Jan 072016

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP

Eilidh Whiteford, Parliament [2015]feat

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has called for the UK Government to reconsider its position on cutting in-work incentives for the low-paid.

In a speech to the House of Commons on Wednesday, Dr Whiteford called on the Government to re-think the proposed cuts scheduled for April. The Institute for Fiscal Studies points out that there will be more losers than winners under the proposed cuts, and the Resolution Foundation estimates that working families with children on Universal Credit will be, on average, £1300 pounds a year worse off by 2020.

The IFS estimate that overall, 2.6 million families across the UK will be worse off by an average of £1600 a year.

Speaking after the debate, Dr Whiteford said:

“While the Government’s U-turn on cutting tax credits was very welcome, it was, as I noted in my speech, a stay of execution given the reductions to the Work Allowance under Universal Credit, scheduled for this April.

“The Government has sold Universal Credit on the basis that work should pay for those in employment. Indeed, Universal Credit was sold as a simplified system which would give families real incentives to find work, and keep work. The reality, however, is that by cutting the Work Allowance, the Government is once again heaping the costs of austerity onto low paid families.

“In a country where the minimum wage remains significantly below what could reasonably be described as a living wage, some form of welfare remains necessary for those undertaking low-paid work. By cutting the Work Allowance the Government is imposing an eye-watering level  of marginal taxation on people in low paid jobs, and making it harder than ever for those in low income households to break out of the poverty trap.

“If the Government was serious about making work pay, if they were serious about boosting the UK’s productivity, if they actually wanted to help people get on, they would be increasing the work allowance – not reducing it.”

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Nov 262015

Eilidh Whiteford, Parliament [2015]featWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP

BANFF & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has hit out after it was announced that the UK Government has scrapped a £1 billion scheme for carbon capture, which could have come to Peterhead.

The announcement was made to the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday afternoon while George Osborne was making his Autumn statement.

Dr Whiteford raised the matter in parliament yesterday, questioning Chris Grayling, Leader of the House at Business Questions, and demanding that the Secretary of State make a Statement on the matter.

Mr Grayling responded with an answer related to renewable energy – a different topic altogether.

Speaking in the Commons, Dr Whiteford said:

“…. while the Chancellor was still on his feet, the Government sneaked out an announcement that they intend to renege yet again on their commitment to support carbon capture and storage by withdrawing the billion pound funding they promised in their manifesto just a few months ago.

“This is a disgraceful act of betrayal. It sends an appalling signal to companies looking to invest in our energy sector, and it makes a mockery of the UK’s commitment to decarbonisation, just days before crucial global talks on climate change.

“When will the Secretary of State come to this house and make a statement to explain to my constituents in Peterhead why she’s led them up the garden path?”

The Leader of the House responded:

“We had to take some difficult decisions in the spending review; however, we have made great progress on renewables.”

Commenting afterwards, Dr. Whiteford said:

“Peterhead was always the front-runner in this competition. Just last week the Secretary of State was extolling the benefits of CCS, but now they have pulled the plug without warning. It’s a massive disappointment, and a disgraceful decision which demonstrates that the Tories have no real commitment to the future of the energy sector  and no real plans for tackling climate change.”

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Nov 122015

Eilidh WhitefordWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP

Following the debate on the Scotland Bill at Westminster, the SNP are calling for clarification over the Secretary of State David Mundell’s failure to guarantee that there would be no claw back of payments made by the Scottish Government to mitigate welfare cuts.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP Social Justice and Welfare spokesperson commented:

“Following tonight’s debate  we need absolute clarity from the  UK  Government  that if the Scottish Government tops up  a benefit it will not be clawed back by Westminster  – David Mundell failed to answer that.

“For that and many other reasons tonight will be a huge disappointment to all those people watching and hoping for the Vow to be delivered.

“Whilst I welcome the changes the Government is belatedly bringing forward, all the flowery rhetoric in the world won’t hide the fact that this Scotland Bill still falls some way short of the Smith Commission proposals. More than that, still falls a long way short of the promises made to the people of Scotland.

“The SNP amendments in this Group would have significantly strengthen the Bill, and brought it closer to the expectations and aspirations of the people who voted in unprecedented numbers for real powers and meaningful change. As things stand, it will be those on low and average incomes, especially families with children, who will pay the price of these missed opportunities.’’

