The SNP’s blinkered, ideologically-driven, approach to the NHS is typically dismal.

21 January 2014

21 January 2014

Anyone who questions any aspect of the way the NHS performs – whether in Scotland or England and Wales – soon becomes accustomed to being accused of harbouring some kind of ideological resentment towards the dear old thing. Ideological, of course, is a Bad Thing. It is supposed to indicate a preference for an evidence-free approach that places means above ends.

This works both ways, however. If (some of) the NHS’s critics are motivated by ideology many of its keenest defenders are no less moved by an ideological commitment to the service. Their ideological commitment, of course, is a Good Thing and not to be confused with the other kind of ideological commitment.

Sometimes this means that even stalwart defenders of the NHS must sacrifice what works for the greater purity of the service. If patients suffer as a consequence of this commitment then too bad. Let them wait. Their ailments are mere trifles when matched against the greater glory of the NHS itself. The little people do not count.

Consider this story from Scotland:

Health secretary Alex Neil has announced that ministers must approve significant spending by health boards on the private sector. Health boards often send patients to facilities operated by private firms, such as Bupa, if they cannot be treated within waiting time targets on the NHS.

This amounted to about £28 million last year and is expected to fall by a further £3m – from a total health budget of about £10 billion.

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Interesting for a number of reasons. First, the sum involved is almost laughably trivial and close to a rounding error given the size of the NHS budget. Secondly, it is an example of ideology run rampant since, again, the amount of cash diverted to those dreadful private health companies is so small. Thirdly, it plainly does not matter if patients have to wait longer for treatment now than they might otherwise have had to. They will be treated, eventually, by virtuous public servants not be vicious private wreckers.

There is, as there always must be, a referendum angle to this too. The SNP want Scots to believe the only way to “save” the NHS is to vote for independence. This makes no sense whatsoever, of course, but it’s a nice line.

It makes no sense because, as Alex Neil and other MSPs will often remind you, Jeremy Hunt’s remit does not extend north of the border. Even before the Scottish parliament was established, the NHS, like education and much else, was run out of the Scottish Office, not from the English department of health. The systems have, most of the time, been largely similar. They have, nevertheless, been modestly distinct.

So god knows how Jeremy Hunt can wreck a service over which he has no great control. Perhaps he has magic powers or something. Gosh, he keeps them very well hidden, doesn’t he?

And, lo, Alex Neil will tell you this himself:

Neil has issued new guidance to all health boards which states they must submit plans for their use of the independent health sector, and all significant spending must now be agreed by ministers.

[…] “I have asked health boards to clearly set out in their plans for future years how they plan to use the private sector, and report back to me on how they will reduce their spending in this area.”

[…] “This should be seen in stark contrast to the competition, privatisation and complicated reforms being ­introduced in England that I believe threaten the very foundations on which the NHS is built.”

Since it is reported that fewer than 0.5% of NHS patients in Scotland are ever treated, even in part, by the private sector this might be thought a disproportionate over-reaction to a “problem” that scarcely exists. Then again, the problem is one of something working in practice but not in theory

Moreover, it is a reminder that the SNP’s thirst to concentrate power, even on relatively trivial matters such as this, in Edinburgh is unquenchable. Anyone who thinks independence will solve that problem is hopelessly naive. Independence is actually one of the party’s more reasonable policies; it’s everything else that’s concerning (cf education, justice etc etc ad nauseam).

The best interests of individual patients? That’s a different matter entirely and not one that matters very much. At best it is a secondary concern. It’s the ideology, you see, not what works. Reform is just a club in London. And London is bad, too.

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Show comments
  • Charles Patrick O’Brien

    Not even a pretence not hitting at the SNP,that is this A. Massie scribe,seems to do.I did watch his performance on the Referendum debate,BBC last night,and thought was this the nearest the Beeb could get to an undecided voter? No I don’t think so,rational disappears when somebody is so dogmatic as to not try to understand another viewpoint but seeks ways to discredit that other view.Young man you will never be an impartial scribe no matter how much you wish you could be.If you could you may in the fullness of time (not the fullness of self) become maybe a great writer,but probably not,just my view no need to understand.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    Now that Alex Massie has declared himself to be sitting on the referendum fence he may be in need of a national health service, free at the point of delivery to pull those accumulated hypocritical splinters out of his unionist bottom.

    • Charles Patrick O’Brien

      I watched him on the debate BBC Tuesday night,and sitting on the fence not a chance or chancer? Just thought I’d add to your comment,hope you don’t mind.

      • terregles2

        I also saw him on the BBC Tuesday night and I thought both he and Anas both made memorable contributions to the debate.
        Anas/Alex think both in their own special way will have helped a few undecided voters to make up their minds.
        I certainly found that in work today both men have aroused a lot of comment.

        • jim watson

          Never in the field of televised debate, has so much rubbish been spouted to so many by so few. The Greenock gong for talking mince was a close run thing between Mr Massie and Mr Sarwar but good sense has prevailed and both each wins the award. This is what I would have added if I was allowed to get back into the debate…

          • terregles2

            It was one of the poorest debates I have ever seen. Beyond puerile. It demonstrated the utter contempt that the two members of the panel who purported to be don’t knows have for the viewing public.
            They were clearly committed no voters who thought that if they sniped every so often at the main unionist parties that would convince the viewers that they were mulling over the issues and might indeed vote YES. Their acting skills were lamentable. I have never yet spoken to any undecided voter who has not acknowledged that there are at the very least several advantages to Scottish independence. They might not feel that they can vote YES but concede that some things might improve with a YES vote. This pair of pretend undecided voters could not even be bothered to pretend that they thought even one thing might improve with independence.
            I was embarrassed for certain people on that panel.

  • Bill McLean

    Odd that the medical adviser to one David Cameron thinks very highly of the Scottish NHS – which thankfully is separate from that of England and Wales. Check your facts Mr Massie.

    • HJ777
      • Bill McLean

        …… and the evidence you provided proves my point!

        • HJ777

          As everybody can clearly see for themselves, this evidence completely contradicts your point, but no doubt you will continue to believe what you want to believe, regardless of evidence.

  • Peter A Bell

    I am painfully aware of how frequently I remark on the shallowness of what is supposed to pass for journalistic analysis. But I am even more painfully aware of the extent to which such complaints are justified. This article is truly tiresome stuff.

    Mr Massie genuinely doesn’t seem to be aware of where his whiny, middle-class prejudices end and the real world begins. One of the things we see in this sort of bilious bleat-fest is the way in which moneys expended by the Scottish Government are either totally trivial or evidence of irresponsible profligacy depending solely on which assessment best serves the imperative of attacking the SNP.

    Note too how motives are attributed to actors, not on the basis of a reasoned appreciation of their actions and purposes, but on what Mr Massie’s prejudices tell him of the way they think. Thus, the government’s efforts to control the amount of NHS funding which is diverted to private profit must be explained by ideological fervour. No other explanation need be considered. No other explanation is possible.

    Then there is the assumption that patients will suffer on account of the government’s actions. No evidence is offered for this, of course. But it is essential that the patients be made out to be the victims otherwise the whole dismal diatribe is revealed as nothing more than a self-indulgent venting of excess pompous indignation.

    But Mr Massie truly plumbs the depths of shallowness (to coin an oxymoronic but oddly evocative phrase) when he wonders how Jeremy Hunt might “wreck a service over which he has no great control”. A moment’s unprejudiced reflection would have provided the simple two-word answer – Barnett Formula. The diversion of funding from the NHS in England to the private sector has an inevitable and significant negative impact on consequentials. Jeremy Hunt may not be able to wreck NHS Scotland by direct action, but he has more insidious methods at his disposal by which to pursue the ideologically-driven “reform” agenda of the UK Government, with all the economically destructive and socially corrosive results this entails.

    If Alex Neil is concerned about creeping privatisation then he has good cause. Even the most destructive of wedges may be as thin as 0.5% at some point. There is a process which Mr Massie seems oblivious to. The more public services are farmed out to profit-takers the more the public sector’s capacity to provide these services will atrophy. And the easier it becomes to rationalise ending public provision altogether, leaving us all at the mercy of those who regard healthcare, education and the rest as commodities to be traded for ever-increasing profit.

