Jim O’Neill says that very serious allegations that have come to light, about Police Scotland helping a police force with a history of torture, need urgently to be addressed.
A very interesting letter in Private Eye, from “Larry” of Inverness, tells us that, while he was training as a policeman at Tulliallan, he noticed a group of senior Sri Lankan police present. When he asked why we were training a police force with a history of torture, he was told by his instructor to “shut the f*** up” and it was not his business.
In its most recent report, covering 2015 and 2016, Amnesty International accuse the Sri Lankan police force of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and other ill-treatment, deaths in custody and other crimes and human rights violations. If Larry’s report is true, why are we supporting this evil regime?
The question must be asked whether this is an initiative of the Chief Constable alone. If so, he should be hauled before the Justice Committee to justify his action. And if he has done this without the OK of the Justice Secretary, Mr Mathieson should be carpeting him about undermining the principled position of the Scottish Government on not giving succour to rogue regimes. After all, the First Minister has often, and rightly, criticised the UK Government for helping some very dodgy regimes, particularly in the Middle East.
However, if the visit was sanctioned by the Justice Minister and the Scottish Government, Mr Mathieson should himself be hauled before Parliament to explain how this is any different from the Metropolitan Police sending officers to Bahrain to train their police. In that case, he should also be considering his position. This would undermine the Scottish Government’s holier-than-thou human rights stance. They would no longer be able to criticise Mrs May’s appalling cosying up to extremely dodgy leaders like Erdogan of Turkey.
This is a very serious accusation. We must be told the truth!
Meanwhile, at Westminster, Lord Alf Dubs managed to steer through a piece of legislation requiring the UK Government to take in unaccompanied child refugees from across Europe. Alf is a particular expert in this area having come to Britain on the Kindertransport which rescued many refugee children from the ruins of Hitler’s Germany. Campaigners fully expected that some 3000 children would come to the UK through this route. However, the Government have just shut down the scheme, for no discernible reason, when they have brought only 350 children into the country.
This seems to be a deliberate attempt to defeat the purposes of the Dubs amendment and is typical of the reluctance of May’s Government to fulfil their duties under the 1951 Convention. Indeed, there are still many children with a legal right to come to Britain to join families here who are still stuck in France by British immigration paperwork. It all goes to show how much Tories are Little Britons at heart (if indeed they have a heart at all).
Finally, back at Holyrood, the continued failure of the SNP Government to improve education rears its ugly head again. The well-respected education charity, the Sutton Trust, has released a report that shows that the system is not only failing poorer children, but that high performers are also underperforming. This is particularly shown in the key STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths} subjects which will be essential to our nation’s future. It is absolutely no good for Nicola to wring her hands at FMQs and say “we must do better”. They have had ten years of failed initiatives by successive Education Ministers from Mike Russell to John Swinney to “do better”. It is also not an acceptable excuse to say that the report is based on the statistics in the recent PISA report, as if that undermined the value of the Sutton Report. And it is an insult for her to demand that we must all get behind her latest wheeze, the Attainment Fund. Why should we believe that will do any better than all the rest?
It is time for Scotland to wake up, take the independence blinders off their eyes, and recognise that this government have failed us in education, health, housing and so many other ways. Come on, Nicola, Scotland deserves better.