Friday, 20 August 2010


There’s a good piece over in the Caledonian Mercury written by Hamish Macdonell highlighting the increasing differences between the fundamental principles of the governments in Scotland and England.

I won’t repeat all the arguments here, but Mr Macdonell makes some good points.

In England the whole basis of public life is being changed by a reforming government. Along with the cuts which we know are coming in October, are complete changes in the way that things will be done. Schools will be free to opt out of council control; people will be able to set up their own schools. Of course most of the money for these schools will still come from the government in some form and therefore the targets are likely to remain and the rush for exam results as opposed to education will be unlikely to disappear. Heath will become more and more a matter for private companies bidding for contracts to treat NHS patients, and a full internal market is the aim.

In Scotland there is no enthusiasm for this level of free market intervention in public services. Unsurprisingly I am in agreement with that. There are some services that can be provided reasonably by private enterprise or left to the charitable sector, but only the ones that people do not absolutely depend upon. Private bus services in my home town, for example, are a complete shambles with the company doing what it wants, cutting services and running others willy nilly with no information available, even to their own staff about what they are doing. But buses, while vitally important to some people, are rarely a matter of life and death. Far from perfect though NHSS is, I know I can get treatment, free, when I need it. On the other hand, for no apparent reason other than the company’s greed, my private dental insurance has doubled over the last 5 years!!

However, the cuts are co
ming, whether we like it or not. Scotland may run its own affairs in matters of health and education, but it does not run its own budget. It must depend upon the London government for the grant to run these services, and the money given can only be a percentage of what the English spend on their services. And so if there is a 25% cut in the English services because that is the policy of the de facto English government... then the Scottish government will have a corresponding reduction in funds regardless of its policies and its public’s wishes.

Mr Macdonell’s article points out that Labour (as usual) opposes the SNP policies (their default position) but also opposes the cuts in services of the Tory government. (They oppose magnificently and at great length don’t they?)

The Liberals are between a rock and a hard place. They know that by and large Scots are unenthusiastic about the Tory cuts, but they have to do what they are told by London, and now they have ministers in London, so they are saying nothing. Clearly the Tories are behind all the cuts and the privatizations, but they are few and are unlikely to form the next government.

So the SNP has made its position clear, but Labour is just opposed to everything, everywhere, forever, end of story! So if they form the next government in Scotland it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few years, but clearly some new form of devolution and financial agreement will have to be found, so that Scots who didn’t vote for these cuts will have their democratically expressed wishes granted.


  1. Diversity in approach can only strengthen the Union, as it does ith our European Union.

    Together we are stronger.

    Together we can avoid the fate of the 'arc of prosperty' ... Iceland anyone? Ireland? Nah - thought not!

  2. Yes, but Dean, at the moment (due to Labour's assumption that it would always be in power and would control both parliaments) we have a situation where, regardless of what Scots vote for, we are constrained by what England votes for... and it's different.

    So England has voted for fewer public services, which is fair enough...Scotland has not, but we will have fewer because England says so. Say the next government in England decides to increase public spending, then we will get more money in Scotland.

    That's not diversity. Exactly the opposite. I support diversity.

    As for the ac of prosperity, both Iceland and Ireland are recovering well from the downturn. Britain is broke.

    I’d be delighted to be Icelandic or Irish right now, but I’d sooner be Norwegian or Finnish, Danish or Swedish, Swiss or Luxembourgish. Little countries doing nicely thank you. Little countries that have control over their own finances, some in the EU, some not; some in the Euro, some not.

    The standard of living and of happiness in quality of life (something Mr Cameron stressed was more important than financial wealth) is higher in all of these countries than in Scotland or the UK.

  3. Dean

    Norway is still there Dean, still doing 100 times better than the UK ever will. Its just you cannot bring yourself to say it.

    Try it slowly N.O.R.W.A.Y.

  4. Dubbs....

    I think we should have a blog visit to some of these countries, just to see how different and better life is over there without the financial millstone of having to be a world power on a third world economy.

