Martin Hannan: Put Walker row on back burner

Susan Dalgety, inset, has spoken out against Bill Walker. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
Susan Dalgety, inset, has spoken out against Bill Walker. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
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The call by two prominent women for the SNP and the Labour Party to have all-woman shortlists for the Dunfermline by-election was very timely.

Susan Dalgety and Kate Higgins argued strongly that all-female shortlists would send out a strong signal against domestic violence.

I’ve known Susan a long time and her sincerity on this issue is undoubted. I don’t know Kate Higgins personally, but admire her pro-
independence blog, Burdz Eye View, and obviously share her opinions on the future of this country.

I do not normally support rigged shortlists, but this is one occasion when it is at least comprehensible, and Labour has already had an all-woman list for Dunfermline, to the detriment of former Edinburgh council leader Ewan Aitken, with Cara Hilton being selected.

Where I do part company with Dalgety and Higgins is that they said they wanted “a political system at Holyrood that resembles real life, not the back room of a rugby club”.

How stereotypical, how out of date. Are they not aware that most rugby clubs have transformed in recent years? The club with which I am associated, Lismore RFC, was the first in Scotland to admit women as full members and that was 20-odd years ago.

Rugby clubs are models of sense, decorum and good organisation compared with the back rooms of Holyrood, and I hope the two women will not repeat this calumny against the men and women of Scottish rugby.

As an SNP member, I must say that I was not shocked that Walker was found guilty of wife-beating. The evidence in court showed the true calibre of this lying, cheating, self-centred misogynist who deceived my party and the Scottish Parliament.

The thankfully unique circumstances of the Dunfermline by-election will make political party hypocrisy a real issue that will turn off the voters.

Labour and the Lib Dems have already taken the SNP to task over the fact that Bill Walker was allowed to become a candidate. That pains me, but if every party was to deselect people about whom there were rumours of misconduct, I dare say there would be a lot of jobless politicians around.

Labour can lecture nobody on candidate selection as long as Mike Watson, who went to prison for trying to set an Edinburgh hotel on fire, sits for the party in the House of Lords.

The Tories can say nothing when their corrupt selection procedures have given us such lords as Jeffrey Archer, John Taylor and Paul White (Baron Hanningfield) who have all done time for serious crimes.

As for the Lib Dems, Willie Rennie should stay silent as long as his party continues to hold on to the £2.4 million given to them by convicted fraudster Michael Brown – quite the most disgusting bung scandal of recent times, and that’s saying something.

While we are at it, will Rennie put his party first and resign his list seat that covers Dunfermline and stand in the by-election, as the SNP’s Mark McDonald did in Donside? There’s more chance of the Lib Dem leader walking across the waters of the Forth.

The Dunfermline by-election is too important for the heinous behaviour of one man to dominate the debate. Let the election be fought on all the issues, including equality, and not the disgrace that is Bill Walker.

Driving city on single-handedly

It is all very predictable, but once again we have the spectre of Edinburgh City Council hammering motorists with increased parking charges to pay for what is effectively its overspending.

Now we have the proposal to move to a cashless RingGo system that will eventually get rid of parking meters.

So not only will you have to pay more for your parking, you will also have to pay for the phone call from your mobile. That’s if you have a mobile.

Why doesn’t the council just come clean and say what it really wants, which is to ban cars from the city centre and make everyone who owns a car pay for the upkeep of the city in its entirety?

Bypass state is an emergency

The scene: the City Bypass on a weekday night. The paramedic’s nightmare scenario came true.

A breakdown meant a tailback of three miles. Somehow the ambulance with its blue flashing light made it through, but I can’t help wondering if the patient made it to the ERI alive. Full motorway status for the bypass is now a necessity.

Ming the merciful is a real wonder

Regular readers will know that I occasionally praise good service that I receive in the city. This week, I cannot praise highly enough Ming Chen Robertson, a genius of an acupuncturist and herbalist whose ministrations meant that, after years of crippling arthritis, I last week was able to walk painlessly up and down the stairs.

I was very sceptical that her Chinese medicine could do anything for me, but after two sessions I am now a complete convert. Better still, I can walk normally and even go out on my bike.

You will find her down in Leith’s Great Bernard Street. She really is a miracle worker.