There’s a remarkable story on the BBC website today. Torn between the referendum campaign and the 2015 UK election campaign, Labour’s health spokesman Andy Burnham has finally admitted in public that yes, NHS England IS being privatised.
But it’s what he wants done about it that made us double-take.
Our “Better Together” mole has just leaked us this exclusive extract from a new cinema advert with a re-imaged Alistair Darling listing the consequences of a Yes vote.
It’s really from the 1981 Labour conference, of course. But it’s fascinating to note that while the No camp leader’s politics may have softened somewhat over the intervening 33 years, his modus operandi hasn’t changed a bit.
Supporters of independence are often accused of a certain degree of paranoia when it comes to their lack of trust in the Scottish and UK media.
The above chart is from the latest European Quality Of Life Survey, conducted by an EU agency with the unwieldy but self-explanatory name of The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, (Eurofound for short).
It’s a wide-ranging study with a variety of very interesting findings, but one of the most striking is the almost unique and near-pathological lack of trust in the media held by the UK public. With the exception of Greece, every other nation on the continent has considerably more faith in its press.
It’s not just a cynical British nature – trust in the Parliament and the legal system(s) here are much healthier in comparison to other European nations, but the people of Britain don’t trust their media as far as they could throw it. (Perhaps astonishingly, UK citizens trust politicians significantly MORE than they trust newspapers.)
It’s not just us, readers.
In case you somehow carelessly missed it, here’s the nine-minute-or-so segment from last night’s “The Westminster Hour” on Radio 4, in which dear old Alan Cochrane of the Telegraph and I discussed the tone and tenor of the independence debate.
The fascinating thing was how Cochrane started off essentially claiming that the entire thing was an intolerable horror, but but by the end was agreeing that it was actually surprisingly mild and civilised as these things go, and needed to continue in exactly the same manner it was now. Funny old cove.
The UK Trident programme encompasses the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them. It was announced in July 1980 and patrols began in December 1994. Its stated purpose is to provide “the minimum effective nuclear deterrent as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threat”.
It has also been described by former Vulcan squadron commander (the UK’s original nuclear deterrent) and current vice-president of CND, Air Commodore Alastair Mackie, as Britain’s “stick-on hairy chest”.
And yet other than “We should/shouldn’t get rid of it”, it’s rarely the subject of any serious debate or investigation. And as it’s the summer close season for politics, this seemed like a good time.
The Stevenage Advertiser, 22 July 2014:
According to his family, Mr Clapson was found “alone, penniless and starving” a short distance from a pile of printed CVs, with nothing to his name but £3.44, six tea bags, a tin of soup and an out-of-date tin of sardines.
The coroner found that David – a former BT engineer of 16 years, who had served two years in Northern Ireland with the Royal Corps of Signals during The Troubles – had nothing in his stomach when he died.”
We can’t do any better than that. Vote No, everyone. UK OK!
Readers of this site may remember the story published on the BBC earlier this week, where the figures for GDP per capita miraculously switched overnight from showing Scotland as a net contributor to the UK to implying that Scotland was a net recipient.
And after reviewing the data posted by the BBC, it appears that the export figures have also been massaged to imply that Scotland exports vastly less than it does in reality.
We just caught a documentary on the BBC News channel presented by John Beattie and entitled “The Games People Play”, which seems to have been first aired on either Saturday or Tuesday (the BBC seems somewhat uncertain). Covering the link between sport and politics, for our money it’s one of the best things the state broadcaster has produced as part of its referendum programming, and we recommend it.
One rather depressing bit leapt out at us, though.
Sir Craig Reedie CBE, from Stirling, is former chairman of the British Olympic Committee and a current member of the International Olympic Committee. And when Beattie asked him about an independent Scotland’s entry into the 2016 Olympics in Rio, he gave an answer which readers may or may not find surprising, depending on their level of cynicism about “proud Scots”.