02.04.20

As Orkney confirmed its first Covid-19 case this week, almost the last local health authority to do so, let me start by again offering my heartfelt thanks to all those in our health and care services for the work they are doing. Much of it has been preparatory to date, but the pressures are now likely to start building significantly.

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19.03.20

To say that these are troubling times would be to grossly underplay the seriousness of the current situation. This pandemic is unprecedented in modern times.

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05.03.20

With news of Scotland’s first confirmed case of Coronavirus, and alarming predictions about possible worst case scenarios, all bets are off about what issue will now dominate the political agenda for the foreseeable future.

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20.02.20

At a time when our politics feels more tribal than ever, it is important to acknowledge the ‘good guys’ wherever they are to be found on the political spectrum. Kate Forbes, the newly-appointed Scottish Finance Secretary, falls into that category, in my opinion.

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06.02.20

I wonder if those gathered outside the Houses of Parliament on Friday evening, celebrating the UK’s departure from the European Union, will still be in flag-waving, party mood as the consequences of Brexit begin to bite over the years ahead. My hunch is not.

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23.01.20

I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that the Scottish Government’s track record when it comes to centralisation or delivering major IT projects is wholly unblemished. Our police force is still counting the cost of the SNP’s fixation with control from the centre, while farmers remain baffled at how Ministers can spend £180m on a farm payment system that was unable to make payments to farmers.

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09.01.20

So 2020 arrives with news that two genuine Orcadian stalwarts, Jean Leonard and John Copland, have been recognised in the New Year Honours list. I’m delighted that both are to be awarded MBEs for services to music and farming respectively, though this barely scratches the surface of the contribution they have made to our community over many years. The honours system has its critics, with good reason, but recognising those such as Jean and John whose excellent work has touched the lives of so many, seems entirely appropriate.

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12.12.19

When presented by a journalist with a phone containing a photo of small boy, lying on a makeshift bed of coats on a hospital floor, there are perhaps various responses a politician might offer. Expressing shock and concern would be only natural, mixed perhaps with a desire to establish the facts and circumstances behind the image. A show of empathy for the sick child and his distressed family, at the very least, would seem in order.

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05.12.19

The current election campaign has not lacked for low points. Jacob Rees Mogg’s outrageous comments about victims of the Grenfell tower fire has mercifully seen him confined to a bunker in Tory Central Office, where presumably he is kept company by the cretins responsible for trying to pass off the party’s Twitter account as a genuine ‘fact checking’ tool!

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28.11.19

This time last year, Jeane Freeman MSP was picking up the top award at The Herald Politician of the Year ceremony at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh. Newly appointed as Nicola Sturgeon’s Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman’s star was on the rise.

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