Privatisation: Scottish Government binned its own ferry company in favour of Serco

The political opportunism of the Scottish Government’s sudden championing of nationalisation is best shown by examining its own practice.

Under persistent questioning in a recent interview with Bernard Ponsonby, the First Minster eventually revealed that the Scottish Government has spent ‘about £10 Billion on private sector contracts for NHS Scotland, which is wholly under its statutory control.

But before that, in the late spring of 2012, the Scottish government announced that it had awarded the contract for the Northern Isles ferry services to Serco, a giant international private sector company specialising in ‘outsourcing’.

The implementation of the contract award was delayed by legal action until July of that year but the Scottish government still faces related legal challenges on the matter.

This was a privatisation of designated lifeline ferry services to Scotland’s most remote islands in the far north.

Awarding the contract to Serco was at the expense of the Scottish governments state owned – nationalised – NorthLink Ferries, part of the state owned shipping services group, David MacBrayne Limited.

NorthLink Ferries became no more than an empty file gathering dust while Serco took the routes and the name – a ready-branded gift from the Scottish government.

The ‘best value’ award of the contract was quickly seen for what it was, a cost cutting exercise licensed by the government. When the MV Hamnavoe broke a crank shaft to her starboard engine on 26th April 2013, eight months into Serco’s service – and was out of service for almost a month, with no replacement vessel provided.

The contract awarded required the winning bidder to provide replacement vessels in the event of major breakdown. The Scottish Government laid no requirement upon Serco to fulfil this obligation.

Instead he government and paid a subsidy to the private sector ferry service, Pentland Ferries, to run additional services in its regular route between Gill’s Bay in Caithness and St Margeret’s Hope in South Ronaldsay in Orkney.

This solution saw the west side of Orkney disadvantaged since the Hamnavoe sailed into Stromness on the northwest of Scapa Flow, where the Pentland Ferries route is into the southeast of this magnificent natural harbour.

Serco NorthLink, as the Serco subsidiary operating the contract was named, also changed both the fare levels and the fare structures, disadvantaging traditional travel of youth and special interest groups in making visits to the Scottish mainland.

There are arguments for privation and for nationalisation and there is an argument about the reform of the restrictive practices imposed by Trades Unions on nationalised services – an argument never openly aired.

But the issue here is that of a government hypocritically making political capital out of the emotive issue of privatisation where, in its own evidenced practice,  it has been an energetic promoter of privatising core services.

Serco has been shamed by exposure and a consequent formal  investigation over 2013-14 by the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office for defrauding the government in another public service contract where it was shown to have been making claims for having tagged prisoners who were dead, had already served their sentences – and other equally indefensible but profitable ‘errors’.

For this conduct, Serco was banned for a period from competing for state contracts. That ban is now lifted and the buccaneering privateer is back in action.

It has just benefited from yet another Scottish public sector contract.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway has recently appointed the High Wood Health consortium as the preferred bidder for its new £200 Million district general hospital.

This consortium, led by Laing O’Rourke, includes Serco as the provider of estate management services.

Serco, as a provider of services to the NHS in England, was proven, in September 2012, by The Guardian newspaper to have submitted falsified date no fewer than 252 times, making it appear that it was delivering on its contract to provide out of hours doctor service to NHS Cornwall Primary Care Trust. The reality was that it was doing no such thing and that the safety resulting from the level of out of hours coverage provided could not guaranteed.

Following the announcement of the Serious Fraud Office investigation on 4th November 2013 and Serco’s ban on competing for government contracts during that investigation, the company’s share price took a steep plummet, its CEO fell on his sword and was replaced by an aristocratic trusty, Rupert Soames, with a reassuring track record and a determination to turn around the fortunes and the perception of this pragmatic profit-taker.

A test of the Scottish Government’s new found fondness for nationalisation will come soon enough with the tender negotiations to start later this year for the major contract to provide Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services, all of them ‘lifeline’ category services.

These – a highly complex interwoven cluster of services – are currently provided by the experienced state-owned Calmac, the biggest of the state owned David MacBrayne Limited group of companies. Serco will be a bidder.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Lets not forget that in the summer of 2012 the SNP government had plans to privatise Cal-Mac ferries as well.

