Michelle Thomson: it shouldn’t be about perception

Jamie HeadshotJamie Kinlochan says the scandal engulfing the SNP speaks to a far more fundamental problem – for the SNP, managing perception has got in the way of managing the country.


And so, the Michelle Thomson story rumbles on. I won’t claim to know the ins and outs of how mortgages and home buying works. Another five years under the Tories means I’m highly unlikely to ever own a house.

But I know that:

  • Person A buys house for a cut price from cancer patient who is desperate to sell and move next to family
  • Person A sells the house for £30K more than they bought it to Person B (their business partner)
  • Person B is given almost all of that extra £30K they paid back in cash
  • Person B becomes an elected member and is made spokesperson for Business

sounds a bit off. I’ve watched a lot of Location, Location, Location and Homes Under the Hammer and there has never been a transaction like that. If that cancer patient was my gran, I’d want that £30K to be put towards her quality of life, not the bottom line of a business account.

Just five months after the general election, having campaigned with the support of the First Minster, Michelle Thomson is now a former SNP MP. We now know that her relationship with the pro-independence group Business For Scotland was fraught with tension. To prevent disagreement spilling over into the papers during the referendum, roles were changed but job titles were kept.

Michelle Thomson’s situation speaks to a bigger picture. And at the heart of it is a question that I think the SNP, after eight years in government, is now struggling to answer. “At what point are you worrying more about perception than you are about doing the right thing?”

Every political party is the sum of its parts. Its members and leaders set the tone and the work.

At what point, after eight years of freezing Council Tax, do you change an unfair system that freezes the tax that people living in mansions pay just as it does people living in a high rise?

At what point, after mistakes were followed by people dying, do you admit that something is not right with the policy to centralise the police force?

At what point, after the price of oil plummets and people working in the industry are paid of, do you acknowledge that the financial security that is offered by being part of a union isn’t a ruse?

If you are more worried about perception than doing the right thing, you’re eventually going to make some bad calls. If you have spent the last eight years being pious about your politics, it becomes even more difficult to say “I’ve got this wrong”.

We know this from our own lives. Whether it’s your boss, your head teacher or team captain; leaders who admit that they can be wrong, are open to question and understand where you are coming from are the ones we get most from.

Leaders who tell you to get on with it, to not ask questions above your station and to just do your bit and not worry about anyone else… They’re getting as little from you as you’re getting from them. Watch any First Ministers Questions and tell me which of those is happening.

Scotland’s political focus on whether you are for or against independence has now gone on too long. Families can’t afford another five years of government managing perception. Because as the Michelle Thomson story shows us – managing perception is getting in the way of managing the country.

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19 thoughts on “Michelle Thomson: it shouldn’t be about perception

  1. It would be interesting to learn of ANY Labour politician who has not “profiteered” from buying and selling a property. If a property is being sold for less than its market value, I simply don’t believe that ANY Labour politician would refuse to buy it on these grounds.
    The first council tax freeze was implemented by Glasgow City, a Labour run council. At the last election, Labour stood on a policy of continuing the freeze. It would reek of hypocrisy to castigate anyone who does what you claim you wanted to do also.
    When the price of oil plummets and workers are paid off, then we realise that there is NO POLICY from Westminster to steer new industry to the N East of Scotland, from any Unionist Party. Nor is there an oil fund, which our neighbour which shares the same oil basin has set up.
    But Little Norway also allowed time for its indigenous industry to learn the business of oil exploration and exploitation, to maximise benefit to Norwegian employment and society. Scottish industry was allowed nothing. Our steel industry was being run down and closed, while steel products were being imported from the Far East to supply the N Sea.
    “Leaders who tell you to get on with it”—–that will be Labour and Tory Leaders who want Scotland just to use the “powers they have”, and not agitate for more sovereignty.

  2. Jeezo, what a torturous and poorly written piece that was.

    You could have saved yourself a lot of time and effort by writing SNP BAD.

    A scandal involving one person now encompasses the whole party, really? Are you sure as a Labour supporter you want to go down that avenue?

    I’ll start you (and it is only a start) with Jack Straw and Tom Watson then. Does Labour have a crisis of arsonists and ‘cash for influence blowhards?

    People deserve to know and you look like the man to tell us.

    Scotland absolutely needs Labour, it doesn’t need the incompetent and duplicitous nonsense that’s frequently on these pages.

    1. Lord Mike Watson reinstated in Labour Team by Jeremy, The Redeemer, Corbyn. So, obviously, Labour is a party of wilful fire raisers.

  3. Three Little words Cash for Honours clean up your own house before commenting on others

  4. Labour isn’t squeaky clean you know….what about their property business where they buy offices and then rent them out to their MP’s who then claim that rent back through the taxpayer. And they haven’t paid a penny in tax for 8 years and yet here you are ranting about a MP who bought or sold a property before she became an MP and now somehow that is the SNP’s fault.

  5. Whatever happend to innocent until proved guilty as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon rightly said there is an investigation taking place and until it is concluded and all the facts are known reasonable people will keep an open mind as to the outcome and that seems only fair to me. SNP are handling the issue fairly and the lady in question has acted with dignity stepping down from the whip and accepting the party suspension until the outcome of the investigation. Well done SNP.

  6. Just because other people have behaved badly doesn’t make what Michelle Thomson did all right, in ANY respect. Her brazen profiteering on the back of other people’s misfortune defines her as a Tory of the worst kind, and those who can see nothing wrong in what she did and who even argue that she was doing the vendors a favour are of the Tory persuasion also. Clearly, at the very least, they have no experience or knowledge of debt and the corrosive misery of having to contact one of these ‘We Buy Any Property’ agencies. This is the type of situation that can drive people to suicide. And it can happen to anyone – circumstances can change remarkably quickly.

    1. Don’t be ridiculous. One of your so called unfortunate victims ended up making 30K out of the sale of her property to Michele Thomson. That’s a higher profit margin than Michele Thomson herself made on the sale.

      So she is guilty of helping a poor family make a 160% profit on the sale of their Ex Council home.

      What do you suggest? Nobody buys anybodies property under any circumstance if they are trying desperately to sell it at a knocked down price?


      The Labour smearing campaign has gone from disgusting to despicable. It was never honest but now Labour and the Media don’t even try to hide the dishonesty in it anymore.

  7. @wilma
    So much rage so little content.

    You’ve heard of the expenses scandal, was every labour MP caught up in that a secret Tory? What about the second home flippers, all those Labour MPs secret Tories? What about cash for access, Jack Straw, he’ll be a secret Tory too.

    Legally it would appear there’s nothing wrong with her actions but morally I agree it’s questionable. The problem I have is every Labour Lackey in Scotland claims this is some proof of SNP BAD, when in fact it’s proof of nothing more than one persons ethics and morals. Remember when Lord Watson did his wee bit of arson, you must have been terrified the whole party was doomed for a life of fire starting.

    I’ve said it before,Scotland needs a strong Labour Part not a gaggle of light weights shrieking SNP BAD!!!!!!

    1. My local MP was Jim Devine. Loads of people, including people inside the local Labour Party, knew he was dodgy before he got the gig as Labour candidate and some refused to work for him. Be very careful about starting a slanging match as Labour has an awful lot to defend.

  8. Well said, Wilma – two wrongs don’t make a right. The point Jamie is making about perception is spot on. The SNP want people to perceive them as fit to govern an independent Scotland – but they’re actually failing the Scottish people now by their reluctance to use the existing powers of Holyrood to reduce inequality.

  9. The Lord Advocate Frank Mullholland says”There is no case to answer”
    and the reason he said that is because the truth of the fit up is on the brink of being exposed as a Media Lie aided and abetted by some well known names on guess which side

    Maybe some of the detractors will now be offering Ms Thomson a loud and fulsome apology (Tilting my head and listening) I still can’t hear you, Thought not!

      1. Cash for Honours Duncan Expenses scandals Duncan Former MPs and MSPs with criminal records in Government Stones and Glass Houses spring to mind

      2. Actually all Mulholland said was that the police and judicial authorities would carry out their several duties. Lord Advocate promises to uphold law; shock/horror. It might be an idea that those who wish to comment on the iniquities; real or imagined, of this case read the very pertinent comments from Andrew Tickell and Stuart Campbell. I would particularly recommend this to Ms Jackie Baillie who hasn’t got the wrong end ogf the stick but the wrong ends of a whole bundle.

      3. “Willfully dishonest” Mr Hothersall? After Kezia Dugdale’s “willfully dishonest” performance in Holyrood today, perhaps Labour should demure from accusing others of it. Her quoting of words (not even sentences) out of context from a years old promotional piece was disgraceful and, ironically given the thrust of the column above, malicious “perception politics” of the very worst kind.

      4. Once again we see New Labour acolytes using Conservative Tory supporting media as reference and evidence because its directed at the SNP while they happily remind us that the same point of reference and evidence is politically tainted and Tory if its directed at Labour.

        The Hootsdross and the Herald have been working hand in glove with Labour to push this unfounded despicable smear attempt.

        Its so bad that they cant establish an actual piece of wrong doing so are reduced to trying to establish property speculation as criminal and immoral even though a vast majority of the electorate themselves have involved themselves in the process. I bet you have Duncan!

        You actually have to go out of the UK media in order to get to the truth and real facts.

        Wings over Scotland exposed the media inconsistency and lying beautifully.



        Labour haven’t changed under Corbyn and Dugdale they are still the same sleaze driven spinning lying deceitful grubby lowlifes they have been since Blair took them to the right. And they always will be as long as they keep the likes of McTernan and McDougall employed.

  10. “Michelle Thomson’s situation speaks to a bigger picture.”
    The bigger picture being, presumably, S.N.P bad.
    Woman buys council house for £21000. Woman sells house to other woman for £51000. Other woman sells house for £75000. First woman takes the huff. Media goes apeshit over no (as yet) story. Time to calm down.

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