    I, for one, am reassured that Alex Neil seems determined to eschew the complacency urged by Alex Massie and resist this process.

    • HJ777

      Well that was fact-free paranoid sophistry, wasn’t it?

      How about some evidence:

      • Charles Patrick O’Brien

        Not so large a deficit,but Westminster has had 300 years to do us proud,and it,in my opinion,has not done so well.Labour,just a section of the Westminster party,has had almost a century to improve the social ills of the UK and they CANT. So how about giving independence a shot it could never be worse,it is easier to fix the social ills of a small country that to try and fix the mix of a much larger one.

    • BillFraser


      Your analysis is excellent,Having worked in the NHS, experienced the treatment and care that saved my life and currently experiencing the treatment of a relative in terminal care I can testify that the staff in the NHS do there level best to look after both patients and relatives. I was also aware of the consultants who were on 3/4 time contracts and practised in the private sector. (sometimes to the detriment of time spent in the NHS, though I believe that has been reviewed).

      What Alex Neil has asked for is a budget or forecast of what is spent in the private sector so that they can assess whether those funds may be more effectively spent in the NHS. That has the potential to improve the services of the NHS whilst eliminating excess profits which can be better spent on more and better care.

      It appears to me that it is Mr Massie who is driven by ideology and not the best care of patients. It IS the best care of all patients that is behind this agenda not the pursuit of profit.

      • Peter A Bell

        Your point about Mr Massie and his motives is well made. And, having had experiences broadly similar to your own, I would heartily endorse your comments about the quality of service offered by NHS Scotland. I am thoroughly sick of people who, for petty political ends, talk down the work that our health service does.

    • allymax bruce

      ” leaving us all at the mercy of those who regard healthcare, education
      and the rest as commodities to be traded for ever-increasing profit.”

      I’ve been saying that for 5 years; why is it only becoming understood now?
      The premise of Westminster gov’ is not to provide ethical public service public institutions, rather, all public institutions, under Establishment-Led Design protocols, (E-LD), are ‘designed’ to facilitate Inverse-Convergent Policymaking, (I-CP); Counterproductive policies that entrenches us further to ‘The Bureaucracy’ that will ultimately make us ‘wards of the State’. basically, Westminster gov’ are functioning ‘Designed-to-Fail’ policies for all UK citizens. All Rights reserved to allymax.

  • MichtyMe

    Isn’t there a chicken and egg situation here, There are almost no private medical facilities in Scotland for patients to be treated in. Bet Salmond and the SNP would be getting pelters if they were sending folk abroad for treatment.

  • BP39

    “Jeremy Hunt’s remit does not extend north of the border”, however the whole block grant for Scotland is set by Westminster.
    Westminster Labour are talking about common, unified policies across England and Scotland. Somehow I doubt if that means taking the NHS (England) out of private hands, and stopping further privatisation.
    Therefore squeeze the budget, introduce further taxes unrelated to Scotland’s needs, Have Labour and their Scottish representatives (Lamont etc) pick away at the Scottish NHS, and it would be undermined.
    Labour are very upset now that they don’t have the easy-street control of Scotland.
    But control of the cash eventual means control of the institution.

    • HJ777

      In what way is the NHS in England “in private hands” at the moment (which it would have to be to take it “out of private hands”)?

      You talk as if Scotland would have unlimited funds to spend if it raised its own taxation rather than receiving the block grant. The truth of the matter is that it wouldn’t make much difference unless levels of taxation were to change drastically in Scotland.

      By the way, the Holyrood parliament has, for quite some time, had the opportunity to enact legislation to allow it to increase taxes in Scotland. Funnily enough, it has never chosen to do so.

      • BillFraser

        To change the level of taxation is only looking at one side of the equation. Scotland share of the defence budget is approximately £3.5 billion If it decides to only spend £2.5 billion that is money that can be invested elsewhere (other choices are of course possible)

  • tastemylogos

    funny how it is always 3 downvotes. same 3 people maybe??? Do you lot only have 3 activists to troll the web and downvote any criticisms of the wholly pernicious party that is the SNP? Stalin had similar blind followers.

    • dougthedug

      They’re definitely blind. I’ve currently got three down votes on both my comments too.

      • tastemylogos

        it’s not being downvoted!! who cares? Just interested by the number. 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3. Pathetic.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Ah diddums you poor little cybernat.

  • andyfisk

    No irony in this article’s heading given the ideologically driven market imposed Health and Social Care Act.

  • DougDaniel

    It’s not the fact that NHS critics are motivated by an ideology that is the problem; it’s that their ideology is dishonest, harmful and not informed by facts.

    Look at the NHS reforms in England. The true ideology behind it is the same that has informed most UK government decisions over the past 30+ years: the market is always right and the private sector will always run things better and cheaper than the public sector. But this ideology completely ignores the fact that recent history is littered with examples of public services becoming worse AND more expensive after being shifted into the private sector, whether it’s rail, energy or water. The only way such privatisations can be considered “a success” is if your barometer of success is “lining the pockets of private investors”. So either we’re being lied to as to the true motivation behind such sell-offs, or those who propose them are simply idiots who can’t admit that the evidence shows their ideology is flawed.

    Now, granted, you’re absolutely right that those who support the NHS are simply promoting an ideology of a different type. But at least the motivations behind it are transparent and worthy (surely we can agree that ensuring services are available to as many people as possible is more worthy than making a select few people rich?) People don’t want the NHS privatised because they don’t want the NHS run the way rail companies, energy companies and water companies are run.

    Labour introduced private cleaning firms into Scottish hospitals, and it led to people getting various hospital infections. One of the first things the SNP did when it got into power was to ban private cleaners from hospitals, and this led to cleaner hospitals and fewer bugs. So there’s a concrete example of the public sector doing a job better in every single way than a private company. But those who want the NHS privatised would still insist that private companies run things better than the public sector. People were getting sick because of that ideology, and yet its proponents put the blinkers on and still insist “The Market” = God.

    The truth is obviously somewhere between the two extremes. As I think you’ve highlighted before, Scandinavian public services actually have far more private sector involvement than people realise, but clearly they’ve allowed that to happen without the same reckless abandon that leads British politicians to just fling public services to the private sector lions and go “there you go, now no one can blame me when things go wrong.”

    There are things that are suitable to being run in the private sector, and there are things which are not. Public services tend to be natural monopolies, which means the supposed benefits of the free market rarely apply – as anyone who has to take the bus in First Group’s Aberdeen stronghold can testify. If people could recognise that, then there wouldn’t be a problem. However, when it comes to a battle of ideologies, then I’m afraid “keep everything public” is far less harmful than “privatise the fuck out of everything”.

    (And Westminster’s ability to harm the Scottish NHS can be summed up in two words: Barnett Consequentials.)

    • HJ777

      How did “rail, energy and water” get worse through being moved into the private sector? Data please, not assertions.

      As for private cleaning in NHS hospitals, only a minority of NHS cleaning has ever been outsourced and you can provide no evidence that hospitals with outsourced cleaning are less clean. Mid-Staffs had in-house cleaning (and after the scandal broke, they bought in private sector cleaning experts to show them how to do it properly). The problem with cleaning in the NHS was simple – it just wasn’t their priority (whether in-house or outsourced), so they cut corners. They could do this because their ‘customers’ had no choice.

      • DougDaniel

        Data? Oh right, so you’ve never had to pay a ridiculous sum of money for a train journey, which is late for the 5th week in a row, with the tables and seats covered in litter and the toilet blocked? Lucky you. You must have your own private energy supply too so that you’ve not noticed the massive price hikes that accompany the annual declarations of massive profits. And of course, water privatisation in England has been such a success that there are no more water shortages. Well, except when there are, of course.

        (There’s little point giving data on trains because the goalposts have been shifted so that “on time” now means anything up to 10 minutes late, but here’s some anyway

        As for cleaners, they cut corners because of the profit motive and the need to find increasing profits wherever possible. And I love the fact you think pointing out “their ‘customers’ had no choice” is somehow an argument against what I’m saying – you’re making my point for me!

