Ferguson ferries scandal: Nicola Sturgeon, not CMAL, should be the target – Brian Wilson

The dogs in the street knew, seven years ago, that the SNP would move heaven, earth and pesky procurement rules to ensure the Ferguson yard secured the order for two CalMac ferries.

One of two ferries being built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, pictured in May (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
One of two ferries being built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, pictured in May (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

BBC Scotland’s Disclosure programme confirmed the depth of chicanery but no names were attached to charges of “rigging” the outcome and we can only speculate about who was pulling the tug-ropes. Not, I guess, CMAL.

Asking Police Scotland to investigate is a waste of time but the case for a public inquiry into the whole squalid affair is unanswerable. For the SNP, that means it is even more essential to avoid.

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney performed his usual Vicar of Bray act, perpetually shocked that anything amiss occurred throughout the Salmond and Sturgeon reigns. John will always Take One for the Cause. Pressure on CMAL from ministers or civil servants? Certainly not!

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The truth is that this scandal was dictated by a political imperative and a political timetable. Sturgeon went to the yard twice for reckless publicity stunts. First to make a meal of Ferguson becoming preferred bidder, thereby “seriously undermining” CMAL’s negotiating position; second, for a bogus launch, also against CMAL’s pleadings.

While it made good telly when reporter Mark Daly doorstepped the CMAL chief executive, Kevin Hobbs, it’s fair to point out he was not even employed by CMAL at the time of the alleged “rigging”.

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It would have been a lot more relevant for Mr Daly to stick his microphone under Ms Sturgeon’s nose.

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