Health, education and the police.

Expect to hear a lot of misery about this little troika of domestic issues from our unionist friends in the course of the next few months. Unable to move the Scottish people on from the many unresolved constitutional issues that still consume our national debate the UK parties are desperately looking for anything that will breathe life into moribund campaigns.

Their mission now is to ‘prove’ and ‘convince’ the Scottish people that SNP stewardship of public services has been poor and that as a Government we have ‘failed’. With the Scottish General election coming up they believe (with assistance from an ever eager and compliant press) that if they say that things are bad, often and loud enough, they will be believed and their case will become an orthodoxy and truth


Unfortunately for my unionist friends these attacks are as unlikely to have any more success than the efforts they have put into trying to get the Scots weaned off constitutional politics.

There’s a couple of ground rules in politics that have to be in place before any sort of political attack will work. This is particularly true of public services that people use all the time. Most importantly any attack must resonate with the public. If an attack on public services is to hit its mark it must be able to chime with the experience of those in receipt of those said public services.

And this is the problem for the unionist parties. Most of the Scottish people remain satisfied with the performance of Scottish public services and SNP stewardship of them. In health, education and policing most people are happy with what they secure – almost extraordinary when budgets are having to be cut right across the board. On health, education and the stewardship of the economy less than 30% of Scots believe that the SNP stewardship is poor, education is actually below 20% the rest either satisfied or believing that our stewardship is good. Only in policing is there more people who believe that SNP stewardship is ‘poor’ as opposed to ‘good’ and that is only by a small margin. People therefore look on at all these unionist attacks with bewilderment. It also seems like that they are talking down the services that they enjoy and the overt negativism then becomes counter productive.

And let’s take the example of policing. This should be the easiest hit for our unionist friends and even they are not so dim as to realise that. This is why there has been the constant (almost beyond distraction) attacks on the police. Police Scotland is perhaps the biggest piece of public sector reform undertaken in recent years so the possibility of a variety of issues and problems emerging was always likely.

Police Scotland is certainly having almost predictable problems but here’s the thing. Recorded crime is falling, more police are on the street, detection rates are up and people feel safer in their communities. All of this is a disaster for politicians who need to demonstrate that something is fundamentally wrong with Government stewardship of the police. People just don’t see it or feel it the way that those unionist politicians want them to.

This is the same in health and education where the Scottish people are seeing falling waiting times, new schools, record exam passes and a health service remaining true to its founding principles. That’s before we get on to free tuition and prescriptions. Yes, there are problems with public services and problems will inevitably continue to emerge but there is nothing to suggest that the Scottish public believe that the Scottish Government won’t be able to deal with them.

The other just as important ground rule in attacking the record of a Government is that those on the attack must have an attractive and convincing alternative vision of their own. This is where our unionist friends fall down spectacularly. Very few people in Scotland believe for a minute that either Labour or the Tories would do any better. With the Tories we only have to have a cursory glance beyond the border to see what would happen if they were ever trusted with our public services. Whereas Labour in its current diminished and chaotic condition is observed with nothing other than something approaching pity.

And you don’t have to take my word for any of this. You only have to look at the opinion polls to see the continuing trust in the SNP. Support for the SNP is just shy of 60% in the latest opinion poll with Labour languishing in the mid 20s and the Tories on another historic low at 12%.

If the unionist parties think that they will secure some sort of solace in targeting our stewardship of public services then they have not counted on the real experience of real Scots and their trust in us to manage the services they enjoy. Attacking us on our stewardship of public services is as likely to end up as successful as attacking us on the constitution. Forlorn and ultimately self-defeating.


  1. Richard Clark

    And if Police Scotland is going to be the biggest issue to deal with don’t be shy in reminding everyone how the extra millions saved from not having to pay VAT would go a long way! The only nation in the UK to pay that VAT – don’t be shy!

    1. jillstephenson2014j

      You know very well that VAT is charged because police in Scotland is now no longer a local matter but a central one. The SNP SG was clearly warned about this rule, and about how to avoid being caught by it. But they pig-headedly went ahead with their plans anyway. The VAT charge is the fault of the SG.

      1. Daisy Walker

        Except they do not charge the ‘unified’ Northern Irish Police Force VAT do they? Double standards.
        But let’s not quibble, as adults , let’s look at this and agree that an anomaly has been shown up by the changes. And now let’s fix it.
        Tax payers pay tax for public services, not so that the public services can get taxed. Any way you look at it that’s just silly and an expensive double handling of money.
        Jobs are being lost, experience and talent wasted while this drags on.

      2. Hornets Fan

        Of course it may well be the fault of SG for ignoring warnings, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that charging VAT on a frontline public service is plainly a nonsense – and one that the Tories could correct at the stroke of a pen if they chose to do so. Unfortunately they don’t, preferring as they do to take every opportunity to adversely treat both the people and the government of Scotland. It’s clearly outside of their genetic make-up to act rationally and fairly to anyone other than themselves – they can’t even treat the English electorate in a civilised manner..

