Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Daily Record

You'll be familiar with the phrase: 'With friends like these, who needs enemies...' I think we can apply it to The Daily Record. Its not a paper I read on account of it being a total rag and a Labour supporting rag at that.

But just suppose (for a moment) that collectively, the paper thought it was doing Scotland a favour by punting this out:

Its safe to say, confirmed Yes voters saw that on the news stands (I doubt they bought a copy) and did a mass collective snort, I dare say many No voters looked at it with jaded eyes. On the day after the referendum when it became apparent the No's had it, it soon became apparent the vow - literally - wasn't worth the paper it was written on.

Today in The Record, an article (using the term very loosely) by the incredibly annoying Torcuil Crichton has this image at its head:

I'm definitely not going to link to it on account of Crichton being the anus of Scottish political journalism. Basically, since the record successfully saved Scotland from itself, its now taken it upon itself to hold David Cameron and the Tories to the vow they made. The question I'd ask is where was this trailer - suitable appended with Miliband's name - at last week's Labour Conference?

The Daily Record is Scottish Labour in print form. They're the prim, self-appointed protectors of Scotland - they have a brain cell each but if they rubbed them together they wouldn't find a third to catch fire. In the run up to the referendum, Scotland was the brave group of explorers boldly hacking its way through vines & creepers of misinformation in a jungle of Unionist lies. Just as the intrepid team cited its goal - a tribe of incredibly attractive and shamelessly promiscuous people (lets say) - The Daily Record pursed its lips, tutted, smacked us over the head and dragged us away for our own protection.

Put simply; The Daily Record and Labour are a liability in Scotland. They're attempting to re-align themselves with all of the Scottish electorate against David Cameron & Tory stupidity - ignoring entirely that it was never about party politics or left & right - it was and remains an intrinsic problem with UK governance. Meanwhile; we're expected to forget that it was Labour who championed 'The Vow' via the political shipwreck that is Gordon Brown.

There is no such thing as Scottish Labour - there is only British Labour; it is a fully paid up member of the British Establishment and the most important condition of membership is that affiliates never do anything to harm the Current State of Affairs - even if it means harming themselves.

Scotland needs rid of the current crop of London-led Labour politicians in Scotland - if we tried to list the many ways in which they are truly terrible for us, the rocks will have melted with the sun. As for the Daily Record, I'm happy for it to continue - as the internal magazine for the Orange Order - I mean, it probably isn't even good enough for that but on the off-chance it keeps Torcuil Crichton away from Things That Really Matter, we should probably compromise.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Its just as well Scotland voted No...

Guardian 18th November 2013
... or we might have had to cut services.

The Times, less than a week after Scotland voted No.

Oh right...

In the run up to the referendum many of us online used the image of Danny Alexander gurning next to a representation of the Lib Dem's pledge about tuition fees to demonstrate the folly of believing any promises made by unionist politicians.

The notion that we'll be getting used to doing something similar with this...

... is a wee bit depressing.

I've decided Scotland is a strange place - for example - is there any other country that has dotted around its territory so many immovable reminders about the perfidy of its ruling establishment over the decades?

Yet, given the opportunity to come out from under that pernicious narcissistic control - we decide not to bother.

Newspapers and blogs are easier to miss than bridges spanning sometimes perilous watercourses or statues of bastards set upon plinths reaching one hundred feet into the Scottish sky. There are those who say last Thursday's vote was democratic - insofar as people put a cross on a ballot paper and stuffed it in a black box - those people might have a point. However - and I'm no expert - in order for democracy to function properly, it needs to have an effective - by which I mean - objective media to scrutinise claims and debunk lies.

Our media is part of the establishment and the establishment always trumps the political and/or constitutional will of the people.