        Unless the customer/consumer/whatever has the opportunity to choose one provider over another, then it is not a free market, and therefore free market principles do not work. It doesn’t work in theory, and it doesn’t work in practice. Carry on sticking your head in the sand, though.

        • HJ777

          So no data then?

          Train punctuality has improved since the train companies were privatised. The majority of delays are now due to Network Rail – which was renationalised in 2002. And the main reasons for the fare rises are twofold – the poor efficiency of Network Rail (according to the rail regulator their productivity fell after nationalisation and they are now way below european equivalents) and the gradual reduction in government subsidies.

          Energy prices have risen (having fallen for some years after privatisation) but were you under the impression that this is unique to the UK or that government green taxes have not been a major cause? VaasaETT (who carry out independent cross-Europe comparisons) consistently find that we still have some of the lowest domestic energy prices in Europe. Go and look on their web site if you don’t believe me.

          As for water – the private companies have reversed the neglect of investment under state control that left us with Victorian infrastructure. Ofwat found that ALL the English private water companies were more efficient than public sector Scottish Water (the Scottish water regulator has since used this data to beat Scottish Water to catch up)

          Facts, dear boy, facts.

          • MichtyMe

            My Scottish Water bill increased this year by 2.8% the first increase for a number of years. Water supply in Scotland, once more expensive than in the South, is now the least costly.

            • HJ777

              No it isn’t.

              Domestic water supply is, because it is being subsidised by much higher charges for water supply to businesses. It is simply a cross-subsidy being applied for political reasons.

              Overall, water is still more expensive in Scotland.

              The efficiency gap between the English Water companies and Scottish Water has, however, largely been closed but only as a result of the regulator applying pressure to match what private companies have done. Without their example, it is doubtful that Scottish Water would have improved as much.

          • DougDaniel

            No data? Sorry, did you miss the page I linked to? Here it is again:

            You look a bit daft placing your faith in punctuality statistics after a quick read of that.

            And how’s this for “efficiency”? Scottish Water is on average £54 cheaper than down in England and Wales, and is currently at its highest standard ever:

            And I think you’ll find energy prices in Scotland are more expensive than in London – and it’s only capital cities VaasaETT look at, which is a fundamental flaw in their statistics.

            • HJ777

              Like I said, no data.

              Where have you demonstrated that punctuality has got worse since the rail companies were privatised? Where have you demonstrated that the rail regulator is wrong when he ascribes most delays to the network operator, Network Rail, which was renationalised in 2002?

              Scottish Water is, indeed, cheaper for consumers now (I have said that elsewhere on this blog). That does not make it more efficient or cheaper overall. It simply cross-subsidises by charging business customers more, for political reasons – something that the English private water companies cannot do. If you care to look at the facts, Scottish Water has now largely (but not entirely) caught up the English Water companies in terms of efficiency – but only after many years of the regulator using the greater efficiency of the private English water companies as a stick to beat Scottish Water with. Without that comparison, there would have been no stick.

              Energy prices from most suppliers are the same across the UK – that’s the fundamental flaw in your argument.

              You really must start looking at – relevant – data, rather than relying on your prejudices.

              • DougDaniel

                Before privatisation, 86% of trains were running on time. I’ve provided you with evidence that current punctuality figures – the real ones, not the massaged “10 minutes late = on time” PPM ones – are well below that. Look, here’s another article saying the same about the current figures:

                As for energy prices being the same across the UK? Err, no. They quite simply and categorically aren’t:

                Now, instead of accusing other people of relying on prejudices, perhaps you could ponder how you’ve managed to make such a fool of yourself by stating things which are quite easily, demonstrably untrue.

                That’s me signing out. You’re beyond hope.

                • HJ777

                  You are, quite simply, making a public exhibition of yourself.

                  On the ‘old’ measure, punctuality had improved to 91% which is better than the BR figure (which will also have been measured using the old technique). You are comparing apples & pears by trying to compare figures compiled using different measures. In any case, the fact that you constantly ignore is that most delays are caused by Network Rail (which is public sector), not by the train operating companies.

                  As for energy prices, don’t make me laugh. Pointing to one small regional provider does not change the fact that all the big providers that dominate the market charge national prices.

                  Your prejudice shines through by denying that things which are demonstrably true and easily verifiable are untrue, No wonder you are ‘signing out’ – you have been publicly humiliated.

                • terregles2

                  You must admit H777 has given us a bit of a laugh along the way.
                  When he said that you made a public exhibition of yourself and that you have been publicly humiliated it has given us all a bit of a chuckle.
                  He is hilarious. Do you think he writes from the House of Commons Bar.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          So no facts just more unsubstantiated assertions. How very SNP of you.

        • HJ777

          “As for cleaners, they cut corners because of the profit motive and the need to find increasing profits wherever possible.”

          But the NHS doesn’t have a profit motive and yet it cut corners when it came to cleaning (most of which was, and remains, in-house).

      • BillFraser

        Evidence that private healthcare is more expensive and less effective is readily available. Compare the USA with the UK and you will find that the NHS is much more effective and efficient but donbt just take my word for it. Listen to the professionals.

        • HJ777

          Oh, yes?

          This substantive evidence seems to contradict your assertion:

          It seems that our government-run system is less efficient and of lower quality than mixed-provision systems.

          Out of interest, why do people like you only ever compare the UK to the USA, as if the USA was the only alternative to the NHS? Why do you ignore the far more efficient alternatives that exist in many other countries, including most European countries?

          • BillFraser
            • HJ777

              Have you actually read the paper rather than The Guardian report?

              I am very familiar with it and it does not say what The Guardian says it says. What it actually says is that the UK has one of the least effective systems, but not as poor in comparison to other countries as it once was. That’s all.

              It also explicitly states: “This study cannot account for the variables that may have contributed to the differences between countries In particular, to what degree might the role of predominately public healthcare systems, compared to the mainly private healthcare system, influenced the results?”

              So it cannot be used as evidence that publicly run systems are inherently more (or less) effective or efficient, as the authors specifically refute that idea.

              I suggest that you read it.

              • BillFraser

                I paste the reports conclusions here

                “Conclusions In cost-effective terms, i.e. economic input versus clinical output, the USA healthcare system was one of the least cost-effective in reducing mortality rates whereas the UK was one of the most cost effective over the period.”

                • HJ777

                  Selective quoting on your part.

                  They are talking about the reduction over the period, not the absolute level. As the US performance was, as they report, already so superior to that of the UK, it is obvious that it would have been more difficult for the US to keep reducing the rate faster than the UK. Despite this, the US performance remains significantly superior.

                  You do understand the difference between the rate of improvement and the absolute level? It’s pretty fundamental to scientific and statistical understanding. If you don’t I’d be happy to explain it to you.

                  And have you never heard of the law of diminishing returns? You could halve medical care spending and still get most of the benefit because it becomes progressively more difficult and expensive to achieve further gains. Vaccination, for example, is hugely beneficial but very cheap.

                  By the way, why do you keep ignoring my question about why you only ever compare the UK to the US and never to other countries?

                • BillFraser

                  The study we are focusing on includes 19 countries not just a comparison of the USA and UK. I accept that the quote I gave was reflecting movement over time however the following shows mortality rates which is a good indicator as no one is left out of the counting because they cannot get access to the system due to lack of money or private insurance.
                  The reported mortality rates are as follows
                  “By 2003–2005 the USA ‘adult’ MR was highest at 6660 pm, followed by Portugal 6483 pm, Finland 5692 pm, with the UK falling from third to fifth highest at 5475 pm, and now within the mean; the lowest being Japan 4182 pm, Switzerland 4355 pm and Sweden 4373 pm. Currently only the USA and Portugal mortality rate is 1 s.d. above the mean, and Japan, Sweden and Switzerland 1 s.d below the mean.

                • HJ777

                  So you concede that I was correct.

