HOW TO END THE MADNESS

A guest post from Professor Alf Baird.

WHY SCOTLAND’S FERRY SYSTEM IS FAILING AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO FIX IT

It might come as a shock to learn that one of the world’s most successful ferry designers happens to be a Scotsman, yet his repeated offers to build and invest in ferries in Scotland have been rejected by the Scottish Government and its hapless ferry agencies CMAL and CalMac. Dr. Stuart Ballantyne, chairman of Australian-based Sea Transport Corp, is also the inventor of the now standard global ferry type known as the ‘medium-speed ropax catamaran’; ‘ropax’ is the industry term for a drive on/off vehicle and passenger ferry.

I had the immense privilege of working with Stuart and his team on numerous ferry projects and studies over the past thirty years. As a maritime economist, my job was to study the feasibility of ferries and other ship types on different shipping routes worldwide, for public and private sector clients and research funding agencies including the European Commission and Nippon Foundation. Being an academic I also developed and published theoretical frameworks to assist with ferry design and operational analyses and assessments. 

Stuart Ballantyne, Chair of Sea Transport Corporation

Over this period I was lucky enough to work with several of the best international designers and builders of ferries in all sectors of the business covering: small, medium and large ferries, passenger-only ferries, passenger and vehicles (ropax)ferries, cruise-ferries, high-speed and medium-speed ferries, steel and aluminium hulls or a combination of both, as well as freight-only ferries, pure car carriers etc. 

This included studies on the smallest car ferries, such as the 2-car capacity ‘Cromarty Rose’ for which the recommendation was to strip away part of the cabin superstructure in order to increase car capacity by 50%, to load 3 cars! And some of the largest, such as the 200m+ long, 50,000 tonne, 2000+passenger, 500-cars/150+ trucks cruise-ferries now running out of Barcelona and Genoa to various destinations throughout the Mediterranean. Numerous ferry services were initially started under the Italian Government’s ‘Autostradedel Mare’ initiative to shift trucks from road to sea, which led in turn to my involvement in helping develop the European Commission’s ‘Motorways of the Sea’ (MoS) policy covering modal shift on all sea areas in Europe. 

I was also involved in studies on the fastest ferries too, such as the innovative 40+ knot HSS (high-speed sea service) fleet designed and built by Stena of Gothenburg. The securing of the 2 x 29-knot brand new Superfast cruise ferries for the Rosyth-Zeebrugge service, which started in May 2002, was the outcome of another EU funded study I led, but more on that particular story some other time, and why the service ended prematurely.

In what we might call the ‘small-to-medium’ ropax ferry sector, that is vehicle ferries between 30m-130m in length, and medium-speed (i.e. speeds below 24 knots), Stuart Ballantyne has developed a world leading product in his steel-hull catamaran designs. What I mean by this is that nobody else is able to get anywhere close to his designs in terms of vessel capital and operating cost for a ferry of similar loading capacity and service speed. His is the leading and increasingly standardised solution, designed and built to operate on any ferry route. A more rapid build time is another big advantageof Stuart’s proven designs.

This explains why Stuart’s ferry designs, which his company also manages the building of in different shipyards under license, have been sold worldwide, including in the Americas and Caribbean, Europe, Mid-East, Asia, and of course Australasia and Polynesia where multihulls (catamarans and trimarans) have been around for a long time. 

I worked on various studies and advised ferry operators who subsequently purchased and now operate Stuart’s ferries safely, reliably and profitably. This includes operations in such diverse markets as OmanPhilippines, and Orkney. It is no accident that Stuart is a former chair of the global ferry industry association – Interferry – and was behind the creation of the World Ferry Safety Association, his designs being the safest on the market. His ferry industry expertise and success is recognised globally, and more than merits the honorary doctorate he was awarded by his alma mater, Strathclyde University, where he initially studied naval architecture after a career at sea.

The Stuart Ballantyne/Sea Transport Corp designed 70m/75-car capacity medium-speed ropax catamaran mv ‘Pentalina’, owned and operated by Pentland Ferries

Stuart has tried many times to convince the Scottish Government and its ferry agencies CMAL and CalMac to invest in his world-beating designs. His standard medium-speed, 100-car capacity catamaran ferry design costs only around £15 million to build, yet the Scottish Government are spending more than three times as much – £50 million – for similar capacity and speed, in-house specified monohull ferries. That’s a massive difference in anyone’s book. In addition, operating costs of the catamaran are half that of the monohull, which in aggregate represents an even bigger saving – £100+ million per vessel – over the expected 25 year life of a ferry. Residual value of the lower cost catamaran is also far superior.

A lesser power requirement for the catamaran, a function of its much lower displacement and hence higher efficiency carrying the same payload, means that fuel consumed and engine emissions are about half that of a CMAL ferry. That suggests a change to catamarans would also help reduce CalMac’s annual operating subsidy, which currently stands at over £100 million per annum, halving emissions at the same time. With lower powered craft there is also greater scope to move to zero emissions sooner using battery and/or other energy sources such as methanol or hydrogen.

The two CMAL/CalMac specified ferries currently still under construction at Ferguson’s, a yard now owned by the Scottish Government, may eventually cost as much as £150 million each, or £300 million in total. £300 million is more than enough to build 20 ferries of Stuart’s larger 100-car capacity Lloyds Register classed designs, or sufficient to replace the entire 31-ship CalMac fleet with a mix of smaller and larger sizes of proven, low-cost, medium-speed ferries.

From an international ferry industry perspective, what the Scottish Government and its ferry agencies are doing seems like economic and commercial madness. The Holyrood committee of MSP’s investigating Scottish Government ferries procurement were right to describe the ongoing delay and cost overruns debacle surrounding CMAL ferry hulls 801/02 as a ‘catastrophic failure’. However, the real worry is that those same people responsible for that ‘catastrophic failure’, as reflecting the absence of any accountability in the matter, appear to be about to do more of the same, unless a different approach is taken.

It takes half the time to build one of Stuart’s proven ferry designs than a traditional ‘heavy displacement’ CalMac in-house specified boat. This is because the latter is always a one-off bespoke design, full of ill-considered compromises and unnecessary add-ons, which translates into extra materials, a lot of extra weight, and hence added power needed, plus an inefficient hull form; which is a big added cost and risk factor, as anyone can readily see with the two delayed boats at Ferguson’s. 

CalMac’s in-house specified, one-off, heavy displacement monohull ferries therefore take twice as long to build as a standard production line design (e.g. 4 years for Finlaggan, 3 years for Loch Seaforth), whilst the two CMAL ships still under construction at Ferguson’s have already taken around 5-6 years and are nowhere near completion, all at enormous added and unnecessary cost to the taxpayer. In sharp contrast, Stuart’s proven, high-efficiency designs take just 18-24 months to build for the biggest boats, even less for smaller versions. 