Even in my short political memory... [Insert harp arpeggios here...] The Tories shafted Scotland in the 80's and 90's, then the mid 90's/early 00's saw New Labour coming in on the rebound - stultifying the UK with spin, participating in illegal wars and giving us political morons like Darling & Brown. The Lib Dems fielded Nick Clegg in a couple of TV debates who swooned and fell in to bed with Cameron's Tories. At which point, on account of the mainstream parties all being so enormously pish at running the country - UKIP got its feet under the table and are now driving Coalition policy.

Add in to that, the notion that two of recent history's worst politicians (already mentioned) came back to the fore and managed to terrify quite a lot of old folk into voting No thus saving this benighted union...

With the exception of The Herald On Sunday - every other newspaper published in Scotland supported a No vote while the BBC failed completely at pretending to be objective. 
That isn't democracy, its a stitch up.

Scotland's problem isn't the Tory party, its all the unionist parties. Scotland in my life time has been shafted by every single Westminster-based unionist-supporting party. Why? Because our votes don't count there, how many more times are people going to vote for a Westminster party thinking 'they'll listen this time'.

Since UKIP seems to be next in the lets-hump-Scotland queue (and they're probably going to go in dry) - it seems important to return in 2015 as few Unionist MP's as is humanly possibly. Labour are a Westminster party concerned only with power at Westminster - and to get power at Westminster - you need votes in the South of England. Since the South of England are so pissed off with their usual choice of party; they're turning to UKIP. Labour - via weasel words and vacuous soundbites - might say they abhor UKIP; be in no doubt though, scratch the surface and you'll see yellow & purple.

Since UKIP policy in Scotland is only slightly less popular than Norovirus, it seems to me we need to rid Scotland not just of Tories but of Westminster completely. The only way to do that is to return as many independence supporting MP's as possible to Westminster in 2015 - we can then have an entirely new and intrinsically different form of mandate for Scottish independence.

Some No voters already regret their choice. For others who aren't quite there yet; as more of the so-called vows that secured their vote evaporate, I sincerely hope they'll come over. We had a mandate for a referendum in Holyrood, but the result was corrupted by an unscrupulous British Establishment. Creating a fresh mandate - not just on the Union's doorstep - but within its walls at Westminster, would sweep away all false promises made to date. It will cause a constitutional earthquake that'll put sovereign power back in the hands of people living in Scotland - which is exactly where it should always be.

A tactical vote for the SNP at the Westminster GE in 2015 is a means to an end. Your Labour MP might be good for purely local issues but be in no doubt, when it comes to national or international policies that affect at a local level - they don't give a shit about you.

Perhaps with Salmond now gone, it'll be an easier decision to make. Although you can expect the press to start a special character assassination of who ever replaces him as soon as he or she accepts the job.

Remember though, eyes on the prize. The means might chafe but the ends are the people of Scotland getting the government they vote for every time - not just when the wishes of the good people of England happen to match ours.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Well, this is embarrassing...

So there it is, 54.3% of voters fell for the No Campaign while Yes Scotland managed a respectable but insufficient 44.7%.

It is a disappointment, I thought it would be closer. As I've said elsewhere, I'm not sure what it means to be a proud or patriotic Scot. We have nice scenery, decent pubs and many attributes, but I've never been asked to do anything for my country and certainly, just being born in a place doesn't qualify any one to feel proud about it.

What I am at the moment is mildly ashamed to be Scottish.

I don't like to think we bottled it although there will be many who did just that - add in the hundreds of thousands of comfortable middle class voters who only saw the debate in terms of some perceived narrow nationalism so had no clue about the real issues. I think many thought the Yes Campaign was driven by some misty-eyed tourist-tea-towel-inspired whim - they didn't explore each side of the debate properly because they never took it seriously in the first place.

So now, we're in the ignoble position of seeing what was one of the most negative, misleading and pinch-faced campaigns in recent history meet its goal. Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson, Jim Murphy and (dear God) The Oily Jackie Baillie are all claiming victory in Scotland. Led by politicians who weren't any good to begin with and who in the past have displayed eye watering contempt for normal standards of morality - are a majority of the Scottish electorate really just timorous suckers?