                  Could you also please explain why you tried to use the report as (in your own words):

                  “Evidence that private healthcare is more expensive and less effective is readily available.”

                  when the report itself explicitly says:

                  “This study cannot account for the variables that may have contributed to the differences between countries In particular, to what degree might the role of predominately public healthcare systems, compared to the mainly private healthcare system, influenced the results?”

                  I’m puzzled.

                  And why do you ignore the findings of the extensive research by the ECHI and the OECD on the subject? they’re pretty damning about the NHS, aren’t they?

                • BillFraser

                  Now you are guilty of
                  selective quotation because the paragraph goes on to say-

                  “Future research should look at possible socioeconomic factors, in particular the potential contribution of differential levels of relative poverty and whether there are variations
                  between adult and children’s outcomes.”

                  Which is a statement that considers relative poverty rather than spending

                  As for comparisons with other OECD countries the UK is comparable in terms of life expectancy

                  “Inequalities in health status tend to be lower in three of the four countries with a private insurance-based system – Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland – indicating
                  that regulation and equalisation schemes can help mitigating cream-skimming and the effects of other market mechanisms which can raise equity concerns.”

                  However the three countries quoted have comparative Gini indexes of (UK = 40) Germany = 27, Switzerland = 29.6
                  and the Netherlands = 30.9 which suggests that relative poverty outwith the control of health authorities may be playing a big part. This is supported by the work of DR Harry Burns (Chief Medical Officer for Scotland)


                  Given that life expectancy the for the UK is broadly similar to the OECD it seems that the health outcomes
                  achieved by the NHS are superior in that they start with a population with more deprivation and worse relative “wellness”

                • HJ777

                  Not at all.

                  This is why the OECD, for example, looks at availability and outcomes of treatments, not at overall health, because medical care is only one of several factors (and probably not the most important factor) affecting health and life expectancy. The ECHI also looks at healthcare provision rather than overall health

                  So you are quite wrong.

                • BillFraser

                  I was quoting the OECD report so by your own measure I am quite right.

                • HJ777

                  Quoting something does not mean that it is either relevant nor that it supports your case. It doesn’t.

                  If you look at the OECD report, you will see that it finds that the UK spends about the average (of its members as a percentage of GDP) but receives a lower quality and quantity of medical services in return. It says that in black and white, without caveats. It could not be clearer. It also points to the UK as having the greatest scope for efficiency improvements in Europe after Greece and Ireland.

                  The OECD report is anything but doctrinaire – in fact it is rather agnostic when it comes to the best type of medical system or systems. What it definitely does not support is your contention that “Evidence that private healthcare is more expensive and less effective is readily available” and you have not been able to provide any such evidence whatsoever.

            • HJ777

              Can I suggest that you read the Commonwealth Fund report?

              If you do, you will see that it readily admits that it hasn’t used any internationally comparable data and doesn’t look at outcomes. It relies on subjective opinions. It explicitly warns that no objective conclusions can be drawn from its work.

              This is in great contrast to the OECD work, for example.

              May I ask why you haven’t commented on the ECHI and OECD reports (both of which are far more comprehensive – especially the latter)?

  • tastemylogos

    aaaaaand…… heeeeerrreeeeeeee come the activists!

    • tastemylogos

      funny how it is always between 3 downvotes. same 3 maybe??? Do you lot only have 3 activists to troll the web?

  • Nicholas chuzzlewit

    An excellent article Alex debunking both the ludicrous ’employees and ideological purity come first’ philosophy which infests the NHS like a virus and the pathetic attempt to use this issue as an electoral stick with which to beat Westminster while making an emotional appeal to voters. The NHS desperately needs to put patients first if it is to become safe and effective and exposure to the private sector can only be a good thing. Good luck to you because the headlines alone will bring down an avalanche of CyberNat nutters from the SNP upon your head with accusations of (a) scaremongering, (b) The Scottish people deserve their say, (c) Westminster is full of incompetents and not fit for purpose and (d) (this is my favourite: “everything will be a bed of Roses when Salmond takes over because everybody he has to negotiate with will simply agree without question to everything he wants”. So Alex, sit back and enjoy.

    • DougDaniel

      I love the fact you put that last one in quotes, despite it being completely fictional.

      • HJ777

        Salmond is in the curious habit of promising things which are not in his power to grant, such as a post-separation sterling union, continued EU membership and keeping the Clyde shipyards open with orders from the rest of the UK, to name but three.

        • DougDaniel

          Westminster could get 100% clarity on the EU by simply asking the European Commission what will happen. That they choose not to do so suggests they’re rather afraid of what the answer will be.

          Likewise, Osborne and Balls could both come out an categorically state that there will not be a currency union, regardless of who wins in 2015. Neither has done so, and in fact Balls recently said he would be willing to talk to Salmond about the matter.

          As for the Clyde shipyards, you find a shipyard in rUK that is capable of building the kind of ships they build in the Clyde.

          • HJ777

            You really are clutching at straws there. All those things that Salmond has promised are not in his gift.

            • DougDaniel

              If you can find anyone (other than raving lunatics) that says Scotland will spend even one day outside the EU, then I’ll be impressed.

              • HJ777

                If you can find anyone other than the SNP who says that the SNP can guarantee it, then I’ll be impressed:


                • DougDaniel

                  No, you misunderstand me. I didn’t say “find one of the many articles that gets Van Rompuy or Barroso to make a general statement and then decides to act as if they’ve specifically said Scotland”, I said to find someone who says Scotland will spend even a day outside the EU. Neither of those men will say that. You will not find anybody credible who argues it. All the talk of applying for membership, being a new state etc, but not one person will actually state “Scotland will be outside the EU on day one of independence.” And that’s important, because Scotland’s position will be specific – we won’t be independent on the 19th September 2014, we’ll be independent 18 months later.

                  Meanwhile, here’s a former judge (of 12 years) of the ECJ, David Edward. Perhaps the most important point is: “The outcome of such negotiations, unless they failed utterly, would be agreed amendment of the existing Treaties, not a new Accession Treaty. The simplified revision procedure provided by Article 48 TEU would not apply, so ratification of the amended Treaties would be necessary.”


                • HJ777

                  No, you’ve failed again.

                  What I said is that it is not in Salmond’s power to make the promise about continued EU membership. He can state an intention, he can say why he thinks it will happen, but he categorically cannot promise it – as legal authorities and EU officials have made crystal clear.

                  What all these people (other than Salmond) are correctly saying is that it is not yet clear what would happen.

                  Salmond does not even know what terms he would be asked to agree to. Is he saying that he would agree to any terms? That’s a particularly weak negotiating position that only a fool would accept.

                • MichtyMe

                  Agree, there was the comment by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner that there is nothing in law that says a territory should leave the EU if it becomes independent. There is no provision for an independent Scotland to be removed from the EU, Scotland is part of the EU and there is no procedure for this to change upon independence.

                • HJ777

                  Scotland has no separate membership agreement and therefore no terms exist under which the EU could automatically accept it as a member. Any terms would have to be agreed (on both sides) before a separate Scotland could be a member.

                  Viviane Reding has no competence or authority in this area.

                • MichtyMe

                  But terms would be agreed for Scotland and the rUK from within. The EU is endeavouring to include Serbia, Macedonia and FFS Albania and Kosova into the Union. That the EU would contrive to exclude territory which is part of the Union is unbelievable. They may not like what has happened but they be pragmatic, will seek continuity and the least disruption.

                • HJ777

                  Of course, you like to think that, but the idea that it can be promised or guaranteed by the SNP is wrong.

                  On the SNP white paper:

                  “Reassurance runs through every answer. The promise is that nothing will get any worse, and lots of things could get better. Indeed, it claims lots of things will get better.

                  That certainty is what caused Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon most trouble at their press conference, because the really tricksy issues are based on negotiations that will not start until after a “Yes” vote. And their assumptions are sunnily upbeat about the negotiating goodwill they’ll meet from Whitehall and from 28 European member states.

                  On sharing the sterling currency, which took up the most time of any issue, they are telling Whitehall what its negotiating position ought to be.”


