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hammer6

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Reply with quote  #46 

It will be of great interest who tackles these issues FIRST then see who the SCAPEGOATS ARE!


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SPOT on hammer6................................who will be the fall guys?


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Hi All... thanks for your posts.  Admin fully concurs with everyone's views that it is indeed time for the system to change, and as far as I can see, as time goes on, it is inevitable that some things are going to have to change.  A complete overhaul of the current corrupt system would be ideal, but as it's been pointed out - at who's expense???


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UPDATE

 

‘Optimism’, the unique quality, is the strength of mankind. The "khoj" for the origin of corruption is, therefore, started here with the optimistic notion that anything that has the origin or beginning will have an end too.

 

 The Holy Gita also advocates this principle. With this optimism, let us begin the search with a serene mind and see during the process whether we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. For any search, before plunging deep into it, a thorough study is required.

 

Just like the system study, before any computer software is prepared. Similarly, for this inquisitive search also a prolific attempt is made to get to know the anatomy as well as the chemistry of corruption.

 

 In the sense, anatomy of corruption would mean the various forms in which the corruption existed and existing and different modus operandi, which are put in the process. It hardly requires any narration or explanation as we are all exposed sufficiently enough to various incarnations of corruption and also to all sorts of methodologies relating to corruption either by way of dealing with corrupts or by way of being corrupt.

 

Therefore, let us put the thought on the chemistry of corruption i.e. its property and character namely the definitions, causes, activities, sequences and consequences of corruption which might ultimately help us to reach a conclusion about its origin.

Corruption - definitions

One of the definitions given to corruption is "giving something to someone with power so that he will abuse his power and act favouring the giver". Another definition given is "the offering, giving, soliciting or acceptance of an inducement or reward, which may influence the action of any person".

 

 Different societies use different words to describe corruption. In 1994, the misbehaviour of British parliamentarians was described as "sleaze". The word meant originally thin or flimsy material that might leave people poorly covered. But the word sleaze was used to describe any form of corrupt practice internationally, which gained recognition. Of course, The connotation, which the word ‘corrupt’ carries, may also be of some help to get in to the proximity of the real meaning of Corruption.

 

 ‘Corrupt’ as is known, are those who are morally depraved, suspect, unreliable, influenced by illegal means etc. Even though there are many definitions given by various sections and various people for Corruption and the corrupt, there exist a unanimous view (again optimistic) that corruption is both harmful and wrong.

Corruption - the causes

Among the several causes of corruption the important ones are Greedy, circumstances, opportunities, misconception, petty excuses, special temptations, etc. A little more elaboration with illustrations is given below (Preventing Fraud and Corruption - Denis Osborne, U.K. 1999):

  Greedy - People want an unfair advantage over others. For example, to pay less tax, to get appointment or promotion, to win a contract, to get something done quickly or to avoid fine etc

Circumstances - Particular circumstances provoke further demands

Opportunities - People get opportunities for taking bribes

Misconception - People pay bribes because they think they have to. They think that officials will not do their job or take decisions which they ought to take unless they are paid a bribe

Petty excuses - Many people make excuses for their being corrupt - they say ‘it is common and everybody does it’ or ‘it is only something small and nobody is harmed’

There are certain special temptations, which are peculiar and are different for different groups of people - like

    Politicians seek contributions to party funds, or money to use for patronage 

    Politicians and officials who fear loss of office seek corrupt benefits as insurance

    Officials need extra money to maintain their standards of living if salaries have not been raised to match inflation, to meet commitments for housing car, school fees etc.

    Employees feel resentment over bad management or pay levels they think unfair.

    Employees who refuse to participate in a corruption ‘racket’ may be suspected and under threat from their colleagues or superiors

    Some seek status, not only for having more riches than their colleagues but because corrupt officials may be admired by friends and family for their skills in outwitting authority.

