Thursday 8 August 2013


Dear Ms Lamont,

In May you protested at First Minister's Questions about the lack of funding for some cancer treatments in Scotland (a Scotland that is dependent for its spending money on a Tory government, which it didn't elect, you may recall).

You even, to prove your point, lest the First Minister thought you were making it up (and let's be honest, in health matters, among others, your party has form... [I'm talking about you Jackie]), brought along a woman who was suffering from cancer and who had been denied a drug that might have extended her life...a drug she would be able to access in England. She was, you said, obliged to move to England to get the treatment.

This seemed, if I may allowed to say so, to be a cheap trick on your part.

It was  pointed out to you at that time that, wherever you go, in whatever country in Europe, there are treatments you can get one place and not another. 

In this case a drug that had not been approved for use in Scotland was available in England, and you gave the impression that you felt that that was the norm by saying that Scotland was in danger of "exporting health refugees", as if England was the place where, regardless of cost, second to none treatment was available..  

There are differences across Europe. A drug available free of charge in Italy might not be available in Spain. A treatment regularly used in Malta might not be available in Bulgaria. 

Quite simply each country has its own organisation which decides which drugs are considered a good use of the limited amount of money that most countries can afford to spend on them. 

I've thought a lot about you in the last few weeks when all these stories of unbelievably appalling standards of care have been highlighted in the English National Health system, involving thousands of needless deaths attributable to corner cutting and downright neglect of patients. 

You were on my mind too when I read in the Metro the other day a story about a young lad of 8, who had been promised an operation to help him to walk. 

Just as little Joseph Hill, from Leeds, was preparing himself for this operation which would allow him to lead a more normal life, his parents got a letter saying that due to reorganisation, the operation was no longer available on the national health. Instead his family would have to find £20,000 to pay for it. An unbelievably cruel thing to do to an 8 year old who only wants to be able to walk, would you not say?

In the meantime, in a matter a little closer to your original complaint against the Scottish government, NICE has decided that "pertuzumab" will not be available to patients in England. The drug which can extend life in some breast cancer patients when used in conjunction with other chemo, is not, according to NICE, cost effective.

You might also note that Mr Hunt has been obliged to find emergency funding of £500,000,000 to prop up disastrous A & E services in England as his privatised 111 call centres fall apart in front of his eyes, and we discover that patients are being left to the tender mercies of laymen with 5 weeks' call centre training to diagnose and advise treatment.

The Scottish Health Service leaves a good deal to be desired, but there I feel that, given the parlous state of NHS England, it is more likely that health refugees will be coming to Scotland rather than leaving it.

I trust you are enjoying our extended break. It seems so long since we saw the leader of her majesty's Scottish opposition. 

I look forward to your return to the front line.

Yours sincerely



  1. How did you find the address of her bunker to serve your letter?

    Don't hold your breath for an answer.

    1. They seek her here; they seek her there; they seek the Scarlet Pimpernel everywhere, but round and round and round she goes, where she'll end up no one knows ('cept maybe Milibean, who's hidden her).

      To be honest, Snotty, I'm just hoping that one of her acolytes will see this and pass it on to her. I'm not sure if the bunker has internet.

  2. "our extended break". I'm starting to miss her actually :)
    The NHS in England is being taken apart so that the Tories can give all of their friends in the private sector the best bits. Leaving the expensive treatments for the taxpayers to fund.
    Oh and there are 32 Labour peers now making money from the private health sector.

  3. Hello, KLU.

    I suppose its "her" expended break rather than "ours", but I can't help thinking that it's rather a relief not to have to hear her whining about another "personal humiliation for Alex Salmond".

    There's only so much you take take of Lamont, and everyone deserves a bit of a break in the summer.

    One of the massive problems with the current arrangements, which are not fit for purpose, is that, while the English have every right to vote for a government that will privatise its health care and hand the juicy bits to its aristocratic friends, there is a knock on effect for Scotland in funding.

    In this particular case, it's a good one (we hope, in the form of a consequential payment), but that's only because Cameron wants to ensure that over the next two years there is an improvement in the dire state of the English Health Service. He has an election to win and people who have just lost a friend or relative in an A&E department with no staff are unlikely to vote Tory.

    But once he has the next election out of the way, if we have said "NO", I can only imagine the miserly that his foul policies will visit upon them, and us.

