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Why only independence can save our NHS

Posted on December 02, 2012 by

This last week has seen the publication of a report that saw the NHS in Scotland deliver its “best performance ever”. The NHS Scotland Chief Executive’s Annual Report 2010/11 was full of praise for the organisation and the efforts it has made to improve safety, service and value in times of dwindling budgets.

“Few issues are as important to us as our health and the quality of the health services we receive. When we come into contact with the health service, we want to know that we are receiving the best possible care – care that is compassionate and safe, delivered by the most competent practitioners and planned with us at the very heart of the decisions about our care. We want to have confidence in the quality and effectiveness of any treatment.

“Some of the most significant improvements in quality include the achievement of the shortest ever waiting times for outpatient and inpatient appointments, including progress towards achieving a maximum wait of 18 weeks between referral and treatment, significant reductions in Healthcare Associated Infection to the lowest levels ever recorded and other measurable improvements in safety in hospitals.

There have been impressive increases in the numbers of people accessing smoking cessation and alcohol brief intervention services, increases in the proportion of older people being supported to stay at home through improvements in services for those with long term conditions, and reductions in the need for people to stay overnight in hospital for treatment or procedures.”

The findings were reported in the national news in a generally positive manner, such as this BBC article published on the 24th of November, detailing the efforts of the management and staff in Scotland and the results they’d managed to achieve.

Fast-forward 48 hours, though, and the story began to be altered from the positive findings of the report to something more sinister. It began with the exposé by the BBC titled Secret Scottish NHS incident reports released, which made the alarming claim that research suggests about one in ten hospital admissions result in an “adverse event”.  The article was also an advertisement for a BBC Scotland programme by the name of How Safe Is Your Hospital?, a program which implied that falsification of records and breaches of standards were rampant, with the clear implication that the NHS was a failing institution.

(A cynic might point out that the programme was made before the positive findings of the report were published, and that without some negative press beforehand the programme would have looked quite odd and contradictory to the official findings of the report, therefore it was in the BBC’s interest to discredit the report to add credence to their own programme’s findings.)

The report wasn’t one the government in Westminster particularly wanted to hear, as it conflicts with the consensus of the three Westminster parties that privatisation of health services is the best way to deliver improvements for the public, and one which won’t deflect them from that ideology. But in Scotland there’s still a chance that the NHS could survive as originally intended. After all, the birth of universal health care in Scotland goes back much further than the creation of the NHS.

The NHS in Scotland was set up in 1948 after World War 2 by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947 – NOT by the National Health Service Act 1946 which set up the English and Welsh NHS and the Northern Irish HSCNI. Most people aren’t aware of this fact, which indicates that from its very first day the Scottish NHS has always been independent from the services in the rest of the UK.

Though the title ‘National Health Service’ implies one UK-wide body, the (England & Wales) NHS and the HSCNI were originally accountable to the Secretary of State for Health, and the separate NHS Scotland to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

(After devolution the Scottish Government and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies took over running their respective services).

“The four systems are entirely independent, and operate under different management, rules, and political authority.”

Scotland, in fact, has a far longer history with national health care than people give it credit for. In 1913, in a time of (relative) national prosperity before the deprivations and suffering of WW1, a state healthcare system was set up in Scotland. Known as the ‘Highlands and Islands Medical Service’ and run directly from Edinburgh, it provided state-funded health care to half of Scotland’s landmass and was based around Scotland’s distinctive medical traditions (centred on medical schools rather than private practices). By the time of WW2 it had a detailed plan for the future of health provision in Scotland, detailed in the Cathcart report of 1936.

The benefits of state-sponsored healthcare were already self-evident to the Scottish people more than 35 years before Nye Bevan made his courageous moves to set up the two NHS institutions. Though treatment was not free at the point of access, fees were set at minimal levels and people could still get treated even if they were unable to pay. The service came into being as a direct result of the publication of the Report of the Highlands and Islands Medical Service Committee in 1912. This report exposed inadequate medical and nursing services across large parts of the crofting counties and recommended a new way of delivering state-funded medical services.

