The Devo Files: Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire)

I almost felt bad in posting this video. Then I remembered who Brian Donohoe is.

Brian Donohoe is what you’d expect from Scottish New Labour: former trade union official, went to Technical College, apprentice fitter & turner in the shipyards, engineer at a nuclear power plant. And, much like what you’d expect, he’s been in the party so long even he doesn’t seem to have realised that they’re not socialists any more.

Voting Record

MP since: 1st May 1997 (Cunninghame South), 5th May 2005 (Central Ayrshire)
Attendance record as of 23rd March 2014: 75.9% (3822 votes out of 5036)
Rebellions against party policy as of 23rd March 2014: 1.3% (48 votes out of 3822)

As ever, Mr Donohoe’s status as a “rebel” is only remarkable in how rarely you have to vote against the party in order to be seen as a loose cannon: nearly 99 times out of 100, Mr Donohoe will vote the way the whip tells him.

Devolution Record

Public Whip record: 41.9%
Did not vote on a second reading of the Scotland Bill
Voted for requiring Scottish ministers to order officers to start counting within four hours of polls closing
Did not vote on devolving regulation of air weapons
Did not vote on keeping insolvency powers with the Scottish parliament
Did not vote on keeping responsibility for regulating health officials with the Scottish Parliament
Did not vote on devolving tax quarrying and mining
Voted against code of conduct for Scottish ministers in relation to the treasury
Voted against devolving the Scottish elements of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Did not vote on devolving responsibility for railways that start and finish in Scotland
Voted against devolving elements of the Crown Estate and accountability of the Crown Estate
Voted against devolving timescales, time zones, and British Summer Time
Voted for devolving food content and labeling
Voted against allowing the Scottish government to tax companies’ profits
Voted for devolving the regulation of shale gas to Scotland

Mr Donohoe voted for devolution on 3 occasions, voted against devolution on 5 occasions, and didn’t turn up to vote 6 times.

Other Votes of Interest

Mr Donohoe’s voting record at Public Whip shows that he voted:

Against equal marriage
Moderately against human rights
Strongly against making abusive tax avoidance illegal
Strongly against limiting civil aviation pollution
Strongly against an Iraq inquiry
Strongly against no detention without charge or trial
Strongly against a referendum on Alternate Vote for MP election
Strongly against parliament transparency
Strongly against votes for 16 and 17-year-olds
Moderately for control orders
Moderately for the invasion of Iraq
Strongly for identity cards
Strongly for mass retention of communications data
Strongly for allowing ministers to intervene at coronor’s inquests
Strongly for nuclear power
Strongly for New Labour’s terror laws
Strongly for Trident replacement

The Devo Files

“The trouble is that we do not know whether it has delivered better outcomes or not in services. After more than a decade, the time is right now to carry out a study like this and see if devolution is delivering where it counts.”
– Brian Donohoe in July 2010

Mere weeks after being re-elected, Mr Donohoe chimes with a number of his New Labour colleagues, who cast doubt over whether devolution is actually all it’s cracked up to be.

“Devolving APD to Scotland is merely tinkering with it. We have to get shot of this hated tax right across the country to ensure all of our airports are competing on level terms.”
– Brian Donohoe in December 2014

That’s Mr Donohoe pulling the old “I don’t want Scotland to do anything the rest of the UK can’t do” thing that passes for solidarity in New Labour these days. Northern Ireland has control over APD; why shouldn’t Scotland?

And we’re expected to vote for this person to fight for more powers?

2013-2014 Expenses

Office Costs: £19,402.11
Staffing: £128,832.15
Travel: £24,656.97
Accommodation: £5,729.03
Connected party: Christine Donohoe (wife) Executive Secretary, £20,000.00 – £24,999.99
Grand Total: £178,620.26

In addition, here are a list of Mr Donohoe’s second home claims:

2004-05: £17,552
2005-06: £21,512
2006-07: £22,110
2007-08: £23,083

That includes £2,575 for a three-seat sofa and two double-seaters in February 2006 – which was £75 above the limit allowed for a three-piece suit, but the fees office allowed it:

“I’m aware of the £2,500 guideline set for furniture but as Mr Donohoe has exceeded this by £75, I don’t see any benefit in reducing this claim. It would antagonise Mr Donohoe and would make ourselves seem petty.”