Paradoxically - because I don't blame them one bit - I hope the voters who felt bullied into voting No are regarding themselves with a gentle frisson of regret. And to the cynics who voted No because they whine - "nothing ever changes..." - I hope your next shite is a hedgehog because the cynicism that drove your No vote was created by the same people who wanted you to vote that way all along. I dare say - in between being so accustomed to being right you've forgotten what its like to be wrong - you'll still get the chance to feel superior.

It'll still be interesting, people who bought into the last-gasp more-powers arguments will be first to start doubting their choice - did they not think paying tax for services then paying tax again for the same services seemed suspicious? Can we coin a phrase and call that Pyramid Taxation? Then there are those who voted No but decided they can continue to complain about Westminster cross-party fuckwittey, (I call these people UK Labour Faithful.) They'll never understand it doesn't matter who they vote for at Westminster; unless their hopes happen to gel with the English electorate and London business interests, they'll never get the government they vote for.

I don't really know what to say about the demographic that never thought we'd manage in the first place - knowledge tends to build confidence, is there any excuse for being willfully ignorant yet still know your actions will affect others so detrimentally? The referendum is being redrawn as a victory for democracy and in terms of turn out it certainly was that - unfortunately it was also a victory for rank ignorance & self-inflicted naivety.

And finally, those that voted No because you thought it would be a No anyway... 

I suppose, in the final analysis Scotland has always had to lie in a bed made by others. We had a limited time during which we could have changed that but instead; we chose to revert to type.

There are some things I am glad to take away from the debate; the people I've met, 
if not in person then certainly in hope & aspiration (there are too many to link to in this sentence - you know who you all are.) The satire & great humour of the No campaign for which the No side had no parallel and a much greater understanding of politics in the UK and Scotland's place in it.

I'm leaving the Yes stickers on my car to show I still and always will believe a Yes vote was righteous. While I'm slightly ashamed to be Scottish today, I'll always feel good about being part of the Yes Campaign.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Can you feel it?

Which ever way you're voting today, this is a day like no other. Never before in Scotland has a democratic vote meant as much as this one. From your brain, across your shoulder then down your arm through the tip of a tiny pencil hangs the balance. Even if you're voting No - although you'd be voting to give away power - you are voting with tangible capability.

This vote isn't about choosing between three or four insipid candidates, picking the best of a bad bunch or the lesser of two evils - its about choosing to reject those depressingly empty options for something better.

Of course there are risks but there are also opportunities - great opportunities. The notion that we need to be looked after by a London based establishment, that we couldn't do it as well or better ourselves; is outdated nonsense.

The notion that it is wiser to hand power to people who do not rely on our mandate than to award it to people who do - is fatuous.

Vote well today Scotland, because if you do not, no other vote will count for a very long time indeed.

Most of all though - vote with hope, not fear.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Final Words...

And they're not mine. I respect him hugely but my support is not limitless and I haven't always voted for the party he leads. He might hold the highest office in Scotland and polarise feeling, to some he's bellicose & arrogant - to others he's inspirational & statesman-like. 

Which ever your belief - ignore the history, the press vilification and attempts by Better Together and the rest to tie every negative instance in Scotland real or imagined to his name and just read the words below.

On their own, not linked or attributed to a source and away from the often maddening debate - they push beyond any reasonable doubt that only one outcome is right for the day after tomorrow...

Scotland re-emerging to take its place as an independent country, working constructively with her neighbours for the mutual benefit of the many - instead of the few.

Vote Yes.

"In these final hours of this historic campaign I want to speak directly to every person in this country who is weighing up the arguments they have heard.

I have no doubt people in Scotland will look past the increasingly desperate and absurd scare stories being generated daily from Downing Street.

Those have no place in a sensible debate.

So in these last days of the greatest campaign Scotland has ever seen, I want to ask you to take a step back from the arguments of politicians and the blizzard of statistics.

