ON WITH THE MOTLEY: HONEY MCBEE’S TRIP ROUND THE MEDIA

Tuesday 16th February and the battle for a fiscal framework – delivering The Vow – goes on.

We know it’s important, but ultimately it’s mind-numbing stuff. Moneyweek had a valiant stab at explaining it – Fiscal devolution for Dummies. The deadline came and went last Friday, but, as Daniel Sanderson reported in yesterday’s Herald, John Swinney’s off again to the Treasury this week, undaunted but accompanied by the sound of heels being dug firmly in.

Former Labour Minister Brian Wilson probably summed up the feelings of most of us in Saturday’s Scotsman – “Wake me up when there’s an outcome.”  Whatever that is, says Wilson, it’ll never be enough to satisfy the SNP’s grievance culture – “However “no detriment” was defined, it would be disputed. Whatever financial risk was transferred, it would be too much. However a vow might be fulfilled, it would be a betrayal. We are bang on script”.  For the other side of the coin, here’s James Kelly at SCOTgoesPOP!

 

Democracy? Not for us, thank you:    The SNP’s Bill on the governance of universities has met with hostility, not least last week from 18 Chairs of University Courts – unelected posts to which the holders are appointed. These current holders would not, it appears from this 8 February letter to the Herald, have submitted themselves to anything as democratic as the elections proposed in the bill. Both Andrew Tickell in Scotland on Sunday and Ian Macwhirter in Tuesday’s Herald wonder what it is they fear. The extension of elections to all Scottish universities can only be welcomed – Rectors are an expression of the democratic intellect, nourished in our ancient universities”, says Tickell “and now, finally, being extended across the country, to our newer institutions. The Scottish Government would do well to shout its democratic message a little louder.”

 

Pot and Kettle:  This little story in the National reveals a certain level of hypocrisy on the part of Chancellor Osborne. Read on

 

Place your bets: Forget Trump v. Sanders. This is the one we’ll be selling tickets for. It’s Salmond v. Farage on Brexit. Not quite a firm diary date yet – there is a whisper of back pedalling by UKIP looking for a ‘wider debate’. And who would referee? We’d look no further than STV’s Bernard Ponsonby, given his Indyref track record.

If you’re into maps, you’ll enjoy the Brexit demographics in Matthew Goodwin’s post in Conservative Home on Friday. Reading through to the BTL comments will repay…

 

Cats in a Sack – 1: Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell came amongst us this weekend – or rather came to the Campaign for Socialism, flagship of the Scottish Labour left. Federalism? Yes, says newly elected convenor Neil Findlay. No, say new Corbynites. Nothing to do with me guv, says McDonnell, up to the membership. And then there’s this delicious little cameo in the Huffington Post emerging from the launch of a new guide to the 2015 General election. Throw another firelighter on the barbie…

As for the coming referendum, Mark Wallace in Sunday’s ConservativeHome gleefully pointed out that with friends like Corbyn, Remain needs no enemies.

Cats in a Sack -2:  Oh dear, oh dear. The Sunday Herald’s Tom Gordon has been secretly recording the SNP in Coatbridge and Chryston; the resulting ‘explosive’ tape reveals ‘extraordinary levels of anger and distrust’, as members call each other animals, misogynists and racists. Should we be surprised? North Lanarkshire is where they pick political fights in empty rooms. There’s a prize for anyone who can read to the end of Gordon’s report without a) laughing and b) crying. This is our party of government.

 

Take Aim, Fire! : You ‘ve probably already caught it, but just in case, we thought the exchange of letters between Churchill’s grandson MP Nicholas Soames and Labour Defence spokeswoman Emily ‘White Van Man’ Thornberry (aka Lady Nugee by marriage) bore repeating. Here’s the Spectator version…

 

Choo, Choo:   Brian Monteith in yesterday’s Scotsman went chasing the dream of the romantic Borders railway. Ever since Beeching, says Monteith, The combination of local activists, railway obsessives and a lyrical nostalgia for the Borders of Scott, Buchan and the railways that cut through the hills, was far too intoxicating an elixir for politicians. Henceforth no sitting MP, no prospective parliamentary candidate, no local councillor worth his or her salt, would dare to speak out against the idea of reviving the Waverley Line”. Alas, today’s reality is far removed from the idyll; the business case depended on housing and passenger numbers that haven’t materialised. A case for Audit Scotland, thinks Monteith…

 

A Rose by any other name: Still in the Borders, we spied this story in the Southern Reporter – Jedburgh scientist Mary Somerville will become the only woman, other than the Queen, to appear on RBS £10 notes, beating off competition from James Clerk Maxwell and Thomas Telford. Astronomer and polymath, and largely self -taught, Somerville was a suffragette ahead of her time. More from Rob Davies in the Guardian and a biog here on Wikipedia…

 

This land is [not quite] your land: If long-lost cousin Jock from Minnesota fancies owning two square feet of the old country, better warn him that he might call himself laird of Glenbogle, but that’s as far as it goes. In last week’s Conversation, Malcolm Coombe of Aberdeen University explained the mirage of the ‘souvenir plot’ of Scottish heather …

 

Why, Why, Why:  We won’t dwell on Saturday’s pain in the Principality Stadium (as we must now call it), but we were heartened to hear the crowd defying political correctness and belting out Delilah. Here’s Guy Birchall in Spiked on the ‘pointless and censorious’ call by Labour’s Chris Bryant to have it banned…

[BTW, is anyone else as irritated as we are by the drivelling of the 6Nations  television commentators and so-called pundits? It’s bad enough they talk over the ref, and a wonder they don’t continue through the anthems. If we can’t be there, at least let us soak up the pre-match atmosphere…]

 

And finally, farewell then, the Indy and Sindy: In print form at least. It goes on online under the ownership of Johnston Press, proprietor of the Scotsman titles. Ian Birrell explained in CAPX how the Independent’s launch way back then caught the imagination and relives its glory days. Its demise is probably the writing on the wall for the printer’s ink version of all our familiar titles.

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