Last week the false indignation from the various political parties about Alex Salmond's association with News International was entertaining. Johann Lamont in Newsnight Scotland gave a excruciating performance when attempting to defile the First Minister's association with Rupert Murdoch and Willie Rennie was no better.
All credit to the SNP for making public the list of all the First Minister's meetings with members of News International along with copies of correspondence with Rupert Murdoch. I could see nothing in the letters denoting impropriety, on the contrary, the FM shows his determination to talk up and for Scotland. The prompt publications rather took the opposition parties by surprise and left them floundering around in a desperate attempt to score a hit on Alex Salmond. Their plans backfired.
The accusation that the First Minister was involved in the nomination of the Stagecoach owner Brian Souter - the SNP's biggest financial backer - is more serious. Mr Souter was given his award for services to transport and the voluntary sector in June following a request from the Edinburgh administration the UK Cabinet Office stated.
The Labour MP, Cathy Jamieson, investigated the nomination through UK government channels and the response she received last week stated the nomination 'came from the Scottish Government'. A spokesman for the First Minister said the SNP ministers had nothing to do with the nomination, saying the process had been handled by non-political officials. A spokesman stated:
"When nominations are received by the Scottish Government, the honours group in our civil service supports the permanent secretary in putting forward nominations to the UK Cabinet Office Honours Committee.
"Under this system, honours announced in June would have been submitted six months in advance.
"Ministers make no nominations, and are only told of honours shortly before they are announced, so they can welcome those being recognised."
The UK peerage system is distasteful in its present form. Currently the Scottish government has an Independent Honours Committee which consists of civil servants led by the permanent secretary and it makes recommendations to the UK Cabinet Office Honours Committee. Is it necessary to have such a committee in Holyrood? Why do nominations need to pass through Holyrood?
If Scotland wants to honour citizens who have acted for the good of their fellow man then let us have our own system for acknowledging their contributions. The prize, instead of a seat in the House of Lords, could be the freedom of their town/city. Any other suggestions will be welcomed.