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The NHS and the TTIP trap

Posted on August 24, 2014 by

As part of his Apocalypse Of Doom Revue this week, Gordon Brown provided the Daily Record with a no-questions puff-piece the paper summarised as, “we must continue to share costs of health care and welfare with rest of the union – or pay the price”.


So that’s nice and positive.

In the article, Brown wrote:

“Why should the people of Scotland throw away a system that we helped create, a system that benefits us greatly to this day? This question is particularly important when it is often a matter of life and death. 

“Our NHS is worth £176 a month to every single Scottish man, woman and child. That is £17 a month more than the £159 that the NHS spends on patients in England and £13 per month more than the £163 it spends on patients in Wales. It means that over a whole year, £200 more is spent on the health care of each of us in Scotland than on our English neighbours. 

“But the funding of our NHS in Scotland comes not just from money raised in Scotland by taxes levied here. It comes from money raised from all over the UK by taxes paid by every UK citizen.”

But as usual, it’s not true. While it may be correct that the money for the block grant comes from a central pot, we’ve detailed at length previously how the spending Scotland gets is more than met by the additional tax revenues raised in Scotland. In effect, the Scottish block grant comes solely from Scottish taxes.

Back in 2012 we noted that:

“The systematic privatisation of services, cuts to funding and promotion of public payment south of the border is set to have far-reaching effects on the Barnett Formula funding allocated to Scotland, since the Scottish block grant is based on a proportion of the spending by the Westminster government in England.

If spending in England goes down, the Scottish block grant does too. Under the coalition’s austerity drive, spending south of the border is being severely curtailed and this is set to continue for at least the next eight years, causing the Scottish block grant to be reduced and threatening the viability of funding the NHS north of the border.”

A recent statement from trade union Unison agreed:

“David Cameron and George Osborne might not run NHS Scotland, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t attacking it. We must fight to save it.

“Devolution means they can’t run down and privatise our NHS directly, the way they are doing in England. But what they can do is starve it of resources. They are cutting back on the money provided to the Scottish Government and this puts the health budget under pressure. 

“In the last few weeks alone there have been reports of hospital understaffing, health visitors struggling to maintain a universal service and severe problems due to bed numbers going down.

“NHS staff know from their day to day work that they are continually under pressure, having to do more with less – and they can see what managers are doing to try and meet targets. 

“So the Tories aren’t just attacking the NHS in England – they are attacking it everywhere. Everyone who wants to maintain the fairest and most cost-effective health service in the world needs to be part of the fight to defend the NHS.”

Many Scots would like to think that if we stay in the UK the privatisation agenda could be halted, and the NHS restored to a fully public service for all people across these islands, but the truth is that UK political ideology is now so one-sided that such an outcome is all but impossible, and the main reason is the recent Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the EU and the US.

TTIP is the result of long-running negotiations between the EU and the US over trade liberalisation. One of its fundamental principles is that services, including state services, should be open to private competition from American multinationals.

Health services in Europe will therefore be opened to private competition, but only where privatisation is already established within a member state. In other words, where there is an existing state monopoly, TTIP won’t apply – foreign companies will NOT be able to sue the government in question for unfair competition.

Historically, NHS services (being state-funded) have been classed as a social rather than an economic activity. As a publicly-funded, publicly-provided service offering universal access to healthcare on the basis of need and not the ability to pay, it was not possible to consider the NHS as commercial in nature. But the 2012 UK Health and Social Care Act has changed that by opening up the whole UK system to TTIP.

This is because it explicitly introduces a private market in health provision in England. As such there no longer exists a state monopoly on health provision, as the largest part of that state allows commercial interests to compete in an open market.

After a No vote, private providers and insurance companies are almost certain to argue that – since Scotland is not a sovereign state but merely a region of the UK – it cannot be exempted from competition for health provision, regardless of the UK’s internal devolutionary arrangements. Only if Scotland is an independent member state can it show that NHS Scotland remains a state-run monopoly and exempt from TTIPl.

None of this is news to Labour. Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, insists the coalition health reforms make it “compulsory” for all NHS contracts awards to be opened up to competition (allowing private firms to pick off the most lucrative contracts), and has explicitly said that TTIP threatens the NHS’s existence as a publicly run, free-at-the-point-of-use NHS.

“If this goes through it will mean that any Clinical Commissioning Group anywhere in England could be [sued] by a US private healthcare company. 

“It’s a question of control – the NHS used to be able to plan these things. If it wanted to run a particular service then it could… plan which contracts would go out and which wouldn’t – it doesn’t hold the cards any more.

“There’s no doubt the Health and Social Care Act opens up the NHS to full competition – that was always the hidden agenda in my view and [TTIP] puts the rocket boosters on it. 

“If it goes through the genie would be out of the bottle and it would be irreversible. The stakes couldn’t be higher.”

Mr Burnham also said he has seen no signs that the coalition has even tried to make a case to the EU for NHS exemption. This is important as TTIP negotiators are using a ‘negative list’ approach to determining which sectors are to be included in the treaty. This means that a member state must explicitly list the services they want excluded from the deal, before the deal is signed. Any services not listed will automatically be included for “liberalisation”.

David Cameron recently answered a question in the House of Commons on whether the NHS would be excluded from TTIP by saying:

“[I’m] not aware of a specific exemption for any particular area, but I think that the health service would be treated in the same way in relation to EU-US negotiations as it is in relation to EU rules” (Col. 919)

Linda Kaucher, a leading expert on trade agreements has said of the TTIP deal that:

“[It will] permanently fix corporate-driven neo-liberalism, within the EU and internationally, via trade agreements. Any reassertion of democracy within the EU structure or member states is prevented by legally binding international trade law.” 

“[It is] driven and effectively controlled by transnational corporations, especially transnational financial services corporations.”

“[The Health and Social Care Act] effectively enforces competitive tendering, and thus privatisation and liberalisation i.e. opening to transnational bidders – a shift to US-style profit-prioritised health provision.”