  5. Are Ireland and Iceland not getting better quicker tha either England or Scotland? Oh and of course neither has oil, they depended on intangibles like banking a lot like England and by default us. And don't say the worst offenders were Scottish I'm tired of shooting that old Chestnut off the tree. HBOS= HALIFAX (not in Scotland)Bank of Scotland and RBS was a merger that included the much larger Nat West, thats short for National WESTMINSTER (not in Scotland)

    What about Norway Dean? How convenient to leave out a third of that Arc, how very typical. The third of the arc that would most resemble an independent Scotland in that it has oil.

    I for one would much rather be Icelandic or Irish and free than Scottish under an unelected English Tory yoke.

  6. Yes Munguin.

    When Alex talked about the arc of prosperity there were five countries in the equation. All our neighbours, and all better off that we are: Ireland, Iceland, Faeroes, Norway and Denmark.

    Three of these countries appear to have been relatively untouched by the world recession.

    Ireland, afflicted by the so called "Anglo-Saxon" housing problem and Iceland ridiculously overstretched on banking for a country with the population of a large Scottish town, had a disastrous recession. Norway, Faeroes and Denmark carried on while the world around them was tumbling down.

    Iceland and Ireland are coming out of recession and making a good show of rebuilding their economy. Still Spud Murphy enjoyed his wee moment of fame. It's a pity he never found time in his busy schedule to take up the offer of the Irish Foreign Minister and discuss the problems he though Ireland had with him... on RTE. I wonder why.

    The UK is completely broke. We are facing horrific cuts, mainly it seems on the poor and the old. It’s not like we could, thank goodness we weren’t Norwegian or Danish.... thank goodness instead we are British and only facing 25-40% cuts in services.

  7. Where the US goes we follow!

  8. Tris,

    England never voted for 'fewer public services'. That is nonsense, they voted to accept the economic realities, and the inevitable means to remedy Labour profligacy - but not Scotland.

    Up here they reached for the 'Scottish' Labour safety blanket - Gods they didn't even vote nationalist!

  9. Everyone,

    I love how you nationalists are attempting to alter Salmond's emphasis for the last decade!

    He and the SNP have been banding on about 'being like Iceland, Ireland & Norway' you lot are saying what he meant to say was 'being like Norway'...

    Nah, try again! lol

  10. Dean
    How lovely to have free hot water to generate your electricity, heat your home and bath in.

  11. No Dean wrong again.

    We know the countries that Alex Salmond mentioned in "the arc of prosperity" Now I wonder why you only mention two, two that are recovering faster than the UK ever will, but ignore the rest.

    More tory spin Dean, where has anyone here said "he only meant to say being like Norway"?

    He mentioned five countries, all five are doing a dam sight better than the UK, two with faster recovery than the UK and three that were never in recession.

  12. "SNP Leader Alex Salmond has today called for Scotland to join northern Europe's arc of prosperity, with Ireland to the west, Iceland to the north"

    -Alex Salmond, 2006-08-11

    Nope, emphasis on Norway, but plenty on Ireland and Iceland!

  13. "Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: "Alex Salmond is like the Indiana Jones of Scottish politics - a year ago, his famous arc was in every frame, now its been cut from every scene.

    "It's no surprise he wants Scots to forget he cited Iceland as the model for Scotland - after the events of the last 12 months, the case for devolution has never been stronger and the arguments for breaking up Britain have never been weaker.""


    Aye, keep on trying to defend the indefensible/

  14. Didn't realise the daily retard was on your reading list Dean, good choice!

    I see your prospective treasurer has done a runner incase his financial dealings are brought into the spotlight. I believe the man in charge of dealing with benefit fraud has form in tax avoidance, good choice as "it takes a thief to catch a thief".

    The UK economy is down the tubes proped up by oil as it has done for 40yrs and if you are unable to understand that then there is no hope for you to understand anything to do with economics.

  15. Scotland is 18th 'richest nations', the UK stands at 14th

    Scotland would have less, not more economic prosperity and opportunities under independence.

    And those facts are from the SNP website.

    The oil argument is just so 1970s, and frankly it is a joke; if anything its 'Shetlands oil' or something...

