Hey, I asked a genuine question – I …

Comment posted McCuish announces ‘coalition for progress’ by Mairi.

Hey, I asked a genuine question – I don’t know the current status of that policy. I thought that someone here might know what the current policy is!!!

It has certainly been applied for a long time. Eg, it stopped Alex Salmond from entering into any formal coalition with Annabel Goldie and the Conservative group in the Scottish Parliament. And I have heard lots of SNP people quote it at me, that they ‘would never do deals with Tories’.

Now if they keep or change that rule, that is up to them. I am simply asking for clarification of current SNP policy.

For what it’s worth, my view is that this is not a sustainable position nowadays in local government.

Mairi also commented

  • Thanks newsroom

    So does anyone know what the current SNP policy is? I am still no wiser … :o

  • I thought the SNP was – according to its own rules – barred from doing deals with Conservatives. Is this still true?

Recent comments by Mairi

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Fiona, I agree with you that there is – and always will be – a place for specialist services –whether for maternity or anything else. With you 100% on that.

    Both guidelines on what scanning should be done, and the qualifications necessary for who can do scanning have changed in recent years. The qualification/ training is a major change – because whereas previously midwives did a one week course, now they (or radiographers) need to do a one-year post-graduate course. Such is the level of skill and capability once you’ve done that course, that apparently a decreasing number of obstetricians now turn their hand to scanning. So I’m led to believe that it would only be a very rare scan that would ever need a centre of expertise. That said, in such circumstances, there would probably be a need for a consultant obstetrician too – so regardless of the sonography capabilities of local midwives, a pregnant woman would need to travel to a centre of excellence.
    And I also applaud your past efforts, and can understand how pessimism can set in.

    Call me mad (love your analogy, by the way!) but I do believe (as I think you do) that we owe it to each other to battle for what we believe is right. I’ve fought battles in the past, won some and lost some. The successes are vital – they give all of us confidence. People in the NHS are first to admit that it can be a difficult organisation in which to bring about change. I should know – I worked in the NHS in both England and in Scotland – for the old Argyll & Clyde Health Board. So I’ve got first-hand experience. And I’ve also got maternity services first-hand experience – having two daughters of my own.

    I’m going to keep going. So many women have been in touch telling me about their awful experiences. There are available solutions that can improve at least part of the overall care they receive. It’s collective will that’s needed to make it happen. From all the politicians, managers, users and others you mention. If you ever want to dip your toe in the water again … let me know. Sounds like you’ve got all the credentials ;)

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Fiona

    That’s very interesting – it just shows what can be done. Thanks for sending that.

    The plans to bring back scanning would mean that all scans could be done locally – not just the 12 week / confirmation ones. It would also mean that ad hoc and emergency scanning could be done here – something that currently means a round trip and often an overnight stay for what can be a ten minute scan.

    From what people say, this latest reduction of what’s available locally seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back. If this campaign on scanning can act as a catalyst to reviving the Maternity Services User Groups across Argyll & Bute, and with renewed focus on this vital service, bringing about a wide range of improvements – as happened in Angus – then it will have succeeded.

    Thanks for your good wishes!

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    The campaign seeks three things, in summary:

    1. The restoration of local scanning
    2. Better communication with service users
    3. More support from the Scottish Government.

    And I count the challenge and correspondence between myself and the officials – in both Inverness and Edinburgh – as part of the whole campaign. When I first wrote to the NHS Highland Chief Executive, the expert/ review group hadn’t even met. So pressure was being brought to bear long before the PPF meeting you refer to.

    Had they got their skates on immediately after the September 2013 service withdrawal and reached a decision to do what’s now planned (however insufficient we may believe that to be), we could have had midwives being trained from September 2014, and some degree of service restoration from autumn 2015. Instead of what we now face, namely starting training in the autumn of 2015, and services a year later.

    Success, such as we’ve witnessed, has been to articulate – publicly – some limited progress on the local service restoration. But I think a lot more needs to be done on this front to accelerate local scanning. As stated, that could be by bringing sonographers from elsewhere to our hospitals (as stated above or locums), training our midwives, or recruitment of trained professionals.

    I believe that a very positive achievement on the second point, re communication, is to establish Maternity Services User Groups across the area. Ideally, they should be part of a wider piece of governance to ensure that services are consistent across the area. The NHS managers themselves, in their announcement too, lamented the inconsistency in what’s been available across Argyll & Bute.

    This is progress. Bringing service users and public authorities together can be a challenging process for all parties – yet it’s incredibly powerful and worth pursuing.

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Fiona

    Routine ultrasound scanning is no longer offered anywhere in Argyll & Bute. This service was withdrawn in September 2013.

    The National Screening Programme is designed – among other things – to minimise infant mortality. So while no one can be compelled to attend for a scan, the higher the uptake, the greater the chances that problems will be spotted and dealt with.

