24th June 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Finnie calls for ferry nationalisation

A renewed call has been made for NorthLink Ferries to be brought into public ownership “at the earliest opportunity”.

Spokesman for transport and islands at the Scottish Green Party, John Finnie, is behind a parliamentary motion insisting the service should run in the interest of public service rather than “private profit”.

It comes ahead of a Scottish government statement on the Northern Isles ferries, which is expected to be made on Thursday.

Mr Finnie said: “The good folk of Shetland deserve more frequent, affordable and reliable ferries, run in the interest of public service, rather than solely for private profit.

“It was good to see the Scottish government recently purchase the three northern isles ferries. This should be the first step in bringing the whole setup back into public ownership.

“The RMT has been campaigning on this issue for some time and I fully support their calls to nationalise the service. Ensuring properly staffed vessels which are subject to collective bargaining can only benefit northern isles communities.”

16 comments

  1. John Tulloch

    “Mr Finnie said: “The good folk of Shetland deserve more frequent, affordable and reliable ferries, run in the interest of public service, rather than solely for private profit.”

    This is a fine example of “talking through a hole in one’s hat”. Taking the ferries in-house and handing them to nationalised CalMac will be a disaster for users and taxpayers alike.

    Rather than running in the “interest of public service” as Mr Finnie optimistically asserts, they will run to suit the empire-building goals of CalMac directors, to the exclusion of firms like Pentland Ferries who compete successfully with NorthLink on the Orkney-Scotland route, without any subsidy at all.

    Reply
  2. Michael Garriock

    Nationalisation and Communism are stable mates, and each are about as successful as the other. Good ideas and good in theory, but completely and abjectly useless in practice.

    Mr. Finnie, whoever he may be, would do well to research his current chosen subject before opening his mouth.

    We know the central belt has a predominantly left wing population, and consequently so is, and always will be any Scottish Parliament, and as such are committed to repeating follies such as nationalisation, we expect this.

    There might be a chance we could be persuaded its a good idea if any evidence existed anywhere in the world nationalisation improved anything, but there isn’t. So until that evidence is found, serve up such foolish ideas to those who voted for them, and cease and desist attempting to foist them on us who couldn’t be further away both physically and in voting terms from those so voting central belters.

    Reply
    • Brian Smith

      Tulloch and Garriock have been reading the Mail again.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        🙂 I hadn’t realised the Mail covered CalMac’s chequered history? Presumably, then, the SNP, whom you urged Shetlanders to vote for in last June’s General Election, are also “Mail readers” because they have rejected the idea of nationalising the ferries.

        Alternatively, perhaps, Mr Yousaf has also read Roy Pederson’s excellent book on the history of Scottish ferry services, “Who Pays the Ferryman”?

  3. Peter Hamilton

    Strong prejudices on display here. I wonder of Michael has taken a train in China recently. Rumour has it services are better than they were before the dead hand of communism and nationalisation. I took the train from Beijing to Shanghai some years ago and it went so fast the view was blurred.

    Neo-Liberal John champions the freedom of private business to exploit people rather than the freedom of people not to be exploited. Tavish too in his own liberal way. Is there any proof Shetland could withstand the removal of subsidy and regulation?

    Northlink and Loganair are both subsidised massively (Shetland Health Board and SIC flights) and their profits result from us subsidising their competition. It’s so wasteful it is senseless.

    Why should public money fill the private purse? Nationalise these essential services both into one entity, stop the waste, lower the fares and let poorer islanders travel affordably by air or sea – their choice. Getting to a major city should be regarded as a right. It should be no more expensive from Lerwick as from Wick.

    Reply
    • Michael Garriock

      Call it prejudices if you like Peter Hamilton.

      The facts remain that British Leyland, British Steel, British Rail, the National Coal Board, to name but a few home grown previous failed attempts at nationalisation, were all inefficient, unprofitable, unsustainable, heavily subsidised from the public purse purveyors of very poor quality goods and services.

      If nationalisation could deliver efficient value for money goods and services, it would be a beautiful thing, but it never has, arguably because those who make the decisions have no business aptitude or knowledge whatsoever.

      Why is wasting public money operating pointless and wasteful working practices and paying numerous people wages for doing non-jobs while delivering very poor goods and services, any more desirable and acceptable than private enterprise providing goods and services of at least no worse, and in many cases, very much better quality and making profit on it.

