Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Scottish joke

An absolutely hilarious observation from the Justified Spinner here...
Consider the situation Crawford Beveridge now finds himself in.

Having headed up Scottish Enterprise for 9 years, quite successfully, he then made the Great Error which disqualifies him from holding any public position again.

He donated £10,000 to the SNP.

In political terms, this is a minor sum.

Beveridge has a track record of success.

Oh really?

As regular readers of The Kitchen will know, your humble Devil lived in Edinburgh for just over a decade and so, for those who are unfamiliar with the thrilling Scottish set-up, I shall explain: Scottish Enterprise are the QUANGO responsible for dishing out grants to Scottish businesses. Part of their remit is giving advice and training on how Scottish entrepreneurs should run their businesses—and needless to say that any grants and loans depend on those businesses ticking the correct Scottish Enterprise boxes.

OK, well, that's pretty much what one would expect, eh?

What one wouldn't necessarily expect is that the QUANGO responsible for telling businessmen how to succeed should find itself effectively bankrupt—and needing to be bailed out by the taxpayer—at the end of the 2005/06 financial year. [Alas, The Scotsman has reorganised its site since I first blogged the article, and so I have to link to my original post.]
THE Scottish Executive is set to agree a multi-million-pound rescue package for Scotland's troubled economic development agency.

Nicol Stephen, the enterprise minister, yesterday revealed that ministers were looking at a complicated accounting device to wipe out overspending at Scottish Enterprise.

He told Holyrood's enterprise committee that the agency had spent £25 million from last year's budget on economic development projects, but the money should have been set aside to cover "other costs" such as depreciation and property expenses.

David [at Freedom & Whisky] explains why this is a load of old rubbish, by amplifying what depreciation actually is (because obviously the Scottish Executive haven't got a fucking Scooby.
That £50 million total over the two years , combined with an overspend on its budget of £9 million for last year, has left the agency with a total funding gap of about £60 million and jeopardised some projects it supports.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the public-sector agency which is supposed, essentially, to help people to run, develop and keep their businesses going is, in essence, bust. Now that, Alanis, is irony. But how did it get to this parlous state?
The overspend was set to be repeated this year by Scottish Enterprise chiefs, who claimed they needed to use the cash to cover the cost of projects, even if that left them with an accounting shortfall.

Right, so basically SE said, "look, we don't have any money, but we'll just keep spending it anyway."

What the fuck? What kind of example does that set for businesses? "Yeah, go ahead, spend money. Nah, don't worry if you haven't got it, something'll turn up."

In SE's case, what turned up was the sodding taxpayer, as per fucking usual. Unfortunately, most businesses aren't nearly so fortunate.

Now, to be fair to Scottish Enterprise, they didn't overspend by quite so much (or at least as far as I know) because, by September 2006, they were only looking at a £6 million overspend.

Now, I may have slightly different standards to some, but I wouldn't describe that as "a track record of success", nor would I describe it Crawford Beveridge as having run it "quite successfully".

I may be being pretty sodding harsh here, but I tend to think that anyone running an agency which aims to tell businessmen how to succeed and which then goes effectively bust should be touted as a prime example of a total fucking failure, not a success in any way whatsoever.


Anonymous said...

Scottish Enterprise once paid me an ungodly sum of money (well, four figures - it was ungodly for a poor postgraduate student, as I was at the time) to provide a written explanation of a raft of sixteenth century documents relating to freehold rights on a certain Scottish river.

As I deposited the cheque, clearing my overdraft in the process, I was struck by a feeling that there might have been a better use of taxpayers' money than this and that no organisation that was so liberal in dispensing its cash for such silly ends was going to stay in business long. On the other hand, better the money's in my pocket than in theirs.

MaxG said...

As far as I can recall, Scottish Enterprise is an organisation whose sole purpose is to act as a conduit channelling public money into consultants' bank accounts.

Anonymous said...

"I may be being pretty sodding harsh here, but I tend to think that anyone running an agency which aims to tell businessmen how to succeed and which then goes effectively bust should be touted as a prime example of a total fucking failure, not a success in any way whatsoever."

Isn't this the same as fat nurses though who tell you to loose weight? Their advice is still right even if they don't follow it themselves

Anonymous said...

Perhaps 'quite successfully' here is not losing quite as much money as thought likely.

Andy said...

Oh, DK, DK.

You say that SE was bailed out in 2006. Correct.
A pity, for your argument, that Beveridge stopped being chair of SE in 2000.
So, that's a 5 year gap, and it negates your association of Beveridge with the 2006 bail out.

Quoting from Business Week, for your education -
"He served as the Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Enterprise from January 1991 until March 2000".

Now, i agree about the shambles that was SE's finances recently, but did this have anything to do with Beveridge?

The gist of my piece was that Beveridge shouldn't be barred from such posts just because he has the temerity to support the Nats.

Pity you decided to quote both selectively, and in error, about this.

Indy said...

The whole story is hilarious, a perfect example of chinese whispers.

You can see how it happened.

Someone tells someone else:

'I've heard that Crawford guy is up for the SE job, whatsis name again, I can't remember'

'Crawford Beveridge?'

'Yes that sounds like it...'

'OMG he donated 10 grand to the SNP I'm getting onto the Sundays at once'

.... Or it might have been Crawford Gillies. Yes I think that was it. Hallo?......hallo? You still there?'

Andy said...

Have to say I had a rueful grin to myself when I heard it was Gillies.
This is what comes of taking the Scotland on Sunday in particular, at face value.
Bizarrely enough, I think i used to live round the corner from him.
If it's the same guy, he's a thoroughly nice bloke, and I wish him all the best.

It certainly shows what a hair trigger that the more, shall we say, volatile, unionists are on, that the coincidence of a christian name should cause such a reaction.

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