Monday, 1 September 2014

Not Scaremongering


According to Professor Allyson Pollock of Queen Mary University of London, who trained in medicine in Scotland and set up and directed the Centre for International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh from 2005-2011, Scots are not fully aware of the "scale of destruction" that is happening to public services in England. Despite anglo-unionist accusations in recent weeks, Professor Pollock argues that the Yes Campaign are not scaremongering over the future of Scotland's National Health Service.
She asks why Westminster would want to continue to fund an NHS  in Scotland in view of the fact that they have actually removed it in England. The fact that the UK government is intent upon privatizing and contracting everything out inevitably has implications for Scotland, as people in that country currently have a right to healthcare where people in England do not, and the nature of the healthcare system which is being developed in England means that there is going to be much less funding available to the Scottish Government through the Barnett formula.
"The coalition government abolished the public NHS in England when it passed the Health and Social Care Act in 2012. This Act didn't directly affect the NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but could have grave long-term consequences for the NHS in the devolved nations, including Scotland.
The Act effectively reduces the NHS to a funding stream and a logo. Behind the logo, corporations bid for health contracts in a regulated market. Privatization of the NHS has hitherto been incremental as successive governments have passed legislation to promote privatization. But this Act, described by Lord David Owen as the 'secretary of state abdication bill', removes the duty on the secretary of state for health to secure and provide comprehensive health care. So the rate of privatization and closure of NHS services is accelerating across the country. [...]
Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the NHS, said the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it. Here in England a number of health experts are working on a new Bill to restore and reinstate the NHS in England so that people will once again enjoy the same rights as are currently enjoyed by their relatives and friends in Wales and in Scotland. But the abolition of the NHS in England means decisions and control increasingly rest with commercial providers and the role of regulators is to keep the market operational, not to meet people's needs or to ensure equity of access and access according to need. If the English NHS is not restored, consequences for Scotland are serious. The NHS in Scotland may not be suffering these changes, but funding for the NHS in Scotland is allocated through the Barnett formula, so any reduction in NHS funds in England translates into reduced funding for Scotland.
The consensus that once bound the UK is breaking down due to harsh policies enacted in England by the current government. Policy differences between Scotland and England are growing. Education, long-term care and NHS are key examples of where Scotland takes a different direction on policy but remains under the stranglehold of the Westminster Treasury. A Yes vote in the referendum would free Scotland from this stranglehold and allow politicians in Scotland to control public finances as well as NHS policy. [...]
Popular sovereignty and self-determination are the crucial route to upholding political principles. English governments have acquiesced to private interests. People in Scotland should uphold the principles of a public NHS when they vote in the referendum in September, and choose the way and means to defend our vital principles. At the present time, and in the absence of any reversal of neoliberal policies in England, the clearest way to defend and promote the principle of a public NHS is to vote for Scotland to have full powers and responsibilities of an independent country."
To read Professor Pollock's blog post in its entirety click here.

Vote Yes on September 18th to save Scotland's National Health Service.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Pentland Hills for Yes

The hills are alive with a Yes for Scotland:

"Motorists driving along the Edinburgh bypass were stunned to see the huge slogan above the slopes of the Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend. It is not clear who is responsible for putting up the sign, which appeared on Sunday, or whether it will be removed by staff at the centre, which is run by Midlothian Council." (The Edinburgh Evening News, August 31st 2014)

Saturday, 30 August 2014

"A Pathological State"



"It is impossible to be proud of the United Kingdom. [...] It's not possible to be a decent person and vote No, and we shouldn't be ashamed to say that." (Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, addressing a Yes Scotland campaign meeting in St Andrews on August 26th 2014)
If these remarks should happen to offend you, listen carefully to all that the speaker has to say and consult his blog.
"I cannot begin to describe to you the incredible feeling here of renewal and of something like revolt, an upswell from ordinary people taking their own country back. It is astonishing. And never can most of an entire population so quickly have awakened from the propaganda thrall of the mainstream media. Anyone scared that an independent Scotland would still be subservient to a ruling elite should come here and just talk to people. It is the most marvellous and heartening experience imaginable." Click here to read the rest of Craig Murray's blog post, where you will find, incidentally, the following reader comment:

"I would say rather it is not possible to be a decent person and vote No once you know the facts – there are plenty of decent people who are going to vote No who will do so because they are either ill-informed or mis-informed. Give people the facts and they change – I've seen it happen."

