Labour leads opposition to SNP education failures

jimtoggleJim O’Neill says the only party in Holyrood that doesn’t think the SNP has failed on education for the last ten years is the SNP itself, and it’s time for a change of tack and an acknowledgement of failure from John Swinney.

 

On Wednesday 7 March all but one party at Holyrood agreed that the ten years of SNP government had been a record of unadulterated failure in education policy and implementation. This is a remarkable decision, since every party, from the left (who led the debate) to the right, and including the usual trusties, the Greens, took the same view of the SNP performance from Mike Russell to John Swinney and all the rest in between.

On a Labour motion, the MSPs rejected an SNP self-congratulatory amendment by 63 votes to 62 and then agreed the motion by the same margin. It is now clear that only the SNP think they are doing a good job in educating our children, although they are isolated in that belief. Nicola Sturgeon seemed to recognise that they needed to up their game on education after the election amid a slew of reports that the performance of Scottish children was going backwards despite the heroic efforts of Scotland’s teachers. She decided to put her “best Minister”, who had already failed as leader, and had a patchy record on government finance giving in to the austerity policies of the Tories, in charge of education.

So, what has John Swinney’s record been since he took over. He began by failing to head off industrial action by teachers, and then brought forward proposals including forcing head teachers to take their eyes off the quality ball by loading them with additional financial responsibilities. All of this was rejected by teachers and education commentators, resulting in the indefinite postponement of the promised Education Bill.

Turning to the nanny state proposal that parents were incapable of raising their own children and so every child needed a “named person” to look after their interests, he wasted lots of government money challenging a decision by the courts that it breached the human rights of the parents and children. He took it all the way to the Supreme Court but still lost. His response was that the defeat was a minor one and that the government would bring forward alternative proposals in short order. Now we find that the Named Persons bill has also been kicked into the long grass.

You would think that after all these failures the SNP government would get the message that the thrust of their policy was wrong. But no. “A’body’s wrang but oor Johnnie.” But this is no small matter. As a former teacher, a trade union official for teachers and having put three children through an education system that once was the envy of the world, I know that the future of our children and our country is at risk. We can no longer afford the bumbling of successive SNP education ministers. It is time to bring together experts from right across the spectrum to advise Parliament on where to go now. That is the first response that should come from Holyrood’s Education Committee. Let’s see what they do.

And now a word about the budget. Or rather two words. Ho hum. What a complete waste of time. Clearly the Chancellor, knowing that he had a real budget to deliver in the Autumn, had decided to postpone as many issues as he could get away with. The number of reviews, green papers, and other reconsiderations announced took up most of the speech, and the few actual decisions taken did nothing to help those on benefits or the “just managing” on in-work benefits, nor to help those forced to swallow their pride and stand in queues at food banks to feed their children.

Mind you, as predicted in this column a few weeks ago, he did find money to head off the business rates revolt. To great Tory cheers, he increased the Tory “living wage” to £7.50 at a time when the real living wage assessed for the Joseph Rowntree Trust is £10. He continued the “Tampon Tax”, which should be removed since women have no alternative but to pay it every month. However, a true Tory touch, he tried to disguise it as a contribution to organisations dedicated to protecting women and children from domestic violence.

And that was about all. We wait to see what Derek Mackay will do with the £350m of Barnett consequentials, although once again Hammond tried to package it as a great giveaway to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And, of course, his decision to break a manifesto promise and raise National Insurance on small entrepreneurs, even though everyone says they are the engine room of the economy, has typically come back to haunt him. The Daily Mail is aghast.

So, we have to wait until the Autumn, after the activation of Brexit, to find out where the man who John Crace of the Guardian has called “the Undertaker” is taking our economy. I canny wait.

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41 thoughts on “Labour leads opposition to SNP education failures

    1. Still trying to blame central Government for local council teacher recruitment failures. No wonder Jeremy Corbyn himself takes the time to kick Labour in Scotland in the teeth. He must be as sick and tired of your antics as much as the Scotland is.

