My Attempt to Unravel Just a Little Bit of the Tangled Web of Deceit Spun By the BBC – £300M Plus Scottish Licence Fee Money Routinely Handed Over to Commercial Concerns Controlled By Tax Avoiding Bermuda Based Conglomerates

 

 

 

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1981: Peter Salmon takes up employment with the BBC

Peter Salmon started at the BBC as a General Trainee in 1981.

A programme maker, he eventually became BBC Bristol’s, Head of Factual output. He also worked on Blue Peter, Newsnight, BBC  Radio 1’s Newsbeat and Manchester’s, File On Four current affairs series.

Left the BBC for the commercial sector in the early Nineties. Successful Director of Programmes at Granada in Manchester.

 

Peter Salmon

 

 

Jan 1997: Salmon returned to the BBC

Appointed Controller of BBC1. A rocky 3 years culminated in a speedy transfer to BBC Sport.

 

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Peter Salmon and his partner

 

 

Sep 2000: Salmon Transferred sideways within the BBC

Appointed to head all of the BBC’s sports coverage across television, radio and online services. Negotiated a much increased budget with Director-General Greg Dyke.

 

 

 

Dec 2001: Television production company forced to open branch office in Glasgow

Television Corporation PLC,  the company behind Mentorn,  contracted to produce the BBC programme, Question Time, has been forced to open an office in Glasgow following a transfer of commissioning and production from London to Scotland.

The branch office will be run by managing director Charles Thompson and head of programming Jane Rogerson, a former award-winning executive
with the BBC.

 

 

 

Feb 2005: Tinopolis Gains Access to the London Stock market (AIM) through the back door

To expand its horizons beyond Wales, Tinopolis required large amounts of new finance. To achieve this it needed immediate access to the London Stock market (AIM), a process which would normally take up to a year to achieve.

But there was a back door and Tinopolis exercised that option. In February, it took control of the remains of a quoted investment business that had decamped to Bermuda.

Tinopolis knew next to nothing about what its target, Acquisitor, used to do. What mattered was that it was now a £1 million shell listed on AIM.

At first sight, it might have appeared that Tinopolis was acquiring Acquisitor.

In fact, it was a reverse takeover. Under the AIM rules, this occurs when a smaller AIM entity (in this case Acquisitor) buys a target larger than itself.

Acquisitor was open to taking this approach, even though its original business was far removed from TV production.

For their pot of £1 million, Acquisitor shareholders took ten per cent of the enlarged company, which was listed on AIM as Tinopolis.

After the deal, all of Acquisitor’s former shareholders remained involved, giving Tinopolis an immediate institutional base.

The share price of the new company increased markedly providing a significant increased return on investment for shareholders.

Tinopolis, whose ultimate parent company was now registered in the Channel Islands, is one of the UK’s largest television producers, but it also has interests in animation and e-learning.

Just before Christmas it was chosen as one of the lead suppliers to the BBC’s Digital Curriculum, the largest e-learning project in the UK. It also provides creative and technical interactive services for many government and public authorities in the UK.

Its largest customer is S4C (which provides around half of its £10m turnover), where it specializes in providing live programmes as well as producing drama, documentaries and sport.

Its chairman Ron Jones said:

“The industry is still comprised of a large number of relatively small companies and most of them are not of investment quality and never will be. Investment activity is therefore focused on a relatively small group of companies. In our case we were able to convince the City that we had the track record, the skills and the management to continue to grow profitably. A key component in putting our case was the way the television production industry is structured in Wales. We have a long-standing relationship with S4C that has over the years given us the ability to invest heavily in our facility in Llanelli, in training staff new to the industry and also to carry the risks in investing in new industry sectors such as animation, drama and e-learning.

Adding:

“the strategy is not to look for a profitable exit, but to continue to grow the business. There is a tendency in Wales for people to sell out early, but we don’t envisage doing that. We are in this for the long term and want to grow as a company that can compete with anyone in the UK.”

Tinopolis, management board member, Angharad Mair: who previously fronted sports and news programmes for the BBC,  is the Executive Director at Agenda Television Ltd.

She is also the presenter of Tinopolis’ nightly live programme, Wedi 7, and the Editor of all Tinopolis daily programming.

She  welcomed the development claiming it would ensure the long term employment of an increasing number of Welsh people.

 

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Jul 2005: Salmon goes commercial

Salmon left the BBC to become the Chief Executive of Television Corporation PLC (TVC).

The company is engaged in the creation, production and distribution of television formats and advertiser-funded programming to broadcasters in the United Kingdom, Europe and globally.

The announcement of his appointment stated:

“It is envisaged that the corporation will expand aggressively under our new chief executive Peter Salmon, as Television Corp seeks to take advantage of renewed investor confidence. We want an international business and a bigger one. We were growing and we hired Peter in recognition of his excellent achievements at Granada, Channel 4 and
BBC 1. We have aspirations for the future and need the breadth of his experience to compete.”

Headquartered in London, the company  was incorporated in 1967 and is comprised of seven business segments:

a. Mentorn, produces programs across a range of factual and entertainment genres and producer of BBC political show “Question Time”.

b. Sunset+Vine, produces independent sport programs.

c. Venner Television, produces and distributes cycling and badminton events.

d. Hawk-eye, a sports tracking device used in sport events.

e. Music Box, an independent television production producing music and children’s programs.

f. Folio, a supplier of peak time factual programs.

g. In Vision, an independent outside broadcast company.

Subsidiary companies include:

h. The Mentorn Barraclough Carey Productions Limited, a United Kingdom-based company involved as film and television producers.

i. Mentorn International Limited, a private company that provides theatre services.

j. Sunset & Vine North Limited, a United Kingdom-based company engaged as a theatrical producer that provides miscellaneous theatrical services.*

*. Sunset+Vine (Scotland) has been producing all of BBC Scotland’s sport since 2007, including Football (Scottish Cup, Internationals, World Cup qualifiers); Rugby (Melrose Sevens); Shinty (Camanachd Cup, Harvest Marine Festival (Macaulay Cup); Bowls (Scottish Championships); Curling (Scottish Championships) and Athletics (Celtic Cup).

Since 2013, the Sunset+Vine (Scotland) office has been producing all of BT Sport’s Scottish Premiership (SPFL) football output and host broadcast the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the largest sports broadcast operation ever mounted in Scotland.

 

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July 2006: The Welsh move into a position of power at BBC (Scotland)

Assured of a profitable future with its growth guaranteed through the permanent award of programme commissioning by the Welsh language channel S4C .*  It achieved one of the TV coups of the year in 2006 when it bought the well regarded independent producer, “The Television Corporation,” in a £36m deal.

The acquisition of the company behind “Question Time,” greatly enhanced the profile of Tinopolis’s  at a stroke.  The deal was an example of how fast a company with the right connections was able to gain a foothold in a national broadcaster, (BBC (Scotland)

* S4C funding initially came both from its advertising revenue and a fixed annual grant from the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

It received £90m of state funding in 2011. Additionally, some Welsh-language programming was produced by BBC Wales as part of the BBC’s public service remit, and provided to S4C free of charge.

From 2013, responsibility for funding S4C transferred from the UK treasury to the BBC, providing around £76m.

But an agreement remained in place until 2022 for 10 hours a week of
programming to be provided by the BBC to S4C, which is valued at £19.4m annually.

In 2016, it was agreed that the BBC would provide £74.5m a year funding to S4C from the licence fee until 2022.

A later adjustment provided that the DCMS would provide £6.72m additional funding with the aim of S4C being funded wholly from the licence fee, for 10 year periods, from 2022.

This would see S4C’s funding being decided as part of the licence fee settlement, for 10 year periods.

In addition to public funding, S4C generates around 2% of its income through commercial sources, such as advertising.

S4C is controlled by the S4C Authority, an independent body unconnected to Ofcom, the regulator of all other UK television channels.

The Welsh ask the BBC for more money:

S4C said it needs a major overhaul of its funding and its remit to avoid becoming a “second-class service”.

The Welsh broadcaster published a document “Pushing the Boundaries” setting out its 10-year vision, identifying that an additional £6m was necessary to enable its content to appear on all new platforms. S4C relies heavily on public funding, with £74.5m from the BBC licence fee a year and £6.8m from the DCMS.

The report also provided for the service’s remit in law to be redefined from that of a television channel to become a public service media company and for the future governance of the service, to be devolved, including a proposal to remove BBC appointee’s from the S4C Authority.

The report argued the changes would give it greater freedom to pursue new programme-making and commercial opportunities denied to the service, which currently works to a remit set out in 1982.

It also says it wants to create content that is “more relevant, competitive and diverse,” and to increase the “economic, linguistic and educational benefits” of its work. To do this it needs to ensure programming is available on all new devices and digital platforms.

 

Comment: Annual funding provision for the “new” BBC Scotland at £30m (Scottish taxpayers contribute £355m annual licence fees) is a joke when compared to the £90m plus handed to the Welsh. Which is just about a 100% return on Welsh taxpayers annual licence fee revenue contributions. And they want more. And most of the money is given over to Tinoplois.

 

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Dec 2006: Salmon returns to the BBC

The former Director of The Television Corporation PLC (Question Time producers) (Jul 2005-Jun 2006) and Tinopolis (Jan-Jun 2006) departed the company to take up a contract of employment with the BBC, as Creative Officer of the new “BBC Vision Productions” setting-up, overseeing all creative output from the BBC’s in-house production centres.

 

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May 2008: £8m windfall for Tinopolis management team

The Tinopolis executive management team (owners of Mentorn, the producers of Question Time) saw the value of their shares rocket to around £8m following the acquisition of the company by venture capital firm, Vitruvian Partners.

Peter Jones, who is the third biggest shareholder in the Welsh producer with a 9% stake, is now worth around £4m from the deal.

Recent changes in the economic climate led to the tie-up with Vitruvian Partners who provided the finance for the “next stage” in the Tinopolis’ development.

 

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Dec 2008: Salmon moves within the BBC

Appointed Director of BBC North Group Division. Salary £436K.

Responsible for the Corporation’s new in-house multimedia broadcasting and production centre.

Joined the BBC’s Executive Board in 2010, as the BBC’s new home in Salford Quays neared completion.

Led the development of the new broadcasting centre, which involved the largest move of staff and departments out of London in the history of the BBC.  On completion the centre housed 2,500 staff, with approximately 1,500 jobs moving there from London.

 

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Tony Hall

 

 

Jul 2014: BBC Director General Outlines the future

Tony Hall, BBC Director General, provided a vision of the future for a BBC which continued to embrace the freedom and entrepreneurial spirit that had been its hallmarks in the past.

But making it happen would require the corporation to respond positively to the challenges of change, dismantling monopoly, strengthening diversity, and avoiding the dangers of complacency.

The media market in the UK is now highly competitive and this encouraged the BBC to revive the spirit of the entrepreneur and the pioneer bringing a revived commitment by the corporation, in its mission as a public broadcaster, employing creators, reporters and broadcasters empowered to do the best work of their lives.

The BBC will go much further than ever before, opening the BBC to more competition. This is to be achieved using external benchmarks and comparisons driving up standards and driving down costs. “Compete or Compare” is the new strategy, overturning the current system that is no longer fit for purpose. The BBC will need to become as efficient as any broadcaster in the country.

Competition in programme supply is good for the BBC but this will require the implementation of less regulated systems and a level playing-field ensuring that BBC producers and those of the independent sector have creative freedom promoting and supporting UK content, keeping it competitive in a global market.

In the real world of today, viewers, listeners and users have the opportunity to choose freely from hundreds of television channels, hundreds of radio stations and millions of websites. They have easy access to more news outlets than ever before.

The licence fee represents only around 25% of all TV and radio revenues, in the UK and many competitors are global giants by comparison.

21st Century Fox and Apollo Global Management (two of the largest operators in the UK) are merging with Shine and Endemol.

Discovery and Liberty Global recently acquired All3Media.

Warner are rebranding their recent acquisition, Shed, as Warner Brothers UK.

And global broadcasters are also buying each other. Viacom is acquiring Channel 5 in the UK. BSkyB is considering the acquisition of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland (a deal worth billions).