      If private enterprise is making a killing providing publically funded services, that is wholly the fault of the public officials who give them the contract, the same public officials who very likely would oversee the service delivery and spending in a nationalisation scenario for the same services.

      Reply
  4. David Spence

    It would be interesting to know exactly how much money the Scottish Government is subsidizing Serco and Calmac, and how much of this subsidy, as a percentage, is shear profit…….afterall, no company, I think, is going to provide a service for the Government unless they are going to profit immensely from it. It is how much profit they are making which the Scottish Government will not tell us……or Serco and Calmac.

    Whether it is re-nationalised or not, the ordinary person will still be worse off. Profit before Service is the moto, mostly, of the private sector.

    Reply
  5. Christopher Johnston

    All enamoured of nationalised ferry service should read about the recent chaos in the Western Isles due to Calmac’s mismanagement of the ferry service there.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      I worked with a fellow from the western isles back in the days of P&O, he was highly critical of the service provided by calmac on his home routes and had nothing but praise for P&O when he was on the northern leg of his journey. I met him again a few years back when northlink had taken over the route and he could not understand why we had got shot of P&O. No one in the western isles that uses the service has a good word to say about cal mac.

      Reply
  6. Gordon Downing

    Shows what the SNP think of Shetland. Not one of their seats so they don’t care. Until Shetland votes SNP, which they never will. And as long as we have SNP in power. Shetland will continue to be ignored in holyrood

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      Not quite, I attended an SNP meeting in the late 80s and there was quite a lot of animosity towards Orkney and Shetland by ordinary members and party apparatchiks alike the best Orkney and shetland can hope for holyrood and westminster is apathy.

      Reply
  7. Peter Hamilton

    A bloke in Serco management told me their aim was to make 5% profit on public service contracts. Any excess was to be limited by staff increases or service improvements.

    Whoever runs the service there needs to be a mechanism to give islanders a greater, transparent and genuine level of control in the monitoring of the running of the contract, with the ability to apply penalties. Without that we are at the mercy of greed and mismanagement, private or public. It is a deficiency that dates back to Tavish’s time as Transport Minister.

    The Scottish Government is meant to be committed to power sharing. Lets see that written into the new contract so that those who run the service next can be held rapidly, publicly and effectively to account.

    Reply
    • Christopher Johnston

      Peter, the Scots Government says they are committed to power sharing. As with all politicians, pay close attention to what they do, not what they say.

      It seems to me they are committed to a socialistic path, with nationalisation the goal but oligopoly used when necessary.

      They seem to believe that now is not the time to nationalise the Aberdeen-Lerwick ferry, so they will tender it to a few selected firms for a short while. After the contract ends, they will award it to themselves (Calmac) and declare mission accomplished.

      Reply
  8. Peter Hamilton

    If greater local control should be built in to the tendering process and monitoring arrangements then someone should have a wee word with Tavish. Unless he has (or is given) a proposal for improvement he’ll have little right to whinge after the fact. Not the first time this has come up though…

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Despite having stood for Labour in the past, In last June’s General Election, you deserted them and exhorted Shetlanders to vote for SNP-Brett.

      Don’t you think, after 11 years of centralising SNP government, it’s a bit rich to be complaining about what Tavish Scott did, during his 2 years as Transport Minister?

      The word “humbug” springs to mind.

      Reply
    • Michael Garriock

      Managing the North Boat(s) needs to be removed from direct Government control completely.

      To maintain an affordable and adequate service regrettably it needs to be publically subsidised. So constitute a Management Committee by democratic vote, drawn for the folk who rely on its existence (the residents of Orkney & Shetland), to design a fit for purpose service, negotiate the acquistion of suitable vessels and access to and use of port facilities, negotiate an adequate subsidy from Holyrood, draw up competent tender documentation, and finally award the contract. Then thereafter monitor its delivery, applying agreed penalties when and if appropriate, and generally keep house.

      Hold rolling elections of the Committee frequently, so that no individual or clique can become overbearingly dominant, and allow folk in new or emerging local opportunities a chance to get in and tweak the service to better suit their industry’s needs.

      It’ll never happen though, as neither Holyrood nor the SIC can cope with letting folk just get on with doing their own thing.

      Reply

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