Doctors would be guaranteed a minimum salary and cost of travel would be reimbursed. In return they would be expected to visit all those requesting help, be involved in public health and school work, attend midwifery cases and provide themselves with adequate transport. The service provided state support to hospitals and specialists and allowed the purchase of ambulances. It also achieved an expansion of nursing services with associated nursing accommodation. To achieve this, the founders applied for, and were granted, an annual Treasury grant of £42,000 (A modest £13.7 million in today’s money).

In 1919 administration moved to the Scottish Board of Health, and in due course the service was seen to be having the desired effect of providing adequate medical services to the population and supporting doctors to live and work in the area. Eventually other aspects of the service were developed, including support for specialist surgeons and physicians, a laboratory in Inverness and even the first air-ambulance service to the outer isles in 1936.

Edward Cathcart was Professor of Physiology at Glasgow University and had earlier studied in St Petersburg under the Nobel Prize winner Pavlov (best known for his studies of dogs). In June 1933 Cathcart was chosen to lead a commission set up by Sir Godfrey Collins, Secretary of State for Scotland:

“To review the existing health services of Scotland in the light of modern conditions and knowledge, and to make recommendations on any changes in policy and organisation that may be considered necessary for the promotion of efficiency and economy.”

Within the report Cathcart covered the massive improvements in health and life expectancy from existing services, as well as looking at the appalling deprivation that remained in industrialised Scotland. At the time many families were still condemned to huddling together in one and two-roomed tenement slums that had seriously detrimental effects on health and social wellbeing.

Cathcart described a “vicious circle in which poverty begets disease and disease begets poverty” and explained his theory that housing, sanitation and environment were more important to health than standard medical interventions. The answer to health problems was to invest in resources to make good health and well being an everyday occurrence:

“Health education should be placed in the forefront of national health policy. It should aim at producing a people who are balanced physically and mentally who enjoy health and take it largely for granted because, by education and training, their outlook and habits are healthy.”

This provided a broad consensus within Scotland on the route to achieving universal healthcare – a blueprint that was lacking in the rest of the UK – and meant that the idea of a Scottish National Health Service was widely supported, with objectives and systems generally planned out in advance. But it was not within the power of the Scots to create universal health care funded by the state.

WW2, though, saw a change in public attitudes, and in response to the spirit of the time a report was commissioned into the social provisions of the state. On 10 June 1941 Arthur Greenwood, the Labour MP and Minister without Portfolio, announced the creation of an inter-departmental committee which would carry out a survey of Britain’s social insurance and allied services:

“To undertake, with special reference to the inter-relation of the schemes, a survey of the existing national schemes of social insurance and allied services, including workmen’s compensation, and to make recommendations.”

The Report of the ‘Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services’ became known commonly as the ‘Beveridge Report’ and was influential in the founding of the Welfare State. One of the members of the committee was a Miss Muriel Ritson (CBE) of the Department of Health for Scotland. Miss Ritson provided extensive input into the committee and brought with her some unique references, not least that she had previously been an administrator for the Highlands and Islands Medical Service.

Beveridge identified five “Giant Evils” in society – squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease – before going on to propose addressing them with widespread reform to the system of social welfare. This was extremely popular with the public and led to the Labour Party adopting the Beveridge proposals as party policy.

After Labour’s victory in the 1945 general election Aneurin Bevan, then Minister of Health, spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service with the aim of ensuring medical care free at point-of-need to all Britons. The combined policies from the Beveridge report were implemented by Labour and became known as the Welfare State.

The 1947 NHS (Scotland) Act provided a uniform national structure for services which had previously been provided by a combination of the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, local government, charities and private organisations, which in general was only free for emergency use and part-subsidised elsewhere. The new system was funded from central taxation and was universally free at the point of use. Existing medical conditions were tackled and vaccinations carried out as a matter of general public health requirements; prescription charges were a later introduction in 1951, and led to the resignation of Aneurin Bevan from the government.

NHS Scotland still remains an independent body from the other public health systems in the UK, although this is often not realised by the public and patients, especially when “cross-border” or emergency care is involved, due to the high level of co-operation and co-ordination that exists between the two services. But healthcare policy and funding is the responsibility of the Scottish Government’s Health and Wellbeing Directorate, with the current Cabinet Secretary being Alex Neil of the SNP, to whom NHS Scotland is accountable. The system already operates wholly independently from Westminster interference, except for NHS pensions.

