Silly story that SNP mght disband after a hypothetical ‘Yes’ vote in 2014

Stephen Noon, strategist for the ‘Yes’ campaign in the run up to the Independence Referendum in October 2014 seems to have started something of a hare running.

He suggested that the SNP might well disband in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote – and the party has vigorously refuted that today.

The notion of disbandment seems to be based on questioning what an independence party could do after independence.

The SNP’s chief raison d’etre is the achievement of Scottish independence but this itself is based on a specific, if narrow, care for Scotland.

It is intellectually blinkered to suggest either that the party might feel it had no other purpose were that status to be achieved in 2014; or that there was nothing more it could or was obliged to do in that event.

Why post-independent SNP disbandment is not credible

The SNP is primarily a party for Scotland – as is the Argyll First group of C0uncillors primarily for Argyll, in the smaller confines of this part of the country.

It is its single minded pro-Scotland focus that, in the good old says of 2007-2008, made it such a good go0vernment. It was not the second division side of a team whose first division squad played elsewhere – although it is no different from the traditional parties in that too many of its more competent politicians are Westminster MPs.

It owed no subservience to a lead organisation elsewhere, therefore in both its political singularity and in its own interests, it put Scotland rather than party first in the way it approached and negotiated any issue.

Scotland welcomed that priority and will in future require it of any government in whatever political standing the country finds itself.

Then the SNP started to turn most of its attention to winning the referendum and, sadly, lost focus on the demands of good government and began to play distasteful games of subterfuge to shore up its position in this contest. These manoeuvres have deservedly lost it trust and credibility to a degree which is not recoverable in the timescale to October 2014.

Instead of being a different sort of party altogether, it was seen to be same as any other jobbing horse coper – so why should Scotland change steeds to travel in the same direction under a rider from the same stable?

However,  it remains that single focus – Scotland – that was its strength before and could be again, in any political context – independent, federal or devolved.

This comes from its freedom from philosophical political dogma. The SNP has been and can be a party that naturally, in the interests of Scotland, combines a focused and hard headed economic development strategy with a discriminating social conscience. There is nothing dogmatic to stop it – there never has been – from playing cards from decks in both the right and the left hands as the state of the country and its people require.

These two factors – the single minded focus on Scotland and the freedom from narrow political dogma has always made it potentially the best source of a government for the country, in whatever political circumstances.

Moreover, if it should win the independence referendum in 2014, which we do not believe it will, it will have the heaviest of all possible moral obligations to lead the country to independent economic success – and sustainably so.

‘Sustainable’ is crucial because there will be no way back from independence. 15 years of an easy life, paid for by oil revenues and followed by being the possessor of a basket case economy would be the ultimate betrayal of faith.

The SNP government does not yet have the spectrum of ability to fulfill this governmental responsibility – which is one of the reasons why we believe the independence referendum will fail in these tough and uncertain economic times.

But we do not doubt that the SNP has the will to govern Scotland well – and no other party in Scotland has a talent pool that is any less shallow than the SNP’s.

There is not the slightest chance of this party disbanding after a hypothetical winning of independence. It may well be that, in such a point, Alex Salmond would feel that his ‘eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord’ and would sign out after a short time as the first Ceannard of Scotland. Heretical as it is seen, the party has actually needed this standing back for some time. But the party would absolutely campaign to govern.

The real threat

The real threat to the party lies in the contrary political hypothesis. Would it survive losing the referendum?

Alex Salmond would have no further obligation to remain as leader for any period at all and would, by then, probably welcome release. In the context of defeat and the departure of Mr Salmond, it is hard to see the party maintaining the sort of Stalinist discipline that has overridden its internal divisions and kept it together since before 2007.

Nicola Sturgeon would be unlikely to survive into the leadership her current position as Deputy theoretically suggests she is destined to inherit. She was not, on her own, a strong candidate for the party leadership before Salmond pulled the party out of internecine war by coming back – in spirit – from Westminster as leader across the water, so to speak, with Sturgeon, his deputy, holding the fort at Holyrood.

She has had a lot of shelter from the First Minister and has latterly seemed better than she is in contrast to his decline. But she looks woefully astray at Infrastructure and Capital Investment and yet is known to have ambitions in that direction that irk the more capable John Swinney.

So Infrastructure is directionless, lacking in overt governing strategy and in unsteady hands. Transport is in a mess for much the same reason in the absence of strategy although Keith Brown’s hands are steadier. Education is in an ever worse mess, with school-based education failing, the universities uncertain and nervous and the colleges – where? Health is under pressure on many fronts, revealed only today to be issuing free toothpaste while denying crucial drugs to sick patients. Arts and Culture is off the map. Energy is all over the place, with the wheels coming off at speed in consequence of the First Minister’s politically driven commitment to wind in large scale and at all costs.

This has been expensive not only to the failure to provide for baseload energy and to protect coming energy costs to the consume – rbut politically in the alienation of voters and the loss of perceived competence in so manic and unbalanced a programme.