  4. Tris

    She will be back on Tuesday when the schools go back but will be too unprepared to take any questions or read any emails. Her diary is below actually:

    6.00am Prep meeting for call kaye.
    7.00am Drop the kids off at private school.
    7.45am Frappe at Costa with husband.
    8.15am Drop husband off at prison (Glasgow City Council Headquarters).
    8.30am Another prep call to Call kaye, appears Rev Stus polling results are being picked up by the Dundee Courier.
    8.45am Receive call from Anas Sarwar giving policy position in light of no access to Falkirk Report.
    9.00am Call from Alister Darling at Conservative Headquarters to get position on Rev Stu Poll.
    9.05am Quick emaail to Ruthie Davidson to check which colour of coat she has on.
    9.15am Hair Appointment.
    12.00 Lunch with Blair McDougall update on Project Fear.
    1.00pm Manicure.
    2.15pm Pick up kids.
    3.00pm Pick up paper.
    4.00pm Make dinner.
    5.00pm Claim expenses.
    6.00pm ITV London news.
    7.00pm Emmerdale.
    10.00pm Chat to Kaye re the good nat bashing in the morning.
    10.30pm Final check in with Anas.
    10.35pm Check if expenses in bank account and bed.

    She is a darling.


    1. Brilliant Bruce. Are you her private secretary>?

  5. I love how SNP cybernats can still blame their executive for their failures over devolved powers ... on everyone else except themselves.

    Health is devolved... and you lot blame the Tories?

    We all knew that the SNP were tartan Tories ...

    1. Dean

      Health is devolved but sadly the Barnet formula isn't. Now with the on-going privatisation of the NHS in England and labours support of it in the main we will receive less pocket money. This will result in severe cuts to services or the slow forced privatisation of health in Scotland, maybe you could get Johan to comment on that but I won't hold my breath in case I get accused of being one of those something for nothing people.


    2. I think what I said was that the National Health Service in Scotland is not perfect (none is, although the French system gets quite close, albeit far too bureaucratic). But it is a lot better than the english system which is falling apart at the seams.

      Partly because of the idiotic Lansley changes;
      Partly because Dave promoted his pal way beyond his capabilities, on the strength that he brought in the greatest Olympics in the history of the world bar none (although no one will tell us how much it cost, and in any case he had very little to do with it, given that it was a London affair and they had a company to run it and a minister to look after it, and in any case the promotion occurred before it be came apparent that there was no legacy);

      Partly because there aren't enough staff;

      Partly because too many of the staff won't work any hours except Monday- Friday, 9-5, and sadly even the Tories can't arrange for people not to fall sick outwith these hours.

      The point I make is that as a dependent nation, we get pocket money to run our health service, based on how much it costs them to run theirs.

      They have cut and cut until thousands of people die needlessly because of inefficiency and disinterest in the organisation.

      We only get 10% of the money they get; the less they get, the less we get. They may be content to allow people to die so that they can save money. I'm not happy with that state of affairs. I blame them... of course I do. It is them who dole out the money.

      Dean...calling them Tartan Tories went out in teh 70s. They are a left of centre party, miles to the left of Labour on most policies.

  6. Good letter!! But minor point she's actually Ms Lamont as she's married to Archie Graham, deputy leader of Glasgow City Council.

    1. Thanks anon. Correction duly made.

      I knew she was married, but I didn't know to whom.

      Ms Lamont it is :)

  7. I suspect, Tris, that your answer will be a "Dear John" - I've had so many of them I changed my name to Matilda but only my closer friends know this so don't spread it around.

    I wonder if Johan is in her bunker wondering how she can cope with Labour for independence or, alternatively, wondering how she could set up a real Scottish Labour party for the post-referendum Scottish election? Okay, I'll get me coat!

    It's quite strange actually how little Lamont, Rennie, Davidson and Darling are contributing to the referendum question apart from a few plaintive bleats from Darling and Rennie.

    I've noticed the glib reference by Dean to "tartan tories" - it's the Labour way. Wait a minute, no, it used to be the Labour's way but recent events have shown that there is not much between their respective policies. Any further advances by UKIP in the European elections and Labour will be forced to try and appease their supporters in an attempt to thwart the Tories.

    As the Chinese say "We live in interesting times" but they regard that as a warning or a curse!

    1. You seem to spend a lot of time 'getting your coat', John.

      I'm not sure that there is much they can say at the moment.

      They all seem to enjoy very very long holidays, which is nice for them I suppose.

      In any case they had exhausted all the scare stories, so much so that they were obliged to start repeating them.

      Or maybe Moore just forgot that we'd done borders/passports/barbed wire/towers/check point charlie... Yawn.

  8. Bunker padded cell more like and Dean is her tea boy.

    1. I thought that was Anas.

      She's probably digesting the information from Rev Stu's poll and working on a cunning plan to debunk it.

      Watch this space... or not.

  9. tris

    some the assertions you toss about make me wonder if you live in
    Bongo! Bongo ! land and not the real world.....ha ha ha

    Oh! yeah Brownlie and yer slanders there is loads of difference
    between Labour and the vile stinking Torys.

    Fer instance there's

    er ! umm ! ahh! just a mo
    Oops err! and then umm!

    err Gulp ! Ill get back to you on that one.

    1. You know you are always welcome to get back to me Niko.

      I promised Spook I'd look after you and so I will...

    2. PS Niko. I was thinking of going to Bongo Bongo land for my holidays in the happy knowledge that the odious Mr Racist won't be there.

      Wanna come?