It’s Pimm’s Time

I sat on the bench in the garden of First World War remembrance beneath the lilac shading me from the sun and watched the ladies dispensing drinks from the Pimm’s Tent as the jazz band set up under a canopy decked with mini Union Jacks. Ladies in summer frocks bustled around the headstones of the long dead with earnest fellows in Panama hats and the volunteer gardeners trimmed the churchyard hedges while up on the church tower where the flag of St George hung limp in the heat, they were throwing teddy bears in parachutes for the children to raise parish funds. Handel’s Water Music filled my earphones and I sighed in contentment.

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This is St Mary’s Barnes, an English church as a child might draw it, with ancient flint walls and centuries old corners dating from the 12th century. It is linked to Magna Carta and on a sunny weekend it was forever England. I expected Captain Mainwaring to stride up the flagstone path and bark orders.

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It sits just south of the Thames in an oxbow in the river, part of Richmond, and is joined to London by the Hammersmith Bridge. It is upmarket and sought-after and with the fair on around the duck pond it was alive with happy people relaxing in the heat. Later I watched it all with some envy from the beer garden of the Sun Inn, my pint of London Pride in hand.

When I looked in the estate agent’s window the most common price for the handsome homes that line the road into London appeared to be £2.8 million. The average price for a house in Scotland is about £160,000 although I don’t think the Barnes Road homes were typical of an English market.

So was I resentful – as every ‘angry Scottish Nationalist’ should be at others better off? I don’t think I was. I liked what I saw and found the atmosphere infectious. It’s hardly the fault of the locals that this is where the money is found and, since the spiralling absurdity of Better Together trumpeted a mock referendum in Corby this week, it’s notable how opportunity and higher incomes will always draw people. Just as Scots headed south for work in the steel industry in the thirties, so today’s Scots seek success where it can be found.

It will always be true, so do we just accept that London is too big a draw and give up? Isn’t that why we now need so much foreign immigration – because our own people have drifted away and over the decades the working population has fallen (with reverse spikes from time to time). We are berated by the Unionists for having an ageing population which we can’t service with taxpaying citizens, but only because we haven’t created the jobs to sustain the population.

Young talent will always be lured elsewhere and so it should be when there is a world out there to be experienced but the home country should also be able to offer opportunity to retain enough and attracted back those who have been away and are ready to return.

Unionists know this too but their reaction is to surrender not to compete. What can you do? they moan. They utterly accept not just the domination of London which is undeniable but its unchallenged right to suck up everything that is good from all corners and leave us with what is left. Even the Prime Minister claims the economy needs to be rebalanced, he just can’t do anything to achieve it.

We can. If we have the strategic capacity – the access not just to corporation tax and income tax but to public procurement, competition policy and immigration – all the levers that allow adjustments to meet specifically Scottish needs. That’s how the small nations do it, be it Denmark, New Zealand or Ireland. They adjust the dials to keep up with their needs and mould policies to suit themselves. It is the lack of strategic control which has left for example our shipyards dependent on defence contracts with no ability to expand and diversify. They are now hostages to the Union.

Immigration control allows us to keep the students we have educated from abroad here in Scotland to make a new life and contribute to our economy.

And yet it seems the belief among the Scots is that just a wee bit more power at Holyrood will be enough. Many are satisfied that ‘something’ will emerge and that it will somehow change our society and they will give the benefit of the doubt to those who have made no commitment to delivering anything. To me, that needs more blind faith than believing in your country’s ability to run itself independently.

A No vote will hand back the powers we need and entrust them to those who have only ever delivered when there was a threat. Remove the threat and they will relax again and quietly ignore.

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I don’t imagine the good people of Barnes and Chiswick will give more than passing notice to a No vote either. It won’t change anything in their lives. The power and the money will stay near them, the talent will flow their way and the natural order will be restored. It will be time for another Pimm’s.

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48 thoughts on “It’s Pimm’s Time

  1. innerbearsdenurchin

    The short sharp answer to the black hole that is the SE of England is Germany.

    After WW 2 the British that Germany would be set up as a Federal Republic with regional governments to ensure that Berlin would no longer be the power hungry centre for Germany.

    Then they reindustrialised and look what we have now?

    If the UK had taken their own advice we would not have seen Thatcher or this referendum, as we would not have needed either?

    Just a pebble in the pool this Bastille Day afternoon?

    Getting some practice in for after the Yes vote.

