Green minister Lorna Slater was last night accused of a ‘spectacular display of hypocrisy’ for chartering a private catamaran to visit a Scottish island.
The beleaguered minister is set to travel to the Isle of Rum on the vessel today, instead of using a Scottish Government-owned CalMac ferry.
Ms Slater has previously been called a ‘hypocrite’ for urging Scots to abandon domestic flights before setting off on her own trip to Canada, where her partner, Gordon Craig, shared photos of the pair going dog sledding.
Social media photos also show the MSP on holiday with Mr Craig in Japan, which is more than 5,500miles away from Scotland. They enjoyed sake and whisky tasting, strolls around the old imperial palace and trying on samurai armour.
Today, critics said Ms Slater’s decision to rely on a chartered service to the Isle of Rum would go down ‘like a lead balloon’ with islanders desperate for better ferry services, and accused her of behaving ‘live royalty’.
Green minister Lorna Slater and her partner Gordon going dog sledding in the Canadian Rockies
Today, critics said Ms Slater’s decision to rely on a chartered service to the Isle of Rum would go down ‘like a lead balloon’
Rum is served by CalMac as part of its Small Isles route, but its usual vessel has been redeployed because of chaos elsewhere on the ferry network, with limits currently on how many passengers can travel.
The fare for the 85-minute crossing would have cost Ms Slater £4.70.
The Scottish Government – which includes the SNP and Greens in a ruling coalition – has refused to say how much it is paying for the private charter.
Donald Cameron, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said: ‘Lorna Slater’s hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness is breathtaking.
‘The Greens are forever lecturing the public on the need to use public transport, yet she is happy for the Scottish Government to charter a private boat to take her to and from Rum.
‘Her excuse for doing so – that, essentially, the CalMac timetable doesn’t suit – will go down like a lead balloon with island communities.
‘Those who rely on lifeline ferry services don’t have the luxury of hiring a private boat to travel.
‘Instead, they are dependent on an ageing and unreliable CalMac fleet that they have been lumbered with because of the scandalous incompetence of the government Lorna Slater is at the centre of.
‘Her tone-deaf indifference to them is another kick in the teeth to betrayed islanders.’
Ms Slater is due to arrive on Rum at around 10am today and will depart at approximately 2.30pm.
She will travel on a catamaran chartered from Western Isles Cruises. The vessel is expected to be the MV Larven, which can carry 42 passengers.
The Green minister walking near the imperial palace during a trip to Kyoto in Japan
Ms Slater has been slammed for chartering a boat to the Isle of Rum rather than getting a public ferry. The vessel is expected to be the MV Larven (pictured)
The Isle of Rum is located in the Inner Hebrides off the West Coast of Scotland
One SNP politician told the Mail: ‘Those Greens are demonstrating another spectacular display of hypocrisy.
‘They’re forever lecturing the rest of us on using public transport, and Lorna Slater goes and uses a private charter.
‘I know they don’t like the royals but they act like royalty themselves. They clearly think CalMac ferries – which they actually run – are for plebs, like the expendable fishermen whose livelihoods they want to destroy.’
Publicly funded CalMac’s timetable means that if Ms Slater wanted to return on the same day she would spend less time on Rum than if she chartered a private boat.
A warning on its website states: ‘Due to MV Loch Bhrusda providing additional support in the Outer Isles, Spanish John [ferry] will be operating for vehicles and freight and MV Larven will operate the passenger-only service to the Small Isles on Saturdays.
‘Passenger numbers will be limited, and pre-booking is essential.’
The Scottish Government said Ms Slater will meet islanders to discuss key issues ‘including the future of Kinloch Castle’ after its sale fell through.
The couple on holiday in Neuschwanstein, home of the romantic Neuschwanstein Castle
Ms Slater is a co-leader of the Greens alongside Patrick Harvie (left). They are currently in a power-sharing agreement with the SNP. The pair are pictured with former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in August 2021
City financier and Tory Party donor Jeremy Hosking was set to buy the former hunting lodge from government agency NatureScot but the Isle of Rum Community Trust claimed there was a lack of information about his plans.
Mr Hosking pulled out of the purchase in March this year, claiming he was ‘fed up being a pawn in a game’ between NatureScot’s ‘sensible head’ and ‘the anarchy head’ of biodiversity minister Ms Slater’s department.
He said at the time: ‘I have tried to speak to Ms Slater but got no reply. Enough is enough. It’s the Greens who have completely crushed a conservation project. It’s unbelievable.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘She [Ms Slater] will be travelling with members of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, as well as NatureScot and Scottish Government staff, by a charter operated by Western Isles Cruises.
‘This will maximise time on the island and support a small local business.’
Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: ‘Lorna Slater has been in office for less than two years but she is already acting like she is born to rule.’
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: ‘This is stunning hypocrisy from Lorna Slater. Scotland deserves better.’
Ms Slater refused to comment.
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