“Even if outcomes of the NHS changes are disastrous, ISDS [Investor State Dispute Settlement] will effectively disallow any attempts by any future UK government to reverse the changes.”

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) laws – the fundamental elements of the agreement – allow corporations legal protection for their profits regardless of patient care performance, with the power to sue any public sector organisation or government that threatens their interests.

Once these ISDS tools are in place, lucrative contracts will be underwritten, even where a private provider is failing patients and the Scottish Government wants a contract cancelled. In this case, the provider will be able to sue the Scottish Government for future loss of earnings, resulting in further costs to the taxpayer for legal and administrative costs.

ISDS also gives multinational corporations advantage over local providers because it gives overseas investors the exclusive right to commercial arbitration as a means of influence. Trade union Unite have said that TTIP will make privatisation irreversible as:

“US health companies will even have the right to sue a future UK government in secret courts if politicians try to reverse privatisation.”

Patients for NHS, an England based pro-NHS lobby group, said:

“The treaty will change the whole emphasis of NHS health care: the priority will become the rights of transnational organisations rather than the care of patients.”

For Scotland this is the worst of both possible worlds. Even if the Scottish Government is able to stave off attacks on the NHS by private healthcare providers in the courts, it will still nonetheless end up unable to fund it. The whole point of the TTIP system is to force the NHS in England into an American-style insurance-based system that would see Barnett funding slashed as government spending was replaced with private.

The real threat to the Scottish NHS is in staying within the Union.

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    110 to “The NHS and the TTIP trap”

    1. Croompenstein says:

      They can’t say they haven’t been told Scott, good piece

    2. donald anderson says:

      In the event of a Yes vote, will Broon, Darling, Lamont, etc, help negotiate for the best deal for Scotland or will they continue to support vindictive sanctions against the Scottish people?

    3. Footsoldier says:

      Gordon Brown is yesterday’s man and only a fool would believe what he says.

    4. So its a trade deal. The list of exclusions should be long, including NHS.

    5. In case this gets raised by No supporters, it’s probably worth noting that there’s been at least one article published which says that

      In an attempt to counter Yes campaign claims that publicly-run NHS Scotland services would be threatened by the agreement, Jeremy Hunt will write to his Scottish Government opposite number Alex Neil giving assurances it would not give private healthcare providers the right to seize contracts from the public sector.

      And last month,

      Amid trade union fears that the proposed deal could act as a cover to privatise the NHS, the main European commission negotiator has said that the NHS would be “fully safeguarded”.

      Ignacio Garcia Bercero, director of the USA and Canada division in the European commission, made the commitment in a letter to the former Labour shadow health secretary John Healey who is chairman of the all-party group on the trade deal. It is known as TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

      Bercero told Healey: “Although health services are in principle within the scope of these agreements and ongoing negotiations, we are confident that the rights of EU member states to manage their health systems according to their various needs can be fully safeguarded.”

      I don’t find it particularly reassuring that health services fall “in principle within the scope of these agreements” because this leaves us dependent on decisions by the UK Government. How much do we trust them to protect the NHS?

    6. goulashman says:

      This trade deal is a dangerous example of progressive enslavement of governments and people under corporate interest.

    7. Croompenstein says:

      Here’s another couple of links, this is scary stuff and people need to wake up and realise what is happening in their name..makes me wonder about the motives of the EU

    8. Johannah Buchan says:

      Is this your first post on TTIP & ISDS. I’ve been joining campaigns for months. The NHS probs is only one of many. There are orgs like ALTEREU you can join. Get active before it’s too late.

    9. galamcennalath says:

      Excellent article. We need to get potential NOs to take this on board.

      @Johannah Buchan

      A YES win will stop it stone dead in Scotland.

    10. Edmund says:

      What does the EU get out of this trade ‘deal’?

      What do we, the people, get in compensation for this massive loss of sovereignty?

    11. les Wilson says:

      I have read articles about this System, and the US mega companies can take Countries who do not comply to court and if they win, will seek huge payouts from the “offenders”.

      This means that punitive fines of huge amounts of cash will be put on those who do not carry out the TTIP system.
      Currently I believe that there are already court cases against Australian and New Zealand companies.

      The problem could be for Scotland that we get signed into this while we are still in the UK. If that holds water every thing we do will also be governed by the TTIPS system.
      I view this as a corrupt way for the US to dominate other countries by fear, if they do not comply, they will be brought to heel by the imposition of huge mega fines.

      I am unsure whether or not Scotland could bypass this by Independence, I have seen it said that if we are signed in, which would probably be before 2016, then we could be stuck with this, which would be horrific for a socially just Scotland.So where do we get the answers?
      The public need to get their heads around this and start asking the questions.

    12. heedtracker says:

      Its one of these giant international shysts that teamGB style democracy can’t even begin to stop. US multi nationals watch massive EU/UK public health service expenditures, move on them for profit and all from the taxpayer that will keep on paying no matter what.

      Countries don’t tend to go bust, they’re really low risk and you just have to keep paying the political elite like LabConDems or Brown and Burnham they’re cut, and its very serious money.

      Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is making the great PFI 30 year school/hospital/BBC build rip off look like peanuts. UK media programs voters to accept it all, Westminster sales on carry giant national debt, our oil and gas is syphoned away, our public healthcare is there for the taking.

    13. fred blogger says:

      we the people, get to pay for it, whilst the rich are the benefactors of it.
      we’ll get nothing from it unless we can afford to pay twice.

    14. TD says:


      “They can’t say they haven’t been told Scott”

      Trouble is only people reading WOS and the like will be aware of this before Sep 18. MSM will not report it, or certainly not give people in depth analysis in the way Scott has done. It’s up to us to spread the word about this to as many people as we can over the next three and a half weeks.

      The simple message?

      “Voting No threatens the NHS in Scotland”.

      Keep repeating it so that people start to absorb it. Just like people are now understanding that we will use the £. You have to say it again and again ad nauseum, but eventually it sinks in.

