Stealth under-funding (John Tulloch)
How entertaining to witness the SNP jumping up and down, beating their breasts and shaking their fists in the air with rage, following Alistair Carmichael’s admission that he authorised the leak of the now notorious memo from the Scottish Office.
And it’s true, it was a pretty ignominious performance and one for which Tavish Scott, through no fault of his own, may well reap the electoral consequences.
So why do I find the SNP entertaining? Simply because I enjoy their “theatre”, their feigned outrage, as if they would never stoop to such levels – “nay, nay and thrice nay”, perish the thought!
Alas the SNP are the self-same crowd who sent MSP Mike MacKenzie to Shetland to oppose the SIC’s school closures and lambast the council, knowing full well that Shetland’s education system has been systematically under-funded by up to £19.3 Mpa since 2008.
The SNP like to blame the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), who have been tasked with distributing government funding “fairly” since 2008, under an agreement between them and the SNP Scottish government which has seen money siphoned away from remote rural authorities to big city councils.
Indeed, Danus Skene fought his entire election campaign keeping this hidden from the electorate, aided and abetted by the feeble performance of his opponents who could easily have highlighted it to their own advantage.
Having cut education spending by £10Mpa, the SIC has no option but to make up the remaining £10 Mpa from their oil reserves, something the SNP has repeatedly criticised Westminster for doing – using oil money to fund day-to-day spending instead of investing it, wisely.
What the SNP say, however, is no guide to how they behave themselves. And in this case, it rather suits them to siphon money south from Shetland’s oil reserves to their central belt heartland, an ongoing feature since 2008 which is set to continue into the foreseeable future.
What amazes me is how the SIC has allowed this “stealth under-funding” to prevail for so long without blowing the whistle.
The whole, sorry saga emphasises the urgent need for a new, pro-Shetland political party to be formed to hold both the SNP Scottish government and the SIC to account.