We Need to Vote Smarter for Independence

The Scottish Parliament is a relatively young parliament and as such is still in many ways is finding its feet. Apparently designed to produce a more consensual, cross party politics it has in effect produced an almost even British Nationalist/Scottish Independence split, with only the Greens tiny presence tipping the balance in our favour. Even as a young parliament though there’s now enough data on previous elections to start making changes to the way that we vote. Having crept to minority power in 2007 the SNP were fortunate to win the 2011 Holyrood election with the perfect combination of constituency and list seats to give them an outright majority. However their continued success then worked against them in 2016 as their constituency gains disproportionately wiped out their list representation. The simple to understand ‘SNP 1&2’ mantra met the real world and the vast majority of SNP voters saw their second vote sit idle as the Britnats hoovered up the list seats. It is said that he who doesn’t learn the lessons of history is destined to repeat those mistakes. Many Scots have learned and determined to ensure that doesn’t happen again, hence the formation of the Independence for Scotland Party (ISP).

There are many arguments against the formation of another independence party, given that we already have the Scottish Greens, Solidarity and the Scottish Socialists. With such a wealth of choice there is apparently little room for another, after all RISE sank, and yet Scotland’s electorate aren’t really giving them votes in significant numbers. Why is that? The latter two are simply too small, both are fishing in the same pool of socialist voters and at present don’t appeal to large numbers. That leaves the Greens, the ones who at present tip the balance in favour of independence, but whose raison d’etre is environmentalism, and who I personally view as the weak underbelly of the independence movement. We recently have seen disturbing entryism in the SNP which is raising concern but is still containable and can be dealt with due to the size of the party, but the Greens are small enough that a number of determined people of a British Nationalist bent joining could see them become neutral or pro UK. After all, where does the British Nationalist environmentalist put their vote? The Greens have also been seen to collude with the Britnats to scupper the popular OBFA legislation and even have one prominent MSP who has referred to the readers of this paper as “zoomers”, so for many people they simply aren’t a popular choice. Some people might consider the tactic of “Hold your nose and vote Green” but what should those who don’t want to hold their nose do?

The SNP will undoubtedly use the vote ‘SNP 1&2’ line again, and if the Greens would only field list candidates then they might gain from an ‘SNP 1, Green 2’ approach, but hubris will ensure that doesn’t happen. So why not consider another way?

The Independence for Scotland Party would certainly use the ‘SNP 1, ISP 2’ message and that would be a clear rallying call to the Yes movement across much of Scotland. With the SNP forecast to sweep the boards on constituency seats the ISP would not stand in areas where they would damage the SNP list chance, but where they could do maximum damage to the combined Britnat representation.

There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from within the SNP at the emergence of this party, and that’s entirely to be expected. Having seen the horrendous infighting within the party over who even gets on the list and what position you get, there will at least be a degree of unity against a perceived external threat. But if we vote wisely the only ones threatened will be the rejected elected, the Leonards, Lennons and Lockharts who creep in to undermine our parliament via the list.

Scotland sent a majority of SNP MP’s to Westminster with the mission of settle up, not settle down. Perhaps we also need a party in Scotland with enough profile and clout to also remind the SNP that their main role is to guide us to independence, not simple to provide stable and competent colonial administration in Edinburgh. We can certainly do that if we get smart, do the homework and get behind a party like the ISP. I hope that independence supporters will go back to being the open, receptive movement they were in 2014 and give this idea a hearing. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Let’s not discount this new party out of hand.

(Letter sent to The National, 15/05/20)