    Salmond’s political ideologies are not that different from the Tory westminster government that he wants independence from.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 22 Thumb down 8

    Oban4me September 15, 2014 1:20 pm Reply
    • Oban4me, Salmond is just another Tartan Tory. Remember it was him and his SNP cronies that brought Margaret Thatcher to power. No point in blaming the Tories and Thatcher for all our ills when Salmond is the one to blame.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

      Sceptic1 September 15, 2014 6:43 pm Reply
  • Another example of SNP duplicity!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 7

    AlexM September 15, 2014 3:35 pm Reply
    • If it were true. The editor claims that, since 2012 the Scottish Government has spent 10 billion on private NHS contracts. The NHS budget in Scotland in 2012 was less than 12 billion.

      So if this is true, For Argyll are revealing that almost half of the NHS in Scotland has been privatised inside two years without anyone noticing.

      That would truly be astonishing. If it were true. Which it is not.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      russell September 16, 2014 10:01 pm Reply
    • I suppose we should put the kibosh on the Serco nonsense too. That contract was awarded in line with European tendering rules.

      Is the editor seriously arguing that the Scottish Government should, in contravention of European law, have denied Serco the contract?

      Or is she suggesting that government ministers should have illegally used confidential tendering information to allow CalMac to tender a lower offer?

      Perhaps she can explain just what sort of illegality she’s endorsing in today’s rant?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

      russell September 16, 2014 10:07 pm Reply
  • What I don’t understand is that if health care is provided directly by the NHS or the private health sector, there is still a cost to the taxpayer. But all private or NHS treatment is free at the point of use by the patient.

    The only thing that could affect the Scottish budget allocation is if the private health sector is cheaper.

    The only moves for charging patients is coming for the doctors who want to charge fat, drunk, or smoking patients.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

    Peter Wade September 15, 2014 4:05 pm Reply
    • The expressed desire to ‘protect’ the NHS has less to do with healthcare rather than preservation of the staff “gravy train”.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

      AlexM September 15, 2014 5:17 pm Reply
      • Isn’t that the main function of the NHS? There was a lot of truth in the classic Yes Minister programme.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

        Lundavra September 15, 2014 8:19 pm Reply
  • A parting shot…while its quiet on here…

    Just a reminder of some of the things that are good about the Union.

    1 Being in a strong currency union.

    2 Low interest rates.

    3 Being part of a large, influential EU member state with a large rebate of part of its annual contribution to the EU, opt outs from VAT on food, children’s clothing and books, an opt out from the Schengen agreement and the freedom to continue providing free university tuition for Scottish students as happens now.

    4 Keeping the Barnett formula which provides approximately 10% extra public expenditure per person in Scotland.

    5 Being part of a large economy where wealth can be redistributed through the tax system and which shields us from fluctuating oil revenues.

    6 Having subsidies for our wind farms, which are one third of the UKs total, being shared across a population of 60 million, instead of 5 million in Scotland.( yep could do without this…and its probably the only good point in voting yes 🙂 )

    7 Retaining the arrangement under EU rules which allow cross border pension schemes to have ten years to become fully funded, instead of having to achieve this as soon as Scotland becomes independent.

    8 Private and company pension schemes able to keep costs down through sharing a single pensions regulator, funded by the industry, for the whole UK.

    9 Retaining jobs in shipyards which build UK warships and in the financial sector for which the rUK is, for some companies, as much as 90% of their market.

    10 Businesses have only one set of regulations and one tax system across the UK.

    11 Businesses free from currency transaction costs within the UK.

    12 Savers covered by the Bank of England guarantee to protect savings of up to 85,000 pounds.

    13 Scottish banks underpinned by the Bank of England which in turn is underpinned by taxpayers across the UK.

    14 Supermarkets selling products in Scotland at UK and not foreign country prices.

    15 An open border between Scotland and the other countries in the Union is guaranteed.

    16 We will benefit from retaining the BBC.

    17 Continuing to share the UKs large network of 267 embassies and consulates around the world, compared to 70 to 90 “international offices” planned in the white paper at a cost of £90 to £120 million.

