that those responsible should be held ‘accountable’. However, instead of asking for her resignation, the Scottish Government seems to have afforded her every possible financial advantage on her retirement. The question is why?”

Evans left the Civil Service with a lump sum of £245,000. An annual pension of £85,000. A reputed £45,000 compensation payment and £9,500 pay in lieu of leave.

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Stewart McDonald SNP, MP – Scottish independence supporters on social media are creepy, vile and spread poison and cynicism, and behave like obnoxious thugs

See the source image

Stewart McDonald MP for Glasgow South speaks for the SNP on Scottish Independence

McDonald and many of his SNP MP/MSP colleagues are openly hostile to the movement they purport to represent. When support for Scottish independence rises they publicly argue against holding a second referendum claiming to do so before the SNP had “renewed its case” for seceding from the UK would be “the height of irresponsibility”. Adding insult to injury McDonald himself launched an extraordinarily vicious broadside against ‘cybernats’ – Scottish independence supporters on social media – accusing them of being “creepy” and “vile”, “spreading poison and cynicism”, and behaving like “obnoxious thugs”. Tory MSP Adam Tomkins heartily endorsed McDonald’s stance.

See the source image

Stewart McDonald SNP MP – his associates within the SNP and wider afield and their links to the Integrity Initiative and British Secret Services

McDonald MP for Glasgow South is Westminster’s most enthusiastic Russia-basher. His anti-Russia campaigning is quite remarkable. Until 2018, he showed little or no interest in the country at all, but, following an SNP leadership supported (undeclared to Westminster) fully funded jolly to Ukraine with his close friend and personal adviser Neal Stewart and fellow SNP MPs Douglas Chapman and Chris Law to reassure the Ukraine the SNP was not pro-Russian he was transformed into an ardent opponent of Moscow and a passionate supporter of the British establishment position on foreign policy.

For an elected representative of the Scottish National Party (SNP) to place such faith in the commitment of British intelligence agencies to truth and the defence of democracy is odd to say the least, given the party and the Scottish independence movement more widely have been subject to widespread surveillance, infiltration and disruption by British spooks throughout its existence.

McDonald’s fixation on “disinformation” may have overseas origins

In February 2020, he took an all-expenses-paid seven-day trip to Washington, DC to attend a conference on “combating disinformation online” convened by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a leading globalist think tank.

Not long after, he wrote a fiery article for the Times, alleging that Russia was “infecting the planet with disinformation,” calling for an “international coalition” to “defeat the virus.”

Russophobic rhetoric is also rife on McDonald’s Twitter account – where he frequently posts about the country, in the process amplifying and promoting the writings and rantings of individuals intimately involved in the secretive “Integrity Initiative” organisation.

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It is time the Scottish government restored the full powers of the “Estates of Scotland” to Community Councils in line with the wishes of the people of Scotland as set out in the aims and ambitions of “Salvo”.

Community Councils – The Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 effectively reconstituted the “Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland” with the introduction of community councils. These were to represent grass roots opinion, rather than discharge functions and be called a tier of local government. Their role was defined as “to ascertain, co-ordinate and express to the local authorities for its area, and to public authorities, the views of the community which it represents.”

But even this limited role was undermined by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 2003 which empowered local authorities to take the lead in consulting communities directly as part of the process of ‘community planning’, in which the “Estates of Scotland” were reduced to mere consultees with no higher status than any other community group.

As of 2012–3, there were 1,369 community council areas in Scotland, of which 1,129 (82%) have active community councils. There are also 3 Neighbourhood Representative Structures established in Dundee as alternatives to community councils.

Since the 1990s there has been a recognition that Scotland’s communities need more powers to govern themselves. However the actions that have been taken to achieve this have been characterised by vagueness that has made them ineffective. For example section 23 of the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994 required local authorities to institute a scheme of decentralisation. However the Act failed to explain what this should mean in practice, with the result that many local authorities did little more than carry out a few consultation exercises.

It is time the Scottish government restored the full powers of the “Estates of Scotland” to Community Councils in line with the wishes of the people of Scotland as set out in the aims and ambitions of “Salvo”. Full details at “https://salvo.scot/claim-of-right/”.

