Not another one! Nats’ march brings more disruption to city

IT was probably inevitable that a major population centre like Inverness wouldn’t be spared inclusion in the new round of “emergency” marches by nationalists. Another flag-waving demo will take place through the city centre on January 25. What the organisers expect it to achieve is completely unclear. However, the more often these things are held the more shoppers and others using the city centre are likely to say: “Not another one!”

 The time when these disruptive events were viewed benevolently by most people is gone.

 The latest outbreak of noise and traffic hold-ups is publicised in material which does the organisers no credit. That’s because it contains a dominant assertion that’s a flat-out lie.

 Organisers claim in big, bold letters: “We don’t need permission to choose Scotland’s future.”

 Sorry folks but you most certainly and emphatically do. Just ask Nicola Sturgeon.

Whatever the response from Westminster – and we know what it’ll be – she has requested a Section 30 order from the Government for permission to hold a second independence referendum.

 And she has ruled out doing it any other way.

 So you do need Westminster’s permission “to choose Scotland’s future”.

What’s the point in stating otherwise? What’s the point in lying about it?

 This feeds into the sense that the people behind these marches – and a significant number of those taking part – are deluding themselves.

 They seem to think the more they march and the louder they shout the more likely it is that reality will disappear and that events will magically be transformed into how they’d like them to be.

 Well, it’s not going to happen – not if they march every weekend from now till next Christmas.

 Westminster has the final say on another referendum to decide Scotland’s future – and that’s not going to change.

 There comes a point where disrupting the lives of people going about their business on busy city centre weekends becomes self-defeating, even though I suspect there will be plenty more of these raucous demos in Inverness and elsewhere in the weeks and months ahead.

 The more regular they become the more likely it is that those who are swithering on independence – the “undecideds” – will resent the disruption caused by a bunch of very noisy people and conclude they’re becoming a straightforward pain in the neck.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Failure, should be gone

FERGUS Ewing conveys an image of quiet, unassuming integrity as he goes about his governmental tasks.

 So if he lived up to the image he’d have quit by now.

As Rural Economy Secretary he said if the pledge of superfast broadband for all Scots – particularly problematic in the Highlands – wasn’t delivered by 2021 he’d resign.

 It won’t be – another missed target.

 But Fergus Ewing won’t be going anywhere. He’s since been given “another portfolio” which apparently frees him of any responsibility for the broadband foul-up. And means he can shrug off his “I’ll resign” promise as a mere glitch in the fibre-optic landscape.

 There’s not much integrity there. Not much fibre either.

 Ewing is routinely re-elected because of the “we’d vote for an SNP monkey on a bar stool” stance adopted by his supporters.

 Other than gaining office through this matter-of-fact process, it’s difficult to see what he’s done. He certainly doesn’t win followers through his imagination, flair and verve. Whatever else his mother, the redoubtable Winnie, passed on to him, it certainly wasn’t charisma.

 Is he just dull in style – or is he a grey bureaucrat with barely an original thought in his head?

 He does, however, know how to follow a script.

 Here’s what he had to say about the proposed upgrade of Inverness railway station, which was first hyped up fully five years ago. “The project will deliver on one of ScotRail’s commitments. Inverness Station has already benefitted from £2 million of funding from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Stations Fund which is delivering targeted investment in our existing and new railway stations, thereby improving access to the railway network for people and communities across the country.”

 That was in 2017. As far as I’m aware, the train arriving at platform 1 tonight will be heading into virtually the same railway station as we had then. Not a paving stone has been changed, far less the wondrous new railway marvel we were promised.

 Now the Scottish Government has decided to end Abellio’s contract early in 2022. Is there any incentive anymore for them to have any role in creating a gleaming new-look station at Inverness?

 Will the much vaunted railway station transformation, in fact, ever take place? Maybe, or maybe not. But don’t ask Fergus Ewing for a timetable of developments. Don’t ask him to set a target, either.

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