      3. ianrlowe

        I imagine that it’s harder to find a more efficient answer to a point than four letters.

        The entire nonsense that Jill and her coterie of unionists spout about VAT and Police Scotland is answered by one simple four letter acronym: “PSNI”

        That’s right, the Police Service of Northern Ireland – a unified police force with precisely the same reporting structures as Police Scotland… and yet, as we all know, they don’t pay VAT, whilst Police Scotland do.

        Jill will happily bash anything to do with Scotland, anything at all – as long as it helps to bolster the Union, no price is too high, no flagellation too painful to endure.

        Tick tock. Independence is coming.

      4. Neil Freshwater

        Northern Ireland Police do not pay VAT no, due to the structure of funding govt services over there, but their funding is reduced accordingly (by 2.5%) to reflect their VAT exemption. A similar amount that Police Scotland have had to (2.58%) as it happens.


  3. Alan

    You continually say “unionist” as if it is a bad word. You are in Parliament to represent the whole of Scotland and not just the 37% who support independence. Please start working for the benefit of all Scots and stop creating grievance and hate. It’s time we moved on Pete! Also you must realize that “the best for the Scottish people” and independence are mutually exclusive based on your own government figures for this year. Stop the hate, grievance and bitterness and do your job for the majority of Scotland, not the noisy minority.

    1. ianrlowe

      37% – do keep up. Support for Independence is now over 50% and growing. You are the noisy minority, and will be ever more of a minority as we move on.

      1. James Kennedy

        Yet in the only electoral test the question has ever faced, which was barely over a year ago, you found yourself in the minority just about everywhere in the country. If you think a moment’s opinion polls are a true and accurate reflection of the opinion of the general public, I hope you’re enjoying life under Ed Miliband’s premiership over the Lib/Lab UK Government. If that doesn’t reflect your experience every time you, I don’t know, open a newspaper, try waking up.

    2. Iain C

      Can you suggest an alternative to “unionist” that you would fond more acceptable? I can think of a few, but none are suitable for polite company, or even Parliament. Also, it wasn’t the referendum that decided who represents us, but that’s democracy for you?

  4. daibhidhdeux

    Am exceedingly curious as to where Alan’s 37% stat comes from – where does it? Can Alan cite a detailed source/sources, please? Thank you.

    Also, as Daisy points out, Jill Stephenson’s assertion falls apart immediately over the treatment of the unitary police service in Northern Ireland.

    Both contributors seem to be on somewhat sticky evidence-based grounds.

    1. Drone

      45%said yes on 85% turnout. Do the maths.

      NI struck a deal, Vat recovered, but budget reduced prorata. Net effect was the same. Transport Police, and others also cannot recover Vat.

    2. Russ Denny (@RussDenny1)

      I believe the 37% is extrapolated from the number of people registered to vote as opposed to the 45% who did vote Yes. Of course this also means that the percentage of those voting No has to be declared at around 43% instead of 55% – that margin is decreasing all the time!

  5. Bibbit (@allwasdark)

    My aunt was recently diagnosed with an illness which gives her 1-2 years of remaining life. She has been in hospital in Kirkcaldy then moved to the new ‘Liz the Last’ Hospital in Glasgow then to the Jubilee in Clydebank, then back to the ‘Liz the Last’ and Kirkcaldy. It has been an emotional rollercoaster for the family.My aunt gets home today for first time in 12 weeks and is only alive thanks to the care & attention she has received unceasingly for month after month. Throughout that time she was treated by world class professionals and on visiting her often, the infrastructure and planning of these hospitals, esp the Jublilee & Liz The Last Hospitals were seen by all my family also as world class and second to none.

    My mother even stayed 3 nights with her sister at the Jubliee in the ensuite hospital hotel AT NO EXPENSE. Where else IN THE WORLD could one receive such assistance & support?

    The express bus services to the ‘Liz The Last’ Hospital are every 10 mins and on dedicated new bus lanes it is a scant 12 mins from Gw Central Station to the Hospital. The logistical planning behind this success is quite something.

    I am so proud at what the Scottish people have achieved and are continuing to improve upon.

    I am, frankly, disgusted at the MSM (Unionists – the lot of them) with their constant drip drip drip of poison against the SNP, the NHS Scotland, and all the emergency services of Scotland. Don’t they know their attacks on the NHS etc are attacks on the people themselves?

    People can see the truth in their every day experience, as opposed to the nonsense appearing in papers & TV. No wonder the BBC’s Scotland 2015 programme is attracting less than 5000 viewers a night. Scots are the most politically astute populance in the world. People are sick to the back teeth of Unionist lies, lies by ommission and their wilful blindness. Time to move on. Facts are chiels than winna ding.

  6. Pingback: Sunny ways » Labour Hame

  7. Brian McGowan

    I’ve had a couple of health issues these last few years. In each case I encountered the NHS and our local hospital. What can I say? Efficient, professional, caring, all of the above. The NHS provides an outstanding service in these difficult financial times.

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