Of course we need wind. Few would oppose that. But its unreliability puts it as no more than a component of the energy source portfolio we need.

There has been a brutalist push to plaster the country with wind farms as quickly as possible, on and offshore, simply to support the credibility of the independence proposition. This has seen the willy nilly overriding of local authority planning decisions alongside government instructions to scrutinse wind farm applications less rigorously.

This entire narrative could not have done more damage to the perception of competent government. It’s actions reeked of panic. They was too often indiscriminate and unthinking – and they were irrationally resistant to serious and informed contrary argument.

If the SNP do not win the independence referendum – and that is the probable scenario – it is likely to fall back upon itself, demoralised, leaderless and vulnerable to a bull run in the rush to succeed. Ambitious candidates for this coming contest have been seen to be positioning themselves for some time, as we have pointed out. By the time they finish with each other, there will be little left. There is slender substance to start with.

In the interests of the Scotland he has spent a political lifetime fighting for as he has seen fit, Alex Salmond has to recognise that the best he can do for the country will require his own ultimate sacrifice.

He needs to get down to Plan MacB – which should focus on a Scotland that has chosen to remain in the Union but will be best led by an SNP government, free of any single political dogma; and who come to recognise that their achievement is already made.  They have single-handedly given Scotland most of the the independence – in spirit and in fact – that it needs and wants. Scotland will not be the same again. It will be a more confident member of the union, demanding and supportive.

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79 Responses to Silly story that SNP mght disband after a hypothetical ‘Yes’ vote in 2014

  1. Two points:

    1. Stephen Noon did not suggest that the SNP would disband. A newspaper reporter made that up, and you’ve reported the reporter’s fiction as though it was fact.

    2. The Yes campaign are not the SNP.

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    • We were reinforcing what a nonsense the idea was – whether or not Noon actually said it; and where did we equate the ‘Yes’ campaign with the SNP?
      Try less paranoia and more accurate reading in 2013.

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      • Inaccurate reading?

        Here are your words, in case you’ve forgotten what you wrote:
        “Stephen Noon…suggested that the SNP might well disband in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote”.

        Seems clear to me. And if I may say so, you’re extraordinarily quick to accuse me of paranoia given that you are – actually – reporting fiction as fact! :-)

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      • Newsroom your negative piece was biased an disingenuous. You indicated several times that the Yes vote will fail, with the intention of planting doubt in peoples minds and not backing this view up with evidence. I would encourage people to read Noon’s comments (see link below) and they will see that he is not saying that SNP will disband, he is merely pointing out that the May 2016 election will give voters the opportunity to vote for any party within an existing independent Scotland. Yes I know that you acknowledged this, but underhandedly used the opportunity to undermine the Yes campaign.

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  2. Given that the SNP are riding high in the opinion polls I’d be interested to learn your opinion on the UK parties and why anyone in their right mind would wish to be a part of such a failing state? Love?

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  3. Personally I believe it’s a bit of a joke. I reckon Noon is simply trying to encourage those voters who fancy having a go at independence but are not happy with the SNP, to vote Yes. If they can be persuaded that the party will not remain the same, should the Yes vote win, then some might vote for independence in the hope that without the SNP party, particularly Salmond, other parties may perform better at running the country.

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  4. “But we do not doubt that the SNP has the will to govern Scotland well – and no other party in Scotland has a talent pool that is any less shallow than the SNP”.

    The obligatory backhanded compliment?

    “The SNP government does not yet have the spectrum of ability to fulfill this responsibility”.

    If they don’t and the other parties even more lacking, that only leaves the superior intellect of you know who.

    What an utter revolting disregard and a complete contempt this piece shows towards our politicians and fellow citizens, especially our young, educated here pursuing a career in politics in Scotland.
    You say SNP are the best of a bad lot, our politicians bereft of the intellect and abilities only to be found plying their trade in the pantomime set of the House of commons.
    Any Scottish politician worth their salt has to have served some time in Westminster to be rated and/or qualified? the school of sleaze, home of spin, corruption (expenses), all that plus an antiquated house of lords! Aye right.
    What is it, not enough privately educated politicians at Holyrood? Maybe they require elocution lessons? They can’t be fit to govern speaking with that common Scottish accent surely? Or just too thick? Historically and in recent times how on earth did any newly formed nation and it’s government not disappear without trace what with their inexperience of independence?
    Attending Eton, Harrow, Oxford or Cambridge may provide a wonderfully enriching if priveleged education, does it also equip future politicians with an empathetic grasp or proper insight of what everyday working class citizens require to flourish in Scotland?
    I have, albeit very infrequently, watched so called debates live in the House of commons on TV and can quite honestly say the content and its delivery of debate from Holyrood is much more apt not to mention relevant, more often than not informative and constructive. When was the last time we witnessed such an incredible, brave refined and grown up debate from any of the Westminster parties such as the recent SNP’s one on NATO? In its entirity it was a debate any democratic society should have been proud to say was a product of their government regardless of whether they agreed or disagreed with the outcome.
    Newsroom’s piece is precisely the sort of cancerous negativity designed to chip chip chip away at the psyche of us all, not unlike the psychological abuse a battered and downtrodden wife or domineered husband endures, devoid of self worth and confidence. This to instill and reinforce an unfortunate but eventual acceptance that we as a people are some sort of sub-species, sadly deficient, deficient in what is required to do what every other independent country mysteriously manages without the eternal mentoring from larger neighbours.

