Skip to comments.CLINTON: No such thing as a free lunch when taxpayer helps pick up tab for Bill
Posted on 05/10/2006 11:37:00 PM PDT by MadIvan
Key quote "That money would have been far better spent in Malawi, rather than on a booze-up for members of the Executive. They have lost all sense of priority. If people want to have lunch with Bill Clinton, fine, but not at a total abuse of taxpayers' money." - Alex Neil, SNP MSP for Central Scotland
Story in full
BILL Clinton, the former president of the United States, flew into Scotland yesterday to speak at a gala lunch subsidised by tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money.
Although the event was organised by three Glasgow businessmen, the Executive paid out £20,000 to support the event. Government agencies, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and other public bodies took tables at a cost of £5,000 each.
Among the politicians who enjoyed a lunch of Scottish lobster, rack of lamb and Drambuie ice-cream, washed down with an elegant 2003 Crozes Hermitage, were Tom McCabe, the finance minister, and Tavish Scott, the Liberal Democrat transport minister. Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, was also at the event in Glasgow's Thistle Hotel.
Glasgow council taxpayers might have been surprised to learn the authority thought it needed to buy a table, which was headed by Steven Purcell, the council leader.
Alex Neil, SNP MSP for Central Scotland and convener of the enterprise committee, said if the Executive wanted to help charities there were more efficient ways of doing it. "That money would have been far better spent in Malawi, rather than on a booze-up for members of the Executive. They have lost all sense of priority. If people want to have lunch with Bill Clinton, fine, but not at a total abuse of taxpayers' money."
Mr Neil said that only Jack McConnell, the First Minister, and another member of Cabinet were needed to represent Scotland. "It annoys me that we are working with charities struggling to get £10,000 and the Executive says there is no money available - and then they waste £20,000 on an event like this."
Bill Aitken, the Conservative chief whip, said:
"I am all for promoting Scotland, but this clearly has not been value for money. The fact that Mr Clinton turned up so late indicates that he did not consider the event important and this money could have been better spent."
Mr Clinton did not attend the meal, but chose instead to play golf at Prestwick. It was only after shooting an 89 on the famous Ayrshire links that he headed to Glasgow to wow his audience with an 80-minute speech.
Despite Mr Clinton's absence from the meal itself, the chance to hear the former president speak was enough to open the cheque books of people from a wide range of businesses. Royal Bank of Scotland took three of the 50 tables, each one costing £5,000. The HSBC took one, as did Dunfermline Building Society.
They were packed in alongside the hairdresser Charlie Miller, the businesswoman Michelle Mone, and Barry Ferguson, the captain of Rangers Football Club. Sir Tom Hunter, the entrepreneur and philanthropist, the former footballer Kenny Dalglish and Willie Haughey, the tycoon, were also present.
Mr Clinton set out his vision of the world in the 21st century, using the forces of globalisation for good and harnessing the full potential of clean energy.
He also gave public support to his old friend, Tony Blair. Mr Clinton described the "third way" as the "best political philosophy" for a modern country.
He said: "Whatever the political problems the government are in, the UK is way better off than it would have been had it not been governed the way it has for the last ten years."
An Executive spokesman said it had spent £20,000 on branding the event and taking one table for international media. He said "This is a great opportunity to promote Scotland on the international stage so we think this is money well spent."
ProjectScotland, the Executive body to recruit youngsters into volunteering and Determined to Succeed, the Executive body to boost education standards, also had a table each, which they paid for.
Glasgow City Council said: "We are actively engaged in raising the city's profile on a national and international stage. Whether it be attracting further commercial investment and jobs, or showcasing our dramatic transformation and regeneration, it is crucial that Glasgow plays a part in events such as this."
Someone really ought to look into whether or not this was one of Slicks paid speaking engagements. Sometimes I think that clown won't take a dump unless someone pays him.
Sounds like he just bee essed his way through 80 minutes like he usually does.
SURE he shot an 89 on the links.
Sure he did. Uh huh.
Are you insinuating that a Clinton might be veracity challenged? Best be careful out there.
thanks. The guests are wowed by the 80 minute speech!! Ronald Reagan told Peggy Noonan - "no speach should last over 20 minutes." Looks like Klinton has his own formula and he never stops being a gas bag.
Sorry Scotland, but you were warned.
"It was only after shooting an 89 ..."
An 89? Yeah, right.
Aw, jeez, not this shit again!
Ha!! If you look at the cover, it says in Arabic "My Nightlife"
No kidding ... LOL!
And you have to read some of what he said from that article.
Man that guy is full of crap.
Can you imagine that a former head of state, lauded for his communication and speaking skills would utilize surfer slang in a speech to a business community?
LOL, what a combination.
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