We might imagine for a moment the challenge and risks in designing and building an entirely new car model, which is twice as heavy as standard models, as opposed to simply buying a proven, guaranteed Ford Fiesta from a car showroom for a third of the price. CMAL/CalMac and the Scottish Government opt to do the former, which explains why it costs three times more and results in horrendous ongoing problems, with added risks and costs over the ship’s lifetime. This also helps explain why Scotland has the highest ferry subsidies in the world and simultaneously one of the most outdated and irregular ferry fleets.

From a maritime economics perspective it is relatively easy to demonstrate how things could be done much better and at lower cost based on superior proven systems and ferry designs. For example, the thirty new ferries (yes 30!), each with 55-car capacity, which Stuart’s company has been building for operations along both east and west coasts of the Philippine archipelago have been rapidly coming on stream, with at least 2 ships being delivered annually as the norm, vessel numbers 19 and 20 recently entering service there. Here the operator also benefits from significant economies of scale in standardised ferry production, keeping the cost of each new ship even lower.

That contract is for what is now the biggest ferry company in the Philippines, the latter working in collaboration with national bus operator Philtranco to provide a truly integrated national transport system as part of the government’s national Nautical Highway Project. Next stage in the company’s development plan is to build even more catamaran ferries for start-up of new international connections.

Clearly, Scotland can learn a great deal from the Philippines and elsewhere about how to develop an advanced ferry transport system, and where the highest levels of efficiency and commercial success is built around the practical and competitive ferry designs of a very skilled Scottish naval architect. 

One of the 30 ferries Stuart Ballantyne’s company has designed and is building for the Philippines

Stuart’s company, which has enormous global experience and learning in the ferry sector, has several times offered Scottish Government Ministers and officials the opportunity to build under license in Scotland his successful, proven, low-cost,advanced design of ferries, which are world leading in terms of efficiency and low emissions. That offer has been repeatedly rejected in favour of CMAL/CalMac’s far more costly and clearly riskier, in-house specified, one-off ferry designs; the latter are ferry specifications that nobody else anywhere is copying, far less building, and for good reason –they are simply terrible boats, especially in an economic and business sense, as well as environmentally. That also means they are bad news for the Scottish taxpayer, and for ferry users, which reflects the present reality and widespread dissatisfaction with current ferry operations.

Several island ferry user groups, notably Arran and Mull & Iona, have made robust business cases pleading for the Scottish Government to acquire Stuart’s far superior proven ferries. But officials and Ministers continue to refuse these reasonable requests. Island communities are left with a poor and ever deteriorating service as a result, most with little hope of seeing a new ferry in years.

As would be expected of a successful entrepreneur, Ferguson’s former owner Jim McColl expressed strong interest in working with Stuart’s company to build 30 new lower-cost catamarans needed for CalMac under license at Ferguson’s. Jim McColl was also aware that there is a desperate need to build a further 20 new, small-medium size ferries for Orkney and Shetland inter-island routes, giving a total order book potential for at least 50 ferries in Scotland alone. But the blockage on progress remains Scotland’s national ferry agencies, CMAL and CalMac and the Scottish Government, and the RMT union, who still insist on their own in-house ferry specifications and hence far more costly, heavy displacement monohull ferries.

One of several Stuart Ballantyne designed ferriesoperating in Venezuela and the Caribbean

Meantime, other maritime sectors are rapidly shifting to building catamarans instead of monohulls. This includes hundreds of workboats used in offshore renewables, and in fish farming. Catamarans offer a much wider and hence more stable proven platform, at lower cost to build and operate than a monohull. Stuart Ballantyne’s company also offer its advanced designs for military needs, which it has supplied to various customers including the Indian navy. This means that there are significant opportunities across several maritime sectors for proven catamaran designs, in addition to ferries, and a yard (or yards) in Scotland with this capability and access to the best designs and systems available need never be short of business.

So the offer to build perhaps 50 ferries of arguably the best proven, global, small-medium sized ferry designs, in Scotland, remains blocked by the Scottish Government and its ferry agencies who continue with a preference for their own far more expensive poorly specified boats. This approach inevitably means far fewer new boats will be built, and any that are built will take a lot longer to deliver. CMAL has been unable to deliver even one new ferry a year, which suggests at the current rate they will be unable to replace the present 30-ship CalMac fleet even over the next 30 years, assuming the ferries budget stretches that far. That will only serve to worsen the present unacceptable situation, meaning a continued lack of adequate ferry capacity for the islands, which in turn constrains their economic and social development.

My other related paper on this matter highlights the ‘mediocre meritocracy’ that is making decisions on ferry procurement policy in Scotland, lacking in the right expertise or insights, and how allegiance to another nation’s interests, culture and political/economic ideology may influence priorities and distort decision making, which ultimately serves to undermine Scotland’s interests. And here Alasdair Gray hit on something when he said that too many Scots are lacking in “confidence in their own land and people”.

The Scottish Government has allocated a further £600 million for ferry investment, though with a spending squeeze on the horizon that figure seems unlikely. The government’s intention appears to be to continue spending money on buying a handful of poorly specified, over-expensive, and highly inefficient ferries that take many years more to build and cost much more to operate than proven designs. This practice has been going on for decades and has never delivered an acceptable outcome, and never will. Moreover, future orders under this scenario now look likely to be built outside Scotland (again), leaving a question mark over the future of Ferguson’s. 

Alternatively, government could take the more sensible route outlined here, by accepting Stuart Ballantyne’s proposal and building many more ferries of proven designs at much lower cost, all in Scotland. All that would require is to bring in the best global skills and expertise in ship design and build management, which in this case also fortunately happens to be Scottish. Stuart Ballantyne is the Turnaround Director that Ferguson’s (and CMAL) should have had, and still could have.

By adopting the right strategy and putting in place the right expertise, as well as some passion, Scotland has a chance to create and safeguard many more jobs in shipbuilding and the supply chain, as well as rapidly renewing a desperately outmoded national ferry fleet for the long-term benefit of island communities and the wider economy. Such a strategy would also provide a good basis for building export potential for future ferry production based on superior global designs.

This kind of concrete and positive action, however, requires a change in the cultural mindset and therefore a change in the people who make key decisions on ferries, and with that a change in our priorities, with a focus on the national development of Scotland and its people. That is what an independence-minded national government should be about anyway, investing in and building up the competence and confidence of a people and nation. Given the iconic nature and proud history of Clyde shipbuilding, that would seem a good place to start. The opportunity is there; we can either take it, or continue to ignore it, much the same with independence.