  2. Great article Derek.

    I doubt they will notice a YES vote either. They are comfy in their lives and never see what lifes like for the rest. Many forget that they came from poor areas but have moved on. And i agree we lose the brightest and best from Scotland because there are few jobs with any real prospects. Sadly that happens whatever class they came from.

    Would it not be better to try and keep our best and build a better way? if things did pick up we would have many more returning. My worry is too many leave and won’t ever come back.

    Even after independence the lure of London will be strong.

    Its a reals shame. We should do everything to keep our best , they are the engine that drives the country.

    We may not be able to stop people leaving but we should make coming to Scotland more attractive.

    That’s the beauty of a YES vote . We can dream a bit and try a new way. It won’t be easy but we will have all the leavers to try . Optimistic maybe ? Why not, we’re a talented lot and the drive and will is there.

    P.S. Loved your broadcasts Derek. I have a houseful(3 brothers and 2 mates ) here every Saturday and we all enjoy them , it’s becoming a regular thing. Your guests are brilliant and you let them talk o/t . Much more relaxed and honest.

    We need to get you sorted after a YES. Tv or radio you choose , i’ll never miss a show.

  3. oops levers ….. grammer police “it;s a fair cop”

    • YesGuy, need to try again it;s should be it’s, but then what is a misplaced digit between friends. You should have seen what I wrote before I got to the right answer.

  4. I think the average price for a three-bed home in London is now £580,000, 2-bed flats command over £300,000 these days, studio flats (that’s a bedsit to you and me) £150-200,000. There are people who earn good wages in London, say a couple earning £40,000 apiece, and still wouldn’t be able to afford an ex-council three bedroom house in a decent area. A colleague of mine moved out of London to Kent so she and her husband could afford a two-bedroom house to bring up their young son in a relatively nice area and good schools. Downside is they both pay £5200 per annum travelling to work into London each year. It’s a lose-lose situation. And what about renting? … well try £900 a month (not including bills) for that bedsit!

    London is a parasite state, unionists want our best to go there to thrive but that’s not the reality, wages are too low even for university graduates (average London wage is £29,000). Imagine how many other graduates from all over the UK go to London seeking work. London is a false dawn for Scottish graduates, you’ll end up working in Starbucks for pittance and they’ll be the lucky ones.

  5. ‘hostage to the Union’… brilliant analysis.

  6. People look around and see poverty…or if not actual poverty then hardly envious affluence. Not here…although there are a few pockets. When no affluence is obvious, it’s easy to believe we are a poor nation, small, backward even. It has suited politicians to keep us in this state of ignorance. It’s so ingrained that, when people’s surroundings haven’t changed, it’s difficult (impossible) to persuade them of the riches their fellow Scots have created in life sciences, food and drink, and tourism, not to mention the acknowledged expertise in universities and oil. And that Scotland is actually a wealthy nation without most of its people sharing in that wealth.

    Pooling and sharing is trotted out on a regular basis. But too many of our own people have seen little or none of the benefits of pooling or sharing.

    Time to slip the hand of the past. Time to grasp the coat-tails of the future and fly. Time for change.

  7. A city state may survive as a financial services entity, though I wouldn’t advise it, but a country needs diversity. The government of the late seventies thought they’d’ discovered the road to El Dorado in selling off natural resource, managed (mismanaged) deconstruction of what they saw as the troublesome and expensive manufacturing base and the creation of a focussed financial services sector. Naturally this sector was to be centred in the UKs capital city of London, the heart of government and commerce. But what of those regions and cities which thrived on or were created around the old manufacturing heart of the UK? What of the hundreds of thousands of jobs and skills lost to this redirecting of the UK economic model?

    Where are the big names and big yards/plants which produce anything? A hundred small manufacturers of widgets employing twenty to thirty people simply can’t replace the plants which at one time employed thousands and supplied the world with heavy metal and engineering excellence. An economy and a populations well being simply can’t survive on the flow of digital cash. The cohesion of communities of the past were built on shared constructive experience and mutual growth. Towns and cities were known for their product or trade; this was a mining town, this was a steel town, that was a port city. Today? What are they today really? Places where people live, work in transitory short term jobs and wait for the weekend if they’re lucky. If they’re not lucky, then places where you struggle and for the moment collect what benefits you haven’t jumped through a dozen hoops for.