For every expert on one side, there is an expert on the other.

For every scare tactic, there is a message of hope, opportunity and possibility.
The opportunity for our Parliament to gain real job creating powers, the ability to protect our treasured National Health Service and the building of a renewed relationship of respect and equality with our friends and neighbours in the rest of these Islands.

But for all that, the talking is nearly done.

The campaigns will have had their say.

What's left is just us - the people who live and work here.

The only people with a vote. The people who matter.

The people who for a few precious hours during polling day hold sovereignty, power, authority in their hands.

It's the greatest most empowering moment any of us will ever have.

Scotland’s future - our country in our hands.

What to do? Only each of us knows that.

For my part, I ask only this.

Make this decision with a clear head and a clear conscience.

Know that by voting ‘Yes’, what we take into our hands is a responsibility like no other - the responsibility to work together to make Scotland the nation it can be.

That will require maturity, wisdom, engagement and energy - and it will come not from the usual sources of parties and politicians but from you - the people who have transformed this moment from another political debate into a wonderful celebration of people power.

Does every Country make mistakes? Yes.

Are there challenges for Scotland to overcome? Undoubtedly.

But my question is this - who better to meet those challenges on behalf of our nation than us?

We must trust ourselves.

Trust each other."

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Day After Tomorrow.

Probably time to write something deep, meaningful and final about Thursday's vote. I think, if we dismantled the entire debate to its component parts it comes down to one thing: government exists to serve the people, not itself.

Over the past few days we've seen a concerted effort from big business - financial services mostly - to sway the vote.

It boils down to sovereignty. For the British State, we are all satellites held in the gravitational pull of Westminster (notionally backed by the Queen.) In short, we are subjects who exist to ensure the continuance of the British State and the institutions & business that co-exist with it.

Scotland on the other hand has it the other way round - we the people are sovereign - our parliament exists to do our bidding within the framework of an effective democracy where all votes count, not just those that separate who came first and who came second. 

People say they don't trust politicians, a fair comment. They could ask themselves what made them take that view, speaking for myself, it was the activities of Westminster politicians - (more specifically the actions of New Labour.) Rejecting an independent Scottish government because of the behaviour of Westminster politicians is - with respect - an incredibly daft position to take. It conflates the cause with a solution to what ails Scotland within UK politics, voting No is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

When all is said and done, the British Establishment in all its various manifestations wants you to remain because you and the country you live in has cash worth & resources it needs. On the other side, the Yes campaign believes that you and the country you live in has cash worth & resources YOU need. 

If they're lying about that; because they're accountable to us - unlike Westminster politicians - we can vote the buggers out.

It may seem unobtainable - but those business' uttering threats (or not in some cases) should exist to serve us - not the other way round. A redrawing of the compromise that exists between the citizen and big business is required - it won't happen overnight, but it won't happen at all with a No vote. Equally, all that chat about how it can't work because of some obscure indecipherable rule? We made the rules, they're ours - we can unmake or change them. The idea that the will of the people can be supplanted by rules supposedly created by the very same people is stupid and self-defeating.

A No vote is not a vote for the status quo - things will change. All these promises of new powers are not set in stone and 'the vow' we've seen isn't worth the paper its written on - literally. Unionist politicians said last night on TV that Westminster would speak with the Scottish people on the topic of further devolution - voting No means throwing away any influence we'd have in those talks and trusting the very politicians we claim not to, to deliver the goods.

A Yes vote on the other hand keeps the power in our hands. It gives the Yes campaign a mandate to pull together a team of people - from all parts of Scottish political & civic life - who's express and only concern will be the needs of people living in Scotland - regardless of where they came from originally.

As a resource rich, democratically stable country - Scotland can and will manage with independence. There are 206 sovereign states listed on Wikipedia, some are better endowed in terms of natural resources & economy than Scotland - however, most are not. 

