Direct Descendent of The Scottish Chancellor That Signed the Treaty of Union Confirms the Family Links to the English Whigs is as Strong as Ever. But he still Claims Farming Subsidies From Scottish Taxpayers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Scottish Referendum and the Earl of Seafield

The Earl of Seafield, a peer of the United Kingdom confirmed his family ties to the Tory party remained as strong as they were when his forebear signed the 1707 Treaty of Union against the wishes of the Scottish nation.

At time of the referendum he personally donated – £100,000 and the Reidhaven Trust Estate, a trust belonging to the family donated a further £20,000 to the Better Together campaign.

 

Family Seat

 

 

 

The Treaty of Union

1 Aug 1705: James Ogilvy, Earl of Seafield and a member of the Court Party, was one of the Scottish commissioners.

He wrote to the Earl of Godolphin, the Queen’s senior minister and Lord Treasurer of England, with clear reasons why he supported union. Edinburgh, 1 August 1705:

“My reasons for conjoining with England on good termes were these: that the kingdome of England is a Protestant kingdome and that, therefor, the joyneing with them was a security for our religion. 2nd, England has trade and other advantages to give us, which no other kingdome could affoord; 3rd, England has freedome and liberty, and that the joining with it was the best way to secure that to us; and 4th, that I saw no other method for secureing our peace, the two kingdomes being in the same island, and forreign assistance was both dangerous to ourselves and England and that, therefor, I was for a treatty.”

It was the Earl of Seafield, who in 1707 as lord chancellor of Scotland, signed the Treaty of Union and remarked: “Now there’s ane end of ane auld sang”.

 

The Family at rest

 

 

 

The Earl of Seafield 1815- to date

Scottish nobleman John Charles Grant Ogilvie – born September 4, 1815 – was the eldest son of Francis William Ogilvy-Grant, 6th Earl of Seafield.

He succeeded his father as Earl of Seafield in 1853 and sat in the House of Lords as a Scottish Representative Peer.

A tradition maintained up to August 1958 when the Scottish peerage was given up in favour of an elevation to the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

The Earl continued to sit in the house of Lords as a Tory supporter.

The current Earl of Seafield, who is the 13th, is Ian Derek Francis Studley.

Born in 1939 and educated at Eton, he spent his adult life managing the family estates.

The head of a family which is one of the largest landowners in Britain holding 84,500 acres in the lowland district of Cullen on the Moray Firth and Strathspey in the North-east.

In recent years, the Seafield family has diversified their land use from traditional hunting and shooting.

A number of rural businesses have been set up and there have been efforts to manage the environment and promote conservation. (The Scotsman)

 

 

 

 

Common Agricultural Policy – Subsidy Claims – 2016

Reidhaven Farms: £73,425.73  Reidhaven Estate: £2,402.00 Seafield Heirs Trust: £3287.80

The multi-million pound Seafield and Strathspey Estates operate through a number of housing, estate development, and trading concerns and include wind-farms, arable tenanted farming, forestry, Salmon Fishing on the River Spey, accommodation and field sports including red and roe deer stalking and grouse shooting.

Seafield Estate: This is the main business in the Cullen area with let farms and residential property and provides the administration for the management of all the family ownerships and related businesses.

There is considerable interaction with the local villages. As the major landowner in the area, the Estate acts as a facilitator, making land available for housing and commercial needs to enable the settlements to grow.

Land use is mainly divided between reasonable sized arable holdings and commercial forestry.

Much of the farm output is in the form of quality malting barley for the local whisky distilleries.

Salmon Fishing on the River Spey Strathspey Estate

Strathspey Estate is the trading name of the Reidhaven Estate and offers a range of field sports – primarily salmon fishing, but also by arrangement red deer and roe deer stalking, and grouse shooting.

A wind farm at Boyndie Airfield, near Ogilivie-Grant Estate has been generating electricity since 2006 with eight turbines now on the site.

With business interests at both Cullen and Strathspey, income is generated from forestry and the letting of agricultural land at Cullen.

Seafield Heirs 2009 Trust: This small farming business also grows cereals and qualifies for Single Farm Payment entitlements.

Dava Enterprises Ltd: This Company provides a small industrial site at the former Boyndie Airfield, near Banff (Seafield)

 

 

 

3 November 1996: Viscount Reidhaven – His Family Trust Fund – and the Long Shadow of an Islamic Sect

James Ogilvie-Grant, Viscount Reidhaven, the heir to Earl of Seafield, was educated at Harrow and lives in Kent. He is a trustee of The Reidhaven Trust. But he has a troubled past.

Fearing the Naqshbandi Sufi sect’s influence on his son, his father, the 13th Earl of Seafield, arranged to put his son’s share in £25m inheritance into a trust.

Almost six years after his father employed a team of former SAS soldiers to seize and spirit him away from the Naqshbandi Sufi sect to the remote west coast of Scotland, where he was put through a course of debrainwashing by a “cult-buster” flown in from America.

The Earl’s son is still seeking to convince the trustees that he has broken the sect’s hold over him.

It transpired that Viscount Reidhaven embraced Islam in June 1990 and joined the six-hundred year-old and widely respected Naqshbandi Order under the tutelage of Muhammad Iqbal Ali, a brother-in-law of Yusuf Islam of the Islamia Schools Trust.

It was this Order and Mr Ali who were referred to in the press as an “Islamic cult” and a “guru” respectively.

The fears that the Viscount had been “brainwashed” were apparently founded on discussions at the home of his father between himself and Mr Ali in which “matters were discussed which the Naqshbandi Order does not normally deal with outside meetings of adepts” (Q News 30.09.94).

This was compounded by expensive gifts given to Mr Ali by Mr Ogilvie-Grant and the impression that he was not free to make any decision without referring it to the former’s advice.

In addition to obvious concerns about his son’s health and freedom of action, the Earl of Seafield was concerned about the administration of the Reidhaven Estate as well as the Strathspey Estates to which the Viscount is heir.

Currently the Reidhaven Estate is being administered by a curator but the Viscount is applying for control to be passed back into his own hands.

He has emphasised that he is and has always been a Muslim since the time of his conversion and has never been brainwashed by Mr Ali or anyone else connected with the Naqshbandi Order.

Serious questions have been raised about the legality of the kidnapping of Mr Ogilvie-Grant and his detention in a secret Highland location. (artsweb.bham.ac.uk)

 

 

 

 

30 Jun 1998: Scots aristocrat convicted of making nuisance phone calls

Viscount Jamie Reidhaven, 34, who stands to inherit £40m and an 85,000-acre estate in Banffshire from the Earl of Seafield, was kidnapped from the cult by two former SAS soldiers hired by his father.

Reidhaven appeared at Seven-oaks Magistrates’ Court in Kent, accompanied by the earl, where he pleaded guilty to “causing annoyance by using a telecommunications system” after making a series of threatening calls to his local pub. The court was told Reidhaven, of Leigh Road, Hildenborough, Kent, was banned from his local pub, the Hare, after a disagreement with the landlord. (The Herald)

 

 

 

30 Jun 1998: Viscount James Reidhaven described as “a walking advert for reform of the House of Lords” yesterday

Viscount James Reidhaven – who once had to be rescued from a religious cult by former SAS men – waged a campaign against his local pub. Yesterday, the 34-year-old son of the wealthy Earl of Seafield admitted making nuisance calls. The shamed heir to a pounds 40million fortune later said: “I want to put this all behind me and get back to Scotland and reclaim my inheritance.”

He claimed he still heard voices in his head as a result of brain- washing by a sect. But unless the Government carry out their promise to reform the House of Lords, he will be able to shape the laws of the land when he succeeds his father. (The Record)

 

Family home in the highlands

 

 

 

11 Aug 2014: Earl of Seafield sidesteps referendum public debate challenge

Hundreds of local people have signed a petition calling on one of Scotland’s wealthiest landowners, who made a six-figure donation to the ‘Better Together’, to debate the Scottish independence referendum question in public.

The petition has been raised by Macduff-based ‘Yes’ campaign organiser, Ross Cassie, after he challenged the Earl of Seafield, who owns vast swathes of land in Banffshire and Moray, to meet him in a public debate.

But his efforts to draw one of Scotland’s richest men into the political arena have drawn a blank. Attempts by the ‘Banffshire Journal’ to contact the Earl of Seafield elicited a polite, but terse, “No comment” from his Edinburgh-based media representatives.

Since Mr Cassie challenged the Earl to “put his mouth where his money is” in a ‘Banffshire Journal’ front-page exclusive last month, more than 250 local people have backed the Macduff independence activist’s call for the debate to take place.

Mr Cassie said: “The Earl should be prepared to debate his reasons for making the campaign donation in public.