    2. Alex,
      Jim O’Neil and yourself put in mind an old couple peekin through the net curtains at the awful state of the garden across the road. They seem oblivious to the fire that has engulfed their house.

  1. “Jim O’Neill says the only party in Holyrood that doesn’t think the SNP has failed on education for the last ten years is the SNP itself”

    Perhaps they view it in relative terms to Education in Wales under Labour?

    “On Wednesday 7 March all but one party at Holyrood agreed that the ten years of SNP government had been a record of unadulterated failure in education policy and implementation. This is a remarkable decision, since every party, from the left (who led the debate) to the right, and including the usual trusties, the Greens, took the same view of the SNP performance from Mike Russell to John Swinney and all the rest in between.”

    Ah so we have opposition parties in Scotland running a narrative of opposition rather than agreement. How odd.

    “On a Labour motion, the MSPs rejected an SNP self-congratulatory amendment by 63 votes to 62 and then agreed the motion by the same margin.”

    4 abstentions? Let me guess the “MAJORITY” of the Green party didn’t actually agree?

    “amid a slew of reports that the performance of Scottish children was going backwards”

    One single report from a Tory party quango which flies in the face of all previous reports since 2007. I for one wouldn’t take it at face value. Labour usually don’t take Tory party reports as gospel in fact they usually tell folk they’re bullshit.

    “He began by failing to head off industrial action by teachers”

    And we’re back to blaming central Government for the mess made by Labour local councils. Standard O’Neil fare.

    “Turning to the nanny state proposal that parents were incapable of raising their own children and so every child needed a “named person” to look after their interests”

    In support of a named person scheme.

    http://www.aberlour.org.uk/assets/0001/4798/In_support_of_the_Named_Person_-_A_briefing_for_Conservative_debate_2nd_December_2015.pdf

    I particularly like the part where it says

    1: The idea for the named person originally came from parents, who expressed a desire to see access to support simplified and a single point of contact through which to access that support. The Named Person represents that single point of contact and can effectively sign post state to support and offer advice in times of difficulty.”

    “THE IDEA FOR THE NAMED PERSON SCHEME ORIGINALLY CAME FROM PARENTS”.

    Opposed to a named person scheme.

    Conservative Tories Labour Tories Lib Dem Tories UKIP The Telegraph The Daily Mail The Times. Not a place Labour would want to be I would have thought. But what do I know?

    “You would think that after all these failures the SNP government would get the message”

    Won Scottish election 2007 won Scottish election 2011 won Scottish election 2016 returned 56 out of 59 MPs to Westminster 2015 won local elections 2007 2012. Sitting at 47% in the polls. Nicola Sturgeon most popular leader in the UK.

    I think its Labour and you Jim Bob who is failing to “Get the message”.

    “As a former teacher, a trade union official for teachers and having put three children through an education system that once was the envy of the world, I know that the future of our children and our country is at risk.”

    Would you recommend sending children to be educated in Wales instead Jim Bob? Do you think that would have less risk?

    “We can no longer afford the bumbling of successive SNP education ministers. It is time to bring together experts from right across the spectrum to advise Parliament on where to go now”

    Ah once again we can turn to the Labour party Minsters and experts in Wales?

    Bumbling gibbering rhetorical pish as usual Jim Bob. I bet Labour are glad you’ve retired.

    1. Mike, I am now bored with your ill-informed, tartan-eyed, offensive and xenophobic responses to my blogs. I now intend to ignore them in future. If my blogs so offend you, you can either take the advice of the Bible and “pluck out thine own eyes” or, to be more caring, give up reading them. that is, unless you have a masochistic wish to be offended. Byeee!

  2. Labour in North Lanarkshire trying to grab PEP from Head Teachers. Is that right Jim Bob?

  3. “Labour leads opposition to SNP education failures”

    On the bright side you managed to debunk the “One party State” narrative Jim Bob.