There is no reason why Scotland couldn't become #207

One last thing...

"I dinna ken muckle about the law," answered Mrs Howden; "but I ken, when we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o' our ain, we could aye peeble them wi' stanes when they werena gude bairns - Bit naebody's nails can reach the length o' Lunnon."

... and that's all I've got to say about that.

Vote Yes.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The BBC's Nick Robinson.

If they're going to be biased, they could at least do us the courtesy of making an effort at subtlety

Nick's versions...

The reality...

You might not agree with it - but he did answer the question.

Sneaky Nick Robinson - the wee scamp.

These past few days have seen a final, last ditch concerted attempt to smear and scare. Standard Life, RBS and the others - who made similar statements months ago - decided to reiterate them, managing to time their various rehashed comments & press releases to coincide with the Westminster leader's visit this week.

But... But... But... They love us...

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Today's visit...

While we're being distracted by all the pomp and bullshit around the three Westminster leader's visit today. While they're telling you how much they care about the union, how keen they are to do right by you and how valuable Scotland is and how much safer it will be as part of this much feted Union - don't forget that in return they've given us...

The 3rd most unequal - sorry the most unequal - society in the western world.
Food banks.
100,000 Scottish kids in poverty with more heading the same way.
A tax on the disabled and the poorest for daring to have a spare room.
An expensive pointless array of nuclear missiles 30 miles from Scotland's largest urban conurbation.
A coalition government we did not vote for.
A bill for transport infrastructure that comes no where near Scotland.
A bill for sewage treatment upgrades in a city 365 miles south of the Tweed.
And more austerity.
Massive debt.
(As of Dec 2013) 417 soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
(as of May 2011) 179 soldiers killed in Iraq.
To date, civilian casualties in Afghanistan - 18,000 to 20,000
To May 2011, civilian casualties in Iraq - 461,000

They have lied about...

Scotland's EU membership.
Being able to use our own currency.
The need for a currency union.
Scotland's NATO membership.
UK embassies actively seeking support for the Union from other countries.
Border posts.
NHS privatisation.
Scotland's abilities on the world stage.
Scotland's abilities within its own border (in every area of governance from defence to pensions to our very ability to exist.)

They tell us...

Within the UK we get the 'best of both worlds' - see above.
We get 'strength through unity' - see above.
'Pooling & sharing of resources' - see above - plenty pooling, not much sharing...
To trust them because they'll do now what they had the chance to do for years but didn't.
That they'll 'give us' more powers to raise tax to pay for things we've already paid for.
That while we'd be expected to take our share of the liabilities of the Union - we'd have no rights to the assets - which we paid for too.
We couldn't manage by ourselves
We couldn't afford it by ourselves
We'd be condemning England to perpetual tory government even although Scottish votes seldom count in Westminster general elections. 

This list isn't even approaching being definitive; but Cameron, Clegg & Miliband will stand before the press and tell you to vote No because they care about your best interests.

They don't. They care about Scottish resources they currently have unfettered access to that you - via a Scottish Government YOU elected - should be controlling. They care about your ability to pay tax to a UK exchequer while ignoring the riches that pour from Scotland to London. They care about your enduring, unquestioning deference for an establishment so far past its sell by date the mold that covers it has gone moldy.

All they have are weasel words, empty promises they have no intention of keeping and a barely concealed sneering disregard for everything and everyone in Scotland except that which they can squeeze a profit out of to pay for their aberrant  ways.

When the British State is finally forced in to giving some ground - it swims in its own beneficence and attempts to dress it up as a generous gift. It is a concession wrestled kicking and screaming from an establishment desperately - maniacally - clinging on to the last vestiges of a defunct empire.  

Ignore these spivs - Just Vote Yes.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Labour in 2015.

Lots of stuff in 'news' and 'current affairs' programs on the telly and radio about voting No then voting Labour.

Since Better Together/No Thanks/etc have pretty much lost the referendum campaign, they've decided to skip forward to the 2015 election campaign - some might say - a genius move, right up until you see the options...

