Scottish Election 2021: Borders Railway is not the property of any party – Brian Wilson

I dipped into The Scotsman’s South of Scotland online hustings and happened to hear the SNP representative, one Paul Maclennan, declaim on how his party had delivered the Borders Railway while “the other parties condemned the investment” in the line.

A train bound for Edinburgh Waverley pulls into Newtongrange Station (Picture: Ian Rutherford)

This was sufficiently at odds with my recollection to merit checking out. I recalled that, as a minister, 20 years ago, I played a very minor part in progressing the scheme. Much more importantly, I distinctly recalled final approval having occurred under the Labour-Lib Dem administration.

Was my memory faulty or was Mr Maclennan relying on nobody caring enough to check it out? The latter proved to be the case. It is this incessant effort to claim credit for others’ work while blaming bad things on someone else that makes nationalism such a dishonest doctrine.

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The greatest credit for the resurrection of the Borders Railway lay with the campaigners who took on the extremely challenging task in the early 1990s of achieving what proved to be the longest new railway line in the UK for 100 years.

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Along the way, every party was supportive. Is Mr Maclennan really claiming that the Borders Lib Dems, for example, “condemned” the investment? In fact, the Bill committee published its final report in May 2006 and its recommendations were approved the following month by 114 votes to one – scarcely a single-party initiative.

There is ongoing pressure from the Campaign for Borders Rail to extend the line to Carlisle which seems an excellent idea. Politicians should be judged by how they respond in the present and future, but also by their false claims about the past.

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