So if the Scottish NHS is already independent from Westminster, why does it need independence to save it? Because as we’ve previously noted, the money the Scottish Government gets from Westminster is a direct proportion of the money spent on services in England.

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.

This funding issue was picked up on by the Institute of Healthcare Management (Scotland) in a report called Getting Into Shape: an IHM Scotland policy analysis. The report was, according to the IHM,

“written in the context of the real terms cut in funding that the NHS in Scotland is about to experience, following the cuts made to Scottish public spending by the Westminster government.” 

The cuts are the result of the Westminster plan to save £20 billion from the NHS through the use of privatisation, a figure that would see a £2 billion reduction from healthcare consequentials in the Scottish block grant. Given that in Scotland’s latest 2010-2011 GERS accounts health spending was £10.9 billion, that would represent an 18.1% decrease in healthcare funding if Scotland remains part of the UK, making it extremely difficult to maintain flagship policies like free prescriptions.

The tragedy of today’s world is that Beveridge’s five “Giant Evils” remain with us. Their names have been sanitised – we now refer not to “squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease” but to inadequate housing, poor education, poverty, joblessness and ill-health – but the issues themselves are the same. Despite the giant strides made in the nation’s wellbeing in the last 60 years, just like Edward Cathcart did in 1936 we still see in too many places a “vicious circle in which poverty begets disease and disease begets poverty”. The job of the NHS is not yet complete.

Westminster cuts threaten the very concept of universal healthcare based on need rather than ability to pay, even in the independent Scottish NHS. There is, somewhat ironically, only one way to protect the funding – and therefore the survival – of what is often presented as one of the crowning achievements of the Union, and that is to bring that Union to an end.

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63 to “Why only independence can save our NHS”

  1. orkers says:

    An excellent article.

    To my shame I didn’t realise that Scotland had led the way in the creation of the NHS.

    Thanks for adding to my paltry reservoir of knowledge.


  2. John Jamieson says:

    An excellent historical perspective Scott.  Just a minor point about nomenclature:  the Scottish NHS was called The Scottish Health Service up until the early 1990s when Michael Forsyth decided to rename it “The NHS in Scotland” in order to create the illusion that the Scottish NHS was simply a sub division of a (UK) NHS.  No such national identifier was ever applied to the English NHS, which continued to be referred to simply as “The NHS”.

    At the end of the 1990s the incoming Labour administration first reduced the number of trusts created by Forsyth and then returned the remaining acute and primary care trusts to area health board administration.  The new entities retained the original health board boundaries, with the exception of Argyll & Clyde which, in a move that remains controversial, was divided between Greater Glasgow and Highland.  The old designation of “Health Board” was replaced by the new designation “NHS Highland, NHS Forth Valley etc.”  At this time the term “NHS Scotland” was introduced.

  3. The effects of privatisation of the NHS and other services in England on Barnett consequentials will be one of the strongest arguments for independence over the next couple of years.
    However, we’re going to have to find a good way to explain it, with solid examples of why a decision down south will directly affect devolved services up here. At the moment it’s not something I’d feel comfortable discussing on someone’s doorstep as I’m not sure I understand it myself!

  4. Holebender says:

    Given the history of privatisations to date, does anyone seriously believe the NHS in England will save money? Only, I suspect, by cutting provision to such an extent that nobody will be able to pretend that it is a national service which provides even basic health care for the population.
    As English NHS costs are more likely to rise than to fall under these circumstances, maybe the changes will lead to more money being available under the Barnett Formula, not less!

  5. Oldnat says:


  6. John Aberdein says:

    Powerful historical perspective. Agree with the conclusion 100%: as reinforced in this essay of mine in ‘The Point’:

  7. velofello says:

    Great article that lifted my hopes for Scotland’s future. Why? Well a number of the persons mentioned in the article of many years past would I wager were Tory supporters yet they were motivated by the social good. So maybe we will be better together, following independence, when the unnatural barriers and priorities of a Westminster Establishment are removed.

