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Thanks Neil, and for what it’s worth I …

Comment posted ARSN submission to Rural Education Commission by Tim McIntyre.

Thanks Neil, and for what it’s worth I don’t doubt what you say about your understanding and empathy with rural areas. In fact I think we are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where splits of the type sometimes alluded to – between ‘urban’ and ‘rural’, or between young people & the elderly – are largely fictitious. None of the towns we have in Argyll are large enough to be described as ‘urban’ and many or most local families have strong connections between the town areas and the countryside.

As for Bonawe, I fully agree with you that, as with any school, it relies on parental support to survive. I would argue that the fact that the school is still open suggests that some parents do strongly support it, since they have obviously had to weigh any concerns they may have over the small size of the pupil roll against the desire to see the school survive for the sake of the longer term future of the community. Having attended the pre-consultation meeting in Ardchattan last March, I can assure you that the wider community, including many people in the village who do not have children, but are involved with the day to day life of the school, are strongly supportive of it. Furthermore the housing association representative expressed the view that the school was a significant factor in the large number of people on their waiting list who have expressed a preference for a house in the village.

Tim McIntyre also commented

  • Neil – Ardchattan School in Bonawe currently has three pupils, and no-one would deny that it is at a low ebb. Likewise, Barcaldine school had only seven pupils at one point (I was one of them, so it’s longer ago than I would care to admit). Now Barcaldine has twenty-two, and has been more-or-less full for the last decade or so.

    Why? Barcaldine has not undergone any major house-building programme, nor enjoyed any significant economic boost (the closure of the Alginate factory in the late 90s lost us our last major employer) since I was at school. There has simply been a kind of demographic renewal resulting in an increase in the school-age population.

    As long as a community like Bonawe has a school, it has a reasonable chance of undergoing such a renewal in due course, but that becomes much less likely if the school closes. Seen from that perspective, what appears to be a short-term spike in the ‘cost per pupil’ of educating Bonawe’s children close to home is in fact an investment in the long term sustainability of that community.

    Also, as is abundantly clear to anyone who has visited the school, it has close connections with the community and plays a very important part in the lives of everyone, from toddlers to the elderly – the more so because it is the only community facility they have. Allow it to survive now, and it will thrive again in the future.

  • Simon – I’m really looking forward to hearing your considered response to the ARSN submission. In the mean time, do you think you could lay off the SNP-bashing for just a little while? Even for those of us with no party allegiance, it’s really starting to get tedious and I’m sure the last thing you want is to be boring everyone 😉

    The story also has nothing whatever to do with the SNP, nor even with the decision to close Hillhead school, which (I agree with you) looks pretty awful.

  • A collaborative effort too – although my name is at the top of the submission, most of the clear thinking and hard work that went into this must be credited to ARSN individuals from every corner of Argyll.

Recent comments by Tim McIntyre

  • Holyrood: the disappeared
    “The SNP’s Mike Mackenzie… was clearly not going to get back to Holyrood in an election where the constituency vote would be dominated by the SNP.”

    The constituency vote made no difference – Highland elected the same number of SNP constituency MSPs as in 2011, so the loss of two Highland list SNPs MSPs is solely down to a reduction in their regional vote, from 47.5% to 37.9%.

    The Tories’ astute move to wrap themselves in the union flag and thus, in effect, revert to their original identity as the Conservative & Unionist party has certainly paid them an impressive dividend electorally.

    It will be interesting to see whether the reverse is true – i.e. whether being hard-wired to the Tory brand will do Unionism itself any favours over the course of this parliament.

  • SNP shuts down local branch Twitter proving witch hunt against Carmichael
    Integrity – I believe some have suggested to Mr Carmichael that he should step down voluntarily, precisely so that the money raised so far can go to food banks instead of lawyers 🙂

    Anyway, taking up your point about political ‘blinkers’ – maybe so, but I hastily add that I’m not defending him against the legitimate anger of his constituents, who are really the only folk that have an interest in his future now that he is a lowly back bench opposition MP in one of the smaller parties, and not a minister of state.

    Those constituents – including no doubt a good number who voted for him having believed his claim that he knew nothing about a grubby smear campaign – have every right to feel pretty unhappy at what has transpired, and especially that it was kept carefully concealed until after they cast their votes. That is not a party political point in itself, and it is unfair and simplistic to characterise the legal campaign to force a by-election as such.

    Given the high cost (and no legal aid) of raising an action, and the even more eye-watering potential for the awarding of costs in the event of failure, crowd funding seems to me a fair & transparent way to raise the money needed. Doubtless the campaigners are benefitting quite a bit from politically-motivated donations, especially given that Carmichael was one of the more, er, bruising personalities in the ‘No Thanks’ campaign. However, at the end of the day it is the court that will decide, even if the politics helps raise the cash.

  • SNP shuts down local branch Twitter proving witch hunt against Carmichael
    The First Minister was not a candidate in the election, and therefore the ‘smear’ itself – the creation of the false memo plus leaking thereof – is unlikely to be of any great concern to the court.

    As I understand it, the case will turn on whether the court finds that Alistair Carmichael’s admitted lie – that he knew nothing of the memo until contacted by journalists – amounts to ‘corrupt and illegal’ practice under the Representation of the People Act.

    In other words, did Mr Carmichael try to cover up his own involvement in the smear in order to present himself to his constituents as an honourable and decent candidate for re-election, and thereby affect the outcome in Orkney & Shetland.

    I suspect that anyone hoping for a detailed investigation into the writing of the memo itself may be disappointed…

  • Forget tactical voting for unity. Forget the coming of the one-party state. Your party matters more?
    Newsroom – re: the “wholly constitutionally disadvantaged position of England”, Derek Bateman has a good piece on that subject;-

  • Forget tactical voting for unity. Forget the coming of the one-party state. Your party matters more?
    Integrity – I’m sure you are right that the convention is informal, and obviously the parties can talk to each other as they wish – as the Lib Dems did with Labour last time. However, I assume that in practice, David Cameron would try every option to form a government and would not resign until these had been exhausted (as Gordon Brown did last time, despite coming a distant second). Only then would the SNP’s offer to Labour come into play.

    John M – the SNP cannot ‘vote down’ a Tory government which has managed to assemble majority support – the key phrase in your quote being “if there is an anti-Tory majority”

    Newsroom, I think you are right that stability could be a problem, especially as the Tory press in the south will do everything possible to de-stabilise a SNP-supported minority Labour government. If they can portray it as illegitimate that Labour gets to govern while the Tories got a majority in England, they will do so, loudly and insistently, and regardless of the damage to the Union.

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