I would have to say that I agree that that is a fairer (and indeed more diplomatic) statement, but I think that Mr Murray is making the point that this is not the moment for being douce and diplomatic. This is a revolutionary moment:

"There is a movement happening here which is truly revolutionary and feels like nothing I have experienced in my life before. I am deeply moved. If we achieve independence, it truly will be the victory of the people, not the politicians."

"It will not be possible to put the people back in the box of media-induced apathy after this."

Yes Please


As expected, there is still no credible offer of an equitable constitutional settlement for Scotland within the UK state. Too late now, so far as I am concerned, for I have just cast my indyref vote by postal ballot, while the No campaign continues to splutter and sputter and that nice Mr Cameron confesses to feeling nervous about the result, as well he might. It is on a knife edge.
I, on the other hand, am not feeling nervous, because, even if there is a No majority on September 18th, which is looking less likely with each passing day, we shall be voting on Scottish independence again after the Tory/UKIP referendum on the European Union, and we shall overcome, as sure as eggs is eggs, as one might say . . . or maybe better not.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ding Dong


You will no doubt have seen last night's BBC television Scottish independence referendum debate between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and former Labour Chancer of the Chequer Board Alistair Darling of the Bitter Together/Project Fear/Scotland Can't, Shouldn't and Mustn't campaign:

"Alex Salmond bounced back with a powerful performance in tonight's TV debate with Alistair Darling -  just hours before the first indyref postal ballots drop through voters' doors.
[...] the First Minister summoned all his fighting spirit as he defended his currency proposals, warned the Scottish NHS [National Health Service] was under threat from a No vote, and insisted the country would benefit from North Sea oil for decades to come. He also put his opponent on the spot over unpopular welfare reforms and the presence of nuclear weapons on the Clyde. In a rousing closing statement [...] Mr Salmond said: 'The future of Scotland should be in Scotland's hands. It's about believing we can govern ourselves better than anyone else. We don't need to rise up and be a nation again, we just have to vote to believe in ourselves.' A snap poll, conducted by ICM for the Guardian, suggested the First Minister was the clear winner. According to the online survey he came out on top by 71% to 29%.
[...] he won applause from the audience after telling them he said he was seeking a 'sovereign mandate' from voters for his plan to share the pound. Referring to the negotiations which would follow a Yes vote, he said: 'I go as First Minister to argue what's best for Scotland.  If I were to go and argue for second best that's what I'd get.'" (The Herald, August 26th 2014)
Incisive and potent advocacy in the face of interminable anglo-waffle.

I trust you noticed the following incisive interventions from the audience in the debating hall:

For those of you who are looking in from overseas (good morning, Moldova) and may therefore be wondering who the anglo-overlord is who is on the receiving end of these pointedly pertinent points, I should perhaps explain that he was the UK minister of finance when the global financial crisis broke in 2007/8. Yes, the ceiling fell in while he was looking after it. He is still a Labour member of the UK parliament, however, and does a bit of apparently lucrative after-dinner speaking in addition to defending the anglo-state against the Scots while awaiting his elevation to the peerage:
"New Labour are just as bad as the Tories. Alistair Darling received £12,000 for one after-dinner speech to Cinven Ltd, a firm which does nothing but benefit from privatization of NHS services. [...] New Labour and Tory MPs are both up to their eyeballs in NHS privatization money." (former UK diplomat Craig Murray, August 12th 2014)