        • David Kay

          national socialists have a history of promising you the world, then leading you into oblivion

  • terregles2

    Well I hope for England’s sake that the privatisation of the NHS that is already underway delivers a better and more competitive service than our other privatised services such as gas, electricity, rail and the rest.

    • HJ777

      We have some of the lowest gas and electricity prices in Europe (even despite increasing government interference and regulation), the number of rail users has increased hugely (faster than other countries) as has the investment in new rolling stock. The pity is that the network was renationalised in 2002 leading to lower productivity and greater taxpayer subsidy (and higher costs passed on to passengers).

      The NHS in Scotland receives about 10% more funding than in England but produces no more ‘output’ for that extra funding.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      And right on time here she is the SNP’s number 1 cybernat with the usual mix of sanctimony and hypocrisy. Nothing to say about any other topic which appears on this site but the moment a negative headline appears for the SNP whooooosh all over it like a rash. Let us be clear, you care nothing for England and the English so spare us your cant and hpocrisy.

      • terregles2

        I’m flattered that you follow all my comments so closely. It’s always nice when men hang onto every word that I say albeit if a few of them sound like grumpy old men. Hope you haven’t set off that other angry one that usually mirrors all your fierce remarks.

  • dougthedug

    ” It’s the ideology, you see, not what works.”

    I think you should have a stiff word with the micro-managing Conservative Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.

  • dougthedug

    From a report in the Guardian last month dated 21/12/2013. My bold.

    Sir Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England, has revealed his frustration at attempts by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to micro-manage Britain’s health service. Grant said politicians should stop meddling in the NHS at a time when clinicians were supposed to have been put in charge under recent reforms, and admitted fighting with Hunt over attempts to interfere through a detailed blueprint called the NHS mandate, which was published this year. Grant also revealed that he had been forced to block ministers’ attempts to punish clinicians who failed to meet certain care standards by reducing their budgets.

    So we’re Better Together?

    • Saint Steve

      You’re quoting the Guardian? Really? Yeah, because that’s going to be balanced, especially when it comes to the NHS.

      • dougthedug

        This is an article about Scottish independence on the Spectator. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      And of course the person you quote is highly objective and doesn’t have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo with regard to funding and the primacy of employee interests. You’ll have to do a lot better than quoting from a leftist rag like the Guardian. You cybernats need to up your game a bit.

  • Spammo Twatbury

    Jeremy Hunt, of course, very much CAN wreck the Scottish NHS. When the English one is privatised it comes off the government spending books, which means billions off the Scottish block grant (because it’s calculated as a percentage of English spending), which means forced cuts everywhere, including the Scottish NHS.

    • AndrewS

      “When the English on is privatised…”

      We can hope.

    • Saint Steve

      Unfortunately, there is zero hope of the NHS ever being privatised. Any suggestion to the contrary is just left wing hysteria.

    • Hugh

      Surely that’s true only if it’s truly privatised, in the sense of private companies being paid directly by the public or their insuers. If it’s privatised in the way it is now, with the government picking up the tab, how does that reduce public spending and therefore impact the block grant?

      • HJ777

        You are talking sense, of course, which is not consistent with the dishonest message that ‘Spammo Twatbury’ and the SNP are trying to scare people with.

      • DougDaniel

        Because the end goal is to reduce public spending – isn’t that the raison d’être of the Tory party? And any reduction in public spending in England is mirrored in Scotland through the Barnett formula.

        Pretty obvious, really…

        • HJ777

          No, for two reasons.

          Firstly, it is extremely rare for Tory governments to reduce public spending. Reduce it as a proportion of GDP, yes. Reduce it in absolute terms, no.

          The SNP government in Scotland already has huge scope to decide how much to spend on the NHS (it currently spends about 10% more than in England). This is because it receives more money for public spending per head in Scotland to start with, it can prioritise NHS spending ahead of other things if it chooses, and it has the power (albeit limited, but not trivially so) to raise taxes in Scotland so that it can spend more – a power it has chosen not to exercise.

          • DougDaniel

            Well your first point is spurious to say the least – the phrase “reduce public spending”, especially when talking about long-term goals, quite blatantly means in terms of GDP. After all, you can reduce it in terms of GDP and still raise it in absolute terms. The fact you even need that point clarified speaks volumes…

            Secondly, it is not currently possible to vary income tax in Scotland. The power exists in theory, but Labour allowed the mechanism to be mothballed – if you had a clue about Scottish politics, you’d remember that particular stooshie a few years ago. But the Scottish Government’s ability to change how much of the budget it receives gets spent on the NHS does not change the over-riding point: Westminster ultimately decides the Holyrood budget. There’s only so long the Scottish Government can keep prioritising NHS spending before it has to simply pass on the cuts from Westminster, otherwise it has no money to spend elsewhere.

            • HJ777

              I didn’t need your first point clarified – you did. Tory governments (and I’m not a Tory, by the way) usually try to reduce government spending as a percentage of GDP simply to reverse the rise under Labour governments (it ended up exceeding 50% under the last government).

              Secondly, the SNP ‘government’, had it so wished, was perfectly capable of resurrecting the mechanism that would have allowed it to raise taxation in Scotland. It chose not to do so. As for the “cuts from Westminster” perhaps you’d like to detail exactly how much less money Holyrood receives now than it did at the last election? In fact, in most of the areas for which it has responsibility for spending, funding has been ring fenced by Westminster.

              I’ll save you the bother of looking up the figures. Here are the official public spending figures for Scotland:

              2009/10 – £62.1bn
              2010/11 – £63.8bn
              2011/12 – £64.5bn (last year for which official figures are available.

              Drastic cuts, aren’t they?

              The SNP likes to pretend that it could spend more yet tax less after separation. Do they take Scots for fools?

              • MichtyMe

                Your public spending figures are FOR Scotland, not what is spent in Scotland or by the Scots Gov and it will include a population share of expenditure classed as National, like London Crossrail.

                • HJ777


                  The figure for England etc. will include a population share of expenditure for things like Borders Rail. As public spending per head is considerably higher in Scotland than in England, any imbalance is in Scotland’s favour.

                  Unless, of course, the SNP would like to drastically cut other public expenditure in Scotland over which it currently doesn’t have control so that it could spend more on the NHS. But it hasn’t mentioned anything about wanting to impose post-separation public spending cuts, has it?

                • MichtyMe

                  Point is that there is no expenditure in Scotland that is classed as “National”, like HS2, Olympics, Crossrail and there are no Barnett consequentials either.

                • HJ777

                  Public expenditure per head in Scotland is higher – that tells you all you need to know.

              • DougDaniel

                Err, I was the one making the point, so I didn’t need any clarification. You simply thought you’d found a way to obfuscate the issue and create a false point of contention. Nae luck, mate.

                And oh, what’s that you’ve listed there? That wouldn’t happen to be absolute figures, would it?





                And just as a final flourish, in regards to tax rates in an independent Scotland: “The big goal is to reform the economy to increase wages and strengthen the tax base. This will take time but the rewards are billions of pounds of increased tax take without altering tax rates.


                • HJ777

                  You were being disingenuous. As I said, no government has been able to raise more than 40% of GDP in tax, so aiming to reduce taxes to this level or below is the only sustainable option – and it can, and has usually, been done without cutting absolute levels of spending. Even on the few occasions when there have been cuts in overall spending, they are generally of a tiny percentage of the total (Dennis Healey cut twice as great a percentage in two years than the current government will in five).

                  As for this assertion:

                  “There’s only so long the Scottish Government can keep prioritising NHS spending before it has to simply pass on the cuts from Westminster, otherwise it has no money to spend elsewhere.”

                  It’s nonsense, because as I have shown – and as the links you provide illustrate – any “cuts” (even in real terms) have been a tiny percentage of the total (after record levels of increase over the previous decade) Those links also confirm the ring fencing that I referred to for the NHS and schools. The idea that with a huge budget deficit spending could continue to rise in real terms is just fantasy – and the same would apply to an independent Scotland.

                  As for your “final flourish” – it’s very easy to announce a lofty goal (the Soviet Union had lofty goals in its 5-year plans), it’s quite another thing to have a plan that actually succeeds in delivering them.