MY COMMENTS

Like anyone who watched the Scottish Parliament ”investigation” into the ferry debacle I was astonished at the clear lack of knowledge of some of the participants. it seemed clear to me they had no idea about the issues, were blind and obstructive to ideas and innovation, content to ignore a mountain of evidence that their current plans were a scandalous misuse of public funds for a much inferior and hugely expensive design that was outdated and super expensive to build. That would only offer a much inferior service. We will see what happens now. Are they still blinkered? If they are they should not be in Parliament as they are incapable of defending and promoting the public interest. Indeed, that might well be the root of all our problems, not just with ferries.

I am, as always

YOURS FOR SCOTLAND

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86 thoughts on “HOW TO END THE MADNESS

  1. What did I just read. This is criminal incompetence and malfeasance on the part of the government. They could build it under licence in Scotland saving jobs here and saving much needed public funds? But choose not too?

    Why is Scotland cursed by such poor politicians? Because I don’t doubt the same daft choices would be made under Lib/Labour and don’t even start me with the Tories and wasting public money. Yes Alf I know it’s colonial mediocracy!!!

    Liked by 20 people

    1. The more I read of this brilliant article the stronger the ‘whiff of something’ I could smell – and it wasn’t of sea air.

      Liked by 5 people

    1. I look forward to the day the WHOLE shower of incompetents and parasitical troughers from ALL parties are thrown out and even better if they can be charged with malfeasance of the public purse , I wish karma would hurry up and get it’s running shoes on

      Liked by 7 people

  2. It was the same nonsense in the late 60s early 70s when Western Ferries started on the Islay run and created a new ferry terminal in West loch Tarbert. The new roll on roll off ferry was an instant hit but Calmac were allowed to put a new ferry on the run and with the massive government subsidy put the new service out of buisness. Sir William Lithgow offered to run a free service if WF was given the same subsidy as Calmac. Having travelled and been sick on several of the old Calmac boats the new Western ferry was an eye opener. The days of having your car lifted onto the deck were over.

    Liked by 12 people

  3. If only they were as interested in getting ferries into service as they are in getting men into women’s toilets we’d maybe get somewhere. The above is a truly astonishing read. To think I used to believe that if we could only sweep out Labour and the jobs-for-the-boys mentality we could show how Scotland could be run and rapidly move towards independence. Shows how wrong you can be.

    This administration is rivalling any Labour one for incompetence and sheer ineptitude and no amount of photo-ops with cans of Irn Bru will cover that up.

    Liked by 21 people

    1. xaracen, I would suggest the question MUST be WHO are the individuals facilitating this reckless squandering of government funds to the obvious and unacceptable detriment of Scotland’s public purse and the Island communities relying on lifeline ferry services?

      Liked by 11 people

  4. The ferry fiasco is a national disgrace . For a former seafaring and shipbuilding nation to be caught up in this sorry saga is beyond unfortunate. This one can’t be blamed on Westminster . Let’s just get the situation sorted .

    Liked by 15 people

  5. This really does highlight the biggest problem with the SNP, namely that they aren’t fit to lead an independent Scotland (not that they have any intention of pushing for that). They throw money around in what can only be seen as blatant self interest/self entitlement, using tax revenues for their own ends. But then as unionists that’s to be expected. Corruption and sleaze, once it becomes widely known, often proves to be the final straw for voters when they dump a political Party. Hopefully the SSRG and Alba can lead us out of this situation.

    Liked by 18 people

    1. Unfortunately this is nothing new we have had quangos like Cmal and Calmac wasting massive amounts of money from the public purse for years , liebour done it for years now it’s SNP’s turn , it is all about jobs for the boys and girls who they (political parties) want to impress , experience or intelligence doesn’t count when the trough is available

      Liked by 6 people

  6. Alex Salmond’s big idea was that competent government would boost people’s confidence that we could run our own affairs. It seems that that policy has been thrown into reverse.

    Liked by 14 people

  7. Thanks to Professor Baird for a well-researched and -argued piece detailing the incompetence of the current Scottish government, their highly paid advisers and civil servants and the total obstruction to any ideas which are not of their devising.
    I now consider that they are not only accepting the Westminster policy that there will be no progress towards Scotland becoming independent, but they also accept the policy that Scotland must not be seen to succeed, as that would push forward the case for independence. This example regarding ferries is only one, though a very serious one, of many things the Scottish Government could have been doing over the past seven years but has not.
    My list, which is far from complete, includes the lack of progress on land reform, which, through an annual tax on land use and ownership, could transform local government finance amd possibly fund a fairer welfare system, including better pensions; the setting up a Scottish Investment bank to finance much needed infra-structure projects, including supporting green energy and building social housing; the rapid development of new ferry routes to continental Europe to help the problems faced by Scottish exporters, particularly of food and drink; regularly challenging Westminster on matters such as our border, which could have been effectively closed last year to reduce Covid infections here and London policies such as the the so-called British single market which breaks one of the articles of the Act of Union.
    That they have chosen not to do any of these demonstrates their betrayal of the wishes of the people of Scotland.

    Liked by 16 people

    1. I am in total agreement not using AGR when it is obvious business rating is on the point of total collapse indicates a useless, timid Government incapable of moving with the times.

      Liked by 14 people

  8. C.Mal and CalMac. Public ownership. Good ideas but sadly gone bad. Dead hand public service. But who is to blame for that. The politicians who allow them to go their own way!

    And all covered up by the political elite. Scotland, a once built ships, and trains, and cars, and much more but do folks ever wonder why manufacturing has moved elsewhere.

    But talking about our fabled Scottish shipbuilding, are our yards like Ardesier, Kishorn, Burntisland now building the huge jackets needed for Scotland’s off shore wind projects. Of course not. We are not building these structures. Rather the huge £3.2 billion Sea Green project off the coast of Angus is having it’s 114 jackets built abroad. Thirty in Dubai and eight four in yards in China. You couldn’t make it up, but at least we built oil rigs when oil came our way.

    And now as another example of industrial decline. How many people read of the major emergency and near catastrophe off shore on Wednesday when platform Beryl Alpha sustained the major emergency of the platform being flooded with many areas such as accommodation over head height in water. With personal on muster working eighteen hour shifts to try and stabilise the platform before airlifting of evacuees began, virtually nothing has been reported in the BBC or the MSM.

    Not exactly a good look an ageing platform sustaining a major failure. Especially in the midst of COP 26. Every reason to cover it up – but what now of the economic impact. Is the platform still producing or is it the case, as we approach winter, there’s a major hitch in hydrocarbon supply. Ah well an economic secret, who knows, and will there be a public enquiry into why this happened.

