Letter from Edinburgh

The Sports Relief Mile takes place next weekend, where people across the country run to raise money for many charities.

The event is led by numerous celebrities and it features in many TV promotions at the moment led by Match of the Day’s Gary Lineker and The One Show’s Christine Bleak­ley – who co-incidentally is the current squeeze of Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard.

She was or is about to water ski across the English Channel. Try Bressay Sound was my alternative – towed behind the Leirna at top speed would be more entertaining.

So to encourage more people to get involved MSPs were invited to the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile this week. Initially it was to be a run. But then the Thought Police of Modern Britain, who make sure we do nothing without 15 forms being filled in before breakfast, thought this might be dangerous.

There are many things that are dangerous about a collection of MSPs. For example they might pass a law! But running down an Edin­burgh street didn’t strike me as one of them. So instead of shorts and a Sports Relief tee shirt – it was jeans and loafers.

I arrived at the appointed venue to find some colleagues in full run­ning attire. John Swinney, Andy Kerr and others were set to cock a snoop at those who wish to control every aspect of our lives, and were set to run.

Well good for them. But they made a great mistake. The BBC want­ed to film the finish – if you can call a leisurely stroll in front of Parliament a “finish”. And the cam­era only caught those of us who walked the mile rather than the enthusiastic group who belted down at top speed. There is the Aesop fable about the tortoise and the hare, which seems as apposite today as when it was written.

Incidentally the award for bravest competitor has to go to Robin Harper of the Greens. He collided pain­fully with a bollard outside St Giles Cathedral and skinned both knees on the cobles. But being the trooper he is, Robin continued and was part of the photo shoot at the bottom.

The SNP decision to cut our ferry services is lamentable government. Did anyone see them proposing to cut the speed of the Edinburgh-Glas­gow train? No! Or the large BMW which runs Mr Salmond to and from his home? What if he was forced to be driven at 30mph for the rest of the year to save money?

But what makes the SNP’s posi­tion additionally disgraceful is the millions given to the Western Isles for a “pilot” study into reducing fares that will finish in April 2011, as the next election for the Scottish Parliament takes place.

If ever a political party has proved that its policies are based on political advantage it is this decision. My history tells me some pretty un­pleasant politicians have tried this tactic through the years, and have come unstuck. The sooner the better here as well.

Tavish Scott MSP


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