by Colin Campbell
AS a nationalist rabble gathered at the border on Saturday to try and deter people from England from travelling here – echoing to the full SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s “f*** off message last month to the English – Drew Hendry gave his take on the situation.
The Inverness MP stated: “We want to encourage visitors back to the Highlands and get our tourism industry working again at the highest level, but it’s vital that when we are open we can stay open, to avoid longer term harm. This hasn’t been a 4 nation approach, it’s been a chaotic approach from UKgov.”
People could argue from now until a week next Wednesday on whether the “UKgov” approach has been chaotic or not. But that, right now, is not the main issue.
A week next Wednesday is when hotels and guest houses in Inverness are scheduled to reopen. Does Drew Hendry believe people should travel here then to stay in them as guests or doesn’t he?
It’s impossible to determine what he actually believes.
He wants “to encourage visitors back to the Highlands and get our tourism industry working again”.
With the resounding caveat that “it’s vital that when we are open we can stay open, to avoid longer term harm”.
These two statements obviously don’t match up.
The priority is either trying to attract people here from July 15 onwards to try and partly revive our currently lifeless tourist industry.
Or it’s “avoiding longer term harm”, in which case lockdown would continue indefinitely and no one would travel further than their garden gate.
Drew Hendry wants to have it both ways.
At least he’s not explicitly echoing Blackford’s **** off message to English people.
He’s saying: “We want to encourage you to come here…but then again we don’t.”
How’s that for an alluring VisitScotland slogan?
Yet again we’re reminded that politicos like Hendry can afford to play around with words because ultimately consequences don’t matter to them, not in any financial sense.
In addition to his MP’s salary in 2018/19 he claimed £195,000 in expenses, a vast amount of money extracted from the Westminster system he claims he wants to see destroyed.
So Drew Hendry isn’t going to end up on any breadline as he gets back to entertaining visitors in the Mother of Parliaments, his lavish and beloved Westminster “home”. The place he is desperate to claw his way back to at each and every general election.
But the jobs of thousands of hospitality industry workers depend on a large influx of visitors from south the border. Does Hendry want to see these jobs saved or doesn’t he? Is he failing to clearly spell out his position for fear of offending the significant number of English-haters in the nationalist movement?
He’s raking in a vast amount of money as the MP for Inverness, and he’s being paid to serve all of his constituents, including business owners and hospitality workers who will lose their jobs if people from England don’t travel here.
And all we get for our money on a crucial issue is a muddled mixed message which smacks of deliberate evasion.