    Today our town’s monthly newsletter popped thro’ the letterbox. The format is local events, local trade services, and a piece by our councillors and our Labour MP.
    The Labour MP notes with satisfaction that the public toilets that have been closed for some years may now be sold to an undisclosed party.He is confident that they will be re-opened but doesn’t comment on any aspects likely with privatisation of public toilets.
    The Labour councillor is also happy as he has been campaigning for this for several years.
    we are also informed that he has bought his 17 yr old son a car.
    One Tory councillor waffles on about how nice the shops are and urges us to purchase, however small. He also did some campaigning outwith his area for a fellow Tory.
    The other Tory councillor advises us on the introduction of waste food bins for each household.
    The lady SNP councillor devotes her “piece” to describing the coming plight, next April, of persons on housing benefit who live in a house larger than their needs. it makes for very uncomfortable reading.She quotes figures such as a single person in a two bedroom flat will need to find an extra £18.27 per fortnight to cover their cut in benefit, or move to a one bedroom flat, if available.
    This councillor doesn’t waffle on about the Boys Brigade or the upgrade to public garden areas,she is telling us in stark terms what we need to address. The five evils listed in the article here.

  8. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    I’m sure they’ll find a way to disguise any such increased spending.

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “At the moment it’s not something I’d feel comfortable discussing on someone’s doorstep as I’m not sure I understand it myself!”

    It’s pretty simple. The Scottish block grant – all the money that Holyrood controls – is calculated as a population-based proportion of English public spending, according to the Barnett Formula. That means that if English public spending decreases by 10% (or any other figure), so does the Scottish block grant, which means the Scottish Government has less money to spend on devolved services (including health).

  10. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


    “It’s pretty simple. The Scottish block grant – all the money that Holyrood controls – is calculated as a population-based proportion of English public spending, according to the Barnett Formula”

    A VERY basic explanation but the extended version is that it is the change in spending of the English department x A comparability percentage x Scotlands population as a percentage of Englands (10.1%)   

    The comparability percentages are essentially how much is devolved. If its 100% then the percentage is 100%.

    Scotlands are:

    Education 100.0%
    Health 99.1%
    Transport 98.0%
    CLG Communities 99.5%
    CLG Local Government 17.3%
    Business Innovation and Skills 79.1%
    Home Office 76.0%
    Justice 99.7%
    Law officers departments 100.0%
    Energy and Climate Change 20.6%
    Environment, Food and rural afairs 93.2%
    Culture media and sport 96.0%
    Work and pensions 0.0%
    Chancellors departments 0.5%
    Cabinet office 7.4%
    Independent bodies 0.3%

    THIS explains it quite well                    

  11. Garve says:

    It’s ironic that in asking for explanations I made such a poor job of explaining myself. I’ve a fair understanding of the Barnett formula, but what I’d like to see is clearer, more specific info.

    Let’s say, for arguments sake, NHS England decide that no dental treatment will be done by them anymore. If it’s carried out by private contractors, but paid for by NHS England, then consequentials should be minimal. If however it’s all paid for by private insurance, the. The effect on consequentials would be huge and perhaps unsustainable in Scotland. If those who can’t afford insurance are provided cover by welfare, does Scotland recoup some of that?

    I want to be able to say, “England are privatising X, Y and Z, and therefore Scotland will lose £1bn next year”. (Well actually I don’t want to say that because I don’t want England’s NHS privatised, but that’s how it’s looking). 

  12. By the way, this comments system is a bit flaky on my iPad – I’m unable to edit anything without backspacing and deleting everything in between. In the second paragraph above ‘the. The’ should have been ‘then the’.

  13. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “but the extended version is”

    …something that I’d rather you had to get across on the doorstep than me.


  14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I want to be able to say, “England are privatising X, Y and Z, and therefore Scotland will lose £1bn next year””

    The block grant is just that – a block grant. It’s not ringfenced – if England cut health spending by £20bn and the block grant decreased by £2bn as a result, that £2bn wouldn’t have to come from Scottish health spending. Scotland could keep health spending the same, so long as it made £2bn of savings elsewhere.

    So it really is simple. If England privatises X, Y and Z and spends £??bn less as a result, Scotland will lose £??bn/10. It doesn’t matter who does the dental work. All that matters is how much the government spends on it.