“I’m a democrat and I believe that if somebody tries to influence people to vote a certain way, they should be prepared to be held to account, expect to debate the issue and justify their view.”

“I have now written to the Earl of Seafield at his estate and sent him a copy of the petition which shows an overwhelming demand for this debate to take place.

“People want to know why he is prepared to spend £100,000 to encourage people to vote ‘No’.”    (JohnoGroat Journal)

 

Farming the estate

 

 

 

17 Aug 2017: One’s Own Private Station: Private Rail-House Built So the Earl of Seafield’s Aristocratic Family Could Travel Straight to Their Castle

East Lodge, in the grounds of Castle Grant in Morayshire, was once the Earl of Seafield’s own private train terminal. It was constructed to prevent the Scottish peer having to mingle with other passengers travelling in the Highlands.

The opulent Baronial style train station, known locally as Lady Catherine’s Halt, even has a drum tower and turrets. It was built in 1863 by the Inverness & Perth Junction Railway Company in thanks to then Earl John Charles Grant Ogilvie, 7th Earl of Seafield, who allowed them to run the railway line through his estate. The A-listed building has since undergone significant refurbishment and converted into a unique three-bedroom house.

It was once part of the grounds of Castle Grant which hit the headlines in 2014 after being repossessed from former Rangers owner Craig Whyte. The castle was reportedly bought by Sergey Fedotov, director general of the Russian Author’s Society, for £1million. (The Mail)

 

The Earl and his landau

 

 

 

7 Aug 2017: Earl of Seafield Loses Grouse Moor Case to Frozen Food Tycoon

Alistair Erskine, a frozen food tycoon who sued a shooting estate’s trustees, ­claiming he was misled over the numbers of birds he could shoot, will receive compensation after the Supreme Court ruled in his favour.

He claimed that despite spending £530,000 to improve a grouse moor above the banks of the River Spey, five years of hard shooting yielded just 180 brace, or 360 birds – a far cry from the 2000 birds he had anticipated taking each year.

Despite previously losing in two lower courts, Mr Erskine took his £1 million damages claim against the landowners, the trustees of Viscount Reidhaven’s trust – including the Right Honourable Ian Derek Francis Ogilvie-Grant, 13th Earl of Seafield – to the Supreme Court.

Five judges at the Supreme Court said that he was due compensation. The Court of Session will now determine the damages payable by the owners of the moor at Castle Grant, near Grantown-on-Spey.

The Reidhaven Estate, along with the Seafield and Ogilvie-Grant Estates, forms part of the 54,000 Strathspey Estate within the Cairngorm National Park. Castle Grant, which was sold in 1983, was the family seat.

It was occupied by Jacobite forces in 1747 when the then laird was blocking the path of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army. (The Scotsman)

 

Countess of Seafield The Richest Woman in Scotland

 

 

14 Aug 2017: A Biography of Sorts – 13 Earl of Seafield’s sister – Lady Pauline – The Lady Chatterly of the Highlands

Lady Pauline Nicholson, who died on January 10 aged 65, was a classic example of the poor-little-rich-girl in the Swinging Sixties, exuding a happy innocence yet going on to marry four husbands and to earn a reputation north of the border as “the Lady Chatterley of the Highlands”.

She was born Pauline Anne Ogilvie-Grant on May 26 1944 to the Countess of Seafield, who had caused a scandal of her own by eloping at 26 to make a marriage that broke down after Pauline was born.

Lady Seafield was a peer in her own right and was said to have been the richest woman in Scotland after the Queen.

Her daughter grew up a shy, stammering girl at Cullen House, near the Banffshire coast, where her main company was a nanny and the chauffeur, whom she called “Pop” – to the distress of her father on the rare occasions they met.

As Pauline grew up she attracted a series of young admirers and found her mother’s efforts to control her life constricting.

After being refused permission to share a flat with another girl, she married her brother-in-law, Jamie Illingworth, at 19.

The match collapsed after two years: “All I did was to swap one sort of a prison for another,” she recalled.

By the time Pauline divorced in 1970, her parents were dead, and she had inherited the twin Revack and Dorback estates, which included 26,900 acres of grouse moor, deer forest, salmon fishing and 15 tenanted farms on Speyside.

Her next marriage, in 1972, was to a long-standing boyfriend, the Scottish landowner Sir William Gordon-Cumming of Forres, 6th Bt and Chief of the Clan Cumming.

They had been stepping out for some years, and it seemed a natural alliance. But this too failed after four years.

Then she married, in 1976, Hugh Sykes, a businessman with whom she had a son, which did not prevent another divorce.

By now Pauline’s enthusiasm for the state of wedlock was waning. She took up with one of her underkeepers – an affair closely observed by the local newspapers.

They reported how he had left his wife and four children to live in the lodge after Lady Pauline had taken to calling at his council house to drink whisky before going out with him to hunt foxes, sometimes until 3am.

When this liaison wilted she took up with the head keeper (though an affair was later denied).

But this did not stop the first keeper’s wife describing her as someone “who picks off gamekeepers like she picks off red deer”.

Pauline was wounded by the “Lady Chatterley” label, but wistfully replied to criticism by saying that she had no regrets: “I would do it all again. I was always looking for love.”

One consequence, she admitted, was a rift with her brother, the 13th Earl of Seafield, who no longer spoke to her. “It was a gamekeeper too far,” she explained. “We used to be very close.”

She met her fourth husband, whom she married in 1989, while drinking at his hotel at Nethy Bridge. Unlike his predecessors, Dave Nicholson brought her lasting happiness.

A down-to-earth Lancastrian, he left a wife and four children, then energetically set about helping his new spouse to diversify what had been a purely sporting estate at Revack, where the revenues from grouse shooting and deer stalking were declining.

They turned the estate into a tourist attraction, with a restaurant and craft shops as well as woodland walks.

It attracted 40,000 visitors a year and gave employment to 40 local people, who, like her many friends, held her in great affection.

A herd of automated Jurassic Park dinosaurs to roam the property was being considered when Pauline, who had thrown herself into the project with gusto, developed breast cancer.

In 1999 she sold both estates, which had an initial price tag of £7 million, sending a personal note to each of her employees.

The properties had been in the family for 800 years, and the sale was a heart-wrenching experience for her.

In need of warmth, Lady Pauline Nicholson built a four-bedroom house overlooking a golf course in Tobago.

As her condition continued to deteriorate she also bought a house in Dorset, from which she would drive up to Scotland, stopping to play golf at courses along the way before reaching Speyside, where (as the former landowner) she was an honorary member of the local club, playing off a handicap of 12.

Excellent history of the Seafield family at: (http://theesotericcuriosa.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/pair-of-noble-dames-nina-12th-countess_10.html)

 

 

 

Duke of Buccleuch Gets £1Million Farming Subsidy From the Taxpayer Each Year Then Charges Walkers £10 Each to Use His Estate Byways and Pathways. Bloody Cheek!!

 

 

Dalkeith Estate

 

 

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Aims and Rewards of the Scheme

The scheme rewards landowners simply for owning title to land, as opposed to encouraging farmers to invest in improving product output to the public good.

In terms of share the top 20% of claimants get 70%. The bottom 40% get 5% of the grants.

Claimants, totalling approximately 18,000, include the entire royal household, large numbers of wealthy aristocrats, other members of the house of Lords, Tory MP’s (past and present), MSP’s, countless Tory Party donors, offshore companies registered in the Isle of Mann, Guernsey, Jersey, Cayman Islands etc.

Billionaires and other very rich foreigners investing their gains in land ownership are the major beneficiaries.

Timber companies, through the Rural Payments Agency, are provided with annual grants up to £50 million.

Financially sound investment opportunities for many stars of stage and screen other media.

Large corporations and companies also qualify for subsidies eg. refunds on exports.

These include Tate & Lyle who get more than £130 million and Nestle UK who received are gifted about £13 million annually.

 

10th Duke of Buccleuch

 

 

The Buccleuch Estates

The estates are owned by the 10th Duke of Buccleuch and 11th Duke of Queensberry, who also inherited three earldoms and many other titles together with a fortune in excess of £300million.

he is reputed to be the richest and largest landowner in Europe, maintaining stately homes, set in more than a quarter of a million acres at, Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire; Bowhill, near Selkirk; and Boughton House, Northamptonshire.

He also owns artworks by Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Gainsborough and Van Gogh.

His late father, grandfather and great grandfather were Tory MP’s at Westminster for many years before taking up their positions in the House of Lords as Tory peers of the realm.

The SNP policy of land reform, which is designed to enable more people in rural and urban Scotland to have a stake in the ownership, governance, management and use of land, has him worried and he has been vociferous in his opposition, but he is resigned to the reality of change and intends reducing the size of his estate over time.