    At the public meeting in Oban last week, several people raised questions relating more generally to maternity services, and one way of addressing them is to get involved in the Maternity Services User Groups that NHS Highland has committed to setting up. This is a good move, in my view, and would be a good place to bring up the concerns you have.

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Lowry

    I was made aware of this issue almost a year ago which is when I first approached the Health Board.

    You’re wrong to suggest that plans were developed before I took notice because when I first contacted the NHS Highland Chief Executive their ‘expert group’ tasked with recommending what to do hadn’t even met. Services stopped in September 2013, and their first meeting was in July 2014. An unacceptably long delay: Babies were conceived and born in that period yet the Health Board couldn’t even hold a meeting to decide what to do.

    I wanted to establish all the facts and take action based on what I discovered. So I’ve been researching what happens in other areas, asking questions of the Scottish Government and making inquiries with other organisations who have an interest in this topic. What we’re campaigning for is well-researched and supported by professionals and users alike.

    Very little communication has taken place since services stopped. The meeting I organised in Oban last week was the first time there had been any public engagement in almost 18 months. User involvement is now happening as a direct consequence. So my interventions have made a difference, I’d suggest.

    Normally you contributions are incisive, Lowry, but you’re wrong about when I started to take an interest in this issue. And my interventions have made a difference so far, for example in promoting and establishing User Groups.

    Crucially, I’m now also challenging how robust and resilient the new plans are. I’m not convinced, and the extra questions I’m asking need to be answered if we want a service that works and stands the test of time. That’s what any campaigner, candidate or representative should be doing.

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23 Responses to Hey, I asked a genuine question – I …

  1. Councillor Donald Kelly may be delighted , but I doubt if his voters are . He should be thrown out the Conservative and Unionist Party if this betrayal is true .

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    • i don,t know who islay forever is ,but i suspect he or she is what is termed on this island a white settler. obviously they are a tory to the root but haven,t a .councillor for the island except a lib dem which as many comments on this website have shown, that he has his own interests at heart and not the islanders or their children. donald kelly is an honest man and puts the interests of all the folk of argyll and bute above any party political associations whatsoever. this election was a local election and local issues are what most folk on the island of islay are concerned about.the argyll first group are in touch with the people of argyll which is more than can be said of david cameron and his cronies in his coalition,who are not in touch with the people in britain at all.

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  2. I thought the SNP was – according to its own rules – barred from doing deals with Conservatives. Is this still true?

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  3. The sun has consistantly shone on most of Argyll throughout the run up to the election. With the brave commitment of the new council ruling group our futures can only be but basking in a new dawn of sunny possibilities.
    Let’s away with negative posts, such as those aforementioned.

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  4. Well said. Its party politics that has allowed Dick Walsh to wrap our councillors round his little finger. The electorate voted for the candidates who would stand up to tricky dickie and kick him out of his current role whether he is re elected or not

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  5. Hey, I asked a genuine question – I don’t know the current status of that policy. I thought that someone here might know what the current policy is!!!

    It has certainly been applied for a long time. Eg, it stopped Alex Salmond from entering into any formal coalition with Annabel Goldie and the Conservative group in the Scottish Parliament. And I have heard lots of SNP people quote it at me, that they ‘would never do deals with Tories’.

    Now if they keep or change that rule, that is up to them. I am simply asking for clarification of current SNP policy.

    For what it’s worth, my view is that this is not a sustainable position nowadays in local government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • You’re quite right, Mairi, that tribal exclusions are out of touch with the way most people today feel about the world.

      It is the calibre of the individual that counts – either way, not the pedigree they carry.

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  6. Nice to see Elaine getting down from the fence.
    Where does poor Duncan go now,Roddy beware a stranger bearing gifts, it gets better and better.
    Please tell us the coalition will start ripping apart Loudon, Sneddon, Walker and the rest of the malfunctioning Education department.A vote of no confidence in Loudon is a priority,the rest of her buddies can wait in line.
    Let the decent,honest staff who work for the council come forward and spill the beans,starting with the” Jo Smith adventures”.Good title for a book,sounds a bit steamy so we better keep pictures of Dick Walsh in his underwear out of it.
    Just a wee bit of crack till the hard decisions have to be made then we will really see what our new council is made of.Best of luck but the time for change is now no excuses now you are in charge.Lets rock and roll.

