Mike Rumbles - Farms Crisis Meeting

Tonight the Scottish NFU are meeting Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, in an attempt to break the logjam over the crisis in the farming industry. This is ahead of a rally on Thursday at the Scottish Parliament.

This crisis has been precipitated by the Scottish Government's failure to deliver £300million to our farmers out of the £400million allocated by the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy and with 50% of farmers having so far received absolutely nothing.  The NFU said: "this mess is of the Scottish Government's own making because of its £178million investment in a flawed IT delivery system that is not fit for purpose."

It is clear that Richard Lochhead, the responsible cabinet Minister, has completely failed in his duty to deliver these much needed payments to our farmers.  His inaction has meant that the IT system he is supposed to oversee is flawed and taxpayers money has been paid to IT consultants who have quite simply failed to deliver anything of value for the £178million of investment.  Only now does it seem that Richard Lochhead has woken up to the crisis facing the industry and has by-passed his own IT system to make some payments directly to our vulnerable hill farmers, now the Scottish NFU is saying he needs to do the same for other farmers.

This is a scandal of huge proportions and in any other sphere of life the person responsible for this cash flow crisis for our farmers and the waste of £178 million of public money would not last in post for long.  I suspect that Nicola Sturgeon will wait until the May elections are over and then drop Richard Lochhead from the Cabinet.

Politics is a strange beast.  Our First Minister cannot accept being held responsible for this incompetence and if she dismissed Richard Lochhead ahead of the elections, then the people of Scotland might cotton on to the fact that this SNP administration is not as competent as its 'spin' masters suggest.

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