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  5. How can you have a a party who are looking for independence in an new independent country.
    If the Scottish electorate are daft enough to vote for independence then we will be governed in Scotland by Labour for ever more.

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    • Perhaps that is why the Labour Party are so much against Independence. The thought of having to do something constructive and positive scares the spit out of them, not to mention the fact that there is hardly a scrap of talent in Scottish Labour.

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    • Does this mean Andy that you think the Tory coalition London centric party has been doing well, and Scottish Labour are stowed out with talented people who never make mistakes!!

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      • Does this mean, Morven, that you have considered all the long term consequences of SNP policies and independence? I would rather be ‘in it together’ i.e. the proverbial economic stooshie, with the rest of the UK, rather than depend on a bunch of inexperienced people who can’t even see that providing free prescriptions will contribute to widening the rich – poor divide and possibly deny others of access to essential medication i.e. cancer drugs.

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        • Yes Lowry I have considered the long term consequences of the Yes vote and fancy my chances of surviving and thriving in an independent Scotland that has values and principles of fairness for Scottish residents at its centre. And will get rid of Trident from our shores. Agree entirely that good medical treatment and education are vital, but there is a bigger picture to be considered, and the latest UK nuclear sub costing over one billion pounds could be put to better use!

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          • And who will you expect to protect the country should it be attacked by war?

            ‘Principles of fairness’ – with the misleading comments already given to the people of Scotland by the SNP I fear the opposite will be the case. The free prescriptions policy is not fair.

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          • Lowry: in the highly unlikely event that Scotland was attacked (and by whom exactly?) it would be defended by the Scottish Defence Force using conventional weapons, supported by our allies in NATO. Trident can only be used offensively so once war has broken out it is completely useless.

            With regard to “free” prescriptions. These are not free: it is just that they are a universal benefit/service. They are paid for out of taxation. Several economic studies have shown that means testing prescriptions would actually cost more to administer than would be raised in revenue so it is a bit of a no brainer to maintain them as universal benefits (or it should be except for those ideologically opposed to welfare systems).

            There is a whole host of public services that are universal: NHS, police, fire brigade, schools to name the more prominent. Is it fair that “rich” people get access to to these services for “free”? Of course it is since people with money pay more taxes (or at least they should pay more taxes but that’s another story). Your logic would have all public services means tested – or maybe you think that’s a good idea?

            Having universal services is in fact a hugely efficient method of supplying services and helps bond society as everyone sees benefits in return for their contributions.

            What, of course, is causing all this brouhaha is not the supposedly unaffordable nature of prescriptions (they are small beer) but the fact that Scotland has chosen to spend its baw bees differently from England and this is causing resentment south of the border by people who interpret this as the Scots getting something for nothing. It could be called the politics of envy.

            I am constantly amazed by the paucity of thinking from politicians from the main stream unionist parties. Yes, demographics mean that we are faced with an increasing welfare burden as our population ages but to suggest the sole way to tackle this is to charge people for services is just stupid. Faced with cash shortages a household can do two things: cut back on expenditure or make more money. The dunderheids in Westminster look only to the first with their austerity programme (which actually increases government expenditure while decreasing income – brilliant!). What we really need is to stimulate the economy to create jobs, increase tax revenues and decrease welfare payments by putting people back into work. Faced with the realities of the 21st century economy, we need to work harder and smarter so we can afford the things that make a society. Westminster has signalled that it is only prepared to countenance more of the same failed economic policies that are clearly not working, giving us one of the poorest performing economies in the Western world. There is only so long that they can go on blaming the Eurozone crisis for the appalling performance of the UK economy.

            This is why I feel that we need independence to allow the Scots to fight free from this neo-liberalist madness that has taken hold in England and threatens to make the UK one of the poorest and most socially divisive parts of Europe.

            Come 2014 I suspect that a great number of Scots will be taking the same view. Hopefully, there will be enough of to secure the Yes vote and deliver up for Scotland at least the hope of better times.

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    • It is nothing of the sort. It is, in my view, directly from the pen of a politician trying to ‘sell’ SNP policies via For Argyll. Yet more attack on Westminster and with a very clear lack of understanding the consequences of SNP policies. The author quite obviously did not understand my posting for I do not recall even suggesting that all public services should be means tested. This tactic of trying to exaggerate and belittle the views of individuals with whom they do not agree is regrettable.