  15. Juteman says:

    I see Effie is having another moment. Is she actually geniune, or a troll?

  16. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    A little of both, judging by that.

  17. Garve says:

    I think I get even that Stu, it’s what X, Y, Z and ? are that I’m interested in. And I know we may not have those answers yet, I’m mainly saying that having them in 18 months time will be very important. We need to be able to explain some concrete negatives to staying in the union. “If you vote no, you WILL need to take out health insurance like they do in England!”

  18. Macart says:

    Excellent article Rev and fully agree the conclusion is inescapable. Stick with the union and watch everything generations have fought for dismembered and consigned to the trash heap. Vote yes to re-prioritise our nations spend toward the care we expect from our taxation. I’ve said it before but it always bears repeating – the tough times in life are when you need those hard fought for benefits.

    Last week my father’s life was saved by an essential heart op. Huge thanks are due to the surgeon and the nursing staff (angels all). I’d like to think that when I reach his age that care, free at point of need, will still be there.

  19. Juteman says:

    I don’t think the average Labour voter understands what the result of a NO vote will be. We have two years to get that across to them.

  20. Braco says:

    Garve, If the simple truth that Scots decisions on social spending are entirely dependent on spending decisions of rightwing Westminster governments and bare no actual relation to tax revenue raised in Scotland, can somehow be hammered home then I am confident many other dots will be joined by the electorate in 2014. This and the ‘economic’ case are the foundations of a Yes vote as they release the undecided electorate from under the whip of all those terrible Better No’ isms. Only out of that doubt free and fertile ground will the dreams of fairness and possible worthwhile futures flourish, making the arguments for Independence unanswerable. That’s why I have come to believe the only hope is a yes vote in 2014 and so I selfishly believe many others will come to the that conclusion if walked down the same route. The real problem I see is waking the electorate. Once awake, post Independence, the real changes will happen and who knows how radical they may become over the decades!

  21. dadsarmy says:

    You mean like this?

    Tens of thousands of sick and disabled people in Scotland face being forced on to unpaid work programmes under threat of losing their benefits from tomorrow.


    The (UK) Government runs a number of different compulsory work schemes. The largest is the Work Programme, introduced in June. Ministers said that the five-year programme would help 2.4 million unemployed people to find SLAVERY, COSTING THE TAXPAYER MILLIONS AND MILLIONS, AND THOSE ON MINIMUM OR HIGHER WAGES THEIR JOBS..”  (my bold and my words)

  22. dadsarmy says:

    Juteman again – thanks for effing deans

    Right, I’ve identified a possible problem for the YES campaign – just in case they don’t realise it for some extraordinary reason.

    I could be Ron Bagley in the comments, I want the unions to get back some more power, as I think now more than ever workers need protection. I also want what we’ve got, and maybe even a little more; free tuition, care in home for elderly, free prescriptions, and having benefitted from and seen others, I’d like more access to physiotherapy on the NHS.

    BUT – I’ve never thought of myself as a “leftie”. If you asked, I’d probably describe myself as a capitalist communist, or is it the other way around? Right, left and centre don’t have meaning for me, except in the “normal” sense, and “neo-liberal”, is that some new art form, or clothing fashion, like Goth?

    So basically, YES Scotland, and maybe even the SNP, might need to get rid of tags like “leftie” from the debate. Because it could put off voters who associate Independence with Michael Foot and Tony Benn. Though they did have some good points …

  23. Inner Bearsden Urchin says:

    Just listening to Radio 4 and Danny Alexander on Today being interviewed by John Humphries about all this new money being announced today investigating tax dodgers etc. He was eaten alive by JH but, D A is actually sounding more English than Scottish now.
    English shoe-in Tory seat for him in 2015?

  24. douglas clark says:

    Just thinking that Scotts’ post above should be put in front of every ‘older’ yes voter. It is always claimed that older voters don’t like change. As far as the NHS is concerned it’s all the unionists have to offer them, and not in a good way!