    15. McTim says:

      powerful article as always, Scott. Much obliged.

    16. When Krash Gordon tells us not to worry – that is precisely the point when we should worry most.

      KRASH and Flipper`s track record on everything from Illegal War to NHS Privatisation to the Economy to Passports for Scots etc is a litany of lamentable lows.

      Trade his one-eyed vision of Scotland`s NHS under the heel of Yankee third-rate Medical Care as is exhibited on a daily and weekly basis in America.
      So let`s vote “NO” to ensure NHS Scotland is wrecked.?

      WHY oh WHY is anyone in Scotland still listening to this blind blackguard and his SLAB scab cohorts.?

    17. mogabee says:

      I tried to explain this scenario to someone but they were sceptical so this article is excellent to hand to them.

      Got to think that Scottish Water may also be under threat.

    18. Tackety Beets says:

      TTIP does not seam very clever to me as far as the NHS is concerned . It seams to be against everything the NHS is about . ISDS is the padlock agreement , a bonus for any PVT Health Care Co. We really need to seriously question the intellect ( ie Do they actually understand the full implications ) & interests of our MPs at WM agreeing to these Policies . I cannot imagine our Westminster MPs represent the views of their parish ! Disgraceful !

    19. yerkitbreeks says:

      On a N American trip last year, driving from Houston to Katy ( 40 mins ) I remarked on all the big shiny skyscrapers, reminded me of the PWC building in London, to find that they belonged to health care providers. Now someone is taking a lot of money out of the system to get these.

      All became clear when I found out my great nephew had done a drawing at school of a cowboy WITH A GUN. The immediate effect was for the teacher to demand he attend a child psychologist in one of the shiny buildings – all through private insurance.

      This is a bit different to the NHS I worked in for 35 years. It’s medicalisation for those who don’t know. Very little goes on here, although you do get the odd consultant who insists your ( virtually invisible ) leg veins will need fixing once he/she discovers you have BUPA.

    20. ticktock says:

      There’s always the glorious possibility that the Amerikan oligarchy will crash and burn before the shadow neocon elite there can really implement TTIP.

      Plenty of consequences globally of course if they do lose control, but ultimately the fall of Amerika in its present form would be extremely good for the rest of the world.

    21. fred blogger says:

      clear concise what a great article, thank you for laying it bare for all to see.
      with or without ttip scot nhs is doomed if we stay UK.
      then add to that the PFI millstone to drag the NHS down, and we have the perfect storm.

      the extra whammy is that we will still have to pay for it, as if, it was still the socialist NHS.

      this is how i interpret the writing on the wall.
      not only do the poorest pay more tax/head and more tax as a whole, we will end up with scant access to the services we pay for.

      we will still pay for pensions, NHS and welfare.
      but the budget spends will be stacked in such away the we receive little or no benefits from them.
      paying to see the gp will become the norm, and healthcare tourism will exponentially expand.

      this will be subsidized through our taxes.
      the ability to pay a private health care premium will be key to accessing services….

    22. Pam McMahon says:

      Just take your peerage and go away. I used to be employed in the NHS and know a whole lot more about how things work in that organisation than you ever will.
      Lord Brown-Nose of a Wee Bit of Fife? Grab the money while you still can, because after independence WE will not be paying for the House of Lords.

    23. NHS Privatisation –

      I find it outrageous that the Trades Unions are vociferously Opposed to NHS Privatisation instigated by the Labour Party – FUNDED – by these same Trades Unions.?

      THEY don`t get IRONY.

    24. Staunch says:

      There are many examples from the Sci-Fi genre which present a dystopian future in which corporations run the day to day lives of the citizenry, the rights of the individual are subsumed to the point of virtual non-existence and governments (i.e. elected representatives) are a thing of the past.

      Call me an alarmist, call me a fantasist, call me whatever the hell you please, but it would seem TTIP (and the ISDS laws contained therein) are the first steps towards that kind of future.

      Vote Yes to have our rights enshrined and our cherished institutions protected, not sold off to the highest bidder!

    25. Clootie says:

      Good article Scott.

      The day as a society we accept that profit is an acceptable outcome from the treatment of the ill we will have reached the point of no return.

      Not only should we protect our NHS we should be challenging the drugs companies who exploit illness and disease for profit. They should be able to recover their research costs but they should also be fairly taxed.

      SmihKlineBeecham export “low value” bulk powder to Singapore and carry out a minor process which classifies the powder as penicillin and now a very expensive import into the UK.

      The above legal dodges are part of the wider Neoliberal movement. I would like to see an Independent Scotland contribute to a fairer World working against exploitation of the poorest in society.

      Payday lenders/corporate tax dodgers/ private health into our NHS/ hospitals and Schools all built by private companies getting huge returns from the public purse – Labour supported them all.

      Several companies cannot wait to get their hands on Scottish Water.

      All those NO voters happy to sell out the future of their nation and generations to come because of self interest. We have a selfish group who will spend longer picking a new car than researching the referendum information.

    26. Mike says:

      The problem as usual is making these facts widely known. Everybody and his dog should be made aware of these consequences but as usual the truth is buried and obscured by compliant media.
      The failure once again is media and the distribution of factual knowledge.
      The lies by omission are every bit as sickening as the blatant in your face lies the media promote in defence of the indefensible.
      This level of national betrayal is actually a crime and yet there will be no prosecution not even an outcry.
      Let somebody fill in a public claim form wrongly and its straight to court.
      Let somebody publically declare there is nothing to see here and your safe on these tracks knowing a train is coming straight at you and its accepted practice that the train was allowed to smear you all over the length of the track without consequence.
      Not a great metaphor but accurate never the less.

    27. Murray McCallum says:

      A well researched article Scott.

      There must be quite an administrative cost burden on the State to tender for contracts. Even the relatively simple train line contracts have shown us that private providers may walk away from loss making services and also that losing bidders will seek legal redress in the event of not winning a bid.

