The SNP’s lack of a governing ethos is its Achilles heel

Jim O’Neill says the SNP’s lack of a consistent political theme or alignment means they are in a constant cycle of creating and then trying to solve problems of governance, and the excuse that independence would solve everything is wearing very thin.

We have spent too long calling the SNP “Tartan Tories”, usually when they and the Tories vote together to block a Labour proposal such as the withdrawal of the Abellio contract. Such a comment presumes that they have a consistent ethos like that of the Tories, a kind of laissez faire approach that does not allow state interference in people’s lives.

The SNP, however, see themselves as a centre-left party, socialist in the way that Blair was a socialist, with state intervention where he thought he knew better than anyone else. Such an approach was visible in the early Labour/ LibDem coalition, often held back by LibDem populism, but which introduced a number of public health measures which meant that Scotland led the world in public health. One of those was bowel cancer testing, for which I will be eternally grateful, having had my own bowel cancer first identified by the screening and then cured by our wonderful NHS.

But the SNP are neither Tartan Tories nor the Blairite left. What they are is a reactionary party; they react to events and issues without any single political theme to their decisions. This can create serious problems, since it is self-evident that it is more expensive to put things right that it is to predict and prevent problems.

This has been highlighted by the Ferguson Marine saga. First they allowed a government contract to run wildly out of control. Then, when it looked like the CalMac ships would not be completed, they brought in one of their pals, a Brexiteer who enjoys living in low-tax Monaco, and then when he failed they announced that they were going to nationalise the yard. Even then they allowed three private companies to bid for the company and only when the administrators, knowing that the government had backed themselves into a corner, rejected the bids, the SNP reinstated their decision to nationalise.

When Clem Atlee’s great Labour post-war government nationalised coal, steel and the railways and created the National Health Service, they did so to help rebuild an exhausted Britain by controlling the commanding heights of the economy. The SNP have nationalised Ferguson Marine, not to save jobs, but to ensure the two Caledonian MacBrayne ferries are finished. And remember, Caledonian MacBrayne is also owned by the Scottish Government.

This lack of foresight is also seen in the Scottish NHS. I do not hold the government responsible for every medical decision made in our hospitals and GP surgeries. I do hold them responsible for managing the governance of the sector. Yet we have seen from one minister after another, from our current First Minister to the current carpetbagger, that they neither have the capacity nor the ability to ensure that Health Boards manage the service effectively. And we have seen crisis after crisis in the financing of the Boards and also in their responses to the difficulties they have faced.

Most recently this has been seen in the response of Tayside, a serial offender, to the crisis in mental health in the area. There was only one key recommendation in the interim report, which the Scottish Government accepted fully. But Tayside have done nothing to implement that recommendation, and the Scottish Government have taken no steps to ensure that they do. This has all the signs of the last Tayside crisis when local MSP Shona Robinson was in charge. You would have thought that she would have known what was going on in her own back yard.

Another recent question from the SNP ranks at FMQs was a demand that all welfare powers be devolved. This would be welcome if not for the fact that the SNP government have rejected many of the powers that they already have. How can they implement more powers when they say they do not have the capacity to deliver the powers they already have? Indeed, what would happen if they suddenly had to implement a welfare and benefit service in an independent Scotland.

And there’s the rub. I said that the SNP do not have a governing ethos. I may be wrong in that, because every time Nicola Sturgeon gets into trouble at FMQs she resorts to the shibboleth that everything would be different in an independent Scotland. That is their governing ethos. But they will have to show that they can manage Scotland in the many areas they already have full powers. And in that they have consistently failed, in education, in health, in transport, in welfare and in financial management. I suggest they go back to the building blocks of governance and rethink a coherent ethos. Independence contains no Harry Potter magic.

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71 thoughts on “The SNP’s lack of a governing ethos is its Achilles heel

  1. Sadly, an article written through the prism of hatred for the SNP rather than on a basis of a proper analysis of the evidence. The SNP is certainly not perfect but it is clearly the best possible governing party available in Scotland, which is why it has now been elected and re-elected since 2007. While is is true that the SNP has no ideology beyond the best interests of the country and its people, it is this very pragmatism that is one of its strengths. Step by step, within the scope of the limited powers at its disposal, the SNP is moving Scotland in a better and more progressive direction. And this seems to be in tune with public opinion which continues to show that the SNP is by far the most popular party in the country

  2. Donald,
    Impartial and accurate observations.
    The SNP are presently in a strange position. They lost the 2014 referendum. They realise that their ultimate goal is now far away. (I think its gone and I think they know it) . The SNPs biggest challenge now is douse the unrealistc aspirations of its supporters.
    But as a party they are unchallenged and have been in every vote (except 18.09.14) in Scotland in the last 12 years. Come the next general election the SNP will sweep the other parties away. Of the 7 existing Labour MPs only Ian Murray has a chance of retaining his seat.
    Why is that? As Jim O’Neil likes to remind use their report card at Holyrood is not all straight A+.
    The answer to why the SNP are so successful as a party does not lie at Holyrood. It lies at Westminster , with The Tory and Labour parties. Scottish voters look at Westminster and they dont like what they see.
    The SNP are now seen by Scottish voters as Scotland’s Party. They must be pinching themselves.
    They dont need to campaign , Boris and Jeremy do it for them.
    Getting back to this article and your comment. The reason Jim O’Neil and the other regular contributors on Labour Hame continually attack the SNP is because as you say they hate them. Labour use to hand out all the good jobs and now the SNP do. Its a natural emotion ‘hate’ (not healthy) ; when someone or something takes what you believed was yours by right. But its more than that. The hardest part for the Labour old guard to face is not the sound of victory from the other camp, it is to witness what is left on the field of what was once the all powerful Scottish Labour Party.
    Have a bit of sympathy.

