Birthday week last week in Cybernat Towers as I was dragged kicking and screaming further into my 6th decade. What better way to spend it though than on a Highland Safari? You should try one sometime – they’re sheer magic. You go way up into the Perthshire hills in a landrover where you can see some of the most amazing scenery unfold before you. While up there you’re continually scanning the landscape for even a fleeting glimpse of Scotland’s rarest creatures – red squirrels, golden eagles, Tories…
Okay the last one was a daft thing to say. There was probably more chance of seeing a giant panda mud-wrestling a kelpie while an enthusiastic crowd of Loch Ness Monsters egged them on. The word “safari” used to mean a trip that involved a big-game hunt and I suppose it was a bit coincidental the term being uppermost in my mind during a week that saw another “hunt” in the form of a desperate unionist assault on the First Minister’s character. ”How very very dare he spend £3,000 on 4 nights in a top US hotel,” they went on, apparently oblivious to how silly their next statement on how a discount had been negotiated was making them look.
Actually that £3,000 figure rings a bell in the context of furthering Scotland’s interests abroad. Hang on, it’ll come to me… got it – that’s what Westminster charged Scotland Development International for the use of UK embassies (that we’ve already helped pay for) to promote our whisky industry. I think it’s one of these union dividends where we benefit from the broad shoulders of the UK and get the best of both worlds.
Had the First Minister stayed in a Holiday Inn and met with some local movers and shakers down at the nearest Burger King we’d no doubt have seen some “Is This Really The Best Way To Promote Scotland?” headlines blaring out. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Still, that 3 grand sort of pales into insignificance beside the £13k that Dave C spent going wine-tasting during a trip to Australia. Now I know what you’re thinking – that guy will go anywhere to avoid a debate with the First Minister, but to be fair, this was during a 4-day visit to a Commonwealth summit in 2011. That was a total of £821,000 well spent eh? Arrived late, left early but found 90 minutes to swan off on a 90-minute private VIP vineyard tour. ”Way to go to work for your country’s best interests, Dave,” as our American cousins might say. Who do you think was giving the best value for money? It’s a toughie right enough.
Heads don’t come much more prized than the one belonging to Alex Salmond though, hence the fevered coverage in the press whenever they feel they’ve finally “got” something. A wee word of advice, folks: by all means hold him to account, but there’s no sleaze, no scandal. How do I know? Because every single news outlet in the country has no doubt spent significant man-hours trying to dredge up something – anything – with which they can blacken the man’s character. If there was anything untoward in his background then you can be sure we’d have heard about it by now.
In fact we’d probably hear about it every time his name gets mentioned… “Alex Salmond, who took a vow in Holyrood upon becoming First Minister in spite of being unable to keep one he made to his wife…” Oops, sorry – I must be thinking of someone else.
No pictures with hookers either. Plenty of inquiries though. Lots of them. In fact he even referred himself to one just so he could join in with the fun. Verdict – no case to answer and yet another colossal waste of everyone’s time.
This is about so much more than Alex Salmond and why the Better Togetout mob are continuing down the route of frantically trying to personalise the debate makes absolutely no sense, especially when it’s someone who continues to attract such high approval ratings. Mind you, I suppose anyone can enjoy a 7-year honeymoon period and when you’ve got absolutely nothing else in your armoury you’re left with little choice. Best not interrupt them while, etc, etc. No wonder their support is dropping faster than Cristiano Ronaldo in an opposition penalty box.