    Other groups of people have special motives or opportunities for corrupt gains

Corruption - its level of activity

The level of activity of corruption is broadly classified in to four categories, which are:

Petty corruption - to low level officials for routine "services"

Grand corruption - large payments to win government contracts etc and for the consequences

Bureaucratic corruption - bribing officials for an "advantage"

Political corruption - including bribes to politicians or party funds bribes by politicians to win votes

Corruption - its sequence

Corruption in its sequence of occurrence in the descending order in terms of its impact on the society is:

Occasional or opportunistic corruption - a few pay to gain an unfair advantage - this becomes more frequent, if corrupt behaviour escapes detection and punishment

Systemic corruption - employees expect/demand bribes and everybody needs to pay to get fair treatment

Destructive corruption - excessive greed of the corrupted rich creates anger, provokes conflict or change of government

Corruption - its consequences

It is obvious that the loss to the Society is often far greater than the value of the bribe involved. One of the reasons why more emphasis is being given to preventive vigilance is that it is cost-effective. Prevention is much more cost-effective in reducing corruption than investigation and prosecution etc.

 

 Not only that, by preventing corruption the worst seen consequences could be avoided. The consequences with some of their illustrations are as follows (Preventing Fraud and Corruption - Denis Osborne, U.K. 1999):

Þ Corruption threatens people and their governments

· It makes societies unfair - it hurts people

It denies the poor their share - particularly when they have no money to pay bribes

It increases poverty - this happens when the resources allocated for poverty relief get diverted to the rich

It worsens gender inequalities - making void rules for equity in employment

It violates human rights - right of the poor, critics silences, justice subverted

· It makes societies uneconomic - it slows development

It reduces revenue (tax, customs) - government lose more than corrupt officials gain

It increases costs of contracts - by more than the value of the bribes

It reduces quality of work (value-for-money) - supervision ineffective, can be dangerous

It distorts policies - decisions based more on expected individual gain than by society’s needs

It diverts resources from investment, welfare to individual extravagance, or investment overseas

It reduces commercial investment especially where there is "low predictability"

It discourages investment of aid politicians to win votes demotivates taxpayers in donor countries

It subverts companies and NGOs if companies pay bribes employees are more likely to take bribes

 It leads to shortages and delays because officials use these to seek bigger bribes

It leads to poor administration if officials are appointed because of family or ethnic links, or corrupt payments - who will not be the most competent and they will not be motivated to work well - expecting promotion by the same means

 

· It makes societies unsafe - it puts people’s lives at risk

It makes regulations ineffective

It increases criminality, when police or judges bribed that creates havens for drug dealing, arms smuggling

It escalates! Those enriched by bribes want more and expect to "earn" it by same means

It breeds revolution through people’s discontent and anger

Corruption - its link with investment

As per the World Bank Report 1997-98, a Country’s ratio of Gross Investment/GDP is reduced by:

32% of corruption is perceived as high

25% more, if uncertainty is also high i.e. bribes may not produce the intended result, and have a low probability of doing this.

Categories of people

Having seen all these about corruption, four broad categories of people are evolved in order to accommodate everyone. They are people:

  • who are not at all corrupt under any circumstances (almost hypothetical)
  • who are guilty of corruption
  • who benefit from corruption
  • who are potentially corrupt

So far we have seen various facets of corruption and with this insight let us try to stretch out and see where exactly lies the origin of corruption. Would it be proper to term ‘corruption’, a ‘phenomenon’?. People say that it is a universal phenomenon.

 

 Of course, if we look at the issue of corruption consciously from the platform, which it is occupying now, we would also subscribe to it. If that was the case, then the next question comes to the mind is whether it was a result of the natural phenomena or a man made one. Why not, then, look at the meaning of corruption vis-a-vis Corrupt. As stated in the earlier part of this article, ‘Corrupt’ are those who are morally depraved, suspect, unreliable, influenced by illegal means etc.

 

 These are the qualities, which are the results of the poor mind-set, putrid quality of thinking and lack of ideology and so on. In any case, there is nothing physical about them. They are all the products of the metamorphic or catalytic reactions taking place in the mind.

