Sunday, 9 September 2012


So, those of us who can be forgiven for thinking that the removal of Lansley from the English health brief last week was the precursor to a U-turn on dismantling the NHS, were wrong.
The man who replaces him has even co-authored a book which says that service is no longer relevant.

It probably isn't to people as rich as Mr Hunt, but what a short memory Mr Cameron must have.

Of course, this, at first glance, has nothing at all to do with us. The NHS in Scotland is a separate institution, working on similar principles, but travelling  in a different direction from its English partner since 2007. It is run at political level by a Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-Being. Co-incidentally, the holder of that post was also shuffled this week when Nicola Sturgeon was replaced by Alex Neil.

Under devolution, the Health Service in Scotland receives from the central UK pot of taxes, a Barnett formula proportion of the money spent on the English service. (Of course it is part of a block grant which covers all of the devolved departments, and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance makes a decision about how much of that grant is spent on the HNS in Scotland). However, the overall grant would shrink if the English NHS were to be replaced by a private insurance-based scheme.

Thus if a devolved Scotland wished to carry on with no questions medical treatment, free at the point of delivery, there would likely be less money with which to do it.

Devolved we may be, but many a decision taken in by English ministers, even on functions which are devolved, reflects upon our abilities to deliver that service in the way that we would want.

That is why we need control of our own finances. That way we have no multi-millionaire Tories telling us that free treatment is no longer a priority for Scots.

*Click on image to enlarge.


  1. There are better ways to run a health service than the NHS brand, just ask the French.

  2. Yes QM. I doubt that either the English or Scottish systems is anywhere near perfect.

    The French system is the best public service in the world according to the WHO.

    It is very expensive though, and hugely bureaucratic. For a long time people have said that it is too expensive to go on. I'm surprised Sarko didn't cut it, or at least try to.

    From a distant memory the system works thus: you pay for a visit "chez le medecin/dentiste", get a receipt and claim 90% of the money back from Social Security and the remainder from a private top up insurance (if you have it). If you are unemployed or retired you get it all back. If you have a prescription (ordinance) you have it filled, pay a certain amount and claim 90% back from social security and 10% from private insurance.

    I would trust the French heath service with my life any day. Their hospitals are amazing. I'm not sure I could trust the Brits with a similar arrangement. They would be cost cutting and target setting and contracting out cleaning to companies that use workfare... and don't actually clean anything.

    The French also make huge use of the Pharmacist to deal with everyday problems, but then you pay the full amount for the medicine with is not on ordinance... and that is very very expensive. I was €16 for some cold/flu tablets and some nasal spray... mind you they were fabulously effective and I was better within hours!

    I'd be happy enough to look at the introduction of a system based on the French one. But the bureaucracy would have to be slimmed down.

  3. Tris,
    You've highlighted the central problem with devolution. It doesn't matter what flavour of devolved government we have in Scotland the social policies of the English (UK) government will always prevail in the end.

    Scotland can try and mitigate the effects by shuffling the money from one service to another and by making public services as efficient as possible but as the Scottish Grant is based entirely on English spending then when a slash and burn Tory government or a Blairite Labour government is in power the effect of their cuts will always show up in Scotland eventually.

  4. A Man

    Foirst I cannot get onto your website; it goes into a feedback loop flickering away but never loading.

    I can testify for the French NHS as I alive, possibly, because of it.

    As for Hunt.

    He may be rich but how did he accumulate it.

    Well, a monopoly supply contact for all the stationery to the British Council helped as di some later dodgy companies set up for education purposes which had, pssibly may still do, links to the Murdoch Empire.

    He is or was a member of the infamous Groucho Club and was a recipient of financial gifts from the then owner, to help further his political education.

    The Groucho Club is of course snow white.

    I wonder how whiter than white Cameron and Osborne are?

  5. If you want some real dirty on Hunt and loads of connections to Osborne, Cameron and the Groucho, go onto this website and root about for Hunt aka 'unt

    The blog is called The Slog and the current front page suggests the 'unt was lobbying or people were lobbying for him to takeover the English NHS over 3 months ago, after he had ensured the privatised fkup that was the Olympics security (bailed out by the Military).

    He is an out and out neo con capitalist and a dogmatic opponent of state control of anything.

    Can you imagine this guy getting his privatising hands on the NHS?

    This guy is deranged and seriously dangerous

  6. I stand corrected, 'unt sold training systems to the British Council, which of course would have incuded stationery.

    As I said, The Slog is awash with scandal over Hunt and his strange ascendency in Westminster politics, without any discernable ability.

    There suggestions that he is the man to support financially if you want a particular agenda to come to the fore.

  7. I've always thought, Doug, that devolution was a step in the right direction, but it could never be the goal because of the control that another government has on our finances, both their collection, and how much we get to spend.

