by Colin Campbell
ONE of the less endearing traits of the serial liars and political fraudsters who inhabit the SNP is their determination to slant the truth on any issue in whatever way they choose, to fit in with their obsessive “indy” agenda.
Most politicians take some latitude of this kind, but the SNP could give them a masterclass in it.
The most obvious current example is their unrelenting portrayal of Brexit as being damaging and negative in every conceivable way.
Staff shortages (true), fuel shortages (false in this region), and food shortages (also totally false) is all Highland MPs Drew Hendry and Ian Blackford, and former trainee accountant Kate Forbes MSP, now Scottish Finance Secretary, want to talk about.
What they will never admit is that Brexit has brought advantages as well.
Yes, there are staff shortages in various sectors of employment in Inverness. That is causing problems for some firms and employers.
But it also means that virtually everyone in the city who wants to work and get a job can do so.
Is that or is it not a good thing? Who but the most incorrigible malingerer would fail to concede that it is?
But you’ll never hear the likes of Hendry or Blackford, raking in vast amounts of cash in salaries and expenses from “hated” Westminster, admit or even acknowledge the fact.
Three years ago after leaving the papers after a long career I discovered I was eligible for six months of Jobseekers Allowance. The money was there so I thought, why not take it.
This involved going to the Inverness Jobcentre for a cursory few words with a member of staff, handing over a list of jobs I’d applied for, as was required, signing a form and leaving. It usually took about 10 minutes.
However, initially I approached it with more serious intent and genuinely inquired about the chances of getting a job. The reaction from staff there was, despite their best efforts at being encouraging, actually not very encouraging at all. Although the words were never said, if I was to sum it up, it would be: “Getting a job at 62? Let’s be realistic. The chances are somewhere between minute and non-existent.”
Of the 40 or so applications I sent to a wide range of firms looking for staff I got precisely one reply, from a High Street shoe shop.
The application was an easy click standard CV and wasn’t tailored to the requirements of each individual firm, so it was probably a fairly half-hearted effort. But it was an application nevertheless.
These were the pre-Brexit days when the jobs market was flooded with young eastern Europeans, a golden era for employers when they had virtually unlimited numbers of workers to choose from. I rationalised the situation myself. If I was an employer and faced the choice between a bright young thing from Poland or Romania speaking perfect English and a crusty old Invernessian visually well past his sell-by date, who would I choose?
Well Brexit has completely changed that now. I know for a fact that some hotels in Inverness are actually phoning up people who used to work for them and asking if they’ll come back. I went into Halfords last week and at the entrance there was a giant placard saying: “We’re Hiring!” Similar signs and invitations are displayed at other businesses in Inverness.
Never mind, as was the case three years ago, of being “too old of 62”. If you’re on a zimmer frame you could probably get a job sitting down doing something at the moment.
As it happened, at 62 I didn’t actually need a job. But imagine if you were laid off at 50 or 55 and found you were at the back of an endless queue for employment behind young foreign migrants?
Many eastern Europeans have left, and every local person who wants a job, even if it doesn’t exactly fit their “work life balance” should without very much difficulty be able to get one.
That is a huge advance for local people of all ages from the way things were only a very short time ago, as I can readily testify.
Don’t Hendry and Blackford and their SNP cronies care about the real life benefits that is bringing to many local people? Why do they in fact want to reverse that and under SNP policy bring in another flood of EU migrants who would make competition for jobs as intensely difficult as ever, with many local people losing out? And return to a situation where employers can treat and pay staff as well or as badly as they like, knowing there is an endless supply of cheap foreign labour to call on at their whim.
Or are these Westminster freeloaders with their lavish lifestyles simply unaware of what happens in the lives of ordinary people?
I suspect the true answer is that acknowledging any benefits arising from Brexit simply doesn’t fit in with the SNP agenda which involves endlessly whining about the supposed horrors of it, in the belief that this will increase support for independence.
And that is their priority far and above acknowledging, far less welcoming, a dramatic and hugely beneficial change in circumstances which has opened the door to work for people in Inverness who genuinely want to work.