Published in The National, 16/05/20

Ein Volk, Ein Nation, Ein Exit Strategy

VE Day is in the air. Liberation is coming! The news that Boris “The Butcher” Johnson is planning on easing lockdown restrictions from Monday is extremely worrying. The UK government, driven by Johnson, initially planned to allow as many people as possible to catch Covid 19 to create their so-called herd immunity. Then when it was too late they implemented a limited lockdown supplemented with social distancing. Unfortunately the Scottish government has by and large followed that model, albeit with a few days difference in implementation. There has been little or nothing done here which has been radically different, and anything which has been done such as closing schools or construction sites has raised UK hackles, with British Nationalists in Scotland railing against anything which differs from the one state/four nation approach. The whole idea of devolved government is about to be put to its toughest test yet though, and possibly from next week we will see a real change in who people see as the superior parliament. Since hearing that the UK government plans to ease restrictions I have noticed a change in behaviour of the public which indicates to me that when they are given a choice between lockdown measures which are more or less restrictive a significant number of people will choose the least restrictive restrictions. If for example Johnson announces that people may meet socially and resume visiting parks for picnics and the like, but Nicola Sturgeon announces that people in Scotland must maintain the current level of lockdown for longer, whose advice will people take? This situation differs vastly from the confusion which the leader of the Tory group in Scotland Jackson Carlaw claims might occur from the use of two different tracing apps. Instead this will create a situation where people will feel that they can make the choice of whose lead they will follow. I’ve no doubt that hardline British Nationalists will make a show of choosing to follow their leader Boris Johnson in goose-step, sorry lock step, but what of the rest of us? The fact is that most people will follow the path of least resistance in life, so this will probably be no different, but people will be making a conscious decision to choose either the advice of the UK government or the Scottish one and that will be important going forward.
At the time of writing there have been around 3,000 deaths from Covid 19 in Scotland. In a country of 5 million people that is low enough that it would be reasonable to assume that many people may not have been personally affected. Some people might know someone who has had the virus, some might know someone who has died from it, but for the vast majority of people this situation has been an inconvenience which has limited their work and social life and which they have seen on TV but not up close. If we want it to remain that way, bad as it is, or get better then we need to not only continue what we have done up until now, but actually tighten up our behaviours. Recently the First Minister recommended the wearing of masks or face coverings in public places, but I’ve seen little evidence of this being taken acted upon, indeed quite the reverse. I have yet to see a policeman on the street wearing a mask, few if any shop staff wear them and those working in public transport are seldom seen with any PPE, yet all are coming into contact with the public and the public take their lead from them, from public figures of authority or responsibility. If people see that when they go into a shop or get on a train that the staff are wearing masks aren’t they more likely to follow suit? Nicola Sturgeon must now take the bull by the horns and lead us on a different path. She should make the wearing of masks mandatory in workplaces and public places as the next step in trying to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This will undoubtedly be resisted by some but I am sure this will be a necessary measure in ensuring that we do not have second and third waves of the virus; having seen tens of thousands die because of the actions of the UK government we must try to make a clear break with UK policy and demonstrate through decisive action the benefits of being able to make or own decisions about how and when we deal with the pandemic, and by extension any situation affecting the people of Scotland.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

The behaviour of Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has caused a great deal of comment on social media over the last twenty four hours and it’s really rather sad to see how many sections of the independence movement have jumped through hoops to defend her actions when they should be raging at them. Catherine Calderwood clearly broke the very rules she was telling everyone else they had to abide by, and my initial reaction was that she had been very arrogant in doing so, however in this pandemic we really need to have the best people available, and that a heartfelt and public apology would possibly have been enough to stem most of the anger which was being aired. If people could see that even those at the very top weren’t too big to be punished then this would have sent a clear message to everyone that such behaviour would not be tolerated. For these views I took some criticism on social media as some thought such an apology was too extreme, while some indulged in whitabootery, citing Prince Charles decision to travel to his holiday home as an excuse. In their rush to defend the CMO many folk threw rational thinking out of the window completely. If we aspire to create a better society, a better nation, why should we set the base line of acceptable behaviour as that of our opponents on their worst days? That makes no sense.
I was pleased and somewhat surprised to see that this is exactly what happened and that the First Minister stuck with her, valuing the contribution her expertise brought to our country’s response to the global pandemic. This should have went some way to allowing things to settle and to get on with the very important job of dealing with virus response. Sadly this was all undone when it was revealed that she had done this two weekends running and Ms Calderwood had no option but to resign. But if she has shot herself in the foot, the press have grabbed the gun and given her the coup de grace to the head. One commentator who had vociferously called for head stated that we should all “put this behind us and move on”. Presumably to new target, because even at times like this British Nationalists will put Britain first and if they can give the SNP a kicking, directly or indirectly they will do so, even if it means doing damage to the immediate medical response. This means that the SNP need to be at the top of their game, day in, day out. As elected politicians who represent their party and (to varying degrees) the independence movement as a whole they must be aware that their behaviour is being scrutinised from every angle, be it a neighbour or constituent who doesn’t share their beliefs, by political opponents looking to defeat them at the ballot box or by the gutter press who may be seated next to them on the train. This also applies to those who the Scottish Government engage to work on their behalf. Every dodgy Permanent Secretary or adviser who thinks they are above the rules is just as much a liability as those who are actually members of the SNP who behave likewise. Scotland deserves better, and the SNP need to deliver, every single time. Mistakes like we have witnessed recently may be tolerated by the happy clappers among the party, but others in the country will not be as forgiving.