In defence of his families stewardship of the estates he said it had always been conducted to the highest standards and respect for nature, to the benefit of the communities

Although there is not yet an absolute right of Scotland’s tenant farmers to buy their farms rich landowners fear this is only a temporary stay of execution and the potential loss of their inherited land is inevitable.

So the stage for the battle for land ownership in Scotland has been set.

The 10th Duke and his fellow Tory landowners will fight and fight dirty to prevent change.

But why oppose new ways if it is what the community desires?

It’s down to money, money, money.

 

 

 

 

Under the existing (CAP) rules agricultural subsidies and forestry grants are weighted so that the largest farming outlets, owned by the richest and biggest landowners, get the most money in subsidies.

In recent times they have also benefited from major recurring financial windfalls in excess of £1billion through the leasing of large tracts of land to energy companies for the installation of wind-farms.

Asked for his views a tenant farmer said: “The families of many of Scotland’s tenant farmers have worked this land for generations.

They have invested money in them and made improvements, while the estate owners sit back and employ agents to raise rents every three years.

People generate economies and it’s unhealthy to have such sparsely-populated estates covering so much of the country when more farmers owning their own little scraps of land would lead to a more vibrant economy.

But we are seeing an increasing number of cases where our members are being forced out due to a lack of co-operation by the estate owners and often downright intimidation.”

Land means power, so Scotland’s few hundred aristocrats can scarcely be expected to give up on four centuries of owning more than half of the country.

They are happy to support the community buy-outs such as Assynt and Eigg, but will reject anything that smells of compulsory purchase.

They do not even recognise the concept of doing so when it is deemed to be for the greater good of the larger community.

This is simply because they regard themselves as the sole arbiters of what is good in the countryside.

Being forced to share gargantuan and uncapped agricultural benefit payments and wind-farm income, while avoiding tax, could never be deemed acceptable in their world.

Compulsory purchase orders are only acceptable, it seems, when they swallow up high-street family-run restaurants for the common good of another retail emporium.

But the spectre of a mild-mannered, bespectacled writer and researcher stalks their nightmares.

Andy Wightman is author of The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland (and How They Got It), which has become the primer for those who had always felt something was never quite right about such a concentration of land and unearned privilege in the hands of so few.

His book gives depth and academic rigour to the arguments of those seeking meaningful land reform.

“The land on which many of our lairds sit was stolen in the 17th century,” he says. “But these ill-gotten gains were protected by acts which maintained their hegemony after the rest of Europe ditched feudalism and concentrated land ownership.”

He describes how the aristocracy embraced the 1560 Reformation as a means of getting their hands on land belonging to the “Auld Kirk”.

They needed to protect their stolen goods with a robust law.

The Act of Prescription (1617) did the trick.

Thus any land occupied for 40 years or more was indemnified from future legal challenge.

The law remains in place and has effectively upheld the gentry’s rights to stolen goods for 400 years.

Last October, on a farm near Edinburgh, the body of Andrew Riddell, a tenant farmer, was discovered.

He and his family had worked on the farm for more than 100 years and then, one day, he was given notice to quit by his landlord, Alastair Salvesen, billionaire and Scotland’s third-richest man.

The notice followed a year-long legal case which finally found in favour of Salvesen. The judge ruled that the protections Riddell thought he had in the tenancy arrangement were trumped by the landlord’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He killed himself after collecting his final harvest.

Thus Scotland’s richest people are skimming off more millions from taxpayers when benefits are being capped and the bedroom tax is forcing people on to the street.

But within the tendency of several landowners to view the UK as their private merchant bank with limitless cash reserves may be the seeds of their downfall.

Adventurous and unusual tax arrangements, whereby ownership of estates is registered overseas and convenient charitable trusts are created, are coming under scrutiny.

That sound you hear is of a black grouse, possibly a ptarmigan or two and maybe a brace of pheasants, coming home to roost.

The landowners view the absolute right to buy of tenant farmers as anathema.

This will lead to the break-up of their estates, they claim, and dilute hundreds of years of expertise they have banked in maintaining the beauty and integrity of the countryside.

Several have made submissions to the LRRG which betray their worst nightmares.

Taken together they could form another of history’s longest suicide notes.

Most exude the sense of exclusive entitlement which says only they are capable of managing such vast expanses of land.

James Carnegy-Arbuthnott, whose family owns an estate in Angus, thinks he knows why so few people own land in Scotland: “It’s because so much of the land is unproductive wilderness.”

The Earl of Seafield thinks that it is a myth that too few people own too much “and there is very little evidence to show this is a bad thing”.

More info: (http://www.senscot.net/view_art.php?viewid=15628)

 

 

 

 

Tax Haven Registered Claimants  – Pentland Ltd

Buccleuch Estates Ltd DG3 THORNHILL £820,190.19 and BQ Farming Partnerships Ltd TD7 SELKIRK £325,210.34 Total £1,145.400.53

Mr Richard Scott (sometimes referred to as the 10th Duke of Buccleuch) is frequently cited as the owner of the largest extent of private land in the United Kingdom.

Yet, this has never been entirely accurate.

The 242,000 acres of land in Scotland is owned not by Mr Scott, but mainly by a company called Buccleuch Estates Ltd.

The shares in Buccleuch Estates Ltd. are not owned by Mr Scott and his family but by two companies – Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd and MDS Estates Ltd.

Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd. is a dormant company which is wholly owned by Anderson Strathern Asset Management Ltd. Anderson Strathern Asset Management Ltd. is wholly owned by Anderson Strathern LLP which, in turn is owned by the 53 partners in the law firm.

MS Estates Ltd. is wholly owned by Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd. though the Directors include Mr Scott and other family members.

So the ultimate owner of Buccluech Estates Ltd are 53 solicitors? Well, not quite.

Because what the Nominees do is to act on behalf of persons unknown on their behalf.

These persons are likely to be members of the Scott family but we can’t know because the arrangements are not made public.

 

 

 

But enter Pentland Ltd, a company based in the Cayman Islands.

It is part of the extensive group of companies whose ultimate parent undertaking and controlling entity is ‘The Buccleuch Estates Limited’ (BEL) and is listed in the annual accounts as a subsidiary undertaking with the principal activity of property development through which money is routinely loaned at keen interest rates between all of the aforesaid companies in the group.

The company is a subsidiary of:

(1) Dabton Investments Ltd. Founded initially by the current duke and his brother Damian and incorporated in May 2009, Dabton Investments Ltd was owned by the Scott family until 2013 when 100% of the issued share capital was acquired by Tarras Park Properties Ltd:

Tarras Park is in turn a subsidiary of:

(2) Buccleuch Properties Limited, a BEL company.

The consortium, valued in excess of £90million comprises Mixed Farming, Farming, Farm Management, Property, Agricultural Services, Estate Management, Fishing, Property Development, Forestry, Residential Developments, Bioenergy, Rural Land Management and House Building, Bioenergy

Important, comprehensive reviews of the activities of Buccleuch Consortium are to be found at:

http://www.andywightman.com/archives/date/2016/03

http://www.thenational.scot/news/14902205.Revealed__The_Duke_of_Buccleuch_and_the_offshore_haven/

http://www.thenational.scot/comment/14863069.Andy_Wightman__On_the_trail_of_Pentland_Ltd/

 

Agricultural Policy – Tory Landlords & Farmers Intend Retaining Their Annual Tax Free £800 Million Nest Egg At Westminster – Scotland Screwed Yet Again

 

 

 

 

 

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will provide around £4 billion in subsidies within the UK by 2021 accounting for nearly 50% of all receipts from the EU budget to the UK.

Scotland’s share should be around £850 million.

EU regulations require the full financial allocation to be transferred to the UK Treasury from where it should be distributed equally to each constituent country of Great Britain & Northern Ireland.

The EU exercises no executive role in the sharing of finance within Britain thus allowing the Westminster government full authority to set the criteria and other terms and conditions which claimants must adhere to.

Westminster top slices finance for allocation to the Royal household then sets a budget for each country and, in the case of Scotland transfers funds to the Scottish Parliament for distribution.

These arrangements were introduced in 2015 after many years of centralised control and distribution from Westminster proved to be impossible to sustain.

Westminster never once completed payments to claimants within deadlines resulting in the imposition of fines by the EU exceeding £600 million over a period of 8 years.

The government in London also wrote off to the public purse failed IT development costs exceeding £180.

There were also incidences where small farmers were forced to close their farms due to financial hardships caused by the tardy support offered by Westminster government.

The same Westminster government, incapable of running the scheme, transferred responsibility for payment of claims to the Scottish government, at very short notice without ensuring the provision of operational facilities to run it.

For Scotland it was sink or swim. The Scottish government struggled and failed to meet EU target deadlines.

The Scottish farmers Union (front for the Tory party) spread misinformation amongst the farming community and succeeded in persuading many to vote for the Tory candidates at the last election. No sea change there Rooth!!!!