  25. molly says:

     Can I just ask a couple of questions and maybe someone wiser than me will know the answer regarding the private companies involved with the NHS in England ?
    For frontline care,due to legal reasons,the majority of staff are trained through the NHS, gain their skills and gain qualifications relevant to their roles,paid for via their Trust, via our taxes so are private companies paying for any training or are they only ‘administering’ an already qualified workforce ,paid for by you and me ?
    My second question is, which MP is campaigning for a review of our national Insurance that the money (laughingly )no longer obviously goes towards health and the pension conditions are changing,remember it used to be called the Welfare state ? 


  26. molly says:

    O/T but just heard Margaret Hodge denouncing companies who avoid paying tax and suggesting they test their argument in court ,oh be careful what you wish for Mrs Hodge,there are a lot of people who claim for things,expenses,travel ,houses,etc who might also benefit from having their ‘claims system’ reviewed or tested in a court.
     Oh wad some power the giftie gie us…..

  27. Doug Daniel says:

    Scott – your list of comparability percentages is quite eye-opening. I didn’t realise so much Scottish spending was devolved – your list shows 10 out of 16 areas have 75% or more spending devolved to Holyrood.

    Bearing in mind some of the remaining 6 are departments like the Cabinet Office, which will no longer require funding at all upon independence since we already have a Scottish Cabinet, then this just highlights how close we are to independence already, and what a small jump it will be. After all, one of the arguments against independence is the cost of setting up Scottish equivalents of things like the treasury – it would be illuminating to show such people how little is needed to be set up to get us to independence.

  28. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


    Yip. But just remember, the bit thats not devolved is spent “on behalf of Scotland” by Westminster and we dont get a say what on!

    Afterall, if Scotland does 79.1% of its own running of Business Innovation and Skills then Westminster must do the remaining 20.9%.
    But what I really want to know is what does Westminster do for Scotlands Environment, Food and rural afairs that warrants them getting to spend 6.8% of our budget on our behalf

  29. scottish_skier says:


    I’ve never thought of myself as a “leftie

    The concepts of right and left have been badly distorted historically. The USSR called itself socialist (left) in an attempt to pretend it was a nice place which looked after its people (the essence of socialism). Of course it was not a happy socialist democracy but an unpleasant totalitarian dictatorship with gulags etc. This allowed the west, particularly the USA and UK to say ‘look socialism is horrible, what we have (capitalism) is much better’. Likewise, the unions pre-thatcher pushed things too far and in a way were responsible for giving thatcher the excuse she needed to do what she did; i.e. lurch UK massively to the right into a neo-liberal hell from which it seems unable to recover.

    I suspect you are an economic centrist (a communist capitalist) and probably socially that way too. By that I mean the true centre which is quite to the left of UK politics and traditionally where Scandinavian countries have hovered. Norway is economically bang in the centre and socially liberal; just like me incidentally. The SNP are just about exactly this too with a slight left leaning.

    I keep posting the below site for the simple reason it is an excellent way of clarifying left right etc. The ‘centre ground’ that Ed and Dave talk about is actually the middle of the tiny space that lies between them, both being right and authoritarian. It’s not the real centre at all.

    The real centre balances left and right economic approaches, getting the best of both. It also does the same with social liberty issues. Arguably, the centre is the best place to be as it represents stable equilibrium. Norway is a good example; it spends very little of it’s oil cash; most being banked. The key to its success is social solidarity and a good balance of state (left) and private (right) enterprise. 

    Take the test to find out where you are.

  30. Inner Bearsden Urchin says:

    Scott  Minto
    They send possés of civil servants and junior ministers, who have not a scooby doo of their briefs, but follow their scripts to trade off Scotland’s interests for something else their masters value greater.  eg fishing rights, rural investment funds etc

  31. scottish_skier says:


    Oops – I blame rev’s blog commenting software 😉


    Hold on – yours doesn’t work either, third time lucky

  32. velofello says:

    scottishskier: thanks for the political compass link, I’ve scored a bulls eye atop Gandhi!

    Oh well, no high flyer jobs for me.I’m surprised as I’m certainly no lefty dreamer.

  33. scottish_skier says:

    Incidentally, if you look at general election results all the way back to the 1940’s at least, Scotland’s combined vote always gives something close to the centre compass-wise. Seem’s we’re a well balanced nation politically.