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    • Oh, I get it. The SNP are giving free prescriptions to those who could already afford them in the hope that they will spend it to help boost the economy. It appears that the result of the SNP policy suggests for those who were already in receipt of benefit, or over a certain age, and getting them free anyway it has made no difference – and anyway they’re poor or elderly so why worry about them? Their financial contributions to the economy is insignificant.
      It seems to me that the policy to give more money to the rich (not forgetting they are also likely to be the healthiest), underpinned by an increase in government spending on prescriptions (let’s face it, most were subsidised anyway) is a vote chaser and does nothing to help improve the health, wellbeing or finances of the poor.

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      • Fletcher has already explained that universal benefits are not free in any sense. They are paid for out of taxation. In a fair taxation system the wealthy pay more, but they receive the same universal benefits from society as others who pay less.

        How is this ‘giving money to the rich’?

        Should we means test access to primary schools and hospitals next? These certainly cost us a lot more than free prescriptions and bus passes.

        Am fear nach eisd ris n’as olc leis, cha’n fhaic e n’as ait leis

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      • Lowry: I’ve read your comment several times and I still don’t understand the point you are trying to make.

        Firstly, this is not about giving people free prescriptions it is about not charging them (there is a difference). The abolition of charges brought Scotland into line with Wales and Northern Ireland who similarly do not charge for prescriptions. The removal of charges was in the 2007 SNP manifesto and was backed by ALL of the parties in Holyrood at the time except the Tories.

        It is England that is the exception not Scotland. I would support removal of prescription charges in England, a policy supported by health charities such as BHF, Asthma UK and others and by the BMA:

        “Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association Council, said: ‘The Government should not be increasing prescription charges; it should be following the lead set by the three other nations in the UK and making plans to abolish them.
        ‘The bureaucracy needed to administer prescription charges is cumbersome, many of the exemptions are confusing and unfair.
        ‘Patients with disabling long-term conditions still have to pay them despite a recent report recommending they be phased out.
        ‘Most importantly, the principle of charging for prescriptions runs counter to the founding principle of an NHS that is free at the point of use.’”. (source Daily Mail)

        This was my point in the earlier post that you either didn’t understand or deliberately misconstrued: we have a NHS that provides a universal service. If you suffer an illness that requires hospitalisation you will be treated free of charge by excellent surgeons, medics and nursing staff. This is regardless of your income, condition or age. Why then should we have a system where primary care is free to all but some people have to pay for their medicines to be prescribed? If we accept the principle of medical care free at the point of need then surely that applies also to medicines themselves?

        Medical care is costing more each year and this is an area of great concern globally. However, the answer is to ensure that direct taxation (on income) is sufficiently high to pay for these services, coupled with measures to ensure the economy is productive and thus has a high income base. Cost control is also important. Tinkering at the margins of the system by introducing charges that only affect a small number of patients is expensive to implement as all patients have to be covered by the bureaucracy but only a few pay. It is simpler and more efficient to either charge all patients for their prescriptions or none of them. People who are fortunate enough to have large incomes pay a larger amount into the system through income tax and NI payments. Why should they pay twice? Just ensure that income tax is set at appropriate rates and discourage evasion.

        This is all down to prioritisation and what we decide we want to spend money on as a society. Holyrood has clearly signalled that it views tackling inequality in society as its priority and this is a theme that we will see increasingly stressed as we near the referendum.

        Prescriptions were free when the NHS was set up in 1948 but charges were introduced a few years after that to help pay for defence expenditure. Says all you want to know about UK priorities really.

        Some other quotes:

        “The World Health Organisation (WHO), the British Medical Association and the Cochrane Collaboration (experts on evidence-based healthcare) have each published reviews making the case against prescription charges. They independently found that introducing charges for medical care including prescriptions reduces the use of necessary care The WHO European Health Observatory published research in the British Medical Journal, which found “charges create financial barriers to access, particularly among poorer people and people with chronic conditions”.

        The research found that while there may be short-term savings through introducing prescription charges, it costs more in the medium and long term. If people stop taking essential medication, they get sick and in turn need other, more expensive treatment. The evidence shows that charging for prescription drugs, even the smallest amount, stops people taking medicines and results in increased admissions to emergency departments, hospitals, mental health services and nursing homes. It particularly adversely affects older people and those with psychiatric conditions.”

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        • Strange that a politician feels the need to hide behind a pseudonym, eh?
          I remain baffled as to how:
          “Holyrood has clearly signalled that it views tackling inequality in society as its priority and this is a theme that we will see increasingly stressed as we near the referendum”

          when it has given me more money and not to those who may need it more.

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        • Fletcher clearly tries to defend the Nats policy of freebies to their multi-millionaire pals. He asks: “Why then should we have a system where primary care is free to all but some people have to pay for their medicines to be prescribed”? Primary care is NOT free. We all pay for it through taxation. The removal of prescription charges just means that we have to pay more tax to cover the cost of the so called “free” prescriptions.