Commenting on this evening’s debate  – SNP Leader at Westminster – Angus Robertson MP said:

“The sole purpose of the Scotland Bill has been to implement the Smith Commission in full.  We welcome the government’s late admission that it had failed to do that but this bill still falls far short.

“We have seen with this debate a Westminster failure to support the devolution of powers over tax credits – industrial relations and workers’ rights powers and on the sovereignty of the people of Scotland.

“People should look and learn because if this is the way to bring forward legislation – we don’t need it. The Scottish parliament is a 21st century parliament and if ever there was a case put for the Scottish parliament being able to exercise all issues that matter to the people of Scotland – this was it.”

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Sep 182015

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP

Eilidh Whiteford, Parliament [2015]Prime Minister David Cameron needs to give a serious answer about the UK Government’s involvement in proposals to use state aid to entice jobs from Fraserburgh to Grimsby, following a parliamentary intervention from Banff and Buchan MP, Eilidh Whiteford.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Dr Whiteford (pictured) asked the Prime Minister directly what action the UK Government was doing to keep jobs in Fraserburgh. The Prime Minister, in response, gave a much vaguer political answer about keeping inflation and taxes low – failing to address the UK Government’s involvement in Grimsby’s bid as a base for centralisation of Young’s operations.

It was reported earlier this month that North Lincolnshire Council, in conjunction with the UK Government, will deploy a £1.34 million funding package to persuade the company to move jobs from Scotland to Grimsby.

It is understood that the money comes from unused cash in the area’s Regional Growth Fund.

However, Scottish politicians have cast doubt on the funding package, highlighting European Union State Aid rules which place strict limits on the direct financial support governments can offer to companies. Since the UK Government and North Lincolnshire’s offer, the Scottish Government has stated that it will match the funding package – provided it can be demonstrated that such a move would be within the law.

Last month, Dr Whiteford and local MSP Stewart Stevenson wrote to the UK Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, asking for more information about the UK Government’s legal basis for making the offer.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“I asked the Prime Minister a straightforward question, and he tried to dodge it. It won’t rub with my constituents, who stand at risk of losing their jobs because the UK Government plans to directly subsidise Grimsby’s rival bid.

“The Prime Minister made no effort whatsoever to address the fact that his Government is in the process of breaching state aid rules, with the specific goal of consolidating jobs in Grimsby – to Fraserburgh’s direct detriment.

“The Scottish Government will aim to match this assistance – if it emerges that it is legal to do so. However, it is disappointing to note that the Prime Minister cannot defend his own Government’s role in damaging the local economy.

“I will continue to ask difficult questions at Westminster, and my colleagues in the Scottish Government will continue to ensure that Fraserburgh remains an attractive place for Young’s to continue doing business.”

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Oct 242014

Eilidh WhitefordBy Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford

I’ve been back in Westminster this last week after the long Summer recess, and it’s been back to business as usual in more ways than one.

Following the Referendum, a debate was held in the Commons last Tuesday, which quickly became dominated by the so-called West Lothian question, namely the fairness of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs voting on legislation that applies only to England, and on which the devolved parliaments legislate in their respective countries.

‘English Votes for English Laws’ has been the rallying cry, and I have quite a lot of sympathy with that view.

It can’t be right that I should be voting on, say, English policing, when equivalent decisions affecting policing in Scotland are made by MSPs in Edinburgh. I (along with my SNP colleagues) already abstain on such issues at Westminster, unless there are clear knock-on impacts on Scotland, but not all MPs from the devolved nations observe this self-denying ordinance.

Most people would agree that devolution has strengthened democracy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and I think it’s important that decision making in England is brought closer to the people too. There were some interesting contributions on how that might be done on Tuesday from English MPs of all political persuasions.

But the real disappointment of the debate was how little time was dedicated to debating the extensive further powers promised for Scotland. Indeed, the party leaders who abandoned Prime Minister’s Questions in the week before the Referendum to make their celebrated ‘Vow’ to the people of Scotland didn’t even show face at the debate. How quickly they forget.

Nevertheless, change is underway. The Smith Commission, established to determine the ‘extensive new powers’ for Scotland, has already received submissions from the political parties. While the outcome will fall far short of independence, it has the potential to bring new powers to Scotland that can improve our society and economy.

