I was fortunate to get a ticket for BBC Scotland’s Big Debate. It was really interesting especially as BBC Scotland managed to get a Scottish Tory on the panel. As another audience member wryly put it, they are rarer than pandas in these parts. Especially now Annabel has got herself a cosy wee seat in the house of Lords… The questions were interesting about Iraq, Should Campbell Gunn be sacked and one on foodbanks. The politicians managed to waffle their way about how terrible they are etc. Mr Johnstone’s contribution was interesting though. He used Ian Duncan Smith’s arguments that no cuts were being made and then showed his true colours. He lived in Stonehaven he said where there was plenty of work, It had taken him two hours and twenty minutes to drive from Stonehaven to Paisley. I think he was going for the traditional Norman Tebbit approach,. Get on your bike and find work. Out of curiosity I decided to find out how much it would cost to travel by rail for a return from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Stonehaven and found out it would set you back £35. For a Monday to Friday commute that would cost £175. I know there would be a season ticket available but how much would you have to earn to afford to work? It actually reminded me of a documentary I watched about low paid workers in America who were bussed over 100 miles a day to their jobs as wage slaves and their commute meant they didn’t see their families.
Of course Alex Johnstone doesn’t have to worry about this. As a member of the Scottish parliament he is entitled to expenses and a second home to prevent a long commute. In 2012 the Glasgow Herald reported that he had received £60,000 for the now discredited Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance. As the old saying goes, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I accept that those who represent us should receive travelling expenses but please do not compare your employment to that of workers who may not have a car and would struggle to make a 140 mile commute each day for low wages. Would he welcome the bussing of the poor to service the needs of the better off and big business? For me another Scotland is possible with people working but having quality of time with their families and friends. Where jobs exist where people want to live and can afford too. Let’s make it so. Indy Ref!!