I know - its not a fair representation - for balance, here's an image of the other option.

It goes with out saying - but I'll say it anyway. Cameron comes bundled with...

And in the interests of balance, Miliband will come bundled with...

If you're a Labour voter tempted to vote No next week then vote for Labour in 2015 - consider this. First of all, Labour might not win in 2015 at all, it would be worse than going back to square one. At best we'll get the Tories back with the Liberal Democrats as side kicks or at worst, some bastard mixture of the Tories and UKIP with added Boris Johnson daftness (1 min in to the video).) Does anyone believe Labour with Miliband at the wheel will attract enough votes to get a majority anyway - even with his 41 Scottish MP's? 

Given the 'success' of a No vote Darling and Brown will be ripe for a come back - it'll be the worst political/acid flashback ever. Would any political party - even the moribund Liberal Democrats - want to work with politicians who shunned them in 2010?

If you vote Yes? We have to assume the election in 2015 would be postponed - some emergency legislation? If it went ahead, how would it work? Would the Scottish electorate and the 41 Scottish Labour MP's be sidelined?

With a Yes vote, the worst that happens is; you vote Labour in the 2016 inaugural Independent Scottish general election and get Labour - possibly in coalition with the Liberal Democrats or dare I say it; Scottish Greens, or the SSP? All (crucially) working for you and not attracting votes in the middle and south of England for UK Labour. Heck, if you're really confident, Ed Miliband might win (sans his 41 Scottish Labour MP's) anyway and you might have a Labour Government South of the Border working with a Labour-led coalition north of the border.

As a staunch Labour voter, surely that's a better outcome than the Tories winning in 2015 on the bounce from a successful No vote and the SNP winning in Scotland because in the intervening time - despite Gordon Brown's recent ejaculations about a 'timetable' for further devolution: fuck all actually happened.

It wouldn't even be Gordon's fault, he's just a man with a message. If it happens as quickly as he claims - it'll be up to a Tory Government none of us voted for that we cannot get rid of to deliver.

You should read that last line again because that right there is the key reason why we all - regardless of what party we support - need a Yes Vote next Thursday.

I don't think any one knows what'll happen in 2015 - assuming the election goes ahead. 2010 was a fudge precisely because of the stagnant bog that is Westminster politics - none of the parties are attractive.

In 2016 though, you know Scotland will get a government that represents how people in Scotland voted - as opposed to how people in London and the home counties voted.

Every one eligible to vote in Scotland could vote Labour, but if only half of those eligible to vote in the South East of England voted Tory (for example) - in terms of No 10 Downing Street - Scottish votes become totally moot.

And finally, Unionist parties in their shock & panic are clamouring to make promises about further devolution and the velocity at which it'll be delivered. I'll bet my pound to your bucket of shite that the speed they're talking about won't be a trace of the speed at which their current enthusiasm to please the Scottish electorate will disappear if they get their No vote.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Privatisation of the Scottish NHS.

So, lets knock this on the head.

Currently much is being made of NHS privatisation England, you can read about that here. The Yes Campaign are saying the only way to save the NHS in Scotland is to vote Yes - the reason being, if services are privatised down south, cuts there will in turn mean - via Barnett - cuts to Scottish funding.

Meanwhile, proponents of the union are braying (caution - Daily Express article) on about health being entirely devolved - which it is - meaning funding is up to the Scottish Government - which it is - if you ignore completely the notion that said funding comes from an already shrinking pot 'given' to us by Westminster. Whilst unionists aren't lying, they are engaged in brazen sophistry. In order to assuage cuts as a result of privatisation south of the border, cuts must be made elsewhere north of the border.

This is how Labour front benchers like the oily Jackie Baillie and the intellectually-challenged Jenny Marra get to moan about cuts to college funding (for example) while excoriating the Scottish Government for daring to suggest over-all cuts to the Scottish block grant might possibly have an effect on health spending.

