Government minister, Maureen Watt, who is 66 years old, travelled to give a talk about taking exercise and how good it was for your health. The distance between her office and the venue was just under a mile. She took a taxi and charged it to ministerial expenses. The cost to us was £4,68.
There were those who cried “hypocrisy”. After all, taking a taxi to a venue where you are giving a talk about physical fitness for health… Well, it does leave you open to criticism, at least from the hard of thinking.
Of course, there is no reason why she couldn’t have walked, but in fairness, it might have taken her half an hour or so, dressed, as she was, to give a talk.
Half an hour of ministerial time is worth a very good deal more than £4,68 in financial terms. I know that if I were in that situation my boss would prefer me to be at my desk instead of out for a stroll.
It is fair to mention too, that Ms Watt suffers from Asthma which might have slowed her progress. An ex-boss of mine, younger than Ms Watt by 10 years, suffered from asthma and was unable to walk very far (certainly not 0,9 miles) without recourse to a puffer. Perhaps not the handiest of situations when you are going to give a talk.
STV have made much of it and of course, there is no show without the Tories, who under the leadership of the Colonel would have yomped the distance in no time, dressed in camouflage gear and waving their automatics.
So it was left to the Scottish Conservative ‘shadow’ health secretary, Miles Briggs to put in his two pennyworth of erm… common sense: “This is another classic example of SNP hypocrisy,” he opined righteously.
“Clearly this minister thinks she can dish out lectures on an active lifestyle yet she sees it fit not only to take a miniscule taxi journey but charge taxpayers for the privilege.
“It’s time for SNP ministers to practice what they preach.”
Good one, Miles. Sharp as a tack and on the button doing your job as Conservative spokesperson on Health.
Or it would have been, except for the fact that Ms Watt isn’t the only one to claim a tiny taxi fair from the great Scottish public, is she Miles:
As Munguin’s dear old Grandad would say… Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t cook in the nude.
Common sense, did old Miles say?
(Thanks to Dan Paris for the last illustration.)