If SNP Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson did nothing wrong over promotion of his new book about Vienna, why did he withdraw from taxpayer-funded literary festival? – Murdo Fraser MSP
The SNP’s minister for the reserved policy area of the constitution has had enough time on his hands to promote a book he has written on the capital of Austria.
He accepted an invitation with top billing from a book festival funded with £30,000 of taxpayers’ cash from government-funded Creative Scotland, which is accountable to the department he allegedly runs.
Compared to how others within his party behave, some may think there is little wrong with this, but clearly Mr Robertson would disagree with them. As soon as there was a whiff that the event might get publicity about the use of public money to boost the boss’s moonlighting, the publicity-seeking minister withdrew from the festival.
One of his own colleagues has suggested that he has broken the MSPs code. There are now more questions to answer about his behaviour here.
Even if there have been no rules broken, you must at least question the competence of a minister who could not see that this course of action would be viewed as improper. It makes you wonder if any other ministers have used public cash to benefit their private interests but went through with it when not threatened with the fact becoming public.
No explanation has been forthcoming from Mr Robertson, let alone an apology.
Doubtless if challenged in Parliament, he will employ full faux outrage of the “I will take no lessons” variety, but we really are entitled to better from those in the Scottish Cabinet.
You sense that in the next few days he will be hopeful that COP26 will turn out to be a good event to bury bad news, and that media attention will be drawn elsewhere.
But perhaps for free, at no cost to the taxpayer, he will elbow his way to a prominent place in the news schedules to publicly apologise for what at best was an error of judgement. And a costly one for a book that, whatever its merits, hasn’t done its author any favours so far.
Murdo Fraser is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife
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