Over and above that, many on 'Team No Thanks' are claiming the SNP have been busy privatising the NHS in Scotland. Since 2007 the bill for what they're calling privatised services has double from £225 million to £500 million.

You know what I'm going to say don't you... It's rubbish.

In terms of health spending there are a number revenue streams going out to the private sector. National Procurement is responsible for central procurement, its usually contract based - I sense unionist ears pricking up - its been that way for years though. National Procurement arrange the supply of goods & services (mostly goods though) on a contractual basis - it means exceedingly keen prices can be assured if the NHS agree in partnership with a supplier to buy selected items from that supplier only.

There is a team in place who assures these companies adhere to some pretty strict criteria ranging from cost & quality, energy efficient processes to how many apprentices they employ and a good bit more besides. What they buy & disseminate from their central warehouse (at Canderside Toll) are mostly consumables - from bog roll to surgeons gloves to medical consumables. They do a lot of tendering too, some of these contracts are for expensive bits of technology so are worth a bit of cash, hence EU competition rules kicking in.

That's at a nation-wide level, the level most folk complain about. All those faceless managers & administrators that cost so much money but 'do nothing' for patients? They work here - its also where I work. A quick anecdote though; the guy who sits opposite me had in the past some responsibility in the procurement of lead aprons and gonad shielding for a large x-ray department. The aprons & shields for what ever reason were found to be faulty - tiny pin hole flaws in the lead inserts as it happens - evidenced by bright white pin points in the apron's test x-rays. If he wasn't doing his job, patient's families - mums and dads - and other health workers on hand to sooth unhappy children would be getting repeatedly irradiated.

We might not have direct contact with patients, but that's not to say we don't have a point.

The second area of expenditure is with health boards - each have their own procurement teams that operate independently of central government or National Procurement. Sometimes processes are duplicated - NP might have a contract for an item but for whatever reason the health board procurement team might source it locally for any number of reasons or none at all - we're getting better at that though.

There's a third fuzzy area of expenditure where social care overlaps with health care. In terms of the £500 million mentioned above and that rather regretful link to the Daily Express article - its where the brunt of the cash goes. 

"... the country's 14 health boards spent £490,622,166 on sub-contractors – 4.8 per cent of the annual budget, and more than the corresponding figure in the north east of England.
Of that total, £63.8million was spent with voluntary organisations and an enormous £343.8million went to councils. The total has more than doubled since the SNP first came to power in 2007, when the annual sub-contract bill stood at £225million."

It might be splitting hairs, but the £343.8 million of the £500 million claimed by various Tory & Labour throbbers is spent by local authorities on social care - otherwise - many of those old folk who receive free personal care at home would be stuck in hospital wards; much more expensive in the long run and positively ruinous in terms of the well-being of the old folk in question. Instead, an army of carers is engaged to keep old folk healthy in their own homes - which I'm sure you will agree is a far better way to treat our elderly - by happy coincidence, its also much cheaper.

(The dig about spending more in Glasgow than is spent in the North of England is typical hard-nosed Tory/libertarian nonsense, they'd rather spend cash on nuclear tipped nobs than on care for the elderly.)  

Of course provision varies and its not perfect, the care workers work for private companies often on zero hour contracts. Its not that the hours aren't there - there are too many and sometimes not enough staff to cover. Realistically though, it is cheaper than councils employing hundreds of people to do the work - so there it is - its not ideal, its a balance.

The kind of privatisation going on down south isn't comparable with commercial involvement in Scotland's NHS - its like comparing athlete's foot with a crinked neck. In England huge swathes of health provision are being offered to tender - contracts worth billions and set to run for years. In Scotland we're talking about care provision - a local authority funding responsibility that overlaps occasionally with NHS responsibilities, the odd prophylactic service like weight control from Weight Watchers in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde - a two year contract to keep obese folk (hopefully) out of hospital saving the service money in the longer term and the occasional hiring of imaging equipment to keep waiting lists at an acceptable level.