Heaven forfend we antagonise the man who spent public money renovating a flat which he eventually sold.

The Traveller; Or, A Prospect of Society

In what is probably Mr Donohoe’s most shameful moment, he became the subject of much controversy over his statements on the traveller community in July 2011:

“I call it the Tamworth solution. Basically what happens is that the minute a travelling community arrives they send in agencies like social services, customs and excise to check the place over. It then becomes more hassle than it’s worth for travellers to bother going there. It’s my opinion that local authorities here are far too much on the side of the travellers and not enough on the side of the people who live here and make a contribution.

This is a scourge on our communities and much more has to be done.”

This prompted a correspondence with Ellie Dooks that really has to be read to be believed:

You make the fundamental error of believing there is ANY connection between ‘race’ and the ‘Travelling People’
You take a very ‘romantic’ view which for someone so intelligent is extremely concerning   I have spend 20 years examining the situation trying to ‘connect’ with the ‘Travellers’ who have singularly failed to demonstrate any responsibility for the actions that cause so much grief      Perhaps you should do the same before accusing me of making outrageous statements
– email, 29th June 2011

I recommend reading the whole sorry exchange. It goes far beyond the situation in Mossblown regarding one group of travellers, and into out-and-out discrimination of all travellers on ethnic grounds – as recognised by the Scottish Government – against the travelling communities. I don’t know Mr Donohoe personally, and so I cannot say he is or is not racist – but you don’t have to be racist to say things that are. And the things Mr Donohoe says are racist.

Still, that was four years ago. Perhaps Mr Donohoe has acknowledged this and is open to being more accommodating towards…

Le sigh.

“Calling for a review of the current “non-harassment” legislation.”

Shutting Down Debate, Part 96

Better Together had a long history of closed debates, cancellations, and other evasions, which makes their accusations of Yes Scotland “shutting down” or “poisoning” debate rather hollow – it’s a bit hard to shut down debate when you’re the ones who don’t want the debate to be broadcast to a wider audience. We can only hope Mr Donohoe will be more confident in his arguments in the coming weeks.

Nonetheless, Wings Over Scotland has the audio of the two-hour debate up, where you can compare and contrast what Mr Donohoe said and did then, and what he’s saying and doing now.

Nothing will change as far as the disabled and the people who are handicapped are concerned. Nothing will happen in terms of a vote that will say that you maintain yourself and the strength of the Union. That’s clear and that’s the case as it is.”
– Brian Donohoe, February 2013

On the 12th of November 2013, just under a year later, 47 New Labour MPs abstained from a motion to repeal the Bedroom Tax. It was defeated by 26 votes. Brian Donohoe was one of the 10 Scottish New Labour MPs that didn’t even vote. On 26th of March 2014, the government voted overwhelmingly to apply a Welfare Cap which Left Foot Forward said would hit the disabled hard, and which the Black Triangle Campaign recommended be abolished in an independent Scotland. Brian Donohoe was one of 7 Scottish New Labour MPs that didn’t even vote.

He couldn’t even wait until after the referendum to be proven wrong.

Alternate Histories


“Is it not also the case that the UK has not been invaded by a foreign body for more than 750 years? Surely that in itself demonstrates just how successful the Union has been.”
– Brian Donohoe, 6th February 2014

This is something else. In order for it to be true, the United Kingdom would have to have been established sometime before 1264.

