And the Lazarus Award for Best Comeback goes to …
THEY are the serial blunderers who wreak havoc in their chosen organisations – usually while cashing in on sky-high salaries and gold-plated pensions.
From politicians to quangocrats, Scotland is replete with mendacious mandarins and bungling bureaucrats – and boasts more than its fair share of arrogant fat cats.
But they don’t always get the recognition they deserve, so the Granties awards have become an annual tradition, designed to honour their unique contribution.
True, the achievements of our winners may vary between the minimal and the downright dishonourable – but in troubled times they certainly make for a livelier public sector.
With that in mind, stand by for 2019’s star-studded nominees …
THE LAZARUS AWARD FOR BEST COMEBACK
AS Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill was responsible for setting up the disaster-prone single police force.
But he clearly felt he hadn’t done enough damage, and is now back in politics as the newly-elected MP for East Lothian.
And surely there could be no better choice – after all, in the 1980s, as a young SNP activist, Mr MacAskill called for the breaking of ‘Westminster laws’ imposed by a ‘foreign government’.
The SNP’s new contingent at Westminster will greatly benefit from the deft popular touch of the man who freed the Lockerbie bomber – Britain’s worst mass murderer.
(Making a comeback: a thumbs-up from Kenny MacAskill)
THE WHISKAS AWARD FOR MOST SHAMELESS FAT CAT
THIS year’s winner is from the halls of academe – but Professor Andrew Atherton is no ordinary scholar.
He quit as principal of Dundee University amid claims he had fallen behind on rental payments for a plush property.
In fact, despite having left his £298,000-a-year post in less than ideal circumstances, the Professor has been told he can stay in the university. flat until February 2020.
So, hearty congratulations to Professor Atherton, who only took up his role in January 2019: we’re sure he will readily accept the Whiskas – with a degree of humility.
(Fat Cat: Andrew Atherton wins the Whiskas)
THE CAROL VORDERMAN AWARD FOR CREATIVE ARITHMETIC
A NEW award for the 2019 Granties, the Vorderman honours those with a flair for numbers.
Former members of the SNP’s Growth Commission, which recommended ditching sterling after dismantling the Union, were in the running.
But after a series of pro-independence marches, the award goes to broadcaster Lesley Riddoch – and the legion of online pro-independence activists.
They have an unerring knack of estimating the turnout at these rallies at around 100,000 – regardless of any pictorial evidence or official calculation to the contrary.
(Lesley Riddoch: the Indy marchers are counting on her)
THE GEORGE A ROMERO ‘ZOMBIE MINISTER’ AWARD
ONE of our most coveted gongs, the Romero goes to the minister with the shortest projected shelf-life.
In a crowded field, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has emerged as the victor, for her chaotic stewardship of the NHS.
A judge-led public inquiry has been announced into the construction of two scandal-hit flagship hospitals.
Meanwhile the legal right patients have to be seen within 12 weeks has been broken 100,000 times in a year.
Miss Freeman, a former card-carrying Communist, should be warned that her comrade and predecessor Shona Robison is a former Romero winner – and she quit last year after botching her brief…
THE GEORGE ORWELL AWARD FOR MOST BRAZEN PROPAGANDA
AS master practitioners of the dark arts of spin, many Nationalist politicians were eligible for the Orwell.
But one entrant stood out from the rest: John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and the man at least nominally in charge of the education system.
When devastating figures were published showing Scotland had plunged down global rankings, Mr Swinney’s response was that the country was still ‘on the right track’.
He was also the minister who claimed Named Person would be rolled out despite a Supreme Court judgment declaring it unlawful – before finally ditching the state snooper scheme in September.
(John Swinney: winner of the Orwell Grantie)
THE TRUMP AWARD FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFICIENCY
THE art of negotiating the pitfalls of social media requires political nous – but that hasn’t deterred one SNP councillor.
Dr Moira Shemilt launched a vicious tirade at English DJ Liz Kershaw, who said she had enjoyed breaks in Scotland as a child, telling her: ‘We. are not England’s holiday park.’
For good measure, Dr Shemilt added: ‘Do yourself and us a favour, read some books. Have a think about the model of Colonialism.’
The councillor has been criticised previously for calling a pro-Union campaigner a ‘quisling’, and branding ex-Labour MP Ian Davidson a ‘traitor’ for voting No.
After a spell away from Twitter, Dr Shemilt is back in the online saddle – and a worthy winner of this year’s Trump.
THE HILLARY CLINTON AWARD FOR TRANSPARENT POLITICS
SHE had pledged in November 2014 that her Government would be ‘open, listening, accessible and decentralising’.
But in October Nicola Sturgeon found herself at the centre of a row over her use of a private email account for government-related matters.
In 2015, civil servants had been ordered to contact Miss Sturgeon on her SNP account for ‘urgent’ business outside office hours.
The First Minister picks up an award named after her idol – though, like Mrs Clinton, she insists there’s nothing remotely ‘crooked’ about her email policy.
THE IMELDA MARCOS AWARD FOR SERVICES TO FOOTWEAR
IT was a row laced with all the ingredients of a classic town hall political scandal.
Nationalist Lord Provost Eva Bolander claimed for 23 pairs of shoes as part of an £8,000 taxpayer-funded spending spree.
She quit the prestigious post in Glasgow at the start of November after it emerged her other purchases had included £297 on underwear, £751 on ten haircuts, £479 worth of nail treatments and £66 on make-up.
The Mail salutes this well-heeled custodian of the public purse – the sole deserving winner.
(Eva Bolander: honoured for her services to footwear)
THE DARIEN AWARD FOR ECONOMIC LITERACY
FINANCE Secretary Derek Mackay scoops the Darien – which commemorates the unsuccessful attempt by the Kingdom of Scotland to become a world trading state in the 1690s.
A gaping black hole has opened up after it was revealed that the block grant which Scotland receives from Westminster is set to shrink by £1billion over the three years from 2020–21 – partly because the forecast for the amount of Scottish income tax likely to be raised has been scaled back.
Then there was the nationalisation of the Ferguson Marine shipyard on the Clyde, which led to Mr Mackay’s admission that the cost of building two CalMac ferries will be up to £98.8million higher than the original estimate.
Could there be any more convincing proof that SNP economic policy is all at sea?
THE ACORN ANTIQUES AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION CHANNEL
NAMED in honour of the Victoria Wood sketches parodying naff soap operas with sets with more rickety than the plots, this accolade could have only one recipient: step forward, BBC Scotland.
Its new digital channel launched in February 2019 at a cost of £32million and has been blighted by low ratings, with its flagship news show The Nine attracting as few as 2,700 viewers – close to a zero per cent audience share.
With admirable optimism, BBC Scotland controller Donalda MacKinnon has claimed the goal for the channel was ‘success over time’.
The question is how much time is left before Corporation bosses in London reach for the ‘off’ button.
*This column appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on December 24, 2019.