    England is more right and authoritarian, but actually still quite far from the governments they/we end up with due to the way the two party FPTP system works and it’s inevitable focus on a small number of swing seats. That and increasing backing from big business.


    After a few beers I have my arm around gandhi. In the cold, pragmatic light of day I’m with the SNP economically but a tad more socially liberal.

  34. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    I must be some sort of anarchist. -8.5/-9 😀

  35. dadsarmy says:

    what does Westminster do for Scotlands Environment, Food and rural afairs that warrants them getting to spend 6.8% of our budget on our behalf

    That’s not fair. Westminster has to represent us at the EU, like it does so well on fisheries …

  36. Adrian B says:

    Just completed the Political Compass test and found that I am way more Libertarian than I had imagined.

    Economic Left/Right: -4.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.79

  37. Seasick Dave says:

    Economic Left/Right: -6.12
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.51

    Move over Velofello!

  38. dadsarmy says:


    I ccan’t remember when exactly – in the 90s – but at the same time as the Boards being got rid of, the whole of the NHS Scotland IT was outsourced to CSC. Usual cost, usual asset-stripping, usual redundancies, which it seems are continuing.

  39. dadsarmy says:

    Thanks. I tried the test again but it really needs a middle button “no idea, don’t understand the question or have no views”!

    Yes, I’d say you’re right, I’d be in the center generally, but with some really totally wacky extreme left views probably. Such as society stands in the way of individuals hunting and gathering, drinking from water holes, chopping down trees for shelter and heat, and taking the hides from wild animals for clothing. That sort of thing. My idea being that since society is an advance on the individual, for the better benefit of all, it must protect all those individuals’ free right of access to all those things, and include the right of those individuals to take no further part in society.

    Like I said, a bit wacky, but for me “benefit scroungers” need to be catered for, but not given flat screen TVs and luxuries – products of the society they perhaps just don’t want to take a part in. Though many do in other ways – they help neighbours, do voluntary stuff, maybe research of their own, or doing art or music, and might work their butt off at whatever takes their fancy – I’ve met some like that. For me even these “scroungers” are entitled to minimal benefits, without being forced onto “Workfare”. That probably makes me on that one thing, very far left, even off the scale.

  40. James T says:

    I was going to comment on Effie Deans web page. I’ve never read such nonsense in quite a while. Is Effie really Johanna by any chance.

    I think the woman needs to read some books on History, Theology and Philosophy. How can she say that Scotland will only get richer under the Free Market. It was the Free Market that caused this recession / depression.

    And to say, we Scots, have lost something since Adam Smith’s day…absolute garbage!! The only thing we have lost (and still do) is losing our brightest and best to other nations, because at times, there is no work, or opportunities here in Scotland for them…

  41. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Economic Left/Right: -5.88
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.26

    Out there with Gahndi and a bit more liberal and leftie than the Dalai Lama 

  42. velofello says:

    Nicely put scottish skier. i’m fully with the SNP and  the Yes campaign.
    The major SNP personnel substantially meet my criteria: Would you offer that person a position of authority in your company? I have confidence in them.
    As regards the Hollyrood opposition parties major players, feel free to put names to my criteria.


  43. Jeannie says:

    Yes, as expected, -6 and -7.08, making both Gandhi and the Dalai Lama look like right-wing extremists.

  44. Morag says:

    flat screen TVs ….

    Just a question.  Is there a warehouse somewhere keeping a stock of old CRT televisions specifically to supply to prisons and people on benefits?

    I keep reading this.  “Flat screen TV” is frequently trotted out as the sort of luxury certain groups shouldn’t be allowed.  But I don’t think you can buy any other sort now.

  45. Adrian B says:


    Flat screen TVs have replaced CRT technology. Second hand CRT TVs only option now, but given the age of some of these now against the low cost of new small flat screens and the fact that second hand flat panel screens are available has pretty much made CRTs obsolete.  

  46. Morag says:

    Certainly, I was told a couple of years ago that it was impossible even to give away second-hand CRT televisions.

    So why this constant mantra that it’s a scandal for prisons to buy “flat-screen TVs”, or for benefit claimants to have “flat-screen TVs”?  Like the rest of us are sitting watching old 24-inch 4×3 CRTs with a Freeview box balanced on top, because we can’t afford such luxury?