  4. “Education system….that was once the envy of the world”….echoing Treeza May. No surprise there, Scottish Labour seem to be doing that a lot these days, while “monstering” their own, ELECTED, leader.

    Now I went through secondary education in the early 1960’s. I was in an above average class. There were 46 pupils registered, none of whom were expected to do anything other than leave education when they left school, and get a job. Its different now, as Mr O’Neil might (or might not ) have noticed. My two children both went to University, a thing I would not, and could not, have contemplated
    I think its much better now than it was then. Not least on aspiration.

    Could Mr O’Neil state precisely when Scotland was “the envy of the world”?

    1. I also went through selective secondary education in the sixties. two of my three children went through Uni, the third is a successful businesswoman. When Scotland led the world in changing to comprehensive education, it was very highly regarded, and there are many time before then that they led the world, not least in medical education. See, my degree in education, focussing on history, still comes in useful at times

      1. Doesn’t seem to be a barrier to gibbering though eh Jim Bob. Perhaps you should rejoice and be thankful that your kids didn’t have to go through a Welsh education under Labour administration.
        God knows where they would be now.

      2. Jim, you stated categorically that Scottish education was “Once the envy of the world”.
        That is quite a specific assertion that you should be able to date, especially with your degree, ” focusing on history”. The FACT that you cannot, tells us this sounds more of the urban myth, than educational fact.

        As for the “named person” thing. I am sick and tired of hearing about children abused, beaten, starved over a lengthy period and yet only coming to public attention once they are dead. Even though they have often been, to a large extent, in the public eye over the timeline of their trauma.
        I dont know if “named person” is the solution, but I dont give a damn about your middle class sensitivities, or the Libertarian rantings of the fascists in the Mail or Express opinion sections. Children deserve better than political indifference to their suffering, because of clowns like you, blushing and farting about what goes on behind the curtains in “nice” houses.

        1. Sorry, I thought that I gave two examples, leading the world on comprehensive education in the early seventies and leading the world in medical education in the 17th/18th century. Read Tom Devine for more examples

  5. I have a son finishing S6 (he was one of the PISA group) and grandkids in P1 and P7.

    Explain to me how they are being failed.

  6. The die is cast, so come on Jim O’Neill, Hothersal, Andy, Scott what is it ???

    Scotland or the f-ing tories —- chose

    1. Everyone and their dog know that Sturgeon does not have the power to hold another independence referendum.

      Sturgeon and her SNP followers are “plastic” nationalists.

      Plenty of the SNP crew voted to leave the EU. Nevertheless, the majority of today’s SNP promote “plastic” independence; they want to drag Scotland out of the UK union, to then be totally submerged in the much bigger EU one! Talk about being twisted.

      The SNP position on the EU referendum is a total joke. If they were truly interested in more power being invested upon the Scottish people they would have wanted out of the EU.

      Face the facts Davy.

      The SNP had their big chance in 2014 and they blew it.

      There isn’t going to be another independence referendum.

      It’s over.

      1. Well there you go Andy. you can sit back put your feet up read your anti migrant monthly and completely ignore the upcoming referendum.
        For you there doesn’t have to be a another referendum at all.

        1. Here are the facts……

          In 2014 Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.

          In 2016 we voted as the UK whether to remain in, or leave the EU.

          It was a UK wide vote, every vote stacked and every vote counted.

          How Scotland voted made not one shred of difference.

          Mike, we all had a vote.

          In a referendum one side wins and the other loses. You might not like the result, but if you take part in the process, you should accept the result.

          Remember Mike, we always have been and always will be, Better Together.

          1. “How Scotland voted made not one shred of difference.”

            “Remember Mike, we always have been and always will be, Better Together.”

            How do you reconcile those 2 statements Andy?

            In 1999 we voted for Devolution. Everybody accepted the result and yet since the 1999 result everybody has been changing and altering that result and its status quo.
            A journey of change labour not only approved of but participated in.
            The journey of change didn’t end in 2014 Andy anymore than it ended in 1999.
            It will never end. We will keep changing keep making different choices over and over.

