The SNP’s kryptonite (Jamie Halcro Johnston)

Last week’s ferries debate in the Scottish Parliament showed the SNP Scottish government at its arrogant worst.

Led by transport minister Humza Yousaf and finance secretary Derek Mackay – both of whom the presiding officer was forced to reprimand for their antics during the debate (she described them as a “double act” for regularly interrupting, laughing etc), the SNP sought to distract attention from the issue at hand with an amendment and speeches which took obfuscation to a new level.

“But, but, but … look at the other ferries,” SNP MSP after SNP MSP tried to argue. “No, wait. These weren’t really commitments,” they claimed. But facts, the SNP’s kryptonite, suggest otherwise.

In 2014 the Scottish government stated that it “understands the significant financial challenges that can fall on individual local authorities, and is committed to the principle of fair funding in the provision of ferries and ferry infrastructure”. It went on to say “the Scottish government recognises that the provision of transport services should not place a disproportionate financial burden on any council”. In 2016 the commitment to fair funding was repeated.

So, the SNP’s previous commitments are clear. And the will of the parliament is now clear too, having unanimously backed both the Liberal Democrats’ motion and my amendment to that motion (which specifically recognised our internal ferries as lifeline services with social and economic importance), while voting down the SNP position.

So that’s pretty clear, right? Well, not if you’re the SNP, it seems. The next day, their spin machine went on the offensive. The SNP’s Maree Todd (who hadn’t spoken in the debate) claimed local Liberal Democrats were putting their party before their constituents.

Derek Mackay then repeated the claim, seemingly trying to argue that it was for another party – i.e. not the SNP – to include the SNP’s commitment to fair funding in the SNP’s budget when the SNP wasn’t prepared to do so.

The idea that the SNP Scottish government can renege on its own commitments to fair funding but expect opposition parties to pick up the baton is disingenuous nonsense. And now both Messrs Mackay and Yousaf have apparently confirmed that fair ferry funding will not be in this year’s budget but have tried to blame someone else.

For those who are lost – as the SNP intended you would be – in this wave of information, here’s a brief summary:

• The SNP repeatedly makes commitments on fair ferry funding;
• The SNP repeatedly fails to deliver on their commitments;
• The SNP suggests someone else should deliver on its commitments;
• The SNP blames someone else because the SNP won’t deliver on its own commitments.

Another SNP mess of the SNP’s making. But people in Orkney and Shetland won’t be fooled.

Jamie Halcro Johnston
Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands
The Scottish Parliament,


Add Your Comment
  • Johan Adamson

    • December 12th, 2017 15:19

    I don’t think we matter to the SNP. They only care about the seats they can win, and the seats they need to win, which are all closer to the central belt.

    • Derick Tulloch

      • December 20th, 2017 10:34

      Incorrect. Not least because the SNP have many members who are Shetlanders, self included.

      • Johan Adamson

        • December 20th, 2017 14:02

        Why do they continue to not support the fair funding then?

        Edinburgh with its new parliament and its new bridge seems to be the only place they care about. West Edinburgh is almost unrecognisable with airport extensions etc. Where is the development here or in the highlands?

      • Steven Jarmson

        • January 6th, 2018 12:14

        Sturgeon + Shetland (& Orkney) = Thatcher + Scotland.
        The number of SNP members in Shetland doesn’t make one jot of difference to the SNP’s austerity max policies.
        What does “self included” mean?
        It sounds like your saying the Shetland SNP members have included themselves in a conversation which they haven’t been invited into….”oh I ‘self included’ myself in a conversation,” sounds desperate, sounds isolated, sounds (and looks) ignored.

  • David Spence

    • January 6th, 2018 16:46

    The Conservative member who wrote this article, fails to mention their Government would prefer to have most responsibilities and duties of care by the Local Authorities be in the hands of the private sector with little or no account as to how these companies are run or controlled in terms of what they charge people.

    This is highlighted immensely with the atrocious cuts to the NHS and then criticising the NHS for poor performance. How often to we see on the news the amount of criticism the NHS gets, but not a mention to the cuts the NHS is getting, thus undermining the performance.

    The elderly in atrocious conditions and treated abysmally in the private care homes, being forced to use most of their savings (for retirement) to pay for over the top fee’s to these homes, and the companies running these homes with the minimum of staff (whome most are not qualified in any way) and of the minimum of service.

    This is the sort of system our Conservative member would prefer the way in which the elderly are cared for in the private sector. ‘ Profits at the minimum cost ‘ would be his moto.

    • Ali Inkster

      • January 6th, 2018 19:51

      Coming from a man that advocates for a 100% inheritance tax, and punitive taxation on anyone that earns more than you, I find your concern for pensioners savings touching if not a little confusing.


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