        • Hugh

          Pretty obviously the privatisation I’m talking about only reduces public spending if the private sector is, in fact, more efficient at delivering the service – in which case it’s entirely open for the Scottish government to take advantage of those efficiencies too.

  • Saint Steve

    Prepare for an onslaught from the cybernats.

    No doubt you’ll be accused of being an evil fascist ‘Britnat’ who’s ‘scaremongering’ for ‘project fear’.

    • HJ777

      Yes, the provide an interesting insight to the mentality of many in the “Yes” campaign, don’t they?

      Fortunately, most Scots are too sensible to find that an attractive proposition.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Ha ha you beat me to it. Sit back and enjoy.

    • terregles2

      Don’t really think there is much room for debate on this one. Scots will vote for what they trust most. Government from Westminster or government from Holyrood. Not too difficult a choice when we look at the Westminster track record.

      • HJ777

        Well, you would think that there isn’t much room for debate as you are rather more in favour of making assertions rather than debating.

        You provide an interesting insight into the mentality of many SNP supporters when it comes to debating. You’re not really in favour of people who disagree with you being allowed to debate.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Another despicable and typical anti-English remark. As if there has never been any corruption or incompetence in Scottish politics. Ever heard of Monklands?

        • HJ777

          Well don’t be surprised.

          This is typical from the woman who complained about the catering/bar subsidy cost at Westminster (as an example of how terrible Westminster government is), neatly omitting to mention (or perhaps to bother finding out) that the figure for Holyrood is, proportionately, almost exactly the same.

          • terregles2

            I am a bit suprised that I as a British subject am criticised by another British subject for finding fault with our British parliament. Has the British parliament that you and I now share abolished freedom of speech.?

            • HJ777

              No, but it’s a pity that it can’t abolish hypocrisy.

              I realise that in a separate Scotland you wouldn’t allow criticism, but until then you are fair game.

              Incidentally, do you still think that non-Scots shouldn’t comment on how Scots should vote in the referendum or are you still criticising Cameron for not debating with Salmond? It seems you have very little trouble holding two directly contrary views at the same time, which for people like me of rational mind makes you look a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

              • terregles2

                Why are you trying to muddy the waters barking out silly questions and using the expression a sandwich short of a picnic. The last person I heard using that comparison was a 12 year old.
                When somebody asks you a question that you have no answer to then you always respond with blustering and faux outrage.
                I asked the question why do some English people take any criticism of the British Westminster government as criticism of English people. You were unable to answer my question.
                We can all see that you were unable to answer that question. If you cannot respond like an adult and answer that question then just wait and let another person tell me the reason.

                • HJ777

                  What would you know about adult behaviour?

                  I see that you are unable to answer the question about why you simultaneously want English people to not comment on the referendum but then criticise Cameron for not debating with Salmond.

                  To answer your question (as if my answer was not clear enough previously) – I have exactly the same right to criticise your criticism as you have to make the criticism. Not that we know what the substance of your criticism is, because you never say. You just assert that Holyrood is superior and that Westminster doesn’t have a very good track record.

                  You really are a most childish person with your “Westminster parliament is discredited” “they can’t answer our questions” “not much room for debate” etc. assertions. There is never any accompanying argument, is there? It’s all utterly vacuous.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  I have tried to get her to address that monumental piece of hypocrisy so good luck with that!

                • HJ777

                  It’s painful, isn’t it, trying to get anything even slightly coherent or consistent out of her.

                  Ask her how she can argue two entirely contradictory things at the same time and answer comes there not.

                • terregles2

                  It’s painful how you two will not answer one simple question.
                  Why do you view any anti British government comments as being anti-English.
                  Either of you can answer the question or both of you. Come on ….you don’t usually hesitate to reply to anything.
                  We are all waiting for your answer,

                • HJ777

                  Who is “we”? You don’t speak for anyone other than yourself.

                  I have never argued that any criticism of the British government is anti-English. Indeed, I have frequently made criticisms of it myself. You are making a false assertion.

                  What you have been doing is quite different. You have consistently described the Westminster parliament (not government) as “discredited” (although you never explain why or provide any supporting argument). You say that you are not anti-English, yet you abuse institutions that reside in England and never utter a single criticism of either government nor institutions in Scotland which you blithely assert are far superior.

                  If I were to go around throwing abuse at French institutions rather than offering any reasoned criticism, then I could reasonably be accused of being anti-French and a French person could reasonably take offence. This is a rather different matter from criticising specific French government policies and providing reasons for my criticism.

                  You will note that I, as an Anglo-Welsh-Scots person, have never abused any Scottish institution. That is the difference between us – I have respect for the institutions of all of the nations of the United Kingdom and would not criticise them without being very specific about my reasons.

                  Then we come to the question that you will not answer. You argue that English people should not comment on the referendum in Scotland yet you abuse Cameron (who is English) for not debating the subject with Salmond . Then you go around telling England that Scottish separation will be good for it (even though it will not be consulted on the issue). How you can pretend that is not (i) rank hypocrisy and (ii) anti-English is unfathomable.

                • terregles2

                  The institutions that reside in England are British as is the Westminster parliament.
                  All are British all open for everyone in the UK to criticise. I have never denigrated anything that is only English. I denigrate British institutions as a British taxpayer that is my British right.
                  You don’t even seem to have grasped the basics you don’t even know the difference between what is British and what is English.
                  You are so confused. you and I are both British therefore i am not attacking your institutions I am attacking our institutions. Our ancestors fought for the right of everyone in Britain to do so. if you don’t like that then that is the price you pay for living in a democracy.

                • HJ777

                  That reply was particularly pathetic even by your standards.

                  You just hurl abuse at institutions that are not specifically Scottish – without out ever providing any reasoned arguments.

                  If Scotland separates would you suddenly start saying the the Westminster Parliament which you have consistently described as “discredited” would suddenly not be discredited any more?

                  You are indulging in pure racism and we both know it.

                • terregles2

                  it is not possible to be racist we are all the same race. Different nations same race.

                • HJ777

                  Oh yes it is. You may be wrong, but you are racist towards the English.

                  That is quite clear.

                • Paul Bethune

                  The British loving goons on here get their panties all twisted if you dare attack their beloved United Kingdom. They are as blinkered as the muppet who wrote this piece. And as for the right honourable gentleman HJ777… Thinks Thatcher improved manufacturing in this country. Thinks English/British is a race. Does nothing but comment on here and thinks he has a ‘worldy’ view. The man is an imbecile of Scottish politics, a numpty looking on from the side lines. Much like 90% of the union supporters on here.

                • HJ777

                  Manufacturing output increased under Margaret Thatcher’s government:


                  So don’t argue with me, argue with the ONS. I am merely telling you the facts.

                  I have never made any comments about race and British/English. You are simply inventing things (and throwing abuse because you can provide no facts or arguments)

                • Paul Bethune

                  Comment right below me

                  “You are indulging in pure racism and we both know it.” – Your words.

                • HJ777

                  I made no comment on it, I merely pointed out your behaviour.

                • Paul Bethune

                  You made no comment to me either, but those are your words. So English is a race now yeah? And attacking Westminster is essentially attacking your race yeah? Pathetic attempt at racial slurring, so every country that has gained its political freedom from Westminster is essentially racist towards the English according to your beliefs.

                  And you can’t see why the empire crumbled.

                • HJ777

                  You really are very fond of making up ridiculous assertions, aren’t you?

                  Can you not cope with facts?

                  I made you look pretty stupid on the subject of manufacturing output so now you move on to making even more stupid assertions about my views on empire (which I never even mentioned and you cannot know).

                • Paul Bethune

                  LOL H you’re like a broken record and historical data is on my side when it comes to Maggie’s reign over manufacturing in the UK. The sector decreased by 5% comparable to GDP during the 80’s – and its decrease has been 6% over the 20 years since. Again just because the sector started to specialise and started to manufacture goods that cost more does not mean the sector improved – it decreased on all other measurements. It shrunk faster under her watch than any of her predescessors, but you just keep ignoring that to suit your idiotic agenda.