Amazon and Netflix are expanding fast in the UK. And in the United States, AT&T is acquiring the pay TV company DirecTV for nearly $50bn.

The outcome is that a small number of super-producers are beginning to dominate the supply of content to UK public service broadcasters and with many new outlets for their products this movement of the tectonic plates of media provision will directly impact on the future of the BBC.

The BBC will need allies, if it is to survive and the number of joint BBC and ITV ventures will increase markedly.

Another major obstacle to change is the existing BBC Charter which notionally allows managed competition (25% of BBC TV production is guaranteed to independent producers; 50% to BBC in- house producers; 25% is left open to both in open competition) but constrains BBC Commissioning in its efforts, limiting the nature of the commercial deals it can contract to with result that the BBC cannot compete globally in the large independent studios market.

 

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Mar 2015: BBC Studios to be created

The BBC has given the green light to proceed with one of the biggest shake-ups in its history, hiving off production of its hit shows into a new separate subsidiary to be called “BBC Studios” operating at arm’s length .

The move is part of the “compete or compare” proposals, designed to help keep programme-making talent at the BBC, allowing it to compete in the digital world against rivals such as Netflix and global production companies.

In phase 1: A new division comprising: drama, entertainment, comedy and factual programme-making and commercial production, will be headed by a senior manager, reporting directly to the BBC Governer General.

Other departments – Children, sport and current affairs – will remain within the BBC to be managed by the BBC centrally.

With about 2,500 staff the changes will be a huge undertaking.

In phase 2: Subject to the agreement of the UK government and the BBC Trust agreeing to a change in the BBC’s charter, BBC Studios will transfer out of the publicly-funded part of the  BBC.

In return, the BBC will open its schedules to the independent production sector, removing the quotas it currently has that guarantee 50% of shows go to in-house producers.

The corporation is working on safeguards to ensure that the new BBC Studios cannot be privatized or bought by other companies, without the approval of the staff.  Likely predators would include Tinopolis
and the Endemol Shine Group.

 

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Jul 2015: Salmon appointed Director of BBC Studios

Appointed Director of BBC Studios, the corporation’s production arm. Salary £388K.

Responsible for establishing and managing BBC Studios, the recently formed new production division created to meet the challenges of Tony Hall’s, plan to deregulate the corporation’s operations.

The “Compete or Compare” strategy, is designed to open up many more production programmes to independent companies, except for core Public Services Broadcasting PSB activities such as global news-gathering which will remain in-house and controlled from London.

Hall, announcing the new strategy said:

“the plan, which will see in-house TV production spun off as a standalone subsidiary being allowed to make shows for rivals for the first time, marks
a stripping-away of regulations enabling an era of unprecedented competition. We are going to go further than we have ever done before in opening the BBC to more competition. I want a less regulated system that ensures that both our own BBC producers and those of the independent sector have creative freedom.”

 

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Apr 2016: Salmon Goes Commercial

Salmon, appointed Chief Creative Officer of  Endemol Shine Group, leading the company’s creative direction globally and overseeing the Group’s UK business.

Claiming his sudden departure from the BBC was not an unexpected blow to the corporations plans to spin off BBC Studios. He said:

“I agreed with Tony Hall I would help get BBC Studios successfully through the first phase, establishing a strong senior team, its direction and remit, so this feels like an appropriate time for a successor to come in and take
up the baton.”

The former BBC1 controller, who has worked on and off at the BBC for almost 35 years, said:

“I’ve already had the privilege of working with many of the production companies under the Endemol Shine umbrella in the UK and I’m a great admirer of shows created by the group globally.”

 

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Ron Jones

 

 

Oct 2017: International TV production and distribution group Tinopolis is buying back the shareholding of private equity investor Vitruvian to retake full ownership of the company.

Vitruvian invested in Tinopolis in 2008 and under the partnership, Tinopolis has grown into one of the largest independent producers in the UK and the US with leading companies in both markets.

Arwel Rees, CEO of the Tinopolis Group, said:

“Vitruvian has been a fantastic partner and together we have grown Tinopolis into a true TV production and distribution powerhouse. Now the time is right for Tinopolis to take back full control to steer the group into its next growth phase. We have a hugely successful business with a strong and diverse portfolio of production companies and programmes, and I am incredibly excited about what we can achieve over the coming years.”

Ron Jones, Executive Chairman at Tinopolis, added:

“Our success has been founded on the talent of our people, their creativity and their leadership. With Vitruvian’s investment and support over the past 9 years, we have made Tinopolis a leading player in our industry. Sunset+Vine has achieved remarkable growth to become, in its own right, a global company. To our original UK base we added two of the finest production companies in the US and with them some of the most creative people in US television. Now, once again, we are a private company owned by its management in both countries, optimistic for the future and determined to provide our people with new challenges and opportunities.”

Ben Johnson, Founding Partner at Vitruvian, said:

“The team at Tinopolis has achieved remarkable success in growing the company during our time together. Turnover has increased over threefold since our investment and the US has become the company’s largest revenue market. The Vitruvian team would like to thank the Tinopolis management for the strong partnership and wish them every success for the next stage as a company entirely owned by the management and founders.”

The Tinopolis Group is now one of the largest television content suppliers in the UK and a producer of programmes for many of the top networks in the US.

The group’s portfolio of production companies includes global sports producer Sunset+Vine, Mentorn Media, Firecracker, Pioneer, Tinopolis Cymru, the recently launched Thunderclap Media, drama producers Daybreak Pictures and Fiction Factory, as well as A.Smith & Co and Magical Elves in the US. Tinopolis also has its own distribution arm, Passion.

 

 

Nov 2017: BBC – Paradise Papers – Vitruvian Partners and Mentorn International – Question Time Producers and Tax Avoidance

The Canary revealed that BBC Question Time was linked to companies named in the Paradise Papers for offshore tax avoidance.

The programme’s production company, Mentorn Media, created in 2005, is a subsidiary company of the Tinopolis group.

Tinopolis had a majority shareholder called Vitruvian in place until 23 October 2017.

The private equity firm had purchased a 48% stake in Tinopolis in 2008 and was the ultimate controlling company  named in the Paradise Papers – all while having been the ultimate owner of the Question Time producers.

(https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/80061809) and (https://www.thecanary.co/uk/2017/11/23/question-time-just-linked-paradise-papers-maybe-panel-will-debate-tonight-images)

 

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Commercial Production Company – Tinopolis (PLC) Unravelled

Tinopolis Plc, produces and distributes broadcast and online content. It produces television shows, reality shows, documentaries, unscripted infotainment programming, feature films, dramas, factual entertainment shows, lifestyle shows, comedy and game-shows, and sports programming. The company also offers education, skills, and multi-lingual contents; marketing communication solutions; and video, e-learning, and mobile-learning courses.

In addition, it offers MediaJet platform, a cloud based digital file delivery network for distributing broadcast video and media files to multiple locations. Further, the company provides digital content and cross-platform solutions.

The company serves network operators and broadcasters in the United States, the United Kingdom, and internationally.

Tinopolis Plc was founded in 1990 and is based in Llanelli, United Kingdom.

The Board of Management comprises:

Owen Griffith Ronald Jones: Founder of Tinopolis Plc and its Executive Chairman and Director of The Television Corporation plc since 2005.

His other business commitments:

a. Chairman of Real Radio and a joint venture between Tinopolis and the Guardian Media Group.

b. Non-Executive Director of Enfis, Ltd. serving as a Non-Executive Director of the Enfis Group Plc

c. Director of PhotonStar LED Group PLC until December 32, 2010.

d. Member of the Council and the Court of Governors of the University of Wales, Swansea.

e. Director of UWS Ventures Limited, the university’s commercial arm, advising the college on maximizing its return on its technology knowledge and skills.

f. Member of the Sports Council for Wales and the Welsh Language Board and has held a variety of other posts in the public and private sectors.

 

William Arwel Rees: a qualified accountant.  Currently Chief Executive Officer.  Joined Tinopolis Plc in 2004. Served as Corporate Vice President and President of European operations at Woodhead Industries. Has been an Executive Director of The Television Corporation plc since January 2005 and a Director of Tinopolis Plc since February, 2005.

Sally Miles: Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Passion Distribution (an independent international distribution business) took her company into the Tinopolis Group increasing the company’s business profile absorbing Mentorn International’s catalogue. Began working in programme production at September Films in 1992 taking on roles from production manager to executive producer. Went from production to management becoming General Manager. Set up and launched the distribution arm of September Films September International 2000, forging a trusted
relationships with international broadcasters. In 2002 relocated to the US and launched September USA. Capitalizing on her relationships with American broadcasters she became President and Chief Operating Officer, building an American division for original programme sales overseeing all sales, production and delivery to US broadcasters.

Angharad Mair: Executive Director at Agenda Television Ltd.  Lead presenter of Tinopolis’ nightly live programme, Wedi 7, and the Editor of all Tinopolis daily programming. Previously fronted sports and news programmes for the BBC.

Jennifer Roberts: Chief Financial Officer of the Tinopolis Group and Finance Director at Mentorn Media Limited and Mentorn Group, Ltd.  Also serves as Financial Director for the Tinopolis Group of Companies, including Mentorn, Sunset+Vine, Pioneer Films and Daybreak Pictures. Joined Mentorn Media Limited in 2005. Previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant.

Ben Johnson: A partner at Vitruvian Partners LLP. Joined the founding team in 2007. Focuses on the consumer services and media sectors. Served as an Investor Director of OpenBet Technologies Ltd. Principal at Cinven Ltd (worked on consumer, travel technology and media investments) having joined the company in March 2004. Worked on a number of transactions including Amadeus, Dynacast, and McKechnie. Prior to this, he was at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. where he worked in corporate finance, leveraged finance, and private equity. Director of Trustpilot A/S since May 28, 2015.  Director of OAG, Instinctif Partners Ltd (alternative name College Group Ltd, IMD, Tinopolis Plc and OpenBet. He served as a Director of Inspired Gaming Group Ltd (formerly Inspired Gaming Group PLC). Also on the Boards of United Biscuits and Argent Energy. Graduated from Oxford University with an M.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.

Toby Wyles:  Managing Partner of Vitruvian Partners Fund L.P. and Vitruvian Partners LLP.  Co-founded Vitruvian Partners Fund in 2006. Over 20 years experience in private equity including numerous successful transactions throughout Europe and the United States. Investments have been in a variety of industries including media, business services, financial services, leisure and retail. Has led a large number of buyouts in his career including Thomson Directories, Global Refund, Yell, and Focus Wickes, where he is a Director. Was a Senior Partner, Co-Head of the European Leveraged Transactions Group, and Global Equity Partner at Apax Partners Worldwide LLP , where he worked for 13 years. Left Apax Partners in May 2003. Head of the Leveraged Transaction Group in London since 1994. Worked briefly in the Mergers and Acquisitions Department at Morgan Stanley International. Started his career as a Consultant at L.E.K. Consulting  where he was involved in projects in the consumer products and financial services industries. Also employed at Hoare Govett. Is a Non-Executive Director of Bowmark Capital LLP. Is on the Board of Tinopolis Plc, College Group Ltd, IMD, and Callcredit Information Group Ltd.  Is a Director of Apax Partners and Merlin Entertainment Group Ltd. He has been a Director of the Leveraged Transaction Group in London since 1994. Was a Director of Global Blue Group and Focus (DIY) Ltd. Graduated with an M.B.A. degree, with distinction, from Harvard Business School and a B.A. degree in History, with honors, from Cambridge University.

 


 

 

 

Comments:

Smoke and mirrors over the Oct 2017 management buy out of Tinopolis from the control of the offshore Bermuda based Vitruvian Partners. Two Vitruvian Partners are still on the management board of Tinopolis.

Many millions of Scottish licence fee revenue is still being transferred to a commercial company, notionally based in Wales, who take it and run without paying UK tax on their profits.

Scottish production companies, wholly registered in Scotland, should be awarded contracts from BBC (Scotland) so that Scottish licence fee payers can be assured their financial contributions are being used to retain and develop Scottish based workers and enterprises.

That was the purpose of the transfer of programme production to Scotland some years ago and Scotland is being defrauded from the franchise commitment entered into by the Westminster government and the BBC Trust.