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  7. Times they are a changing.
    The SNP embargo on working in formal coalition with Tories was at Parliamentary level because of their unionist commitment. It is not relevant at council level. A Tory publicly in favour of independence has just been elected in Midlothian (Peter De Vink – see below)
    The “Unionist” in the Tory description in Scotland is not fundamental. It was a reaction to the “Irish Problem” in the early years of last century but I suspect London influence is the reason for it being stuck on Scotland’s Tories as if it was a party constitutional clause. Two of the prominent founder members of the SNP – the Duke of Montrose and Sir Compton Mackenzie – were Tories

    But the piece below represents a not inconsiderable procession of thought among Tories. Tories are not political in the sense others may be . They are pragmatists. When power shifts they shift with it. Interesting times.
    Despite last Thursday’s odd results (achieved by the media and not by a hopeless Labour Party)I believe Labour in Scotland is in as much, if not more, trouble in Scotland than the Tories

    http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/opinion/comment/brian-monteith-prime-example-of-why-the-tories-must-change-1-2279075

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    • The election is over. We now need the best councillors elected to serve in the coalition not the slickest operators

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  8. If the new coalition is to be successful then something needs to be done about what are clearly very strained relationships between elected members and the corporate management team. Whether or not people agree that this Council has been failing under the current Chief Executive’s control is up for debate (I think most people on here know where I stand on the debate) however what can’t be denied is that member/officer relations are not what they should be.

    Depending on the nature of the CE’s contract the new administration will, fundamentally, have two options available to them. If she is on a fixed term contract which requires renewal at a set date then they would be able to replace her at that point if they felt she was not capable of performing her role competently. They may, of course, conclude that she is capable and agree on a contract extension.

    If she is on a permanent contract with no break point then the administration needs to assess whether her performance has been satisfactory and deal with this accordingly. In this scenario she would be treated the same way as any other employee and performance issues would be addressed via a proper performance management process (which could, and I stress could, result in dismissal if, after following a proper process, the performance doesn’t improve).

    Dealing with performance issues at director level is slightly different as the administration have no direct control over the appointment and removal of directors. They have (or should have) performance issues managed in the same way as any other employee however the problem here is that they report directly to the CE and if there are question marks over her competence then you could argue that she is not capable of managing the performance issues of those who report directly to her.

    What the new Administration need to consider is whether or not their opposition to issues such as the schools closures was because they were opposed to the policy, opposed to the lack of competence shown by Council officers during the consultation process and in the consultation papers, or a combination of the two. If they were opposed to the lack of competence to a material extent (and any other areas of competence amongst the senior staff) then they can’t be seen to duck their responsibility to challenge the CE and CMT and ensure they are accountable for their failings. Just because it happened under the previous administration’s watch does not mean the issue should be overlooked.

    Roddy McCuish says ‘The people of Argyll have given us a clear mandate for change in the way the work of this council is conducted.’ It is encouraging to hear those words and there is much talk of ‘change’ in the air’
    Recognition of the desire for change makes it crystal clear that change is required and part of that process has to be to identify what has gone wrong, or stood still for too long, and take corrective action. If that means removal of the CMT or close performance management of them then I urge the Administration to be strong and take the necessary steps.

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    • Coincidentally we are working on an article on this very matter which will shortly be published – and we agree that it could not be more important.

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  9. Employment legislation affects senior management a bit different from the PBI. Crucial in management and leadership is trust. If the employers of the CEO (ie the councillors) feel that they have lost trust in their CEO then the contract can be terminated without the need to go through the usual series of appraisals, warnings etc. Usually there is a financial settlement involved in terminating a contract early (and that is usually one year’s pay). If the CEO is on a fixed term contract (and that would be good practise) then all the councillors need to do is agree that the contract will not be renewed – the notice period of this will be in the existing contract (and is again usually one year).

    My understanding is that all other employees can only have their contracts terminated by the CEO.

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  10. I would think it sensible to allow the CEO to explain the conditions she was operating under before we all jump to conclusions. This is not an attempt to excuse completely unacceptable behaviour on a number of issues but a suggestion that the CEO may be able to explain what pressures were brought to bear on her as she did her work. Could be illuminating and very useful – particularly if appropriate measures are to be taken to insure that Dick Walsh does not rise from politically dead as he was allowed to do over ten years ago after Jean McFadden of Strathclyde University and the Ombudsman both suggested he was not a fit person to hold public office

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    • Dave, I would normally agree with common sense like that, however, having seen Ms Loudon and her executive pets in action at Kilmory at a number of meetings, I would have to say that will need to be one hell of an excuse to justify their actions.

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    • I think that should go without saying Dave. Any action taken to assess performance to date and potential looking forward should be a proper and thorough process which views the roles, duties, actions and influences (and how these were responded to) that are relevant to any such review.

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  11. Nice to see Labour starting to get a grip and putting up decent proposals.A lot to like in their manifesto,my old socialist heart has had a great week not just locally but nationally.Labour will need to gear up in Argyll, I would certainly be very interested to play a part if they are true to their words.As for Roddy he’s the man but he will need quality behind him not the ship jumpers.
    Power to the People.

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  12. Interesting to read Brian Monteith’s article about Peter de Vink in today’s Scotsman -the link is above in item 8 – along with the searching analysis of the Glasgow voting patterns in Gerry Hassan’s blog. Both of those thoughtful contributioms to the current debate indicate that Scottish politics is once again on the move and that the regular pundits in the BBC and the print media are, for the most part, floundering in the wake.

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