          We should not forget that the maximum amount that anyone had to pay for their prescriptions was £104 per year through the Prescription Prepayment Certificates even if their drugs were costing the tax payer over £100,000 a year. Presumably methadrone is also provided as a freebie to all those who are hooked on it for years?

          As primary care (our local GPs) are private businesses and are not employed by the NHS, it probably suits the Nats to see more money being being directed to private health care via the GPs prescribing budgets. That is why GPs fight tooth and nail to stop pharmacies opening up in their area so that they can retain the massive profits that they make from prescribing.

          If the Scottish Government wanted to do something positive as far as the public and heath is concerned, they should be trying to sort out the primary care service that the public have had to put up with for years.

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  6. I certainly get the point that, in theory at least, the rich pay more in taxes and therefore contribute more to public services. I also value our NHS service which is free to all at the point of use. However, prescription charges have been with us for decades and at a time when the poorest people of Scotland are struggling with their finances, why would the SNP choose to give more money to the wealthy?
    I have calculated that due to this policy, and my relatively good health, I have be given around £50 per year and my partner a good deal more. A quick check of our spending reveals that most of the household finances goes to energy suppliers and Tesco, the rest on online shopping – most of which comes from England. Any surpless money that I have is put into savings/pension fund.

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  7. If the current universal benefits are causing a problem (which I do not personally accept) then the problem lies in the witholding of tax-raising powers from Holyrood. We know how to fix that.

    Means testing brings baggage with it. Many will lose out through not applying due to the social stigma associated with going through such a process. In addition some have suggested the administration cost could be greater than any savings that might result.

    Lastly , if you feel you have been ‘given’ £50 too much then why not give it to the charity or good cause of your choice? You obviously don’t like the SNP’s spending choices, so this is giving you more control over how your money is spent. A ‘win-win’ situation surely?

    Bithidh sonas an lorg na caitheamh

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  8. Gorach, Gorach, Gorach. So it is all the fault of Westminster again! You are like a record stuck in a groove.

    I would like to point out that Holyrood has had tax raising powers since day 1 and that no party has ever used them. Slightly weakens your argument don’t you think.

    As for the gibberish that follows every post, is this an attempt at oneupmanship? Bit of a waste of time I would suggest since most of us have no inclination to learn Gaelic. How about a translation occasionally.

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    • Jim B, The poster “Gorach” is the old “ScotsRenewables” under a different guise, as is “Morven” and “Fletcher”.
      He really is getting boring now.
      As to the Gaelic (which is neither big nor clever), just copy and paste into a Google search, the translation comes up straight away.

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      • Jack, ‘Fletcher’ is not Scots Renewables. He’s an MSP who blogs under this guise because he can’t get his comments approved by the SNP hierarchy.

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      • So Jack – everyone who disagrees with you is the same person. When did you begin to have this strange delusion?

        And yes, it is true – the Gaelic is not big. It can be quite clever though.

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        • No, it’s not clever; it’s easy….

          Am fear nach gheidh na h-airm ‘nam na sìth, Cha bhi iad aige ‘n am a chogaidh.

          By the way, who are you going to use for your Scottish Defence Force?

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          • Another ‘too wee, too pathetic’ jibe eh Jack?

            Scotland will deal with defence the same way any other small independent country deals with it – pragmatically.

            I see that in this so-called ‘time of peace’ Liam Fox’s promise last July that the size of the army in Scotland would double has been been reneged on. The UK government is marching briskly away from its defence commitments to Scotland.

            Labhraidh a bheul, ach se’n gniomh a dhearbhas.

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      • Jack, I’m a retired, former Labour party member, who is grateful for my free prescriptions – does this make me an ‘Old Scots Renewable’?!!

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  9. Well, whoever ‘Fletcher’ is, s/he seems unable to understand how the SNP policy on free prescriptions hasn’t made a jot of difference to the health or wealth of those on benefits or the elderly, but has contributed towards extra savings per annum for me; someone who could afford to pay for prescriptions.

    Is there any evidence to suggest that this policy has improved the health of the people of Scotland? Surely, if more people take medication, as is suggested, more people may need to be treated for their side effects and therefore more medication may be required. Could it also be that the policy helps towards the profits of the pharmaceutical companies? I believe that all the consequences need to be fully explored and exposed.

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    • Lowry: I’m pleased for you that your family circumstances are such that you feel you could afford to pay prescription charges. However, it is a fallacy that you are being “given” money: you are just not being charged for a medical service just as you are not charged for a whole slate of universal services. I think you are sadly deluded if you believe that charging for prescriptions would mean that “needy” people will be better off. A large number of “needy” people (the elderly, the young, the unemployed) already did not pay prescription charges. Charging “rich” people for their prescriptions makes absolutely no difference to the “needy”. However, the simple fact is that it is not just the “rich” who were being hit by prescription charges. People in work but in relatively low paid jobs also paid the charges – and still do in England. This is worse if they have a chronic condition (such as asthma) requiring repeated prescriptions. There is plenty of evidence that this leads to poor patient uptake of prescriptions for necessary medicines. Where do we define the boundary between the “needy” and the “rich”?