                • HJ777

                  So you think that a rise in manufacturing output of nearly 20% under Thatcher/Major was a worse performance than a significant fall in output under the Labour governments that both preceded and followed?

                  And you call me an idiot?

                • Paul Bethune

                  Wow, we sold stuff for more money, but did the sector employ more people, did the sector expand in operations, did the sector provide safe and secure employment to the millions that it had provided just a decade before Maggie came to power. History proves that manufacturing in the UK took a much larger step towards oblivion than any of her predecessors. You can try and dress it up by quoting oblique figures – but the big picture you can never deceive.

                  And your agenda is idiotic. Apparently Scotland is a basket case economy and we’re “crazy” if we leave the union. Yet here you are, fighting the little unionist corner with nothing but sheer condescension. Bravo H on being the epitome of the negative attitude towards Scots and Scotland that really drives the wedge in this union.

                • HJ777

                  So you think that requiring fewer people to produce greater output is a bad thing? I call it greater productivity and the way to make everyone richer (as it did). And quite how you work out that increased output is a “much larger step towards oblivion” than a fall in output, only you can think makes any sense. It makes no sense to anyone with a modicum of sanity.

                  As for my ‘agenda’ – I did not say, nor suggest, ever, that Scotland is a “basket case economy”. It’s not my opinion and never has been. That is pure invention on your part. Neither did I use the word “crazy” – again, your invention.

                  Does your case for independence rely on lying? it seems it does.

                  It would also seem that you are the one with the negative attitude towards Scots and Scotland, not me. I am positive about both Scotland and the Union.

                  It is a pity that you are negative about both. But then you are clearly a fool.

                • Paul Bethune

                  Aye, richer for the few, over the poverty of the many. Great collectivism right there H.

                  I’ve followed the Spectator’s articles on independence since it became political reality, always curious to see what the other side are saying. And like a moth to a flame you’re in there commenting on everyone. Constantly attacking the notion that an independent Scotland would be a success. Constantly attacking the opinions of those who don’t chime with your self serving attitude. And here you are on this very article shrieking about perceived racism towards England and the English where there has been none. You’re the fool, and mores the pity because you’re an auld yin. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – or expect the old dog to understand or even contemplate the rebirth of a collective consciousness that is alien to the poor old mutt.

                • HJ777

                  You are raving mad, and an economic ignoramus to boot.

                  The folly of the idea that greater industrial productivity results in greater wealth for a few and poverty for the rest is disproved by the fact that even the poorest in higher productivity countries are richer than the poor in lower productivity countries. Ever heard of Luddites? You would no doubt agree with them.

                  It seems that it is you who believes that Scotland cannot be a success because you keep repeating it. I have never suggested anything of the sort. I have merely pointed out that the “Yes” campaign insists that there can only ever be upsides to separation and no downsides. Only ever more spending but never any extra cost. Fortunately, most Scots are not as stupid as you.

                  The anti-Englishness of the likes of Terregles2 shines out because she insists that no English person should comment on the Scottish referendum while lecturing England on what will be good for it. As an Anglo-Welsh-Scot with close relatives in all three countries, I am in a position where I can impartially see racism when it rears its ugly head in this debate – something that I condemn absolutely. It is a pity that you are so lacking in principle that you don’t.

                  I do urge you to continue your behaviour so that the true nature of much of the “Yes” campaign support is clearer to more people in Scotland. They will surely reject it as a result.

                  So carry on!

                • Paul Bethune

                  Aye, folly to believe that inequality is not driven by wealth in society. And folly to believe that Maggie was a great believer of individual wealth. This is where your notion that you even remotely understand the present feeling in Scotland is absolutely bonkers. Maggie killed conservative political ideology in Scotland. Her infamous sermon on the mound emphasised to the vast majority of Scots that a conservative run UK was now a political anathema.

                  A sad indictment that finally killed the notion of a United Kingdom. And yet we still have chumps with rose tinted imperial glasses on that believe the rump of the British Empire is a political construct worth preserving. You’re a classic example.

                • HJ777

                  Keep up the good work of publicly demonstrating to Scots that the “Yes” campaign contains far more of its fair share of fruitcakes.

                • terregles2

                  HJ777 does make some incredible claims. He knows for a fact that Scotland will vote no in September.
                  He also expressed an opinion on what my ancestors who died in WW1 would think of my present day political beliefs. He also agreed with his chum Chuzzlewit that any Scot who criticises the British Westminster government in effect denigrating the English.
                  I know I should not respond to their mad attacks and insults but it is sometimes hard to resist having a bit of fun with them.
                  I would love to incude them in the YES campaign I think they would be an asset.

                • HJ777

                  You really are a total idiot, aren’t you?

                  I never commented on “your ancestors” – for all I know they were as deluded as you. I commented on the likely opinion of Scots who fought on behalf of, and were supremely loyal towards, the United Kingdom towards your efforts to break it up.

                  As I pointed out, I have never said that anyone who criticises the British government is denigrating the English. Most English people do it (myself included). You have simply dishonestly invented a straw man. I have accused you of exclusively abusing English-based institutions (but never providing any reasons).

                  Why do you never answer, or even acknowledge the accusation that you are hypocritical in saying that the English should not comment on the Scottish referendum while at the same time criticising Cameron for not debating with Salmond and yourself constantly telling English people what will be good for them?

                  It won’t go away, you know.

                • terregles2

                  Oh man up and stop denying what is clearly written on your posts.
                  At least be man enough not deny your ourbursts.

                • HJ777

                  If I’m denying anything that was written on my posts, you’ll be able to quote them, won’t you?

                  Otherwise, you can shut up, you hypocrite

                • terregles2

                  I have tried to get you to tell me why anyone finding fault with our British parliament in Westminster gets accused by yourself of being anti-English.
                  You have not answered that question yet?

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Because on innumerable occasions you have ascribed Scotland’ supposed woes to Westminster and its majority of English MPs and what can be summarised as it’s institutionalised incompetence despite knowing nothing of its individual members. You repeatedly castigate any English person for daring to venture an opinion on the future of the UK/Scottish independence. You express nothing but contempt for David Cameron and slavish adherence to any Scottish opinion. This same David Cameron who is deemed incompetent when it suits you and should mind his own business is then, in the same breath, berated for not debating with Salmond. What other conclusion should I draw other than that you are anti-English.

                • terregles2

                  You just make any old thing up as you go along. I think Cameron is a disgrace. I also think every Scottish Labour politician within Westminster is a disgrace. I do not show slavish opinion to every Scottish opinion. That is something you make up. Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, Danny Alexander Carmicheal, All Scottish and all as incompetent as Cameron.
                  There are many more awful Scottish MPs in Westminster.
                  I criticise Westminster and you accuse me of making an outrageouse anti English attack. You have to invent these attacks for your own agenda,

                • HJ777

                  Funny how anybody with whom you disagree is “a disgrace” and “incompetent” (it is never explained why) and who just happens to work in Westminster is, but no-one in Holyrood ever is.

                  You really don’t do coherent arguments, do you? You just throw partisan abuse.

                  Had you thought of looking in a mirror and considering who really meets the unflattering descriptions you so readily throw at others? What great achievements have you that qualifies you to dismiss others so rudely and arrogantly?

                • terregles2

                  I think it is disgraceful that peers who have been in prison sit in the House of Lords. I think the illegal invasion of Iraq is a disgrace. I think having British troops in Afghanistan is a disgrace. I think selling of our Post Office at a knock down price is a disgrace. If you are in favour of these policies then you are entitled to your opinion just as I am.
                  If you class that as partisan abuse then that is your choice.

                • HJ777

                  You are confusing policy issues with constitutional issues.

                  There is no guarantee that a separate Scotland would not make policy decisions that you dislike even more. In any case, many of the decisions that you dislike were voted for by a majority of Scottish MPs.

                  You seem to be under the impression that a separate Scotland would be obliged not to make any decisions with which you disagree – that’s not how democracy works. To give just one example, every NATO country has had troops in Afghanistan and doesn’t the SNP want Scotland to remain in NATO? Or are you proposing that Scotland should expect the protection that NATO offers without actually contributing anything? Do you think that other NATO members would agree to that?