 

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Media Provision through the Eyes of the Welsh – Devolution has demonstrated just how British the BBC is and it is probably unreasonable to expect that it can evolve into an organisation that can truly service the nations of the UK.

 

 

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Jan 2008: Memorandum submitted by Tinopolis PLC to the Commons Select Committee for Welsh Affairs

I have been asked to give evidence on the key areas under inquiry, namely the impact of globalization on broadcasting and the creative industries.

The issues surrounding broadcasting and the creative industries and their future are driven by global changes.

Globalization is with us and the global economy is fast developing a global culture. This cultural revolution has been with us for a generation but now the pace of change is such that monthly we see new developments that affect all of us in our daily lives, even if we don’t always realize it.

The big issues for Wales are ensuring that our people have available to them the public service broadcasting they need and ensuring that we compete in these global markets where we can.

 

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Public service broadcasting

The BBC in its most recent Charter sets out what its public services should be. These, amended to reflect what Wales might aspire to, are:

o Sustaining citizenship and civil society;

o Promoting education and learning;

o Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;

o Representing Wales, its regions and communities;

o Bringing Wales to the world and the world to Wales;

o Helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services.

These are a good starting point for evaluating what we have in Wales today and what we need to do to ensure that they are provided.

Global communications, global services and global culture are going to be a major part of our people’s lives but we should consider whether they will be enough.

Wales is not a significant player in broadcasting. We depend on public service broadcasters because we are too small and too weak economically for any other solution.  However, the BBC and ITV have not met all of the aspirations listed.

S4C of necessity is in the same position. It was created to meet the needs of Welsh-speakers and cannot be expected to provide a full range
of these services to its viewers.

We should now consider whether our broadcast institutions are properly configured to meet the needs of Wales. We need to consider what the people need and the extent to which they can be provided at a cost that is itself acceptably socially and politically.

This will necessarily move us into sensitive areas. We are a bilingual nation and it is perhaps an anomaly that Welsh-speakers are better provided for than our native English-speakers.

This is probably unsustainable in the long term. However, disturbing the present arrangements should only be considered when we are able to provide a satisfactory solution for our monoglot English-speaking majority.

Devolution has demonstrated just how British the BBC is and it is probably unreasonable to expect that it can evolve into an organisation that can truly service the nations of the UK.

The instinctive British tendency for centralization does have dangers for Wales as well. Devolution has led to a compounding of this error.

The obsession with Cardiff and what is good for Cardiff continues as a consequence of so much that we now do in Wales. This is not going to work as an economic plan and it will damage our country permanently.

A new settlement for public service broadcasting in Wales needs to provide for the whole of Wales.

 

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The creative industries

There have been a number of initiatives intended to promote the Creative Industries.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG) Creative Industries Strategy demonstrates a failure to think clearly about what these industries are and target those sectors where there is commercial merit and potential.

Film

One of the more publicized areas of the sector is the film industry. Finding a role for Wales in the film industry needs a touch of humility.

We are not big in the film world; we do not have the money to invest; we do not have control of the distribution channels. Those are in the hands of major studios and they are the ones that determine what films get marketed which, in turn, gives them a decent chance of being profitable. We are never going to be big in films.

Television

Television production in Wales is largely about servicing the needs of Welsh people and giving them entertainment.

S4C broadcasts programmes for Welsh speakers. The BBC makes programmes for the people of Wales.

The fact that, on occasions we have work such as Torchwood and Dr Who sub-contracted from London to a Welsh location doesn’t alter the fact that it will not become a  major UK or international television producer.

That is not its role inside the BBC. ITV Wales, as described by Michael Grade, is about providing news and some regional programming so its
horizons are limited by that requirement.

The existence of these broadcasters results in television produced in Wales bringing economic and business merits. It requires a large number of people and service organisations to support them.

This has led to the BBC in Cardiff becoming a major employer. S4C has done the same in North and West Wales and in Cardiff and these are important parts of the Welsh economy.

This is not however a springboard to building up companies that have a UK national, European or global reach. The creative industry strategy was partly designed for companies who had the potential to reach outside the borders of Wales and be larger then they presently are.

However, those companies which operate successfully in the Welsh market place were designed to serve that market and do find it difficult to operate outside their home territory.

They make the occasional programme for channels outside Wales but these are at the margin of their operations.

Even those companies that have been significantly funded by WAG, allowing them to develop their business model and become players outside Wales have, in the main, failed to achieve those initial objectives.

Growing the company inside Wales is only possible by cannibalizing the work of other companies. All we are really doing is using public money to give one indigenous company the financial muscle to bully another out of the way.

This is state aid at its most extreme and its most objectionable. Any company that wants to be an economic multiplier for Wales
has to find a way that breaks outside their present business model.

At Tinopolis, our decision to find a different business model by actively seeking the purchase of a major operator outside Wales was recognition of how difficult it was to grow organically from Wales into other markets.

We identified the problem within Wales and recognized that if we were to be serious players outside Wales this was the direction we would have to take.

With Welsh broadcasting facing a prolonged period of financial constraints television production for Welsh consumption is most unlikely to provide economic growth for Wales.

There is no single solution that works for all companies but if they are to achieve economic benefit for Wales, our production companies have to find different roads to heaven to the ones they are now following

New Media

At present we are seeing the inevitable transition of people’s viewing habits – from TV and films to a new mode of entertainment, education and information that will, increasingly, be broadband led.

The local cinema won’t disappear and neither will our favourite channels but the balance between old and new distribution channels is changing and this will have a profound effect on the content people want and how they access it.

That tipping point, described in the States as the iPod moment when video, TV and film also become part of the download culture is fast approaching.

When it arrives those companies and countries that are attuned to providing content for this new environment are likely to prosper. As we have seen with some major record labels this new consumer behaviour brings market opportunities.

Those countries and companies that can exploit this have a chance to be very successful and Wales can play a part..

Some companies in Wales began to invest seriously in new media several years ago. Now we have a decent number at the sharp end of building new distribution channels, creating the content and building entirely new business models as a result.

Even better, we have, for the first time, an element of the creative industries where location is not a barrier. Llanelli or London, Cardiff or Bangor, they can all prosper in this new environment.

Welsh success hinges on whether we have the creative talent and financial muscle to present those products and services to people wherever they are. All this has one significant and dangerous disadvantage – it is high risk.

The upside is that it is an area of the creative industries where growth can be exponential and the economic multiplier to Wales can be very
valuable.

If Wales is to have a meaningful presence in the creative industries of tomorrow it has to be by looking at those areas where achievement is genuinely possible. WAG needs to reconsider its priorities for the creative industries with new media as its priority. The future has been determined by others. Does Wales want to be part of it?

 

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A Time of Despair For Scots – Blessed With A Neutered Authority in Scotland and Governed by a Bunch of Incompetent Tory Wide Boys In London

 

 

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The 2014 Smith Commission

Lord Smith of Kelvin engaged with thousands of stakeholders across Scotland during the work of the Smith Commission. The outcome prompted him to make a personal recommendation in the Smith Commission Agreement. He said:

“There is a strong desire to see the principle of devolution further extended with the transfer of powers from Holyrood to local communities. The Scottish Government should work with the Parliament, civic Scotland and local authorities setting out ways in which local areas can benefit from the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”

 

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The Unionist Government Approach to Scotland

Scottish Secretary David Mundell stated:

“The choices made by the Scottish Government are significant. Serious cuts to local authority budgets, and absolutely no new devolved powers to raise their own funding. In fact the reverse, with the Council Tax freeze retained yet again. Local councils are starved of any powers to raise their own funding and power and responsibility to make their own decisions should be transferred from Scottish government ministers and civil servants to Councillors in local communities.”

 

Comment:

Mundell studiously ignores the Scottish government efforts to add powers to local government. See:

https://www.gov.scot/policies/community-empowerment/”

b. Workplace parking tax:

Jackson Carlaw, in parliament, complained that “tens of thousands of Scottish workers are to be fleeced for hundreds of pounds a year just because the SNP government can’t say no to six dismal Green MSPs”.

John Swinney responded, insisting that the proposal was about “empowering” councils. He said: “It will enable local authorities to exercise a judgment as to whether they wish to apply a workplace parking levy. The decision will be up to local authorities – it is an example of localism in practice and I would have thought the Conservatives would welcome that. Jackson Carlaw has been found out today, he goes around the country arguing for more powers for local government and when we deliver them, he comes here in an act of rank hypocrisy and criticizes them. The people of Scotland can see through the hypocrisy of the Tories, they can see what the Tories are about, their spots have never changed, they want to cut public spending and they will take the hypocritical way of doing it.”

 

Comment:

Typical “push me pull me politics” from the Tory party. The SNP government devolve Tory supported decision making to local council authorities only for the Tory’s to renege on their support. Never trust a Tory.

 

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 Local Government Funding

The funding of local government, a crucial part of the civic structure of Scotland, has been significantly reduced over the last decade, in direct consequence of the imposition by the Westminster Tory government of a brutal austerity regime that has caused so much damage to Scottish society.

True to form the Unionist Party’s in Scotland repeatedly lie to the Scottish electorate, rewriting the oracle, transferring blame for the reduced funding of councils away from Westminster to the Scottish government.

Their efforts to deceive are actively assisted by a complicit Unionist backing media, including the BBC, (who accrue £325 million annually from Scots). Biting the hand that feeds it is an apt description.

 

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Capital Investment

Capital investment in Scotland dried up between 2008-2015, as funds were directed at major investment programmes in London and the North of England.

The re-elected Tory government was forced by political pressure, to address the lack of capital under funding in parts of the UK, other than England.

It did so through the commitment of new finance to “City Deals”. The deals, funding specific approved developments were to be delivered through local level partnerships, supplemented by appropriately qualified persons from business and other government officials.

Great news, but not for Scots. Huge deals were approved for Northern England (where the Tory’s are weak). Scotland was short changed yet again.

But the Scottish government intervened and allocated finance to Scotland’s “City Deals” correcting and in many cases exceeding the Westminster shortfall.

 

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Double Devo a Warning??

Mundell said:

The Smith Commission Agreement was explicit that responsibility for managing the Crown Estate, which is being devolved in the Scotland Bill, should be further devolved to local authority areas such as Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles or other areas who seek such responsibilities and there is an argument that the UK Government should legislate to devolve these and other things directly to Scotland’s local authorities: so-called ‘double devolution’.

An Englishman, ScepticalChymist commented:

“England’s policy towards its neighbours for centuries has been divide and rule. Religion has been the main tool in Ireland; language in Wales. In Scotland, they have persistently, but so far unsuccessfully, tried to stir up highlander/lowlander or similar regional friction. Hold firm, Scotland… and craft your own allocation of powers when you have achieved independence and are freed up from the malevolent influences of the British State.”

 

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The Mundell Myth – Westminster Control is Being Reduced

Mundell said:

Attention is being given to the crucial issue of breaking up the Westminster central control monolith, and the Conservative Government is setting the pace and leading the way.

The Northern Powerhouse is breaking new ground. It explicitly models itself on Dutch and German models of metro-area devolution and infrastructure integration.

Already major powers over health, transport and planning have been hewn out of the Whitehall monolith and deposited wholesale into Lancashire. And the Midlands Engine is implementing plans transferring powers to the Greater Birmingham area, and their are plans afoot in urban Yorkshire, suburban Hampshire and even rural Cornwall – the direction of travel for the UK excluding Scotland is becoming crystal clear.

There is now a real risk that the towns and counties of Scotland, will be left behind.  The Scottish Parliament has had full control of local government in Scotland for sixteen years. And in that time – what has it done to empower them? What has the Scottish Parliament put forward to match the ambition and vision of the Northern Powerhouse?

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, set out a new and ambitious approach to give real power to cities, counties and towns in England. The approach is bottom up, not top down.

It does not force changes on councils, but rather it establishes a legal framework to allow local councils to shape their own destinies.

Groups of local authorities can come together to agree their own priorities and set their own paths to take over new powers for their area. It could be taking control of local transport, housing, strategic planning, health, social care and skills training to boost growth and improve lives for their citizens.