 

A microscopic viewing of these meanings of ‘corrupt’ in their real sense would, without much to ponder, suggest that the phenomenon of corruption is psychological and, all psychological processes are supposed to be natural, may be under the influence of various parameters. It, therefore, goes without saying that Corruption is a natural phenomenon, which has its own and the only origin i.e. the Human mind, which is the seat of all vanities.

 

 One need not roll back to so many centuries and years to find out the origin of corruption. Whenever, wherever and in whichever forms the corruption existed and existing, it is so just because of the unbalanced metabolism of the human mind.

 

 In a nutshell, it is a disease rather an infection developed in the human mind and diffuses all over more dangerously than the giant killer AIDS and therefore, what it requires is a serene psychiatric cure at the first place and then comes the Laws, Rules and Regulations for removing it.

Having concluded that the origin of corruption is the human mind, let us not just optimistic alone and wait for the moment of it reaching its own end, which will not take place of its own.

 

 We, being responsible for bringing it to this spot from its origin, take the responsibility for pushing it to its coffin too. Sooner or later it has to happen, being a Universal concept. It depends entirely on us. Why not make it sooner and save ourselves?!!!!!


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Such utter contempt for the ones who do not live on PLANET EARTH..........

Lord Irvine's £650,000 wallpaper to grace canteen

BRIAN BRADY WESTMINSTER EDITOR

IT WAS the first signal of the excesses of New Labour after Tony Blair came to power.

Derry Irvine provoked ridicule and outrage in the early months of his period as Lord Chancellor with his demands for a lavish makeover at his official residence. The huge operation, involving hand-printed wallpaper at £300 a roll, ultimately set the taxpayer back some £650,000.

But it can now be revealed that the empire Lord Irvine fashioned during six years as head of the English judiciary is being brutally dismantled. And, most galling of all, the notoriously expensive wallpaper is set to dignify the Westminster equivalent of a works canteen.

The House of Lords has revealed that it will seize control of the Lord Chancellor's official parliamentary residence when the post undergoes radical surgery later this year.

The extensive accommodation, which includes more than 14 rooms and a private flat spread over three floors overlooking the River Thames has long been coveted by backbench Lords, who are outgrowing the space presently allocated to them.

The value of the rooms soared after Irvine treated them to more than just a lick of paint in late 1997, and it became clear that the present Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, does not use the grandly-decorated flat that was his predecessor's London home.

Now it has emerged that they can prepare to take over. "The Administration and Works Committee has agreed that once the Lord Chancellor ceases to be Speaker of the House he should leave most of his current accommodation," the peers' Chairman of Committees, Lord Brabazon of Tara, confirmed.

And, in a line that marks the closest the noble Lords come to a coup, he added: "The committee has further agreed that the accommodation should be kept for the use of the House as a whole."

Irvine, formerly Blair's boss at his barristers' chambers, sparked criticism during New Labour's first term in office when he compared himself with Wolsey, the Lord Chancellor who acted as a wise and trusted adviser to Henry VIII.

But the condemnation of his alleged pomposity was dwarfed by the reaction to the makeover of his official residence.

Shortly after he was confirmed as Blair's first Lord Chancellor, Irvine, the highest-paid member of the government, presented plans for his lavish makeover, including electrical and fire-alarm work, building, decorating and plumbing.

The work, agreed by his colleagues after an extensive lobbying campaign, covered nearly £60,000 on wallpaper, £56,000 on light fittings and £16,000 on two oak beds.

The details, which only emerged in the form of a parliamentary written answer, included further items such as £8,000 on design work, £23,000 on decorating, £7,200 on lighting design, £10,000 on picture lighting and £650 on an item described as "prototype curtain poles".

But his enthusiasm for "returning the apartments to their original Victorian glory" was not shared by many members of the public, opposition politicians, or even fellow members of his own government. But Irvine's department argued that the work was needed because the apartments are part of the national heritage and are used for public functions.

Irvine himself later replied that handprinted wallpaper was not like "something down at the DIY store that might collapse after a year or so", and assured the nation that "posterity would be grateful" for his industry.

He later borrowed £1m-worth of art from Scottish galleries to adorn his nine-room apartment.