Its a far cry from dolling out huge contracts of the sort being considered for the provision of cancer care in Staffordshire for example - a £1.2 billion contract to manage cancer care across just one county from diagnosis to treatment to end-of-life care. It takes the entire operation out of state control (which might sound attractive) and puts it in the hands of a private companies (possibly not sounding so attractive now.) Anyone who's ever tried to query a mobile phone bill, arrange car insurance or phone in some meter readings has to know it's not a good idea - that profit might be a consideration any where around your end-of-life care is a travesty waiting to happen.

Having an over-enthusiastic Weight Watchers rep give you a row because your spare tire is becoming too prominent is not the same thing at all. 

That there is as much commercial involvement now in health care provision is a result of a lack of funds across the board. We're already having to involve private companies in new builds across Scotland because so much of the funding is being sooked up by the New South Glasgow University Hospital which is being paid for out of central funding - its not a PFI/PPP hospital build.

This is an example writ large of where if you fund one project - others suffer. Interestingly though, having just finished work on three health centres in NHS Grampian and NHS Highland each with private enterprise involvement - again - the Scottish Government found a balance. Rather than have another gargantuan private finance initiative like Forth Valley Acute Hospital which will rake in private sector profits for decades to come - they kept it to a minimum by using similar funding methods (with rapacious capitalist teeth mostly pulled) for the much smaller projects (about £6 million all in) instead of the huge £842 million project in Glasgow.

There it is, I work for the NHS in Scotland so have a bit of an insight. When some cretin on twitter or the TV accuses the SNP of privatising the Scottish NHS - if you've got this far - you now know roughly how it works and can call bullshit.

No pictures though about which I feel bad - by way of reparations: click here for the most recent Snaps on Sunday from Munguin Towers.

Monday, 1 September 2014

More BBC Balance?

I think this qualifies as taking the piss, I mean, compare and contrast...

I had to zoom right out to make it fit into the image - the words don't really matter (its the BBC) its the imagery that counts. The story above concentrates on Jim Murphy's ordeal at the hands of a vicious assailant armed with a highly dangerous egg. 

The header from the story goes:
"A Labour MP has been hit by an egg after being confronted by pro-independence supporters while campaigning ahead of the referendum."
A total of 331 words in which pro-Yes supporters are expressly identified as the culprits (with no supporting evidence what-so-ever) in the first line of the article.


...This story is about the Treasurer of the Britannica Party kicking a pregnant (we assume Yes-supporting) woman in the stomach. This tail - as told by the BBC - amounts to 81 words - check out that gap: the one between the ears of who ever at the BBC decides these thing is comparable.

The header for this story goes:
"A 55-year-old man has been charged in connection with an alleged assault, following a disturbance between Yes and No supporters in Glasgow."

In this much shorter article, the culprits are not identified - but Yes and No supporters are both implicated in the first line. I don't suppose the treasurer of the Britannica Party spends much time kicking other Better Together activists in the stomach - so make of that what you will.

Readers might also note, on the second story where the No Campaign might have been a bit naughty, there is no -

- section. This is easy to explain, when pro-independence supporters are said to have done something villainous & terrible; the BBC has many stories offering assertions & anecdotes (but nothing approaching actual proof) of the Yes Campaign's - ummm - campaign of violence & intimidation. 

When the No Campaign might have got a bit ornery - strangely - they have absolutely nothing.

There are those who think the BBC isn't biased, but just a bit crap. I reckon one begets the other, if the BBC in Scotland had a shred of integrity - which is to say was not so woefully execrable - then it probably would be a fair reporter.

As things stand and as I hope the images above convey - it is not a balanced source of information, not by a long shot.

(As usual, the links to those BBC articles were as reported when I pressed the 'Publish' button. The BBC have a habit of revising articles - usually once the damage has been done.)