Published in The National, 07/04/20

Et Tu, The National?

The Sunday National. Look it up for yourself, I’ll not link to it.

Et tu, The National? On behalf of the many disgusted independence activists who have today taken to social media in relation to the latest hatchet job on Alex Salmond, I feel the question must be asked: “What the hell were you thinking”? I have today seen numerous people stating they will cancel their subscriptions, including one friend who has championed your paper at every opportunity, who has delivered it on the doorsteps and handed it out on the streets and who has now cancelled their subscription and has vowed never to hand out a copy again. Way to go, guys!

Alex Salmond was acquitted of every single charge, yet his anonymous accusers show no sign of relenting in their campaign to destroy him, and now continue to do so with the aid and abettance of the one paper which had the broad support of the independence movement. I say “had” in the past tense. Many were suspicious of the paper already being a stablemate of the ultra British nationalist Herald, and for them this has surely been the straw which broke the camel’s back. Others however were your core customer base and for them this will undoubtedly be a “Ratner moment” which will see them take their once valued custom elsewhere.

As a very active independence campaigner I value the contribution made by The National to our efforts over the last few years, but I can’t let this pass without comment. There must now be nothing less than a front page apology from the paper for it’s decision to give the anonymous accusers a platform and an open and honest admission as to how that decision was made. If such an apology is not forthcoming then I fear that this paper’s days are numbered.

COVID-19: What Can We Do Differently from England?

In all the furore over the UK governments ventilator procurement scandal, no-one seems to be asking a very simple question: if the UK government acting on behalf of NHS England is not taking up the many offers to produce ventilators, is the Scottish government doing so? I’ve read that they have ordered an additional 300 ventilators, but is that really an adequate amount? For a country of our size we really need to ensure that we have as many as possible with the expectation that while most people are doing everything they can, this situation is going to worsen before it gets better. We should be hoovering up the offers from companies which the UK government has rejected as a matter of urgencySimilarly I would say that the work the Scottish Government is now doing to identify a site for an emergency facility is weeks too late and that such facilities should have been identified and operational before now. I’d also go further and say that we do not need one large facility, but that each health board should have set up emergency centres in their own area to ensure the shortest possible journey times and the minimisation of the possibility of the virus being spread in transit. The people in the Highlands, Islands and the Borders deserve to be treated in their own areas, lest we reinforce the absurd notion that only the Central belt matters; a mirror to the problem in England where the “UK” emergency centre has been established in London.

I’ve heard many people trying to point score over this pandemic, and it is all very well saying that the Scottish government is operating different strategies while pointing to deficiencies in the English health service, but the time for clapping ourselves on the back is not now. That time will be when this crisis has subsided and we can then have an honest and open assessment of what worked and what didn’t, and what we need to do in the event of future pandemics. For now we must expect to see a worsening of the situation and a subsequent tightening of the restrictions we are currently living under. I would expect to see at the very least an end to all flights and unnecessary cross border land travel to prevent the virus spreading further from the most contaminated areas, however I suspect that will not happen, which leads me to my final point.

If this virus had broken out primarily in Scotland and was seen as a threat to the rest of the UK, would the UK government even hesitate to bring in an immediate travel ban and testing regime on anyone travelling south? I don’t think they would even blink before doing so. Having demanded Brexit to take back control they left their (and our) borders open and allowed it to enter and devastate the UK. I would hope that when Scotland does become independent in the event of a similar crisis we wouldn’t be as stupid as to make a similar lethal mistake.

Where Now for the Scottish Branch of the Labour Party?

In the lead up to the 2014 referendum many Scottish Labour figures came out with the line that they had as much in common with the workers of Durham or Darlington as they did with the workers in Dundee or Dunfermline. It’s a much repeated trope symbolising the idea that their support for the union was based not on national lines but on class lines; a shared ethos of socialist communities working together towards a common goal, sharing common experiences against a common foe: uncaring, greedy, grasping Tories. In the last few years though it’s become apparent that Brexit has made England and Wales rethink their priorities, and it’s clear that while Scottish Labour have remained loyal to their southern counterparts, the people of Durham and Darlington have decided that their allegiance is no longer with Labour but with the Tories. Having spent all those years holding a candle for England’s working class, Scottish Labour are now left alone in the dark holding a charred stub with no idea how to get out of the darkness.