    But I digress. In so many way, we are a regressing country and maybe we just need to accept it, whilst our FM tells us we are the greatest.

    With the political governance in Scotland it’s not difficult to imagine our continued direction of travel.

    Liked by 16 people

  9. “All of us make mistakes. The key is to acknowledge them, learn, and move on. The real sin is ignoring mistakes, or worse, seeking to hide them”

    Robert Zoellick

    Liked by 11 people

  10. This is a real eye opener. ‘Cultural mindset’ – hits the nail firmly on the head. It would seem there’s a rotten ‘Jobs for the boys/girls’ culture within the Scottish Government. What a lost opportunity refusing to make use of stuart’s talents.
    Never mind independence, Since 2014 the SNP’s management of the devolved settlement has been shambolic. Devolution whilst having it’s limitations was still an opportunity to demonstrate that things could be different. This has not happened and then they tell us the polls haven’t moved. Well of course they won’t. All they promise is more of the same.
    The ferry fiasco simply undermines the independence argument, since the media deliberately conflate the SNP’s performance with how Scotland would fare outside the treaty of union. The really sad thing is that talented folk like Stuart won’t stay around in land of lacking opportunity.

    Liked by 18 people

    1. “Devolution whilst having it’s limitations was still an opportunity to demonstrate that things could be different. This has not happened and then they tell us the polls haven’t moved.”

      I’d argue it did happen between 2007 and 2014. And the polls did move.

      “The really sad thing is that talented folk like Stuart won’t stay around in land of lacking opportunity.”

      Scotland has been exporting its talent since 1707 and will continue to do so under quasi colonial rule.

      Liked by 14 people

    2. ‘All they promise is more of the same.’ Spot on Scott. – O/T perhaps but s.30 has a snowballs chance in hell of working but it allows the Scotgov to appear to be moving forward when in fact they are at anchor and we are no nearer Indy than we were after 2014. SSRG recommendations being ignored. Why? It has every likelihood of being successful, as does Stuart Ballantyne. Time for Scotland to raise our anchor and sail away from the ‘steady as she goes’ Independence denying attitude of the SNP.

      Liked by 6 people

  11. «COP26: Nicola Sturgeon hailed as the ‘true leader’ at climate summit», proclaims The National. Ferries!, very small beer, she has her sights set on saving the planet and a career aboard the globalist gravy train.
    Scots ought to be annoyed, very annoyed, incandescent with rage for she and her clique have COPped out on what really matters, saving Scotland, the very idea of Scotland, from extinction.

    Liked by 19 people

  12. The RMT blocked the licensing of the Pentalina (?) due to some petty reason (or was it the crew are not unionised) on the busy Oban – Mull route. Then the SNP refused the purchase of a catamaran on the same route despite the good work of Mull & Iona ferry committee in crowd funding a research paper that proved it could do the job. The MV Isle of Mull is coming up to its 34th birthday on Dec 8th and I personally traveled on the MV isle of Arron which is 38 next month. All serving the same route, some temporarily but all prone to technical failures due to age. This has a negative effect on the whole isle. For full disclosure in live in Mull so have a vested interest in a ferry service that is fit for purpose and runs without technical difficulties all the time. It maybe should also be noted that Argyll & Bute council own the decrepit pier in Craignure that is also well past it’s operating window.

    Liked by 13 people

  13. Although working at a low level in the Calmac HQ at Gourock in the mid 1980s, I had access to the very closely guarded figures for each of the Calmac routes. Individual routes which now require enormous ongoing subsidies actually covered both their direct and indirect costs such that they were able to subsidise the “no hopers” like Colonsay, Coll, Tiree etc. This resulted in an overall subsidy way below the level now required.

    An enormous self-serving Empire has been allowed to grow, Calmac/CMAL/RMT all slapping each others backs and two fingers up to the communities depending on ferry services.

    Costs were allowed to spiral – one example, in the 1980/90s on both the main Clyde routes – Arran and Bute – one man, the Purser on the vessel (with summer temps as required), sufficed to deal with virtually all ticket selling and booking requirements. This efficient system was done away with and now you have enormous teams of booking agents at the ports concerned with all booking done onshore (thereby inconveniencing passengers). This was “white-washed” as being required by health and safety – however Western Ferries are able to operate quite legally with onboard booking.

    Yes SOLAS requirements have increased over the years yet operators such as Western Ferries and Pentland Ferries appear to be able to absorb them without requiring vast subsidies.

    Liked by 16 people

    1. The Calmac “passenger only” service between Dunoon and Gourock is subsidised by around £4Million Pounds I believe.
      The excellent reliable Car and passenger Western Ferries running between Hunters Quay, Dunoon and McInroys Point, Gourock is used for the very few foot passengers using the Calmac Service when the “Tubs” are off due to weather, which is often in the Winter. The passengers simply catch a bus at the Calmac pier and cross via Western Ferries to Gourock station. Any fool can see that a bus service via Western Ferries would cost a great deal less than £4Million.

      I strongly believe in subsidies for remote communities but the danger is it becomes a guaranteed money spinner for some and unfortunately a powerful tool for Calmac, The Unions and CMAL.

      Why is the Scottish Government subsidising Calmac instead of awarding Western Ferries a contract using shuttle busses. Mini busses would probably do given the low passenger traffic on the Calmac “bath tubs”

      Liked by 14 people

      1. I should have also covered ferry design in above. The four Western Ferries are the perfect design for the short route and run every 15 minutes at peak times. Calmac car ferries are totally Ill designed to compete using the old system currently used for the passenger service.
        Note: The Western Ferries were built on the Clyde!

        Liked by 10 people

  14. Call me cynical if you will, but increased procurement stuff ups, and ever stretching costs, mean an increased opportunity for brown envelopes to be exchanged.

    Alex Salmond installed a financial penaulty clause to the company building the Queensferry Crossing – and made it financially ruinous for them to have failed to deliver, on time and on budget.

    It cannot be accidental that nuSNP have returned to bad old habits.

    Incidentally looking at the link for the Indian Navy catamarans…. wouldn’t it be fantastic if Scotland were to get an
    actual Navy, to police its shores. What a career that could be. In addition to a revamped shipbuiilding industry.

    Great article once again from the Prof.