      Worst of all worlds indeed.

    28. les Wilson says:

      To add to this article there was also a very good article on it, and it’s consequences on Bella a few weeks ago.

    29. wingman 2020 says:

      Shamefully Brown is hitting the most scared an vulnerable with his self-serving propaganda.

      And the Sunday Herald today is not helping. Plus look at all the BTL comments to see the Unionists jumping on the bandwagon.

      We always knew we were up against a powerful establishment. Did we always know how bad the lies would become on currency, Pensions and NHS? I am not sure.

      I am willing to bet anyone there is a ‘threat’ of Shetland independence looming shortly. Not that it’s a fear for the well informed, but another headline scare tactic.

      I never liked Westminster. I tolerated them. Now I will do anything to see the back of this shower of cretins.

      In truth, they are more terrified of English rising up and taking power back to the people, but Scotland’s independence is the thin end of the wedge.

      It’s time people reentered politics all over the UK and stopped this London and Westminster abuse.

    30. Skip_NC says:

      Here’s a thought about how US-style healthcare works in practice. My wife and I pay over $400 per month for the privilege of just having insurance. A visit to the doctor is $20 extra out of pocket. Prescriptions start at $15 for a thirty day supply. A visit to a specialist is $40. It is $150 to go to the Emergency Room. Most hospitals are civilized enough not to ask for payment there and then, but it is not required. Although they are required to treat you, it is often the minimum required to get you out the door.

      Surgery is a whole lot of fun. My wife will undergo a small procedure in October. Because she works for the hospital, her share of the “room and board” will be a flat $350 instead of 20% of the cost (capped at about $4,000). She will also pay the surgeon 20% of his charges, up to the cap. Then a couple of weeks after the surgery we will get the bill from the anaesthetist. This is not subject to the cap. That’s right. insurance will pick up most of the cost of cutting into you, but not the cost of putting you to sleep whilst the surgeon does so.

      Recovery will be six weeks. There is no state sick pay. It is privately paid-for. Much of the cost of the disability insurance is paid from my wife’s paycheck. At any point, either the health insurance company or the disability insurance company can decide not to cover the treatment or time off. Who decides that? Doctors and nurses, usually trained at great public expense. They sit at a desk and decide your financial fate, instead of helping to keep the population healthy. Even a simple visit to the doctor demonstrates the idiocy of private healthcare. At my doctor’s office, there is one admin person to check you in, one to check you out and five to make sure the doctor gets paid.

      I cannot imagine anyone in Scotland really wants this. I really do wish I could be there to help spread the word, because that is what we must do between now and the 18th.

    31. msean says:

      This is a scary future re health care. I want the NHS to remain a publicly funded/run entity without the whip hand being held by corporations. I already am voting yes,this just makes me more determined to do so.

    32. “Private Finance Initiative” funding was instigated by Bliar, Krash and Flipper prior to 2007 when a Minority SNP Govt won power at Holyrood from the LibLab PACT.

      The PRECEDENCE was set for this new law by New Labour Govt at Westminster and facilitated by SLAB and those ("Tractor" - Ed)ous LibDems in Govt at Holyrood.

      When, or rather, at what date was the precedence set for these TTIP Contracts to be valid.?

      Can they only own the land and/or the Hospitals,Schools etc.?

    33. wingman 2020 says:

      The NHS is a taxation mechanism. Free services equates to better tax position for the poorer sections of society.

      Sure, it costs a lot of money… but lets stop the other less important things first… like military interventions and weapons that we cannot afford.

      Read your history books… there are many examples of the poor being over taxed to pay for overseas wars. Why have we allowed a return to the medieval?

      Something is drastically wrong with Westminster. It needs changing fast.

    34. T222Deracha says:

      IMHO this seems very worrying. Will the EU let US multinationals, i.e. companies not even democratically elected, financially threaten it’s member states in such a way?
      Looks like Cameron really is just an out and out spiv!
      The fact the EU is carrying out an agenda which is very right wing, one wonders if is it fit for purpose, when it seems to pander to American interests so easily.

    35. fred blogger says:

      so true, as jim sillars says a scottish nationalized pharm industry to supply scot NHS et al.

    36. fred blogger says:

      so true, as jim sillars says a scottish nationalized pharm industry to supply scot NHS et al.

    37. wingman 2020 says:

      It is the nature of hegemonic governments to squeeze the people until they revolt.

      Westminster is looking after Westminster, London and the SE.

      They have made the UK what it is today. No one else need be blamed except the incompetence of Westminster politicians and the system they continue to operate.

    38. liz g says:

      Before anyone appears on here to spout we would all be
      ;better /stronger together; fighting this.
      Can I just remind everyone that because of the way WM is set up [with no intention of change]
      It is entirely likely to have to fight every future WM gov because of the lack of a written constitution.

      That is the [as I see it ] the best reason in the world for Indy.
      To write a Constitution that will bind Holyrood no matter who is in charge from any action that would take our NHS out of our hands.
      IMHO water should also be included.
      Funny Nigel dose not mention TTIP any where I have seen yet as someone else pointed out above this agreement has been causing concern on the net for months as maybe longer.

    39. wingman 2020 says:

      There should be zero profit in essential services of a country. Energy, Water, Transport and Health.

      Thats not to say the old nationalised industries couldn’t have been improved. Instead, its says that a country should be a cooperative when it comes to essential services.

      ‘Profiteering’ and ‘a fair society’ are incompatible when it’s about peoples basic needs.

    40. Jim Marshall says:

      wingman 2020 1.24pm

      “In truth, they are more terrified of English rising up and taking power back to the people, but Scotland’s independence is the thin end of the wedge.”

      This frightens the establishment more than anything. Whilst the Scots did not acquiesce to the Poll Tax, there was not enough clout to stop it. However one year on the English rioted against it and set fire to buildings in the Strand.

      That was the end of the Poll Tax. The Tories capitulated.