            You’re trying to deny Human nature. You’re trying to pretend you have a legitimate right to prevent people changing their minds.

          2. In 2014 Scotland voted to be part of the UK and part of the EU.

            Every household in Scotland received a leaflet from Better Together, Yes Scotland and an impartial leaflet from HM Government. The government leaflet warned that a Yes vote would put Scotland’s EU membership at risk.

            We then had a campaign and TV debate which featured Scotland’s EU membership.

            Many Scots, including me, voted No on that basis.

            The SNP was then elected with a record number of votes since the Scottish Parliament was created with a manifesto commitment to another referendum if Scotland was to be taken out of the EU against its will.

            Everyone – including the English Conservatives – now agree there will be another referendum.

            We are better together, better together with the half a billion people in the largest single market the world has every known.

      2. “There isn’t going to be another independence referendum.”
        Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

      3. “There isn’t going to be another independence referendum. Its over”.

        Are you John McTernan in disguise?

        1. The Tories have given the “Poisoned Dwarf of the North” a knock back.

          There isn’t going to be an “indyref2”.

          What a surprise……………..not!

          Still, look on the bright side, it stokes up the fires of “grievo max” and should help to mobilise the useful idiots for the council elections.

          Just goes to show hypernats, every cloud has its silver lining.

          1. “The Tories have given the “Poisoned Dwarf of the North” a knock back.”

            Andy, your comment is a disgrace, you sound like a Scotland hating Daily Mail reader. This is typical of Labour, you don’t care what damage is inflicted upon Scotland as long as the Labour Party or your precious union is OK.

  7. Well let me put in my ten ps worth. On education John Swinney the safe pair of hands brought in to clear up other peoples mess does not even look comfortable in the job. Om the UK budget Hammond like his Scottish counterpart made a total mess of it. Hammond is now involved in a first class bun fight with the PM trying to avoid the blame over NI contributions of self employed workers. The Scottish Finance Secretary failed to see a rebellion coming over business rates led by Alec Salmond . The Finance Secretary got no public support from the FM over that. On the ref today we had we had so called SNP insiders telling the press the FM would not announce a ref at the SNP conference . They were right she did it today with no warning. Ha Ha We are told sometime in the next 2 years . So now we have now going to have 2 years of this. One way or the other the next ref will settle this. From now until May it should be about the local election. Today not one word from any politician on local elections all of it was politicians arguing over indy2. It looks as if this will dominate for 2 years . I think the public will get fed up with it . I hope on Thursday at FMQS will ask other questions I don’t they will. I was wondering why the FM did not wait for the conference or as I believe she should have done made her announcement in the Scottish Parliament. Was it because Jim Sillars has apparently published an open letter telling the FM not to be ruled by emotion. He has accused the FM of failing to set up a coherent strategy. He has accused her of rhetoric and hype since the EU ref . He also said emotion led us to defeat at Dunbar and Flodden. He is claiming if the FM does not control the emotion outbreak it will mean defeat for the last time. Alec Neil has also called for caution . He also said its not just about Brexit. Its also about clarity on what the SNP are taking to the people. He said the FM got to spell out a strategy. If the FM knew stuff like like that coming out from people like Jim Sillars and Alec Neil did the FM decide to go early with the announcement. On other things we have heard that Police Scotland are investigating death and other threats against Scottish political leaders. The threats are via Twitter and Facebook. I don’t do either and I have thought for some time its time for members of political parties to close their Twitter and Facebook accounts immediately . And keep of them until our politicians come up with a way to stop this nonsence. Before we have a tragedy like Jo Cox . There is nothing social about social media. Time to sort out Social Media

    1. Are you a S2 random sentence computer programme that has not had the code for a comma or paragraph added yet?

      1. Hello Stephen . Problem is I only have as you can see very basic computer skills. Did the basic beginners course last year got a w 10 . Still trying to work it out. The course was really only consisted of finding blogs news web sites and how to do emails. Cant complain it was a local authority buddy course in my local library. No it did not include how to find commas etc on the keyboard. And I did not know there was a keyboard involved or I would not have had the confidence to do the course. Also I had a few problems concentrating last night . I was aware of what had happened after I posted the comment for example I missed out 2 complete sentences. Hope this helps

        1. Noted, I hope you keep on posting now that you can get around the web.

          Try using the “enter” key. Its usually a bigger key over on the right hand side of the keyboard. It just breaks up the posting into easier to read paragraphs.

