Trouble at Tannochbrae

Must rush. The sun is streaming into the Gazebo of Hate and I have to sit in the underground command centre to write this. Also I have the kids on my own for a while and I’m busy helping construct a model of the Brandenburg Gate. (Don’t tell me your life is complicated).

Mention of Berlin reminds us of what has become a dread thought for me – the EU referendum. I can’t shake a sense of foreboding that this is all happening at the wrong time and the omens are not good. There is a global resistance to anything carrying the mantle of an establishment. The recent memory of the Eurozone crisis lives on – as does the stagnant European economy. The migrant issue is an on-going symbol of European institutional failure. It further exposes the blatant racism of some member states’ governments. It spotlights one of the key Brexit arguments – fear of immigration around which so much UK opinion revolves. The champions of staying in as portrayed in the media are distrusted neo con ministers whose differences with the Out brigade are cigarette paper thin.

Almost all the arguments I’ve heard, including last night’s BBC1 programme are based on what it all costs. The concept of a wider more altruistic impulse for sharing with our neighbours is forgotten. Which is why it was refreshing to speak to Billy Kay last week for the interview on Newsnet to hear about our historic relationship with European nations, our early engagement with academia, trade and, yes, military operations. It takes us back to a time when Scotland had a separate national identity and a plan which led us to connect directly with other Europeans – before we were forced to view the world through the prism of London. Most of what Europe sees of Scotland is represented by a British government and a British outlook which at times I find little short of embarrassing. Billy lays it out with a deep perspective showing how our culture was attuned to that of others, how were able to participate in their societies, learn their languages and contribute to them.

Listening to him I am struck by the quality of his intellectual contribution to the nation. How rare it is to hear someone with profound knowledge and clear love of his subject talk freely about Scotland. The contrast with so much of the shrivelled commentary in our media with its shallow and ignorant analysis and knee jerk denigration of any initiative which isn’t right wing and Unionist, is remarkable. Imagine a Scotland with more Billy Kays than Chris Deerins – more intelligent than vacuous, more insightful than offensive – people with our country’s interests at heart based on knowledge and experience rather than subservience and salary. The message I take from it is that we have a natural home in Europe, a continent now organised around and through the EU which remains the sole route from which we can all benefit. To be a nationalist is to be an internationalist. It is the linking of both together which makes sense of the concept. First you become a nation and then you join the family of nations. Through formal treaty arrangements we work together for mutual benefit. These arrangements raise standards of human rights, income, access and communality. I don’t know if any of this is filtering through. I doubt it. I’m now relaying on the ‘good sense of the British people’ to stick with what they know and grudgingly vote In. The deciding factor is likely to be differential turnout so I’ll drag myself round there and try not to think of Barroso as I vote.

These are not clever times for the SNP on the policy delivery front…reading rates down in primary, hospital waiting times being missed, more doubts over Named Person in the Fee case. No doubt you could add some of your own. Government is about delivery and while a glance at the sheer scale of government reminds us that it does indeed work, wobbling in high profile areas causes disproportionate disquiet.

Like Blair, the SNP set themselves targets and look foolish when they can’t meet them. That’s self inflicted pain. If you’re going to single out policy areas and headline them, or allow others to do so, you have to ensure you can live up to expectation. Realistically, any government should really say: We’ll do our best. No promises. But that’s never enough in an argument so they pretend they can meet any test set for them.

There will be any number of possible explanations of course. It can’t come as a surprise that after eight years of ruthless cuts in public spending in which poorer families have been targeted and child poverty accepted as a policy consequence, that attainment in deprived areas goes backwards. The educational argument I believe can never be won because it is fundamentally a poverty issue and without control of tax and spend no government can effect the kind of budgetary shift required to eradicate it. But the SNP have committed to just that.

Waiting times look like a result of an aging population increasing need while provision gets ever more expensive as Holyrood’s budget is reduced. But in a huge organisation, you have to wonder at the administration. Is there effective management? Or are there too many jobsworths? It only takes one person to be demotivated for any section of an organisation to fall off in efficiency so multiply by a factor of 1000…

You suspect too that for many people hospitals and doctors become a way of life creating a personal dependency which takes control of their lives and limits their individualism. Do you really need to go to a doctor? In my experience, they’ll only find something wrong with you if you do. (If you see what I mean). There used to be a great line in Doctor Finlay’s Casebook when old Dr Cameron would snarl at a malingerer – There’s nothing wrong with you, man. Away with yourself…But there it is. The Nationalists have decided they can give you the perfect NHS. I say Bring Back Dr Cameron.