      I would never advocate violence to achieve a political end but sometimes the ruling class force unwanted policies on the people which result in violence.

    41. wingman 2020 says:

      Public Transport

      Are all about redistribution of wealth… and people wonder why the wealth gap continues to increase?

    42. Marcia says:

      This topic needs a wider audience as most of the population are unaware of this.

      O/T – FM and SFM getting drookit in the name of charity. Brrrr.

    43. HandandShrimp says:

      I see Alex has done his ice bucket challenge and passed the black spot onto Cameron and Brian Taylor.

    44. wingman 2020 says:

      If we are cheated out of the YES vote by establishment propaganda… I will be one of the first in line to join the new WRP 🙂

    45. Grouse Beater says:

      Been warning of the same NHS Armageddon for weeks, Scott, albeit in briefer form, so thank you for a well-detailed explanation of the process of creeping privatisation.

      What also needs to be said is, privatisation removes democratic rights of individuals – hence it’s an attack on democracy on two profound fronts.

    46. North chiel says:

      The future planned attack on NHS Scotland following a NO vote
      Will mirror the present attack by The DWP on the disabled and poor
      Citizens of Scotland ( endorsed By Jo Lamont and Slab ) . If you are
      Disabled and poor without means the financial squeeze planned by
      Westminster on the NHS budget will result in shortages and delays
      In receiving medical care ( despite mitigation from SG).Make no mistake
      The NHS in Scotland will suffer under the Westminster plans for privatisation
      In England and the resultant reduction in block grant allocated to Scotland.
      Any undecided voters should ponder this prior to casting their vote.

    47. galamcennalath says:

      HandandShrimp says:
      “I see Alex has done his ice bucket challenge and passed the black spot onto Cameron”

      While I don’t approve of such nonsense, I’m glad he managed to target Cameron before anyone else. Should generate a nice bit of publicity. At least it’s some sort of interaction, even if Cameron is petrified to debate!

    48. Marcia says:


      It is a bit of nonsense – better video of the drooking here;

    49. Devorgilla says:

      Labour are, to be fair, trying to make a case to the EU for an exemption for the NHS.

    50. Democracy Reborn says:

      @Laura Vivanco

      So Jeremy Hunt is going to give an “assurance” to Alex Neil? Well, bugger me, I’m sure that’ll put everyone’s mind at rest. Would anyone in Scotland believe any assurances from a Tory govt minister? Or a Lib Dem (cf. tuition fees)?

      Unless it is specifically enshrined in the TTIP deal that the UK NHS is exempt, Hunt is in no position to give any assurances. And that’s quite apart from the issue of the reduction in block grant funding to NHS Scotland through privatisation of the NHS in England due to the 2012 Act (which even Labour (at least in England) keep banging on about).

    51. HandandShrimp says:

      I see Nicola did it too and nominated Johan, Clegg and Shona Robison

      It was as actually pretty funny and Alex and Nicola seem to have had a fair bit of fun doing it.

      I am sure I have read somewhere that IDS has refused to do it.

    52. Murray McCallum says:

      There’s no doubt that the future of NHS funding, oil reserves and the endless currency ‘plan b” will feature in the next debate between the First Minister and Flipper.

      All are solid ground for a Yes vote imo. The First Minister needs to go on the front foot on these topics. No need for shouting like Flipper. Solid, forceful argument and quotes are required.

    53. HandandShrimp says:

      Jeremy Hunt has some pretty weird notions I am not sure i would take any assurance from without a massive pinch of (Andrews Liver) salt

    54. Grouse Beater says:

      The BIG question is:

      After sovereignty is regained what is going to happen to all those unionist Labour MPs?

    55. Apologies to Scott Minto for failing to thank him for lighting another fire under the voters of Scotland.

      Alarmingly, via TTIP and According to SLAB, ConDems and Bigots Together, Scots should vote “NO” to turn NHS Scotland into a WMD versus Scots in Scotland.?

      Their logic wanders from the absurd to the downright ridiculous.

      We MUST RID Scotland of all these Unionist Idiot MP`s forever.

    56. handclapping says:

      Good piece Scott. Now you’ve got folk all riled up it’s time to tell them there is absolutely nothing they can do about it! Westminster the all powerful will decide.

      But, and its a big BUT
      Holyrood, the new shiny independent Holyrood can’t unless we agree. Its a Declaration of Arbroath thing, we are not ruled except by consent and if they don’t have our consent they can be recalled.

      Vote Yes for this better way.

      However we are still left with the problem of TTIP. We must make certain that our constitution outlaws causes claiming damage from observing the will of the people. Basically if you want to do business with Scotland you do so on Scotland’s terms.

      If you think we are busy now, boy, are we going to have to be busy on the 20th

    57. Democracy Reborn says:

      @Grouse Beater

      “After sovereignty is regained what is going to happen to all those unionist Labour MPs?”


      Do we care?….

    58. heedtracker says:

      One things for sure, everyone voting NO for the whole Projectfear status quo can’t complain when their beloved status quo UKOK turns round and bites them right in their wallets very soon.

    59. HandandShrimp says:

      O/T but I see the poll results are making a nonsense of Yahoo’s headline–yahoo-readers-back-better-together-campaign-144542168.html#1OhL7bs

    60. Grouse Beater says:

      Do we care?….

      Compassion in the aftermath of victory is a fine moral example to make. We are not sadists.

    61. Jim Thomson says:

      @Scott Minto another fine article and analysis, thanks.

      Do you also have any information on how the tax system will accommodate these off-shore companies?

      I can see another tax-dodging scenario on a grand scale. There will be no Corporation Tax take, but the burden will fall (again) on the employees and a few VATable items associated with the service provision.

      I also imagine that Gideon will make some “attractive” provision for TTIP participants in the first relevant budgetary statement.


    62. liz g says:

      @ Skip_NC
      Thanks for that info about US health care [All the best to your wife]
      You are correct nobody in Scotland wants to risk the NHS

      I wonder, can you tell us anything about the Supreme Court ruling that Multi Nationals are to be given person status?
      Is this how they are able to sue?

