Thank you for your report on SNP rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead’s smiling, ‘tiptoe’ passage through the PR rubble of the Scottish government’s 2016 CAP payments fiasco which he describes, accurately, as “a perfect storm” for the farmers and crofters affected (‘Lessons being learned from CAP overhaul’, SN 1/4/16).
Farmers depending on essential EU subsidies via the government’s new £178 million computer system, purchased specifically to handle the 14,000 CAP payments, have been out of pocket for three to four months while payments are processed manually as a result of the computer failure. The associated IT project was so badly mismanaged that Tavish Scott MSP called on Audit Scotland to investigate.
Fantasising about remaining in post after the election, Mr Lochhead “also pledged to learn lessons from the controversial reclassification of crofting land in Shetland and re-examine the issue next year.” Aye, right.
On the bright side, I’m pleased to see Danus Skene up and about again and wish him a speedy return to full fitness. He is quoted:
“The Lib Dems are outsiders in the Scottish Parliament standing there jumping up and down screaming without the influence or capacity to actually deliver for Shetland.
“My determination is that Shetland should be represented within the Scottish government structure.”
What an extraordinary admission! In order to receive fair treatment, Shetlanders must vote SNP!
In truth, “jumping up and down screaming” is far better than he and Mike Mackenzie MSP and SNP Shetland ever did during the referendum, last year’s general election campaign and since.
All they did was make excuses for the SNP Scottish government’s devastation of SIC finances, culminating in this year’s £5 million cash cut in annual government funding while the Scottish government received a cash increase from Westminster.
Coming on top of the news that, over the past three years, Shetland and Orkney ferry subsidies fell by 14 per cent while Clyde/Hebridean subsidies increased by 41 per cent, it’s right and proper that our Lib Dem MSP is “jumping up and down screaming” in Holyrood. That’s what we expect and he does it very effectively.
Instead of avoiding speaking about local issues such as those referred to above, Mr Skene should speak out now so that we know where he stands. All voters have seen from him to date on local issues is a silent vigil broken only by attempts to divert debate to national topics like “missiles on the Clyde”.
Why should we expect him to act differently if elected?
As my late granny used to say, “I dunna ken whit’s ta be, bit I ken whit’s been”!
Wir Shetland chairman