Jim O’Neill has news of more privatisation on the agenda for the Scottish Government, and wonders how anyone can seriously call them left wing.
And now to local news… The SNP government are trying to privatise the Clyde Ferries.
Currently run by MacBraynes, wholly owned by the Scottish Government, and lifeline services for the islands of Cumbrae, Arran and Bute, the services have been put out to tender by the SNP. So far only SERCO have responded and, with their takeover of Northern Ferries so successful for them, they are favourites to win thetender.
Of course, the SNP could have used the lifeline services clause of the EU tender processes to avoid this, especially before TTIP arrives, but, supported by local MSPs Margaret Burgess, the housing minister who is standing down after only one term, and Kenny Gibson whose constituency covers two of the islands, they have decided to go ahead.
Maybe, however, the Scottish Government have different money making plans for MacBraynes. News has come out that they have tendered for and are the preferred contractor to run the Hampshire port which is the main base for the Royal Fleet Auxilliary. Maybe they have taken lessons from Abellio, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dutch Government, on how to carpetbag their way into money-making contracts from other governments. Will we now see MacBraynes as an international port managing company, with its profits going back to the Scottish Government?
Even more amazingly, MacBraynes’ partner in the deal, GBA (Holdings) Ltd, is owned by a company called Touchstart Ltd, based in the British Virgin Islands. So now we have the unedifying sight of a company, wholly owned by Nicola Sturgeon’s Government, in bed with a company based in the tax dodging capital of the world. You couldn’t make it up.
Nicola’s left wing credentials were put to the sword yet again during last week’s leaders’ debate. Indeed the website politics.com have called the tax proposals typical of a centre-right Government. So let’s look at some of the highlights of the debate.
- Kez forced Nicola finally to admit that she had cut the social care budget. Sorry Nicola, this is not FMQs where you can avoid answering the questions.
- Kez then, in a single devastating question, skewered Ruth Davidson on the disability cuts.
- And she mocked Ruth with “I don’t need to sit in a tank and wave a union jack to support the union” – the best quote of the night
- Nicola failed to land a hit on Kez, and chose to concentrate on the referendum rather than Scottish Labour’s current policies. I wonder why.
- Kez managed to get Willie Rennie to support Scottish Labour’s policies and put Patrick Harvie in a corner on the first vote.
- She kebabbed Nicola on the higher tax rate and the need to put real investment in education.
- And finally, after Nicola took refuge in the call for a second referendum, Kez stood firmly against to the largest applause of the evening.
So, the centre-right SNP do not want to raise taxes on the wealthy. As Kez said, someone on £250,000 will pay no more than now. They don’t want to do away with the Council Tax. So someone with a £2m house will pay the same as someone with a £125,000 house. And they are using wholly owned companies to get Westminster Government contracts while they sell off local services to the likes of SERCO and sit in partnership with tax dodgers.
Left-wing? You decide.