    This is why independence is so necessary, we can change from this course of casino services and put people, whole communities back to work. Those powers and resources to change the course of our economy will be in our own hands to direct as we are best able. The choice is to keep the selected few fantastically wealthy within their small city state and live off grants or give a country a new lease of life and a stake in its own future.

    • I totally agree with you though we have our wee financial centre which is Edinburgh. We had a hard time when we first got married way back in the seventies and ended up outside the Town in West Lothian in the then new town of Livingston. We managed in the nineties after making the wrong move to Linlithgow to buy a new two bedroom flat in Edinburgh where we lived for 12 years,
      When I look around Dunfermline and specially where I live, a goodly number take the train into Edinburgh to work, because here they can afford a decent house and their kids get an education at the local school, but then we have those in Dunfermline without a job, who are reliant on welfare because the industry has gone.
      We need a new Scotland, one in which nobody is left behind. There has to be jobs and good jobs at that, where kids do not look around and see that no matter how hard they struggle they will never get that far. I know, I worked hard all my life but the ceiling was always there and sometimes I wonder why I bothered. We do not want that legacy for Scotland’s children.

      • There’s such an opportunity with independence. One of those which comes along literally once in many lifetimes. This opportunity will provide us with the platform to look at our society, our governance and our economic model. It’ll allow us to make decisions which suit our needs and aspirations. This won’t come again anytime soon and we simply can’t afford to pass this up.

        The latest headlines should give anyone considering giving Westminster governance one more chance pause for thought.

        http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/14/ukip-guardian-icm-poll-tories-labour-nigel-farage

        As for our own wee financial sector, its considered by some to be a wee bit top heavy and could do with some of our institutions wandering off to other climes. Far from being dismayed at the prospect of some upping sticks and leaving, I’m kind of hoping they follow through on their threats. S&P had some helpful suggestions in their summation about the prospects of a trimmed down financial services in Scotland.

        The report stated: “In brief, we would expect Scotland to benefit from all the attributes of an investment-grade sovereign credit characterized by its wealthy economy (roughly the size of New Zealand’s), high-quality human capital, flexible product and labor markets, and transparent institutions,” it concludes.

        “Nevertheless, the newly formed sovereign state would begin life with comparatively high levels of public debt, sensitivity to oil prices, and, depending on the nature of arrangements with the EU or UK, potentially limited monetary flexibility.

        “At the same time, Scotland’s external position in terms of liquidity and investment could be subject to volatility should banks leave.

        “On the other hand, if this were to happen, it could bring benefits in terms of reducing the size of the Scottish economy’s external balance sheet, normalizing the size of its financial sector, and reducing contingent liabilities for the state.”

        Its all doable. 🙂

        • Certainly could do with losing the ones always crying that they are leaving. Had a narrow escape when I took early retirement from my full time job back in 2000. Was sent to Scottish Equitable for a job in the reception, they considered me too well qualified, a few weeks later they were taken over and another financial institution bit the dust. I would also say we need new banks and new banking regulations, As a customer of the Royal Bank for over forty years, last year they scored a hat trick with us and it cost them over a hundred pounds for bad or what could be best described as laughable service, which meant none was provided.
          Somehow in this period of communication, we seem to have got worse at providing it. I think if we have the money we should spend it putting back the jobs which the Tories, Red and Blue seem to think we can manage without. Now that would take about a million out of joblessness immediately. If anyone wants to know what they are,I will tell them.

  8. Got a wee song for you guys

    my closest friend sing and i am undeniably bias.

    /www.youtube.com/watch?v=njpHoWZVC2k&list=LLKZuVH_U1OPnZGBovpWPmdQ

    • What a great video Yesguy. The musicians are brilliant and the singer has a great voice, reminded me of Paul Nutini and Rod Stewart combined (!) but really original too. It can’t be easy to make such a well known song as Caledonia sound new but they have done that here. Thanks for the link.

  9. When the Labour Party (and it is the Labour Party in Scotland to me who are the face of BetterTogether) ask us to share and pool our resources or stand in solidarity with citizens in the rest of the UK , it is not only about Scottish Independence , they are misleading people.
    Was lucky enough to be in Manchester last year , you couldn’t walk on the pavements for all the reconstruction/ new business / bars / restaurants going up, Liverpool docks extension, which will draw traffic from the south, Birmingham Gateway anyone?
    All these huge infrastructure projects are going ahead not just in competition to London but for survival for the cities out with London.
    To listen to Labour MSPs and MPs in Scotland , at every opportunity come on the TV or repeated ad nauseum in the papers essentially asking why would you want to be Independent actually shows up their real motive.
    It’s not about improving Scottish roads, rail,linking ports and cities, it’s not about improving infrastructure they had years to do that and if you remember actually returned money to the Labour treasury because they deemed there was nothing needed to be improved) it’s not about creating communities and jobs, it’s about keeping The Labour Party in power!
    Of course the people of Barnes won’t notice a No vote, they’re lucky for many they have the Govt they vote for, it’s just the rest of us who have to justify why we want democracy.