    18 Scots, young and old, will have uninhibited access to the UK labour market, for example the same currency and tax system, national insurance contributions counting towards the same state pension (less than six years of contributions, the minimum needed to qualify for the UK state pension, will not be wasted if people return to Scotland to continue working), there will be no need to change car registration plates after six months and there is the open border.

    19 We will benefit from universal postal charges across the UK.

    20 A carriage on the train to fedralism

    21 Last but not least, families with members across the UK and those of us with friends across the UK will continue to feel joined together, and the social union which has helped to make the Union a success for over 300 years will be maintained.

    Written by one of the silent majority(not me except for the bit about windmills)…good luck at the polls…enjoy the peace and security of the booth…and remember to keep the cat in on Friday because there is going to be fireworks…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 8

    Karl Hughes September 15, 2014 4:37 pm Reply
    • Not sure about the BBC, but everything else is spot on.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

      AlexM September 15, 2014 5:13 pm Reply
      • I’m sure about the BBC – it’s not perfect, and it regularly gets a kicking (justifiably or not) but it’s a tremendous asset.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

        Robert Wakeham September 15, 2014 5:28 pm Reply
    • ’17 Continuing to share the UKs large network of 267 embassies and consulates around the world, compared to 70 to 90 “international offices” planned in the white paper at a cost of £90 to £120 million’

      Doesn’t Wee Eck need all those embassies to reward his cronies with well paid jobs with lots of perks. The Weirs for the Washington Embassy?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

      Lundavra September 15, 2014 8:23 pm Reply
  • It seems to me that this article is another forlorn attempt to persuade voters. Maybe after Thursday we could currrent news as on the day.
    Thanks

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 14

    anglophile September 15, 2014 5:03 pm Reply
    • its all factual anglophile…but you should know that anyhow… C ya x

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

      Karl Hughes September 15, 2014 5:11 pm Reply
      • Mustn’t let facts get in the way of some unhealthy prejudice.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

        Robert Wakeham September 15, 2014 5:30 pm Reply
    • For anglophile: The manner of the award of this contract remains a live issue. To the best of our knowledge there is ongoing legal action.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      newsroom September 16, 2014 3:31 pm Reply
      • To the best of our knowledge

        Yes or No !

        Maybes Aye or Maybes Naw

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

        No Cheese Here September 16, 2014 4:45 pm Reply
  • Karl – I copied your post above to some friends – one of them is in the travel business – second generation family business – his add :-

    Roaming charges when you use your mobile south of the border.
    International dialling codes and charges
    A new DVLA for Scotland with new number plates and new driving licences
    A new Ministry of Transport to control MOTs,emissions and vehicle regulations
    New TV licensing system.
    Etc.etc !
    And lets not forget that these Nats are quite socialist in their views and have already mooted a wealth tax of 1% or 2% on wealth over £2M plus a top rate of tax of 50%. You want to drive every entrepreneur away like the French have done then vote yes. Remember that our 135 overseas offices,embassies in any other name, will be staffed with Scots who need apartments and houses to live in and who will have kids to go to school in Washington, Sydney or Delhi or to boarding school back here all paid by the state. And every Scottish member of staff will have free travel home two or three times a year for them and their families. It’s not just the 135 offices overseas we will have to pay for! Of course we will have 135 Embassies opening in Edinburgh but the only contribution will be rent and rates as they won’t pay tax and won’t pay parking tickets !! And don’t forget the security in our overseas offices as we will have our new SMI5 / SMI6 etc to look after these.
    Eighty five percent of my business comes by phone from South of the border. We couldn’t continue to operate in an overseas country which is what Scotland could become. This morning we were discussing possible solutions in the case of a yes vote.The options all require us to set up a new office and company in England and to migrate the business south over time – that’s 38 jobs and all the tax and other income lost to Scotland.
    I’m scared stiff at the thought of being pushed off a cliff with too small a parachute. No intelligent person would do it.
    OH and I forgot that we will need an ambassador for each of our embassies so stand up Mr Souter and Mrs Gloag ( amongst others) – your country needs you and wants to say thank you.
    PS Why on earth did the Nats buy Prestwick Airport for £1. It lost £12M the year before and they immediately had to put in £10M to keep it afloat. Now four months down the line Rynair,the only airline at the airport, have pulled 60% of their flights. The logic defeats any sane headed business person apart from some early Russians who understood these things

