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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21.11.19

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a parliamentary reception on behalf of the British Ports Association and UK Chamber of Shipping. Once again, the event, now in its tenth year, saw the Garden Lobby at Holyrood packed with representatives from across the maritime sector as well as MSPs from all parts of the country.

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14.11.19

The act of remembrance has always struck me as something deeply personal. As much was we might do it collectively within our communities, gathering each year on Remembrance Sunday to remember those who lost their lives in conflict, we are nevertheless lost in our own thoughts.

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31.10.19

Over the October break, I found myself sitting in a small bar in the southern French town of Vidauban, watching France let victory in the Quarter Final of the Rugby World Cup slip from their grasp against a tenacious, if somewhat fortunate, Welsh side. Seeing the agony etched on the faces of those around me felt uncomfortable.

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Orcadian Column 10.10.19

It is good, every now and again, to take yourself out of your comfort zone. In doing so, however, you may consider it prudent at least to remain within the same hemisphere as your comfort zone.

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26.09.19

You will be delighted to hear that I came through my first dance lesson with Scottish Ballet largely unscathed. The reputation of our national ballet company may have fared less well from the association with my dubious dancing skills.

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