    Liked by 19 people

    1. we have three FPV patrolling our seas

      “What a career that could be.” not when it is force 8 and the sea is washing the monkey bridge

      Like

  15. It has to be policy designed to outline the fact that our government is not fit to run the country. This is Westminster manipulation. We have to remember the civil service is westmonsters bitch. They are engaged in destroying our ability to govern and indeed to run the economy and our industries. The colonial authority does its bidding and the wee numpty politicians grasp their ill gotten gains and say nothing.

    Liked by 16 people

      1. TBH Iain this continuous diversion of blaming the civil servants for all our woes suits all the arsewipes in the Scottish Gov and Scottish parliament . WE have to make up our mind , Alex Salmond changed the designation placed on Scotland by the english wm parliament as the devolved administration to THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT in order to create more confidence and belief in ourselves and our government and IMO as a step towards recognition from other countries that Scotland was a country and a nation apart from england

        WE can blame the civil servants belonging to and governed by england for all our ails BUT once again it comes down to acceptance OR rejection that the civil servants are in control by the people we ELECT
        Common sense tells you that if people elect YOU to govern your country and you have a foreign powers placemen directing , authorising or REJECTING your methods or policies you would be incensed and outraged at such a situation and would DELIBERATELY and PUBLICLY set out to challenge and DESTROY that egregious situation

        I’m sorry for posting a sensible solution to overcome this absolute travesty we suffer BUT I forgot it was Sturgeon’s NUSNP we are discussing and instead of challenging this abortion of democratic control SHE not only EMBRACES IT but actively works with it to DESTROY and DEMONISE anyone she feels threatened by . Alex Salmond anyone

        Liked by 4 people

  16. I think its its simply a low pettiness on the part of the SNP leadersbip….Alf is not on their team and so all his expertise is summarily dismissed to the countries disadvantage. I met Mr Ballantyne years ago and tried to engage Ministers at that time to no avail. That the lauman Derek Mackays word was taken rather than Scottish experts was unforgivable.
    Catermarrans could also address the unnecessary hotel costs of boarding crew when on most routes island or mainland locals could easily commute from home….as to the skills…generations of seamen have come from the islands….many coming up the hawespipe to Masters and Ch engineers….that tradition should be used.
    Behind the SG reluctance to be inovative is the Civil Servant culture ….sit on the fence caution…it needs political leadership to demand change…haud forrit Alf …in the end we will win.

    Liked by 15 people

  17. I was on the Pentalina to Orkney 8 years ago. It hurtled across the Pentland Firth despite medium rough seas. Quite bouncy but not the roll you get on a normal ship.

    It is the usual closed shop corruption wherever government, Arms length companies and the unions get together.

    There’s no excuse for inaction now that saint nicola is leading the entire COP26. Halving emissions should beat stone-age union intransigence.

    Liked by 12 people

  18. Nothing ever shocks me these days with this administration. Complete and utter waste o spaces. When this actually gets out into the mainstream for all to see it will be used as Duncan says above to embed the (see they’re unfit to run the country) – look what they’re doing, the unionists will love it and use to their advantage.

    Absolute shocking state of affairs. All the while she who cannot be criticized swans around COP doing more selfie’s than a 15 year-old tik tok user passing the buck for everything. – Jesus, how did we get here?

    Liked by 12 people

    1. robbo: ‘Jesus, how did we get here’? Quite simply by allowing the SNP and the wheesht for Indy brigade to shout the odds in favour of ‘picture girl’ aided and abetted by an English dominated group of civil servants and a supine group of SNP MSPs self tasked in looking after the interests of their continuing parliamentary career prospects.

      Liked by 7 people

  19. I have been a life-long ferry fan and enjoyed travel on most of Scotland’s ferries in the past 45 years. However this “landlubber romanticism” has been severely dented in the past decade or so both by personal experience and by “Who Pays the Ferry Man” by Roy (?) Pedersen. For the past few decades at least, including pre-devolution, a very small self-interested and “closed” policy community seem to have made fundamentally bad decisions about Scotland’s ferries including at its most fundamental the precise routes (i.e. opting for longer crossings with large vessels rather than shorter sea crossings, smaller/more nimble vessels and more sailings). Since the demise of the Cal Mac Gourock/Dunoon vehicle service, I have used the Western Ferries service both for vehicle and some passenger journeys; it is better, more flexible and cheaper (if you buy tickets in advance). Cal Mac’s practices border on the obstructive; eg at Largs they refuse to have staff selling tickets to the long vehicle queues and hence you have people having to leave their vehicles to buy a ticket then run back to the car when the queue starts to move! The covid restrictions have been taken to extremes on Cal Mac routes. I fully support workers rights but in the case of ferries (and also Scotrail) there are times when the trades unions seem to disregard customer/islander needs in their equations. The whole set up is not fit for purpose and a fresh start is needed. However it is unlikely that our present highly secretive regime in Edinburgh has the guts and the will to do so; cover up is more their game! So I will continue to enjoy the occasional ferry trip whilst pessimistic as to the future of most of our ferry services under Scottish Government control.

    Liked by 12 people

  20. Exasperated doesn’t come close, our country is firmly in the grip of the corrupt, the compromised and the craven: unionists all.

    ‘..too many Scots are lacking in confidence in their own land and people’ Alasdair Gray probably had sturgeon in mind when he said that.

    ‘The enemies of Scottish Nationalism are not the English, for they were ever a great and generous folk, quick to respond when justice calls. Our real enemies are among us, born without imagination’ Robert Bontine Cunninghame probably had sturgeon in mind when he said that.

    ‘Scotland has not failed; its leadership has failed’ former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, had sturgeon in mind when he said that.

    Thanks for that excellent, though sickening, contribution, Alf

    Liked by 15 people

  21. Yet another hard-hitting and enlightening essay from, Alf Baird, accompanied, as always, by the normal highly engaged and insightful comments to be found here on YfS. The SNP political gang aka the Scottish government, is perfectly encapsulated and characterized in one phrase, above: “MEDIOCRE MERITOCRACY”. If anything can be said to be predictable or inevitable post 2014, the ascendancy of this zombified clique was, predictably and eminently so! “We’ll have to wait and see.” with the vast majority of Scotland’s elected MPs, anyone!?

    Alisdair Gray, knew his country very, very well when he bemoaned (honestly and thoughtfully) its serious lack of “confidence” in itself. One need only look at our democratically elected government with its lethargic and dangerously undemocratic governance for continued evidence of his analysis. I am, nonetheless, heartened by the fact that, clearly, not all of us are lacking the nous or the confidence to dissent. That we desperately need an avowedly nationalistic, anti-colonialist political party, one with the nous and the confidence to likewise dissent, both confidently and volubly, seems to me to be well beyond debate.

    Liked by 15 people

  22. How did we get here – a very good question.

    Real progress was being made during the Salmond years. Invigorated driven devolved government focussed on change, real change.