For me, the test of the Commission’s proposals will be whether they contain the powers to create jobs and boost our economy, build a fairer society, and improve Scotland’s voice in the European arena. All this can be achieved short of independence. It’s also important that the process is not dominated by politicians, and I’d encourage civic organisations and individuals to make their voices heard.

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Feb 082013

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho!  As St Valentine’s Day approaches, love is well and truly in the air.  Either that, or the wind has changed direction and is blowing across the sewage plant.

Another vibrant and dynamic week passed in the Deen; I saw the excellent comedy improv troupe Wildly Unprepared at their usual free show at the Belmont; I hope to catch up with them soon to write about them in more depth.

I quite enjoyed the audience participation part of it.

I’ve been to a few restaurants and bars as well; of course including the usual stop at BrewDog.  Particularly delicious drinks at the moment are the collaboration ‘Catherine’s Pony’ and guest, ‘The Eight Ball.’

I decided it would be a good idea to reintroduce the word ‘journal’ to the title of my column this week; there seems to be a few people on Facebook who are scandalised that this little satirical diary column should include details of what I get up to, or what I like.

I am of course the first columnist in history to write a diary applauding places, people and products.  Unless you count Samuel Pepys, Julie Burchill, and even the Evening Express’s very own Cat Cubie.  I did try staying home and not seeing people, but for some reason, I wound up getting less story leads that way, and it made for even less exciting reading than my normal column.

Some others are apoplectic that I should mention BrewDog.  I promise to try to stop forcing people to read this column and I will no longer make people drink craft beer.   Just for the record, I first disclosed my massive (£95) shareholding in the company only recently.  September 2011 to be exact.  But in the interests of fairness, I will make a point of including other excellent products and services going forward.

I am still rather cross with my postman; I never did receive my invite to the wedding of the decade.  Mistress Bates and her Master (ie Trump’s VP and the P&J’s editor) never got the wedding gifts I’d painstakingly sourced for them, and I never got to wear my new hat.

As well as a case of Donald Trump brand water and a fetching Donald Trump necktie (made in China), perfect for the editor who has everything, I’d some other great gifts lined up:-

1.  Padded check shirt (only £19.99 or buy any two for £29.99). I’d arranged his and hers fleece-lined shirts, perfect for casual wear when working outdoors.  I can picture the happy couple now, perhaps hand in hand at the Balmedie dunes, watching the ‘fantastic’ progress made repairing the eroded course, or overseeing security guards chasing ramblers and locals around.

2.  Steam-O-Power – with which they would have been able to ‘say goodbye to ironing and eliminate wrinkles fast.’  I foresee that they happy couple just might have a few wrinkles to iron out.  Anyway, ‘Steam-O-Power was a steal at £29.95.

It included a trouser crease attachment (perfect for looking your best for visiting billionaires and Scottish Government ministers, or cutting a figure at PCC enquiries).  A brush and measuring cup were also included (at no extra cost!  Result!) – handy for giving people the brush-off, or for measuring out Donald Trump water.

3.  Wrinkle cream – guaranteed to fix your laughter and worry lines.  Never mind the old-fashioned concept that ‘beauty is as beauty does.’  Sometimes life’s little stresses and strains can cause – heaven forbid! – the odd wrinkle.  A beauty queen can’t be too careful, you know.  I’m sure that there would only have been laughter lines to be corrected, as what could possibly worry Mrs Bates?

Now that you’ve read about these great buys in the Old Susannah column, clearly there will be a stampede to the shops to try and find these great products since I’ve mentioned them.  Well, you needn’t look any further than the last few issues of the Press & Journal, for these are all P&J products, offered exclusively to readers by post.

The promises made for the effectiveness of the wrinkle cream are, I am certain as reliable as anything else in the paper.  I quite like the fact they are diversifying, but I can’t imagine why they would need to.  I did try and find a stain remover, but alas no such luck.   This might explain a few lingering stains indeed.

Well, with Valentine’s Day upon us, romantic gifts from roses and champagne to teddy bears and silk teddies, check flannel-lined shirts and wrinkle steamers are flying off shop shelves.  Here then are some timely terms for this celebration of love.