And with greater powers comes greater responsibility, accountability and scrutiny, in some cases in the form of directly-elected, metro-wide mayors. And it leads inevitably to thought of fiscal devolution from central government to local councils. I’m sure many councils feel that the recent budget settlement shows the pressing need for a debate on that.

 

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The Reality of Mundell’s Transfer of Powers

The  2014 Smith Commission:

Leaked drafts revealed that formally agreed plans to give Holyrood new powers over abortion law, lotteries, and health and safety at work were dropped from the Smith Commission.

The documents showed that a range of major powers were set to be devolved to Scotland as part of the Unionist “vow” made during the independence referendum, but were axed in the final days of negotiations.

They included full devolution of abortion law and the creation of a separate Scottish Health & Safety Executive.  Both were downgraded to the status of “additional issues for consideration,”  and may or may not be devolved in future.

Plans to give the Scottish Government more control over the treatment of asylum seekers, and a greater say in the governance of the BBC were also removed at the instigation of Unionist parties.

The final draft also included proposals to devolve income tax personal allowances, employers’ National Insurance contributions, inheritance tax, and the power to create new taxes without Treasury approval. However, these were never adopted into an agreed text.

According to sources close to the Commission, Labour, LibDem and Tory members were frequently on the phone taking instruction from their parties in London, with the LibDems and Tories particularly exercised about welfare proposals and Labour more focused on tax.

The Commission chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, also appeared to give extra weight to the views of the three main Westminster parties, a source said. “The position that Lord Smith took was that if the parties who were either in the current UK government or might be in the next refused to budge on something, he went with it. The Unionist votes seemed to count for more.”

The BBC revealed that the draft version included late proposals to devolve power to vary Universal Credit. But these were dropped after the UK Cabinet was informed, and only a power to vary the housing cost element remained.

Other powers agreed by the Commission were later cut. The most controversial of these concerned abortion. The decision to devolve had been agreed on a 4-1 basis, with only Labour opposed to it. But during the final day, Labour kept pushing its opposition in meetings with Lord Smith, who then raised it again with the other parties. The Conservatives then sided with Labour and the commitment to devolve abortion was removed.

Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, who sat on the Commission, said: “The reaction against devolving abortion in the final few days surprised and disappointed me. Concerns that Scotland would do the wrong thing and undermine women’s rights are misplaced. The real threat to women’s reproductive rights comes from the voice we hear at Westminster.”

Another missing power was the creation of a separate Scottish Health & Safety Executive. This had long been supported by Labour and the trade union movement, but was removed at the behest of the UK Government. The draft stated: “Power to establish a separate Scottish Health & Safety Executive to set enforcement priorities, goals and objectives in Scotland will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This was struck out and relegated to the “additional issues” annex of the final report, which said the Scottish and UK governments should merely “consider” changes.

The final draft also included an agreement that: “The power to permit the creation and regulation of new lotteries in Scotland will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.” But the final report devolved only the power to “prevent the proliferation” of highly addictive gaming machines known as fixed-odds betting terminals.

Also removed was a statement that said: “There will be greater Scottish involvement in BBC governance beyond the current right to have one Trust member and the current Audience Council Scotland.”  (The Herald)

 

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Impact of the UK Withdrawal from the EU

In the UK, the Parliament at Westminster is sovereign. This means the UK Parliament has the power to make the final decision on laws and how the country is run. However, the UK Parliament devolved a limited number of powers to the Scottish Parliament. The institution is able to make decisions in certain defined areas.

In the past the UK Government also had to follow laws made by the European Union (EU). Following the 2016 referendum the UK decided to leave the EU and will no longer have to obey decisions made by the EU in Brussels. It is expected that the UK will have left the EU by the end of March 2019.

To facilitate Brexit the UK Government published a list of areas of responsibility, formally devolved to Scotland, indicating Westminster intent to retain power after Brexit.

The 24 powers include those over fisheries, environmental protections, food regulation and animal welfare. Public procurement rules currently held by the EU will also be kept at a UK level.

Comment: I believe the slippery slope through which Scotland’s flirtation with devolved responsibilities and a parliament to boot is likely to be brought to an end, over time. The Holyrood parliament will be declared defunct and all powers transferred to the authority and control of the Westminster government in Scotland. Scottish Tory MP’s (assuming there are some) will serve in the government. The building has been leased and other plans are being developed. Mundell wins the day.

 

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Thatcher Hatchet Man Michael Forsyth Still the Darling Of the BBC – He’s On Question Time Tonight – Yet Again – Read This Then Judge His Contribution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michael Forsyth – The Man With Red White and Blue Blood

In a statement, confirming his commitment to the Union, not long after the 2014 Independence Referendum,  Forsyth challenged the way in which David Cameron played the English card the day after the Scottish independence referendum in offering English MPs a greater say over English only laws.

He said:

“David Cameron, instead of going up to Scotland the next day (after the referendum) and saying ‘look we’ve got to look at this now from the point of view of the whole United Kingdom’, started the English votes for English laws thing which was not the true Unionist position and that shattered the Unionist Parties alliance in Scotland against the breakup of the United Kingdom. I do not support English votes for English laws. It doesn’t seem to me to be a very good policy to try and deal with the rise of Scottish nationalism by stirring up English nationalism. We need to find ways of binding the United Kingdom together, of binding that partnership together. Questioning the legitimacy of SNP MPs is unwise and runs counter to the assurances offered during the referendum about guaranteeing an inclusive UK. And I have limited sympathy for Labour, which is paying the price for adopting the language of nationalism in the 1980s then claiming that the Tories had no mandate to govern in Scotland. They now find themselves being devoured by the nationalist tiger.”

Forsyth’s remarks added reassurance because he is an ardent Thatcherite and Unionist who played a leading role in fighting against Labour’s plans for a Scottish parliament in the 1997 election campaign.

Comment:

“Thank you Michael Forsyth! This is pretty much exactly what I thought….. that Cameron played a partisan game certain to inflame Scottish nationalism with an English betrayal only hours after the vote, critically damaging the very Union he claimed to champion, in the interests of a short-term electoral gain. The only question I’ve never quite been able to settle in my head is whether when he made his little play to English nationalism he was stupid enough not to see what this would do in Scotland, arrogant enough to assume that it didn’t matter now the referendum was over, or insincere enough in his professed concern for the Union (which is part of his party’s name) that he didn’t actually care as long as it boosted his chances of re-election. David Cameron, fool or knave? It seems a hard choice (though there is an obvious answer). Cameron blundered hugely: having signed a vow, with other Unionist party leaders, promising Scotland substantially extended devolution then, only one day after the result, turning around and retrospectivy slapped conditions on it. Forsyth’s point was — Cameron took a giant public dump on a signed pledge just days old. A huge kick in the teeth to the “no”voters in Scotland. Not wise!!!!”

 

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If In Trouble Attack

Adding insult to injury, Cameron then instructed the start of “operation totally terrified”, demonising Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Entire pages of daily newspapers were devoted to the “evolution” of Nicola, complete with “comments” such as “jimmy crankie” “mary doll” and the vile and nasty “She’s a witch! Burn her!” “Did you dress her up like that? No, no, no! Yes, yes. only a wee bit” “But she’s got a wart”and I wish she would have an accident or car crash.” Negative seeding in action!!!!

Unionist politicians of all Parties also continued with their ridiculous claims that Scots sent to Westminster by the voters of Scotland to represent them, were actually “fifth columnists” infiltrating the sovereign English parliament. The Westminster political establishment confirmed the views of many, that Scots were only party to the benefits of the Union so long as they did not attempt to participate in its governance.

The British Nationalists of the Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem Parties were also determined to hold the union together despite their long record of unparallelled economic incompetence, promoting austerity, inequality and privatisation, ignoring the impact of their policies punishing Scots who were entirely blameless of the financial crash of 2007-08.

This offensive behaviour was instrumental in persuading the Scottish parliament to petition for another referendum, refused by Prime Minister May who off-handedly said “now is not the time”.

Comment:

The Unionist Parties burned their legitimacy in Scotland, promising devolution that they had no intention of delivering then, when their votes in Scotland plummeted, indulging in petty acts of revenge, using Scotland as testing site for their most bloody minded policies. ……making dishonest promises to Scotland then indulging in petty acts of spite….sounds familiar. Remember Thatcher?

It is ironic that during the 2014 referendum the “Yes” side was persistently accused by “Better Together” and other “Yes” supporting entities, of paranoia and seeing conspiracy’s against them everywhere. Fears that proved to be entirely justified when, in the months before Xmas 2014 and in the first few months of 2015, the promised additional devolution of powers was downplayed then denied Scotland by the obstructive behaviour of Unionist politicians and the right wing press and media.

 

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David Cameron – The Tory Wideboy Who Conned a nation

Cameron played a dangerous and stupid game with the Union. His idiocy on the steps of Downing Street the morning after the 2014 referendum revealed how the Unionsts planned to put partisan considerations before the national interest and bridge building.

Cameron did not give a toss for the Union, based on his deliberate machinations and incendiary comments…. But bets are that he did care about keeping the neo-liberal gravy train rolling and was prepared to risk breaking up the Union to achieve it. He was a dangerous politician who made it up as he went along, simply to look good, and then flippantly ditching his position, if it no longer suited his purpose.

He is the root cause of today’s Scottish resentment, highlighted by his stupid boastful claim that the Queen “purred down the the phone”, after he “won” the referendum with a mixture of blackmail, dire threats and deceit, but he was a notorious “swinger” in opposite directions on almost everything. He claimed to be a “compassionate, moderate Tory, whilst he simultaneously boasted about going further than Thatcher. He claimed to be green, and claimed to want the “greenest ever government” from the “bottom of his heart”, and then was reported to be going around saying, “let’s get rid of the green crap”. His “hugging a hoodie” posturing saw him claiming that young people shouldn’t be demonized, before his “lock’em up” hysteria after the rioting and looting, and he also terminated housing benefit for the young.

In his impulsive attempt to keep Scotland in the UK he angered Scots and handed the SNP a landslide in the 2015 GE. David Cameron was the SNP’s best recruiting agent.

He was a reckless and dangerous politician who, assisted by Tory backing proprietors and executives of the right wing controlled media and the government controlled BBC, inflicted massive damage on the social fabric of Scotland.

 

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The 2015 GE – Why did Scots Embrace the SNP

Scotland voted against the Unionist Parties because they felt that the Labour, Tory and the Lib-Dem Parties had done “bugger all” for Scotland. The Tory’s shafted Scotland by shutting down and transferring industry to England. More punishment was inflicted when the Labour Government failed to introduce policies reversing the disaster left in place by the Tory’s. What Scotland did get was empty promises, zero-hour contracts and ruthless policies designed to dismantle the “Welfare State” and austerity measures that vastly increased poverty punishing the poor, whist rewarding the cupable rich people so guilty of the financial crash that crippled the UK. Where’s the justice in that? Rich man’s justice. And George Osborne, the Chancellor responsible for the 10 year+ austerity measures added insult with his recent cash purchase of a £3millon house in Switzerland.

 

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The SNP – The Dream Will Never Die – The Architects of Success Live On

 

 

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Alex Salmond – Is This His Political Obituary

Seen as one of the most talented politicians of his generation, Alex already had a high-profile in Scottish politics before he won two historic Holyrood elections as SNP leader, securing the mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in the process.

Born in 1954 in Linlithgow, he graduated from St Andrews University and began a career in economics, working for the Scottish Office and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

He served as party leader from 1990, standing down after 10 years only to make a dramatic comeback to the SNP’s top job before winning the 2007 Holyrood election.

He began his parliamentary career as MP for Banff and Buchan in 1987, building a small team of dedicated supporters who would remain loyal throughout his time in politics.

Often derided by his political opponents as arrogant and self-serving, he nonetheless succeeded in turning his party into the most popular in the history of devolution, on his platform of fighting for Scottish interests.

Despite a hard-fought campaign on the “Yes” side, voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in the 18 September vote and, the following day, Alex  announced he was standing down as first minister and SNP leader.

At the time of his unexpected resignation he could not have foreseen the landslide SNP victory (gained only six months later) in the 2015 General Election.  A success brought about by the disgraceful backsliding of “Unionist” politicians, their Civil Service helpers and other parties interested only in the containment of Scots within the existing political constraints.