  8. Oh dear, just when I thought the Labour party was about to turn a corner and actually start criticising the Tories, we get this:

    “And now a word about the budget. Or rather two words. Ho hum”

    Funnily enough Jims next few words summed up how the overwhelming majority of Scots now feel about the Scottish Labour Party right now:

    “What a complete waste of time”

  9. Funny enough I thought the comment section tonight would have comments on the local authority election campaign. Nothing so far. Yes I am a labour party member who because of brexit has moved from remain on Indy 2 to a don’t know. I will make my own mind up . I wont listen to the rubbish already coming from both sides. The most important thing for me is the local authority election . In North Ayrshire Labour have passed a budget packed with radical ideas. The budget was that good the SNP backed it and are claiming the credit. Ok I will briefly return to the ref . The Indy website goes up yesterday and raises 90 grand . I want to see full details of who and how mutch every single person is donating on both sides. Jim Sillars has said if Scotland is to stay in the EU he will not vote yes. The head teacher at Blairgowrie High School wrote to parents. Warning of difficulties in finding qualified tutors. She asked for anyone with a maths related degree to come forward. Oh dear its our EDUCATION SECRETARIES LOCAL SCHOOL. YES I HAVE FOUND THE CAPS LOCK

    1. Caps lock is a start but don’t get too ‘shouty’ in your enthusiasm with it.

      Of course, you take a knock at the education secretary when you should know that its the local authority who are responsible for the hiring (or not) of teachers?

      Keep banging away at that keyboard. Just shove in a few gaps when you change subject and it’ll be easier to read.

      1. Sorry. The Scottish Government have set the number of teachers required in each Authority

    2. Hello David.
      You say that you’ve moved from a No to a Don’t know. Do you agree that the UK is looking at a Tory/hard right govt, with all the pain and hardship that will bring for the working man and woman, for the foreseeable future?
      I was wondering, as a Labour memeber, what are the reservations you have that are keeping you from a firm Yes?

    3. David, have a wee gander at the article by Professor ( of Economic Policy at Oxford) Simon Wren-Lewis at the New Statesman(or his blog at mainly macro).
      I don’t think you will stay as a “don’t know” for long.
      Indeed, everyone with the interests of Scotland at heart, should read it.
      And Wren-Lewis has no dog in this fight.

  10. I will want to know if Scotland leaves the UK. Will we be allowed to join the EU .If not what are the implications. I will want to see cast iron guarantees from other leaders. Alec Salmond said last time we will be Englands best pal . I want cast iron guarantees they will be ours. This time someone will have to spell out the benefits of staying in the UK. Also the perils of leaving. I wont be listening to politicians or their so called non political affiliated groups. The PM has stated no ref within the FMS timetable. We have now got wall to wall coverage. As Neil Findlay said in the real world people in his area are losing their jobs. I was out delivering leaflets yesterday. people told me they are fed up with Indy and Brexit . What they wanted to talk about is things that are local. I was told Nicola isn’t listening. Local elections are in May that’s what political parties should be concentrating on . I know that SNP activists are getting the same feedback. I have talked to them about it .I bet no one at the SNP conference will speak for those people by standing up and saying that

  11. Wish I hadn’t asked! Utterly ridiculous list of demands, but I suspect you already knew that. You stick with the Union Pal, we’ll get there despite you.

  12. Like I said I will make my own mind up. I wont listen to any party leader . My wish list might be ridiculous but its mine . Leading SNP members I spoke to on Monday and Thursday did not think it was ridiculous.

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