    1. I do note hate anyone or anything. I say as I see. In some things the SNP have done well, such as minimum pricing of alcohol, but in major areas they have failed the people of Scotland, in health, in education, in housing and in transport. They are not doing their day job while taking an easy position at Westminster, kled by a simple crofter who is as wealthy as Croesus

  3. Jim is right.

    For the past 12 years as a councillor, I’ve seen how SNP councillors work. Some of them are decent individuals and intelligent enough, but the lack of any commonly agreed political philosophy means they are constantly divided and split two, three or even more ways (there are currently 11 of them). Most of them are really just single issue obsessives, they come from all over the political spectrum and the only thing that really unites them is “independence”. It’s not surprising they are incompetent. If you are driven by “independence” above all else you will have no ethos of public service and therefore you will not be all that motivated to invest the time, effort and energy in the hard work and dedication that’s needed to do a proper job of serving the public.

    1. Alex, I wonder what those 11 SNP councillors say about yersel and the labour party, and we all know “JIM ” is going to write an SNP-BAD article because that’s all he can write, or should I say that’s all he will write.

      But here’s the thing ! the SNP’s polling figures are miles above Labours and any other unionist party in Scotland.

      The last election figures was for the EU election and labour in Scotland came fifth and lost both its MEP’s, the SNP took three seats out of six, with 37.7% of the vote and labour had 9.3%.

      The figures don’t lie and haven’t done for years, the current labour party in Scotland has nothing to offer Scotland and Scotland knows it.

      The figures don’t LIE.

      1. The SNP were the administration in North Ayrshire Council. They dumped their leader Willie Gibson while he was on holiday in Italy and then ran away from the administration. Labour was left to pick up the pieces and we have done a great job since then. TBH it doesn’t matter what they say or think.

  4. Donald I am a Labour party member I don’t hate the SNP .
    The mental health crises on Tayside should have been dealt with it should not have taken Richard Leonard at last Thursdays FMQS to get it raised .Jim is right about Ferguson Marine and Abellio .
    Alec Salmond had no trouble dealing with Annabelle Goldies Tories to get 4 budgets through the Scottish parliament an early better together .
    NHS they saved me in 14 I still have to attend hospitals and GP Surgeries .
    Not all of it is the Governments fault Health boards are not working in the way they should .
    Hospitals are packed staff run of their feet I see the strain staff are under vacancies not being filled .
    GP surgery supposed to close at 5pm but at closing time still packed 2 young doctors told me they were leaving the surgery for positions within the NHS when they knew what time they would finish .
    My lung condition means when I phone in I get seen the same day 1 day I phoned needed the doctor out .
    Told to jump in a taxi said no not allowed to .
    When GP attended I was told Flu outbreak amongst staff shortage of doctors .That day .
    Pharmacist next door that busy quite often they lock the door to stop more people coming in .Staff under strain .
    I am supposed to attend hospital to get my oxygen equipment checked and my oxygen levels taken this is very important last time I was at the hospital was Dec 18 next time Jan 20 no check up this year due to the consultants waiting list .
    I have been making frequent visits to the surgery for oxygen level checks and hospital staff visit me at home.
    But my cpac overnight oxygen equipment has not been serviced since December and wont be until Jan 20.
    Mention any of this to my SNP friends and its SNP bad look at the money we spend on it .
    Its not SNP bad but if we don’t reform the Scottish NHS will fall about our ears .
    I think its time if possible to take the politics out of the NHS and I like Tony Blair haha

  5. The parking levy does anyone want it .From what I see the Scottish Government only introduced it because they need Green support . If it proves to be as unpopular as I think it could be .
    will the Greens take the credit .
    And the Greens complained today about the USA use of Prestwick airport .The Scottish Gov had to take it over to keep it open maybe the Scottish Government need to have a word with the Greens .
    Like have a go at them at the SNP conference

    1. No council is forced to have a parking levy. The law just gives the power over whether to impose a parking levy to local councils. I think that’s called local democracy.

      1. And Labour North Ayrshire have declared that they would never implement this SNP tax on going to work

        1. You’re determined to mislead people here Jim. You’d think there was an election in the offing. As you know, it’s a Green Party policy the SNP only agreed to in order to get the budget through Parliament. As it only gives local authorities the power to implement the levy if they choose to, it would be the “《insert Party name here》 tax” depending on what council rolled it out. So far only Labour councils have done so. Therefore, it is a “Labour Tax” ….. at least in Nottingham and maybe Leicester.

        2. Well what Labour North Lanarkshire does will also depend on their Tory allies who voted to keep a minority Labour administration in power in 2015.

    2. “Does anyone want it”? The SNP didnt want it but Labour certainly wanted it. It was introduced in England by the Labour Party in 2000 and, so far, the ONLY council to implement it since then was Nottingham …. a Labour council. The only other council looking at it is Leicester …. a strongly Labour council (with 53 of 54 seats). These are the facts Scottish (sic) Labour hope people won’t be aware of.

