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Second offence for First Minister

Iain Macwhirter argues that the kerfuffle in the Scottish Parliament over the true figures for college funding was "pretty trivial" (There's no conspiracy ...

just a cock-up by a knackered FM, Comment, November 18). I disagree. There has been considerable focus on college funding recently, and ministers in the Scottish Government must have been aware that the fact that funding is being cut would be highly controversial.

If Alex Salmond didn't know the numbers, then Education Secretary Mike Russell certainly should have, and Mr Russell sat beside the First Minister offering his support while his boss gave false figures to Parliament. Clearly, Mr Russell should consider his position.

The difficulty for Mr Salmond is that he has recent form in this sort of behaviour. Over a long period, he gave the impression that the Scottish Government had received legal advice that an independent Scotland would continue in membership of the EU under its current terms and conditions. Perhaps he didn't mean to give that impression, but it was clear to all and sundry that he had. In such circumstances, Mr Salmond was morally obliged to come clean and reveal the truth; to allow the misunderstanding to remain uncorrected was every bit as bad as telling a lie.

Doug Maughan


Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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