Do Adam McVey’s SNP colleagues agree his comment about Helen Martin wasn’t sexist? – John McLellan

John McLellan discusses SNP councillors’ possible need for unconscious bias training, Edinburgh Council’s hopes for a tourist tax, the Scottish Government’s apparent lack of faith in local government, and his hopes for next year’s festival.

By John McLellan
Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 7:30 am
Edinburgh's council leader Adam McVey hit back at Evening News columnist Helen Martin over an article describing a journey across the city that took three times longer the usual (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Edinburgh's council leader Adam McVey hit back at Evening News columnist Helen Martin over an article describing a journey across the city that took three times longer the usual (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

Some female councillors claim senior administration members have been criticised for their sex and not their polices. But imagine the outcry if a councillor attacked a female’s take on Edinburgh’s roads by suggesting she couldn’t use a map?

You don’t have to imagine such a comment because “Women (sic) drives the wrong way across City & doesn’t understand how google maps works” was council leader Adam McVey’s jibe against Evening News columnist Helen Martin after her account of trying to drive across town. And the article clearly said her husband was at the wheel.

But Cllr McVey’s colleagues were noticeably silent, perhaps agreeing with him that the comment was not sexist? Maybe even the woke need unconscious bias training.

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An Edinburgh journey that took three times longer than it should have done thank...

Is the fate of the tourist tax sealed?

In its recent self-congratulatory report card, Edinburgh’s SNP-led administration gave itself full marks for its plans to introduce the tourist tax, or Transient Vistor Levy, asserting that “We will implement the TVL in Edinburgh once the detail of the legislation is known and the powers are in place.”

So when is that likely to be? Tucked away on page 121 of the SNP’s Programme for Government is this: “Our priority right now is to work with the sector to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for the tourism industry in Scotland and future consideration of the levy will take account of the changed context the industry is operating in.”

Bitterly opposed by the sector, it doesn’t sound like the Scottish Government is going to add to the tourism crisis any time soon.

SNP’s lack of faith in local government

Say the words “Integration Joint Board” to the vast majority and the reaction will be a quizzical frown. Only those in the know will recognise the cumbersome title for the attempt to bring together community health services and council social care, with which bureaucrats have been wrestling unsuccessfully for six years.

It makes sense to combine them, but with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing a review to “deliver a national approach to care and support services” and consider a National Care Service, it looks like the SNP has run out of patience.

“By accelerating the transition to a new model of community NHS care… we will ensure people get the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” she said.

IJBs are not working, but it looks like another illustration of the SNP’s lack of faith in local authorities and must also be an admission that a key SNP reform has failed.

No sigh of relief from Edinburgh

It’s the first time in over 70 years that Edinburgh hasn’t spent the first days of September breathing a sigh of relief. Brave attempts were made to keep the spirit of the Festival season alive through live streaming, with 1.5m worldwide views, but with the working lives of so many of us spent in the same place staring at a screen, I suspect I was not alone in finding the appeal of spending even more time sitting looking at fuzzy online videos somewhat limited.

The only upside of August 2020 in Edinburgh was missing that guilty feeling of not seeing more shows, or the disappointment that the brilliant show you’ve just got round to booking has been sold out for months.

For the sake of all that’s economically viable, let’s hope it’s back next year.

John McLellan is a Scottish Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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