Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Eh... What just happened?

Yesterday a motion was put to the Scottish Parliament, normally something you wouldn't bother about since its a bit boring and humdrum. But it throws in to stark relief many of the reasons why we need a yes vote this coming September.

The vote was around free school meals for kids in primary one to three and an extension of childcare for some kids who have parents out of work. 

The part of the motion concerning free school meals has been in place in England for a while prompting Ruth Davidson (Leader of the Conservative group in Holyrood) to slaver:

"We have a Westminster policy delivered with Westminster money, and the SNP playing catch-up but trying to claim the credit”

There are so many things wrong with this statement its difficult to know where to start. A 'Westminster policy' wouldn't affect Scotland because this area of government is devolved - only Holyrood policy counts here. 'Westminster money' - insultingly, there is no such thing, its our money. The tax you (or your parents) pay in Scotland is collected by HM treasury for disbursement across the UK - its always YOUR money.

Ruth loves to give people the impression Westminster 'funds' Scotland, ignoring entirely just how much cash flows from the people of Scotland to Westminster in the first place.

The SNP 'playing catch up' has nothing to do with what ever party happens to be the Scottish Government of the day and everything to do with the way Scotland gets its pocket money from Westminster - enter the Barnett Consequential (yawn.) The Scottish parliament didn't have the money for this until England started spending on the policy, at that point a consequential kicked in and Scotland got its per capita share of the expenditure (worth around £60m,) albeit a year hence; this is how Scottish devolved affairs are funded.  Its also why Ruth Davidson (a Tory) can claim the SNP or who ever else happens to be in power (although we suspect she'd never utter it about a Tory administration) will always be behind the loop.

How most Scottish funding works and why without independence; it really doesn't.

Its a common theme coming from Scottish opposition parties, on childcare for example, in the Scottish Government's publication 'Scotland's Future' they want to provide of 1000 hours of nursery care in an independent Scotland. Opposition parties say; why not do it now, its devolved. But how does the Scottish Government pay for it? If independent, the extra cash raised from tax revenues when parents return to work will go into a Scottish exchequer (which is how it would be funded,) currently it goes to the Westminster exchequer - where it stays - unless a consequential pops up. Otherwise something else in the Scottish budget must be cut, unlike Westminster, Holyrood cannot borrow to cover any funding short fall for devolved policies.

While this is can be a bit complicated, its exactly why devolution - as Westminster would have it - doesn't work and its why they desperately want a no vote in September. Every year Westminster is handed a blank cheque signed by Scottish tax payers to do with as it pleases, if it doesn't cover all of Westminster's lofty needs, don't worry, we write them another one to cover the interest on the money they had to borrow.

All of that with the background knowledge Scotland more than pays its way, Scotland generates 9.9% of the UK's total tax revenue with only 8.4% of its population.

Courtesy of Business for Scotland

This means, Scotland funds itself and would require (little or) no borrowing while the rest of the UK doesn't and does. We in Scotland end up helping to pay off interest on borrowing we didn't actually need in the first place. (Follow the link under the picture above for a more detailed explanation; its important and a bit galling.)

As usual I digress.

Labour's Kezia Dugdale was on the telly last night explaining why 'Scottish' Labour voted against free school lunches for all P1's to 3's. John McKay of Scotland Tonight asked: "Why did Labour vote against free school meals today?" Her reply...
"We had to vote against the government’s motion today because the last line of the motion said that you needed independence to ensure that kids in Scotland had the best start in life, the best opportunity to grow up in the best country in the world. We disagree, we don’t think you need independence to do that."
For reasons already given (Barnett funding,) the point about needing independence to ensure kids get the best start is self-evident. Kezia (a Labour MSP) must not know what 'ensure' actually means; or perhaps she doesn't realise, if Westminster decide to discontinue the policy over free meals, funding for it in Scotland would disappear overnight?

To summarise, Labour voted against this policy because? 

A) It doesn't go far enough
B) It goes too far
C) We hate anything which might put independence in a positive light.

Pinched from wingsoverscotland, (its Kezia Dugdale.)
The answer seems to be C. Labour - to score a point in the independence debate - voted against free meals for five to seven year olds, some of whom are living in quite dire poverty (partly caused by policies put in place during Labour's time in office at Westminster.)

The next logical step on this is universality (where every one gets access, not just those who need it.) Its a gnarly topic, why for example should rich OAP's get a free bus pass when they also run a posh car? Its a valid point, until you come to understand just how expensive means testing can be. In the area of school meals, there can be a stigma attached to those in receipt of free lunches. Even I remember at school the cruel ribbing kids got (in between hiding from dinosaurs and playing with lumps of partially formed coal) if they were getting a free lunch. 