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22 thoughts on “Trouble at Tannochbrae

  1. And assuming not the SNP, or Labour in Scotland or the Tories or any other political party can fix waiting times or have a country of high-achieving school geniuses etc, etc – who would you trust your country with? – for that is the ultimate reality.

    Great post, Derek, enjoyed the Billy Kay para.

    • Enid Anderson

      Don’t be too despondent about what Europe thinks of Scotland. I am a Scot living in France for the last eleven years. Often, when I have occasion to talk to some stranger about something, they say politely, ‘Anglais?’. I always respond, ‘Non, Ecossaise!’ quite vehemently, to which I get wreathes of smiles and welcome noises and people wanting to engage in conversation – particularly about the Scottish Referendum.

      I always feel welcome here as a Scot, although the English are often treated with cold disdain – particularly when they believe that they can make the French understand them by shouting louder in English. Which of course they do not – deliberately.

  2. Billy Kay has an excellent book on the Scottish diaspora. All buy it w.

  3. “These are not clever times for the SNP on the policy delivery front…reading rates down in primary, hospital waiting times being missed, more doubts over Named Person in the Fee case.”

    They never are! With the msm and the loon unionists with their blame guns.

    Let me 1st say – 3bn down due to austerity. Go figure. They have to work with what they are given, I cannot fault them for a better NHS, better schooling and at least an attempt to fix child protection. The better is in relation to England – how else can we compare or assess? England is choosing how much pocket money we get and its hard to plan when they give you ‘powers’ that are a joke on analysis.

    The SNP have not gone mad – PFI schools or hospitals? Our lone benchmark is a Labour run Holyrood that was atrocious.

    They can do better – they know how. I do too.

  4. Robert Graham

    Eh who is in charge of your gate ? And who operates the dreaded search lights a couple of tourches are great as long as it’s pretty dark ha ha oh for a wee trip back in time I bet we could all do with the simple life of our childhood instead of the adult world we now have with politicians and media people telling downright lies treating us like children , away and enjoy yer kids have fun relax the real world can wait .

  5. Derek, I expect more of you for you are a journalist. Your reference to doubts over Named Person in the Fee case would appear to be repeating MSM attack propaganda without checking details in the case.

    I would ask you to read Wings on the topic, if you have not already. It is clear from Stu’s forensic dissection of the Ukokian party propaganda that their attacks are despicable attempts to profit from a disgusting tragedy, a tragedy, which if it has any relevance to the Named Person scheme (it happened before the legislation was introduced), reinforces the need for the scheme.

    I am a great fan of your site but please be careful that you are not taken in by the Ukokian howls of protest in the MSM and on the BBC.

  6. Ruth Davidson quick to use the death of Liam Fee for her own britnat purposes.

  7. I enjoy reading your articles, Mr Bateman, and although I find myself in agreement with most of them, I have to take issue with some of the points in this one.

    “The concept of a wider more altruistic impulse for sharing with our neighbours is forgotten. Which is why it was refreshing to speak to Billy Kay last week for the interview on Newsnet to hear about our historic relationship with European nations, our early engagement with academia, trade and, yes, military operations.

    But it’s not forgotten. We’re already in close co-operation with Europe on a number of issues: NATO, OSCE, ECJ, trading with our neighbours, free trade, academic exchanges etc etc

    For me, none of the above is an issue. I’m voting to leave, but a loose trading alliance, with co-operation on above mentioned areas has never been a problem for me. It makes perfect sense in this globalised world. That’s what we voted for in 1973.

    I take issue with Europe when it presses on with its closer union bollocks, its contempt for ordinary voters, and the inherent anti-democratic impulses that are in the DNA of this bureaucratic monstrosity.

    “These arrangements raise standards of human rights, income, access and communality.”

    The idea that we need the EU to protect human rights is the greatest deception that has been allowed to take root these past few years. To be fair to you, Mr Bateman, you’re not the only one guilty of perpetrating this myth (the Left are notorious for it)

    but the idea that the EU is a bulwark against those who want to strip us of human rights is risible.

    Any British government, or an indy Scotland government, could safeguard human rights, trade union rights etc etc if the people want it. We don’t need to outsource it to Brussels.

  8. I was absolutely with you when reading the Billy Kay paragraphs. I too found his historical accounts re: our past alignment with Europe to be absolutely fascinating. So many points I hadn’t known or considered but what I seemed to instinctively feel, as I’m very much a supporter of cosmopolitan relationships.

