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Tuesday 19 February : A flit round the Media with Vera McFly

The Noble Horse

How could I resist the chance to sniff around the horsemeat scandal, especially when I have horse fly cousins who are experts on the subject? For the record, the girls tell me that horse is the best aphrodisiac of them all. Saturday’s Scotsman quite rightly castigates Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland for misrepresenting the contents of their processed food, but their customers may experience a dip in libido now that the good times are gone.

This is a story which has been galloping away with itself from the outset. Who died? Whose religious sensibilities were seriously offended? Surely it’s a simple case of fraud. As Rob Edwards points out in the Sunday Herald, its value is that – at a time when much processed food is hardly fit for flies – it highlights declining UK food safety standards and puts pressure on the Scottish Government to set up its own agency as soon as possible. Meanwhile, if you would like to taste horse under its own name, try l’Escargot Bleu in Edinburgh’s Broughton Street. For meat, try a butcher.


Always good to have a distraction, especially in the low season of the year. But what was the real news this week? Well, we still have oil. The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company has recently struck two columns at the Darwin Field, 80 miles north-east of Shetland. This gives credence to a prediction, last month, by that offshore jobs this year will increase by over 40,000. As ever, skills may be a problem, as not enough young people are going into engineering.

And we still have Prestwick Airport, where The Herald reports that passenger figures are up by 29% and 50 new jobs will be created this summer. Like Rosyth, Prestwick has been plagued by political decision-making. CEO Iain Cochrane takes a swipe at UK Air Passenger Duty, which has now risen to prohibitive rates, often more than half the cost of your ticket. Another piece of good news for Prestwick is that a recent economic impact study anticipates another 57 jobs this year, due to the inauguration of the Prestwick World Festival of Flight. This new festival could inject £2.6 million into the local economy, according to the Ayrshire Post.

Free Hand-Outs

More good news, this time from George Osborne, who is giving serious consideration to the LibDem suggestion that an RBS share sale just before the next election might restore justice and win votes. Party sources predict £300-£800 per person. Take the money and run says Vera.

Sadly, Scotland still has the same level of teenage pregnancies, one of the highest in Europe, and the latest recommendation, by the Scottish Sexual Health Clinicians Group, is to issue morning-after pills and condoms in schools, according to Scotland on Sunday. A practical solution, unless you’re a faith school, but you have to ask what will schools be asked to do next? It’s amazing that teachers have time to teach, considering how much time they’re expected to spend on pastoral care.

And finally…Culture

Last time I wrote, in November, Scottish artists were in revolt against their national funding agency. Two resignations later, Creative Scotland has, against all expectation, appointed two of

its fiercest critics, Janice Galloway and Vicky Featherstone to the selection panel for its new CEO. Long may this trend continue.

The BBC was in trouble too. Here nothing changes. Yesterday we were treated to re-runs of old programmes as BBC journalists were on strike, campaigning against compulsory redundancies, many of them in Scotland.

And yes, Ailsa Craig is still for sale, now down to just £1.5m …