      1. Pony, me old mate, when will you learn the meaning of devolution. The Scottish Labour Party has devolved powers of policy and learned from the failure of this SNP tax on going to work in England and took a different line. That is the value of devolution

        1. But Jim, it’s up to individual councils whether they want to implement it or not. It’s a potential revenue stream for local authorities that Scottish (sic) Labour have been calling for but now bizarrely, and seemingly hypocritically, don’t seem to want. Just as they railed against the council tax freeze as denying councils revenue and then, when it was lifted, continuing with the freeze. Scottish (sic) Labour have a long history of saying one thing when they are in no position to do anything about it, then doing the opposite when they are and hoping nobody notices. I think the polls show that people have been noticing.

          As to your take on devolution, Scottish (sic) Labour are not a separate party to the Westminster shambles. Scottish (sic) Labour’s claim to having different policies in Scotland to England is based entirely on their “masters” allowing it. Such as the nonsensical opposition to nuclear weapons policy in Scotland while the “real” party’s “actual” position on the issue is in favour of them. Scottish (sic) Labour’s position is worthless at best and is more accurately dishonest.

          Whatever the problems being faced by Scottish public services, the public are by and large aware that they are still the best in the UK in the majority of instances. What Scottish (sic) Labour have to prove is that, despite this relatively high starting position, they can be trusted to follow through on the rhetoric, put into place the policies they say they will and improve on it. Unfortunately, their track record on this is stunningly poor and people simply don’t trust or believe them anymore.

          Sorry Jim, but the dishonesty in the Scottish (sic) Labour stance on everything from PFI (stated outright opposition to rabid implementation), the council tax freeze, workplace parking levy (creation of the policy to opportunistic opposition to it), the OBFA legislation (the most popular policy ever introduced by Holyrood and rescinded for petty political point scoring) and many, many other policies including the Abellio contract (Scottish (sic) Labour policy on this was exactly the same as the SNP one but they try to pretend it wasnt) mean that their “promises” fall on deaf ears now.

          As I’ve said before, Scottish (sic) Labour’s only hope of salvation is forming a truly separate party in an independent Scottish state.

          1. There is only “Labour”. Scottish (sic) Labour is a sub division of the UK party. ANY policy the sub group came up with that the party hierarchy had a problem with would see a short, sharp visit from the London based “big clunking fist” to quash it. What Scottish (sic) Labour cling to, ironicly, is the illusion of independence. The reality is rather different as it must be in a UK context.

  6. One thing the Scottish Government got right was taking over Prestwick Airport I think it may have closed if they had not .
    Patrick Harvie should remember that When attacking the Scottish Government over the use of the airport by the US military on the way to Turnberry .
    They have no control over who does what when they get here .
    Public transport is different I am talking about busses Stagecoach is dominant in my area .
    No opposition . Busses late prams v wheelchairs on board .And angry passengers
    Standing room only on some .
    I saw a driver under that much stress management had to take her of the bus at the bus station .
    So I contacted my ask Stagecoach to consider bringing in bus conductors on that route daytime Monday to Friday without putting fares up as they have no competition .
    I checked on Friday my MSPS office told me they have contacted Stagecoach 8 times on my behalf no reply .
    I cant be the only one who thinks the Scottish Government needs to do something about this they have the power.

  7. So far the only councils expressing an interest in the SNP Green parking levy are Glasgow and Edinburgh if they do start with Holyrood haha

  8. SNP conference so far the best bit was the OAP who refused to leave the stage on day 1.
    And lots of moans and laughs at Labour card votes held up.
    What did I see at SNP conference cards held up.

    1. Difference is that SNP conferences have voting delegates as well as observers and visitors. Card votes are just so that only those entitled to vote are voting and to make it easier to count. With Labour, cards are of different voting power with union cards having more voting power than all ordinary party members together

      1. Pretty much the same thing at Labour conference though. We have visitors and observers too, and only delegates are issued with cards to vote. Union and socialist society votes are a difference for sure, but each CLP delegate card carries a different number of votes as well, depending on the size of the CLP.

        1. Serious question; how are these card votes counted? If every card has a different value depending on who is holding it, how can you come to an even vaguely accurate total with a sea of seemingly identical cards in front of you?

  9. Hello Jim
    The article seems to be a sort of unfair attack on the SNP written simply to attack them. We really need to get away from this tribalism in Scottish politics. I don’t particularly like having to denigrate the Labour party but this article is almost put there simply to attract that sort of response – so here goes.

    You start by castigating the SNP for adopting a kind of laissez faire approach – after the Blair years? Were you asleep? I have to remind you that Blair was Labour – you seem to want to distance him from the party itself but that cannot be. So really we are talking about the Labour years when we mention Blair years. When we talk of Blairism we must therefor mean Labourism. So what was Labourism? Was it a kind of socialism – maybe New Socialism? Was that what Stephen Purcell was doing when he started the formation of arms length companies to run the services and assets of Glasgow Council? Socialism? As well as being plc’s with high salaried boards these arms length companies set up by Labour simply by being companies, denied the public their legal rights of scrutiny over a public body. Is that the governing ethos you prefer?