    And now, and SNP government, sloppy, lazy and well fed acting as the destructors of the movement for change, the destructors of the movement for independence. Put simply, Westminster’s devolved colonial administrators.

    And in a side swipe to less important matters today’s reports of SNP MP’s David Linden and Drew Hendry getting boozed up on a flight to Gibraltar with Tory MP’s to celebrate Remembrance Day in what is one of Britain’s last remaining oversees colonies, tells you much about our party.

    So yes Robbo, how did we get here. More significantly, how do we get out of where we are.

    A thoroughly thought provoking article by the good Prof Baird – and indeed others who contribute to this now very well read site.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Willie – it wasn’t just that they were boozed up. They wore British Army fatigues for the group photographs. It’s as revealing as the removal of the Saltires from Bute House.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. The focus on trans-related business fits in with the globalist agenda as does the extinction of Scotland as a nation state.

      Liked by 3 people

  23. Brillaint article Alf, and there’s a lot of common sense in it, I’ve come to the conclusion that Sturgeon’s gigantic fragile ego will not allow her to deviate or accept that she might be wrong, or that there are better ideas out their other than those concocted by her government.

    Ultimately it will we the people that will suffer from Sturgeon’s unwillingness to embrace good ideas found on the outside.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. The people are already suffering from their policies. Obviously the islanders who suffer unrelieable and expensive ferries, but also the exporters who have no fast route to Europe for their produce, all those who could benefit from a change to AGR instead of the Council Tax, those affected by drugs who get little help in overcoming their habit etc …

      Liked by 3 people

  24. Excellent & very informative article Alf. I read your piece on ferries on Grousebeater’s blog, that was very enlightening too.

    On ferries – I thought that the catemaran hull was not as good in stormy weather (high seas, gale force winds), is this a myth or even my imagination? Or maybe it depends on beam and draft, rather than the twin hull itself?

    And whatever happened to hovercraft? They were fast… Which was lucky because if you tried to eat anything chances are you’d spew it straight back up. Why were hovercraft ferries never developed? (apart from because of the spewing factor at the first glimpse of a ripple in the water. But I remember it being very exciting speed boat style white spray everywhere journey)

    Having experienced a ferry with one of its ballast tanks broken (after being stuck in dock for 12 hours with a mooring rope round its propellers, then it set off across the channel in storm conditions with no stabilisers, boak – telling you, that was one nasty journey) I welcome the stability of a catemaran hull, but can it handle rough seas of the west coast?

    I prefer sail boats myself – has there ever been a sail boat car ferry? I can’t envisage one, but that would certainly save on fuel, directly using wind power!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Contrary

      Light aluminium car ferries – monohull or multihull – tend to be built for high speed operation, above 30kn, and for use in low wave height areas. Either ship type is uncomfortable in high waves when travelling at high speed.

      The catamarans I am referring to are quite different as they have steel hulls, and are medium-speed (under 20kn), and designed specifically for high sea state/high wave operations. They are therefore at least as capable as any steel hull medium-speed monohull.

      Steel hull catamarans are arguably more stable and comfortable than monohulls, e.g, less pitching due to reduced draft and high wave ‘tunnel’ between the two hulls; wider beam hence longer ‘rolling moment’; monohull has flatter bow shape and deeper draft hence suffers more from slamming and greater resistance; monohull needs ballast tanks for stability whereas catamaran is already a stable platform and does not need to carry hundreds of tons of sea water to prevent it rolling over, as in the case of monohulls.

      So here we need to need to consider high-speed/aluminium and medium-speed/steel ferries as quite different animals, and not get them confused, as CMAL and CalMac and RMT and Transport Scotland still manage to do, perhaps intentionally!

      Liked by 13 people

      1. Aha, I see! Thanks Alf, that’s fascinating, even if I do feel a bit seasick from all your talk of pitching and rolling, that the design speed – I know you talk about it in your article but I didn’t realise the relevance – is what affects a ferry’s ability to weather a storm. That makes perfect sense.

        I’m still trying to design, in my head, a sailing ferry, but it’s not working out well – maybe sails more like wings out the side … I like boats, but don’t know enough about them to be practical!

        In general I don’t really like ferries, they’re too big and make me feel sick (you may have guessed), while I’m fine in smaller boats strangely. Though I remember – a young teenager at the time – we took a cargo boat over to Norway (probably cheaper) and I was fine with that, and even enjoyed it despite not having anything to do, and we lost one engine so it took an extra day. It was the first time I’d seen no land – clear blue sky, clear blue North Sea, as far as the eye could see – you really get a feel for the curvature of the earth when the edges are all at sea level. Bit of a cruise really. The captain let us sun bathe on the tatty old top deck.

        Anyway, yes, the Scottish government – their inability to do anything competently is now just so par for the course, each new thing that comes up that demonstrates their corruption is no longer shocking, just sickening. The real shocking thing is that there are people that still support them and won’t even criticise, even though this is getting played out in front of them, heap on top of heap of revelations of how shite the SNP govt are, yet they can’t see it. The ferry fiasco is just such an unbelievable shambles – they surely can’t get away with it…?

        Liked by 9 people

      1. Haha, I missed your comment last night, Iain, yes he has answered, and it’s much appreciated… I love experts and being able to ask direct questions, so like to take advantage of it! Alf, having answered on my main question helps me to then clarify for anyone else under the same misconception.

        My questions on hovercraft (and sailing ferries) was just to try and satisfy my curiosity, but I suspect would be a large subject all itself – and not very relevant!

        But how about a big paddle steamer ferry – that would be an impressive sight would it not? Have you seen how fast the Waverely can reverse course, that is, come to a stop – it’s fast! Yes, yes, not practical, but if we only ever go for the practical, where is the beauty and variety in life? Though I admit those catamarans are nice looking boats, and the SNP have left us in such dire straits with their mishandling, there is no room for vanity projects on this – I hope Alf’s recommendations are taken on board, but I don’t have a clear idea (yet) of how the fiasco can be resolved when its so muddied and contracts already given out; that’s way above my pay grade.

        What fools we were, thinking the SNP were a safe pair of hands, and would do their best by Scotland eh? – it frustrates me as a cynic, and non-party-political, that I was taken in by their false rhetoric, all that hope of ‘transparency’ – hah, utter fabrication, and it’s been going on for so long. I feel like I’ve let down the communities of Scotland, that I played my part in this by lending my uncritical voice and support, and money, to prop up Sturgeon’s regime – however much I like to distance myself by saying I’m not an activist or not party political, I’m just as much to blame as anyone for effectively covering up the Sturgeon regime’s screwing us over. Well, what’s done is done, lesson learned: everything, absolutely everything, our elected representatives do should be questioned and scrutinised, however ‘nice’ their patter is.