But the interest in the surroundings was not shared by Irvine's successor. Falconer, a millionaire lawyer with homes in London and Northamptonshire, worked in the offices attached to the accommodation, but did not use the residence. His fellow peers have now decided to seize their chance.

Much of the office space will eventually be taken over by the "Lord Speaker", a new post similar to the Speaker of the House of Commons, which will replace most of the functions of Falconer's office.

But peers will move into the largest room, which will become their "Writing Room", with additional space for a meeting room and refreshment facilities.

Most significantly, however, they will move upstairs and effectively take over the most lavishly-decorated rooms of all, the Lord Chancellor's flat. It will be a brutal scrap. "The committee has agreed that some of the rooms will be available for official entertainment," Lord Brabazon added.

"Party groupings, the cross-benchers and individual members will be able to bid for the use of these rooms for official parliamentary or charity events.

"The Lord Speaker will control the diary for these rooms and will have priority in their use in order to entertain on behalf of the House."

It is not yet clear whether they will do so within walls decorated by £59,000-worth of wallpaper, or enhanced by £20,000 curtains. The paintings have gone, and the remaining adornments of Irvine's empire are facing the end

Lord Irvine Picture: Allan Milligan 

Lord Irvine's 'PUBLIC PURSE MAKEOVER'

 


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                                 'JUMPIN JACK FLASH'

 

 

Once again, McConnell's not there!

ALAN COCHRANE

JACK McConnell, the Phileas Fogg of British politics, is off today on the latest leg of his round-the-world tour - this time heading for New York and Washington for that most epic of celebrations, Tartan Day.

Arriving back in Scotland last Tuesday after an exhausting 10 days or thereabouts in Australia and China, he walked straight into a one-day public sector strike. But that wasn't anything to do with the First Minister - that's Tom McCabe, the Finance Minister's responsibility

 

And then came more horror statistics about how often the much-vaunted free-care-for-the-elderly policy has turned into the no-personal-care-for-elderly policy or even the expensive-personal-care-for-the-elderly policy. But that wasn't anything to do with Mr McConnell, either.

That one is all the fault of the local councils who are not handing over the cash that the Scottish Executive gives them, even if the Tories' Dr Nanette Milne reckons the Executive is supplying only £100m for a policy that costs double that.

If it isn't the councils' fault, then it's still not Mr McConnell's responsibility. It's that bloke McCabe, again. Or possibly Malcolm Chisholm, the Communities Minister.

And Jack didn't even have time to show everyone his snaps of Melbourne before the Scottish Enterprise crisis exploded. Well, that definitely isn't Jack's fault. Nicol Stephen, the Lib Dem leader and Deputy First Minister, is in charge of enterprise. It's up to him to sort out that mess.

As if all that wasn't enough, we then had the news that the Executive had abandoned plans to hire an extra 600 consultants to ease the burden in Scotland's hospitals. That isn't Jack's fault, either, of course. That one's down to Andy Kerr, the Health Minister.

We were fortunate, however, that during his flying visit to Scotland last week the First Minister found time to pen, with Ross Finnie, the foreword to a stunning new glossy document that declared Scotland's intention to go it alone in terms of climate change. No, that doesn't mean that it will stop raining, merely that Jack reckons we can play a "leadership role" in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change, like hob-nobbing with the Scottish diaspora, especially the rich ones, like raising money for Malawi, like cheering on our swimmers in the Antipodes, and like engineering a walk-on part at world summits - that is the sort of thing Jack likes.

All that boring stuff, like old people and strikes, and hospitals... well, isn't that what ministers are for?

And as for this week's trip to the US, I'm told that one of Scotland's leading tabloids is sending its showbiz reporter to cover the event. How appropriate, don't you think?

Tory money man McAlpine cashed in on suicide note

ALL this talk of political party fund-raising reminded me of the tactics used by Lord McAlpine, long-time Conservative Party treasurer.

His most famous tactic was to buy up every copy he could lay his hands on of Labour's 1983 election manifesto - 'the longest suicide note in history' - and send it to every businessman he knew.