    Nationalisation in Britain has always had two sides one socialist ideology and the other maintaining ailing industries to maintain jobs. Not really much of a difference here although you paint the Fergusson Marine nationalisation as ‘ship led’ rather than ‘job led’ – patent nonsense – its both. Or would you rather they kept the jobs but didn’t finish the ships or just lose the ships and the jobs? Certainly the SNP are no Clem Atlee Labour party but neither was Blair’s or Brown’s – although I do believe they nationalised the banks due to allowing something to run wildly out of control as I recall.

    As to your statements about health – NHS Scotland really does perform well in comparison to NHS in England in practically every area. I can assure you that you do not know how lucky you are up here. However, can I remind you that Tony Blair was a bit of a fan of Adam Smith and preferred the competitive market model for NHS England in order to jolt it into better productivity and greater efficiency, at the same time he wasn’t backwards at castigating Bevan’s “monolithic” state driven model. Socialism? Doesn’t look like it to me. Successful? Definitely not.

    Ethos is defined as “the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations” I would say that the SNP certainly do not lack that – but a consistent ideology across the party? No I would have to agree they do not have that – but does the Labour party? Since the Blair Brown years, I don’t think so.

    1. To take one example, the have missed every one of their targets within the NHS, targets that they set themselves. I don’t get my health care in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. I just want my government to deliver what they have promised

      1. Hello Jim – I don’t know where you get your figures from but NHS Scotland does outperform NHS England and indeed NHS Wales. The example you give of NHS Scotland missing every one of their targets is wrong. I will concede they miss some but that is the point of targets – you make them difficult in order to improve and then once you meet them you make them harder and this is what they do in Scotland. Every-time we meet a target we make it harder so again ‘fail’ but improve. And a target is not a promise.

        However, if you are going to castigate performance it is normal to be comparative and to contextualise and to turn a blind eye to the woeful performance of the NHS in other parts of the UK is, well, silly. What is interesting is that many of the targets NHS England fail to meet are surpassed by NHS Scotland but we fail our own target as it is higher, harder and created to improve.

        I would also point out that the NHS is not simply targets but also delivery and I can assure you delivery in Scotland is well above the standards the poor English have to endure. The system in England is shambolic at times as has been demonstrated in the constant wrangling over contracts and the pressures on A&E.

        It might well be duff up here but its diabolical down there.

        1. Figures from Scottish Government. Let’s turn to children then. All Swinney’s plans have turned to dust. had to stuff teachers’ mouths with gold (to use Nye Bevan’s phrase about selling the NHS to doctors) to get them to call off strikes. New Education Bill withdrawn. And as a link, local authorities. Swinney agreed new wage scales without giving the LAs the funding to pay for it. This on top of a cut of funding to LAs of over 11% when the cut from Westminster only 4%. Nuff Yet?

          1. It seems the Scottish Govt has been set an impossible task by Scottish (sic) Labour. They are lambasted for not using the powers of Devolution to make Scotland specific changes to the way things are done and funded here …. but when they do they are lambasted for deviating from what is done in the rUK. It would be nice to know how Scottish (sic) Labour intend to square the circle they have drawn for themselves should they ever achieve power in Scotland at some future point. But, then again, they are probably pretty resigned to distant opposition for the foreseeable future and know they can say any old thing safe in the knowledge they will never have to live up to the rhetoric.

            PS The Scottish Govt gave LA’s loads of money in the past to recruit more teachers but Labour authorities took the money and spent it elsewhere instead. Didn’t stop them whining about low teacher numbers in their areas though. Perhaps they should re-allocate that money to the purpose it was given thus alleviating the burden of the “poor” teacher’s pay rise.

          2. Jim – I hate having to run down the Labour party but your attitude makes me depressed for the future of this once great party. You seem blinded to reality by what seems to be an attempt at point scoring. There is no ‘Nuff yet?’ in politics – this attitude is either childish or at best sort of weird. Facts are facts – simple. Putting on a pair of blinkers is not an improvement on dare I say it ‘rose coloured’ spectacles. If your attitude is representative of what Labour has become it will not be long before we are looking back to the halcyon days of 9pc. Wake up – look at the situation around you and try not to create a political landscape that doesn’t exist.

  10. Jim if the SNP Government are so bad how come they keep winning the Scottish Parliament elections and the majority of the Scottish seats in the UK general elections they must be doing something right for the majority of the Scottish people to vote for them any ideas why they keep winning.

  11. Tony Blair won 3 elections might be the big bad guy but the SNP copied his style of running the party discipline no open rebellion and at the weekend was head and shoulders above everyone else in warning of the dangers of Brexit and how it could lead to Indy .
    There are serious problems within the NHS a member of the Audience on Debate night Sunday told Philippa Whitford Central Ayrshire MP that at Cross house hospital there are staff shortages and patients are waiting on trolleys to be seen .Another audience member told the Tory MP of his issues with depression and anxiety.
    Philippa who used to be a Cancer Surgeon there said you don’t see what its like in other areas .
    Cross house hospital is not within her constituency but it is the hospital we have to use .
    Its as busy as any Glasgow hospital .
    Last year I attended x ray by appointment it was running late the radiologist was on her own due to a shortage of radiologists . She told us .
    I saw Patient Transport bringing in patients from other hospitals for x ray .
    I have a lung condition and have to go to Gartnavel hospital for regular oxygen level tests and for my overnight oxygen equipment to be serviced .This is important .
    Last time I was there was Dec 2018 . Then my appointment letter arrived next appointment Jan 2020 .
    I phoned and was told no appointment this year as the waiting list for appointments is too long .
    I was told don’t worry Respiratory nurses from Cross house would still be visiting me at home .
    And I would be making a lot more visits to my local surgery every month .
    This puts a lot more pressure on GP surgeries .
    I have seen staff under pressure packed surgeries the pharmacy packed and doors locked to keep people out until the que inside had cleared .
    On Saturday I heard that another surgery from the one I attend had to send people home it was flu jag day people had been contacted by text to attend .
    But when they got there standing room only so people were sent home no jag .
    The vaccine was there but not enough staff .
    Its no use saying we spend record amounts of money on the NHS how about we look for a way to take the politics out of the NHS and stop using it as a political football before the ball bursts .