    (That of course is quite apart from the propensity of the London government to spend money it doesn't have on weapons it will never use, and in the meantime to send troops, including our own, in to war, ill equipped for lack of money.)

  8. I suspect, Wolfie, that Hunt must have something on Cameron. Even in the completely unimportant DCMS, he seemed to be a guy foundering, but in the Health Department he is beyond a joke. I think that the English public has the right to a heath minister who is there because he believes in what he is doing, not some tube who can dish the dirt on Cameron. I don't know anyone who is not flabbergasted at his appointment.

    I heard that Google has banned some of his companies from their searches... that's pretty serious stuff, given some of the stuff you can find on Google!¬ (or so I've heard!!!!!)

    He has also been rewriting his Wikipedia page, to blot out some embarrassing info regarding his education, or lack of it!

    I have a look at Groucho. Thanks.

    I've always said that if I was going to be sick, please let it happen when I'm in France!

  9. tris

    First define 'WE' cos if you mean the snp you are definitely barking sup the wrong tree.

    We are now coming to Alex Salmonds
    Götterdämmerung and should look to what the nu-snp will do to the health service.

    and as one of the probable leaders of the nu-snp has stated he believes in

    'the introduction of health vouchers'
    Michael Russell

    your 'Hope' of a permanent reign of a left leaning snp is not only misplaced put also somewhat naive.
    and also antihistorical.

  10. Niko is putting me off going indy and so have been reading Johann's fan(tasy) mail.

  11. @tris

    O/T Ish for this, but not much. I see on Betternation that Green Jeff has accused you of falling for the "hype" that the sick and disabled are being badly treated by that nice Mr Osborne.

    I've answered him, possibly a bit emotively and sarcastically, we'll see if any of it gets through moderation

  12. First of all, sorry for the delay in replying. My internet went down on me last night and didn't come back on till today.

    So much for Seb Coe's side-splittingly funny speech, about turning anything upside down and reading "Made In Britian" on it's bottom and thinking, with satisfaction, that this was a guarantee of quality. Along with the worst internet connections in western Europe we can add railways, roads, buses, and dozens of other things which I'm too busy to type now.

    I will respond at lunch time.

  13. Your internet went down on you last night?? What kind of internet have you got?? Must say I enjoyed Joanna's agony aunt replies!!

  14. Anonymous

    I was going to add my penny-worth to Betternation but it seems comments are closed. I wonder why....?

  15. Annon: Good old Green Jeff! Still so self-important that he simply has to win every argument. I remember I mentioned his brief dalliance with the SNP (one conference season if I remember correctly, correct me if I am wrong) where his over inflated ego managed to drop himself in the soup not once but twice......oops! I pointed this out on another blog where I said he had “blotted his copy book”. My God, did that elicit a tart response from the big cheese himself. Suffice it to say I refused to withdraw my contention that he had more blot than copy book, and ever since then my comments are not welcome on Better Nation. There is mature and informed debate for you!

  16. Niko:

    I doubt Mike is a future leader in honesty. Of the current ministers, I'd have seen Nicola as a possible future FM, and some way down the line Humza... maybe Shona, but not Mike. Of course there could be many others I'm not aware of.

    That said, no one has ever denied that the SNP is a very very broad church. Under the current leadership it seems to be left leaning...and there are ministers who are more left leaning than the first minister, like for example Rosanna. But there are also more right wing people involved. Wanting your country to run its own affairs is not necessarily a left or right issue.

    This is not unique to the SNP. The Labour party moved to the right when Tony $ Blair became the leader. The Tories completely changed direction when Mrs Thatcher became leader. You take your "lead" from your "leader", who in all these cases was elected by the membership to "lead".

    However, if you are standing as a MSP for a party, you must be prepared to stand on the manifesto that the that party has put forward, and if you are a minister, you must continue to stand on these policies, or resign. I don't think that that is unreasonable.

    However, the unionist press, having found nothing much to complain about in the day to day running of Scotland under this government, are looking very hard for something to whine about.

    Et puis voilà!

  17. Ha ha.... brilliant letters CH.

  18. Oops!
    The cracks they are a widening!

    Ask Johann!

    I KNEW she had ANOTHER day job!
    Explains EVERYTHING!

  19. Anon: Thanks for putting forward a comment for Jeff's approval. It seems it failed to get that approval. I put forward the following in response to his put down of my comments:

    "No Jeff, I can differentiate between hype and what I see with my own eyes.

    "What they are doing on the benefit front in an effort to save money is unbelievable. I work in the field. I know what it is doing to people. I see the tears, the panics, the utter despair. I see people giving up because they are going to be so poor that they will have to chose between staying warm (as fuel prices go up again at twice the rate of inflation…and remembering that so many of them can’t get out of the house without help and so are there 24/7), and having food in the house.

