Swinney scores iPad row own goal defending Matheson over data roaming charges

John Swinney during First Minister's Questions
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


John Swinney has made a bright start as Scotland’s First Minister but defending his pal Michael Matheson seems a rare mis-step.

Matheson has tried to avoid scrutiny throughout the whole scandal of his £11,000 data roaming charges.

Most voters think that he broke the rules and tried to wriggle his way out of paying for it.

He was more than happy for taxpayers to foot the bill until it caused a row.

He even tried to pretend that the iPad had only been used for parliamentary business. But eventually the truth was dragged out of him and it emerged that the bill had been racked up by family members streaming football in Morocco.

He then took an age to stand down as a minister, only doing so when it became clear the investigation was going to put him in a bad light.

Matheson should count himself very lucky to get a month’s ban and two months’ wages docked. If he was a Westminster MP, he would be facing the sack.

The whole debacle has dragged out long enough. Matheson should do the decent thing and resign.

Swinney needs to understand why the public are angry and stop defending the indefensible.

He may have a point on the process being unfair as Tory MSP Annie Wells publicly criticised Matheson – while also being in charge of his punishment.

That may well be unfair. But politics is all about how things look to the voters – and this is not a great look for the new First Minister.

And it will become far worse if his apparent support for Matheson becomes a General Election issue.

If Matheson does not stand down, it could dog the SNP until polling day.

Starmer’s no fuel

Keir Starmer is absolutely right to put the cost-of-living crisis and crippling fuel bills at the front and centre of his campaign.

He is correct that the Tories have presided over an “absolutely unforgivable” drop in living standards.

We have had to suffer through successive disastrous Tory leaders since 2010. We’ve had austerity under David Cameron and Theresa May. Brexit chaos under Boris and outright trashing of the economy under Liz Truss.

Rishi Sunak said this would change on his watch – but has presided over soaring inflation and wages that don’t keep up with the cost of living.

Too many people have had to give up the basics of everyday life as rents and mortgages have skyrocketed.

Others have had to choose between heating and eating with energy prices through the roof.

All of this is the fault of the Tories – which is why they need to be booted out of office on July 4.

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