    1. Hello David
      I totally agree with your last comment on taking the politics out of the NHS and in fact concentrate on getting it sorted. I also agree with your first comment about the SNP being Blair-like towards party discipline. I also agree with your comment about the serious problems within the NHS, however this is the case over the UK as a whole. What is different is that the NHS in Scotland actually does outperform NHS England – as I said it might be duff up here but it is diabolical down there.

      A couple of quick points: The reason you experienced the radiologist on her own and witnessed patients being brought from other hospital is due to the national shortage of radiologists. this has been going on for years. Indeed, the UK has the third lowest number of radiologists per population of 31 European countries, with 7.5 clinicians (radiology trainees and consultants combined) per 100,000 patients. The EU average is 12.7 per 100,000. To keep it short the difficulties are in recruitment and retirement. Too many leaving not enough spent in training replacements. Vacancy rates circa 13% across the UK as a whole but only 4% in Scotland – still not good but better than UK. This is illustrative of what I mean – yes its not good up here but believe me down south its awful.

      Basically, if we want a good health service we need to fund it adequately and to plan it sensibly. This does go beyond party politics into the realm of what is good for the population but unfortunately Jim’s article reinforces the SNP bad view rather than the how can we make things better approach.

  12. “Governing ethos”? Sounds like Red Tory waffle. Labour has a different ethos with every generation. Nationalise in the 1940’s? Fine. The we had Wilson closing pits, railways and rewarding his business chums. NHS?—- Market testing, Foundation Trusts, GP consortia and private corporations involved in “commissioning”. This was New Labour from 1999 transitioning the NHS to the private sector under the guise of “choice and competition”. This was only one of the Blair/Brown regimes governing ethos. What of “non-doms” and the prostitution of citizenship under Labour? Mandelson and the worship of private wealth.
    Scotland under the SNP has more nurses, doctors, GP surgeries, teachers, police officers per head of population than Tory England or Labour Wales. Why is that? Council house sales banned. Tut tut.
    Scotland gets less than half our per capita share of defence procurement or spending.
    Scotland gets just over half the per capita spend of our own BBC licence fee than England/Wales.
    The Labour Party in Scotland lost its way decades ago, with easy electoral victories, mainly over the Tories. They became indolent, arrogant and convinced of their own indefatigability. They got the pick of council houses, jobs for their children, safe seats in elections. Buggins turn for jobs–quality or qualification not an issue. Westminster was flooded with inarticulate, greedy, obnoxious faux class warriors, who did nothing for their constituents.
    Then they started losing, the whole shoddy house of cards collapsed, as it had no roots anymore, no foundation, no straw in the bricks–from Spud Murphy to oblivion!
    So now they stand with the Tories and Lib Dems castigating self government, the very thing they were founded to achieve, and touching their fore locks to the Union. No wonder someone as one dimensional as Ruth Davidson regarded Scottish Labour with utter contempt.

    What now Jim? If Labour make a comeback, what disguise will you wear? Keir Hardie? Blair /Brown? The “White heat of bullshIt”? Nationalisers or Privatisers? London always, but ALWAYS right?
    I left Labour many years ago: guess what, no regrets; no wincing at the lies, the hypocrisy, the totally fatuous mince Labour spouts out. No House of Lords for me, what a shame!

    Or will you look around yourself, Jim, at other small, successful counties, who somehow manage to run their own countries while being part of the international community.

    1. Hello Gavin can I refer you to what Alex Gallagher commented October 10
      And jobs for the boys and girls complaints about people in well paid jobs that complaint is now being levelled at the SNP.

      1. Hi David. Is that the comment about N Ayrshire council? I know nothing about their politics, though I googled Joe Cullinane. He appears to lead the council, on the Board of numerous special committees, a member of COSLA and in the Labour Shadow Cabinet. A busy man, and you have to hope he doesn’t fall under a bus. N Ayrshire council also seems up to its eyeballs in debt—what happens when the plate stops spinning? Is he propped up by the Tories?
        I am not an SNP member, but “jobs for the boys” is a problem when parties get complacent. You can see it in Labour, with children of senior politicos getting preferment.
        I,m older than you David, but look up the aging Labour politicians who got to be Boss’s of Nationalised industries.
        A nice little earner for their pension pots–especially as most knew nothing of the industry they were running.
        Baron Robins closed more than half of the pits, and kept wages low under Harold Wilson, yet it was Ted Heath who pelters.