  16. Are you sure you haven't made a typo Dean! 34th

  17. Hey Sorry... been out all day and missed the comments on here... but I see that you've all done quite well without me...

    OK, if I take a few days off then....?

    Dean. On numerous occasions I heard Eck talking about the whole arc (you know arc as in arc shaped). Think about the shape of the countries I mentioned. It makes an arc. Think about the countries you mentioned, it makes a straight line from Ireland up to the north west heading for Greenland and the north pole, and passing through Iceland on the way. ) You can’t have two countries make an arc... it’s not possible

    I dunno where your quote came from, and of course, because I’m certain you would never make it up, he may very well only have mentioned two of the five countries on one occasion... but I note you quote the Record...which as you know is a strong Labour Paper and as such disinclined to tell the truth about the SNP (or indeed the Tories) on every occasion.

    I’m not sure about richest countries. But as your Mr Cameron was pointing out recently, there is a very great deal more in life than financial wealth...wealth can be measured in all manners of other ways... happiness, contentment, brought about by any number of things. Maybe Scots would be a lot better off in happiness terms. Furthermore, if Scotland wasn’t ruled economically, to suit the needs of the SE of England (quite reasonably, half the entire population lives there), then maybe we would be better off. The oil taxation is simplistic and I’m sure as a political student you realise that there is a great deal more to it than that.

    Mind you, I know people who, for freedom, would be happy to live on oatcakes and porridge... (not me you understand).

  18. Yep Dean:

    The arc of prosperity: Norway at 5th, Faeroes at 10th, Ireland at 16th, Iceland at 20th, Denmark at 31st and the Uk at 34th. Now we all know that Scotland is far poorer than many other parts of the UK, so we don’t enjoy that 34th situation.

    It’s interesting to see that Jersey 6th and Guernsey 13th are better placed than the UK and the Isle of Man is one lower!

    Thanks Cynical

  19. Dean... Did England not know what it was voting for? They voted to have services cut, staff made redundant and savings made everywhere, without any reduction in taxes (in fact they are going up but in fairness, there was no mention of that before the election. It took a few weeks after the victory for it to be clear that VAT was going up).

    Nope you're right. Scotland voted Labour. They did not vote SNP. England voted for a Tory government and Scotland voted for a Labour government. Sad that.

    But you can't tell me that the English didn't know what was coming. Did they not listen to what Cameron was saying? They are happy with it. They like will be happy to now.

    I grant you the ones that voted Liberal must have got a right shock!!


  20. PS Dean... you're doing well here. It must be hard when everyone is arguing against you....
    ....nah, I forgot. You're a Tory in Scotland, you'll be totally used to that!!



    My source.

    Tris, the English voters realised that the debt had to be managed, and by voting Labour they were voting for higher taxes. They didn't have a stupid complex like too many Scots do.

  22. Dean 2006-08-11 why not go back to the 70,s and dig out the Mcrone report, cherry picking pieces to fit your misguided understanding beggars belief. Your want to be a Tory politician explains it all.

  23. Dean:

    Thanks for that. I see that he did actually mention Norway there.

    Well you know Alex. When he comes up with a good phrase he ain't only gonna use it once.

    On other occasions this arc included these other countries I mentioned.

    As the figures show all of them are better off than we are... and so they do actually form an arc (of sorts) and there is prosperity (undoubtedly).

    It was only that fool Murphy that thought he could have a go about it and actually made an ass of himself over it, when the Irish Foreign minister asked him to come on Irish tv and debate the question with him.

    There was also diplomatic disquiet when he indicated on radio in Scotland that we didn't want Scotland to be like Iceland; instead he wanted it to be forward looking and optimistic... the inference being that Iceland was backward looking and pessimistic.

    Norway also took exception to something Murphy said, although I can’t actually remember precisely what it was. Something to do with power, and the Norwegian government not going through the right channels (him) when wanting to talk to Scotland about energy. I think the Norwegian government complained to the FO about that one. Spud was a real asset to Scotland, wasn’t he?