Tag Archives: Gravy Train

Post Referendum Letters: 25/10/14

To: Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

The article in this weeks Advertiser about MSP’s expenses in this weeks Advertiser was a timely one. As one who regularly criticised our former Labour MSP Karen Whitefield for her expenses claims, I thought it only right to check out Alex Neil’s expenses as a comparison. A common criticism I made of Ms Whitefield was that living less than an hour from Edinburgh she had a habit of making overnight stays in Edinburgh when a taxi home would have been far cheaper. As the people of Airdrie have elected an MSP from outside the constituency it stands to reason that Mr Neil’s claims will be higher, and as anyone can see if they go on to the parliamentary website the majority of Mr Neil’s claims are travel and accommodation based. It’s also worth noting that his claims for a hotel are on average £20 per night less than his Coatbridge counterpart. Living less than an hour from Edinburgh, surely she could get a train or taxi home for far less than £115?

This should also apply to MP’s. During the recent referendum campaign I finally met our local MP, Labour’s Pamela Nash. When I complained about her expenses her reply was that perhaps I should “spend less time online looking at her expenses.” This is a bit rich coming from a woman who voted in Parliament to support the security services being given more powers to snoop on our private emails and retain electronic information about us. Prior to writing this I checked her expenses again, just to get my facts right. It seems our MSP’s claims in Monklands, Labour and SNP alike, pale into insignificance when compared to Ms Nash’s. £1516 a month for the rental of a house in Lambeth, council tax, gas, electricity. That’s over £19,600 a year! Coatbridge’s MP Tom Clarke may be living the high life in a hotel at around £150 a night, but he still manages to come in at around £3600 a year less than Ms Nash. Taxis to Edinburgh airport are another stand out on Ms Nash’s list, with claims made due to there being “no direct public transport available.” Here’s a thought, get the train to Haymarket and catch the airport bus or take the tram, like normal people have to.

What really makes this all the more galling is that as Scottish MP’s they have far less responsibility than MP’s from the rest of the UK. Health, education, sport, transport, housing, agriculture and more are devolved. Scottish MP’s are virtually part time. They should be on half a salary, never mind the full salary, and they certainly don’t need to employ more staff to do work they should be doing themselves. More powers are supposedly going to be devolved, but here’s the problem. The “more powers” we are promised are now tied to limiting Scottish MP’s ability to vote on English only matters, and these powers are now being put at risk by Labour who as usual are putting their party first. The SNP do not vote on matters which have been devolved. Curiously the Blue Tories, one of the main complainants in this matter allow their one MP to vote on English only issues. Anyone outside of Labour would see it as right and proper that if a power has been devolved that Scottish MP’s do not vote on it, yet Labour who are putting forward a weaker “Devo Max” package than even the Tories are willing to scupper these powers simply to retain power in England. It looks as though this very thing may have forced the resignation of Johann Lamont who now complains that her party in Scotland is having to dance to London’s tune.

In this time of greater austerity we should be looking at cutting the costs generated by Parliament, and I think it should be uppermost in all MP’s and MSP’s minds that their allowances should always be thought of as other peoples money, and that when claiming for rail travel, meals and hotels and hiring staff that they should be out to get the best value that they can find for the taxpayer. When they believe that they are entitled as a right to first class travel and 5 start hotels then they have lost the right to represent us. They are not finding a solution, they are simply part of the problem.

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,



The Referendum Letters: 23/04/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

This week Gordon Brown came out of retirement to lecture us all on the pensions timebomb that awaits us in an independent Scotland. According to the media one of Britains worst ever Prime Ministers, if not the worst ever is now “a well respected political heavyweight”. Gordon Brown is to pensions what David Moyes is to managing Manchester United, so it was no surprise that he dished out a few facts and ran off before they could be questioned, much as George Osborne did a few months back. Never mind the quality, feel the gravitas…

Mr Brown’s decision to talk at us, rather than with us leaves us to interpret things ourselves, or rely on other political heavyweights such as Ian Gray to interpret things for us. Mr Gray, like Tom Clarke a few weeks back on tax, manages to muddy the waters rather than clarify them. In a television interview he said that bigger nations are in a better position to manage pensions, yet the UK pension was reported in the English editions of some newspapers as being the 4th worst in the developed world and when you actually look at the figures, they show that some of the largest countries have some of the worst pension systems.

Which makes you ask, where did Mr Brown obtain his statistics? Apparently, from a leaked government document. Why is there no inquiry into the leaking of this? Is it because it wasn’t leaked in the traditional sense, it was simply supplied to Mr Brown by his Tory chums so that he could do their dirty work for them?

In any case Mr Brown should have paid more attention to the facts and figures in the secret report which we cannot see, as it would appear the figures don’t add up. That is to be expected, as he has previous for that, having raided pension funds and sold off the UK’s gold reserves to balance the books in the past. According to Mr Brown 259,000 pensioners in Scotland receive on average of £20 a week disability support, at a cost to the taxpayer of £1 billion a year. Yet 259,000 multiplied by £20 a week is only £269 million pounds, nowhere near a billion. Similarly he claimed that £700 million is paid in credits to 248,000 Scots per year at an average of £25 a week. 248,000 multiplied by £25 a week is £322 million! With arithmetic like that it’s no wonder he left the economy in tatters. It seems that his tactic is to take the actual figures and then double or treble them, before shouting it out and running away before anyone gets a chance to question it.

And here was me thinking Better Together were going to be more positive in their outlook. Two weeks ago George Roberston was warning that the “forces of darkness” lay in wait for an independent scotland. At the end of last week it was Philip Hammond claiming an independent Scotland was at risk from an attack from space, this week they are trying to frighten us with killer pensions. 

The affordability of pensions comes not from the size of the country, but how wealthy that country is. Scotland has the chance to takes it’s wealth and make it work for it, and provide a decent pension system which will pay something more than what is forecast in the United Kingdom, a less than minimum wage pittance topped up with food banks and charity.

When Mr Brown, and Mr Clarke and Ms Nash and their ilk warn that jobs and pensions are at risk, they are correct. What they fail to tell you is that the jobs and pensions they are referring to are their own. An independent Scotland means the wheels come off their taxpayer funded gravy train forever. Is it any wonder that they will try any scare story in the book to keep their gravy train on track? 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy