Scottish News

from our Scottish Political Correspondent

FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has been busy metaphorically measuring the curtains of Number 11 Downing Street. He has been going about claiming that he will in effect be running Britain by using SNP MPs to prop up a minority Labour government, but only on his terms.

If the opinion polls turn out to be accurate there will be a large contingent of Scottish National Party MPs in the House of Commons. This will be a defeat for Labour and give David Cameroon a fighting chance of remaining in Downing Street to impose harsher anti-trade union laws and sell off more of the National Health Service than Margaret Thatcher ever dreamt of.

Voting SNP to secure a Labour government is as absurd as voting for the Democratic Unionist Party or the Official Monster Raving Loony Party for the same ends.

Despite their public posture there is no doubt that the leadership of the SNP positively want a Tory government.

Naturally they don’t let the cat out of bag by saying so in public as this would alienate their followers, but having a Tory government gives the SNP a useful alibi, it can easily blame Westminster for the shortcomings of its back of a cigarette packet policies when they fall apart.

The SNP claim they have 100,000 people presently devoted to the cult of Saints Alex and Nicola, about three-quarters of whom are post-referendum converts. Many consider themselves to be leftwing because they have a loathing of the Tories. Nationalists are however nationalists. Few have the slightest degree of class consciousness and never make the slightest protest about cuts that are being implemented by SNP councils, about the appointment of unqualified cronies of ministers to public offices or against illiberal policing.

ONCE again Scotland’s centralised police force has been caught overstepping the mark. It has been caught out collecting and retaining telephone numbers of even innocent people who have been frisked.

Scottish police are world champions at carrying out stop and searches, beating formidable competition from New York and London. About 75 per cent of all searches are “consensual” or “non-statutory” meaning they are without legal basis and are not based on reasonable suspicion. Originally piloted in Fife it is widespread across the country. As is the norm in these cases the SNP government, which officially controls the police, simply washes its hands of the matter by saying it is an operational matter and nothing to do with the government.

ONE-HUNDRED-and-twenty hospital porters at Ninewells and Victoria hospitals in Dundee have escalated strike action over demands on pay and longstanding grading issues.

Since the dispute started two weeks ago the porters have staged 4-hour strikes on Mondays and Fridays.

Last Friday saw the first 24-hour strike. In response to the escalation bosses took the giant union Unite to the Court of Session to try and have the strike declared illegal under anti- trade union legislation.

This was defeated and the health board will have to pay Unite’s legal costs which amount to £100,000, or enough to pay six porters for a year.

Unite’s industrial officer said: “It beggars belief that NHS Tayside’s directors could have wasted as much as £100,000 to try and crush our members fair pay campaign.”

Porters at the two hospitals are on a Band One grading while porters at other Tayside hospitals are on the higher Band Two. They are demanding £6 million in back pay for a decade of being underpayment.

NHS Tayside bosses claim that the unions, including Unite, had previously signed up to this grading under the “Agenda for Change”. Highly paid managers and the HR department have been called in to push wheelchairs and undermine the strike.

There has been a telling silence from ruling SNP local and national politicians on the question.

Bosses have threatened to deduct up to half the weekly wage of porters involved in strike action. A rally on Friday saw locals bring solidarity and financial support.

They ranged from Dundee City Unison, Dundee Trades Council, FBU Scotland and Unite ambulance workers, who also donated £1,000 for the strike. Jim McFarlane, secretary of Dundee City Unison, brought support from his union branch which represents 2,000 members. Nationally Unison has been less than helpful.

ALEX SALMOND’S memoir of the last 100 days of the Referendum campaign, already nicknamed Mein Banff, has hit the bookshops to the delight of nationalists with £12.99 to spare.

Paddy Ashdown’s earthy comment to the effect that it was the “longest exercise in literary masturbation since politics began” has predictably not gone down well with the fervent nationalists.

For some reason they have not produced any quotations from the book to demonstrate the book’s literary and intellectual merits that would convincingly refute the allegation.