It’s hard to credit the amount of time and effort, social media space and press attention that Humza Yousaf has got following the breakdown of a train a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve lost count of the number of times his resignation has been demanded despite the fact that rail in Scotland, or at least that part of it that Scotland controls, is doing rather well by comparison with the chaos that abounds in some parts of England.
You’ll no doubt remember the classy comments made by one of the sillier Tories.
Needless to say, Jackson Carlaw, as deputy tank commander, had to get his dig in too. The Scottish people wanted a transport minister who used trains, he claimed (although to the best of my knowledge transport also includes road, cars, buses, bikes and planes… so why demand he use trains?)
The minister doesn’t use trains or it would show in his MSP expenses. The public would be furious that the transport minister had never set foot upon a train, he claimed proudly, as if he’d dealt the man a body blow.
Needless to say, as it was Jackson Carlaw, it was rubbish.
Humza is a minister and his travel costs from Glasgow to Edinburgh have by law to be attributed to ministerial expenses, and not constituency MSP expenses.
Between May and November the minister took 34 train trips, 28 between Glasgow and Edinburgh stations.
Mr Carlaw only took five trips between the cities. So Humza used the train a good deal more than Mr Carlaw. To add insult to injury, Mr Carlaw’s claims for mileage in his car came to £878, including 21 trips between his home and parliament. This is rather more expensive than taking the train. (A return fare costs £27,20 and the mileage cost is £46,80.) Still, Mr Carlaw is an important and busy man! Why would he take the train?
It is becoming clearer to me by the day why Mr Carlaw’s business career was less that hugely successful. Clearly he doesn’t do his research before he opens his mouth, he isn’t terribly economical with his expenses, and he can’t count.
Just after I uploaded this, I discovered these tweet which explains where Mr C gets his sharp wit.
Make what you will of them….