The much touted joint Unionist commitment to fully implement their “Vow” !!!!……to devolve powers to Scotland, just short of independence, proved to be a “lie” that broke the hearts of many Scots who had voted to remain in the Union only on the substance of “Unionist! promises.

Private polling, coupled with a massive increase in the membership, in the months before the election provided early indication of a marked upturn in the fortunes of the Party.

The new blood intake included a number of gifted individuals, many of whom were selected to stand as parliamentary candidates throughout Scotland. The battle for the hearts, minds and votes of Scots was taken up, once again by those who would not be denied freedom from the oppressive Westminster political machine.

Alex, semi-retired from active politics by many, consulted the Party heirarchy and gained support for a challenge for the Banff & Buchan constituency. Which he subsequently won.

The fifty-six 56 MP’s, many of them new to politics, realised early on that they would need to overcome a “Westminster” bias against Scottish politicians.

Rich with talent and enthusiasm but lacking political experience the SNP “block”, of MP’s appointed Angus Roberston to lead it.

Alex took on the role of Foreign Affairs spokesman for the Party ensuring his place at Westminster would be productive but excluding any political input into events in Scotland.

Well able to deal with the tricks of a truculent “Speaker” and the Unionist majority in the Commons he commanded the Commons stage when he spoke to his brief but there was a sadness noting him sitting on the fringe of the SNP group (after so many years viewing his centre stage domination of the Holyrood debating chamber) allowing his leader, Angus Robertson the centre stage.

The unexpected 2017 General Election provided Alex with another  opportunity to bow out of Scottish politics, so that, as an elder statesman he would be able to further develop his interest in foreign affairs, perhaps through the many media outlets who had provided him with numerous appearances over the years.

Spurning the chance of a new political direction he decided to stand, (against advice from those closest to him) once again, for a seat at Westminster, representing Banff and Buchan.

But he, (as did many others in the party) had misread the political scene.

The influence of the large body of SNP MP’s at Westminster had been of little consequence when set against the blatant refusal by the Unionist parties to uphold their 2014 referendum promise to devolve additional powers to the Scottish parliament.

And the campaign managers of the Scottish branches of the Unionist Parties, agreed to assist each other, easing their activity where they had little chance of gaining a seat and in many cases promoting the cause of the Unionist candidates.

Faced with this scenario Alex and many other SNP candidates failed in their bids for re-election.

Alex accepted a need to change direction and investigated a number of media opportunities, the most promising being employment as the editor of a major Scottish tabloid newspaper.

This failed to materialise, due to the application of pressure from major finanacial backers and in consequence Alex became dependent on appearance invitations from the right wing media and BBC. But shock and horror, he was denied that platform through the Unionist controlled entities.

Lesser persons would have given up the ghost by now. But not Alex who turned to the english language television and radio station, Russia Today (RT) and, having been given written assurances there would be no censorship or any other adverse pressure applied to himself, his guests or content, he signed up to produce and present a weekly current affairs television show.

The show proved to be a hit with viewers (it still is) and with his future assured Alex was a happy bunny once again. All’s well that ends well.

 

Clockwise from left: Robin Sturgeon, Harry Murrell, Jim Owens, Ethan Owens, 17, Cameron Coyne, 14, Gillian Owens, Ross Coyne, 12, husband Peter Murrell, Finlay Coyne, 8, Joan Sturgeon, Nicola Sturgeon, Harriet Owens, 8

 

 

Nicola Sturgeon – Alex Salmond’s Protege

Nicola was born in the North Ayrshire town of Irvine in 1970. She joined the SNP at the age of 16, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

She said her decision to become an SNP member rather than Labour was borne from a “strong feeling that it was wrong for Scotland to be governed by a Tory government that we hadn’t elected” and that the country would only truly prosper with independence.

After studying law at Glasgow University and working as a solicitor at the city’s Drumchapel Law Centre, Nicola’s entry into full-time politics came at the age of 29, when she was elected to the new Holyrood parliament, in 1999, as a Glasgow regional MSP.

She gained an early reputation for being overly serious, which earned her the nickname “nippy sweetie”.

After the SNP’s victory in the 2007 election, Nicola became Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Health Secretary, seeing through popular SNP pledges such as the reversal of A&E closures and the abolition of prescription charges.

She also won praise for her handling of the swine flu crisis, and played a large part in the SNP’s historic majority in the 2011 election.

Nicola later described the result – and the dismantling of Labour strongholds across the country – as having broken the mould of Scottish politics, and put the SNP’s success down to being “in touch with the country it served”.

She subsequently accepted one of the Scottish government’s biggest roles, overseeing the 2014 independence referendum, and was the obvious successor to Alex when he stood down as both first minister and SNP leader after voters rejected independence.

In her first six months in the job, Nicola led the SNP to a stunning success in the 2015 General Election, when the party won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland.

The party also won a third successive victory in the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May 2016, when it won 63 of the 129 seats – short of a majority, but guaranteeing that Nicola would remain as first minister.

Nicola, married Peter Murrell, Chief Executive of the SNP in 2010, after meeting 15 years previously at an SNP youth weekend in Aberdeenshire.

 

 

 

Nicola Sturgeon and her Feminist Agenda

Nicola used her acceptance speech as First Minister to try to reassure opponents her administration would be more than just a vehicle for constitutional campaigning.

But she dwelled longest on her achievement of becoming the first woman to lead the Scottish Government. Her election showed “the sky’s the limit” for women and girls across the country, she told MSPs before adding:

“But it is what I do as First Minister that will matter more – much more – than the example I set by simply holding the office.”

Looking up towards her niece Harriet, eight, in the gallery, she added:

“She doesn’t yet know about the gender pay gap or under-representation or the barriers, like high childcare costs, that make it so hard for so many women to work and pursue careers.

My fervent hope is that she never will; that by the time she is a young woman, she will have no need to know about any of these issues because they will have been consigned to history.

If, during my tenure as First Minister, I can play a part in making that so, for my niece and for every other little girl in this country, I will be very happy indeed.”

Nicola also paid tribute to her predecessor, Mr Salmond stating:

“Without the guidance and support that Alex has given me over more than 20 years, it is unlikely I would standing here. I know that I will continue to seek his wise counsel and, who knows, from time to time, he might seek mine too!”

 

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Peter Murrell – Scotland’s First Laddie?

Peter was born, in Leith, Edinburgh, on 8 December 1964. He attended his local comprehensive, Craigmount High School, then attended Glasgow University. He is not listed as an alumni so it follows he did not finish his degree.

Peter loved music and like many people from Leith he was won over to the Nationalist cause by the Leith born twins, “The Proclaimers” who, at their gigs circulate leaflets promoting the SNP and independence.

He and his close friend, Party stalwart, Angus Robertson, joined the SNP in 1984 and soon became active in the movement.

Angus later left politics for a time taking up a career in journalism with the BBC but Peter chose to remain in Edinburgh and subsequent employment with the Party HQ, in Leith. He never left.

Members of Peter’s family were “new tech activated” and their enthusiasm infected Peter who readily accepted the need to introduce new technology into the daily running of the offices and other operations. It was this early foresight that impressed the Party heirarchy who gave him the authority to expand his activities further developing the use of IT within the Party. The benefits of this foresight would manifest with the Party successes later in Peter’s career.

The mastermind of the SNP’s success is also married to Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first female First Minister.

It is fair to say the huge surge in party ‘newbies’ after the 2014 independence referendum brought a measure of solace to himself, a man who devoted his professional life – and much of his personal one – to the cause of nationalism.

But, Peter is not just married to the leader of the SNP. He is in his own right one of the party’s most powerful and dedicated generals.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon might have been the public faces of the 2014, independence campaign – but the First Minister’s husband was one of its key architects and there is little question that he emerged as one of its biggest winners.

 

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Peter Murrell – Chief Executive and Campaigns Manager

Peter is a passionate Nationalist who,in his early twenty’s, at the start of his tenure with the Party, decided his political career would be best achieved if he worked behind the scenes.

He was part of Alex Salmond’s constituency office team in Peterhead and it was Alex who recognised his talents and sponsored his rise through the party ranks. The two have remained close ever since.

Few people know him well. Rarely seen, except at elections and at Party events, he is nearly always present in the main auditorium, usually standing in the shadows to the side of the stage whispering instructions to Cabinet ministers as they prepare to make keynote speeches.

A powerful and dedicated general blessed with a level of authority more comprehensive than the casual watcher could possibly realise.

By 2001, he was one of the key players in the SNP “back room” and replaced Mike Russell, as Chief Executive.

Under the leadership of John Swinney he assisted with the organisation and delivery of the disastrous 2003 Holyrood elections, in which the Party lost eight seats.

John Swinney resigned as SNP leader in 2004 and Nicola Sturgeon launched a bid for the leadership of the Party, before withdrawing from the contest after Alex Salmond announced his intention to add his name to the list of contenders.

Nicola subsequently agreed to take on the role of Deputy leader of the Party and to “stand in” for him as the Party’s “Holyrood leader” while he remained an MP at Westminster.

The return of Alex Salmond brought promotion to Angus Robertson, who was appointed to the crucial new role of, “Party Campaigns Director”.

Angus made his mark soon after when, in 2006 he announced there would be a meeting at the Speyside hotel, Craigellachie, to be attended by the best of the Party’s “next generation”. Many of whom are still leading Party members today.

Alex Salmond, his then deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, and other key elected members, including Peter Murrell, were left out of the mix to encourage freedom of expression.

The group revisited three important points that would become the mantra of 2006:

1. The 2007 election would be a two-horse race.

2. Only the SNP could beat Labour.

3. It was a straight choice between Alex Salmond and Jack McConnell.

The meeting also complimented a process of reform already under way at Party Headquarters in Edinburgh, in place at the instigation of Peter Murrell.

The process crucially included the development of the then cutting-edge “Activate” computer-based, campaigning data management system and a, “Campaign Plan” comprising five key factors:

1. Communication
2. Governance
3. Message
4. Organisation
5. Resource.

Timelines were agreed for the routine measurement and monitoring of objectives at weekly meetings before, then daily during the last weeks of the campaign before polling. Including:

1. Objectives
2. Critical success factors
3. Performance targets
4. Performance measures
5. Benefits and actions

The unfuddled approach to campaigning, organised and directed by Peter,  ensured the Party would first gain power at Holyrood in 2007 then retain it with a landslide victory in 2011 and to hold a referendum in 2014.

No easy achievement since at the start of 2011 it seemed Labour was in the ascendancy and some senior members of the Party cast doubt on the strategy of the campaign.

Keeping his cool Peter circulated a memo declaring: “We are winning. We are winning with an overall majority and we will win an “independence referendum.” Stirring stuff indeed!!

There was an acceptance that Peter was an invaluable Party asset and he was rewarded with a marked increase in his remuneration package which soared from £35k to more than £100k.

 

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2014 Referendum

Having achieved the first two objectives with clinical proficiency, the third began with polls indicating the “No” campaign would prevail with ease since it appeared only around 25% of Scots would commit to supporting independence.

But fortunes changed as the campaign progressed through the summer of 2014 and by early September polls declared the outcome to be too close to call.

In response and in a desperate panic, only a week before the day of voting and therefore “illegal”,  the “Unionists” published, then heavily promoted “new” offers of greatly increased devolved powers, just short of “home rule”.

The BBC and other media outlets further assisted the effort orchestrating  skullduggery and delivering it through mass media subversive tactics resulting in the pendulum swinging back in favour of the “No” campaign.

Scotland voted “No” to independence on Thursday 18 September 2014, recording Alex Salmond’s place in history, as the man who just failed to lead his country to independence.

But it was not a “one man band” effort. He was ably assisted by Peter  whose performance was commented on by the founder of Edinburgh PR firm Charlotte Street Partners, former MSP Andrew Wilson, who said:

Peter is extremely well-liked by everyone I know and I don’t think we’ve ever had a better chief executive. He is really professional at his job, but is not a professional politician in the sense that he doesn’t ever seek the limelight. He doesn’t want kudos or anything for himself, he’s just assiduously gone about doing his job for such a long time and done it extraordinarily well. A key architect.”