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

    Malcolm Kirk September 15, 2014 6:34 pm Reply
    • Surely Mr Kirk, in a nationalist nirvana we would all expect to have our own private aircraft ? where on earth would we keep them other than at Prestwick.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

      1707 September 15, 2014 6:57 pm Reply
      • My preference would be a helicopter – so straight up – sell the rest to put into Holyrood coffers to help pay for their ridiculous parliament building and extravagant salaries.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

        Malcolm Kirk September 15, 2014 7:22 pm Reply
        • I would not be surprised if they decide they need a new (probably even more ridiculous) parliament building ‘to reflect their new status’. Seems to happen with any new organisation, they all want expensive new headquarters.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

          Lundavra September 15, 2014 8:33 pm Reply
    • ;Roaming charges when you use your mobile south of the border.
      International dialling codes and charges
      A new DVLA for Scotland with new number plates and new driving licences
      A new Ministry of Transport to control MOTs,emissions and vehicle regulations
      New TV licensing system.’

      I suspect that there will not be roaming charges because the networks tend to work across borders. It depends whether the mobile networks think they will be able to increase profits. More of a risk is an increase in charges because the network is more expensive to operate with lots of remote areas. Also it could be affected by regulatory interference and taxes which put up charges.

      The US, Canada etc all manage to be on one dialling code. There will only be a separate International dialling code if the SNP want it for political reasons.

      Vehicle registration could keep the present splits of letters by area, again the number plates will only change if the SNP want to do it for political reasons. The obvious thing would be to pay the DVLA to continue handling registrations but I suspect it might be contracted out to someone like SERCO to do.

      Ministry of Transport, VOSA just some of many new organisations that will need to be set up in a very short time at a very high cost.

      TV Licence – who knows? I can imagine the Salmond Broadcasting Service being more expensive than the BBC so the licence will probably increase.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

      Lundavra September 15, 2014 8:31 pm Reply
      • I saw earlier than estimate that the TV Licence would have to roughly double to give the same level and range of service to the BBC with the revenue from a smaller population.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

        Lundavra September 15, 2014 11:36 pm Reply
        • What if I am a sky subscriber and bbc is on it?

          In ROI no extra cost.
          Another fib.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

          No Cheese Here September 16, 2014 4:46 pm Reply
          • So can we take it, NCH, that the Scottish government actually plans to abandon a national broadcasting service in the event of partition, and leave people to their own devices?
            It would certainly ‘take out’ a potentially troublesome source of factual information – ‘every little helps’ NCH, doesn’t it?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

            Robert Wakeham September 16, 2014 4:56 pm
      • UK public services must be rubbing their hands at the prospect of lucrative export contracts that could be provided to Scotland. Its doubtful they’ll be subsidised by the rest of the UK, so all cost-plus contracts.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

        Jerry McIver September 16, 2014 7:20 am Reply
  • I have just witnessed, listened and absorbed the British Prime Ministers impassioned plea to Scotland, not split to the British family, and go our own way. The oratory and heart felt passion had echo’s of the jean Chretien’s Quebec referendum emotional plea for unity. At face value it was a genuine call from a man, a patriot of the United Kingdom for unity, unity for all the right reasons. The late timing of this speech, the 11th hour one might say is hardly satisfactory, this thought is now gone. As a true patriot his speech was exemplary, eloquent, direct and to the point, not a hint of intimidation, bitterness or hidden agenda. I have not seen a statesman present such a speech in many, many, years, his words will echo in the ears of all who care to listen, many will carry his honesty with them into the polling booth. There will not be Independence, there will be unity, I have no doubt of this now.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 6

    1707 September 15, 2014 6:37 pm Reply
    • Afraid he has missed the bus, too little too late, if he had not gambled on a two way referendum but instead given us the third Devo Max option on the ballot paper
      things might have been different, if it is a Yes on Friday his tea is out and Boris takes over the reins, rUK will have Boris and Nigel in charge and be out of the EU in the blink of an eyelid

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

      John in kintyre September 15, 2014 7:43 pm Reply
      • I disagree. With a third option the No vote would have been split and the Yes would simply walk in. A referendum is Yes / No – nothing else.