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Professor Dugdale’s air of innocence is a front exposed by her obnoxious comments as Fifi La Bonbon

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The John Smith Centre’s Director Kezia Dugdale is set to take on additional responsibilities at the University of Glasgow as its newly appointed Professor of Practice in Public Service.

Working with colleagues in the College of Social Science, she’ll undertake a senior leadership role enhancing connections with political and public policy figures, government departments and organisations to develop and support the growth of applied research, engagement and impact rooted in the School of Social and Political Science’s world-class research.

Dugdale launched her “Fifi La Bonbon” political career as an online abuser and troll in the Scotsman whilst working, at the public expense for the Labour Lord Laird Foulkes.

2 Aug 2008: The Evening News’ Save our School Dinners campaign recently got hot meals back on the menu for the city’s toddlers.

Fifi la Bonbon attacked:

So you’ve completed your degree, post graduate qualification and got yourself a job as a teacher. Then toon cooncil wants you to serve up school dinners? That will be right. The SNP and Lib Dems have been found out and now they’re acting all indignant, but they can’t resist that last wee insult to the teaching staff.

27 Dec 2008: The Scotsman. Fears over paedophiles could scupper plans to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in elections

Fifi la Bonbon attacked:

I oppose giving the vote to 16 year old children, but not because of paedophile hysteria, but because they’re too daft to vote. How would publishing younger people’s details on the electoral register be of any benefit to paedophile ? What is the paedophile “danger” these “experts” are exercising their gums about? Would a paedophile look up the details of someone apparently aged 15, and then write to them to ask if they would like to see some puppies?

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7 Jan 2009: A £2m appeal is being made to rehouse the UK’s leading Braille printing press and protect its long-term future

The Royal Blind, Scottish Braille Press was built in the 1960s and needs to be rebuilt and fitted with state-of-the-art printing equipment. The press is a leading provider of the UK’s Braille books, magazines and other printed materials. Best-selling author Ian Rankin, whose son goes to the Royal Blind School, is giving his backing to the campaign. (BBC News)

Fifi la Bonbon attacked:

This arrogant, wicked man Rankin is just promoting himself. How dare he do this so-called thing, and how dare he campaign for the Braille Press. It’s just a cheap publicity stunt. It’s the same with all these so-called achievers” – anyone could have written a string of so-called internationally renowned bestselling novels and so-called TV films – he was just lucky, so he was. There’s nothing special about him. It’s doomed to crash and burn, to be able to play some records you need to have been doing it for at least 30 years, rank amateurs are taking over. ” Fifi la Bonbon, channelling the voice of real Edinburghers.

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12 Jan 2009: The Scotsman. A lot of anger over nursery plot

Attached to Mrs McLeod’s nursery is a small allotment, which she uses to introduce the toddlers to horticulture expanding their knowledge and understanding of the environment. But not for much longer, the council recently served a “notice of intent to evict” barring nursery age children from the allotment.

Fifi la Bonbon attacked:

It’s a £33 a day private nursery run for profit in a relatively well-heeled area. Presumably only those children whose parents pay Mrs McLeod fees to attend get to play, and local kids whose parents don’t pay are barred. Allotments aren’t there to make businesses like hers more profitable. If she wants to establish a garden for the inmates of her nursery, she should buy some more land herself.

Mrs Mac responded:

My daughter goes to a private nursery, I’m not well off, but I have no choice in the matter because I have to work, and I cannot get a state nursery place for her until she is three. I get no help at all with the fees and I think that your comments are very uneducated. So what if the parents are well off (which I bet most of them are not)! This project has been an educational tool in a time when learning about where food comes from is a government target to cut obesity rates. Perhaps instead of taking the land away from people who were using it for good, they should make more provision for programmes for both fee-paying and state nurseries to run these schemes.

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2 Aug 2009: From 2006, the Labour government spent £473m stockpiling the untested antiviral drug Tamiflu, in preparation for flu pandemics

The drug was subsequently prescribed during the swine flu outbreak in 2009. But reports soon surfaced claiming that the drug had a number of side-effects, including nausea, headaches, psychiatric events, kidney problems and hyperglycaemia. The Labour government subjected the public to a costly and sustained propaganda onslaught, anticipating an improved level of take-up of the vaccination programme. But to no avail. The public did not trust the Labour government to tell the truth. and the drug was withdrawn from use.