The only thing that remained sacrosanct was that the rules of the scheme would continue to be set by Westminster.

So delegation of responsibility, including brickbats from claimants who might experience delayed payments through inefficient operational systems, but without authority to make changes. Nice one Westminster.

 

 

 

Aims and Rewards of the Scheme

The scheme rewards landowners simply for owning title to land, as opposed to encouraging farmers to invest in improving product output to the public good. In terms of share the top 20% of claimants get 70%.

The bottom 40% get 5% of the grant money.

Claimants, totalling approximately 18,000 annually, include the entire royal household, large numbers of wealthy aristocrats, other members of the house of Lords, Tory MP’s (past and present), MSP’s, countless Tory Party donors, offshore companies registered in the Isle of Mann, Guernsey, Jersey, Cayman Islands etc.

Billionaires and other very rich foreigners investing their often ill-gotten gains in land ownership are the major beneficiaries.

Timber companies, through the Rural Payments Agency, are provided with annual grants up to £50 million.

Financially sound investment opportunities for many stars of stage and screen other media.

Large corporations and companies also qualify for subsidies e.g.. refunds on exports.

These include Tate & Lyle who get more than £130 million and Nestle UK who receive about £13 million annually.

There are rare good works, such as the RSPB, which receive around £2million annually.

A body working hard for the benefit of nature, maintaining, expanding and improving the habitat of the wildlife.

 

 

 

Convergence Uplift – Scotland Cheated Yet Again

Completed between 2010 -2014, a review of the scheme by EU ministers identified that smaller farms in Scotland were not receiving from Westminster a level of financial support needed to ensure their operational viability.

Correcting matters, the EU allocated a “convergence uplift” and transferred money to Westminster for direction to Scotland.

The Con-Dem government refused to transfer any of the new finance to Scotland stating their policy would remain to be one rule for all regardless of need.

Scotland was awarded only 36.8m Euro (16% of the 230m Euro allocation)

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead described Westminster’s decision to share out the pot across the UK as “a disgrace”.

He issued a statement which said: “I do not know how UK ministers will be able to look Scottish farmers in the eye after this outrageous decision that amounts to pocketing Scotland’s farm payments..

I am aghast that Mr Carmichael the new secretary of state for Scotland can welcome the UK government’s decision to give Scotland the lowest farm payments in the whole of Europe and the UK.

If Scotland had been a member state in our own right during those negotiations, we would have benefited from a one billion euro uplift.

We have been denied that uplift and now we are even being denied up to 230 million euro uplift that the UK gets because of Scotland.”

The NFU Scotland said farmers had been dealt “a bitter blow” in failing to win an immediate boost in European cash.

Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokesman Alex Ferguson said he was disappointed that all the extra convergence money did not go to Scotland.

Scottish Labour rural affairs spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “I am disappointed that Scotland has not received an immediate uplift as called for intervention on a cross-party basis by MSPs.

 

 

 

 

Scottish Tory Landowners Unhappy With the Tory Government

NFU Scotland secured commitment from David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, to organise a meeting with UK farming minister George Eustice.

The meeting is to be convened to discuss a review of the allocation of CAP convergence money.

Since 2013, Scotland’s farming union has tried to secure real movement on the allocation of the UK’s 230m Euro convergence dividend from the EU.

Scotland has the third lowest Pillar 1 [direct support] payment rate per hectare in the EU which was why the UK received this dividend.

However, the UK government chose to share this around the UK on the basis of historic allocations.

After lobbying, the NFU was previously promised this would be received once the new CAP was implemented, but the extra funds are still being withheld.

The NFU expect the Westminster government to honour its commitments.  (Eskdale Advertiser)

 

 

The Impact of Brexit

There will be little change if Scotland remains in the UK. Subsidy distribution will continue to be controlled by rules and regulations decided by Westminster.

The Scottish government will be required to disburse finance strictly observing rules set by Westminster.

Scotland’s land ownership management system is one of the most anachronistic systems in Europe.

Land is regarded as a commodity to be sold to anyone who has the money to pay for it and owners need not take occupancy or declare ownership to anyone.

This has resulted the vast bulk of Scotland being owned by less than 500 individuals.

Brexit provides opportunity for an independent Scotland to introduce major changes to land management systems brought into disrepute by politicians whose single minded purpose is to transfer finance, contributed by 99% of the population, to the richest 1% of the corrupt Little Englander Unionist society run from Westminster.

 

 

Selected Subsidy payments to Conservative & Unionist Party Members and Scottish Politicians

Donald Houston

Keith Falconer

 

 

Adephi Distillery Ltd PH36 Ardnamuchan £623,236.00:

2014 Scottish Independence Referendum “Better Together” campaign received its largest contribution of £600,000 from Donald Houston, the owner of the Ardnamurchan Estate in the western Highlands and the Adelphi distillery.

Rain Dance Investments, a financial holding company based in Lincoln has just under £50million in the bank.

Directors include the Irwin Houston family who own Ardnamurchan Estate and Keith Falconer, who runs a distillery at Glenborrodale Castle, Ardnamurchan. They contributed £200,000.

The Adelphi Distillery Ltd received a grant of £1,148,736 (in 2014/15) to build a new Ardnamurchan Distillery. Bloody ridiculous, Scottish taxpayers provide huge amounts of cash so that Houston and Falconer can develop the business and they transfer £800,000 to the “Better Together” campaign.

Bertram Stanley Mitford Bowyer, 2nd Baron Denham

 

 

 

Mrs E V McCorquodale Trs PH2 PERTH £706,751.28:

Primarily involved in the development of forest areas and improvement of their sustainability.

Controlling company Glenlonan Developments, London.

Person with controlling interest. Bertram Stanley Mitford Bowyer, 2nd Baron Denham, KBE, PC (born 3 October 1927).

He is a British Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords as one of the remaining hereditary peers.

He is one of the few people to serve in the governments of five different Tory Prime Ministers. He married Ms E V McCorquodale Lady Denham (deceased) and has control of her estate.

Philip Astor

 

 

Tillypronie Estate near Banchory, Aberdeenshire £385,279:

Managed by Strutt & Parker and owned by Philip Astor, first cousin once removed to Viscount Astor, Samantha Cameron’s step-father.

The claim approved for “first afforestation of agricultural and non-agricultural land”.

 

 

JF Burnett of Leys £26,319.88:

Alexander Burnett MSP is a major shareholder in major shareholder in the Bancon Construction Group (real estate building and sales)

Kirstene Hair

 

 

Messrs J Hair £119,191.00:

Kirstene Hair (MP) is the daughter of the owners of the farm near Brechin. She was elected to the Westminster parliament in May 2017.

Sir Edward Mountain

 

 

 

Delfur Farms Elgin £131,960.09:

Tory rural affairs spokesman, multi-millionaire, Sir Edward Mountain (MSP), is a partner in Delfur Farms Farming Partnership (breeding livestock).

He is also a partner in and owner of 50% of Delfur Fishings, of Moray, a rod and line salmon fishing.

He also owns a 50% share of a rod and line salmon fishing in Moray, operated by Delfur Fishings, which has a total market value of between £8,200,001 and £8,300,000.

The property yields a gross annual income in the range £230,001 – £240,000.

 

 

Robert Lamont Duns Berwickshire: £63692.19:

Growing of crops combined with farming of animals (mixed farming.

Owner Robert is a former NFU Scotland legal and commercial chairman.

He also led the Scottish Borders, farmers, Better Together campaign in the Borders in the 2014 referendum.

Son John is a Politician who was elected to serve Berwickshire as an MSP at Holyrood a post he subsequently gave up to be elected MP at Westmister in May 2017.

Alistair Jack

 

 

Rars Woodlands 3 Limited – Courance Estate £74792.11:

Alister Jack was born and educated in Dumfries. He lives and farms in Courance, near Lockerbie.

He made his business in self-storage, making an estimated £20m fortune through his company, Armadillo and retains significant business interests and declares shares in 16 companies.

He also has investments in Jardine Matheson Holdings (JMH), which is incorporated in Bermuda a British Overseas Territory that can provide tax advantages to firms that register on the island.

An Asian-based business group. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and provides management services to companies in the wider group.

JMH is chaired by Eton-educated Sir Henry Keswick.

Jack declared £3,000 of support from Sir Henry in the following Westminster declaration category: “Support linked to an MP but received by a local party organisation or indirectly via a central party organisation.”

Jack also declared £5,000 from Percy Weatherall, who is listed as a JMH director, in the same category on his MP register of interest.

In JMH’s latest half-yearly results, the group’s underlying profit for the first six months of 2017 rose 20 per cent to $765 million, while revenue was $19.4 billion.

In 2016, Oxfam published a report which named Bermuda as the worst of 15 corporate tax havens.

