SNP MSP in racist bus row apologises (again)

26 June 2021

6:59 PM

26 June 2021

6:59 PM

Regular readers may recall the tale of James Dornan, SNP MSP and amateur Hate-Finder General. Earlier this month, he gave a speech in the Scottish Parliament taking aim at Lothian Buses, one of Edinburgh’s main commuter services and a target of long-running antisocial behaviour. The company’s drivers recorded more than 500 such incidents in the first four months of 2021 and on March 17 and a number of other dates it was forced to cancel evening services.

March 17, however, is St Patrick’s Day and Dornan theorised to Holyrood:

I can only assume that Lothian Buses concluded one of two things: that I would be out celebrating my birthday or that Irish Catholics were to blame for the rise in antisocial behaviour. Why else would it cancel buses only for the night of a ubiquitous Irish Catholic holiday, when pubs were not open and a stay-at-home order was in place? Could members imagine that happening on 12 July or on a Muslim or Sikh festival? That was simply not acceptable.

This raised eyebrows for three reasons. First, Lothian Buses’ troubles with antisocial behaviour have been wellpublicised. Second, none of the company’s statements about the problem have alluded to Irish Catholics being the source. And third, Lothian Buses is almost wholly owned by Edinburgh City Council, which is run by an SNP-led administration.

The last of these was always what was going to do for Dornan and the council, including SNP members, voted for a Tory motion calling on the Glasgow Cathcart MSP ‘to make a full public apology to the company for casting groundless aspersions on the integrity of its staff’. Now the Herald reports that Dornan has sent a letter to Lesley Macinnes, the council’s SNP transport convenor, which says:

For clarification purposes I want to make it clear that I am aware that Lothian Bus went on to have further changes to their service routes as the campaign against the attacks on buses progressed. My speech was meant to highlight how a section of community can be almost invisible when decisions, including corporate, are made. I never at any stage meant to imply that Lothian Buses or their staff were by this action anti-Irish or anti-Catholic. For that I do sincerely apologise.

Dornan is no newcomer to controversial comments. In the past, he has had to say sorry to Club 1872, a Rangers FC supporters’ group, for claiming they ‘abuse me regularly on their website’ and to clarify remarks about Ross Thomson, a former Scottish Tory MP who was an early supporter of the Prime Minister. Dornan characterised Thomson, who is gay, as Boris Johnson’s ‘fag’ and said Johnson would want him ‘to keep still whilst he uses his back as a table’. When challenged, the Nationalist MP maintained he was using the former public school term ‘fag’.

If he keeps this up, Holyrood hacks are going to need a shortcut key for the phrase ‘James Dornan has apologised’.

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