As he said later, the money just poured in.

So much for world domination if Salmond is scared of Scanlon

NATIONALIST stalwarts foregather in Elgin tonight to adopt their candidate for the forthcoming Moray by-election, now declared for April 27.

Already selected as the candidate for the Scottish Parliament elections next May, it would be an outrage if Richard Lochhead, a close ally of party leader Alex Salmond (right), didn't get the nod. But because this is a by-election, SNP rules insist that the candidate must be adopted afresh.

This fact gives me just an inkling of an idea. It goes like this: why doesn't Mr Salmond just get himself adopted for the by-election. After all, Mr Lochhead already has a seat - he's a 'list' MSP - and so Wee Eck wouldn't be doing his protégé out of a job or a salary.

And by fighting and winning the seat himself, Mr Salmond would save himself at least a year in his bid to become First Minister. He already intends to fight the Gordon constituency in next May's Holyrood elections as part of his scheme for world (sorry, Scottish) domination.

So why not start now, by going for it in Moray. He's not feart, surely, of Mary Scanlon, who's giving up her seat as a 'list' MSP to do battle for the Tories?

Oh yes, and because Ms Scanlon is standing down, the next name on the Tory 'list' - a certain Dave Petrie - gets a £51,000 job as an MSP without so much as a 'by your leave' from the electors. Will nothing ever be done to end this scandal?

Cabbie reveals there are some places he just won't go

THE all-encompassing smoking ban that came in seven days ago has been almost universally obeyed, nowhere more rigidly than in Edinburgh's taxis, where most of the drivers banned the weed a long time ago.

However, the true attitude of these knights of the road was explained by one cabbie last week.

He said that he'd picked up a fare at Edinburgh Airport and no sooner had the two expensively dressed men got into the back, than they fished large Havana cigars from their pockets and asked if the driver would mind if they lit up.

Our hero reckoned that he would be on to a big tip if he granted permission and told them that they could puff away.

However, he screeched to a halt not long afterwards and turfed the two out of his taxi halfway into town after the men began kissing and cuddling each other.

"I dinnae mind them breaking the law but ah wisnae hivvin' ony of that bloody nonsense in the back o' ma cab," he declared indignantly.

Army rolls out fresh-faced teen propaganda machine

THE propaganda onslaught that accompanied the merger of Scotland's famous infantry regiments into one super-unit last week was truly breathtaking to behold.

Shock and awe wasn't in it as Major General Euan Loudon, Scotland's senior soldier and Governor of Edinburgh Castle, and his team, pulled out all the stops to ensure the public got just the right impression from this forced marriage.

And nowhere was this hammered home to better effect than the sight of Gen Loudon handing out the new bunnets to the happy, smiling Jocks on the Castle Esplanade. Best image of the lot, of course, was that of an attractive young lady, one Keighley Doyle, smiling the broadest of smiles as she put on her new headgear.

No worries here, obviously, about the end of centuries of tradition and the re-drawing of famous old uniforms.

And, sure enough, Keighley's image featured large on all the TV news bulletins on Tuesday evening and made it to most front pages on Wednesday morning.

But wait a minute... At only 16, isn't she a year too young to be in the Army? And she can't be a Jock (or a Jockess, for that matter) because girls aren't allowed, yet, to serve with infantry regiments.

In fact, Keighley wasn't a soldier at all, but an Army cadet, whose unit just happens to be associated with the outgoing Royal Highland Fusiliers. And guess who's the colonel of that regiment? None other than Euan Loudon.

And so if Scotland's media cry out today: 'Woz we had?' the only answer can be: 'You bet.' Or, as they say at Edinburgh Castle: 'Nice one, General.'


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Hi Admin2... thanks for your posts, and related articles on the topic of 'Minister Please'. 

 

So Lord Irvine used taxpayers money for his £650K canteen makeover, just so that he could have somewhere palatial to sit and eat his lunch?  Bloody idiot.  Why not take the money from the ever-expanding purse of the Labour Party?  After all, the cash seems to be pouring in thick and fast, be it in the form of donations or loans, so why use our hard earned cash?  Oh yeah, I forgot, the Government likes screwing the people over.