    63. HandandShrimp says:

      If it is a Yes vote I would hope a the majority of No voters will take to independence just as the majority of No to devolution voters have taken to devolution.

      More joy in heaven over a repentant sinner than 100 righteous men, and all that 🙂

    64. heedtracker says:

      Its its No, well check out progressive liberal Britnats today, plus the living horrors of their rule Britannia CiF readership.

    65. fred blogger says:

      liz g
      it is my recollection that dr phillipa whitford mentions this as being a perhaps a form of higher court, that sues governments.

    66. macart763m says:

      That’s a keeper Scott.

      The choice is simple.

      An NHS protected by a constitution or an NHS first crippled beyond repair by austerity then brought into line with ‘one nation’ UKs agenda.

    67. Malc says:

      HandandShrimp, you would have though they would check it now and again and not make themselves look so stupid

    68. Onwards says:

      I really hope Salmond goes more on the attack over pensions and NHS in the BBC debate.

      The postal vote is near, and the YES camp needs to be directly targeting pensioners.

      Not only reassuring them on pensions, but making them angry about being lied to..
      Plus the lower life expectancy, and the fact that so many young Scots have to leave to get work.

      Maybe we need a more emotional appeal.


    69. heedtracker says:

      Onwards says:
      24 August, 2014 at 2:32 pm
      I really hope Salmond goes more on the attack over pensions and NHS in the BBC debate.

      I want him to do just as he did last time, stay calm, dont rant like Flipper and keep stating the options for Scotland after voting either way. Attack is fine in Holyrood but Salmond says it himself, Scottish independence is for everyone in Scotland and not just shrieking finger jabbing Labour for Life politicos like Flipper Darling and Stair Heid Rammy.

    70. biecs says:

      Well done, Alex and Nicola.

      Then I re-watched Darling. Is it just me or is he the only one who doesn’t show any reaction to being drenched in ice-cold water?

      I mean ANY reaction – not even the slightest trace of a shiver.

    71. HandandShrimp says:


      To be fair to Alistair, the icy water would simply have slowed his reptilian pulse down 😉

    72. Grouse Beater says:

      I hope Salmond goes more on the attack over pensions and NHS in the BBC debate.

      The mistake I watched Yes voters indulge was boosting Salmond’s debating skills sky high, way over the top, far to much for any individual to live up to.

      “He’ll destroy Darling,” “Salmond will wipe the floor with him,” are two typical examples. In that they were happily aided and abetted by the press, but the press had a different agenda in mind.

      It only needed a draw to allow the press to claim Salmond was tired, lost for answers, and so on, and so forth.

      And so it transpired.

      I trust Salmond to give well-reasoned, intelligent answers in the face of the badgering Darling is sure to mete out.

      That ought to be enough for the keen listener to tell the difference between a man of integrity offering hope, and a man offering despair, desparate to keep his advancement on an upward trajectory.

    73. To be fair to Darling at the Schools he went to have a little cold water thrown over him would have been minor compared to being shagged.

    74. CameronB Brodie says:

      Vote Yes for a publicly managed Scottish NHS, possibly protected within a written constitution.

      Vote No to open up public health standards to the market imperative of maximizing profit, not only atracting investment from American corporations but also from China (Trans Pacific Partnership). Fancy that Scotland? Standards set to maximize the profits of foreign investors living in countries will little regard for human rights? Do you feel lucky?

    75. Has anyone seen a link to the meeting Gordon Brown was at this weekend at Beath High School in Cowdenbeath?

    76. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Had a wee exchange of pleasantries with Kenneth Clarke on the pavement of the local Café here. Well watered and smoking a cigar.

      I said that his cigar and hush puppies were a give away and he said that there are a lot of English here. I replied walking off that I wasn’t one of them.

      Loved to have had a chat with him about the Referendum but he was in a family group and on holiday.

      I suspect he will not available for that of chat after September.

      Oh well.

    77. galamcennalath says:

      Grouse Beater says:
      “Do we care?….
      Compassion in the aftermath of victory is a fine moral example to make.”

      I assume the Labour Party will try to continue. Lamont won’t be leader and I suppose some of the MPs who get their jotters will be looking for continued political life. Will their traditional voters stay with them? Certainly hope not!

    78. Clootie says:


      Sorry – After a YES vote I will gloat until my gloat muscles hurt. Pathetic I know – but I’m so looking forward to it!

    79. Grouse Beater says:

      Galamcennalath: some of the MPs who get their jotters will be looking for continued political life.

      The rumour is Murphy will look for promotion to MEP.

      As for the rest, I was thinking in terms of a quiet, sedate, secluded home, rather like a retirement home, with BBC television on line, but without private enterprise abusive carers.

      You and I know a good many will come out as Yes supporters who loyaly towed the line. A few might say they really did vote Yes but didn’t tell their colleagues.

      Maybe one or two will form a break-away Scottish Labour Party to restore trust and faith in their dedication to Scotland’s interests.

      Who knows what miracles will happen when the will of the people is paramount.

    80. galamcennalath says:


      Yup, definitely.

      The biggest thing will be the YES win. I cannot imagine just how good that will be to celebrate, but I’m certainly keen to find out.

      HOWEVER, in the short term I am soooo longing forward to the reaction across the no side … from politicians, clelebs, journalists, TV presenters … the likes of Andrew Marr etc etc. Gloating fest! Hope we get the chance!

    81. macart763m says:


      That is the difference between the two campaigns and the associated administrations… care for the welfare of the public.

      The language of BT – dispel virus, nazi, bayonetting wounded, ethnicity, xenophobia, border patrol, fear, uncertainty, doubt.

      The language of independence – care, common weal, a better nation, future, constitution, rights, responsibility, confidence, hope.

      I know whose celebration party I’d rather be at.