        Glasgow City Council needs to be gone soonest – with the SNP in charge, they are destroying the city – but I suspect the tide will turn back in Labour’s favour. I hoped maybe Alba could have swept the board, but I can’t visualise it – people just aren’t going to trust their services based on a party’s constitutional position and I feel (no stats, or evidence) the SNP might have made it all the harder for any pro-indy party to make inroads. We’ll probably end up with a mixed bag on GCC, coalitions etc.

        The current GCC has grand plans for many things and I just think ‘please, no’, and I look at things currently being built and wonder how much approval those projects got (as various massive buildings appear on the skyline, as I see various green spaces dug up and community parks threatened with getting sold to developers) or how much consultation there was, and I look at old decrepit buildings and waste ground still intact. The roads are in such poor repair they’re dangerous, I dread the winter with the increase in, often hidden, ditches and potholes and people swerving to avoid them; and with the reduced and inconsistent refuse collection services, I look at the other projects and think; ensure the basic needs are met, then look at added value.

        Take the walkway bridges across the canals (junction at Maryhill) ‘to connect isolated communities’ (etc) – I think it’s a great idea, and it should create many improvements, and creating crossings will benefit various communities, and I looked forward to see it complete… I now dread the outcome. If Sauchiehall Street is anything to go by, it will not improve the walking experience, they will not have consulted stakeholders (us) and importantly disability groups, or listened to them, and it will not do as it said on the tin. It’ll probably still look nice though. What’s GCC’s next move, oh aye, just banning cars in the city centre – where is the joined up thinking? You can’t just ban things without providing equivalent services. There is so much that can be done to improve traffic management, and why not install quiet efficient maglev trams in small stages, and make it gradual. Why not install easy to access, cheap parking around the outside of the city centre? Why do nearly all bus routes go directly through the middle of the city centre – those systems could be improved too. Sorry, I ramble, I should have made town planing my career!!

        Liked by 7 people

  25. A brilliant and correct article. I grew up in NZ and learned how the Pacific was discovered and peopled by the Polynesians, sailing catamarans on blue water voyages. They discovered every scrap of even half habitable land (Henderson Island) and the three cardinals of the Polynesian triangle Hawai’i, Rapanui/Easter Island and Aotearoa/New Zealand. They made it to likely Peru, brought sweet potatoes back and left coconuts at least (domesticated in the lowland New Guinea agricultural invention).

    Alf is right to say they are more stable. A new company which challenges the status quo in monohulls across the Cook strait between NZ’s main islands uses Cats. That sea is rough and stormy. I have wallowed in the mono’s, I would be more than happy to cruise on a Cat.

    From original cargoes of families, plants, animals on the world’s widest ocean to modern communications carrying trucks, buses, trains and cars.

    BTW the Polynesians could sail both into and across the wind. Europeans learned how from the Polynesians. Those lanteen rigged Tea Clippers were the result. To get from the Central Pacific to the Cardinal points you must sail across the wind. Why they were the last to be found and peopled. NZ prob in 1200AD, so while the Vikings were rowing the Polynesians were true blue water sailors.

    Inuit in Kayaks seeking to sleep on the ocean raft up together providing stability, becoming a multihull. So much wisdom from the wilds of the earth for us to learn from.

    Liked by 12 people

  26. The world is your oyster. Or you are a bump in a log? Take your pick Scotland.This article demonstrates to me the “”bump in the log” mentality

    My work experience was of active job protection in Scotland and since I wasn’t inclined to be a ‘bump in a log” so I moved out of the comfort zone of -“you cannot do that” Scotland, and out to the world. I never ever considered emigration, due to cultural emotional ties, I just had to find meaningful work away from the job protectionism I found at home.

    In retirement, in the course of negotiating use for allotments of an unused field owned by our council, I experienced a disinclination to decision making by council employees, never an opinion or recommendation forwarded by them,”Bumps in the log”..

    I have posed the question to many people….”Why don’y you put yourself forward to get elected as a councillor?’. Try it,

    Liked by 8 people

  27. This is completely OT but I’ve put together a leaflet based on the Wanted For Treason leaflet distributed in the US in 1961 after the Bay of Pigs it was distributed by anti Castro/Kennedy activists you can see a copy here https://www.dropbox.com/s/8zzbawx82s09sqp/300-wanted-for-treason-best.jpg?dl=0
    My idea is to make a similar leaflet albeit not identical and run off a few copies and pin them in various places in my area the problem is I’m not very good with words so I’m hoping someone can help me edit it
    You can view it here

    If anyone can help me it would be much appreciated

    Liked by 3 people

  28. A very very interesting article. I love cat’s. However, it should be noted that cat’s were in use between Scotland and Ireland. They had their limitations weather-wise. And how we’re back to mono-hulls. Why would that be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Intcobiz, Alf answered me on that point a few comments above – it is light aluminium hulled, higher speed, boats either catamaran or monohull, that are poorer in rough weather. Nothing to do with being a catamaran or not. With the heavier steel hull, a catamaran has the advantage of natural stability (so no need for ballast tanks & less rolling). I hadn’t picked up the relevance of the design speed in the above article either – but that’s effectively why you’d buy a slower boat for the rougher weather areas. For the same design speed, the twin hull ferry has some distinct advantages over the monohull.

      Liked by 11 people

      1. Yup, thank you. Your question and Alf’s answer hadn’t appeared on my screen last night. So, comprehensively covered and very interesting.

        Liked by 4 people

  29. after reading the article I would say this. I worked almost 20 years as ferry master on shetland islands council inter island ferries, based on what I learned from that experience I heartily endorse all that’s being said here.

    Liked by 11 people

  30. Whilst not unique to this SNPGOV – political stupidity/cupidity being nigh- on universal – there is something recognisably Scottish in this example of pig-headed , intransigent vested interest having sufficient power to override any rational criticism that threatens those vested interests by suggesting demonstrably better – in every conceivable sense – alternatives

    Something of a trope/cliche of Scottish political/cultural life to ask or state ” he is / is he a Mason ? ” – as many will know , the roots of modern Freemasonry ( I know , an oxymoron if ever there was one ) are long and deep in Scotland , and despite a bit of PR spin in recent times continues to have * influence *

    When we witness the really quite incredible spectacle of the Legal/Police/Political/MSM collusion in the attempted framing/destruction of A Salmond ( and others , of course , but AS being the most vicious and potentially lethal ) and the even more astonishing fact that not a single person – NOT ONE – has faced any consequence for their involvement in this diabolic debacle you have to ask ” why ” , or rather , ” how ? ” . How has it been possible to commit this outrage and walk away Scot free ? Irony fully intended .