  47. velofello says:

    dadsarmy: your post above that society stands in the way of individuals hunting and gathering, and drinking in waterholes – like the bankers in the good ‘ole City of London? 

  48. dadsarmy says:

    Morag – still loads of people who don’t have the money to keep constantly up with new technology, and are happily sitting there, watching the old 24 or even 28 inch CRT. Same complaint could be said about BluRay compared to DVD, or DVD compared to VHS.

    Not everybody is loaded.

  49. Morag says:

    Indeed.  But if your old set packs it in, what are you supposed to do?  By your lights, go without, because you wouldn’t allow them to buy a flat-screen model, even a little one, because they don’t deserve such luxury – but there’s nothing else in the shops!

    I suppose it might be possible to find an old CRT still in working order, in fact I have one myself, but really.  Would you prohibit all access to new TV sets for people on benefits?

    And I speak as someone who still uses a Betamax, bought second-hand in 1992.

  50. dadsarmy says:

    Rather than getting bogged down in techology which is irrelevant, I’ll rephrase what I said:

    “Like I said, a bit wacky, but for me “benefit scroungers” need to be catered for, but not given luxuries – products of the society they perhaps just don’t want to take a part in.”

    There – is that better?!?

  51. Craig P says:

    Interesting to read about a proto-NHS in the Highlands Scott, I had heard of the contemporary one along Clydeside but not the Highland one. Does this mean more than half of Scotland (in either population or area terms) was covered by a state health service of some kind *before* the second world war?

  52. Morag says:

    Dadsarmy – yes.  Just say they don’t need a 60-inch HD set, and we get the picture.  Literally.

    It’s just something that has annoyed me since the Sun ran a huge outrage-fest over the Scottish prison service buying a big order of small LED (I think) TVs to install in cells.  It was a good buy, because the small, modern sets were cheap, unlikely to give out quickly, and could be modified so that only the officially sanctioned programming could be accessed. They were also very practical for installation in small cells without space for a CRT tube.  And no doubt there was a substantial bulk-buy discount.  But the Sun whipped up a huge story protesting that convicts were getting “flat-screen” TVs!!

    The hapless prison service was left protesting that it was almost impossible to source CRT TVs, what the hell were they supposed to do?

  53. Adrian B says:

    “But the Sunwhipped up a huge story protesting that convicts were getting “flat-screen” TVs!!”

    Perhaps the Sun knows of someone with a supply of 10″ B&W TVs or more likely someone at the sun just thought that it made a good story and headline.

  54. Morag says:

    The latter, I imagine.  I think we’re better than that, though.

  55. dadsarmy says:

    TVs in cells hmmm. “Do the crime, do the time”. OTOH, if even one cell TV saves re-offending, with the huge cost of crime it’s probably a nett saving.

    I’ve got to admit crime seems like an eminently sensible way to go, considering how hard it is to make an honest crust – why not just nick a dishonest one? Hmmm.

    Oh, whoops, GCHQ and the thought police will now be gathering around my back door, waiting for the dawn swoop. I’d better get my case in court before the SG cuts my legal aid entitlement.

  56. muttley79 says:

    I see Nicola Sturgeon’s speech seams to have gone down well with the media.  Wonders will never cease…

  57. Siôn Eurfyl Jones says:

    @velofello – re party leaders you would employ in your business.

    I can see Wullie Rennie in an overall with a mop, and Johann Lamont with a tea trolley. Ruthie’s natural function is more problematic unless you run a private prison, where she would make a good warden, of the Mr McKie mould.   


  58. Keith says:

    where has your fundraising banner gone ? …’s not easy to find that indigogo malarky without it and that can’t be doing you any good ! 😉

  59. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    In fairness it’s permanently at the top of the front page, but even if you were being sarcastic thanks for letting me know that I’d forgotten to add it AGAIN 🙂

  60. Old Jim says:

    Are you sure that NHS Scotland is already independant? Aren’t the PFI Speculators running things to their own advantage,as they are in NHS England?

  61. Keith Gilchrist says:

    There is no PFI in Scotland ….the Scottish Government eradicated it quite some time ago 

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