      Your suggestion that patients are better off by not taking prescribed medicines is simply fatuous and I strongly suggest you don’t follow that route if you are prescribed anti-cancer, antianginal or antibiotic drugs. There are reasons why we are living longer and medicines play a major role in that.

      With regard to drugs companies making profits: it is a common misunderstanding that the prescription charges pay for the drugs. They don’t and the actual cost of the drugs in England can be widely at variance to the prescription charges. Anti-cancer drugs are usually much more expensive than the prescription charge while many antibiotics and analgesics are considerably less expensive.

      There hasn’t been the time yet to assess the impact of removing prescription charges in Scotland but the Welsh parliament did release a short report on their experiences and you can read it here:

      http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dhss/report/100407freeprescriptionsreporten.pdf

      Real benefits are noted, principally in increasing patient compliance with the medication regimes prescribed to them. This is crucially important in conditions such as schizophrenia as well as in heart conditions and the afore mentioned asthma.

      It is difficult to conclude anything other than the fact that prescription charges are a false economy.
      If you feel genuinely aggrieved that you no longer have to pay for prescriptions then I suggest you make a suitable donation to a medical charity anytime you receive one. Or is your interest solely in trying to knock the SNP?

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  10. If the Winter Heating Allowance is to be means tested then money saved should be ring-fenced to put a ceiling on the amount of money someone has to pay to stay in a old folks home or nursing home.
    It should NOT be used to prop up another part of the welfare budget.

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  11. Oh dear, please get a grip and read what I write more thoroughly.
    Firstly, I have never said that charging for prescriptions would make the needy better off. What I have said is that now I don’t have to pay, I am better off. This is a fact and not a delusion.

    Secondly, I did not suggest that people should not take prescribed drugs. What I suggested was that an increase in the taking of more medication could lead to an increase in side effects that may ultimately lead to the requirement for more medication. You also seem to avoid the fact that your government has set HEAT targets to reduce prescribing on some drugs and there are still serious concerns of over prescribing, especially of antibiotics and antidepressants, as well as numerous hospital admissions to treat the side effects of medication.

    Thirdly, I did not say that prescription charges are used to pay for drugs. However, if there is an increase in the demand for drugs it goes without saying that the manufacturers will benefit in some way.

    Lastly, with regard to access to medication for cancer, it seems that despite the SNP policy on prescription charges, it is still more difficult for the people of Scotland to access some drugs for the treatment of cancer than it is for those in England.

    As for what I do with my ‘bonus’ – I believe that it is none of your business.

    In future I suggest you read what I write with more care and please stop misinterpreting what I write.

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    • Lowry: I’m not interested in playing he said/she said. If I misinterpreted any of your previous points I apologise but you don’t seem to be engaging with the central argument here. Basically, having a system where prescriptions are not charged for is simpler and more cost effective in the long term than a system where some patients pay for prescriptions. That is backed up by a number of international studies. The downsides of not charging for prescriptions that you allude to are at best ephemera and do not constitute valid reasons for opposing a charge-less prescription system.

      It has been suggested that charging for prescriptions reduces frivolous issuing of prescriptions but, as the Welsh report made clear, there is no evidence that this has occurred with the abolition of charges. There is, however, plenty of evidence that charging reduced patient compliance for certain groups including patients with life threatening conditions.

      Your comments about the desire to reduce drug use are true but have little to do with a desire to reduce side effects and a lot to do with trying to slow down the spread of antibiotic resistance.

      Also, there is no evidence that removing charges has led to a significant increase in prescriptions and thus a boost to pharmaceutical companies’ profits.

      Lastly, on cancer treatment, it has been suggested by the Tories that prescription charges should be reintroduced and the revenues raised to pay for a special cancer drug fund such as that used in England. This ignores the fact that prescription charges are not cost effective and so there may be no “real” money to actually distribute. However, it also has to be acknowledged that the effectiveness of the £650 million that the Coalition Government has used to fund the cancer drug fund is unproven. The whole scheme is due to be reviewed in 2014 and will probably be wound up. Medical opinion is very divided over this approach as it is effectively removing resources from other, equally serious disease, areas to prioritise it on cancer sufferers and also to give resources to drugs that have not been approved for use by the NHS. It is not an area where there are easy answers but cancer patients are not being well served by people trying to score political points over this.

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      • Thank you, at least, for not denying that whilst I am financially better off as a result of the SNP prescriptions charging policy, the elderly and those on benefits – probably the poorest amongst us – are not. It is obvious that we do not agree on the policy itself, introduced during a time of severe financial hardship.