The charity examined practices such as countries offering “unfair and unproductive” tax incentives and zero or extremely low corporate tax rates.

At the time of the report, Oxfam stated that Bermuda’s “characteristics” included zero corporate income tax and zero withholding tax.

The territory’s Finance Minister claimed the report contained “serial errors”, but Oxfam defended the findings.

In June 2017 Jack, a Tory candidate won the Dumfries and Galloway constituency after defeating the SNP’s Richard Arkless by 5643 votes.

 

 

Colin Clark

 

 

R & M Clark Turriff £90415.90:

Growing crops, (750 acres) combined with buying and selling Cattle and Sheep.

Son, Colin Clark combines working the farm with politics.

Formally MSP for the local area he was elected to Westminster for the Gordon constituency in the 2017 General Election.

Peter Chapman

 

 

Peter Chapman & Co £76452.33:

Farms 1,100 acres at South Redbog Farm, near Strichen.

It is a mixed arable Beef and Pullet rearing enterprise.

Four wind turbines are located on the farm.

He is a former vice president of the NFU Scotland. Director of Aberdeen and Northern Marts livestock auctions, Director NFU mutual insurance society, board member Scottish Natural Heritage.

Politically active he was elected as a local councillor before taking up the role of MSP for Banffshire & Buchan at Holyrood in 2017.

Actively involved in the support of the 2014 “Better Together” campaign

Colin Cameron

 

 

 

Achnacarry Estate £79,781.89:

The family seat of the Cameron’s of Lochiel comprises 60,000 acres of wild country and forests in the North of Scotland. Wind-farms are recent additions bringing revenue to the estate.

It is described as being the “largest landholding in Britain of any commoner”.

Commoner because “the Cameron’s famously supported the losing side in every Scottish conflict with remarkable consistency, for approximately 500 years.

As punishment the family were never ennobled or given fancy titles!”

Donald Angus Cameron, 27th Lochiel, is the current chief of the Clan Cameron.

His son, Donald Cameron (MSP), who assists his father in the running of the estate was elected to Holyrood in 2017 representing the Highlands and Islands.

He is also a lawyer, Scottish Government advocate/ counsel in agriculture, crofting and employment.

His ancestors will be affronted that Donald supports the Union. http://www.lindsays.co.uk/assets/downloads/lindsays_life_issue8.pdf

John Scott

 

 

 

W Scott & Son £44,229.33:

William John Scott is a sheep farmer at Balkissock, Ballantrae, Ayrshire. A Tory MSP he was first elected 2000.

Established the Ayrshire Farmers Market in 1999 and founded the Scottish Association for Farmers in 2001

Appointed as the convenor of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament in June 2016.

Sir Alex Fergusson Tory Peer

 

 

 

Messrs J A Fergusson & Sons £44229.33

Sir Alexander Charles Onslow Fergusson,  a Scottish Tory politician, was a Member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 to 2016, and served as the 3rd Presiding Officer from 2007 till 2011.

Before and after his tie in politics he ran Grennan, farm, Castle Douglas, rearing cattle and sheep

Fergusson is a male-line grandson of  Sir Charles Fergusson 7th Baronet and so is in the remainder to that Barontecy.

He is also descended from many Scottish noble families including the Earls of Glasgow, Earls of Dalhousie and Barons Crofton.

 

 

 

John Sheeden & Partners £45,504.83:

Tory supporting partners John Sheeden unhappy with BBC.

(http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/tory-farmer-who-featured-in-snp-party-broadcast-wins-ofcom-complaint-1-4479912)

Its my Land Git Aff

 

Abuse of a Nation – Nobody in Westminster Gave a Toss About the Scots – Manufacturing – Building and Operating – Untested – Unsafe – Unproven – Fast Breeder – Nuclear Reactors – at Dounreay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom of Information

For many years the public were denied information by successive governments on the grounds of national security.

Despite delaying tactics by the Scottish Executive, The Freedom of Information Act of 2005 forced politicians, on written request, to provide information opening files previously hidden away.

Information in this blog was released after many months of circuitous correspondence and although revealing it is not comprehensive. Other information will no doubt be released over time.

But what is listed is a damming indictment on successive Westminster government abuse of Scotland and Scots further reinforcing the urgent need to for Scotland to break free from 300 plus years of tyrannical rule from Westminster actively assisted by Little Unionist Englanders residing in Scotland

 

 

 

1955 -1960 – Technology Unproven – Fast Breeder Reactors Were Installed at Dounreay Despite Real Fears of a Nuclear Blast

Fast-breeder reactors were conceived in the Fifties when uranium – the nuclear industry’s raw material – was scarce.

At the same time, the US was being uncooperative in sharing nuclear expertise, despite Britain’s role in developing the atom bomb.

So UK nuclear chiefs set up a fast breeder programme to ensure fuel independence and stationed it in remote Caithness, Scotland – because they feared their first test reactor might explode.

They even encased it in a giant sphere of steel, known as Fred the Golf Ball – Fred standing for Fast Reactor Experiment in Dounreay – to contain any blast. At least that is what the Scottish public were told

Daydreaming government officials also conjectured that it could be converted into a visitor centre after closure.

Unfortunately, the sphere contains about 50 tonnes of highly radioactive liquid metal coolant that will take many decades and a lot of cleaning before people can walk inside.

In the end, Dounreay was doomed to close early because uranium was discovered in significant quantities in Australia and Canada, making standard reactors cheaper to run.

Three reactors were installed between 1958 and 1975.

Reactor No1: was a test unit operating from 1958-1969. It was never connected to the national grid and produced nothing. Work was transferred to Harwell in 1969

Reactor No2: was operational from 1962-1977. Its output was around 14 M.W.E.

Reactor No3: was operational from 1975-1994. Its output was around 250 M.W.E.

In 1994, the government ordered closure along with a full-scale clean-up.

Projections are fluid but completion of decommissioning is expected to take around 50 years.

The shut down of the reactors care and maintenance of old plant and decommissioning activities meant that Dounreay still retains a work-force.

Commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and waste was stopped by the UK government in 1998 although some waste is still accepted from other nuclear facilities in special circumstances.

 

 

 

01 Apr 2005: Safety ‘failures’ at the Closed Nuclear Plant Facility at Dounreay Between 1999-2005

There have been more than 250 violations of safety conditions at Dounreay since 1999, including leaking waste tanks, lost radioactive waste and power cuts.

Some records of discharges have been wrong for months and many of the problems listed have never been reported before.

They include the radioactive contamination of whelks, winkles, rabbits, concrete, soil, water, air and beaches.

The list includes 18 incidents in the first 3 months of 2005, including an “abnormal” radioactive discharge from a stack, the contamination of grass with caesium 137 and a spill of radioactive caustic soda.

 

 

01 Apr 2005: Protection Agency Nuclear Dounreay chiefs played down major blast at plant

An explosion in Dounreay’s waste shaft, one of the most serious incidents in the site’s turbulent history, was dismissed as a “minor incident” by senior staff.

A press release issued on the day of the blast in 1977, explained that a chemical reaction, probably involving 2.5kg of sodium had occurred adding “No injury occurred, damage was minor and the public was not involved.”

It has now been revealed that explosion caused extensive damage with pieces of asbestos discovered up to 75 metres away.

 

 

 

01 Apr 2005: Decommissioning of Dounreay is planned to bring the site to an interim care and surveillance state by 2036, and as a brownfield site costing many £billions

Apart from decommissioning the reactors, reprocessing plant, and associated facilities, there are five main environmental issues to be dealt with:

1. A 65-metre deep shaft used for intermediate level nuclear waste disposal is contaminating groundwater, and is also threatened by coastal erosion.

The shaft was never designed as a waste depository, but was used as such on a very ad-hoc and poorly monitored basis, without reliable waste disposal records being kept.

In origin it is a relic of a process by which a waste-discharge pipe was constructed.

The pipe was designed to discharge waste into the sea.

Historic use of the shaft as a waste depository resulted in one hydrogen gas explosion caused by sodium and potassium wastes reacting with water.

At one time it was normal for workers to fire rifles into the shaft to sink polythene bags floating on water.

2. Irradiated nuclear fuel particles on the seabed near the plant, estimated to be many hundreds of thousands in number.

Beachs in the vicinity have been closed since 1983 due to this danger, which was caused by old fuel rod fragments being pumped into the sea.

It is planned that from 2008, a clean-up project using Geiger counter-fitted robot submarines will search out and retrieve particles, a process that will take many years.

In 2009 nearly 130 radioactive particles washed ashore on the publicly accessible Sandside Bay beach and one at a popular tourist beach at Dunnet.

3. 18,000 cubic metres of radiologically contaminated land, and 28,000 cubic metres of chemically contaminated land will need to be cleared of contamination, a process scheduled to take many decades to complete. If ever.