    "So far I know personally of two people who have died since being told they were fit to work."

    Despite putting up comments after receiving this, it remains under moderation, and I see that the comments are now closed.

    I can't stand someone who uses moderation to stop people putting up a counter argument. (I can understand those who moderate to take out what they consider unsuitable language.)

    Some time ago Munguin's Republic was on Jeff's bloglist at his SNP Tactical Voting blog. Some time later I noticed that it had been removed. Presumably I had said something which offended him.

    Despite this I have continued to advertise his posts on the blog list at Munguin. Unlike Jeff, I don't mind people disagreeing with me.

  20. Hello John. I've got gas internet. It's the very latest down here.

    Yes, he closed the comments. Silly laddie.

  21. Yes Munguin. As I remember it Jeff did rather make an idiot of himself with some Scotsman Journo who took him out for a drink and persuaded him to make some "off the record" comments which went into the paper the next day to Jeff's utter horror.

    Wasn't it something about him being an advisor to Eck about using the "new" media, or something like that.

  22. Oh dear Arbroath. They lasted even s shorter time than the Tories and the Liberals.

  23. A propos His Fragrance Jeff, I remember he was described, by OldNat I think, as a Sycophantic Aromatherapist.

    I tried to post on Better Nation that Osborne was probably running the Economy as a semi-detached Chancellor. He just lays down the Dogma and lets the Treasury wonks get on with it.

    I suggest rather than sem-detached he was a Bungalow Chancellor.

    Moderated out.

    I never post there anyway and don't even read it anymore.

  24. Yes he is hardly the objective, even handed and dispassionate person his own ego seems to think he is. In my personal opinion the supposed humour is also lacking and much more in evidence is a petty small mindedness that clearly prevents those of differing views from having their say. Preventing people from commenting, not moderating comments that respond to your trite put downs in a reasonable fashion, throwing toys out of the pram when those lesser mortal dare to criticise the big noise and finally the actual blotting of the copy book. An object lesson in even decide!

  25. Lol Wolfie... And his profile says that he does it with a sense of humour... ho hum!

  26. Well, I'll never comment on his blog again, Munguin.

    I'm angry that, having been put in my place, I'm not allowed the opportunity to justify my position, and I won't give him another opportunity to do that to me.

    However, as people have said that they use this blog to navigate around other blogs, because of the variety on the blogroll, I'm happy enough to leave Better Nation on that roll.

  27. Hmm. I was going to comment on another post in order to retrieve my comments & post them here, but no. The previous threads are comments closed too.

    I stopped posting there because of Labourhame type policies, I see they are still in place.

    When he has to treat notorious troll (I'm a disillusioned SNP voter with a name no SNP voter would use) Longshanker as a serious correspondent, that's getting close to rock bottom.

    I have experienced the process. I also threw some numbers at him, pointed out the BMA were against it, and was sarcastic in my response to the hype post.

    Jeff is Jeff Breslin right? Well he can go to the other place

  28. Yes Anon. that's the one.

    I think we all like it when people agree with what we have posted, but I certainly like it when someone points out reasonably politely that I got it wrong.

    I don't mind putting my hands up at that point and apologising and it's happened a good few times on the blog.

    There is no shame in it (as long as it doesn't happen too often!).

    Jeff doesn't care for it...disallows comments, as you say like labourhame and some other sites, and that kind of policy renders the blog unreadable.

  29. Talking of Labourhame I have popped a link to the Labour Independence Facebook page on there in reply to Mr Ruddy, possibly rubbing their face in it.

    I see that the Scottish Trade union will be marching on the 22nd with their Labour friends, the more the merrier.

  30. tris

    Those lot on Better nation are a load of self aggrandising egotistical knob heads.

    He only moderated me cos i told he was Tory after he said

    What, specifically, are the “appalling policies

    I mean wilfully blind or what.............


    At least we will see what kind of Mob you eye swivelling Nats can put up on the 22nd
    should scare the shite out of the Normal people........Loads more votes for the remaining together and not being torn apart from family and nation

  31. Good for the STUC. I didn't know they were behind the Yes campaign.

    Which comment have you put up of Labour Independence. Can you give us a link?

  32. It never saw the light of day Tris but have come across this flag for Niko after 2014 mind you Taz might rip it to shreds.

  33. Oh dear it looks like the Lib/Dems are sailing HIGH on the ideas scale then.

    I LOVE this quote from the article:

    "In a statement, the Lib Dem Scottish leader Willie Rennie said he hoped all three UK parties could agree to put the proposals in their 2015 general election manifestos."