 

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Scottish Voters Angry at Unionist Backsliding On Their Promises Turn To The SNP

Angus Robertson conceded that after the 2014 referendum, no one within the party predicted or planned for what happened next. He said:

“Nobody could have planned for what happened soon after the referendum. People joined the SNP online, others tweeted, ‘I’ve just joined the SNP, why don’t you’? It was like watching something happening that you had no control of. It took up a momentum all on its own….. It was clear that something big was happening and nobody could have foreseen then that the membership levels would continue rising …… breaking all kinds of records.  and it wasn’t something that was politically directed.”

Hindsight can play tricks but I also don’t think anybody could have seen the Nicola phenomenon. It was a conjoining of a number of different factors:

1. Her great talents, which everybody in politics in Scotland has known for a long time.

2. Her taking office at exactly the right time, with her very particular communication skills, style and empathy, which evidently connected very powerfully with the electorate

3. Alex Salmond demitting office and  speedily confirming his candidacy for Westminster.”

 

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The SNP Landslide Victory in the 2015 General Election

The campaign committed the Party to a rejection of the punishing austerity policies inflicted on Scotland by uncaring Unionist politicians. To stand up for Scotland and on the promised delivery of new devolved powers.

The performance of Nicola Sturgeon in the debates, (UK and Scottish) was outstanding and persuaded Scots to the view that SNP reflected their hopes and ambitions.

The participation of record numbers of supporters and volunteers and a very talented range of candidates in the election greatly enhanced the campaign.

The election resulted in a landslide for the SNP who returned 56 MP’s to Westminster, leaving just three, to be shared with the Unionist parties.

Angus Robertson, who  was appointed to lead the SNP team of MP’s at Westminster, said:

“Westminster is going through culture shock in coming to terms with the fact the SNP did so well in the election. That we are here in such strong numbers, elected as Scots who support independence, is also not lost on them. We were elected to pursue an anti-austerity agenda and more devolved powers for Scotland. and we will do just that.”

 

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Have We Seen The Last Of Ruth Davidson in Scottish Politics Or Will The Tory Beast At Westminster Reject Her

 

 

 

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31 Aug 2018: Has Scotland Seen the Back of Ruth Davidson?

Ruth Davidson could quit Scottish politics after she has had her baby and become a Cabinet minister in London as a launch pad for a bid to be Tory leader.

She reportedly told friends that she could take up a peerage in the House of Lords so she could be parachuted into the Government.

If she makes the move to Whitehall she would immediately be one of the favourites to succeed Theresa May who announced recently she would stand down as leader of the party before the next General Election.

A spokesman for Ms Davidson would not deny that she has had speculative conversations with friends about her possible future in Westminster. (Daily Mail)

 

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Comment:

I am wondering if the Tory party is ready to be led by an “unmarried mother !!!!  given the historic and current condemnation of such mothers by senior members of the party.

The baby has been named, Finn Paul Davidson, (presumably recognizing the marital status of the birth mother) .

He was conceived following IVF treatment, provided by the NHS.  The identity of the sperm donor has not been divulged.

Time for a look back to Tory Party leaders pronouncements against unmarried mothers and Party policies directed at punishing unfortunate young woman who had babies out of wedlock.

 

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The Tory Party and Its Vilification of Unmarried Mothers

Rhodes-Boyson MP, way back in 1986, condemned single parents as ‘evil’ in having made their cases so well they expanded their subsidies from the public purse from some £1.5million in 1960 to £1billion in 1983.

But 1993 was the year in which the Tory Party pathologizing of single mothers reached its peak,  strategically exploited to initially usher in the freezing of one-parent benefit by the Tories.

It also paved the way for a proposal to scrap lone parent premium two years later (Conservative Party Budget, November 1996).

By the early 1990s, a frenzy of newspaper reports spread and heightened moral panic over the supposed splitting of our societal seams, and as press headlines asserted ‘Single Parents Cripple Lives’, it was women bringing up children on their own who were seen as culpable.

The then Home Secretary Michael Howard warned that the rise in single parents threatened the ideal of the traditional family, this, despite the fact that in 1993 only 17% of British families with children under 18 were one-parent families.

As “New Right” ideologies of the family started to dominate public discourse, the plan to pave the way for dramatic cuts in welfare benefit meant that more strategic attacks were needed to home in on those lone parents who were receiving most state support.

And so, at the (Conservative Party Conference in 1993 Peter Lilley attacked young never-married mothers as ‘benefits-driven’ and’ undeserving’ compared to those who had experienced a more traditional relationship.

He stated:

“A year ago I told you my goal was to close down the something-for-nothing society. The third main area of rising spending is on lone parents. There are now 1.3million of them.  Since the sixties their numbers have risen seven-fold and throughout that period it has been ‘politically incorrect’ to uphold the traditional family as an ideal. Earlier this year the decision was taken that the party would break that taboo.”

Former Tory Minister, George Young also informed the 1993 Tory Party Conference of new curbs to limit single mothers’ access to decent council accommodation so priority could be given to those in traditional relationships.

He said:

“How do we explain to the young couple who want to wait for a home before they start a family that they cannot be rehoused ahead of the unmarried teenager expecting her first, probably unplanned child?”

The Tory dominated media eagerly grabbed hold of the debates around illegitimacy and championed their moral crusade with tales of the supposed sexual promiscuity of single mothers, peppered with accounts of 14 year-old girls becoming pregnant.

But press space wasn’t given over to seeking answers to why adequate and inexpensive child-care wasn’t available. Rather,the tabloids chose to sink into a wave of derogatory condemnation.

Tory politicians also focused their comments on who was fit to parent, and Michael Howard, in his own ‘back-to-basics’ way, seized the moment to argue that:

“it would be a good thing if more unmarried mothers gave up their children for adoption.”

The Tory Secretary of State for Wales, John Redwood said:

“One of the biggest social problems of our day is the surge in single parent families.  What is worrying is the trend in some places for young women to have babies with no apparent intention of even trying a marriage or stable relationship with the father of the child.  The natural state should be the 2-adult family caring for their children.

Full article: (Happy Families? Single Mothers, the Press and the Politicians by Karen Atkinson, Sarah Oerton and Diane Burns)

 

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7 Nov 2016: Benefits cap a monstrous new assault on single mothers

The Tory Government stands accused of “chilling callousness” over the tougher new benefit cap that comes into force with immediate effect.

The National Secretary of the GMB said:

“This has echoes of the staggering hypocrisy and chilling callousness that saw the victimization of single mothers in the bad old days of the early 1990s.  The unfair benefit cap will shatter the life chances of the poorest children. Theresa May once said she would change the ‘nasty party’ but the mask has slipped again.” (The Express)

 

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14 Feb 2018: Tories stigmatize single parent families

According to a government policy report, (signed off by a host of prominent Tory figures) single parent families are costing society £47 billion annually.

During a debate on it in the Commons, Sir Edward Leigh said:

“There is an absolute wealth of evidence on the importance of marriage to the welfare of children, and a wealth of evidence that marriage works, in that couples are much more likely to stay together.” (Grimsby Live)

 

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7 Oct 2018: Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey: Single mums ‘deliberately become pregnant’ for benefits

Single girls in inner cities “deliberately become pregnant” in order to secure homes and benefits from the government, the Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, wrote in 2006.

Bailey, wrote in the Telegraph that:

“any young girl living in the inner city will be clued up on how the system works. They won’t be too careful about not becoming parents. In some cases, they will deliberately become pregnant – as they know that if they do, they will get a flat. It is the same with benefits. These people are not stupid. If the state offers them money for doing something, they will do it. It is as simple as that.”

Bailey also wrote that the state needed to get away from the idea that it is “acceptable” to be a single mother.

He said:

“Many of the first single mums were housed in my part of London, reassuring them that it was acceptable – even desirable – for mothers to have babies on their own. That assumption is flawed because we now know that a child growing up without a father is so much more likely to be disadvantaged.”

In similar comments speaking at the Conservative party conference in 2008, Bailey also said

“There is a cottage industry in young women getting pregnant for state support. Girls getting knocked up to get housing? It’s a cottage industry where I come from.”

Bailey’s comments about single mothers follow his suggestion, in a policy paper he wrote in 2008 suggesting that:

“Hindu and Muslim communities rob Britain of its community,  contributing to the UK becoming a crime-riddled cesspool.” (The Business Insider)

 

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Reckless Homosexual Behaviour Saw an End to the Tory Party in Scotland – Ross Thomson ETAL Appear to Have Chosen to Ignore Behavioural Lessons From the Past – A History of Electoral Abuse Revealed

 

 

 

Tory MP Ross Thomson spoken to by police amid ‘sexual touching’ claims in Commons bar

It is alleged that:

Thomson repeatedly sexually assaulted three young men  having been three times escorted out  of the Commons Bar. He returned repeatedly to feel their bottoms and fondle their genitalia and tried to enter their underpants.

The Daily Mirror Reported

Scottish Tory MP Ross Thomson was spoken to by police after allegations were made of ‘sexual touching’ inside a House of Commons bar.  He is alleged to have sexually touched three men, but no formal allegation or arrest was made. Witnesses commented:

“I saw Thomson walk out of the Strangers Bar with a police officer.  He appeared to be “extremely drunk” and “slurring his words”.

“I saw Thomson in the corridor with a lot of police. At first everyone thought we were on lockdown which is your first thought when you see police.

“A friend alerted me to the fact that  Thomson was extremely drunk. It was quite busy and I looked over and it did seem that he was particularly drunk.”

“He was sort of staring into blank space, he was kind of swaying back and forth. Other MPs were excluding him from conversations and I think trying to persuade him to stop talking to people and leave.”

“He came over to my group, and was slurring his words, he couldn’t really string a sentence together.”

“He’d  tried to introduce himself to us but we couldn’t  understand what he was trying to say so we just left him and I think one of his colleagues came  and removed him.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives said:

“We are aware of reports of an incident last night and the matter is being looked into. We have no further comment to make at this stage.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said:

“Police were called at approximately 23:00hrs on Tuesday, 5 February to a bar within the Palace of Westminster following a report of sexual touching. Officers attended and spoke to the parties involved. No formal allegations were made to the officers and no arrests were made.”

 

Douglas Mathewson Betrayed then dumped by his partner Ross Thomson commented on the police caution issued to Thomson for inappropriate homosexual behaviour in the House of Commons bar

This chap has form. See Below:

https://caltonjock.com/2017/09/14/westminster-debate-israel-palestine-tory-mp-for-aberdeen-south-ross-thomson-seizes-his-chance-to-donate-his-own-weird-and-wonderful-interpretation-of-recent-historical-events/

https://caltonjock.com/2017/05/23/ross-thomson-mp-six-times-rejected-by-the-aberdeen-electorate-now-lords-it-over-them-but-why-does-he-bite-the-hand-that-feeds-him/

 

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Betrayal then Meltdown – A Tory Party Predilection – A look Back Before Looking Forward

Prime Minister, John Major delivered a speech on 8 October 1993 highlighting disagreements within the party, over Europe:

“Disunity leads to opposition. Not just opposition in Westminster, but in the European Parliament and in town halls and county halls up and down this country. And if agreement is impossible, and sometimes on great issues it is difficult, if not impossible, then I believe I have the right, as leader of this party, to hear of that disagreement in private and not on television, in interviews, outside the House of Commons.”

He then changed the subject and attacked many of the changes in Britain since the Second World War, singling out developments in housing, education, and criminal justice:

“a world that sometimes seems to be changing too fast for comfort”.

He then continued:

“The old values – neighbourliness, decency, courtesy – they’re still alive, they’re still the best of Britain. They haven’t changed, and yet somehow people feel embarrassed by them. We shouldn’t be. It is time to return to those old core values, time to get back to basics, to self-discipline and respect for the law, to consideration for others, to accepting a responsibility for yourself and your family and not shuffling off on other people and the state.”

He mentioned the phrase once again near the conclusion of his speech:

“The message is clear and simple, we must go back to basics. We want our children to be taught the best, our public services to give the best, our British industry to be the best and the Conservative Party will lead the country back to those basic rights across the board. Sound money, free trade, traditional teaching, respect for the family and respect for the law. And above all, we will lead a new campaign to defeat the cancer that is crime.”