Engagement: (Eng. 1.  noun – two people contracted to marry each other; 2.  Mod Eng. verb – to interact)

Traditionally, engagements are announced and details posted in newspapers or church bulletins; the happy couples are usually so proud of their pending nuptials that they want to shout it from the rooftops.  Then again, some tend to want to keep things quiet.

Marriage: (Eng. noun) a legally-binding partnership with another person, whether of the same sex or not.

The ConDems have ConFounded everyone by voting to allow two people of the same sex to marry one another.  Don’t worry, there is no sign this development will happen in Scotland any time soon.

Two people can’t be in love if they are of the same sex, as any morally-correct person can tell you.  Come back Mary Whitehouse – you were right all along!  Same-sex couples for some reason wanted and now have the same legal and economic rights as straight people.

In the old days, if one partner in a same-sex union fell seriously ill, the other was left out of medical decisions, funeral decisions, and of course inheriting, even being thrown out of what was once their home in favour of the morally-superior heterosexual relatives of the deceased.

Still, if people will go against God and have a same-sex partnership, what do they expect.  We know God is against gay unions, because in the bible it says ‘love one another’ and because there are lots of right wing people with guns and bibles who say they know what God wants.  That’s good enough for me.

To recap – a socially-acceptable marriage is when a good looking woman (like a beauty queen for instance) marries a man with lots of money (like a newspaper editor).  This is the only kind of marriage that really works.

But sadly, even for morally-upright, god-fearing conservative people, marriages don’t always end well….

Divorce: (Eng. verb) To dissolve a marriage partnership.

It is with tears in my eyes that I see the spectacle of Chris Huhne’s family woes unfold in the press.  I could be wrong, but his wife seems just a little upset, and his son has hinted on social media that not all is well in this once happy home.

This humble politician, former cabinet member, and LibDem leading light, got into a teeny tiny bit of legal trouble, and this had a knock-on effect on his family.  The poor man was caught by a speed camera, and most nobly, his lovely, loving wife agreed to sayit was  she who was at the wheel, Chris thus avoiding a few more points on his license and avoiding scandal.

I wonder how the scandal-avoiding scheme is working out for him.

Vicky Pryce (who doesn’t seem to want to be known as the ex Mrs Huhne for some reason)  has been charged with perverting the course of justice by taking the blame for the offence.  Somehow, the idea of spending a few months in Holloway to protect her husband’s sterling reputation seems to have soured the love.

Reading between the lines, or more accurately reading between the tweets and posts, his son is not taking the dissolution of his parents’ marriage very well.  Young Huhne has written to his dad:-

“I hate you, so f*** off”

“you are the most ghastly man I have ever known”

“don’t contact me again.  You make me feel sick.”

Even the Great Donald has been divorced; if memory serves, his subsequent wives coincidentally tended to be younger and physically prettier than their predecessors.  Everyone likes the sight of a perfect May to December couple; knowing they got together for spiritual and emotional reasons which have nothing to do with power, vanity, or greed.

It is only fair that a rich man should have a young and pretty woman on his arm, isn’t it?  (Older rich women take note:  society tells you ‘don’t even think about it.).

Even the seemingly innocent newlyweds Sarah and Damian had each been married before. I guess it is normal for two people thrown together by common interests to fall in love.   Let’s hope they have now found lasting happiness; we do know that they work very well together indeed.

Sarah’s dad, councillor Tom Malone coincidentally shares her employer’s dislike of wind farms, having voted against all 6 applications which came in front of him.  How very like-minded they all seem to be.  I can practically feel a surge of warmth when I think of them all.  Then again, I think it’s just that my checked flannel-lined shirt is too warm.

I’m just trying to remind myself of all the great reasons same-sex marriages shouldn’t be allowed and that heterosexual marriages like Mr & Mrs Huhne are the way to go.  Once I make this list, I’ll get back to you.  However, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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Sep 212012

By Dave Black. 

In November 2010 the Aberdeen-based oil and energy company Wood Group signed a contract with Dorad Energy to build a natural gas power station in Ashkelon, Israel.
This contract is worth approximately £563 million and the 800-megawatt power station will produce 8% of Israel’s electricity in the near future.

New gas fields have been discovered within Israel’s off-shore area and Wood Group is intending to expand its operations. Shlomo Cohen, the Group’s Israel manager last year stated that:

“The company considers this project as a cornerstone for extensive operations in Israel”.