Pleas from some factions within the party that they must soften their stance on independence are met with roars of disapproval from the most hardcore British Nationalists in their ranks, some of whom would happily see Holyrood closed down than see the SNP succeed in any aspect. This embittered group are still raging over Labour’s loss of it’s North British fiefdom in 2007; they burn with hatred over their inability to take back control of what they view as rightfully theirs: control of every aspect of Scottish life from community council to Westminster and every carriage of the gravy train which snaked between them all. These are a people beyond our reach, and we would be foolish to expend our energies trying to win them over. But the Labour Party is more than this small but vocal group. We in the independence movement must reach out to are those who can see the bigger prize; who want a publicly owned health service, joined up public transport designed with users in mind, not shareholders; people who want an education system to be proud of, who want to get on with building a better Scotland and who are open to that being built by a Labour government in an independent Scotland.

How do we do that though? By exhorting them to change sides, to switch to the SNP? That would be unpalatable to many. To build a new party? That might be option but would mean a complete loss of structure and influence and would put them in competition with the remnants of British Labour. Instead we must encourage them to speak up within the Labour Party and demonstrate that they want to cut their ties with London, stand on their own two feet and change the direction of their party from anti to pro independence. This means ridding the party of those who find Scotland run by a UK Tory government infinitely preferable to a Scotland run independently by Labour. Because those people aren’t socialists, not really. Those are people with no vision and no ambition. If they had any of those characteristics they would seize the chance to protect Scotland and build it into a example which their counterparts in England could point to as evidence that their policies can work. Instead they spend their time opposing everything done by the SNP to prove that those policies don’t work, even what it is exactly what they would do if they had power.

This week their branch leader Richard Leonard has said that his party will be having a swift, evidence based review of where Labour went wrong, but he has already come to the conclusion that their stance on independence is the correct one. This sounds to me like Mr Leonard has already made up his mind prior to hearing the evidence which renders his consultation, like him, pointless. The rot clearly starts at the top and if Labour is to be encouraged to steer their ship towards independence then a change of captain is obviously needed, and only mutiny in the ranks will bring this about. Should they maintain this course they will undoubtedly founder on the rocks, and time will tell if they heed the warnings or head full sail towards their own destruction.

Airdrie and Shotts Result 2019- The Outcome

From Sky NewsThe night of the 12th December into the 13th was a long and eventful one. As I was following the Scottish coverage I missed just how many big names went in our southern neighbours electoral battlefields. It was a night of big surprises, but in other ways delivered just what I expected.

What I expected was a Tory majority and that was exactly what the outcome was. Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” message was simple and repetitive and no attention was paid by many to the devil in the detail.

Corbynism is now dead and gone and we can “look forward” to another two or three Conservative governments before we get any kind of reprieve. Anyone who still believes that another Labour government is just round the corner really does need their head examined.

The SNP did exceptionally well in Scotland, better than I had expected to be honest. I was delighted to see Jo Swinson gone, and it will be interesting to see how much money the Lib-Dems threw at that seat.

Locally the SNP also did better than I expected. In Coatbridge Hugh “Two-Jobs” Gaffney became merely Hugh Gaffney as Stevie Bonnar took the seat back for the SNP, despite the ongoing infighting in the branch. In Airdrie the SNP’s Neil Gray saw off the challenge of Helen McFarlane of the Labour Party, and did so comfortably. Early in the campaign I had stated that the SNP lost around 10,00 votes between 2015-2017 and this was partially due to their failure to motivate those who had previously supported them to get out and vote.  That’s not a mistake that was repeated this time, with Nicola Sturgeon making a number of high profile references to Indyref 2020. This wasn’t really repeated in local leafleting though and I thought this may be a weakness. It wasn’t perceived as such.

There was also much effort on social media at organising and directing tactical voting. Former Labour MP and now Scotland in Union Chief Executive Pamela Nash was the main proponent of this with her Tactical Voting Advisor being used to advise British Nationalists which way to vote. Such was the volume of chatter that I saw it as likely that if the SNP failed to enthuse it’s lapsed support then the Labour Party would be the beneficiary of those who had stated they were going to “hold their nose and vote Labour (in reference to Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged IRA support).  So what happened?