This policy does away with it completely and anyway, isn't having free school meals a good thing to do generally? Just because a family may be above the breadline doesn't necessarily mean the kids are being fed. Some might say, in order to be above the breadline, many parents have to spend so much time working they have less & less time to prepare hearty fayre for their sprogs.

In any case, this demonstrates why the current constitutional set-up does Scotland a disservice and highlights the hypocritical, self-serving nature of the opposition at Holyrood and the wider Better Together campaign.

Meanwhile, there are many in Scotland who will witness examples of this over and over again but because its the SNP and a man called Alex Salmond they'll side with arguments made by people like Kezia Dugdale or Ruth Davidson.

Next time, try ignoring the people and concentrate on the words only, maybe then promising free school meals for five to seven year olds won't sound quite so much like the work of the devil - as Kezia or Ruth would love you to believe.


  1. It's unfortunate, but the Bain Principle of voting against everything that the SNP proposes sometimes leaves Labour looking not just stupid, but pathetically so too.

    You make the point well that the government was right to say that this policy among others, can only be guaranteed by independence.

    If, as you say, the government in London decides that saving more money from welfare demands the scrapping of that policy for English kids, then Scotland will have to decide how it will deal with the consequent reduction in our funding.

    Kezia Dugdale is a godsend to the yes campaign. She is so monumentally stupid, inept and inarticulate that she could convince Ed Miliband to vote SNP.

    Still her mentor was Lord George ffoukes, aristocrat of this parish... you wouldn't expect much.

  2. SLAB have now incurred the wrath of Save the Children, the EIS the TUC and the Child Poverty Action Group for their unwillingness to support the free school meals for children.

    How an ex teacher such as Lamont could denounce free meals fror kids claiming the money could have been better spent is beyond me.

    Surely SLAB have now been found out, for what they really are, and its not a pretty sight.

  3. The thing is, SLAB have done this several times yet its vote remains steady. They must have the most stolid voter base in history, for people not realise just how two-faced they're being.

    And as Tris said, fielding MSP's from the George Ffoulkes school of politics has to surely put yet more pressure on that turgid voter base.

    I reckon Johann Lamont could go around doorsteps punching many Labour voters in the chops and they'd still tick the box with the red rose next to it.

    (I've never voted Labour so don't know if its still a red rose or a white turd.)

    Dugdale is as indecipherable as Sarwar and just as glassy eyed.

  4. The thing is, SLAB have done this several times yet its vote remains steady. They must have the most stolid voter base in history, for people not realise just how two-faced they're being.

    But when you have all of the media protecting you they can talk utter bollocks as the majority voters will be kept totally unaware.

  5. "How an ex teacher such as Lamont could denounce free meals fror kids claiming the money could have been better spent is beyond me."

    Really? do you think those Labour mp's in Westminster come for free? and besides don't you think theyre worth the extra 11% they are so graciously declining to take and insist on giving it to the kids to extand free school meals to all children?

  6. Ironically, if it wasn't for the Scottish and UK media being such dicks in this area, Scottish voters would be even more of a laughing stock around the globe for falling for the arrant pish which spurts from Labour/Better Together gobs.

    Every cloud...

    (I cannot fathom how, Johann Lamont could ever have been a teacher, it has to be the only decent thing 'Scottish' Labour have done - facilitated a move for Johann away from 'teaching' Scottish kids.)

  7. Pa

    Just commented on Munquin and totally agree with what you have said. Ruth Davidson has a bloody nerve doesn't she. Like Lamont an asset to the YES camp with her implication that Scotland survives on English money and the good grace of the English people blah blah blah. The really annoying thing about her comments are though that due to zero reporting of these type of comments, that might even be racist against Scots in some ways, people believe them when they hear them. But it will just get worse this year, and I suspect that it will backfire and hopefully enough as it sounds like a lot of labour voters are starting to turn away from being the poor family members of the tory party.


  8. I would like to hope the majority of people see through Ruth and her wittering. She has a double handicap in that she's a Tory in Scotland and, well, she is who she is.

    I find her manner to be quite objectionable, I'm not that old - but to be lectured by someone so obviously inexperienced and for the substance of those lectures to be such obvious bullshit...

    Well, I reckon she's even more of a no-mark than Willie Rennie. At least he's truly harmless, I don't imagine Cameron listens to the likes of Ruthy, but you never know, he pays £90 for a haircut...


  9. Well £90 and an MBE fr his barber, although I'm sure in the elevated circles he moves in they are stylists, not barbers.

    Actually I always though his hair looks shit, so if he's forking out £90 for it the boy must be a real Tory.

    In any case, I imagine that it is us that pays for his hair being cut.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?