On numerous occasions Wood Group has been given the opportunity to clarify whether or not the new Ashkelon power plant will supply electricity to illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It has refused to do so, even when asked by a local MP. However it has stated that it is

“…safe to say that Wood Group does business in a number of parts of the world where there are distressing conflicts which cause hardship and inequity”. 

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has been ongoing since 1967, noted as the longest occupation in modern history.  This occupation has seen mass government-backed Jewish settlement building in the area, in clear contravention of the Geneva Conventions. Settlement building was also deemed unlawful by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

Despite the flagrant breach of international law, and the consistent Palestinian position that settlement building in the West Bank is a critical barrier to any peace agreement, Israel continues its policy unabashed and unpunished.  The United States continues to fund Israel to the sum of $3 billion a year and the European Union fails to tear up its trade agreement with Israel, whilst paying lip service to the language of human rights, democracy and justice.

However, although still very small, there have been increasing signs of discontent with Israel’s ongoing occupation and settlement building.  For example, this month the Co-operative, the UK’s fifth largest supermarket, built on its previous policy of refusing to stock goods produced in Israeli settlements, and has ended all trade with companies such as Agrexco who carry out part of their agricultural production in these colonies.

Early Day Motion 2717, raised at Westminster earlier this year, may be also relevant to the Wood Group’s activities.  The EDM is entitled “Proposed EU Legislation on Financing of Illegal Activity in the West Bank” and welcomes the findings of a recent EU report following visits to Jerusalem and Ramallah last year.  The motion ends by calling for:

“economic operators aiding and abetting the building, maintenance or servicing of illegal Israeli settlements [to] be excluded from public contracts in the EU”

 To date the motion has 77 signatories.

Take action

Write to your MP, ask them to sign up to EDM 2717 if they haven’t already, and request that they write to Wood Group to clarify its position on potential fuelling of illegal Israeli settlements.

Write to Wood Group and ask that it takes heed of Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel.  Read more about the BDS campaign here

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Jul 262012

For years, the pavements and roads in the city of Aberdeen have been in a very bad state. This subject frequently comes up in conversation, yet nothing seems to be getting done to resolve the issue. Future Choices Charity wants to change that perception.

The Charity caters for the city’s disabled community by working towards social inclusion and providing recreational activities.

Its Deputy Chief Fundraiser, Aaron McIntosh, is fronting a petition campaign to highlight the issue and aims to persuade the City Council to commit to a long term solution.

Supporters of Aaron’s petition campaign include Paul O’Connor MBE of Inchgarth Community Centre and Dame Anne Begg MP who, as a wheelchair user, has had first-hand experience of the state of the city’s pavements.

Aaron will be presenting the Council Leader with the results of the petition which already numbers around 150 signatures collected both online at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/fix-our-pavements-and-roads/ and offline.

The results will be handed over in December to coincide with the preparation of the Council’s next budget statement

We hope that this public awareness campaign will persuade Aberdeen City Council to sort out this issue for once and for all.

For more information, contact Future Choices Deputy Chief Fundraiser Aaron McIntosh on 07591598480



Jun 282012

Old Susannah watches the latest developments in the ‘Deen and the wider world and helps Voice readers to get their whites right. By Suzanne Kelly.

One of the best events in recent memory?  The Party in the Park held by Common Good Aberdeen last Saturday was fantastic, despite the rains.  Nearly 4,000 people visited over the course of the day, all of the thousands of home bakes Mrs B created over a course of weeks disappeared long before the day ended, and the shelter of the marquee made the rain a minor inconvenience rather than a show-stopper.

And what a show it was.  Gerry Jablonsiki and the Electric Band opened the entertainment, and played an extraordinary set (I must say the solos Gerry comes out with are riveting, but you can’t play like that without a solid rhythm section.

The big surprise for many was the unique, creative duo ‘The Pounding’ whose electronic compositions went over a storm.

The final act of the day were the school choirs performing ‘Sing’.  The audience went wild as they danced to Danse MacCabre’s ceildh music.

