Gina Davidson: We need some moral support

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HAVE you checked your morals recently? Better do it quick before someone does it for you.

Maybe it’s the Corbyn effect, or the long-term holier-than-thou attitude of many Yes supporters, or the eventual public response to the refugee crisis, but morality is big news.

So here’s a quick quiz to see just how well your moral radar is working: do you think it is morally right that the Scottish Government doesn’t spend £350 million of its budget when local services are being cut across the country and yet gives £150,000 to a hugely successful private enterprise such as T in the Park?

Is it moral for an MP to be elected on a bandwagon of social justice when she actually makes her money buying – at cut price – and selling – at a big profit – the properties of desperate people?

Is it morally right that the chairman of a homeless charity parks in a 
disabled bay just because he thinks there’s a problem with the traffic order under which it’s been painted and to hang with anyone actually disabled needing to use it?

How about this one: is it moral for cyclists who have been injured by the laying of tram tracks to sue the cash-strapped council for compensation? Now, before you all shout “yes, there was plenty money to build the tracks”, remember the vast majority of that money was granted from the government and could not have been spent on anything other than the tram project. And it is gone.

So is it right then that cyclists, knowing how financially pressed the council is, seek to gain money from their accidents? To me, the answer is sadly yes. The council was well warned that tracks at Haymarket in particular would be dangerous for cyclists, and yet little was done to ensure their safety. As a result, many have had broken bones and ligament damage after falling from their bikes.

They claim it was the council’s negligence which caused their falls. Without doubt the council has a legal, if not indeed a moral, responsibility to care for the people of the city, and that includes making sure cyclists are safe on the roads. But still I baulk at the idea that up to half a million will be claimed. Though maybe the government might like to help out seeing as it’s got all that cash down the back of the Holyrood sofa.

More morality will be under the microscope when it comes to the whole tram project and not just the tracks, now that the long-awaited Lord Hardie inquiry is under way. He’s got six million documents to get through and countless witness appearances ahead but he’s already made it clear that he will be unable to find anyone “legally responsible or financially liable” at the end of what will be a very costly procedure.

What’s the point, you might ask? Of course his inquiry might be able to give others the necessary ammunition to find someone legally responsible, but right now it looks like all we may end up with is weighing the morals of those who made the decisions and whether they knew right from wrong when it came to their actions and just how strange they were to the truth.

It would be decidedly immoral to throw good money after bad in terms of the tram fiasco and end up with a report which says nothing and no-one was to blame.

Here’s hoping Lord Hardie’s moral radar is straight and true and that he can as much as possible, within the terms of his remit, make it clear just what went wrong and why.

Labour must tackle missing cash scandal

SCOTTISH Labour has had a lot to deal with in recent times – namely its near total collapse – but the fact that £10,000 can go missing from the coffers of a local party branch, and nothing is done, is unacceptable. No wonder that party activists, fed up with a lack of action internally, have gone to the police.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another year before it’s discovered just where the money has gone.

PARK BLAME AT SNP’S DOOR

Parking charges are to soar by up to 33 per cent. Drivers are aghast – and quite rightly. Perhaps they should lobby their SNP MSPs to have the council tax freeze lifted. Otherwise they will continue to be the first cash cow local authorities will milk when finances are squeezed.

Flight path row hasn’t been fully grounded

THE results are in: 83 per cent of the 2000-plus people who responded to MSP Fiona Hyslop’s survey on Edinburgh Airport’s trial flight path have noticed a difference in noise levels; 73 per cent said it was intrusive and disturbing when outdoors and 61 per cent said even indoors with doors and windows closed the noise was unacceptably intrusive.

There are only a few weeks left before this flight path trial ends – early, thankfully – but people in West Lothian who have been living under it are under no illusion that this is where it will end.

Already chief executive Gordon Dewar has declared the trial an operational success so the airport will undoubtedly be pressing for a full trial – with full public consultation – to go ahead next year. It seems the complaints about noise and the effect on the environment – and, indeed, the questioning of the airport’s economic plan – are of no consequence. Holyrood can be ignored too.

Yet it is heartening to hear a leading SNP politician state that “it is quite clear this flight path over dense housing is contrary to CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) guidance” and that she would use her survey to “ensure the CAA is aware how unacceptable this flight path is”.

After all, until now the SNP government has been nothing but supportive of the airport’s expansion plans.

The airport, I believe, has recently appointed a former SNP press officer to its own communications team. In the light of the cronyism row around the SNP, Ms Hyslop and T in the Park, I hope that the airport’s new PR man is kept well away from this issue.