    • Thanks for this. We never get to hear about what is actually happening in the rest of the country as the BBC only puts out London stories. Although I should not really be arguing this, its failure to make us aware of the diversity of the British Isles is one of the factors weakening the Union. I believe this was former director general John Birt’s decision. Regional news should never be national news. You only hear of regional stories post-Birt if there is some political aspect, emanating from the Cabinet. But the regional developments that are quietly going on that are the result of regional actors are interesting stories far worthier of the beeb’s attention than whatever crap has just gushed out of George Osborne’s mouth. I found this story in the Guardian the other day to be quite interesting. But I don’t know if it ever made the radar of the beeb.

      http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jul/08/yorkshire-drax-carbon-capture-power-plant

  10. I get extremely annoyed when unionists triumphantly claim that the Scottish economy is in deficit and has been for some considerable time.
    London rule is entirely responsible for this situation and will only get worse as the needs of SE England for more resources sucks the lifeblood from Scotland and other parts of the UK.
    Excellent article Derek.
    Thanks.

    • innerbearsdenurchin

      The UK is in a much bigger deficit per head than Scotland, even accounting for the undeclared, off books debt, a lot of which Scotland does not have.

  11. Why is it the Scots are labelled Nationalistic when just about everything i ever see of London in the papers or News is draped in Union flags?

  12. Massive city states may be the way mankind will live out their future lives, like some sprawling Blade Runner metropolis. Many countries in the world have cities with populations over 10 million. It may seem that we are powerless in the face of such human evolution. Certainly the Hs2 project will eventually make Birmingham to London commutable. In this huge metropolis, pockets of wealth and luxury will exist, like the villages, so described by Derek. These places will be the boltholes for the rich and serviced by workers living on the periphery or in the slum buildings in areas waiting to be re-developed. The ever-increasing gap between the rich and poor will become entrenched and people will come to accept and say “well that’s the way it is”.
    The feeling of “ach whits the point” “you’ll nivver cheenge onythin” is something that comes across from some lost souls when “oot chappin doors” with ric.
    People with very little, have been brow-beaten by the mainstream media into fearing that they risk losing even that pittance by rocking the boat with a YES vote. People who are comfortable are also uncertain as they have been told lie after lie.
    They have not seen the horrors of a no vote. NHS sold off bit by bit. Student fees for their children. Massive charges for elderly home care. A nuclear dumping ground for decommissioned reactors.
    I could be accused of scaremongering, but this is a more likely scenario after a no vote.
    After a YES vote….well it’s a blank page.
    We, the people, will decide how want to be governed and live our lives.
    This is a message that needs to be put across.
    Keep up the good work Derek, you are an inspiration for many, many people.

    • Well said and not scaremongering. The consequences of a no vote will be horrendous. Quite apart from punishing the country for having the audacity to attempt to escape their clutches, the right wing in westminster, ie any party in power, will set about and destroy Scotland, as well as declare Holyrood null and void. Hardly bares thinking about.

    • An answer to those folk who opine, ‘ach, whit’s the point’ – ‘when you ain’t got nothing, you ain’t got nothing to lose’. So go for it, Vote Yes.

  13. There are many I’ve seen post from abroad that if we win our independence, they will come back. I don’t blame anyone for trying their luck abroad, and as you say, Derek, that’s how it should be with a wide world full of opportunity and adventure just waiting for the adventurous in spirit. Especially for our young people – who would stop any young person from testing their wings and exploring this wonderful planet?

    It’s when people go because they feel they have no other choice – that’s what we need to be able to deal with. Those empty towns and cities that once saw huge industrial activity and where a man or a woman could be proud of the industry because it was known for its excellence around the world: they can be revitalised.