 

And Jack McConnell has jetted off again, this time to New York?  Must be nice to have a job whereby you can just get on a plane and go wherever takes your fancy, whenever it does.  Or is it more a case of him staying out of the spotlight and running away from his growing problems??? 


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David Miliband has prompted a heated debate by becoming the first government minister to launch his own blog.

It is hosted by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, where Miliband is Communities and Local Government Minister.

Miliband says the aim of the blog is to "help bridge the gap – the growing and potentially dangerous gap – between politicians and the public".

It will be monitored by the independent Hansard Society as part of a Department for Constitutional Affairs pilot investigating the way central government uses ICT to communicate with the public.

Miliband has been experimenting with the blog within his department since the beginning of the year, but it only went live at the end of last week.

Because it is being run as part of an official government site, Miliband said it would focus on his ministerial duties and not "lapse into party ranting" or link to other party political sites.

But the minister’s inaugural blog has already drawn criticism from respondents.

One, 'Harry', said: "If you intend this to be a personal blog why are you using your Government Department's website? How much civil service time is spent drafting/vetting your 'personal' comments? Doing this via a Government website is a misuse of the taxpayers money and also renders the claim of it being a genuinely personal blog suspect."

Another, John Zims, wrote: "Another New Labour gimmick/ego trip with the taxpayer picking up the bill."

And Kingston councillor and blogger Mary Reid questioned how Miliband would write a blog without being political.

She said: "Would his blog become political if he mentions the Labour Party by name? What about endorsing Labour Party policies? Or does it only become political if he comments on the views of other parties?"

But if Miliband does become "political", Reid said she would be "celebrating any small step that he takes to give dignity to political activity".

Read the blog here.


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Hi mactheknife... thanks for your post with regards to David Miliband creating his own 'personal' blog, and indeed the link which allows us to read the aforementioned blog.

 

David Miliband claims that the aim of this blog is to "help bridge the gap - the growing and potentially dangerous gap - between politicians and the public", and that his blog will focus on his ministerial duties, so therefore,  I'm inclined to agree with the critics in that (1) if it's a personal blog, why use a Government website, and (2) how can it not be political if he 'bridging the gap' and banging on about his duties???

 

Furthermore, if this blog is personal, as he claims, then why are the taxpayers (once again) footing the bill???


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Reply with quote  #55 

Tend to agree with the critics and admin on this one.

More of a brag than a blog.

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Hi Nagasaki... long time no post!  Thanks for your post, and I am pleased to see that I am not the only one who thinks that this 'personal blog' bollocks is  simply nothing more than a PR stunt.  For one, I don't give a toss about Mr Miliband's ministerial duties (purely Admin's opinion), and secondly, I'd rather my tax went to some better use than to further his ego.


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THE influence of the alcohol in politics is not entirely due to the political boss who makes the public house his headquarters. He would be powerless for harm were it not for the infinite multitude of so-called respectable voters who degrade their intelligence and dignity by working and voting shoulder to shoulder with social outlaws. Under a false notion of fealty these men subject their neck to the party collar and go to the polls yoked with ignorance and crime, and at the heels of some low-browed political dictator they sacrifice their country's wealth on the altar of partisan allegiance.

 


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Reply with quote  #58 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mactheknife

THE influence of the alcohol in politics is not entirely due to the political boss who makes the public house his headquarters. He would be powerless for harm were it not for the infinite multitude of so-called respectable voters who degrade their intelligence and dignity by working and voting shoulder to shoulder with social outlaws. Under a false notion of fealty these men subject their neck to the party collar and go to the polls yoked with ignorance and crime, and at the heels of some low-browed political dictator they sacrifice their country's wealth on the altar of partisan allegiance.

Well said mactheknife... I reckon you really stuck the knife in with that one... 


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ferrisconspiracy : UPDATE

 

Wish you were here? McConnell on a trip to New...

