Martin Hannan: A Yes rids us of rogues forever

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If the forthcoming referendum has done anything, it has forced us to look at the Union and its institutions in a fresh light.

Chief among those institutions is the Westminster parliament itself, which is coming under scrutiny as never before, and what we see is ­sickening.

As an SNP member and Yes campaigner, it has been an illuminating experience to take a long look at our rulers. Though I have always been cynical about politicians, I never thought I would see the day when the Mother of Parliaments would become a cesspit of immorality, populated by self-serving fraudsters and incompetent fools.

Despite all the warnings that ­followed expensesgate, despite the knowledge that their every move is monitored, our parliamentarians have carried on in the same old, same old way – remember that phrase.

You have the debasement of members of both Houses by lobbyists and party benefactors. There are now too many instances to mention in this limited space of MPs and peers ­selling their soul for a quick buck, or the promise of a cosy directorship.

They are still at it over expenses. The case of Maria Miller is just one example of how our MPs and Lords just don’t get the public’s anger at their refusal to pay for things out of their own pockets.

Miller is a total ­disgrace, not least because of the way that threats were issued to the press and independent Parliamentary Standards Commissioner – perhaps not by her directly, but on her behalf – over the investigation into her allowances for her second home.

Her ‘apology’ was grudging and beneath contempt. And for her fellow MPs on the Commons ‘standards’ committee – make that the Commons exoneration committee – to order her to repay just £5800 instead of the £45,000 sought by the commissioner is proof positive that MPs of all parties connive and conspire in parliament’s grab-all culture.

Then we have the case of Vince Cable. The former Glasgow Labour councillor clearly learned a lot of ­lessons from the disgustingly arrogant crew who ruled that city like a Stalinist fiefdom back in the 70s.

Deny, bluster, never apologise – that was their credo, and almost 40 years on, Cable hasn’t forgotten the tactics. I have no doubt that Cable is a decent man, and he has been refreshing in his way, but on the cheapo Royal Mail sale he is so far, far out of order as to call his entire judgement into ­question.

Hoodwinked by financial institutions, that he was party to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with them is utterly beyond belief. These are no gentlemen – these are rapacious capitalists whose very existence is predicated on screwing as much money out of other people as they can. If Cable did not know that, then he is an inadequate idiot and should resign forthwith, as should Maria Miller.

I am not saying Holyrood is perfect, far from it, but the Scottish Parliament has been a beacon of sea-green incorruptibility compared with Westminster.

Now we have our chance to break with London’s ­Corruption Club once and for all. Vote Yes on September 18, or be landed with the same old, same old, ruling class of thieves and fools, in a parliament that has lost all dignity, all ­propriety, and any right to call itself the upholder of democracy.

Margo was the best president we never had

I FIRST met Margo MacDonald at a trade union meeting 30 years ago, and our paths crossed on numerous occasions thereafter, always with a smile and a laugh.

Among politicians, only John Smith’s tragic early demise made me as sad as I felt when I learned that she had passed away. Like him, she will not now see the full fruits of her efforts.

My fellow Evening News columnist has deserved every one of the tributes paid to her since her death, and I would like to add mine.

It’s short and simple: Margo was the best president Scotland never had.

Council sorry is just not enough

The death of Keane Wallis-Bennet has devastated the community around Liberton High School where I used to live. Make no mistake, the anger locally is massive.

Though I suspect there may be more to this tragedy than we have been told, the city council is clearly at fault. A lot more than an apology should be forthcoming.

Blowing up flats in need of Plan B

Blowing up Glasgow’s Red Road flats to open the Commonwealth Games wasn’t all that bad an idea, but the city council’s failure to talk to local people first – now there’s a surprise – means the whole thing has become a PR disaster.

If they go ahead with the demolition, can I warn Glasgow to have a Plan B in place – a plan to deal with the ­possibility that the flats won’t topple after the bang.

For back in 1991, that’s exactly what happened in Niddrie when Tweedsmuir and Teviotbank housing blocks defied the explosives and wouldn’t crumble. Cue a near riot by local people barred from their homes for hours, quelled only by a quick order for 500 burgers. I know, because I was there.

Right on track

In recent days I have been delighted to witness the trams being tested. Whisper it, but they look and sound terrific. Let’s get them working ASAP.