    We must take our country back and rebuild it. We must be pioneers in a new landscape that’s free of external control. Of course we’ll get it wrong sometimes, but we’ll get it right, too, and be known and admired for our courage, vision, optimism and bloody mindedness in getting a job done.Of course there will be the maysayers because there always are naysayers who hate to see anyone else achieve success, but we will have our champions too, that shout us on from the sidelines.

    Of course they won’t notice in the comfortable, leafy lanes of the shires of England, but when did they ever notice. That’s just an observation, not a criticism. We’re never going to make them sit bolt upright in astonishment and we don’t need to. That’s because we’re self confident. We don’t need the permission from anyone to be who we are. We’re just going to go ahead and do what we have to do and just get on with it. Many expats will come home. Many young and not-so-young people will decide that Scotland is their future and put down deeper roots. Many people will come here from overseas to study and work and stay because they can and because they love it here. It will be fine. We’ll be a well-adjusted, functional country. We just need more than 50% and we’re there.

  14. Sooz,it was actually listening to Dereks conversation with the guy who writes for the Russian Newspapers, the penny really dropped for me . He was talking about Scotland being seen as a beacon for countries with leftish leanings and I know Alicsammin has talked about this but somehow listening with the earphones and without distractions got the message across to me. ( That Derek is a talented guy, draws people out and let’s them speak, ) .
    I agree entirely with the all the points in above posts, but would go further. I was wandering, when the new Indian Prime Minister was inaugurated. Not sure how it was reported here but there was a beautiful ceremony with the high heid yins from all parts invited. Afghanistan , Pakistan , Sri Lanka, now imagine if ( and I know there are large obstacles and I’m skipping ahead) but imagine if those obstacles could be overcome in the future, what a powerhouse that whole area (China is paying for a huge new port to be built near Galle) would become changing the balance of this’ global’ world and it would put the leafy suburbs of Barnes into perspective and in turn-where would Scotland without a voice of its own fit in or would it just be , same as it ever was?
    The BT side keep the debate , neatly skewered on currency , Europe etc but it’s a great big world out there, which Scotland wants to join.
    I heard Stephen Greenhorn said/ wrote – we don’t know everything but we know enough
    Vote Yes

  15. Is Pimms like Buckie for posh folk?

    • The answer to your question young man is a resounding yes. More like Buckie with fruit salad.
      You know until I moved to Fife I had not come across the Buckie phenomenon, I probably never lived in any of the right places in Edinburgh. Portobello, where I lived was not a hive of sophistication but I can honestly say I never picked up a Buckie Bottle until I moved to Dunfermline.

  16. Barnes is indeed very pleasant with a very beautiful church. It would be little surprise if many folk there come to the conclusion that their comfort and prosperity is the natural order of things. Just as many people in the Grange in Edinburgh or Glasgow’s Kelvinside or Aberdeen’s West End have a similar outlook with horizons shrunken just enough to exclude the poverty and despair just a few hundred yards away.

    None of the No parties propose to give Scotland the real power to change things here never mind make a dent on the powerful pull of London and South East. The power to make a difference lies with a Yes vote not with a ‘hit and hope’ bet on devo-who knows what?

  17. I’m glad you enjoyed your experience of idyllic Barnes but wherever you go in suburban London you must watch for what lies beneath its fragile surface.

    It is a short stroll from St Mary’s Barnes to 27 Rocks Lane, once better known as Elm Guest House to its exalted clientele of politicians, pop stars and Lords, shortly to be exposed, hopefully, in all their sordid glory.

    P.S. London Pride is pish. If you must drink Fullers beer, Chiswick Bitter is much gentler on the body low doon.

    • Fuller’s London Pride is a great beer. True, Chiswick is milder if you’re going to be having a few, but it’s a lovely, hoppy pint. Did you sit outside at the Sun Inn, Barnes, Derek, and is there still a duck pond just across the road?

  18. There is a poverty of aspiration in Scotland and that is a much greater risk to independence than anything else. This poverty of aspiration has been created by the Labour Party’s hegemonic paternalism but also its utter lack of imagination and its failure to view the Union and its effects on Scotland critically. If it had, if it had put Scotland first before Labour, it would have tried to halt immigration. But it puts Labour first, the Union second, and Scotland third. So from a Labour Unionist point of view, there is nothing wrong with talented young Scots being educated here but voting with their feet and relocating to a more prosperous part of the UK. Because the Union is a great thing, right? It has been a very long time since Labour produced anybody of the calibre of Tom Johnstone the wartime secretary of state who persuaded Churchill to let him build hydro-electric plants in the Highlands. Immigration has been the curse of the Union. In 1707 Scotland had 30% of the land mass of the UK and 15% of the population (one third of them in the Highlands). In 2014 we still have 30% of the land mass but only 8% of the population (one tenth of whom live in the Highlands). Immigration used to be spoken about with horror in the 20s and 30s but became so commonplace it ceases even to be a talking point anymore. But it continues. Between 30,000 and 40,000 young Scots aged 16-34 leave Scotland every year. This is made up for by the large number of immigrants coming to Scotland, showing that there IS opportunity here – but it doesn’t measure up to the aspirations of the brightest. This leaves behind a demoralised population a large number of whom stay here simply because they don’t aspire at all. This is the curse of the Union.