    82. Robert Peffers says:

      @liz g says: 24 August, 2014 at 1:34 pm:

      “It is entirely likely to have to fight every future WM gov because of the lack of a written constitution.”</i<

      Need I remind you, Liz g, that the big bad USA is a country famous for its written Constitution and that constitution was based upon the Declaration of Arbroath. Fat lot of good it is doing for USAsian citizens.

    83. galamcennalath says:

      Grouse Beater says:
      “The rumour is Murphy will look for promotion to MEP”

      He, and those arch-Unionist liars-supreme will find standing post-Independence very difficult. For the rest of their political lives (short I hope) they will have their behaviour now cast back at them. All their opposition (whose sheets are clean) will be in a position to say “You lied about X, how do we know your aren’t lying now?”

      Those who have lied and deceived should retire or move into another non public life.

    84. Robert Peffers says:

      Jim Marshall says: 24 August, 2014 at 1:40 pm:

      “I would never advocate violence to achieve a political end but sometimes the ruling class force unwanted policies on the people which result in violence.”

      There is an easy way to prevent both things happening. We put our elected political people back where they legally belong – as the servants of the people not we as their servants.

      First it is our own fault for there is a very old saying, “A country only gets the Government it chooses to elect”. However, before we even bother to do that we must get shot of Westminster altogether, draw up and pass into law our own written constitution – ours – not theirs. Then make it law that we, the sovereign people of Scotland, are indeed legally sovereign and woe betide any political figure who goes against the wishes of the majority.

    85. CameronB Brodie says:

      Robert Peffers
      I don’t think I am the only person to think the American constitution was written to protect the wealth of the nation (i.e. the slave owning class). Hopefully Scotland can avoid making the same mistake.

    86. Stuart Blair says:

      The questions are thus:
      Q1. In the short to medium term (10yrs), what is the overall outlook for spending on public services in England and thus the projected effect on the Barnett formula.
      Q2. What could Scotland do about this in the event of a NO vote and with partial tax raising powers?

      Thankfully the answer to Q1 is reasonably well laid out in a recent report created by the Institute for Fiscal Studies for the Nuffield foundation (see the link to the full report below)

      ‘The government is planning to cut total public spending in real terms by 0.9% a year over the two years 2015/16 and 2016/17. Within this spending on welfare benefits and debt interest payments are forecast to continue increasing which, if unchecked, WOULD LEAVE PUBLIC SERVICES FACING DEEPER CUTS.’

      The summary concludes….’If NHS productivity does not increase…..serious thought must then be given to options for the NHS. These include reconsidering the range of services available free of charge to the whole population or THE LEVEL OF TAXATION NEEDED TO FINANCE THESE SERVICES IN THE FUTURE’

      Can you really see English voters, already ‘outraged’ at the ‘freebies’ we have maintained under devolution allowing their MP’s to allow Scotland to maintain an even more unequal NHS provision. The Barnett formula will be the first casualty post NO and expensive public services like health and education will necessarily be subject to wholesale review.

      This is even before we consider TTIP!

    87. Tom Foyle says:

      ISDS sounds almost as vicious to Scotland as ISIS sounds to non-muslims. Chopping up the NHS for not conforming to capitalist ideals. The results are the same in both cases.

    88. Robert Peffers says:

      @galamcennalath says: 24 August, 2014 at 1:57
      “I see Alex has done his ice bucket challenge and passed the black spot onto Cameron”

      Cameron doesn’t do challenges. He has still to accept one to debate with the FM – he’s bound to plead far to busy to accept a challange.

    89. Robert Peffers says:

      @Murray McCallum says: 24 August, 2014 at 2:03 pm:

      “There’s no doubt that the future of NHS funding, oil reserves and the endless currency ‘plan b” will feature in the next debate between the First Minister and Flipper.”

      If the FM gets first question he should ask the numptie, “How many times have I now told you Scotland will use the Pound and for preference in a currency union? Now that means it is up to Better Together to choose what plan B will be and your only option is we use the pound without a currency union – what’ll it be Alistair A or B”?

      I reckon the World record for blinking would be beaten by a considerable margin.

    90. Karmanaut says:

      Re: TTIP. A similar agreement (NAFTA) exists between the USA and Canada.

      Here’s what’s happened to Canada.

      “First, in 1997, the US chemical company Ethyl Corporation successfully challenged a Canadian ban on import and inter-provincial trade of the gasoline additive MMT, a suspected neurotoxin that car makers claim interferes with vehicles’ onboard diagnostic systems. Preliminary tribunal judgments against Canada led its government to repeal the MMT ban, issue an apology to the company and settled out of court with Ethyl for $13 million (£7.8 million).

      Then, in 1998, the US waste disposal firm SD Myers challenged a temporary Canadian ban on the export of waste polychlorinated biphenyls. The tribunal awarded the company C$6 million compensation. A few years later, Crompton, a US-based agro-chemical company, now part of Chemtura, unsuccessfully challenged the Canadian government ban on the sale and use of lindane, an agricultural pesticide now banned under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Currently, Lone Pine Resources, a US oil and gas company, is challenging a Quebec government ban on hydraulic fracturing in the St Lawrence River basin and seeking damages of C$250 million, also under NAFTA.”

      Article by Rebecca Trager


    91. Robert Peffers says:

      @Grouse Beater says: 24 August, 2014 at 2:06 pm:

      “After sovereignty is regained what is going to happen to all those unionist Labour MPs?”

      That is the exact question they have been asking themselves and they all know the answer. This, in case you had not figured it out for yourself, is the reason for the sheer panic and all the bare faced lies. All is fair in love, war and keeping your schnozzola in the Westminster and/or Holyrood trough.

      Note:Jimmy Durante coined the word , “Schnozzola”, for his own large nose. He too it was that gave the World the phrase, “Elephant in the Room”, in the film, “Jumbo”, in which Durante is leading an elephant and is stopped by a New York Policeman who asks, “Where are you going with that Elephant”, and replies, “What Elephant”?