Firstly, let’s look at turnout. In 2017 Airdrie and Shotts had 64,146 registered voters. In 2019 that had DROPPED to 64,008! That’s not much, but you would expect the registered electorate to rise, not fall. In the great scheme of things it’s not much, but then again it’s not far off Neil Gray’s majority in 2017. Of those registered 39,772 voted in 2019, up on 2017’s 38,002. So, with an extra 1770 voters turning out, how were those votes carved up?

The SNP increased their vote by 3,638.

Labour lost 1,368 votes overall.

The Tories lost 1,802 votes.

The Lib-Dems increased their vote by 617.

The Greens took 685 votes (didn’t stand previously).

Given that it’s unlikely that voters would switch from pro-Indy/Anti-Brexit SNP to anti-Indy/anti-Brexit Lib-Dems, we might see much of the Lib-Dem increase coming from Labour/Tory voters who were against Brexit.

We can probably put much of the remaining Tory loss down to tactical voting for Labour, and this could mean around 1,500 votes went to what they viewed rightly as the SNP’s main challenger.

Which begs the question: what happened to the Labour vote? If we assume that around 1,500 votes were lent by the Tories, then Labour retained around 11,200 votes from 2015, dropping almost 2,900 votes somewhere along the way.  Were those voters simply not energised by Jeremy Corbyn this time round? Did they stay at home and not bother voting at all? Or did they switch to the SNP and Greens? Those are questions which Labour will no doubt be asking, but which the SNP must also ask too. Because they need to know whether their rise in this election came from lapsed supporters or people who switched from their constitutional opponents, and if it’s the latter, have they changed their mind on the constitutional question?

As for Labour, they need to ask the same question and decide where their future lies. At the head of the party is a wounded leadership still resolved to backing the union, but how much of the remaining rank and file are now open to independence?

And what of my predictions? I saw the British Nationalist tactical voting coming and had turnout followed similar lines at 2017 Labour would have comfortably taken the seat. What I didn’t see was the total collapse of the Labour vote which rendered the tactical voting null and void. Time will tell whether they rebuild to former levels or not. I wouldn’t put money on it though.

Misleading Scotland – Dodgy Bar Charts and Alternative Facts

The last election leaflet has now been delivered and there have been some whoppers. At this election across the UK it has been reported that there have been some rather dodgy bar graphs used in the electoral material which take the statistics from the previous elections and present them as, well, something else entirely. So how have we fared in Airdrie & Shotts?

Here’s the Airdrie & Shotts result from 2017.

The SNP took 37.6% of the vote, followed closely by Labour on 37.1%. The Tories increased their vote, but still trailed in around 5,000 votes behind on 23.4%, while the Lib-Dems lost their deposit with a mere 2.1% of votes cast. In the 2019 leaflets issued by all parties both the SNP and Labour decided not to use bar charts. From the SNP’s point of view that’s understandable as such a graphic would show how close they were to being unseated, and might encourage tactical voting against them. As challengers it’s therefore strange that Labour failed to do so, as it would have showed them as strongly placed and at the same time revealed the claims made by the Tories and Lib-Dems as misleading. How so? Here’s how…

Lorraine Nolan Leaflet

The Conservative candidate presented a graph showing them romping ahead of Labour and would indicate to the casual reader that they were in pole position to challenge the SNP. One problem: the graph showed the rise in their vote share, not their actual vote share, and would need around a 70% rise to beat the SNP! That’s right. Seventy. Seven Zero. Top marks for audacity, nil points for accuracy.

William “the ghost” Crossman.

Not to be outdone the Lib Dem candidate William Crossman, who appears to have either been photoshopped onto his leaflet or popped off the train at Airdrie for a selfie and then jumped on the first train back out (has anyone ever seen him?) made the claim that the Lib-Dems are “challenging the SNP across much of Scotland”. By much he means some and that certainly isn’t in Airdrie. In his chart he’s decided to use the results of the 2019 European Election to show how the Lib-Dems increased their vote by almost 7%, which if replicated in this election could see the Lib-Dems increase their vote share from 2.1% to 2.2 and a bit %. Haud me back!

In but a few short hours we’ll see who comes out tops, but if there are awards for brass neck and bullshit the Tories and Lib-Dems would be the clear winners. Congratulations!

For comparison I uploaded all the 2019 electoral material I received to the site electionleaflets.org and you can view them all HERE.