    • I meant ’emigration’ from Scotland, you ‘immigrate’ somewhere else. It’s the numbers leaving Scotland that worry me. Not the numbers coming here. Because people leaving is symptomatic that something is wrong.

      • I agree entirely with your point of view. It is one of the main reasons that I will vote for independence. The population of Scotland has largely stagnated for decades, staying usually around the 5 million mark and the people we are losing to emigration are mainly the young and energetic,

        This loss of young people was picked up in the 2001 census and apparently showed up markedly as an unexpected drop in the presence of young males in Scotland in – I think – the twenty to thirty age range. It was solemnly postulated at the time that this was possibly due to the sperm count of males in Scotland. It was farcically suggested that they should undertake a medical study into this. I wonder whatever became of that?

        I remember learning, when doing geography at primary school, that a population which didn’t grow was the sign of a stagnating economy. Yet, Better Together never seems to address this constant haemorrhaging of population as a problem.

        • Between the 1981 census and 1991 census (I had to dig this out myself) over a quarter of a million Scots left Lanarkshire and former Strathclyde region alone… that’s like losing a whole substantially sized city.

          Yet there was nothing, ZERO, in the papers about this, or any outcry, or analysis. But of course it was due to Thatcher’s axe and forcible de-industrialisation. But not a peep out of Labour, the party of the people. I call it ‘the black hole of Lanarkshire’. The Tories did try to introduce new industry, giving out sweeteners to ‘inward investors’ who went belly up or took the cash then left after a couple of years.

  19. innerbearsdenurchin

    My daughter lives in East Cheam, a poor man’s Richmond but, to me, East Cheam is bloody, horribly expensive.

  20. Nice to see the BBC members of the NUJ finally take action……over their pay and to increase the licence fee.

    I so want to get rid of this vile organisation.

  21. Steve Asaneilean

    I can’t really believe that the Labour Party still calls itself that. I grew up in the crucible of the Scottish labour movement and the Labour Party that that movement spawned hardly shows a ripple in the current Labour Party.

    Yet for over 70 years they have held political sway over much of Scotland but, with the exception of 1948, it hard to see what they have really done for those who voted for them without question and who needed them most.

    The various extant social crises in Scotland are their legacy of neglect and abandonment.

    One aspect of that legacy which continues to exercise my anger is our abysmal life expectancy figures.

    There are two types of life expectancy that we measure in Scotland – life expectancy (LE) and healthy life expectancy (HLE).

    Both LE and HLE are consistently and significantly worse in Scotland than the rest of the UK and many other EU countries. On average Scottish men and women live about 2 to 2.5 years less than their English counterparts.

    Moreover Scottish men live 3.6 years less than Swedish men. Scottish life expectancy has increased since 1998 – but this trend is repeated across the EU and Scotland has done less well than most other EU countries.

    For women, between 1998 and now the gap in LE between Scotland and France (which has the highest female LE in the EU) has widened, whilst the gap between Scotland and Romania (which has the lowest female LE in the EU) has reduced (i.e Romania is catching Scotland up).

    Between 1998 and now the average LE in Scotland has increased by about 4% for men and 2.5% for women – not what I would regard as “huge” (contrary to what BT?NT claim in there latest “fact” sheet).

    At present a male in the least deprived 20% in Scotland will live till 81 but their HLE is 11.5 years less at 68.5. A male in the 20% most deprived will only live to 70 and their HLE will be a whopping 20 years less at 50. A 20% least deprived female can expect to live till 84 with a HLE 13 years less at 77 whilst a 20% most deprived female will live till 70.5 with a HLE 18 years less at 52.5.

    The single biggest driver of poor health in Scotland, in my view, is inequality. Inequality is what lies behind our higher rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stress, depression, suicide, crime (including rape and murder), etc.