4. 1,350 cubic metres of high and medium active liquors and 2,550 cubic metres of unconditioned intermediate level nuclear waste in store will need to be transferred to another site for long term storage.

5. 1,500 tonnes of sodium, (900 tonnes of this unproductive Prototype Fast Reactor) will need to be transferred to another site for long term storage.

 

 

 

Historically Much of Dounreay’s Nuclear Waste Management was Poor.

On 18 September 2006, the acting chief operating officer, predicted that more problems will be encountered from old practices at the site as the decommissioning effort continues.

At the start of decommissioning some parts of the plant will be entered for the first time in 50 years and no-one fully knows what to expect.

In 2007 UKAEA pleaded guilty to four charges under the Radioactive Substances Act 1960 relating to activities between 1963 and 1984, one of disposing of radioactive waste at a landfill site at the plant between 1963 and 1975, and three of allowing nuclear fuel particles to be released into the sea, resulting in puerile financial penalties fines.

Due to the quantities of uranium and plutonium held at the site, it is considered a major security risk and there is a high police presence.

 

 

 

Major safety flaws uncovered at Torness plant.

An accident at Torness nuclear power station in 2002 described at the time by British Energy as “vibration problems” was far more serious according to the official investigation.

The accident began when reactor two automatically shut down because it detected a flaw in its cooling system.

Operators made a serious mistake and a gas circulator meant to keep the reactor cool was badly damaged.

Alarms sounded, a temperature gauge went “off-scale” and 750 litres of oil went missing.

A report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, released under the FOI Act, criticised managers at Torness for staff cutbacks, and for failing to give safety a high enough priority.     26.6.05 The Sunday Times

 

 

 

Nuclear Radioactive waste at Royals’ beach

Radioactive deposits washed up on Dunnet beach near the late Queen Mother’s former Scottish home were not reported by the management of the decommissioned Dounreay reactor, according to a response to an FOI request.

The findings prompted the Energy minister to admit that safety standards at Dounreay had been unacceptable and measures taken to protect the environment had been ineffective.  15.3.05 The Guardian

 

 

 

UK Atomic Energy Authority-Nuclear Power

British Energy’s decision to close its Peel Park headquarters in East Kilbride triggered a severe staffing crisis that could have put safety at risk, according to documents disclosed under the FOI (Scotland) Act.

A report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate in December 2004 concluded “British Energy’s intent to close Peel Park, and the consequential impact, has had an adverse effect on the staff with respect to stress, morale and uncertainty over their future”.     15.5.05 Sunday Herald

 

 

 

Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

Nuclear waste sites list revealed a list of sites across the UK considered for the dumping of nuclear waste has been disclosed under the FOI Act.

Nirex, the government owned company set up to implement a nuclear waste disposal strategy, published the information on its website following an FOI request.

The short-list includes two sites in Essex and five in Scotland.

The government is due to begin site selection again in 2007, after the process fell off the agenda in 1997.    10.6.05 BBC News

 

 

References:

http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/scotland/safe-energy-journal/safe-energy-31/

http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki%20/416184

 

 

First Labour Coalition Executive Filled Their Pockets at the Expense of the Scottish Electorate – Memories Fade But Scots Do Not Forget

 

 

 

 

 

Scottish Executive costs hit £150m

The Scottish Executive has spent almost £150 million on travel, hospitality and office costs in the 6 years since devolution.

The figures, show that nearly £34m has been spent by ministers, special advisers and civil servants on travel, and more than £3m on hospitality since 1999.

The cost of office accommodation including utility costs, rates, maintenance and repairs was more than £111m. 16.9.05 Evening News Edinburgh

 

 

 

 

Scottish Executive Expenses

MSPs run up £500,000 bill on hotels since devolution.

Figures obtained reveal that MSPs have claimed £500,000 in hotel expenses since devolution.

The figures also reveal the amount claimed for taxis (£193,865), rail fares (£359,276) and telephone calls from home (£187,149).  24.4.05 The Sunday Times

 

 

 

 

Scottish Parliament Expenses – MSPs claim nearly £52k in taxis.

The amount MSPs spend on taxis has doubled since the first year of the Scottish Parliament figures reveal.

Last year, MSPs claimed £51,716.97 to cover their taxi fares, compared to £25,514.38 in 1999.

Tory leader David McLetchie has racked up the largest bill, claiming £11,565.19 over the six years, an average of nearly £2,000 a year. 30.9.05 The Scotsman

 

 

 

Scottish Parliament Expenses – McLetchie finally quits over taxi row

David McLetchie has resigned as the Scottish Conservative Party leader following the controversy over his taxi expenses.

McLetchie had been under pressure since February 2005 when details of his travel claims were requested under the FOI (Scotland) Act.

On 21 April, the Scottish Parliament provided copies of claims totalling £10,448 but blacked out many of the destinations, claiming Mr McLetchie’s safety would be compromised.

But on 7 October the Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion ordered the destinations to be disclosed.

It then emerged that Mr McLetchie had already paid refunded over £250 in travel claims for party political events.

He had also claimed for trips to the home of Lady Sian Biddulph, a Tory activist. 19.6.05 Scotland on Sunday

 

 

 

 

MSPs expense claims to be posted online

Invoices and receipts for all MSPs’ expenses claims will be published on the Internet in the future, George Reid, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer has announced.

Mr Reid said the current system of disclosing total figures annually was not adequate to meet the demands of the FOI (Scotland) Act.

The move to make expenses more open and accountable follows the resignation of the Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie for using taxpayers’ money to fund taxi journeys for personal or party political business. 2.11.05 The Scotsman

 

 

 

 

Outrage over council’s taxi bill of £71,000

East Lothian Council spent £71,000 on taxis over the past financial year.

A spokesman for the council said that “not all councillors are drivers and…when public transport…(is) not available it is more economical and efficient to use taxis”. 13.6.05 Evening News Edinburgh

 

 

 

Agency chief Laird spent £260 on a taxi

The cost of Lord Laird’s official taxi journeys whilst chairman of the Ulster-Scots Agency have been disclosed.

The bills from 2000 and 2001 include fares of £240 and £260 for Belfast to Dublin return trips and £272.50 for a Co Derry journey.

In total, £2,505 was spent over a 10 month period.

The peer defended some of his taxi use on personal security grounds, linked to his practice of wearing a kilt for functions.

“Am I going to turn up somewhere, get out of a car and walk half a mile to a function wearing a kilt? That would be drawing attention to me,” he said.

Lord Laird resigned as Ulster – Scots Agency chairman in 2004. 7.2.05 Belfast Telegraph

 

 

 

Labour Councillor who ate for free in canteen to pay money back

A Glasgow councillor who claimed expenses for lunches despite eating for free in the council’s canteen, has agreed to pay the money back.

Council records show that Gary Gray had lunch in a special City Chambers’ buffet on at least seven occasions when he also claimed a lunch allowance of £6.99.

The discrepancies were revealed when the Mr Gray’s expense forms were cross – referenced with records showing the number of times he had entertained visitors in the councillors’ buffet. 29.8.05 Evening Times Edinburgh

 

 

 

 

Ulster-Scots Agency cash rap revealed

The scale of past cash control failings at the Ulster – Scots Agency has been revealed.

A 2001 internal audit concluded that the cross – border body had been spending “with no apparent regard to the fact that public monies are involved”.

It stated that government investigators were seriously concerned about a number of issues, including hospitality spending, credit card use and travel expenses.

The Agency was established in late 1999 to promote Ulster-Scots language and culture. 10.3.05 Belfast Telegraph

 

 

 

 

Expenses – The strange tale of the huge expenses bill, the pension application and the disappearing MSP

Invoices for travel expenses claimed by the former MSP Keith Raffan have been disclosed.

In December 2004 the Scottish Parliament revealed the Lib Dem MSP had claimed an incredible £41,154.64 in travel costs for one year.

The released invoices show that he claimed for travel in Scotland whilst on a two day break on the Isle of Man.

He also claimed for round trips between Edinburgh and Dunfermline and between Edinburgh and St Andrews on the same day that he flew to Germany on a VIP trip. Raffan resigned as an MSP in January 2005. 18.9.05 The Sunday Herald

 

 

 

 

Jackson courts questions on travel expenses

A Labour MSP charged taxpayers for travel to the Scottish Parliament on the same days that he earned hundreds of pounds in legal aid as a top QC.

Gordon Jackson billed the Parliament for travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh on nine occasions when he’d been in court.

On two of those occasions, Jackson who earns £264,000 a year in legal aid plus a £50,000 MSP’s salary is recorded as having missed parliamentary committee meetings.

