jimtoggleJim O’Neill surveys a UK government dragging its heels on investment and economic policy, and a Scottish government failing to deliver. Again. 


Well, the decisive May government is now showing itself to be one of drift, drift and more drift. Having been a senior member of the Cabinet for six years, and having been party to all its major decisions, at the very last moment the new PM decides to postpone a decision on a new nuclear reactor at Hinckley Point on the day the contracts to be signed, thus offending the French and the Chinese, who were going to pay for it. And not a Boris in sight.

She has also angered the power industry, and put 6000 jobs at risk, not counting those companies who had already signed pre-contracts as sub-contractors, and who had already geared up to supply the developers. As an exercise in good governance, this would seem to be a prime example of how not to do it.

At the same time, research is published that shows that many workers have actually lost wages in real terms as a result of austerity, and I am not speaking about Cameron and Osborne’s ministerial salaries. So much for “we are all in this together”.

So how is the new Chancellor, the comatose Philip Hammond, dealing with it? We don’t know. And we will have to wait until the Autumn Statement to find out. But that is four months away in November! Funnily enough, Hammond has also been a member of the Cabinet for a long time but he is unable to say whether we will have more and more austerity or whether he will follow an investment route out of the self-imposed financial strictures.

It is said that all good things come to those who wait, but I think that is the capitalists’ method of keeping the workers down. Their motto is, of course, “What do we want? Lots of money. When do we want it? Now.”

Meanwhile, in Scotland, it has been discovered that the SNP government’s Welfare Fund has been underspent by £1.5m. Or as the SNP house journal, The Herald, put it “Fund given £1.5m more than it needed”. That comment is a disgrace to a once great paper and whoever is responsible for it should be sacked immediately. However, the fact that the fund was underspent at all is also a disgrace.

It’s not as if we have no need for welfare in Scotland. Louise McPhater, our terrific Labour candidate in the Irvine West by election, could have spent that money many times over in her role as co-ordinator for Vineburgh Community Centre, where she has run drop-in days for people in the community who are struggling to cope. I don’t suppose the previous SNP councillor who lived in Kilbirnie, or the current candidate (Nicola’s Dad, who lives in Dreghorn) would have noticed the real poverty within Irvine West. They have hardly ever been here. Surely it would not have taken very much thought to spend that last £1.5m. Or maybe, like the Herald, the Scottish Government thought that it had already spent too much on welfare!

But, just to show that I am not completely down on the government, I see that the removal of the right to buy has come into force. This Thatcherite social engineering completely skewed the housing market against those in the social rented sector and it is to the Blair government’s disgrace and to the SNP government’s credit that it has taken until now to remove it. The only piece of credit that Labour can take from this episode is that, when it was brought forward in the Scottish Parliament, they supported the removal. Now, we need some positive investment in social housing which not only will provide much needed homes but will also help to kick start the economy by boosting the construction sector. The people of Scotland are waiting.

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12 thoughts on “Too much welfare?

  1. At the same time, research is published that shows that many workers have actually lost wages in real terms as a result of austerity, and I am not speaking about Cameron and Osborne’s ministerial salaries. So much for “we are all in this together”.

    Except your Labour party also signed up to the same austerity Jim. Failed to oppose it when you had the chance but worse would have introduced the exact same measures had you won the 2015 election outright.
    And on top of that the cost of living rose under Labours entire term in office while the standard of living fell.

    The fact is you’re no better than they are and yet you still promote the concept of “Better Together” and “UKOK”.

    “Meanwhile, in Scotland, it has been discovered that the SNP government’s Welfare Fund has been underspent by £1.5m.”

    Gobsmacked. Not at the fact that Labour are trying to spin a 1.5m underspend but at the fact that once again they do it without a shred of self awareness to the fact that they scream underspend at all after a track record of returning billions to Westminster they failed to spend in Scotland.

    And to accuse the Labour journal the Herald of being pro SNP when their favorite Headline is “SNP Accused” is beyond the pale.

    “It’s not as if we have no need for welfare in Scotland”

    Indeed and its being shown almost daily now that the need for welfare in Scotland is greater as being part of a disunion where the decisions deliberately taken at Westminster increase the need for welfare while simultaneously remove the means to getting it.

    What is it with you are bare faced dishonesty Jim?

  2. “The Scottish Welfare Fund is a national scheme underpinned by law, and delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by ALL LOCAL COUNCILS”.

    “To apply for help from the Scottish Welfare Fund you must contact your LOCAL COUNCIL”.

    I don’t think any other comment is required.

  3. Welfare…now let me think – didn’t 184 Labour MP’s abstain on voting on George Osborne’s Welfare Bill
    thereby giving it the green light ? – why yes it was !.

    Don’t think we need any lessons on Welfare from Labour

    1. Labour voted against the 2011 Bill at Third Reading, argued strenuously line by line through the committee but had every amendment voted down, and supported House of| Lords amendments only to see these voted down by the Coalition. Had all Labour Mps voted against at Second Reading the ‘green light’ would still have been given – because the Coalition had the numbers.

  4. The Herald, the S.N.Ps house journal? With rampant cyberbritnsts such as Magnus Gardham, David Torrance and Jenny Hjuil? Aye right

    1. Jenny Hjul is at the Herald now!!!! She was the main reason I gave the Courier the swerve. Mind you, Torrance and Gardham are two of the reasons I’ve stopped buying the Herald (for many years my daily of choice). I guess I’ve got one more reason not to go back to it.

      To be fair to Mr O’Neill, I think his description of the Herald was just a wee bit of irony aimed at many Indies view of the Scottish media. As exemplified by my first paragraph 🙂

  5. I checked this out before replying. The Scottish Welfare Fund is money set aside for Scottish families to access in times of crisis. They access it by applying to their local council who are responsible for allocating the monies. In effect, the Scottish govt has no control over how many people apply for funds or how much money they are given.

    In 2015-16, the Scottish govt made £35bn available of which £33.4bn was accessed. That is over 95% of the funds. I, and I think any reasonable person, would say that it is a fund that has been well financed. Not Mr O’Neill though, for whom nothing is beyond his SNPbad spin and disingenuous “critique”. The more he takes the electorate for idiots, the more they will reject his Party.

    1. You checked it out before replying and then claimed the Scottish Government’s welfare fund in 2015-16 was £35bn?

  6. Touche Mr Hothersall. Sorry for the typo. The figures should read £35m and 33.4m. You get so used to £bns when talking about govt spending 😉

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