I was honoured to have been asked to do a speech of thanks at the end; it was a privilege to thank the many volunteers who made the day a success, and Mrs B in particular, without whom this would not have been realised.  All around the gardens people commented ‘there should be more events like this’, ‘we don’t need to build anything here, just hold events’ and ‘get me some more of this delicious cake!’

Marie Boulton, Depute ACC Leader, made a brief but wonderful speech; many politicians came out to have fun and talk to their constituents.  Everyone was pleased in particular that Dame Anne Begg MP was there, proving that the gardens are accessible.  They could be made more accessible it is true – but access does exist, despite odd claims to the contrary.

I would like to apologise for not getting to have proper chats with a number of people, but I was charged with getting the acts on and off stage according to a strict timetable. Neale Bothwell and I did a fair job of it, I think.  Don’t wait for someone to throw another event, but when we next do get a dry, sunny day, use your gardens – they are common good land, and you own them.

Another event of this past week was Aberdeen Voice’s 2nd anniversary drinks held in Ma Cameron’s, where the idea for AV was launched.

Members of local band Toxik Ephex had been talking about the need for an independent  newspaper, and two years later Fred Wilkinson and a host of volunteers are keeping AV going.

People came and went over the course of the night; we were pleased to see some of the Aberdeen cyclists, a member of the Silver City Surfers, and in particular Anthony Baxter.   Baxter has a new version of ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ about to start a UK and North American tour (details elsewhere in Aberdeen Voice) with new footage of The Donald.

All of these positive developments are enough to sap a girl of any sarcasm.  Thankfully, there are always a few banking, tax, trident, deer cull scandals to keep me on track.  So, without further hesitation, here are a few definitions.

White Cliffs of Dover: (noun, Eng. geography) A steep, dramatic chalk cliff face on the South of England.

The iconic White Cliffs of Dover are in the news this past week; some NIMBYS are objecting to a proposed housing development near them.

The Cliffs also have some problems with erosion, but the main issue of course is that they are not accessible.  There is no access for the  able-bodied, let alone people with any mobility issues, and to be honest, the connectivity is just not there.

If the cliffs could just be raised (or would that be lowered?) to street level, and a bosque, theatre  and parking be thrown in, they might just be onto something there.  As to refusing a housing development, well, that would mean that England is not open for business.

Craig Whyte: (Proper Noun, possibly Improper noun) – a colourful character.

Oh dear, could it be that Craig Whyte is not whiter than white?  The would-be king of Rangers has had one or two previous problems in the boardroom.  This would-be white knight  sadly no longer looks set to take over Rangers.  Private Eye magazine unkindly suggests that someone with a failed directorship or two is not a fit person for the Rangers role.

Indeed they are correct; Whyte’s considerable talents would be used to best advantage in central government.

To add to this week’s colour theme, it would seem that Green owns the club, but Brown is trying to make the fans see  red, and opt for a buyout.  Will Rangers ever be in the black again?  It is currently a bit of grey area.

Whitewash: (verb, mod English) to cover up bad news, dilute the truth, gloss over facts for political, personal or monetary gain.

Aberdonians and UK taxpayers will be most unfamiliar with this term, and Old Susannah thought you might like to know more about it.  It will be difficult, but I shall try and find some examples.

On the national level, there have been one or two little Inquiries which have unjustly been described as being whitewashes.

There was the Hutton Inquiry into the small matter of how a bland dossier about Iraq was magically transformed into a document proving Sadam Hussein was about to use his Weapons of Mass Destruction on the UK, and would only need 45 minutes to wipe us  out.  This Inquiry found that changing a report into a justification for waging war was a bit naughty, but was fair enough.

No less a person than Alasdair Campbell said he defended ‘every word’ of the ‘sexed-up’ dossier.  Why bother to have an Inquiry at all I wonder?  If the man who wrote the thing for his boss Tony Blair says it’s above-board, then who are we to question it?

We’ve also had the Levenson Inquiry, a great spectacle for the whole family.  One frail little old pensioner, a Mr R Murdoch is cruelly being asked questions about newspaper reporters hacking into phonecalls and emails.  The poor Australian gent keeps telling the investigators he can’t remember anything, but they keep asking him questions.

Just because he and his family own the newspapers which carried out the illegal spying is no reason to think he’d know about it or be in any way responsible for it.

