It’s been a forgetful time for Keith Brown, who may now wish he was a cuttlefish.
Brown is Scotland’s justice secretary, another of Nicola Sturgeon’s recycled ministers, brought back to the big table in May after being out of the picture since being told three years ago that his services as economy chief were no longer required. He was replaced by Derek Mackay; that went well.
Brown has been in the news because of his recent statement that the new £110 million jail for Inverness would not open until 2026, two years after the original date. He told The P&J it was all down to Brexit. It seems the Scottish Government’s mantra is: When there’s a problem, blame one of the Bs – Boris or Brexit.
Apparently Brexit brought a shortage of brickies, joiners, plasterers and plumbers (OK, he said labour) and materials. There is no shortage of prisoners, however. They keep piling up in the Highland capital’s Porterfield penitentiary. It has a capacity of 103 criminals but averages 111.
However, it appears the justice secretary was wrong and the prison will, indeed, open in 2024. Does he know his brief? Or was it a senior moment?
Our politicians need to be more like cuttlefish
Brown is not alone in misremembering important government promises. Didn’t health secretary Humza Yousaf pledge to produce a post-Covid recovery plan at a time when there has been a failure to hit targets for mental health care, cancer treatment and A&E performance?
If we can introduce Cambridge researchers to Scottish ministers, we might just solve their apparent amnesia issues
And should we raise the CalMac ferries scandal – £97m going on £200m, as agreed by the aforementioned Mackay – and the nationalised Ferguson Marine’s pay deal with Tim Hair? He’s the man recruited to “turn around” the company and has picked up £1.3m for 454 days work, underlining how good the Scottish Government is at chucking money at their many problems.
Or has Ms Sturgeon forgotten the many agreements she’s made? It wouldn’t happen if she and her senior team were cuttlefish.
Research by Cambridge University has shown that they can remember what, where and when specific events happened. We’re told they can recall what they ate, where and when and use this to influence their feeding decisions of the future.
The study unearthed that the fish, members of the squid and octopus family – decidedly ugly – do not lose this ability with age, a bit like football supporters knowing where the pie stall is at their local stadium.
Now, if we can introduce those Cambridge researchers to Scottish ministers, we might just solve their apparent amnesia issues.