The year 1993 was also a time when Britain was going through a moral panic on the issue of single mothers. Government ministers regularly made speeches on the issue, such as John Redwood’s condemnation of “young women [who] have babies with no apparent intention of even trying marriage or a stable relationship with the father of the child”. and Peter Lilley’s characterization of single mothers as “benefit-driven” and “undeserving” from the same year.

Comment:

John Major’s government was defeated at the next GE and he left office in 1997. A few years after, it was revealed that he had conducted a four-year-long extra-marital affair with fellow Conservative MP Edwina Currie in the 1980s. The liaison occurred when both were back-benchers. Currie disclosed the romance in her diaries, published in 2002, adding that she considered the “Back to Basics” campaign to have been “absolute humbug”.

 

CARTOONS by Frank Boyle:: The Scottish Tories, along with ...

 

 

 

John Major Set High Standards for His MP’s To Follow – Many Failed – Remember Eastwood?

Alan Stewart (d2016)

In 1997 the East Renfrewshire constituency of Eastwood was considered to be the safest Tory seat in Scotland. A bell-weather prized hold in Scotland.

Allan Stewart had been the Tory MP for Eastwood for a decade and a half. A former government minister on two occasions, he was respected within the constituency and throughout Scotland by Tory’s and political opponents alike.

That is, until the anti-motorway protest of 1992, (1) when he turned up at Pollok Park, worse the wear for drink, accompanied by two teenagers carrying air pistols and threatened protestors with a pick-axe handle. (2)

Known from that time as the “Beast of Eastwood”, he destroyed the carefully created and protected public image of himself being a happily married family man with two children and an astute politician with an assured future in politics.

Stewart had problems with alcohol – a fact known to many within the constituency – but he was not short of help and advice from people in his inner circle of friends and was provided with “secret” treatment at a clinic – in Scotland. It was the Tory way no less. But there is nothing secret for very long in Scottish politics and the press revealed the truth to the public.

The incident at Pollok Park and the revelations about his alcoholism were not a hammer blow to his aspirations for re-election but the release of details of his on-going affair with Catherine ‘Bunny’ Knight, a married mother of four (whom he had met at a “drying out” clinic) was a killer blow to his campaign. He withdrew his nomination for re-election and resigned.

Notes:

(1). This was the time when the dreadlocked Gael Colin MacLeod (deceased) became famous as the “Birdman of Pollok” after spending nine days in the branches of a beech tree in a bid to prevent it being cut down by Wimpey construction workers. He was then joined by a small group of locals angered that the £53m motorway was being built through seven miles of heavily wooded land in Pollok Park which had been bequeathed to the people of Glasgow by Sir John Stirling Maxwell.

Macleod proclaimed: “Pollok Estate was given to the people in 1939. Once given it cannae be ungiven, it can only be stolen.” Ultimately, the campaign to halt the motorway and save the 5,000 trees cut down to make way for it failed.

(2). Stewart was subsequently tried, convicted and fined £200 at Paisley Sherrif Court. His son, Gareth, and friend David Clow, both 17, pleaded guilty to possessing loaded air pistols without lawful authority in the same incident. Sentence on them was deferred for a year.

 

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Sir Michael Hirst

There’s nothing more satisfying to the Scottish psyche than the degradation of the great and the good, particularly when their rise has been accompanied by a large dose of pomposity.

Stewart’s untimely resignation, presented problems but these were soon resolved by the speedy selection of a “safe pair of hands” leading Scottish Tory politico, Sir Michael Hirst, a clean-cut father of three, a partner in a distinguished accounting firm, an elder in the Church of Scotland Chairman of the Scottish Tory Party.

But, within days of his nomination process, stories began to circulate, (reputedly from Tory’s worried his past indiscretions would surface) that Hirst was a closet homosexual, who had betrayed his wife and family by having gay affairs with political colleagues.

Hirst withdrew his nomination, hoping the press and the public would lose interest.(3)  Not to be denied the truth of the matter the press continued to investigate and report on the allegations and the day following Hirst’s resignation (4) it was revealed that he’d not only been involved in homosexual activities with a number of men, he’d been most involved with a man connected to the Tories’ biggest payola scandal.

Conspiracy or malice, events proved the events at Eastwood to be a “masterpiece” of a cock-up. Stewart had a nervous breakdown. Hirst not only withdrew his nomination he was forced to resign, in disgrace, from his position as Party Chairman, (5) resulting in losses at the GE which almost wiped the Tory Party, in Scotland from the political map.

Notes:

(3). Married Sir Michael Hirst was forced to quit as chairman of the Scottish Conservatives as a result of indiscretions (homosexual dalliances).

(4) Hirst’s letter of resignation, read: “I very deeply regret these circumstances which have caused great distress to my family and which may, I fear, cause embarrassment to the Party in the current climate”.

(5) Hirst, life after death: http://scottishlaw.blogspot.com/2011/03/new-chairman-of-law-societys-master.html

 

John Major Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from ...

 

 

Ian Lang

Then Scottish Secretary, (President of the Board of Trade (and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, 1995-97), Ian Lang was accused of covering up the “Gay” double life of shamed Party Chairman, Hirst.

The allegations were that he failed to follow up on Hirst’s denial of alleged flings with former researcher, Andrew Barnett and personal assistant, Paul Martin. (6) and (7)

It later transpired that at a Party Conference in Brighton, two years before, Barnett had spoken publicly about his affair with Hirst. A senior Tory said: “This goes all the way to Ian Lang.” Astonishingly, some party workers had known about Hirst’s gay secret for ten years.

It was also revealed that Hirst hadn’t the courage to tell his wife about his secret life or that it was was about to be made public.

Jackson Carlaw tried to play down the stunning events and said that many in the party were “distraught” that the chairman had had to resign. But he claimed this had hardened the resolve of party workers to win their target seats.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/SCANDAL%3b+Tory+top+brass+covered+up+for+gay-shame+Hirst.-a061018638

 

Notes:

(6). The downfall of the Tory’s in Scotland is a consequence of homosexual intrigues within the party created by a “gay mafia” whose tentacles of power stretched from the party’s grass-roots through to the top of the party.

Scots Secretary Michael Forsyth’s agent, Simon Turner – the man running his election campaign –was openly gay. And it was two other ambitious young gays who brought about the downfall of Scots Tory chairman Sir Michael Hirst. They were his former researcher Andrew Barnett and campaign worker Paul Martin.

Barnett, tried to deny any close relationship with Hirst – but a Tory insider said: “The affair was well-known.” The relationship between Hirst and Barnett ended in tears two years ago.

Devastated that the affair was over, Barnett poured his heart out to Tory grandees at the Brighton conference in 1995.

One Tory source said: “Andrew was made a fool. He was very upset. Heis a decent man and I felt sorry for him.” Another Tory close to the debacle at the time said: “Andrew doted on Hirst. But when it was time for him to move on he, understandably, felt spurned.”

Despite the sleaze that engulfed the party, there were some old- fashioned Tories determined to stick to their tradition of family values. It was they who blew the whistle on Hirst  because they were sickened by his double standards.

The complaint arrived at the desk of Ian Lang, Scots Secretary at the time. Another party insider said: “The matter was referred to Ian Lang, but Hirst denied the affair.”

Barnett’s affair with Hirst began in the early 1990s. The former chairman of the Tory Association at St. Andrews University, was working as a researcher in Hirst’s office. It was the second time Hirst, the promoter of family values, had been embroiled in a homosexual affair with a young Tory hopeful.

He struck up a relationship with Paul Martin who worked in the campaign team in 1987 when Hirst lost the Bearsden and Strathkelvin seat to Labour’s Sam Galbraith.

Martin was given the elbow when word spread that he had been talking openly about his fling with father-of-three Hirst.

Concern was growing within the constituency association and Hirst was advised that Martin had to go to avert a scandal. Instead of taking action against Hirst, they moved swiftly to ensure that he was protected and Martin was sent packing.

One source close to the situation at the time said: “The Association was alarmed at all this loose talk and Michael was told he had to get rid of Martin. “He did, but gave him a very good reference to help him get a job. Soon after he stood down he got a top post in the CBI.”

Martin, had been a Tory Councillor in Edinburgh at the age of 21. Three years before, while employed by the Ministry of Defence, he was at the centre of allegations that he was part of a gay love triangle with English Tory whip Michael Brown and 20-year-old student Adam Morris. He was quite open about his fling with Hirst and boasted about it at a Tory conference.

One insider said: “Martin is trouble. He is a vindictive old queen.”

It has been revealed that the gay links with the Tory party stretch from grass-roots wannabes to the very top of the tree.

Top Tories have always been uncomfortable with Forsyth’s choice of an open homosexual like Turner for such a high-profile job.

They were also critical of other gay appointments made at the Scottish Tory HQ when Forsyth was party chairman. One source told the Record: “There is always the worry that even a whiff of scandal attached to these people would reflect badly on Forsyth.”

As events unfolded in the Eastwood constituency last week, a small band of high- ranking Tories gathered to make sure Hirst didn’t try to replace Allan Stewart. It was they who tried to get Hirst sidelined two years ago when the Barnett affair broke.

One senior Tory said: “We thought if we didn’t get rid of him he would get rid of us. “No-one listened to us although we tried hard to get him moved to a more junior post. The powers that be are now reaping the inevitable result. “It would not surprise me if someone in our own party shopped Michael to the press because of his own open arrogance.”

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/GAY+MAFIA+BURIES+TORIES%3B+Homosexual+links+lead+to+downfall+of+Scots…-a061018639

 

(7). Tory Ministers face questions over the secret appointment, to the Civil Service, of a Tory advisor, at the centre of allegations about an illegal homosexual affair.

Paul Martin, formerly a high-profile Conservative Councillor in Edinburgh and twice a candidate at general elections, was appointed to the allegedly politically neutral Civil Service.

Martin, a convicted drink-driver, has been suspended from his position as an official in the Nato and European policy secretariat after being named with the Tory MP Michael Brown, in newspaper allegations about a homosexual relationship with an under-age boy. (The Independent)

 

 

 

Michael Forsyth:

Forsyth Scottish Secretary (1995-97) was attacked by Tory colleagues over his vanishing act at the time of the unravelling of a series of sleaze scandals. They also gave warning his lack of leadership would affect his political future.

A senior party insider said last night: “His failure to lead from the front has astonished and disappointed us all. “It’s almost as if he has conceded defeat in the election and is waiting for the meltdown to happen so he can be a big player and power- broker in a new ultra right-wing Conservative Party.”

Opponents dubbed Forsyth “The Phantom” because he had not been seen nor heard off on the political hustings since the election was called. He even sent backbench MPs to represent him in TV debates. And he has came up with a series of weak excuses for his absence.

First, it was said he was carrying on “the business of government” in London. Then it was said he was attending to constituency duties – although opponents claimed he had not been seen on the ground in Stirling.

 

David Cameron Photos Photos - The Scottish Conservative ...

 

 

The 1997 General Election

The Tory Party was almost wiped out in Scotland, a consequence of the appalling behaviour of many of their MP’s. Scots would no longer tolerate the underhand betrayal of values, held dear by many voters. The suffering, abuse and excesses inflicted upon Scots by a group of individuals whose morals and actions mirrored that of a snake, was at an end.

The voters of Eastwood had been betrayed and abused more so than in some other constituencies. Family values had been ditched by the incumbent Tory MP Alan Stewart, his drunken affair with a married woman and an attack on a constituent with a pickaxe handle.

And, “rubbing salt into raw wounds” the Tory candidate Sir Michael Hirst, who replaced him was then revealed to be a “chancer” who betrayed his wife and family, engaging with Party colleagues in a number of secret homosexual affairs over many years.

Reflecting on the foregoing the voters of Eastwood were determined to ensure the return to Westminster, of an MP who would be an upright citizen, a pillar of the community, preferably married and settled in the constituency,

A young man entered the fray, Glasgow born, (ex South African resident) Labour Party supporter, Jim Murphy, a clean cut, soccer playing, fitness fanatic who had avoided the South African military draft by fleeing the country, taking up his further education at university in Glasgow, at which he was soon elected leader of the Student Union.

