28 Mar 2009

Sandi Thom's £581 Breakfast - and 'a that

From Today's Scotsman
By David Maddox, Scottish Political Correspondent

THE SNP has been accused of providing one of its most high-profile celebrity supporters with "Scottish Government kickbacks" worth almost £10,000.

The money was paid to the singer- songwriter Sandi Thom as expenses for gigs she performed for the Scottish Government in 2007 and 2008. This included a flat-rate fee of £3,000 for a St Andrews Day event in 2007. In 2008, the Scottish Government paid a £860 hotel bill and £581.75 for breakfast and refreshments when she performed for another St Andrews event in West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Flights for Ms Thom, her band and tour manager cost another £1,440.53, while she also received £404 for car hire and there was an agency fee of £750.

At the launch of the First Minister's Christmas card at Duff House in Aberdeenshire, she was paid an agency fee of £1,000 and transport costs of £1,478.30.

The information was revealed in a Scottish Government written answer to Labour delivered three months late. Scottish Parliament rules says answers should be given within 20 days. The answer also did not include Thom's expenses for 2009. These include being flown to Ayr for a Burns Night supper and being jetted to Washington DC to perform at a Scottish Government event close to the time of Barack Obama's inauguration. Ms Thom, who is from Banff, in the Westminster constituency of Alex Salmond, has been a high-profile supporter of the SNP and appeared on its 2007 election literature in a letter aimed at young voters. She also sang a duet of the song Caledonia with Mr Salmond at the beginning of her Homecoming tour this year, and the tour itself was promoted to SNP members in an e-mail from the party chairman Peter Murrell, the partner of Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader.

John Robertson, the Labour Glasgow North West MP, said: "These lavish expenses are kickbacks for helping the SNP election campaign. This stinks." He added that the SNP could not afford to "fritter away £500 on an expensive hotel" when it has cut 1,000 teachers in the past year. read full article

- Indefensible

In the USA they call this pork barrel politics, but it is commonplace the world over, and of course New Labour has it down to an art form. So don't think I am unaware of their hypocrisy here. From the party of Tony McNulty, Jacqui Smith, Cheri Blair and hundreds more.

But that don't make what has happened with Sandi Thom right, remotely right.

If we are to succeed - win our independence - we must rise above these temptations of graft and corruption, some even put there deliberately as temptations so as the unionists can run stories such as these.

But did you fight to win office so as Sandi Thom and her pals could enjoy inflated fees and obscenely priced breakfasts at taxpayers expense? Real people , voters, the Scottish working class?

Get a grip of wee Eck I suggest rather than whinge at The Scotsman or an obscure Labour MP on this one - they are only doing their jobs. Do yours - Sort out your leader, no your king. Ask party HQ ( oh sorry, it's Peter Murrell, Nicola's man and Sandi's groupie), whit does Eck thinks he is playing at - other than slowly but surely blowing it?

And whilst you're at it, tell him he also needs to dump Sir George Matheson as his Government's Chief Economic adviser pronto - before the Edinburgh neds or the fraud squad get to him first.

It's a democratic and accountable government you are running, no a monarchy, a fiefdom, King Eck. And a minority one - so you are well exposed here - nae whipped votes will protect you.

In this regard these New Labour pork barrellers at least know whit they are doing. Not sure you do. But I didna see no "inflated fees for cultural nats - especially ones frae Banff" promises in that 2007 manifesto. Though I read plenty more

And mind what happened last time he was in charge and naeone asked him aboot his taxi fares - apart from that Party Treasurer he, Nicola and co did in.

And an important postscript: The Scottish Sun has the story too - plastered over its front page and beyond. For the uninitiated The Scottish Sun is now far and away the best selling newspaper in Scotland, in part because its younger more open minded readers were increasingly put off by the once dominant Daily Record's pro Labour, pro Government sycophancy. So this is what the younger, independence leaning, open minded masses will be reading in their hundreds of thousands today, Read web edition here

So ask yourself why?

And incidentally, Andy Nichol, The Sun journalist who wrote this is about as nat friendly as you could ever wish for. But he is a good journo and can spot a good story a mile off. Just one of the reasons. the Scottish Sun does so well compared to its much better resourced Record rival.


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