        If we vote No we can then decide the future.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

        Lowry September 15, 2014 8:49 pm Reply
        • When the Edinburgh Agreement was signed David thought with a 70% against independence and 30% for he would take a gamble and am afraid his gamble has split the Union, when one looks back on Friday what ever the result its a win win for Alex, also Labour have been dismal in the campaign, getting into bed with the tories, even Gordon Brown will not share a platform with them they, the tories, are that toxic, not getting their heartland voters to register and leaving that to the Yes’ers to get a voter’s role in Scotland that is unprecedented.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

          John in kintyre September 15, 2014 9:06 pm Reply
          • It’s not that the Conservatives are ‘toxic’, Gordon Brown has always been very partisan. Remember how he made some very vindictive changes almost as he closed the door of 10 Downing Street behind him.

            Gordon Brown does not seem to get on with anyone, he was at war with Tony Bliar when Chancellor then with his Cabinet when Prime Minister. There were numerous reports of his bad temper and throwing things at people. He was known in some circles as the Prime Mentalist.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

            Lundavra September 15, 2014 11:42 pm
        • How could the SNp have allowed DevoMax on the ballot paper? It was not in their manifesto.

          The reason it is not there is thanks to Alex Salmond.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

          Jamie Black September 15, 2014 9:12 pm Reply
          • Sorry Jamie your wrong, watched panorama with Alan Little, Davie boy vetoed it, and why not with a 70% against Independence, even Richard would have had a punt on those odds

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

            John in kintyre September 15, 2014 9:17 pm
          • I think it may have been Andrew Neil or Michael Portillo the other night, certainly not someone from the Yes campaign, who said that in the run up to the Edinburgh Agreement Cameron insisted that the possibility of having a devomax question was “the one single red line item”, absolutely not for negotiation.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

            Chuck September 15, 2014 10:02 pm
          • The Unionist still can not get it that it is the Young of Scotland that will decide our future and their own futures who have never voted before, not a few disgruntled grumpy old men and venture capitalists
            who are past their sell by date

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

            John in kintyre September 15, 2014 10:10 pm
        • I take the point here on splitting the vote, Lowry.
          Having been horrified at the bitter divisiveness of this campaign – which has, on the evidence, almost entirely been coming from the nationalist side, I have wondered why a binary choice, which could only polarise, was the decision.
          I have also wondered why it was deemed satisfactory for a country’s constitutional identity to be permanently changed on the strength, potentially, of one vote in a first past the post system.
          We have checked the text of the full Edinburgh Agreement; and the text of the section of law which governs this referendum – and neither document mentions anything about the threshold to win.
          Further enquiries look as if this issue was simply not raised, but covered under a general rubric for referenda which was not scrutinised for its appropriateness to this specific case.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          newsroom September 16, 2014 3:22 pm Reply
          • Before the Edinburgh Agreement was signed, Alex made it known he was sympathetic for inclusion of a Devo-Max question on the ballot paper, fact.
            Dave looked at the opinion polls showing a 70% against and 30% for independence, he went for all or nothing, bearing in mind the odds were stacked against independence, Fact..
            We can only guess but “splitting the vote” did not come into the equation when Dave made his “red line” decision.
            Now here is the conundrum, did Alex outflank Dave by deliberately mentioning Devo-Max beforehand to get Dave make it a red line issue with a 2 question only ballot paper? Did Alex play Dave like a brown trout on a fly?
            This is all conjecture, Friday will tell who is the better poker player.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

            John in kintyre September 16, 2014 4:34 pm
  • Serco might not be up to much but by law the contract had to go to open tender and they won. I can’t say I’m happy about that but unless Calmac were instructed by the government to submit a losing bid there’s not much more to say about it. I imagine meddling by politicians and civil servants to that extent and to the benefit of a private company would be literally criminal and highly unlikely so I really can’t see what it is they’re being accused of here.