        As a final point, I find it disappointing that a local politician feels unable to use his own name on a blog site when trying to defend his own party’s policy. Why would he not wish to be identified?

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        • Lowry: It should have bee fairly obvious that people who already were exempt from prescription charges would not directly benefit from scrapping charges. However, it would also be disingenuous to suggest that everyone else who previously did pay the charges are rich. While you are presumably content to pay the charges there were plenty of other people who were eligible to pay and for whom this was a hardship – especially in these straitened times. Scrapping the charges helped these people too.

          Although it is natural to focus the attention on the financial aspects of prescription policy this is, however to somewhat miss the main point. Prescription charges led to some patients forgoing medication which leads to further medical problems which harm the patient and leads to higher costs further down the line for the NHS in trying to deal with the resulting illness that would have been prevented had the patients taken their medicine. The main thrust of the policy is therefore to improve the health of the population. It will take some time to have enough data to support this conclusion but it is a relatively inexpensive measure with a low fiscal impact but the possibility of a significant improvement in health. A similar argument can be made for eye checks.

          We do live in straightened times and we do, as a society, need to make choices as to where we spend our money. Personally I will take an extension of universal medical services over the renewal of a completely useless weapon system like Trident any day of the week.

          On your other point you obviously think you know who I am so why not tell us your guess?

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          • “The main thrust of the policy is therefore to improve the health of the population. It will take some time to have enough data to support this conclusion but it is a relatively inexpensive measure with a low fiscal impact…”

            Frankly, I believe you to be an SNP politician who is desperate to be elected at the next election. You are also a politician who is afraid of using your own name on a public forum when discussing SNP policies. Disappointing all round, in my opinion.

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          • Sorry to disappoint you Lowry but I’m not a politician or even a member of the SNP and I have no intention of standing for Parliament (or ABC) anytime soon.

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          • Crikey! Well, if I’m wrong, perhaps you should reconsider your situation in life and become an SNP policitican. You seem to fit the bill (of ones that I know anyway)so well.

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        • >>>”Why would he not wish to be identified?”<<<

          Its quite obvious to quite a few of us here actually.

          "Fletcher of Saltoun" is the latest username for "scotsrenewables" who went off in a huff last month vowing never to blog here again but just can't resist it.

          His first reincarnation was the equally strange "purplebadger" but some of us sussed that straight away. He has also used the name "webcraft" in the past.

          Wierd !

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  12. ‘Fletcher of Saltoun’ is an interesting choice of pseudonym. If Wikipedia can be believed, then Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (AF) was an early supporter of the Darien expedition ‘a financial disaster at the worst possible time for a country which had suffered repeated bad harvests and he continued to defend the Darién scheme against those – including agents of the English – who painted it as an act of folly’. Still AF was a ‘leading opponent of the 1707 Act of Union between Scotland and England’. This CV seems to fit the postings of our very own Fletcher of Saltoun.
    But what does Fletcher of Saltoun mean when (s)he says ‘Come 2014 I suspect that a great number of Scots will be taking the same view’? Does this mean that non-Scots living in Scotland are of no consequence? Or is this the start of a subtle form of racial discrimination? Either way, Fletcher of Saltoun should be more careful with his/her choice of words.

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    • The Scottish History Society states that “Fletcher was an opponent of the incorporating union that eventually did take place, but a supporter of a different, looser kind of union between Scotland and England”. It certainly looks like he would have supported devolution and not separation / independence!!

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    • I’m glad that people are taking an interest in finding out about Andrew Fletcher – he is sadly rather neglected in Scotland’s pantheon of great people. A discussion on the Darien venture would be a bit off topic so I’ll pass on that .

      Regarding my use of “Scots”, I was using it as a geographical rather than a racial or cultural reference. Thus “Scots” in this context are those people living in Scotland and who will have a vote in the referendum. This obviously includes a lot of Irish, Pakistani, Polish, Indian, Somali and indeed English Scots all of whom matter as much as Scottish Scots. It just gets a bit clumsy if you have to spell out each time exactly who mean by “Scots”. Happy to have suggestions for alternatives.

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        • In some countries they’d be called ‘citizens’ but I read somewhere that this term is of limited use here in Britain because we’re notorious for lacking a written constitution that clearly defines the legal status of people calling this country home. Someone can correct me if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

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      • Unfortunately none of us had a choice as to what country we wanted to be born in. Most of us living in Scotland were born here whether we like it or not. Obviously thousands of folk who were born in Scotland over the years did not like it as they decided to leave Scotland and settle in another country of their choice. Many more probably do not like living in Scotland but do not have the courage to move to another part of the world.
        At least those who have come here from England and other parts of the world did so by choice so it could be argued that they selected Scotland as the country that they wanted to live in where as most of us had Scotland dumped on us as we were born here.
        If we had no ties to any country in the world and were given the choice as to which country we would wish to be born in, most of us would not have chosen Scotland. Given what some of the Nats say, it looks like many of them would have chosen Norway as their country of birth. To be honest, France, Germany or England would probably have been my choice.