On a third occasion, the parliament was not in session, although Jackson claims he went to his parliamentary office, which would entitle him to claims expenses. 24.4.05 Scotland on Sunday

 

 

 

 

Revealed: the MSPs’ houses we paid for

Ten ministers in the Scottish Executive are among more than 40 MSPs who claim an allowance to help pay the mortgage on their Edinburgh homes.

MSPs who live too far from Edinburgh to commute are entitled to claim an accommodation allowance of up to £10,600 a year which they can use to pay for hotels, rent flats or pay the interest on a mortgage.

The Scottish Parliament published, in response to public pressure a list of politicians who have bought property with the allowance.

A total of 41 current MSPs and 7 former MSPs have claimed for mortgages since the scheme started in 1999. 4.6.05 Evening News Edinburgh

 

 

 

 

Scottish Parliament Expenses

Yes, minister, your lunch did cost £426. When Jack McConnell met Gavin McCrone and officials for dinner during his time as education minister in 2000, the Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh presented him with a bill for £426.60.

Meanwhile, the communities minister Margaret Curran last year lodged expenses for £285 for a meal at the Glasgow Hilton.

However, when the then First Minister, Henry McLeish, met Cardinal Thomas Winning, the then head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, for lunch at the Bonham Hotel in 2000, he registered expenses for a very reasonable £25.50.    30.3.05 The Scotsman

 

 

Ruth Davidson Introduces Intellect Testing of Tory Candidates With the Aim of Ensuring All Are at Her Level of Intelligence

 

 

 

 

 

Rooth the Mooth Is Determined to Improve the Quality of Tory MP and MSP’s and Introduces Intellect Testing of Potential Candidates

Just before the last election potential candidates were gathered and put to the test.

Davidson briefed those gathered:

“As you know I am about to be promoted by her Majesty the Queen to a high ranking officer grade in recognition of my MENSA membership and my long and faithful Territorial Army service.

I fully expect all of you to display a standard of intellect mirroring my own so that Scottish voters can be satisfied they have elected Tory party members of the highest quality to public office.

It is not possible to allocate all of you to a constituency so there will need to be a cull.

To facilitate this I have devised a game designed to test your reasoning ability.

If I name a fruit, run to the wall on the right of the hall and if I name a colour run to the wall on the left of the hall.

Any questions?

No! OK!

Ready – steady – set;     ORANGE!!!!!

 

Saudi Arabia – A Nation On Its Last legs and in Deep Trouble – Things You Should Know But Don’t

 

 

 

OttomanEmpire1800

 

 

 

 

The Ottoman Empire and the Growth of Wahhabism

The Ottoman Empire held sway over much of Arabia up to 1800, but due to perpetual unrest within the country they were forced to concentrate their forces in fortified towns and the city of Mecca.

Around 1730, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792) – An Islamic theologian, founded Wahhabism, an ultra pure interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Growth of the sect within Arabia was assisted by expansionist policies over the lifetime of its founder assisted by Muhammad Ibn Saud, ruler of a small Arabian sub-state who converted his family to Wahhabism and established a political dynasty with Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab.

Ensuring the future of the sect the son of Ibn Saud, Abdul Aziz married Imam Wahhab’s daughter in 1746. Abdul Aziz was determined to rid Arabia of the Turks and conducted a military campaign attacking and capturing Riyadh in 1773, the Holy City of Makkah in 1803 and Medina in 1804.

In 1806-1807 he released his forces against the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala attacking them on a number of occasions inflicting many casualties and hardship on their citizens.

In 1811, the Turks, fed up with the constant unrest, sent a large Egyptian army to Arabia and in a short campaign, Muhammad Ali Ottoman, Viceroy of Egypt, removed the Wahhabis and re-established Turkish control over Arabia in 1813.

Saud ibn Abdul Aziz died in exile in 1814. His son was taken to Istanbul where he was tried and executed for treason and armed insurrection.

The Saud’s later re-established the family in Riyadh but were forced into exile in Kuwait once more due to pressure from the Turks who still controlled most of Arabia.

Towards the end of the century, having concluded a pact with Turkey, Muhammad bin Rashid took up the reins of power.

One of his first acts was to force the leader of the Al Saud family, Abdul Rahman bin Faisal and his dependents, into exile in Kuwait for a third time.

But the Saud’s were persistent and in 1902 Abdul Aziz (ibn Saud) left Kuwait with a small but determined force and attacked and captured Riyadh.

He quickly increased the size of his force and harassed the Turks in Nejd and Hasa throughout the next decade.

 

King_Saud

 

 

 

The Sykes-Picot Agreement and After Effects

Signed in 1916 the Sykes-Picot Agreement was a secret understanding between the governments of Britain and France defining their respective spheres of post-World War I influence and control in the Middle East.

Britain and France carved up the Levant into an assortment of monarchies, mandates and emirates.

Syria and Lebanon were put into the French orbit, while Britain claimed Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf states and the Palestinian Mandate.

In 1916, Sharif Hussein, Arab Emir of Mecca, led the Great Arab Revolt, in Mecca against a much weakened Turkish occupation force.

T E Lawrence was assigned as the British liaison. In 1917-1918 Lawrence, Arab forces and Bedouins attacked the Turks relentlessly and captured the port of Aqaba.

The retreating Turks were then defeated by Arab forces in Jordan then Syria before the end of the 1914-18 World War.

In 1921, Britain and France carved up Arabia and handed the crown to King Hussain (Sherif of Mecca) they went on to create Jordan under Emir Abdullah, his brother Faisal became King of Iraq.

France was given influence over Syria and Jewish immigration was allowed into Palestine.

King Hussain’s reign over Arabia was short lived when in 1924 he abdicated in favour of his son Ali. Ali himself, was unfit to lead abdicated and left the country.

 

Landscape

 

 

 

 

The Saud Family Take Control of Arabia

The departure of King Hussain in 1924 provided opportunity for the Saud family to take control and King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud (d1953) declared Wahhabi rule over Saudi Arabia.

He then appointed himself King of Hejaz and Sultan of Nejd and its Dependencies.

Under his leadership, with the signing of the treaty of Jedda in 1927 Arabia became independent of Great Britain.

In 1927-1928 he crushed an uprising by fanatical Islamist tribes of central Arabia.

He fathered 44 sons. six of whom have ruled Saudi Arabia.

The family has increased in size over the years and there are around 5,000 princes in place, who control all power and resources.

The Kings:

Saud ibn Abdul-Aziz 1902-1964. King 1953-1964

Faisal ibn Abdul-Aziz 1904-1975. King 1964-1975 Assassinated by a nephew (later beheaded) who had a history of mental illness

Khalid ibn Abdul-Aziz 1913-1982. King 1975-1982

Fahd ibn Abdul-Aziz 1921-2005. King 1982-2005 Ruled until 1996. Suffered a stroke. His half brother,  Abdullah took over responsibility for the country.

Abdullah ibn Abdul-Aziz 1921-2015. King 2005-2015

Salman ibn Abdul-Aziz 1935-  King 2015- His health is deteriorating due to dementia and his son, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, (b1985) is gradually taking control of the Country.

Saudi Arabia holds the Koran as its constitution. The capital is Riyadh. Sunni Muslims comprise the majority. Shiite Muslims are the minority and live mostly in impoverished villages in the oil-rich eastern part of the country..

 

King Khalid

 

 

 

 

Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, A King in Waiting

Prince Mohammad was appointed Defence Minister, Minister of State and Secretary of the Royal Household in 2015.

This was followed with a promotion to deputy Crown Prince in 2016 then to Crown Prince in 2017.

His rise to power is not universally supported by the Saud family and it is expected there will be difficulties when King Salman dies.

He is a lone wolf when it comes to politics and sharing of responsibilities.

Proof of this is his March 2015, launch of Operation Decisive Storm, part of which was an attack on Houthi rebels in Yemen, in support of the Yemen government.

The attack was uncoordinated across all the relevant services and without even informing his cousin, Prince Mutaib bin Abdulla, the leader of the most efficient military force, the 250,000 strong Saudi National Guard.

According to the UN and human rights groups, direct war crimes have been committed during the conflict including an indiscriminate major bombing campaign resulting in the killing of many thousands of civilians

To date, the war has already cost Saudi Arabia tens of billions of dollars and has destroyed much of Yemen’s infrastructure whilst failing to dislodge the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies from the Yemeni capital.

Prince Mohammad saw the war as a short sharp campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen bringing an end to the civil war in the country and returning its leader, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power.

In failing he has committed Saudi Arabia to a long war of attrition the outcome of which is uncertain.

Further complicating matters he announced an anti-terrorist military alliance of Islamic countries against the Houthi rebels in December 2015, without first consulting each of the countries involved.

Other indications of his aggressive and warlike thoughts is his early 2015 launch of the “Army of Conquest”, against Syria.