    Poverty is important too but poverty is relative and it is well evidenced that poorer but more equal societies do better – it is the gap bewteen rich and poor that realy matters. At present the UK lies 7th bottom in the list of 34 country members of the OECD – the only European country to do worse on that list is Portugal and the so-called “basket cases” like Spain, Italy, Ireland, Iceland and Greece all do better than the UK in the equality league.

    The last Labour Government left office with the gap between rich and poor worse than when they came into office and worse than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. They had 13 years to address inequality and they failed abysmally.

    I believe a Yes vote is the best and possibly only way for us to reduce the current inequality gap in Scotland and, even if we were overall a little worse off, if we closed that gap the benefits in terms of health (i.e. physical, mental and social well-being) would be enormous and the financial benefits in terms of a reduced burden on health and social care services would be immense.

    But with today;’s Westminster cabinet reshuffle, if there is a No vote in September and a Tory government returned next year Barnett is stuffed and the impact on our health and social well-being here in Scotland will be appalling.

  22. derek

    you seen overly hung up on this “dark star” sucking the life blood out of the country but what you seem to conveniently forget is that london while it attracts many of the brightest and best who want to seek their fortune it also sends back tax of around £60 billion to the exchequer every single year…. and also you forget that many of those who move down there come back in 10 years or so wealthier and wiser to live the rest of their lives up here and contribute. you should also think about the fact that as london is the top financial centre in the world is inevitable that people move there, not only do scots move there but many thousands of people from around the world. who all come here and work and pay money into the exchequer that is there for the benefit of us all.

    not only that but it in my line of work, london is the engine that keep everything running. 99% of the funding that goes into the projects we do comes from london based funds which invest in scotland over many other places because we have among other things the same tax regime as we are of course in the same country. you draw a border at berwick (as the snp will have to do after Nicola Sturgeons ridiculous threat to deport 160,000 european citizens – i note she conveniently forgot the welsh, english and irish who will also fall into this category so the number is probably over 500,000) and start to change the tax/pension regimes etc and that funding will start to dry up. it really is that simple.

    after all if london is such a burden, perhaps you can explain why salmond when preaching to the chinese recently proclaimed that the chinese should invest in scotland because it is near london.

    and of course the huge irony of all the comments on here claiming that somehow london has destroyed scotland is that they are of course posting from the second wealthiest region in the uk after london and the south east. god knows what type of wild claims they be making if this was the north of england or wales.

  23. Where’s wir Panda? “Jings ” is at it again!

  24. innerbearsdenurchin

    Jan, let the puir sole be.

    We will have the last laugh and is just going to have to lump it.

    Oh, how we’ll laugh.

    Anyway, if Tian Tian holds up we will have more Pandas than LibDems MSPs and more than Slab MEPs.

  25. innerbearsdenurchin

    Jan I normally don’t bother reading Jings brain farts but, once read this one.

    I didn’t think it worthy of a reply after my first glance and see no reason to change my mind after wasting a couple of minutes I will never see again.

    As I said above, leave him be.

    Revenge is a dish best tasted cold.

    • OK, ibu. Good advice.

    • I am also taking your advice, I have read this pish more times than I care to remember. It features on pages of the Guardian, did once on the pages of the Independent and turns up all the time on the Telegraph. I certainly feel these days best leave them to the illusions.

  26. Lachie Macquarie

    Nice piece Derek.

    Know the Sun in Barnes well, however my more regular haunt, was another Fullers pub, the Dove in Hammersmith. Apropos of nothing, I had a pint of Pride, yesterday, sadly not in the either of those fine establishments but the Witherspoons in Greenock, still a fine pint. After the 18th will we not be able to get London Pride in Scotland? One thing I really miss about Englandshire is the beer, I know we have some good brews but the selection down south and the ambience of the pubs is peerless.

  27. I have regained my rightful name

  28. Don’t tell me about Pimms – I was in London last week ( to watch my daughter’s one man show ) and took her and her sister for a drink near the South Bank.

    The cost of Pimms ( a whisky sized shot, filled up with lemonade on tap, with some ice and a few bitties of fruit ) – a staggering £6.90.

    I should have anticipated, though. Arriving by train at Euston, the 5 stop underground fare was £5.90. Apparently this is to force punters to buy the Oyster card.

    Selkirk to Carlisle is £9.80. Something’s not right.

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