Are there any whitewashes going on here in the Deen?  Let’s think.  The city has been totally transparent over the Tullos Hill deer cull; they pride themselves on their transparency and consultation with the people; quite good of them really.

Freedom of Information requests are answered immediately and clearly.  It’s not as if the FOI officers are waiting until the last moment to supply information, or that the information they supply contradicts information they’ve previously released.   Surely they have nothing to hide?

Were the city in the right to have guns blazing on a hill used by families, motorcyclists, animals and indeed the occasional free-range arsonist without giving warning?  The mainstream press quoted a ‘council spokesperson’ as saying ‘there was no legal requirement’ for any warning signs.  Has this whitewash covered the matter sufficiently?  We shall see what the public and the authorities think.

White Collar Crime: (Modern English phrase)  to commit a non-violent, financial criminal offense.

WE must pause to think of those in our society who are being asked to go without, who are being forced to justify their dependence on State handouts.  Yes, I am worried about our banking sector.

We clearly did not give them enough of a bail-out, in fact, they can’t even afford decent IT systems, and some financial institutions are  experiencing problems with their electronic banking and cash machines.  I do hope none of the bankers will be terribly inconvenienced by people demanding money.

Sometimes however, when forced to the wall, a banker will have no alternative but to turn to crime.  It is because we do not have a caring mentality, and because we do not yet have ‘The Big Society’ (whatever that is) which Cameron wants that poor Barclays was forced to what certainly looks like white collar crime.

Unkind authorities are asking for £290,000,000 from the Barclays group for a wee matter of its fixing interest rates.  What’s the problem?  I thought we wanted fixed interest rates?  Unfortunately the bank seems to have given false information about rates it was borrowing money at.  Firstly, £290,000,000 is really small change, in fact, it would only get you two granite webs at today’s rates.  Secondly, how is a poor bank like Barclay’s going to get its hands on this kind of money?

I think the taxpayer should voluntarily help this poor bank out.  After all, if we don’t do so voluntarily, no doubt the treasury will just give them our money anyway.  I believe there used to be a commercial with Mr Bean with the repeating phrase ‘Well, thank you BARCLAYCARD!’.  Barclays, thank you indeed.

Old Susannah is going to have to cut it there, as she is in Edinburgh – and the sun is out.

Next week:  A look at some of the little arguments within Council Chambers.

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Jun 282012

On Saturday 23rd June at Sheddocksley Baptist Church in Eday Walk, the local disabled charity Future Choices unveiled their new wheelchair friendly minibus with the help of Dame Anne Begg MP who was the special guest to cut the ribbon. Lewis Macdonald and Richard Baker also attended, as did Paul O’Connor MBE from Inchgarth Community Centre.  With Thanks to David Forbes.

Future Choices launched the Cash for Cans appeal in February with the aim of collecting empty drink cans, which they exchanged for cash to allow them to purchase a second hand minibus.
Over fifteen thousand empty drink cans have already been exchanged for cash, generating over £1000 so far. John Lawrie Aberdeen Ltd. recycle the aluminium cans.

Although the charity has now bought the minibus, they still need donations of empty drink cans to cover the running costs of the bus.

Future Choices Chairman David Forbes said:

“Without the help and support of the Aberdeen community and oil companies, this appeal would not have been successful”.

“We received empty cans from companies including Hess, Talisman and many others, as well as community centres such as Inchgarth. We even had the support of primary schools, with Crathes Primary & Ferryhill Primary getting involved to make a difference.”

“Having access to the minibus will greatly increase the range of activities offered by the charity, allowing for a much wanted lunch club to be set up and day trips to be planned”

Dame Anne welcomed the purchase of the minibus stating:

“Transport can be one of the biggest barriers preventing disabled people participating in activities and this minibus will provide the opportunity for many of them to get out of their homes.”

Future Choices member Blanche Cruikshank, who needs accessible transport to get out and about, said:

“The minibus is a real life-saver and those behind the appeal have changed my life for the better.”

Another Future Choices member, Alec Rennie, who cares for his wife Mary, added:

“Having access to transport for my disabled wife and me will have a huge positive impact on our life. To be able to get out and about more is all we want.”

Future Choices also highlighted that fundraising needs to continue. Chief Fundraiser, Catherine Mancini, stated:

“The unveiling marked a great triumph for Future Choices and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the same level of success in the future”


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