The £473,000,000 stock of Tamiflu was off loaded to third world countries and the cost written off.

Epidemiologist expert advice was commissioned and a report named the “Cochrane Collaboration was submitted to government.

Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford and one of the report’s authors, told the BBC, “I think the whole £500m has not benefited human health in any way and we may have harmed people. The system that exists for producing evidence on drugs is so flawed and open to misuse that the public has been misled.”

Dr Tom Jefferson, a clinical epidemiologist and former GP, said: “I wouldn’t give it for symptom relief, I’d give paracetamol.”

The Cochrane Collaboration researchers did not placed the blame on any individual or organisation, instead saying there had been failings at every step from the manufacturers to the regulators and government.

Between 2006-07 and 2012-13, the Department of Health purchased just under 40 million units of Tamiflu.

Only 2.4 million units were administered .

6.5m units had to be discarded before their shelf lives had run out because poor record-keeping by the NHS meant it was impossible to tell if they had been stored correctly and were still useable.

The Public Accounts committee concluded that taxpayers’ money had been squandered and that there was “simply no excuse for the waste.”

Fifi la Bonbon attacked:

The taxpayer at large is paying for people to get the jags – we shouldn’t have to pay out damages for people unlucky enough to suffer bad side-effects. Anyone getting the vaccine courtesy of the taxpayer should be made to sign a waiver supported by statute waiving the right to sue the NHS. If they won’t sign, let them do without. They’ll still get free NHS treatment if they fall ill.

21 Nov 2009: The Scotsman. Many school children are not being provided with a balanced diet and the council decided to heavily subsidise meals so that the health of children would be improved

Fifi la Bonbon attacked:

“I completely disagree with this. It is parents’ responsibility to look after their children, not that of the local authority. Far from paying for meals for all schoolchildren, we should withdraw the free meals already given to some kids, and make parents pay for the lot. The money involved just goes to paying for mobile phones, expensive sandshoes, and iPods anyway. The taxpayer pays for their education, and gives generous benefits to parents who are disabled and cannot work, as well as to widows and to mothers who have been abandoned by feckless fathers. But it is not our responsibility to feed their children at lunchtime. If parents are too neglectful to do this properly, they need to be punished not rewarded.”

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26 Apr 2010: General Election ‘debate’ appeal answered by ordinary Scots

The SNP have reached the target of £50,000 needed to fund the court action aimed at fighting their exclusion from Thursday’s leader’s debate: 

Fifi la Bonbon attacked:

“The money was raised by cybernat fanatics and dubious foreign interests”:

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31 May 2010: The Scotsman. Grand plans have been announced for a new luxury retail store in a new tourist village on the outskirts of Dalkeith – Will our readers be rushing to snap up its offerings?

Fifi La Bonbon Gushed:

Well I for one cannot wait. Quite frankly I am tired of travelling between the Borders and the city without a designer shopping experience and fine dining opportunity to break my journey. I demand nothing but the best in luxury clothing and Scottish produce, and of course Midlothian has been crying out for a gateway for centuries. Ikea and Costco just don’t cut it, I’m afraid. So this is all good news for me, and literally dozens like me.

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26 Jun 2010:  Robina Addison, a Scottish dance teacher and philanthropist, brought a young girl to Scotland for reconstruction surgery.

Fifteen-year old Kade, had been born in Trinidad and Tobago without ears and missing part of her ear canal, a condition known as bilateral microtia. This had rendered her partially deaf and according to her benefactor: “facing a future begging for a living.”

Ms Addison explained that because Kade had been born without ears, she couldn’t go to mainstream school and was attending a badly run down day care sanitorium for mentally handicapped children

The cost of the operations and treatment was expected to be around £50,000. Fortunately for Kade, who was not entitled to free health care in Scotland, the Spire Murrayfield hospital offered its facilities and the surgical team worked for free.

Her foster parents themselves contributed £10,000 for a hearing aid implant that will allow her to hear. Robina said “She is very intelligent but there is no special needs system in Trinidad. I came home and I was quite upset to think that’s where she was. After making several return trips. we eventually got permission to take Kade to Scotland. Although the surgery appears to have been successful, there is a continuing struggle with immigration since Kade entered on a visitor’s visa instead of the required medical visa. At one point Kade faced the possibility of deportation.