Here are a list of things that happened in 1264:

  • Kublai Khan becomes Khagan (Khan of Khans) of the Mongols
  • Alexander III, King of Scots, took the Isle of Man from the Norwegians
  • King Alexander’s son, also called Alexander, was born
  • The Second Baron’s War began
  • Henry III of England ordered a massacre of Jews in Canterbury.
  • The Parliament of Ireland meets for the first time.
  • The Great Comet of 1264 foretells the death of Pope Urban IV
  • The Latin Principality of Achaea defeats the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Makriplagi
  • The Duchy of Ferrera and the Landgraviate of Hesse were established
  • Merton College is Founded

Here are a list of things that didn’t happen in 1264:

  • Dinosaurs roamed the earth
  • Calvin Kline was not depicted in a woodcut washing his breeches in a brook
  • The Union of the Parliaments of Scotland & England

Here are a small list of independent countries in the British Isles in 1264:

  • Scotland
  • England
  • Wales
  • Various kingdoms of Ireland

Here are a list of invasions which happened after 1264, not including Scottish, English, Welsh or Irish invasions of Scotland, England, Wales or Ireland:

  • The French invasion of the Channel Islands, 1325
  • The French invasions of England, 1385/1405
  • Perbin Warbeck’s invasions of England, 1495, 1496, and 1497
  • William III’s invasion of England, 1688

On the one hand, the last time Scotland was invaded by a nation other than England was the year 839: clearly we didn’t need England’s protection, given we fended off successive Viking invasions. On the other hand, the last time Ireland was invaded by a nation other than England was during the Irish Rebellion of 1798… Back when Ireland was part of the UK. It was invaded by the French. Which means that even if you’re being generous, and assume Mr Donohoe simply meant that there was no invasion of the British Isles in the last 750 years, it’s still incorrect. This man was invited to a dinner with arms dealers…

It really was a very stupid thing to say.


This is a real graphic on his real website.

This is a real graphic on his real website.

 “We should be on the offensive not the defensive. Our record is there to speak for itself. This has to be taken forward on the basis of fairness to all.”
– Mr Donohoe in July 2011 speaking about Rangers’ hiring of Media House in order to combat accusations that the club played a part in exacerbating sectarian tensions. Mr Donohoe is the all-party Rangers Group Secretary. In no-doubt unrelated news, Media House contributed registrable donations to the 2010 re-election campaign for… Brian Donohoe!

“I’m delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is making this money available to local communities. Like many areas across the UK, the impact of the First World War on the people of Central Ayrshire was extensive. For those who want to find out more about its legacy or who wish to mark the Centenary, I would urge them to get in touch with HLF. I also hope to arrange an event to celebrate the start of the First World War and have previously asked anyone with any stories from relatives who experienced the war to get in touch.”
– Mr Donohoe’s rather poorly-worded press release from May 2013 is surely meant to say commemorate or mark rather than celebrate

“I hope I have gone some way in showing these brave men just how absolutely honoured that not only I am, but I would hope everyone in attendance was at being part of this special day to recognise the sacrifices they made doing their duty to Queen and Country.”
– We’ll give Mr Donohoe the benefit of the doubt and assume his tribute to the Arctic Convoy heroes in May 2013 was a flub, and he was not making an untoward comment regarding the monarch during the Second World War… King George VI

“I am well aware that among some this may not be a welcome proposal however, we must take it on the face of what it could achieve. We have too many young people in this age group relying on Jobseeker’s Allowance and not actually doing anything to improve their prospects. We need to reform welfare in this country and it must reflect the fact that there is a majority of working people who feel the welfare system is failing to reward people who have worked and contributed to it. This policy is designed to encourage young people to gain the skills they need to secure a job.”
– Mr Donohoe supporting Ed Miliband’s plans to cut Jobseeker’s Allowance in June 2014, a move that was condemned by Unite. Hopefully he can explain how he’s going to “secure jobs” for those on welfare when in 2010 there were 5 claimants to every vacancy in Central Ayrshire?