    However, I ‘fell’ at the next paragraphs whereby you gave Scotgov a bit of a ‘doing’ over; “These are not clever times for the SNP on the policy delivery front…reading rates down in primary, hospital waiting times being missed, more doubts over Named Person in the Fee case.” This sentence seemed to echo from the pages of the DM or other such ‘paper’… I do understand you qualified it with comments on the Scotgov funding being inadequate for what Scotland wants to achieve. But by adding ‘don’t make promises you can’t keep’, it only gave credence to that kind of comment in newspapers I won’t now read. I’m all for encouraging accountability in governments and pressing them to do better. But if you are going to call Scotgov out on supposed ‘failings’ to keep those ‘promises’, such as reading rates, waiting times, & NP in your comments, I feel its only fair to give us sources so we can see where these figures arise from. Because I could possibly give you figures that don’t agree with yours and show a more positive conclusion. And thus, your examples possibly may not be failings at all!

    As for ‘doubts over NP’, I think that’s a red herring. I think those ‘doubting’ NP are the political opposition who refuse to accept that NP has already been established as working well by those who are totally familiar with and work with Child Abuse cases and certain politicians are simply using child abuse as a point scoring game. I think, if you check, that it isn’t the Named Person Act that is at fault with this program, but rather the follow up action not being taken that is failing. Yes – that may be attributable at the doorstep of the SNP too – but that failing is not down to the actual NP Act itself! Perhaps you meant that the SNP still have not convinced enough people of the efficacy of this piece of legislation? That may be so… But many people are not supporters of the SNP and so are always going to resist believing what those that work in the children’s sector, are saying, regardless of any positive arguments put forth.

    I would disagree with your premise that setting targets is akin to making promises – and particularly in not meeting them, that a promise isn’t being kept. What you are saying is ‘don’t set targets if you can’t keep them’. And that would be like saying don’t aspire to greatness, don’t ‘go for it’, ‘don’t take a chance in case you fail’. Targets are the things that encourage us to do better. And if we don’t make one target, so what? Do we give up? If you check statistics, I think you’ll find that Scottish targets ARE being met in many, many areas (crime down, gang culture down in Glasgow, waiting times often met) but of course there is always scope to do better! But gosh – when viewing the bigger picture, it seems Scotgov is doing not so badly for a country being handicapped by WM ‘caps’ & cost cutting!!

    I think most SNP supporters would agree when I say that we don’t believe for a second that the SNP are perfect! Or get things right all the time!! But we believe that what they do, they do with respect for the people of Scotland and not to enhance their political careers or put more money into their pockets. And I think that in the balance, they at least try to meet targets and on the whole do a darn good job. And I think that is all SNP supporters ask of them – respect for the electorate and a real attempt to make things better in Scotland. I just feel it’s such a shame when even supposed supporters knock their positive ‘trying’ under the guise of ‘constructive criticism’…

  9. Gavin.C.Barrie

    Jings! And we have one right here.

    “Any British government… could safeguard human rights trade union rights etc etc if the people want it”.

    Please explain My Cocaine, how the people can express their wishes? By the First Past the Post Westminster system? By the unelected House of Lords petitioning the people, and then “holding the Tory government to account”?

    We had an Indyref where just short of 50% of the people voted for independence, DevoMax being denied. Where are we with the UK government’s promises, or if you prefer, exercising and acting on their concerns that Scotland isn’t too satisfied with the status quo?

    • “Please explain My Cocaine, how the people can express their wishes? By the First Past the Post Westminster system? By the unelected House of Lords petitioning the people, and then “holding the Tory government to account”?”

      I don’t mean to come across as rude or arrogant, but this is exactly what I’m talking about: Political abdication from the Left.

      There is nothing to stop a party going before the British public or Scottish public after indy and saying vote for me to protect union rights. Hell, if no party offers this, then there’s nothing stopping people from forming a party to protect trade union rights. The Labour party used to do this kind of stuff – it’s called democracy.

      The idea that we need Brussels’ pen pushers to safeguard rights is offensive to me. It says that we’re incapable of doing it ourselves. It’s an insult to men and women who shed blood, sweat, and tears for these rights long before the EU rolled into town.

      We don’t need the EU to hold our hand for us.

      • Hmmm, all we really need for any of that to happen is a democratic system of representative government. Oh! Oh, dear, we don’t appear to have that, our government in London thinks real democracy just gets in their way, so they offer us something that looks like democracy but isn’t really.

        We get democrisy instead, based on smoke and mirrors, and a national version of the pea game. There is no pea. The pea is a lie!

  10. Just a wee thing you might find helpful re: the reading rates under the SNP…

  11. First off, the Named Person scheme did not operate in this area of Fife. Talk about is irrelevant.

    Vote any way you like. I will vote Leave. The EU is not capable of reforming itself – Cameron ‘s negotiations got nowhere.. It is corrupt and its accounts have never been signed off and those seeking to investigate the reason were sidelined first and then removed. The treatment of countries like Greece is deplorable. The people face years of austerity driving many into poverty, shortening and blighting lives by the hundreds of thousands , if not millions. The handling of the mass migration crisis is another reason to vote Leave. Playing human “Pass the Parcel” with thousands of people is bad. There is no sign of a coherent policy. Then there is TTIP.