 

EDDIE BARNES POLITICAL EDITOR

SINCE a beam in its roof fell, Scotland has had to get used to a parliament without a home. Next week the nation will be forced to cope with a government without a leader.

Fresh back from a nine-day visit to Australia and China, Jack McConnell is to set out on a seven-day visit to America, where he will partake in the annual Tartan Week celebrations which run from April 3 until 8.

Not to be outdone, Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen - who usually stands in for the boss in his absence - has booked himself a foreign holiday with his family at the same time.

Stephen is now coming in for criticism from Labour colleagues, who assert that his absence is further proof of the Liberal leader's casual approach to the job.

For his part, McConnell is facing attacks from political opponents for heading off abroad less than two weeks after he got back from his last foreign foray.

 

Executive officials reacted wearily to questions as to who would be running Scotland next week, pointing out that the top two men in the Executive had both been out of the country before without any dire consequences.

The First Minister's spokesman said: "The First Minister is not on holiday. He is working, so normal business will apply. We have telephones, faxes and e-mails, so he is in charge."

However, Labour MSPs were less happy about Stephen's decision to go on holiday while the First Minister is away.

Stephen has long been criticised by his coalition allies for his approach to ministerial life, and some have privately accused him of being "lazy".

"This is typical of Nicol. You would have thought that the deputy would stay around when the leader is away, but he doesn't think like that," said one MSP.

Another senior figure said: "What do you expect? That is Nicol's style."

However, married with four children, Stephen is known to place a high priority on family life. Officials would not say where Stephen was going to be next week, only that he would be travelling abroad.

While McConnell is known to be travelling to New York, his plans in the US were equally vague last night. Officials said that an itinerary for his visit had not yet been finalised and could only say that the First Minister would be having meetings with members of New York's financial services industry.

McConnell's next visit will be the fourth he has made to the US. Following the trip, he will have spent more time State-side in his premiership than has Tony Blair, despite the Prime Minister having been in charge for four more years.

The length of the visit, a full week, is also three days longer than the longest of the Prime Minister's US visits - a trip to a Nato conference in 1999.

The number of foreign trips being made by the First Minister is a reflection of his desire to stride the foreign stage. He claims that foreign trips will help boost Scotland's international profile and forge business links with other countries. McConnell's visit to China last week resulted in the Chinese government approving the creation of a Confucius Institute in Scotland. A previous trip to the US by McConnell resulted in extra air link routes being unveiled and a pledge by entrepreneur Donald Trump to invest in Scotland.

However, some are now questioning the value of such visits. The Scottish Executive is to spend £660,000 on Tartan Week celebrations next week, but has yet to receive feedback as to whether previous visits have reaped any benefit.

Furthermore, a major nanotechnology forum in Washington planned for next week has now been postponed after organisers could only persuade one Scottish delegate to attend.

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said: "It is time that Junket Jack spent a little more time at home, where he might learn a bit more about what is going on in his own backyard.

"We should be using Tartan Week more as an advertisement to attract visitors here. It does seem to me to be turning into a circus. It must be getting to the stage now where the various agencies who are promoting Scotland are duplicating their efforts."

A spokesman for Stephen said: "This was all planned. Nicol is simply taking his holiday. He works as hard as anyone in the cabinet does. These suggestions are just nonsense."

 

ferrisconspiracy : VIEW

 

Jack the Lad is in hiding over several legal scandals and here are a few reasons why:

 

Shirley McKie,David Asbury,The SCRO,Nat Fraser,Colin Boyd QC,Blocking a public  inquiry whilst allowing another.............. JM COME HOME YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!

 

P.S. Or are you waiting for the HEAT to die down?


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ferrisconspiracy : UPDATE

 

Another Minister and another 'WRONGDOING'?

 

In other words FRAUD to YOU and I.

 

Full story in the links below:

 

Report into MEP’s expenses under scrutiny
Finance officers at the European Parliament are trawling an independent report into the expenses claims of David Martin, the Scottish Labour MEP who faced accusations of fiddling the system.


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