    I don't know about anyone else but I seem to recall that 2015 will come along AFTER 2014. Therefore ANY idea the Troika have about putting their "ideas" to the people in 2015 is a WASTE of time. We all want to know what the Troika's plans for MORE devolved powers BEFORE the referendum NOT after the referendum! DOH!

    The other point about the Troika putting their "ideas" in their respective manifestos in 2015 is that their "ideas" are only ideas. They are not hard FACTS, about what a NO result will deliver.

    Therefore, under wee Willie Rennie's proposal we are:

    1) all to vote NO in 2014
    2) read the Troika's manifestos in 2015
    3) BELIEVE the manifesto promises in 2015
    4) BELIEVE the unmistakable promise of "jam tomorrow"
    5) Believe that the "jam tomorrow" promises WILL be delivered

    I'm sorry I've heard all this promise of "jam tomorrow" before.
    They lied to us in 1979 with this promise. The people of Scotland BELIEVED them. THEY lied. They NEVER delivered their promised "jam tomorrow".
    NEVER again will the people of Scotland be fooled by the FALSE promises of "jam tomorrow!"

  34. LOL Niko...

    I can't see how, no matter where you live, no matter what your politics, if you can't see that these policies are appalling.

    You don't have to be on the front line to see what it must be like for people who are ill to have the rug pulled out from under them.

    Lots of them have worked until they got sick. There are very few lifetime scroungers at this level. People are, and have always been checked by medical people from time to time.

    Most medical people can see when someone is lying, by asking them in depth questions only a genuine sufferer would know the answer to.

    If people can't see that these polices are appalling then I feel sorry for them.

  35. Lovely flag CH, but I think they should probably put something in for Wales... and Cornwall.

    Things you put on that site tend to disappear very rapidly if they are contrary to the owners' views.

    Doesn't do much for intelligent debate...

  36. Arbroath... just as they are all falling out about which way to go, Willie thinks they should all get together and agree a new deal. Why doesn't he set up a new commission to work out what that way will be?

    And then he thinks we should believe them... ah ha ha ha... good one.

    Can I say ''tuition fees'' Wullie?

    My understanding is that there can be no further devolution without consulting oth the Scottish parliament and the "English" parliament, the two bodies that signed the 1707 Treaty of Union.

    Further devolution, and moves towards federality would breach that treaty, and would therefore be contestable in court.

    I read a bloke called Mad Jock McMad the other day on NNS saying that, and justifying it with references to learned decisions.

  37. This is his post:

    Lord Cooper (1953) - There is no such entity as the 'unlimited sovereignty' claimed by Westminster in Scots Law and constitutional practice, it is a purely English legal and constitutional construct.

    Lord Cooper (1953) - The independence of Scots Law is protected by the Treaty of Union for all time.

    Lord Cooper (1953) - For 'all time' means exactly that

    Lord Cooper (1953) - Westminster has no powers to alter, ammend or adjust the conditions of the Treaty of Union; only the sovereign parliaments of Scotland and England have such powers - the legal point was conceded on behalf of Westminster by the Lord Advocate.

    Lord Cooper (1953) - Scottish sovereignty is limited by the considered will of the Scottish people.

    UK Supreme Court (2010) - The UK Supreme Court has no right to alter any Act, Bill or Statue of the Scottish Parliament which reflects the considered will of the Scottish people.

    The SNP Government were elected to Holyrood in part to reflect the considered will of the Scottish people for a referendum to either withdraw from the Treaty of Union and return to independent nationhood or to seek a radically new Union settlement (Devo-max).

    If Holyrood passes the Scottish Referendum Bill (2014) then Westminster can not challenge the 'legality', under section 5 or 30 of the 1998 Scotland Act, as the UK Supreme Court have already stated they have no rights to set aside any Bill, Act or Statute of the Scottish Parliament which reflects the considered will of the Scottish people.

    Westminster has no 'rights' to enforce its will on Scotland as that assumes it has 'unlimited sovereignty' a concept not recognised in Scots Law or constitutional practice as sovereignty in Scotland is limited by the will of the people. (Lord Cooper/ UK Supreme Court)

    What is true is that Westminster can not negotiate Devo-max with out gaining the approval of the sovereign English Parliament as Westminster has no powers to change, ammend or alter the Treaty of Union which is what Devo-max requires (Lord Cooper 1953). Westminster does not want to be bound by a referendum on Devo-max by the English electorate or, even worse, a recalled English Parliament both of whom are most likely to reject the Devo-max proposition which means Scottish independence by default.

    All that is now left to Westminster is to have a screaming hissy fit, throw all their toys out of the pram and go off in a huff .... which is exactly what Moore, Davidson et al are doing. On the other hand Micheal Forsyth will be shouting out - I told you so, I knew this would all end in tears ...