The force, comprising the “Al-Nusra Front” and Aurar Al-Sham won a series of victories against the Syrian Army in Idlib Province, massively supported by the US air force and a Western Alliance, including Great Britain.

But, with the assistance of the Russian air force the President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrians battled on and are winning the fight against all the odds.

Prince Mohammad should be careful. There is clear evidence oil producing states are almost impossible to reform and as such they should avoid war if they wish to remain intact.

 

King Salman flanked by Mohammed bin Salman (right) and Mohammed bin Nayef.

 

 

 

29 Jun 2017: Deposed Crown Prince Confined to Palace

Deposed Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Nayef, 57 has been confined to his palace in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, as his young successor seeks to consolidate his newfound power.

The movements of the former heir to the throne have been restricted since his cousin Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, 31 replaced him last week denying the Crown Prince of his right of succession to the throne.

Senior Saudi officials denied Bin Nayef was under house arrest but offered: “It’s just in the changeover period. Crown Prince Mohammad Salman does not want to take any risks. It is not house arrest. Nothing like that at all.”

 

Mohammed bin Salman, newly appointed crown prince, kisses Mohammed bin Nayef’s hand.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, newly appointed crown prince, kisses former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef’s hand.
Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef was the kingdom’s most influential security official over the past 15 years. He maintained close intelligence connections with the US and UK and was seen by Saudi allies as an assured and trusted hand.

His ties to Saudi allies are far more extensive than those of his successor, a possible factor in the decision to keep him isolated while the power transition takes effect.

The House of Saud had been determined to convey the image of a seamless handover, with a government video showing Bin Salman bowing and kissing the hand of his cousin after being named crown prince.

In the lead up to the change, however, a mutual rivalry has eroded trust. “It was never daggers drawn,” said the Saudi official. “It was that a younger man wanted the job and the older man did not support it.

It is reported that guards loyal to Prince Bin Salman had replaced those of his predecessor outside the Jeddah palace to where the ousted royal had returned.

It is understood that Bin Nayef and his close family members have been prevented from leaving the kingdom.

“If he is seen as benign, this will change quite quickly,” the official said. “I suspect they don’t want him jetting off to Washington in a bad mood and telling anyone, even our allies, the state secrets.

“There is too much risk in letting a disgruntled figure talk at a time like this.”

Bin Nayef’s insights into his own exit as well as political machinations within the opaque Saudi inner circle would be keenly sought by Riyadh’s allies and rivals and he would likely be welcomed in western capitals, should he leave the country.

The upheaval follows a dizzying series of moves from the usually cautious kingdom, which in recent weeks has recalibrated relations with Washington and embarked on a diplomatic offensive against Qatar, led by Prince Bin Salman himself.

has been central to the changes, which have helped his profile and powers grow rapidly under the tutelage of an 81-year-old monarch who has given him an almost free hand over most aspects of society. Central to his mandate is a plan to use capital from the partial privatisation of the world’s largest company, Aramco, to revitalise the Saudi economy.

However, cultural and societal reforms have also been flagged as paramount – in particular

Bin Nayef had not opposed the reform programme, but had been considered by the Royal Court – and Saudi allies – as a measured voice who had urged a more painstaking process, which had characterised past overhauls.

“He played the bad cop role,” said the Saudi official. “But that did not contribute to his downfall. He had to go because he was in the way. That’s all.”

 

 

 

Salman_bin_Abdull_aziz_December_9,_2013

 

 

 

Political and Economic Reforms

Prince Mohammad was named the chair of the newly established Council for Economic and Development Affairs in 2015,replacing the disbanded Supreme Economic Commission.

He was also given control over Saudi Aramco by royal decree 48 hours after being appointed deputy crown prince.

His stated concern in 2015–2016 was to reform Saudi’s economy towards a more diversified and privatized structure.

His reform blueprint, “Vision 2030”, detailed goals and measures in various fields, from developing non-oil revenues and privatization of the economy to e-government and sustainable development.

In an interview with Al Arabia he also shared his idea for “Green cards” for 800,000 non-Saudi foreigners.

His most ambitious plan is to restore Saudi Arabia’s dominance in global oil markets by driving any new competition into bankruptcy, by keeping the oil price low for a long enough period.

Saudi Arabia persuaded OPEC to do the same. A few small players went bankrupt, but American frackers only closed their less-profitable operations temporarily, and waited for oil prices to go up again.

However, Saudi Arabia, which had been spending $100 billion a year to keep services and subsidies going, admitted defeat in November 2016 and cutting production significantly asked its OPEC partners to do the same.

He followed up by slashing the state budget, freezing government contracts and reducing the pay of civil employees as part of drastic austerity measures.

Other changes included new taxes and cuts in subsidies, a diversification plan, creation of a $2 trillion Saudi sovereign wealth fund, and a series of strategic economic reforms called the National Transformation Programme.

His plans to raise capital for the sovereign wealth fund include selling off shares in Saudi Aramco.

It is this aspect of the economy that suggests trouble in near future for the Saudi royal family.

He proposes austerity and market reform in the Kingdom, but in the context of Middle East autocracies and particularly oil states this breaches an unspoken social contract with the general population.

He is pledged to introducing a work ethic into a state where a large migrant labour force plays a disproportionate role in productivity.

A senior official in Riyadh said that what is being envisaged is

People may not enjoy political liberty, but they do get a share in oil revenues through well paid government jobs and subsidised fuel, food, housing and other benefits.

Greater privatisation and supposed reliance on the market, with no accountability or fair legal system, means a licence to plunder by those with political power.

But he enjoys all the advantages of a young and forceful politician, including the ability to connect with the country’s younger population.

He lobbied with some success, for regulations restricting the powers of the religious police and established an entertainment authority that has hosted comedy shows, pro wrestling events, and monster truck rallies.

But his future success will hang on his ability to fulfil expectations, particularly in terms of human rights, social, the economy and a successful: “cultural revolution.

 

King-Abdullah

 

 

Philanthropy

He established himself as the chairman of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Foundation,(MiSK), which aims to help disadvantaged youth.

The foundation was a partner of the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum for Change in 2015.

It focuses on the country’s youth and provides different means of fostering talent, creative potential, and innovation in a healthy environment that offers opportunities in arts and sciences.

It pursues these goals by establishing programs and partnering with local and global organizations.

It intends to develop intellectual capability in youth, as well as unlock the potential of all Saudi people.

 

fahd_sa02

 

 

 

Controversy

24 September 2015: over 2,000 Hajj pilgrims were killed in the 2015 Mina stampede.

Sources claim this was due to attempts by the personal convoy of Prince Mohammed bin Salman to force itself through the crowd, as well as several road closures in the area.

2 January 2016: It was the execution of the Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others – mostly Sunni jihadis or dissenters that alerted governments to the extent to which Saudi Arabia had become a threat to the status quo.

It appeared to be deliberately provoking Iran in a bid to take leadership of the Sunni and Arab worlds while at the same time buttressing domestic power by appealing to Sunni sectarian nationalism.

Iran’s Shia population replied by setting fire to the Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran. Since then, the two countries have cut off diplomatic ties.

The confrontation with Iran shows no sign of receding.

The attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad might not have been expected but the Saudis did not have to break off diplomatic relations.

Then there was the air strike that the Iranians allege damaged their embassy in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.

None of this is too surprising, Saudi-Iranian relations have been at a very low ebb since 400 Iranian pilgrims died in a mass stampede in Mecca in 2015.

But the Saudi leadership appear to be intent on increasing the political temperature by putting four Iranians on trial, one for espionage and three for terrorism.

The four have been in prison in Saudi Arabia since 2013 or 2014 so there is no reason to try them now, other than as an extra irritation against Iran.

Prince Mohammed, seeking to reassure the rest of the World, said: “A war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is the beginning of a major catastrophe in the region, and it will reflect very strongly on the rest of the world. For sure, we will not allow any such thing.”

The cause of Saudi Arabia acting unilaterally is its disappointment that the US reached an agreement with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Again this looks naive: the alliance with the US is the prime reason why the Saudi monarchy has survived nationalist and socialist challengers since the 1930s.

Aside from the Saudis’ money and protective alliance with the US, leaders in the Middle East have always doubted that the Saudi state has much operational capacity.

This is true of all the big oil producers, whatever their ideological make-up.

Experience shows that vast oil wealth encourages autocracy, whether it is in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya or Kuwait, but it also produces states that are weaker than they look, with incapable administrations and dysfunctional armies.

 

Mohammed_Bin_Salman_al-Saud2

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

 

 

Personal life

He enjoys a lavish lifestyle. One incident illustrating this is his spur-of-the-moment purchase of an Italian-built and Bermuda-registered yacht “Serene” from Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Scheffler, for a price of €500 million.

Credit: The Independent, The Guardian

 

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