    Murrell-COPFS-Police Scotland-Daily Record/*Scottish * MSM . What are the ties that bind ? Where do * loyalties * really lie ? What is keeping the leaking NSNP ferry afloat and on collision course with reality ?

    Great article as per Alf .

    Liked by 9 people

    1. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry has a long history of activity in European and Latin American politics in the 18/19th century. It’s Jacobite sympathies are notable. Masonic involvement in the Italian Risorgimento was significant, notably Garibaldi and D’Annunzio, as were the anti Spanish and Portuguese anti colonial trends in for example Mexico, Santa Anna was a mason. Anti Catholicism and anti papalism is also a feature and some orthodox Catholics detect its influence in modernist trends within the Church.
      So masonic interest in politics and ideological networking is well recorded in the literature, although UK masons would deny such activity goes on in their benevolent realm..
      However, active/passive, overt/covert influencers they certainly are. The link with the British establishment and aspects of Orangeism is pertinent.
      A game of shadows, mirrors, delusion and illusion.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Indeed Otto . I’ve seen how that * one of us * voodoo operates first-hand , albeit in relatively minor ways . Jobs , contracts , * dispensations * ( drunk driving charges mysteriously never coming to court ) etc . I’ve said before how impressive your knowledge of Politics,History – Scottish and general – and the ways of the world is , particularly in one as young as yourself , I remember you mentioned elsewhere you’re still in your teens , though you may reached the grand old age of 20 by now ! Ever though about a career in Politics , or would you rather avoid that compromised/compromising environment ?

        Liked by 1 person

      1. That remains to be seen Jan – or unseen ! – there could of course be other explanations for the apparently untouchable status of the dramatis personae involved in the plot to destroy Alex

        Liked by 3 people

    1. «conspiracy theory/theorist» is a nonce term employed by establishments seeking to divert attention from that which they may be guilty of. Its use is intended to shut down rational debate, something the called social media platforms are becoming expert at that, for the greater good, of course.
      Currently, those holding alternative scientific perspectives on «covid19» and its treatment are so labelled and as for that Golden Calf, the meretricious Woke cult..
      The subversion of the SNP by forces of the system has a nice conspiracy theory ring about it.
      Total rubbish of course.

      Liked by 4 people

  31. Replying to Robert Hughes remark: ‘As if there has never been such things as conspiracies!’

    Yes, it has become rather easy to disparage any mention of conspiracies nowadays considering what emanates often from the wilder shores of the internet. However, it remains the case that human beings are naturally conspiratorial. Joining networks of like-minded individuals who find that they have a common purpose has probably been part of human behaviour from ancient times. It’s probably hard-wired into into our evolving brains because it was beneficial to the survival of early human groups ,who, compared to other animals, were physically weaker and relied on the mutual support of the rest of their group. We are acknowledged to be the ultimate social animal.

    Being secretive may not have been a winning strategy in extended family groups striving for survival where mutual trust was necessary but with larger scale societies, secrecy and conniving with others, to the detriment of rivals could be deployed since it was possible now to act anonymously. Therefore as competitiveness increased within societies no longer bound by close family or tribal connections, deception and disinformation could be deployed to advance the interests of some against the rest.

    So, yes, look around at your own community, work place, golf/tennis club, PTA, political branch, trade union etc., and you will be aware from your own lived experience of conspiratorial behaviour so natural human groups, often where networks of like-minded people will form sometimes for benign purposes but perhaps for reasons of petty control and domination etc. ( William Golding once remarked that you could learn everything you needed to know about human social behaviour by observing any school playground.) Now, of course, we all know that even in these situations, subterfuge or gossip can be used quite skilfully to gain the mutual goals of some motivated individuals working together. This is the behaviour we all recognise is used by those who govern us, to manipulate and control the narrative and to marginalise political opponents or ideas.

    This is the kind of conspiracy I believe in. The kind of human conspiracy that has been been used by elites through the ages. We don’t need to believe in elaborate, complex plots from the realms of science fiction which would require huge numbers of people from many different disciplines and nationalities to be involved in a massive world-wide deception of an epic scale. Elites and politicians have been doing quite well through the centuries using human nature and our hard-wired social behaviour from our ancient past against us, not to mention the leverage and patronage they can employ.

    Liked by 4 people

  32. I wish to thank Alf for a very interesting article, the btl commenters for the good discussion and Iain for hosting this.

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Aye, Robert Hughes, it is the fault of the masons, or maybe Opes Dei..Jeddg explains the dilemma very well – human nature, that the self aware confront.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I don’t often have time to visit this site as much as I would like and often I am lagging behind and trying to catch up but this is the site I go to for informed comment such as this article by Alf Baird. Access to the expertise of those such as Alf with his in-depth knowledge is invaluable. Only being an occasional user of ferry services over the years, I was aware of the disgruntlement of long-suffering islanders but Alf Baird’s article has been extremely enlightening as to what’s behind this malaise at the heart of government but also provides an expert’s solutions.

    Thanks to Prof Baird for giving this ignorant lay person some understanding of a very important subject – even though I had to read it twice – and for providing an excellent, if depressing, insight into the woeful state of governance in Scotland (as well as a very useful phrase to neatly sum it up, ‘colonial mediocracy’. Excellent, I’m going to use that.) Thanks also to Iain, of course, for providing this much-needed platform.

    ( Since this is my one day of relatively uninterrupted internet usage, could I apologise for my poor editing of my own hurried comments? I mean, ‘Foucauld’ for goodness sake! Just for anyone who noticed, of course.)

    Liked by 4 people

  35. Thanks for the article Alf. To me it’s as comfortable as night following day. I’ve worked with Stuart for fast approaching two decades now. He is a design genius but don’t tell him I said that. He is also one of the fun people to hang out with. He’s charming, funny and self deprivating. I’ve always gravitated to folk who are serious about their work but are not so full of puffery to take themselves so seriously on a personal level. That is Stuart Ballantyne to a tee. There are Scots folk like Stuart and I who travelled the world but still care immensely about Scotland. We were just wanderers exploring the world. It’s a fine Scottish tradition. Having negotiated with CMAL and Transport Scotland on a potential sale of a ropax cat we were never saddened upon a failure to sell a vessel. Our mantra is always move on to the next deal. We were saddened by the ineptitude and false premises in the country of our birth. Onwards and upwards I guess. Keep fighting the good fight towards competency.

    Liked by 4 people

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