    92. David Smith says:

      Any agreement passed in the underhanded way that TTIP has been cooked has no moral legitimacy. If iScotland doesn’t want to play ball with these corporate rapists of all that’s good in the world we should just ignore their threats of litigation and tell them to go f@@k themselves.
      What’s the worst they can do to us that wouldn’t involve their stooge government having to invest in some large new plots at Arlington?

    93. Gary says:

      This is perfect for those in charge. They and their friends can benefit from it fully, without risk. Any risks will either be kept in house or fully funded by the tax payer, while the profits find their way into the pockets of the friends of Dave. Meanwhile levels of service drop in favour of levels of profit. Even now Hunt speaks of English NHS Trusts financial problems. In reality it is a funding shortage created by him. This corrupt thinking isn’t a one-off for him. He was the man in Murdoch’s pocket when the Sky deal was on the table. Their corruption is endemic, they’ve got interests in private health, interests in the very companies they have awarded tracking licenses to and this is just scratching the surface..

    94. This article needs to be widely shown and we need the press for this,but they are letting us all down because they have chosen a side and wont be honest with the news,omission is as much a lie as a blatant one.

    95. Skip_NC says:

      liz g, the US Supreme Court tends to rule on very narrow issues. For instance, in the recent “Windsor” decision regarding same sex marriage, they handed down a very narrow decision that struck down a federal law, but retained the right of individual states to decide what they will recognize as a legal marriage. As a result, same sex couples are like any married couple for federal tax and social security purposes. However,a same sex partner does not necessarily have any rights at a state level. This would include getting information if the partner is in hospital.

      The case you refer to, I think, is to do with spending on election campaigns. Basically, they ruled that corporate citizens have the same rights as natural citizens to free speech. Being able to contribute to a political campaign is considered to be speech, protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. There are two anomalies here, as I see it. Firstly, corporations can spend more than individuals. Secondly, a natural person must be a citizen to contribute to a campaign. However, there is nothing to stop a non-citizen from setting up a US corporation and donating to anyone they want.

      I understand the legal principle underpinning the court’s ruling, without necessarily agreeing with it. I am not alone. The best comment I saw on a local TV station’s website was “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one of them.”

    96. AyeAlba says:

      It will be an utter tragedy for all of us if this comes to pass.

      If anyone is interested, have a petition and day of action against TTIP planned for end of august.

    97. Paula Rose says:

      Am I right in thinking that the referendum has led to a pause in the demolition of what makes a civilised society? A Yes vote will save Scotland from the Eton bullies and show England a way out of the morass.

    98. Devorgilla says:

      To be quite honest I think we should stay out of EU as well as UK if they are bringing thus type of thing in.

    99. Roberto Esquierdo says:

      Fucken big time tax cheat and liar

    100. David Smith says:

      @Devorgilla. I agree with that. The EU has been utterly subverted by the Neocons. Like NATO, best avoided until there’s been ‘regime change’ in the US, I suspect.

    101. liz g says:

      @ Skip_NC
      Thank you very much that was exactly the information I was looking for
      Sorry I took so long to reply,I have only just come back on line

    102. DrewSword says:

      TD says:
      24 August, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      “They can’t say they haven’t been told Scott”

      Trouble is only people reading WOS and the like will be aware of this before Sep 18.
      So who is spreading the word?

    103. Skip_NC says:

      David Smith, there is only one regime in the USA – the capitalist one. I never voted for Obama (too much like Blair for my liking) but he has been an immense disappointment to many people. Frankly, the USA has been the same since Day One. Power has been swapped amongst a few big (extended) families.

      My American wife said it all shortly after I moved to the USA. She said “America isn’t a democracy – it’s a capitalist society.” This from someone who professes no interest in politics.

      liz g, you are very welcome. If there is one (microscopic) role I can play in this referendum, it is to play the “Ghost of Christmas Future,” and observe what life is like on this side of the Pond, borne of sometimes painful experience.

    104. Wee Jimmy says:

      O/T: I don’t mean to get anyone unnecessarily excited, but I have just stumbled upon this (this link is an archive I made):

      It’s from January this year and states that Ladbrokes were giving odds of 1/100 on Scotland being in a currency Union with the UK in the event of Independence. Surely I haven’t stumbled on to something that everyone else had overlooked?? Or have I got this wrong?

      Can anyone else confirm?

    105. donald anderson says:

      I thoroughly agree with Skip_NC’s assessment of the US political system, as a capitalist system. The only progressive thing was that they voted for was a token black President, The only difference is that they tend to vote for movie stars and Obama was a Denzel Washington instead of a John Wayne. It could have been and Eddie Murphy or a Jerry Lewis. It would also be a progressive step to vote for a token woman, like Dolly Partin, but nothing else would change.

      England did just that and gave us Maggie Thatcher. The Queen of the Empire was Victoria and look what a “difference” that made. I find English chat shows very boring and irritating, We have to listen the three same party wafflers trying to pretend there is an arguable difference between them, such as the PRICE of Trident, etc. Richard and Judy and chums were very offended with the Scots clamouring for Independence and wanted to know what they had done upset us. After all, they GAVE us a National Health service, etc. The Matthew Wright show is the same and none of their Scots Guests had the bottle to demand reading Scottish Newspapers, if only for the sake of tokenism, as they are mostly the same as English political attitudes.

      Roll on a YES vote for chrissakes.

    106. Wee Jimmy says:

      Ah my apologies re my earlier post. I now see that Wings covered this story back in January/February.

      Carry on.

    107. stuart james stanton says:

      As a Cymro through and through I am very glad to have discovered this site, as you say it is very difficult to read coherent argument from both sides as the Press is so slanted to the ‘No’. With you all the way, the NHS999 March is gathering pace as it processes towards London, the large turnout of doctors and NHS staff in general at its Leeds Rally on Saturday emphasised the seriousness of the situation for the ‘hard-working families’ so beloved by Mr.Cameron and his chums

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