    As for the 10 billion reported here to be spent on private contracts by the Scottish NHS, I’d be interested to see a break down of that. I mean, we don’t expect them to build their own ambulances, make their own drugs, and so on, and the NHS don’t actually employ brickies to build hospitals.

    The real upcoming threat to the NHS in England is the negotiations over TTIP, something I have only become aware of because of the referendum campaign. If England’s NHS is privatised, Scotland’s block grant will be cut in direct proportion as I understand things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

    Chuck September 15, 2014 7:32 pm Reply
    • Chuck, TTIP effects Britain, Mr salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have welcomed it, regardless of your take that it only effects England you are 100% wrong unless there is a change to the Yes strategy and Scotland is not part of the EU or is not going to be!
      Perhaps you can tell us or are we to add this to the list of unknowns.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      Rchard September 15, 2014 8:00 pm Reply
    • Aren’t the ambulances leased? I suspect many other capital items are similarly leased from private companies. Bean counters love leasing contracts!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

      Lundavra September 15, 2014 11:44 pm Reply
  • “we are a wealthy nation, we are actually wealthier than the rest of the U.K.anyway……it’s about people understanding that with 59 mp’s in London with only one tory, we’re dictated to by a tory govt. which we didn’t elect and that’s been the same case for decades” Steve James “yes” activist, Dumfries , reporting Scotland this P.M. on his statement on wealth, we attained that “wealthier than them” status without indi. what does he want, and on his 59/1 case that’s the luck that is democracy and it has not always been the result unlike the SNP actions in 79 which they so often choose to forget, and I’ll keep reminding them of, which gave us 18 years of Thatcherism which a lot of SNP voters at the time didn’t vote for in the previous election, once again get real! Isn’t history a great thing?
    I should add that the one tory elected and mentioned in above quoted Steve James’s interview is David Mundell MP for Dumfrieshire,, Clydesdale & Tweedale 2005 & 2010 , so the only tory in London is from Steve’s constituency and he complains that they didn’t get the govt. they voted for, they were the only one’s who did! Do the “yes” camp not screen their expert activists, these are the discrepancies that should encourage the man/woman in the street to listen very carefully to what’s being said , it may seem a bit pedantic, but multiply by thousands of “see you jimmies” all spouting the sme contradictory and misleading guff and it’s a bit more serious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    Sokay September 15, 2014 7:49 pm Reply
    • It is not that long ago that there was a huge area of the South of England with not a single Labour MP but I don’t remember them worrying about not having a mandate.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

      Lundavra September 15, 2014 11:46 pm Reply
  • Spot the difference #2:

    Newsie: “Under persistent questioning in a recent interview with Bernard Ponsonby, the First Minster eventually revealed that the Scottish Government has spent ‘about £10 Billion on private sector contracts for NHS Scotland…”

    STV news website, report of Bernard Ponsonby’s interview with Alex Salmond, 8th September:-

    “Mr Salmond agreed that his government had spent “hundreds of millions of pounds” of the health budget on private sector services but contrasted the overall percentage — just under one per cent — with the situation in the rest of the UK where the figure is six per cent.

    (emphasis added)

    NB. 10 billion = 10,000 million

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    Tim McIntyre September 15, 2014 9:08 pm Reply
  • If you have any confidence in SERCO’s (or, indeed, dozens of other “outsourced” companies’) ability to deliver anything they promised just pick up a copy of Private Eye.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    ClootieDumpling September 15, 2014 10:37 pm Reply
    • Where you’ll also read far more about the general incompetence and ineffectiveness and sometimes pure corruption that exists in many public sector organisations and government run institutions.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      Jerry McIver September 16, 2014 2:01 pm Reply

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