Robina added “We do not intend to formally adopt Kade, but hope to help her with her health and education enough to allow her to make a success of her life back home on Trinidad…We want her to get a job and help people in a similar situation. If she does not get this opportunity, her future will be working on the streets or, stealing. It’s the difference between the chance of a lifetime and nothing, and she has got so much to offer.”

Fifi La Bonbon attacked:

These people are willing to pay all the costs themselves and the girl isn’t going to be getting to stay here permanently, so there oughtn’t to have been a problem if they’d made the proper arrangements. Very neglectful not to check properly whether the girl needed a visa. She does if the stay is for more than six months. There are particular rules for visitors from Trinidad wanting to receive private medical treatment – very clear. It took me less than five minutes to find and check the rules on the internet – it’s all on the UK Border Agency website. If this “high profile couple” had bothered to check with a lawyer in Trinidad or over here they would have known what to do. We only have the woman’s word that she was misled. Anyway I hope it all turns out well but there’s no excuse for failing to get proper advice in such circumstances and them blaming the government.

Brodric challenged FiFi:

For goodness sake Fifi la Bonbon – don’t be so pompous. They obviously asked a jobsworth who gave them the wrong advice. And you can’t blame them for believing an official. If we listened to everything we heard, or believed everything we see in black and white, no matter how careful we are, we can still end up with problems. I hope that common sense prevails

Fifi la Bonbon responded:

I don’t disagree about the girl being allowed to stay to get her treatment. My point is that anyone who fails to get legal advice on such matters or at least to make their own proper enquiries is being negligent. There’s more to this than meets the eye, anyway. The report says the girl is fostered. That would involve contact and negotiation with authorities in Trinidad and Tobago, and certainly with social workers here. I am surprised that the question of her legal ability to remain here was not picked up somewhere in the process. What is the social work department’s view about the case?

Follow-up: 12 Oct 2012: Surgeons create new ears for girl from Trinidad

Kade was born without ears and missing part of her ear canal, leaving her partially deaf and facing a future begging for a living. The medical team from the Spire Murrayfield hospital in Edinburgh gave its time and expertise for free to construct new ears so that she faces a brighter future. She hopes to return to Trinidad soon. (BBC News)

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10 Oct 2010: Cybernats – a Scottish political phenomenon – David Torrance releases yet another book

It was, I think, the noble Lord Foulkes who coined the memorable term ‘cybernats’. Then the Scotsman’s David Maddox likened them to an army who ‘launch daily, sustained attacks on journalists, politicians and anybody else perceived to stand in the way of their cherished aim of independence, or who raises even the mildest criticism of Alex Salmond or the SNP.

Fifi la Bonbon commented:

Mr Torrance is a long established, serious and distinguished writer who has published books on Margaret Thatcher, Harold MacMillan and the Secretaries of State for Scotland, and this is just the latest of these.  He doesn’t usually write hagiographies but here’s a starter;

Once upon a time, in a humble cottage in Linlithgow, Alex Salmond, the greatest living Scotsman was born. A strange golden light shone out of his nappy, bathing the faces of his proud parents with a warm glow…

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15 Jun 2012: Andrew Whitaker’s observations on First Minister’s questions:

Alex Salmond pulled himself back up off the political canvas at First Minister’s questions yesterday after weeks on the ropes with a heavyweight performance at the dispatch box. But those who witnessed Mr Salmond’s tirade at Ms Dugdale, it was hard not to say that the SNP leader was back to his most bombastic.” (The Scotsman)

The Famous 15 commented:

Kezia Dugdale was not bullied. Her pretended innocence hid a disgusting disreputable distortion of events. The irony is the system was in place back in the days of Lab/Lib government but the SNP now do so much better…… Dugdale learned her craft at the feet of Lord Fffoulkes and we saw that when she posted as Fifi la Bonbon. Day and night she posted the best distortions witnessed by mankind.

She sees herself as a fantasy champion of the British Empire and will have no concern about truth and justice in her frantic, desire to do down the SNP. She loves the game and that is the main thing to her, not people’s welfare, just the point scoring.