        1. Thank you for your comment Gavin.
          Yes it was North Ayrshire Council and definitely not propped up by Tories or anyone else .
          All party members including me were asked and we made it clear no coalitions with anyone .Including the SNP who were in charge won a seat to Holyrood lost the resultant by election and gave up control of the council to Labour to reset the party their words
          We were also all involved in drawing up our election manifesto .Anyway Gavin I think things changed big time today for all of us regarding Boris getting EU agreement today Thursday .
          I think he just shafted the DUP and their ERG pals who last night were standing by them were falling over themselves tonight on CH4 News to back it .
          As I understand it the EU have said no more extensions .
          This has very serious repercussions for everyone in Scotland no matter who you support Gavin can I refer you to my comment below on Joes letter to the 2 governments

  13. Thank you for your comment Wynn
    I agree about the shortage of radiologists It came out in the local press Crosshouse hospital have staff who don’t know what their situation is after Brexit .Shortages in most departments .Philippa Whitford told BBC Debate night her husband German has been a GP in Ayr for 33 years does not know if he can stay .after Brexit
    When I last attended Gartnavel appointments were running over an hr late due to broken equipment and staff shortages .
    We then saw a highly entertaining row in full view of us patients between Patient transport staff who had arrived to take us home and respiratory staff who were in no mood to listen and gave as good as they got and won.
    My point is this cant go on and its no good saying its better than England as Philippa did the grown ups have got to sit down and work out everything from recruitment to funding Take the politics out of the NHS .

    1. David, it would be nice to take the politics out the NHS, but that would deprive Labour, Tories and Dumbs with most of their gripes.
      I read just the other day that the NHS in England had its worst waiting times, cancelled ops, staff shortages etc ever.
      The staffing issue impacts directly on Scotland. The Tories stopped paying bur series to train nurses—Scotland didn’t, but our nurses can easily move south.
      Scotland has the best NHS staffing levels in the UK, but that could change tomorrow if our medics get poached.

    2. Hello again David – you say ” the grown ups have got to sit down and work out everything from recruitment to funding Take the politics out of the NHS” and I totally agree. Some things (and the NHS is one) should be above party politics. You are right in pointing out that just saying its better up here than in England isn’t really any good but I was trying to put Jim’s politically motivated views into some perspective. Gavin gives a good picture of the present staffing levels up here compared to England but we all need to do better. In Scotland our service is in peril because so many staff are foreign from inside the EU and beyond – we have no idea what the position will be with regard to these valuable professionals after Brexit. However, bottom line, we need some consensus on the way forward for the future of the NHS and care services in Scotland and indeed the same over the rest of the UK.

      1. Its a bit controversial, but I believe the Vale of Leven Report has seriously undermined healthcare in Scotland.

        One paragraph from it sums it up. It concerned a nurse who had been interviewed by the committee as she had worked on the wards during the period under scrutiny. They asked her why all the tasks assigned to her (much of them petty admin) had not been accomplished. She replied she didn’t have enough time to do all these tasks. The committee accepted this explanation but, bizarrely, concluded it was not an excuse. In a way they were right …. it wasn’t an excuse …. it was a damn good reason.

        However, the upshot is that since then the staff of NHS Scotland have been overwhelmed with even more petty admin and pointless record keeping in order to allow lawyers to find some one to blame (and NHS managers to find a scapegoat), politicians to have endless FOI requests answered, managers to have a bottomless pit of admin depts to invent (and staff in endless merry-go-round of the same old faces), the private sector to have the chance to “volunteer” to oversee and even provide certain services …. for a fee of course.

        This has led to a significant number of NHS staff who used to provide direct patient care being sucked into admin and managerial roles leaving the rest to struggle on with the increased workload (almost wholly admin based) with fewer actual “coal face” staff to spread it over. If asked, mgt will say staff numbers have not decreased, however, that is only because they are counting the staff who are now sitting in front of computer screens perusing spreadsheets and writing endless reports as if they were still actually dealing with patients or processing specimens to any where near the extent they once were.

        That is why I get annoyed when some people say the NHS is over staffed. It is not. It is over managed. It was telling that when portering staff went on strike at Ninewells Hospital a few years ago, and senior mgt stopped what they were doing and took over the portering duties for the duration of the action, that no one noticed the difference in the running of the hospital. Senior mgt were running on a “skeleton staff” and everything worked fine. Clearly, a large proportion of them are surplus to the requirements of an “efficient” hospital but they will understandably point to the large amount of “inefficient” extra admin and record keeping that has to be done these days to justify keeping them all on.

        All because a committee wouldn’t accept that giving a poor wee nurse an impossible number of tasks was an excuse for her not to accomplish them all, and that giving her even more petty admin was the answer to the NHS’s problems. EVERYTHING has to be “measured”, “evaluated”, “evidenced”, “logged”, “audited” and so on and so forth. There just isn’t enough time in the day for all that and provide patient care but, then again, that is not an excuse apparently.

        1. Bungo FOI requests are vital but your comment is for me hugely interesting as it comes from an NHS worker .I have not heard anyone say the NHS is overstaffed but NHS staff have said over managed .
          What do you think of my idea to take politics out of the NHS .
          Just heard on STV news Holyrood has been recalled to discuss Brexit on Thursday .
          What would happen if someone were to say in 14 we were told if we voted no we would stay in the EU.
          But as we are now being taken out of the EU having voted remain does that not break the 14 result .

