Ho Ho No! Saluting the inept twits who blighted our year
JUST over a year ago, I was proud to unveil the inaugural Granties awards – honouring public sector incompetents and fat cats.
There was a rich array of accolades to recognise a host of politicians and quangocrats for their greed and general dim-wittedness.
Sadly, this year was no different, offering fresh examples of disastrous leadership, catastrophic mismanagement, and downright cretinism.
At a time when the SNP’s ‘progressive’ draft Budget has proposed a tax hike (to combat Tory austerity and Brexit, of course), many on the public payroll are carrying on regardless with a culture of waste and rewards for failure.
So take a break from troublesome in-laws and festive TV repeats to reflect on some of the blunderers and charlatans who blighted public life in 2017:
THE FAGIN AWARD FOR CREATIVE PICKPOCKETING
The winner is Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, who was the also lucky recipient of an Arthur Laffer Award for Economic Illiteracy last year.
He confessed he hadn’t hear of the Laffer curve – named after US economist Arthur Laffer – which warns that if you tax people and companies too much, government revenues actually fall rather than rise.
This year it transpired that world-renowned economist Mr Laffer had heard of Mr Mackay – and his tax-raising Budget – pointing out: ‘There are clear disadvantages to living in Scotland if your tax rates are higher than the rest of the UK.’
THE KIRSTIE ALLSOPP AWARD FOR MOST ECONOMICAL HOUSE MOVE
Flitting is a costly business, particularly when you have to contend with the SNP’s hated Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.
But if you’re a senior police officer the bitter pill can be sweetened, as it was for Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick.
She was lucky enough to be handed £67,000 of taxpayers’ money to help move house – and to have a £53,000 tax bill paid with public money.
Audit Scotland and MSPs are among those voicing outrage at the arrangement, which was sanctioned by the ever-generous Scottish Police Authority (SPA) – a fearless custodian of the public purse.
THE McGONAGALL AWARD FOR QUALITY CONSTRUCTION
This award is named after Scotland’s ‘best worst’ poet, William McGonagall, author of The Tay Bridge Disaster.
Hapless Transport Minister Humza Yousaf collects a McGonagall for the Queensferry Crossing, but shares it with Nicola Sturgeon who called it ‘the greatest bridge in the world’ after it opened back in August.
When it emerged at the end of November that repairs on the £1.35billion structure would cause chaos for motorists, Miss Sturgeon (apparently with a straight face) said the turmoil was similar to ‘snagging’ in a new-build home.
THE FRED GOODWIN AWARD FOR SMARTEST BUSINESS DECISION
Last year Miss Sturgeon picked up the coveted Del Boy Trotter White Elephant Award for claiming that Prestwick Airport would become a ‘viable enterprise’.
It was bought by the Scottish Government for just £1 in 2013 but has cost the public purse up to £40million – and ministers are now trying to sell it.
But they refuse to answer questions about whether or not any deal will allow for public money to be repaid.
Miss Sturgeon wins the ‘Goodwin’ for her unrivalled business acumen in snapping up a loss-making airport – and no doubt the former RBS boss would have every sympathy for her humiliation.
THE PERCY THROWER AWARD FOR USE OF GARDENING LEAVE
You might dimly recall that Phil Gormley was the man in charge of Police Scotland – tall chap, glasses, spoke a lot about his vision for the future (fewer officers)…
Well, he is on ‘special leave’ amid multiple bullying allegations and his deputy, Iain Livingstone, cancelled his retirement plans to hold the fort.
Mr Gormley, still being paid his £214,000 salary, is determined to make good use of his time.
He has requested permission from the SPA to undertake a child protection review for the London-based National Police Chiefs’ Council, while on leave. It appears the SPA is still considering whether to approve his second job.
THE GOK WAN AWARD FOR SERVICES TO FASHION
Paisley SNP MP Mhairi Black is well-known for her sober trouser suits, open-neck shirts and the occasional plain jumper.
But now Miss Black claims that Alex Salmond was brave enough to advise her that she should have a makeover when she became the UK’s youngest MP in 2015.
Miss Black said Mr Salmond told her: ‘At some point, you’ll find your own style’, but she insisted she was ‘never going to be told how to dress – especially by a man’.
Mr Salmond admitted he suggested a new look to Miss Black, but denied offering her clothing advice.
THE GEORGE A ROMERO ‘ZOMBIE MINISTER’ AWARD
Named after the director of the Night of the Living Dead zombie movie, this year’s gong goes to Shona Robison.
In October, the Auditor General warned that more patients are waiting longer to be seen and most waiting time targets are not being met.
Yet the Health Secretary staggers on, with her boss and loyal friend Miss Sturgeon defying calls to sack her.
She shares the award with Justice Secretary Michael Matheson – on whose watch policing has plunged into meltdown.
THE WHISKAS AWARD FOR MOST SHAMELESS FAT CAT
Former SPA chief executive John Foley, who was criticised by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Derek Penman over his ‘shortcomings’, took early retirement in October.
He was responsible for signing off Miss Fitzpatrick’s relocation fees, and was himself paid up to £240,000 in his final two years – plus pension contributions of £68,000.
He is now in line for an early retirement payment of £43,470 and six months’ payment in lieu of notice.
Mr Foley, who earned £120,000 a year, also faces an appearance before Holyrood’s public audit committee – which last week savaged the SPA’s financial mismanagement.
THE VLADIMIR PUTIN AWARD FOR SERVICES TO TRUTH
Mr Salmond has been far from idle since his ignominious defeat at the hands of the Tories in June’s snap election.
After his Fringe show this summer, he is now on Kremlin-backed RT, formerly Russia Today, with his very own show – which has triggered an investigation broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.
It launched an ongoing probe, set to conclude in the New Year, over claims that the chat show breached accuracy rules.
The programme also caused a diplomatic headache for Mr Salmond’s former protégée, Miss Sturgeon.
Mr Putin himself joined the debate by defending RT’s highly chequered reputation.
THE DONALD TRUMP AWARD FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFICIENCY
Glasgow Shettleston SNP MSP John Mason embarrassed Miss Sturgeon by tweeting that Republican terrorists could be seen as ‘freedom fighters’.
He also tweeted a suggestion that ‘learning times tables and spelling [were] stronger in my day but we have moved on’.
Mr Mason was accused of ‘trivialising rape culture’ after he compared Scottish independence to attempting to woo a woman.
He tweeted: ‘Marginal view was no to indy. We hope to change that. The girl does not always say yes first time!’
His Trump-like dedication to social media provocation, and straightforward idiocy, makes him a more than worthy winner – in an admittedly crowded field.