His candidacy required him to abandon his university studies giving up the chance of gaining a degree, but Jim was dedicated and wished only to contribute to the common good of Eastwood residents.

Murphy was duly elected to represent Eastwood in 1997 and was re-elected in the GE’s of 2001, 2005 and 2010. But all good things come to an end and Murphy’s demise was swift after his involvement in a number of scandals was revealed to the public. (8)

 

Notes:

(8). In 2010, a commission chaired by Sir Thomas Legg demanded Murphy repay £577.46 in expenses which he had over-claimed. He did not appeal, and repaid the money in full. Expenses documents made available also showed he claimed over one million pounds between 2001 and 2012.

In 2007/8 he claimed £3,900 for food, £2,284 for petty cash and £4,884 for a new bathroom. He claimed £249 for a TV set and a further £99 for a TV stand; £1762.50 of taxpayers money paid for Murphy’s website whilst further claims included Labour party adverts in the local press. He claimed almost £2000 of public cash to pay private accountants to handle his tax returns.

In 2012 Murphy was among a group of 27 MPs named as benefiting from up to £20,000 per year expenses to rent accommodation in London, at the same time as letting out property they owned in the city. Although the practice did not break rules, it has been characterized as a “loophole” that allowed politicians to profit from Commons allowances.

He also designated his constituency home in Glasgow (where his wife and family permanently resided) as his second home for which he claimed £780 a month in mortgage interest payments in 2007/8.

Murphy had, had the audacity to previously to apologize to the public, “on behalf of all politicians” for the expenses scandal in 2009.

In 2011, “Wikileaks” revealed details of his secretive leading role in 2009, organizing the support of opposition parties, promoting the implementation of the Commission on Scottish Devolution’s recommendations. The aim was to “block an independence referendum” in Scotland.

Murphy praised the “vital” role of NATO during the military intervention in the 2011 Libyan crisis resolution, stating that Libya had been set “on a path to censure, democratic and peaceful future”. Libya remains a failed state eight years later. Nato’s actions resulted in the death and destruction of the people of Libya on a horrendous scale.

Later that year, Murphy was moved to the “non-job” post of Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in a “purge of Blairites” by Ed Miliband. His unease with the Labour leader’s decision to oppose military action in Syria is thought to have contributed to the move.

Murphy then stepped down stating he had agreed to take a more prominent role in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum campaign supporting “Better Together” to keep Scotland in the UK.

 

Scots Need To Exercise Caution – Ultra Right Wing ...

 

 

The Tory Party-post 1997.

The party was wiped out in Scotland in the 1997 Labour landslide victory which brought 18 years of Conservative rule, to an end. John Major resigned as party leader, saying “When the curtain falls, it is time to leave the stage”.

The appalling results led to a number of years of infighting as different factions jostled for power and in result the Party returned only a single MP from Scotland at the 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2015 general elections.

Scots have long memories and would no longer tolerate being ruled by a political party in which power is in the hands of a cabal of individuals whose motivation is driven by unbridled excess, avarice and machismo.

The MP returned to Westminster, in 2001, (scraping through with a majority of just 74 votes) was Peter Duncan, representing Galloway and Upper Nithsdale making him the sole Tory MP for the whole of Scotland and the first Tory MP to be returned from Scotland since 1997.

Duncan was a successful local businessman, a “pillar of the community”. He was also very happily married, with two children.

In the election campaign the Tory party media moguls had promised the public that the Party had learned from its mistakes and in rejecting the unacceptable behaviour of the past could be

trusted once again. Apart from electing Duncan, the people of Scotland did not believe the hype. (9)

In November 2003 Duncan was appointed, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and was later named as Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party. His constituency was abolished for the 2005 general election and replaced by Dumfries and Galloway. He failed to win the new seat.

Notes:

(9) True to form, the clean cut image of Peter Duncan, was later sullied by the release of information by “The Ferret” revealing he was the Chairman of the shadowy Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT) that had secretly donated nearly £320K to Scottish Tory election campaigns between 2001-2019.

Termed “dark money” by the press, it was identified that half of the salary (around £20K) of David Mundell’s, 2014 and 2017 GE, campaign manager had been paid by the Association, the other half being met by the Scottish Borders Conservative & Unionist Association (SBCUA).

The groups also jointly funded a campaign manager for Tory MP John Lamont in Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk in 2015 and 2017.

Mundell was cagey when asked by a BBC interviewer if he had benefited from the trust’s cash. He said:

“I personally have not received cash because we go through a process of funding associations and I am confident that over the full period during which I have been involved in politics, all donations I have received from any source have been appropriately declared.”

Asked how much money his campaign had received, he said:

“That is a question that can be sourced from all the declarations.”

A statement released by the SNP said:

“The Tory dark money scandal is a running embarrassment for the party, and they’re doing themselves no favours in trying to hide from scrutiny. David Mundell has repeatedly tried to deny his links to the Scottish Unionist Association Trust. Now it seems they helped bankroll his election campaign. We’re talking about one of the most senior Tories in Scotland here. He should be open and honest over where this money came from. Transparency over party finances is absolutely essential in any healthy democracy. The public have the right to know who helped put their politicians into office.”

More about the SUAT:

The SUAT is not registered with Companies House, the Financial Conduct Authority, nor Scotland’s charity watchdog and there is no public information about who currently manages the organization, and no public accounts to indicate donors or assets.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford brought up the SUAT in the House of Commons and was shouted down by loudly braying Tory MPs as he accused the party of buying democracy. He said:

“the Tory’s in Scotland are systematically shielding their donations from public scrutiny.”

A few days later, the SUAT released a statement through the PR company of “trustee” former MP, Peter Duncan revealing that the “trust” had been formed in 1968 from the “assets” of the (then) Scottish Unionist Association, (primarily from the “historic proceeds of raffles and tombolas and sales of property).

The cash “assets” had been invested and the proceeds were being made available to further the aims of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

A week later Duncan announced he would be standing down from SUAT because he wanted “more separation” between its work and his role as an active political lobbyist, Which precluded his involvement with any political party.

No other information has been forthcoming and yet again Scots are on the receiving end of Tory abuse of the electorate. The leopard has not changed its spots.

 

Ruth Davidson, the Conservatives’ northern star - Bagehot

 

 

 

David Mundell

2005-2010

The 2005 GE was conducted under new arrangements introduced by the Boundary Commission which established new constituencies in Scotland reducing the number of MP’s from 72 to 59 reflecting the new parliament at Holyrood.

The outcome of the election could not be accurately predicted since, on paper the changes had created a number of marginal seats. But one thing became

evident in the outcome. While the Tory Party gained a number of seats in England, in Scotland it was still a dead duck at the polls.

The one MP returned was David Mundell who was elected to the new seat of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

Mundell had previously been elected to Holyrood in 1999 and 2003, as the Tory “list” MSP for the South of Scotland. This gained him an advantage over the other candidates since he had been politically active in the largely rural area for area for over 6 years.

The background of the former lawyer also appeared to be impeccable. He was happily married to a local teacher and had three children.

Of note, in his campaign literature was that he took great care to ensure he would not be over associated with the Tory Party by omitting any mention of it. Instead he promoted himself as being the only person capable of preventing the Labour candidate from winning. This allowed him to garner the farming communities to his cause.

He also committed himself to his constituents emphasizing his independent thinking regardless of Tory Party policy. At this early stage he impressed as an astute politician with an eye on a fruitful political future.

At Westminster he plotted a course of action, the completion of which would place him at the political heart of the Party at Westminster.

The key move was his ready acceptance of David Cameron and his cohorts, the new kids on the block. His reward was the very early promotion in 2005, to the post of, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, which he retained until 2010.

He also declared his politics would be to the “right wing” of the party by joining the “Cornerstone Group” a powerful political organization of Tories whose core focus espoused traditional values of: Faith, Flag, and traditional marriage. (10)

His time in office as Shadow Secretary brought with it an extended period of political infighting within the Tory Party in Scotland the savagery of which horrified many Scottish political commentators and disgusted many voters. (11)

 

The Glasshouse Hotel Edinburgh Stock Photos & The ...

 

 

2010-2015

The GE of 2010 was conducted against the background of the abject failure of the Labour Party to protect the Nation from the excesses of financial gangsters due to incompetent management of the economy.

Yet again the Tory party in Scotland was rejected by Scots, save Mundell who was returned to Westminster, albeit with a much reduced majority.

The nationwide result was a hung parliament where no party was able to command a majority in the House of Commons. A coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was formed.

Mundell’s long held aspiration for high office was denied him since the Liberal Democrats’ held a greater number of Scottish seats.

He had to be content with the non-cabinet role of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Calman Report exposed Mundell and the Tory Party negativity towards Scottish devolution. (12)

In February 2011 the Scotland Office was accused of being a political propaganda unit maintained to retain supremacy over Scotland. Twenty staff were employed to cope with just three letters a day, at an annual cost to Scotland of £6m. An astonishing revelation which sparked calls for it to be scrapped as an irrelevant waste of cash.

The Scotland Office occupied plush Dover House in Whitehall and is supposed to look after Scotland’s interests down south. But its role has shrunk dramatically since devolution in 1999.

The 20 staff, who are employed to deal with mail replied to 1252 letters in 2006-2007 – just over one per member of staff every week. The letter scandal follows a series of damning reports on money-wasting at the department.

 

 

 

2015-2016

Yet again the Tory Party emerged victorious from the election campaign, in England, despite promising many more years of cuts in public expenditure and even more austerity.

But, in Scotland it was a different matter. The SNP won 56 of the 69 seats with 50% of the vote.

Labour came a very poor second and was left with only one seat.

The Tories held onto their one seat, but their overall vote in Scotland declined significantly.

Mundell retained his seat, with a reduced majority of 798.

The Liberal Democrats paid the largest price for their time in Coalition with the Tories, emerging with one seat.

Yet, in 2015, emboldened by his re-election and appointment as Scottish Secretary he announced that the Human Rights Act would be scrapped when the UK left the EC.

The Scottish government said it would “robustly oppose” withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) stating that the Scotland Act (1998) stated all legislation passed by Holyrood must be compatible with the ECHR.

Mundell flatly rejected the Scottish Government’s opposition stating it was for him to decide. One of many clashes between Mundell and the Scottish Government, all displaying his arrogance to anything political originating in Scotland.

In January 2016 Mundell stunned Scots with a public statement that he was homosexual.

The media spin promoted the story that he enjoyed the support of his family, but this was not entirely accurate since only his son and political protege, Oliver, a list MSP at Holyrood, spoke out in favour of his announcement.

It emerged later that Mundell had been separated (divorced 2012) from his Schoolteacher wife Lynda and three children some time before 2010.

A betrayal mirroring that of Sir Michael Hirst yet he remains unscathed!! (13)

 

Notes:

(10). https://caltonjock.com/2016/12/10/heterosexism-promoted-by-the-tory-party-cornerstone-group-founder-member-david-mundell-comes-out-of-the-closet-i-wonder-what-the-group-think-of-that

(11). In the first half of 2007, just before the Scottish Tory Party conference, information was released anonymously to the press.

The front page headlines read: “Scots Tories are clueless – by Scotland’s only Tory MP.”

The headline had been created using information contained in a four-page memo Mundell had written to David Cameron written some months earlier in which he was scathing about Tory MSPs’ abilities saying:

“Whilst it is possible to agree in principle that the party in Scotland can make its own policy on devolved matters, the simple lack of thinkers is apparent.”

He also urged a purge of lame-duck MSP’s and the speedy appointment of a new Scottish Party Chairman, new Scottish Party Leader and a new management team comprising strategic thinkers.

His advice prevailed and the Scottish Tory party was subjected to a brutal “putch” which brought Ruth Davidson, and her team of wanabee’s into the Scottish public domain.

(12). https://caltonjock.com/2019/01/18/arch-plotter-david-mundell-more-damaging-to-scottish-aspirations-for-self-government-than-any-other-politician-in-history/

(13). Living the lie. How does he match his sexuality with his support of the Tory right wing Cornerstone Group?

 

Wings Over Scotland | Chris Cairns