    1. David, when I was younger, works busses went everywhere–pits, factories, knitwear–you name it.
      Its a great pity these schemes were stopped.

      It was Labour who instigated the workplace parking charges in England/Wales( and the Tories have never overturned it). Although it has only been implemented in one city, I heard a local proclaim it had been a great boon to public transport and a huge success overall.
      We do need to get rid of internal combustion engines if our children are to have a planet to live on—it wont be easy, and will cause pain.

      If N Ayrshire council have a better proposal, let us hear it!

      1. North Ayrshire are leading discussions on municipal transport. Owned by the people and following the people’s priorities, not just to make more money for shareholders

        1. Sounds good, Jim. North Ayrshire is a geographically BIG area, so won’t be an easy thing to organise.
          You have an odd turn of phrase, however.—
          “Owned by the people”-,-as we would prefer.
          Yet you also assert–” not make… money for the shareholders”.
          As the people ARE the shareholders, why would that be a problem?
          I preferred work buses. Most were actually small private guys making a living–long hours, not much money. But flexible and reliable.

          I lived in Lugar, worked in Kilmarnock and had a choice of three different “lifts”–this in the 70’s. Nothing like that exists nowadays, yet it could come back with dis incentives for car transport.

          1. North and East working together on this. Wish South would join. Return to stakeholders (not shareholders) in routes prices etc. See how Lothian Busses run

        2. Hello Jim – it was the Thatcher Government that implemented the Transport Act 1985 and deregulated bus services in England, Scotland and Wales on the 26 October 1986.This led to bus wars and then to domination of bus services by large companies who used their size to squeeze out any small operators. Labour had 13 years to do something about the bus services and public transport throughout the UK but they had other things on their mind – wars for example. A number of councils are looking at taking control of bus services now that the opportunity has arisen but we actually need an integrated public transport policy for the whole of the country. One that is planned properly, publicly owned and cheap if not free.

          1. “Reviled”!!??

            Have you any evidence of this “revulsion” Jim? I can see the Govt being a little sceptical of the affordability of such a scheme (as the body that would have to implement it …. and take the blame if it proved unworkable …. that is understandable), but “reviled”??? I think you’re veering into hyperbole here.

          2. Hello Jim – I now think you are just a wind up merchant. The buses as you already know are free – for certain groups. The extension of this would have to have the cost sensibly assessed. BUT – and I can see the pattern here in the way you argue – you just miss or avoid the point of the real issue just for the sake of point scoring. You make no comment about integrated public transport (cos it doesn’t suit you) and you even get the Labour policy wrong too. Just to update you on Labour’s actual policy its to extend the free bus service to under 25s with a long term goal of universal free bus transport. Past goals of Labour include getting rid of zero hours contracts (promise 1995) getting rid of child poverty (promise 2000). Buses will probably no longer exist in the century that Labour manage to get this organised.

          3. I meant to add rail too is public transport and features nowhere in Labour’s policy. Integrated public transport includes all modes.

  14. The Labour leader of North Ayrshire Council has spoken of the disaster that awaits us if we get a no deal Brexit he has written to Derek MacKay Aileen Campbell and Alister Jack
    We need urgent help he is asking both governments to clearly define how they will help North Ayrshire .a third of children live in poverty we have one of the lowest job densities and employment rates in Scotland .
    North Ayrshire has benefitted big time from European funding and they are extremely worried about the lack of detail regarding the UK Governments replacement funding.
    This is serious
    Then this the Brexit vulnerability index map published by the Scottish Government online but which I read about in my local paper .
    75 thousand people in Ayrshire live in areas which are in the most vulnerable 20 per cent 21 per cent 29thousand 660 people are in the most vulnerable areas .North Ayrshire
    In the EU ref on a 64pt turnout 56pt 9 voted remain 43pt 4 voted leave
    East Ayrshire 21thousand 820 people are in the most vulnerable areas 58pt 6 remain 41pt4 leave 62pt9 turnout
    South Ayrshire 23thousand living in the most vulnerable areas 59 per cent EU remain leave 41per cent turnout 69pt 8
    That’s 74thousand 860 in vulnerable areas out of Ayrshires population of 366thousand 800

    1. David, I worked in the mining industry for 25 years. It was a good thing the pits closed, but we needed government to step up and entice industry into the old mining areas. Sunderland got nearly £1billion in grants, training fees, resettlement funds etc to get Nissan to build and keep a factory in the area. It is one of Nissans biggest and best factories world -wide, but may disappear because of Brexit.
      Ask yourself—what industries were brought into Ayrshire by either the Tories or Labour government (Trade and Industry being “reserved” to Westminster) after the mines closed?
      This, allied to “globalisation” which stripped work from Western countries and set up in East Asia or wherever labour was cheap. We get cheaper clothes, but less people can afford to buy, and our towns and cities are badly run down.

      Brexit can only make things work, and its a great pity the Labour party has been so incoherent over Leave or Stay.
      What we need is for our University educated children to invent “better mouse traps”– set up industry round their inventions, and employ locals.
      Instead they go to big cities Glasgow/London etc, or to work for established industry (regular pay, no stress about sales or bolshie workers etc).

