Not so much wild in the coun­try as ut­terly livid

Scottish Daily Mail - - News -

TO my shame, I know lit­tle of the work of the Scot­tish Ru­ral Par­lia­ment but it is to Holy­rood’s shame that such a thing even ex­ists. It is a fo­rum to dis­cuss mat­ters rus­tic, rather than an ac­tual par­lia­ment, and it con­venes in Stran­raer, Wig­town­shire, next week.

My old home town is the ideal venue, a mi­cro­cosm of the blight plagu­ing ru­ral fringes while the ur­ban-ob­sessed SNP bur­nishes its city-cen­tric agenda.

The South-West has been all but cut off as train ser­vices from Ayr were crip­pled by a ho­tel hard by the sta­tion de­scend­ing to a state of near col­lapse.

Mean­while, the key A75 and A77 roads – both usu­ally have ‘killer’ ap­pended – are sub­ject to re­peated clo­sures and tor­tu­ous di­ver­sions of the sort the good peo­ple of the Kin­tyre penin­sula know all too well as Rest and Be Thank­ful crum­bles.

In­ci­den­tally, th­ese two roads – re­ally a se­ries of in­ter­con­nected ac­ci­dent blackspots – are what would ser­vice the pie-in-the-sky Celtic Bridge be­tween Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land.

No sur­prise that pro­po­nents of a bridge – a boon for Chi­nese steel and ord­nancedis­posal ex­perts who would have to defuse a mil­lion tons of war-sur­plus ex­plo­sives dumped in the North Chan­nel – in­clude crooner Pat Kane.

The sep­a­ratist cheer­leader’s ex­pe­ri­ence of trans­port in­fra­struc­ture ap­pears to ex­tend to set­ting his 1989 sin­gle Look­ing for Linda aboard a slow train to Pais­ley.

Mean­while, MSPs pop­ping wee foldy bi­cy­cles into a taxi (Take the long route, cab­bie – Joe Pub­lic is pay­ing!) from Waver­ley Sta­tion to Holy­rood are in­sist­ing we use pub­lic trans­port. Do they not grasp that out­with the M8 cor­ri­dor, over which they fret ob­ses­sively, a car is not a frip­pery but an es­sen­tial?

And how jaw-drop­ping that Na­tion­al­ist Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Bade­noch, is miffed at how big High­land con­stituen­cies are.

Yes, it must be tough hold­ing surg­eries and cut­ting back and forth to Ed­in­burgh, Kate, but spare a thought for those who must tra­verse ru­ral swathes at per­sonal ex­pense and not that of the tax­payer.

While the Ru­ral Par­lia­ment will dis­cuss (as Holy­rood ought to be do­ing) the mis­ery that is de­pop­u­la­tion caused by lack of jobs and in­vest­ment as well as the crip­pling lack of broad­band, there are omi­nous signs.

Key­note speak­ers in­clude Mike Rus­sell, the dud for­mer ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary axed but brought back to the non-job of Brexit Min­is­ter, and Mairi Gougeon.

Min­is­ter for Ru­ral Af­fairs Miss Gougeon ought to be the busiest woman in Scot­land but she makes Trans­port Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son, In­vis­i­ble Man of the Cab­i­net, look high-pro­file.

Both are speak­ing about Brexit, as though ev­ery­thing in the ru­ral gar­den is cur­rently rosy and all coun­try sorts have to fear is the ‘Tory Brexit’ cloud on the hori­zon.

What ut­ter tripe. Ru­ral Scot­land is scream­ing for im­me­di­ate help from in­dif­fer­ent politi­cians who can’t even grasp half the is­sues.

The First Min­is­ter will be a no-show on the shores of pic­turesque Loch Ryan.

Her dainty size threes are more likely to be found in carmine stilet­tos as she but­ters up arts luvvies with vague promises of a film stu­dio than in wellies while she wres­tles with the knotty prob­lems of the ru­ral Scot­land of which she knows so very lit­tle.

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