“Devolution was not supposed to end at the front door of the Scottish Parliament; it was supposed to be passed down to local authorities. Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the worst decisions made by the Scottish Executive was the decision to freeze council tax, which meant that, for instance, disabled children did not receive the services that they should have received, and need?”
– Mr Donohoe in parliament, October 2014, needs to explain why New Labour didn’t pass down devolution to local authorities like it was apparently “supposed to” despite being in power for ten years – as he well knew, being the MP for Cunninghame South during that decade?

“They’ll not find any evidence at all but it gets them a couple of lines in the newspapers. I despair at it. If it was a member of the public asking Police Scotland to do this they would be getting charged for wasting police time. It has all been checked in the past, people are chasing their tails and it’s a waste of police time.”
– Mr Donohoe was strangely irritated at the Police Scotland enquiry into rendition flights at Prestwick in December 2014; perhaps he’s getting nervous about his role in supporting the Iraq War and rejecting calls for inquiries?

“This is not good enough. Common courtesy would be to give more notice than what is quite often given. I have lost count of the amount of times I have received ‘courtesy’ emails from Scottish ministers giving me barely any notice that they are undertaking an engagement in my constituency. Although Nicola Sturgeon is to be commended for dishing up meals to school children at Dreghorn Primary, she really must ensure that common courtesy is shown to her fellow elected members.”
– Mr Donohoe is a touch tetchy about the First Minister failing to adhere to parliamentary standards. I’m sure your constituents in Central Ayrshire are perfectly content that you showed more concern for “parliamentary standards” than their own well-being when you didn’t turn up for a Bedroom Tax vote out of respect for the “pairing” system.


Guarantors of Devolution_Brian Donohoe

“Look, it’s a Russian submarine coming up the Clyde on the radar!” “No Mr Donohoe, that’s the Gateside Primary 6’s animation project showing the formation of molecules.” ” Amazing they could pick up Russian subs on this!”

I think it’s clear now that Mr Donohoe has said a lot of stupid things, especially during the referendum campaign. But by far one of the most mind-blowingly clueless contributions ever made in the House of Commons happened in January 2015:

“I just can’t believe what he’s just said. I honestly just don’t believe – there are submarines coming from Russia going up the Clyde right now. He’s trying to tell us that we shouldn’t have a deterrent? Absolutely unreal! And tankers going over the top of Scotland from the same place? Absolutely unreal that we should find ourselves absolutely defenceless, it’s a crazy notion.”

Angus MacNeil rather expertly skewers it through stuttering in incredulous shock, as does the Reverend, but I think I can describe the effectiveness of the UK’s “deterrent” more succinctly:

Oz1 Oz2

Can It Be Done?

Dr. Philipa Whitford in May 2014, delivering most of the arguments New Labour have been using in their 2015 election campaign… which, pre-referendum, they dismissed as scaremongering.

Central Ayrshire has been abolished and resurrected in the past century: it was established in 1950, but was absorbed into Cunninghame South until 2005. This corner of Ayrshire has been Labour for almost its entire existence, bar a brief Tory occupation in 1955, but the SNP have been regular runners-up in recent years. Since Brian Donohoe was previously the MP for until its abolition in 2005, it might be instructive to see how he’s fared through those years:

General Election 1992: Cunninghame South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Brian Donohoe 19,687 52.9 −7.9
SNP Ricky Bell 9,007 24.2 +13.2
Conservative Sebastian A.A. Leslie 6,070 16.3 +0.0
Liberal Democrat Brian J. Ashley 2,299 6.2 −5.7
Natural Law William T. Jackson 128 0.4 N/A
Majority 10,680 28.7
Turnout 37,191 75.9 +0.9
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1997: Cunninghame South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Brian Donohoe 22,233 62.7 +9.8
SNP Mrs. Margaret Burgess 7,364 20.8 −3.4
Conservative Mrs Pamela M. Paterson 3,571 10.1 −6.2
Liberal Democrat Erlend Watson 1,604 4.5 −1.7
Socialist Labour Krishna Edwin 494 1.4 N/A
Referendum Party Allan Martlew 178 0.5 N/A
Majority 14,869 42.0
Turnout 35,444 71.5
Labour hold Swing
General Election 2001: Cunninghame South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Brian Donohoe 16,424 58.4 −4.3
SNP Bill Kidd 5,194 18.5 −2.3
Conservative Mrs Pamela M. Paterson 2,782 9.9 −0.2
Liberal Democrat John R. Boyd 2,094 7.4 +2.9
Scottish Socialist Rosemary Byrne 1,233 4.4 N/A
Socialist Labour Bobby Cochrane 382 1.4 +0.0
Majority 11,230 39.9
Turnout 28,109 56.2 −15.3
Labour hold Swing
General Election 2005: Central Ayrshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Brian Donohoe 19,905 46.4% -2.8
Conservative Garry Clark 9,482 22.1% -4.1
Liberal Democrat Iain Kennedy 6,881 16.1% +9.7
SNP Jahangir Hanif 4,969 11.6% -3.0
Scottish Socialist Denise Morton 820 1.9% -1.0
Socialist Labour Robert Cochrane 468 1.1% +0.5
UKIP Jim Groves 346 0.8% +0.7
Majority 10,423 24.3%
Turnout 42,871 62.5 +1.0
Labour hold Swing +0.7
General Election 2010: Central Ayrshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Brian Donohoe 20,950 47.7 +1.3
Conservative Maurice Golden 8,943 20.4 -1.8
SNP John Mullen 8,364 19.0 +7.5
Liberal Democrat Andrew Chamberlain 5,236 11.9 -4.1
Socialist Labour James McDaid 422 1.0 -0.1
Majority 12,007 27.3
Turnout 43,915 64.2 +1.1
Labour hold Swing +1.5

Mr Donohoe’s vote count, percentage, and majority has nothing if not yo-yoed, usually falling somewhere in the 20,000 range in terms of votes, while fluctuating in terms of majority – his 2010 turnout was his second highest in terms of votes, yet resulted in his weakest majority:

1992: 19,687 (52.9%, -7.9, 28.7% majority)
1997: 22,233 (62.7%, +9.8, 42% majority)
2001: 16,424 (58.4%, -4.3, 29.9% majority)
2005: 19,905 (46.4%, -2.8, 62.5% majority)
2010: 20,950 (47.7%, +1.3, 27.3% majority)

Meanwhile, the SNP presence in Central Ayrshire appears to be weaker when taken apart from Cunninghame South – yet even just taking the last two elections into account shows them almost doubling their vote count & percentages, and turning a point loss into a significant gain:

1992: 9,007 (24.2%, +13.2)
1997: 7,364 (20.8%, -3.4)
2001: 5,194 (18.5%, -2.3)
2005: 4,969 (11.6%, -3)
2010: 8,364 (19%, +7.5)

Dr Whitford was one of the stars of the referendum campaign. Mr Donohoe’s stewardship of Central Ayrshire – and Cunninghame South before it – has been resolutely unremarkable, while his public relations have been little short of disastrous. It’s time for a change.


You can contact Mr Donohoe via his website and Facebook… And that’s it. I can’t find a Twitter. His website in particular is bizarre: give the clock a wee whirl.

Or, you can contact Dr. Whitford via her website, Twitter, or Facebook. Their fundraiser is here.

4 thoughts on “The Devo Files: Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire)

  1. […] Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire) […]

  2. jimtwp says:

    That’s a fine piece of assemblage Mr H 🙂

    I started trying to do the same a month or so back and rapidly lost the will to live.

    A minor typo about half way down. Your embedded link is correct but it should show King George VI

    Keep up the grand work!

  3. […] Mhairi Black, Anne McLaughlin, Richard Arkless, Patricia Gibson, Natalie McGarry, Chris Stephens, Philippa Whitford, and Gavin Newlands, toppled the Big Beasts of New Labour with comfortable majorities in their […]

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