      1. Gavin,
        I think your expectations of our politicians (to influence industry) are over optimistic. (And also of our University educated children; to invent).
        The reality is we (central Scotland) has moved from a heavy industrial economy to a service economy. Not too long ago we built and furnished the finest ocean liners in the world. We made the steel that made the ships and we dug the coal that made the steel that built the ships. Now a days, we deliver stuff, we serve each other. Our money circulates but never grows.

        There is an inevitabilty about this. But there was a chance to change things. We had a chance of escaping the decline that always follows The End of Empire. We had a chance of creating a different system in Scotland.

        Westminster, the royal family, the civil service, the ministry of defence , the other 24 ministries, are expensive to run. They are also uniquely populated by a certain type of person; and they are, ‘those of privilege’. That is the system. It has been for 1000 years.

        We had a chance in Scotland on 18.09.2014 to get out of our rotten existence. But we chose not to. We could now be like so many other small European states that have grown up in the last 30 years. But Scotland voted to stay in the UK.

        There are those in Scotland that disagree with this analysis. There are Scots that believe in the union. Proud unionists that see the bond between Scotland and the other nations as unbreakable. I respect them.

        But there are other unionists. Unionists that are not so sure of the bond. Why? Maybe colonialism had a downside? Why are they unionists? Why did they vote for The union in 2014?

        The Scottish Labour Party have never been a staunch unionist party. In the run up to the 2014 referendum they had to take a position. The election result of 2011, an overall SNP majority surprised everyone. It meant the SNP could call the referendum. Scottish Labour had to take a stance quickly. The natural stance was to oppose. Labour in Scotland dont like the SNP. We all know that. (The SNP dont like the Labour Party). But the mistake that Scottish Labour made was, in my opinion, that, their hatred clouded the logic of the argument. Which was a mistake not just for Scotland but also for the Labour Party in Scotland.

        In conclusion I think we had the chance to change things for the better for future generations, but we blew it. The chance will never come again.

  15. This thread has shown how exactly why Labour has nought to offer our country, always negative to how our country is run. And yet still has nothing better to offer.

    The figures don’t lie.

        1. Nothing? did you miss my comments on municipal transport. Please also look at Community Wealth Building, pioneered in the UK in Preston and now being developed in Scotland by Labour North Ayrshire. Scottish Policy Forum currently developing Socialist alternatives for 2021

          1. Hello Jim – the Community Wealth Building initiative is another import from the US as was Sure-start but I hope this one will be more successful. In fairness, this sort of idea has potential but has a limited scope for success in that there is only so far it can go. It has a limit set by where it sits in the political strata. Its another return to the past where old ideas resurface after having been superseded or purposefully erased over time. Banks used to do this sort of thing as did mutuals and indeed the cooperative movement. Indeed Bailey Brothers’ Building and Loan was not far outside of the kernel of this idea. I hope it works but it relies on working with other stakeholders over business, third sector and government areas. Can you work with the SNP? Can you work with the Greens?

            I do have one concern and that is to do with the creation of more community/social enterprises. These bodies often rely on volunteers and are thus more competitive than existing businesses as they do not have the staff cost overheads. I also worry that the use of zero hours contracts for workers will be utilised by other well-meaning groups in order to assist finance the living wage for employees. I read the Community Wealth Building for North Ayrshire Council 29th May 2018 report and there was no mention of such safeguards. Are there such safeguards in the North Ayrshire initiative?

        1. Wynn, to refer to an earlier comment, have you never read the Scottish Co-operative Party and TSSA’s policy paper, The People’s Rail, now adopted by the Scottish Labour Party

          1. yes but it is not an integrated transport policy nor free public transport – both of which I have believed in since my teens a very, very long time ago.

  16. When is someone going to write an article about why Labour councillors in Aberdeen have not been kicked out of the party for going into administration with the Tories?

  17. Brexit only saw the result Oliver Letwin aint popular ex PM May spoke in favour BBC reminded us Boris voted her deal down twice .
    Even Nigel said Boris deal worse than exPM Mays .
    And he would have voted remain if faced with Boris deal .
    Mogg has now said the bill is coming back to the Commons on Monday for a meaning full vote if the Speaker agrees A meaning full vote I think we have heard this before .
    Boris sald he wont send the letter the Benn act requires by 11pm tonight .
    And CH4 and BBC News both say Boris had the votes to get it through
    See what happens Monday Mogg and son Dianne Abbott and Andrea Leadsom all required Police escorts home .
    That is not acceptable .
    And could someone tell the guy who keeps shouting Stop Brexit shutup when I am watching telly haha

  18. I to remember busses coming into estates then the factories closed I remember the factory I was in closed and I met the owner and his wife of a small paper shop next to us and when I told them we were closing over the next 6 weeks he said that’s me lost the shop.
    Under a Labour Government I was in a job every day .
    Thomas Cook out of business .People out of work without warning .Thursday Watt Brothers in administration 229 people out of work no warning Bonmarche appoint administrators 2 thousand 887 jobs at risk we used to protest at this in the 70s and 80s but today we just accept it.

  19. I still remember to this day 2 of us standing saying this place will still be here after we are gone then it shut .
    Years later when by that time the council owned the site I was working for the council and was sent in to show a team where everything was as they needed to start breaking it up .
    I stood on the spot where we had talked that day .Walked through it hearing silent voices past the spot where a man died in an accident .
    To the old time card spot where on the last day we all stood singing Aye youl go
    BTW on the day we were told we were closing they were still trying to get us to work OT

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