Of the many improvements devolution has provided Scotland, the able stewardship of the NHS under Nicola Sturgeon, and now Alex Neil, has undoubtedly made it clear to any observer just how seriously the issue of the country’s poor health record is taken by the SNP government. The report published earlier this week by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH), however, certainly puts the leaps and bounds made by devolved government into some perspective. Amongst its conclusions, its noting that Scotland’s working age population has the worst mortality rate out of 19 European countries is a sobering reminder that there remains a long way toRead More →

I was shocked to read in my local press this week that Labour controlled North Lanarkshire Council’s education chiefs are paying private firms £729million to build schools worth around just a fifth of that amount. North Lanarkshire Council have saddled a generation of taxpayers with an enormous debt by entering into a 31-year Private Finance Initiative to build schools. The local authority says the arrangement provides “excellent education in first-class facilities” for children. But so does prudential borrowing without the huge costs. PPP/ PFI funding has been widely condemned for offering poor value for money and this is why it was replaced by the SNPRead More →

The days since the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement have been marked by vicious and very personal attacks on the Scottish Government and Alex Salmond in particular.  For once the genesis of this is not in hatred of the SNP, Alex Salmond or the thought of Independence.  It is a reaction to the sudden recognition of how damaging the Edinburgh Agreement is to the Unionist cause by those that purport to represent it. So obsessed were David Cameron and his array of Labour and LibDem helpers in Better Together in ensuring that only one question would be put before the people of Scotland, they completelyRead More →

Last week was a fairly bad week for the Party, and there’s no getting away from that. Two resignations in the Parly group and a host of bad headlines about legal advice – and everyone’s lining up to give the government a kicking. It’s true that many of the activists are unhappy about Nato – I’d count myself amongst that. But then, it would be a very small party if everyone had to agree with every single policy, and the basic premise that people put aside differences to work for a common cause of a nuclear-free independent Scotland still holds true today as it hasRead More →

I write this the day after S.N.P. conference finished. I saw on Facebook this morning that Douglas Fraser has likened the S.N.P. leadership’s control over the membership as akin to North Korean control. He really must get out of the press box when at these affairs. As in all large groups there will be the sheep that blindly follow the leadership but in the S.N.P. there are many who question and debate, sometimes vote with the leadership, sometimes don’t. I reckon this number is possibly reflected in the numbers in the result on the N.A.T.O. debate. Talking of which, the N.A.T.O. debate was the firstRead More →

I was privileged to be at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh this week and to see the arrival, and departure, of Prime Minister David Cameron and his entourage, all five cars of them.  Access to the public was denied to the street outside, with somewhere between twenty and thirty police on duty.  The most memorable moment of that event was when Michael Moore MP was going into St Andrew’s House and one of the assembled press called out “How does it feel to be the last Secretary of State for Scotland?”;  Mr Moore just carried on, but as I observed at the time, he wasRead More →

This has been quite a remarkable two weeks for Scotland’s opposition parties.  Not familiar with wall-to-wall media coverage in recent times, as the UK Tories and Labour party assembled at their respective conferences, Johann lamented the Scots addiction to welfare ‘handouts’ and Ruth went all Romney, declaring only 12% of Scots contribute to the country’s economy.  If they were both looking for headlines, boy did they get them. After the backlash following Mitt’s ‘47%’ gaff, to say both bold policy swerves came as a surprise would be putting it mildly.  The spin doctors, particularly in Labour’s case, seemed taken aback.  ‘Erm, no, that wasn’t whatRead More →

I saw Douglas Alexander on the Politics Show trying to defend the indefensible: the Labour Party’s lurch to the right.   In doing so he quoted Aneurin Bevan, or should I say misquoted as he reversed Bevan’s original sentence “The language of priorities is the religion of Socialism”.  Bevan coined this phrase for his 1949 Labour conference speech. But perhaps Mr Alexander and other Labour politicians should read the 1959 speech ten years later and following Labour’s defeat in the general election, where Bevan references himself but also goes on to say: “.. The language of priorities was the religion of Socialism, and there is nothingRead More →

Meteors lighting up the clear night sky and glorious sunshine by day.  The gods had clearly blessed the first March and Rally for Independence. And what a great day was had by all 12,000 of us as we greeted friends from across the country and made our way from the autumnal colours of the Meadows to the splendour of a Princes Street Gardens still in summer bloom.  The azure sky provided a saltire-style background for all the tartans of Scotland and the standards of nearly every political movement in the country.  Further colour was added by our Catalan, Basque, Flemish and Venetian brothers and sistersRead More →

It was my “pleasure” to turn on the TV a couple of weeks ago to be regaled with the Chancellor of the Exchequer , George Osborne, waxing lyrical about the dangerous situation of independence.  Now I have nothing against the dinner suit and black tie, I have one myself, rarely worn these days, but the sight of this harbinger of doom pontificating on the perils of independence while being responsible for even greater dangers to the disunited kingdom bordered on the ridiculous.  That’s an understatement, it did not border on the ridiculous, it was ridiculous. Three things emanate from this episode;  the first is thatRead More →