  12. First things first: an independent Scotland free from the so-called united kingdom. Vote Remain because England will vote Leave. Indyref2 for Scotland will quickly follow. After independence the people of Scotland can decide on Scotland’s relationship with the EU – and every other nation on the planet.

  13. Born Optimist


    You are peddling myths. The EU accounts have been signed off (and always have been, it simply isnt an overnight affair and takes time hence the development of the myth).See the Wee BlEU book in iScot magazine and on line, it think for the reference. This was written by one of Scotland’s MEPs.

    I agree the handling of the Greek financial crisis has been appalling but would the situation have been any different if there had been simply German and other banks in umpteen different countries (who made a fortune out of Greek debts) been left to deal with the matter. At least people across the EU are now beginning to stir from their apathy and hopefully will insist on greater democratic control. As matters stand I believe the EU is already more democratic than the UK i.e. each nation has a veto and the Parliament is not FPTP, no unelected House of Lords, etc.

    As for the handling of migrants I think the same point can be made as with Greece; imagine the chaos if there was no European Union. And remember in many instances the UK has been a stumbling block to many EU initiatives and witness the appalling offer to take just a few thousand refugees. Would an independent UK even deign to offer to take any refugees. TTIP and other major trading agreements would still be promoted even if the UK was out of the EU, only the secrecy would be in Whitehall and Westminster, not Brussels. I doubt if I could decide which offers the most transrarency but Westminster is better at cover-ups and top-notch when it comes to offering vows that are never delivered.

    When Vanis Varoufakis is in favour of Remain despite the way he was treated by EU beaurocrats it seems to me it is much better to remain and try to change the EU for the better rather than expect the UK to do so, after all it is well over a hundred years since it was suggested the House of Lords be abolished and it is now the second large legislation assembly in the world (only China has one larger) and the corporate and banking chicanery in London has no equal anywhere in the world (all legal, of course, thanks to links to offshore tax havens and cronyism).

  14. Gavin.C.Barrie

    To paraphrase Sam:
    I will vote to leave (the UK). The UK is not capable of reforming itself. Post Indyref negotiations got nowhere.( Smith Report?). it is corrupt and its accounts ( Barnett Formula?). The treatment of countries like Wales and Scotland deplorable.( Trident?) The people face years of austerity driving many into poverty, shortening and blighting lives ( Shettleston, Glasgow?). The handling of the mass immigration crisis ( the Brain family and Monongo families?). Playing human pass the parcel with people is bad. Then there is TTIP.

    Do you really believe that the Brexit Tories are going to reject TTIP? Its there lifeblood/ income stream man.

    Play it again Sam.

  15. Derek – and some of the posters here – we have to start with what we’ve got.

    Many of your criticisms of the SNP (and, tho’ an active member, I too have misgivings about some of the pronouncements) seem to come from a “if only things were not as they are, then everything would be different” position.

    Please don’t give up!

  16. The Tories want to to put rockets on TTIP.

    Go look at Tory party websites.

    Old but relevant

  17. I may have made up my mind how to vote in the EU referendum!

    I think I will vote for David Davies.

    Voting for the leader of a party that you are not actually in is an idea that we usually associate with America. I know a couple in NYC where one partner is a “registered” democrat and one a “registered” republican and the family decides together who they want as candidates in the presidential election. I admit I had some misgivings about giving £3.00 to the Labour party in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, but it was the right thing to do and I would do it again. Obviously I would no more vote for the Labour party than any other unionist party, but I am very happy that someone with basically sound politics is “running” Labour (good luck BTW Jeremy, the Chilcott report should cement you in nicely) and so my attention turns to the Tory party.

    Yes, the Tory leadership election is turning into a school playground stushie, with all the usual childish exaggerations and threats – all dressed up as if this was about the European Union! As if it actually mattered whether the neo-liberal bastards who were ripping us off lived in London or Brussels. You might imagine as you look at the shoutiest candidates, Cameron, Gove, Johnston etc that there is nothing to chose between them. True. So I shall be voting for David Davies. While his economics are the usual Tory trickle-down lunacy, he is remarkably sound on issues of civil liberty, and has spoken out about the UK government’s complicity on torture. Somebody has to lead the Tory party, at the moment it seems to be a committee formed of the Daily Mail and potential UKIP defectors.

    So when I get my postal voting form asking “who would you like to lead the Tory party” I shall know what to do. Write “David Davies” in block capital letters and send it back to them.

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