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  13. It is quite simple, rather then using your upsetting and ill-defined racial terminology why not use the term ‘The Scottish Electorate’.

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    • Is being called “Scots” upsetting?

      Doesn’t your suggestion of “Scottish electorate” also carry with an equal possibility of confusion as it could be interpreted as the electorate who are Scottish? We could just call them voters or simply people. I certainly don’t like residents but citizens is equally misleading.

      However, for the absence of doubt, when I say “Scots” I am meaning people who live in Scotland regardless of their ethnic origins. There are plenty of good Scots names such as Fleming, Wallace (along with Welsh and Walsh), Bruce, Murray and Morton that allude to our rather diverse origins along with more modern Scots names such as Cohen, Singh and Nowack. We are all Jock Tamson’s bairns.

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      • I imagine the Scots who now live in England would feel mortally wounded if they were referred to as ‘Scots English’. So please, no more ‘English Scots’ ( or any other mongrel combination).

        Personally, I regard myself as a British subject.

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        • I have always thought that being Scots is not a matter of ethnicity or even culture but of mind. You are Scots if you think you are Scots. It is of course possible to think you are Scots while also thinking you have another identities.

          It has to be said that the English (or should that be UK) Press always refer to the people in Scotland as the Scots with no differentiation to cover the different ethnic and even racial origins of the people who currently live in Scotland (when they are not calling us whinging, subsidy junkies that is).

          Of course, there are also lots of Scots who live outwith Scotland. I suppose we could call them diasporal Scots – a word I have just made up! – to differentiate them from the people who currently live in Scotland. But then what do we call the people who live in Scotland but don’t consider themselves Scots? Then we have people like Tony Blair who is ethnically a Scot but thought of himself genuinely as English.

          You can see how this all becomes a bit confusing and why we should not get too hung up about titles or indeed make assumptions about what someone means when they call people Scots.

          One last point: people in England and by extension Wales and Northern Ireland are indeed subjects of the Crown. Sovereignty, however, lies with the Scottish people, a principle first expressed in the Declaration of Arbroath 1320, restated in the Claim of Right of 1689 and re-affirmed as recently in 1989. This is one of the fundamental differences between the Scots and the other nations of the UK. In Scotland we are indeed citizens, not subjects, and proud of that title.

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          • To a certain extent you can label yourself as you choose, however, you need to take care that you are not being offensive or racist when you label others. Labelling people as ‘Scots’ may cause great distress and offence to some people.

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          • Brodie: my point is that it is difficult to come up with labels that are entirely neutral but we should not be over sensitive (I always just roll my eyes a bit when continental colleagues describe me as being from England).

            I must confess, however, that this is the first time I’ve ever come across anyone suggesting that labelling someone as Scots would be considered either offensive or indeed racist. Most people would find it a compliment!

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  14. It has been suggested that in the event of a ‘NO’ vote, the SNP will implode on itself if Salmond gives up the leadership. I disagree – Salmond is a dictator – he’s all ‘I’m the leader and you’ll all agree with me or else’.
    The SNP could come out of a ‘NO’ vote; dust itself off; learn by its mistakes and carry on….as a much more democratic party – without him!

    BUT … in the event of a ‘YES’ vote, Salmond could find himself emulating Captain Bligh….cast adrift by the MSPs who are tired of his bullying and want no more of it. There may be a vote of ‘no confidence’ – Salmond could be out.
    But it’s possible that the SNP could very well destroy itself in either case.

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  15. Very well put, Irena. I believe that, either way, the SNP will disappear as people realise they are more conservative than the Tories. It is clear that they want to centralise everything, overturn local decisions and dictate how we should all behave. Democratic they are not.

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  16. I am reminded of part of the title “Silly story that SNP might disband…..”

    Referring to Alex. Salmond in various derogatory ways may impress your friends, but the trajectory of polls show a rather different picture.
    In any case, the UK gov. are finding increasing ways to tell Scotland that they really don,t mind if we go! After all, did not a recent poll suggest that if there was a Tory gov. then Scots(people of Scotland) would vote YES? Em. how DID that Edinburgh Agreement get signed so easily and quickly?

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  17. “Ministers to rethink health gap strategy” Scotland on Sunday today.

    “The latest figures have shown that Scotland now has a health gap wider than anywhere else in Europe with the poorest people in the country dying 20 years before the country’s richest”

    So, how exactly has giving me free prescriptions made any difference to the poor or the health of the nation? Instead of giving money away to those who have enough – in what I believe is more of an attempt to attract votes – I suggest that the SNP looks a lot more seriously at proper job creation.

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  18. Apologies – I’m not good on providing links. However, I meant the article on page 2 by Eddie Barnes and not the one by Michael Matheson – he would try to put a political positive spin on it, wouldn’t he?

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