                  You really are childishly naive when it comes to politics. It’s like listening to a left-wing student politician (only with less maturity).

                • HJ777

                  Her latest pronouncements (below) really are showing desperation.

                  I wonder whether this woman simply lacks the intelligence to understand how hypocritical she is or is she just a good old dishonest racist?

                • terregles2

                  It does not matter what I think of Cameron. He is PM of all the UK countries. If he thinks Scots should not vote for independence then he should tell us why in public. Nobody is putting forward a case for the union. Many Scots want to hear both sides of the argument. He is quick enough to give his opinion on everything else. He is the man who makes the important decisions Scotland on defence foreign policy etc. He should stand before the Scots and tell us why he is the best man to look after Scotland.
                  Salmond has done it Cameron should as well.

                • HJ777

                  Cameron has made his opinion quite clear. He does not have to debate with Salmond just because the SNP, Salmond, or you, want him to just so they can paint him as an “English toff”. The question is why Salmond won’t debate with whoever the “No’ campaign choose to put up. Is he afraid to debate with a fellow Scot? Why is he treating the Scots electorate with such contempt by saying that he will only debate with a non-Scot?

                  You still can’t have it both ways. Either you think that people living in England shouldn’t comment (in which case you should believe that Cameron shouldn’t and therefore he shouldn’t debate with Salmond) or you think that they should. You can’t logically believe both things at the same time as they are contradictory. If it’s the former, why do you think it’s OK for you to go around telling English people what will be good for England (as you so frequently have)? How could than not be hypocrisy?

                  Your assertion that “Nobody is putting the case for the union” is demonstrably false. The case for the union is being put in a calm rational manner in contrast to the type of campaign being run by the SNP. I know which I think most Scots will prefer.

                  The “No” campaign has also offered to put up someone to debate with Salmond (or whoever the “Yes” campaign prefers. The problem is that the “Yes” campaign is arrogantly trying to tell their opponents who they must put up or they will refuse to debate. If no debate takes place, it will be clear which campaign opted out.

                • terregles2

                  Why did you agree that any criticism of the British parliament in Westminster is anti-English people. Why did you agree with Mr Chuzzlewit that if we find fault with British Westminster then we are anti- English..
                  Why can neither of you answer that simple question.?

                • HJ777

                  You have offered no reasoned criticism.

                  You have just hurled abuse at institutions based in England (and only about institutions based in England) and criticised English people for commenting on the Scottish referendum whilst telling England that a “yes” vote will be good for them. That is both hypocritical and anti-English.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              You never disappoint. Touting your British citizenship when your objective is the destruction of the United Kingdom really does earn you the Gold medal for hypocrisy. There are absolutely no depths to which you cybernats will not stoop in furtherance of your cause. Equalled only by your reluctance to engage with the real practicalities of independence such as EU membership, Sterling, defence, monetary policy etc etc. Laughable. This even beats your berating Cameron for not debating with Salmond and that was platinum edged hypocrisy.

              • terregles2

                My British citizenship is a fact. I am British. I might not want to be but at the moment I am a British citizen.
                You still have not told me why when I criticised the British parliament in Westminster you starting ranting and calling me anti -English.
                Why did you say that criticising British Westminster partliament was anti English…. Why did you say that.?

                • HJ777

                  I can assure you that not too many British people would be sorry to see you leave if that would make you happier.

        • terregles2

          I didn’t actually say which one they would pick I said that they would look at Westminster’s track record and vote accordingly.
          If you choose to interpret that as a despicable anti – English remark and respond like an outraged schoolgirl well then that is up to you.
          You should try and remember that the Westminster parliament is made of MP’s from Scotland England Northern Ireland and Wales. It is not an English parliament it is a British parliament. If we send our MPs and our taxes to it then I think we are entitled to express an opinion on how we think they are performing. There is constant whinging that England does not have a parliament then if anyone criticises Westminster you say that we are making anti-English comments….. Very confusing.

      • RobertC

        Are the Edinburgh Trams up and running yet?

        • terregles2

          No think it is another couple of months before they are. The trams and the contracts etc were set up by the Scottish Labour party before they were kicked out of office.
          You wouldn’t expect anything Labour does to be successful would you.? The trams are no exception.

        • Jambo25

          Are any of the UK government IT schemes working yet?

  • saffrin

    The NHS is run for the benefit of it’s employees. Patients being nothing less than funding opportunities to be exploited.
    Anyone that disagrees is an NHS employee.
    One of the first things Nigel Farage needs to do when he gets into number ten next year is sack 90% of NHS management.

    • Wessex Man

      Is that so saffrin? I was unfortunately ill enough to go to the RUH Bath recently, my blood pressure was danerously low and if it had gone on for a few more hours there would have be no way back for me. The Doctors and Nurses in A & E were coping wonderfully well with genuine cases like me whilst being abused by very drunken dorks causing no end of problems. I was then transferred to the Surgial Admission Ward,who were fantastic.

      At no time throughout my time there did I feel that they were running it for their own benefit!

      • David Kay

        i was ill enough once to go to an NHS emergency department. The experience made me take out private medical insurance

        • Wessex Man

          just hope your Medical Insurance Company have an out of hours number for you then!

          • David Kay

            indeed they do, but you get to talk to a doctor rather than a nurse

            • HJ777

              Actually, I am in favour of Nurse Practitioners in many functions.

              Too many tasks are reserved for medics (good old-fashioned demarcation) when they are straightforward tasks that can well be handled by nurses. People who have served on PCTs can tell you plenty of stories about medics protecting their own patch for work that could be done quite efficiently (and more cheaply) by others.

              The last time I used the NHS (a few years ago now) I was diagnosed by a nurse practitioner in a small injuries unit. Part of the initial treatment she game me was later criticised by a consultant – so I did a bit of research and discovered that she was right and he was wrong (i.e. he was simply unaware of latest good practice).

            • terregles2

              I also hope and pray that you never have a serious illness. I had a work colleague who had ovarian cancer and received excellent treatment through her private health insurance. When her condidtion deteriorated and her year’s insurance ended she was back promptly with the NHS. Sadly she did not recover her health but the treatment love and kindness that was given to her by NHS was wonderful. No money could have bought her better care and attention.
              NHS is far from perfect but it still offers mostly great care and attention to everyone.

      • saffrin

        Count yourself lucky they’d ticked all their boxes already then for had they not, you’d not be here to relate your experience.

        Who knows, maybe it was a low blood pressure training day.

        • Wessex Man

          Yes I count myself lucky, you are far too cynical, I’d love to see you and David Kay try to cope after you’ve done away with the NHS, go past any Private Hospital and the signs always outside- NO A & E. They’ll do your botox for you though, or your brest implants and then NHS A & E will take them out for you when they start leeking!

          • HJ777

            To be fair, no private hospital could do A & E because they lack critical local mass because medical spending is heavily dominated by the NHS.

            They do in other countries where they are equally eligible to receive (whether directly or via patients) government funding.

          • saffrin

            The sooner the NHS stops masquerading as a health service, the sooner the Government will realise the NHS isn’t a health service.
            Either that or the Government will realise the NHS needs Doctors and nurses more than they need the hundreds of thousands of incompetent managers the grossly overpaid NHS CEO’s claim.

            • Wessex Man

              So you think that the Private Hospitals currently operating in this country are so superior do you? and you have evidence to back that up do you? do you think they would operate A & E any better than it is currently being operated? Do you have any practical experience of both Private and NHS in the last half dozen years or are you thoughts shaped by the Sun and Daily Mail?

              • saffrin

                I refer you to my original post
                The NHS is run for the benefit of it’s employees. Patients being nothing less than funding opportunities to be exploited.
                “Anyone that disagrees is an NHS employee.”

                • Wessex Man

                  I saw your previous post which is pretty basic mud slinging pap, why don’t you answer the questions or are you unaware of just how hard the staff within Hospitals work because you have been fortunate enough never to have used them NHS or Private?

                • saffrin


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