Monklands Hospital Replacement Submission

The selection process which had previously seen Gartcosh selected as the site for the replacement of Monklands Hospital was reopened by Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman and new suggestions were sought after complaints were made about the initial process.

It seemed clear from the outset that Gartcosh was the preferred option of North Lanarkshire Health Board, and I felt that the “consultation” which took place was designed to sell this option to the public rather than give them any real say in the process.

The re-run process closes on 13th December and submissions can be made HERE.

As far as I am aware there are currently three potential sites in the running: Gartcosh, Glenmavis, and Faskine. The current site has been excluded from the process.

I submitted the following text to the Monklands Replacement Project Team today and providing it meets all the criteria (which I believe it does) should be included for consideration. It’s an area I’m familiar with and I’ve spent many hours walking and climbing there, however it is already earmarked for the East Airdrie Link road, and development on part of this site would at least protect greenbelt elsewhere.

The area which is referred to in the submission is marked with a thick blue border/red/white dots.

My proposal for a suitable site for a new build hospital would be the land on the north side of the A89 between Clarkston and Plains, opposite the old St Philips School complex (ML6 7JE), contained in OS grid NS76 66. The site is bounded to the south by the main A89. To the west by the B8058, to the north by Airdriehill Road and abandoned quarry workings, and to the east by the village of Plains.
Within the area described are the remains of Burnhead Farm and Burnhead Quarry. The area is traversed by Core Path 178 (also known as Right of Way SM8) and Right of Way SM9. The area is used for grazing by cattle and has two dwellings on the boundary of the described area at the extreme north –eastern corner at the junction of Meadowhead Road and Ballochney Road.

The area described exceeds the required 40 acres, and the area is surrounded by developed land or land with permissions granted for development. It has good access from the A89 and is immediately adjacent to the route of the East Airdrie Link Road which will give exceptional connectivity from across the catchment area. Drumgelloch railway station is located 0.9km away by foot, which compares well with the distance from Coatdyke railway station to the current Monklands Hospital (0.7km). The proposed site is 3.7 km east of the existing Monklands Hospital and would not have a detrimental impact on adjoining NHS areas, and would maintain the hospitals direct link with the town of Airdrie while protecting valuable greenbelt land to the south of Airdrie.

How Low Can They Go?

_20191205_2033414313364075472517047.jpgI really don’t think I could feel any more contempt than I do with anyone making political capital from the deaths of children in the QEU Hospital. The idea of these people rubbing their hands with glee at the news of a child’s death sickens me to the core; and I find it concerning that there is a mole inside the hospital whose first priority appears not to be to the patients, or the families, but the Labour Party. This chain runs like a sewer from the mole to the Labour Party and then onwards to their friends in the print media and the BBC; and no matter how tenuous the link, from there the stories filter into every home and every workplace as one voice, with one message: get the Health Minister. This message is then seized upon by their poisonous Twitterati who add their tuppenceworth before sharing their epidemic of hate.

It’s a tactic which has repeated itself over and over in Scotland since the SNP swept Labour from its fiefdom here, yet it is not a pattern which is repeated in England, either by the parties or the media. It is a truly Scottish phenomenon, but it is one which many of us haven’t succumbed to. The idea that the removal of the current Health Minister will improve things doesn’t add up, especially when the reasons for calling for her head cannot be directly laid at her door. If any deaths were as a direct result of an instruction given by the Minister then I’d have no argument with that line of attack. I’ve had issues with hospitals myself, where I’ve had to raise complaints, but I can clearly see where responsibility lies and these have mainly been with local procedures or with members of staff themselves. Unless I was extraordinarily twisted there is no way I could lay the blame for the bad attitude of an individual within the system at the door of the Health Minister. Yet this is the situation Scotland now finds itself in and a simple comparison with news output, media coverage and political posturing sees none of the same patterns occurring in England, despite there being no shortage of troubling stories emanating from their NHS.

Unfortunately I see no end in sight to this cycle of coverage in Scotland, which is ultimately eroding confidence in our entire health service. Here in Airdrie there is a consultation taking place about the replacement for the Monklands Hospital, and I heard one elderly gentleman comment that “perhaps they will learn to build a hospital where people don’t die”. There isn’t a hospital in the world where that happens, but that’s now the level of expectation displayed by so many people that I believe they will die of their own stupidity rather than a medical condition.