I feel I must reply to Kenneth MacKintosh’s letter in this weeks Advertiser as it contains some basic errors and inaccuracies, so much so that it really makes me wonder how it even got published. Who needs fake news when you have fake views.
Mr MacKintosh said that the Labour Party must fight this election on our health service and education. It is disappointing to still be seeing that people do not seem to understand the different levels of government which we have in Scotland, and what responsibilities each one has. Both health and education are devolved and come under the auspices of our parliament in Holyrood, and the correct time to debate them will be at the Holyrood elections in 2021. This is a Westminster election, and due to devolution and the Tory “English Votes for English Laws” legislation the parties in Scotland should be concentrating on those areas in which they are allowed a say in at Westminster; this would cover such issues as immigration, foreign policy, employment law, defence and the constitution.
Too many of the Labour/Tory/Lib-Dem politicians are happy talking about health, education, etc because this mirrors what their main parties are talking about and will be in line with what will appear in the main UK news broadcasts. For example, if London Labour is discussing transport then the Scottish branch of the party will do likewise, even though it’s a Holyrood issue and their policies aren’t applicable in Scotland. This can only happen due to the public’s own misunderstanding of our politics, but it’s a misunderstanding all parties are happy to exploit, and you must ask what they stand to gain by doing that.
Finally Mr MacKintosh notes that the Scottish Government underspent its budget last year. This has happened every year since the creation of our parliament and is necessary as Scotland runs a “pocket-money parliament” and is not permitted to build up a deficit. Everything has to be accounted for and our country cannot go over. Were the Scottish Government to spend its entire budget and then experience an unforeseen event which required a large amount of funding they would be forced to go cap in hand to London to be bailed out. Given that many English voters already view us as spongers who live off their generosity it’s unlikely that this would be popular. Prior to 2007 the Labour Party were in the habit of returning the underspend to London, but since they lost power that money has been carried forward to future years so it isn’t lost completely and can then be spent the next year. Of course the Britnats label this as a “slush fund”.
It would of course be far easier if we simply removed the most wasteful and remote of these levels of government; to give Scots a parliament which controlled its own economy and could legislate, borrow and build a better country without having to ask permission from our neighbours first. Then our success or failure would be our own, with no need to “blame” someone else as Mr MacKintosh puts it. But that would mean taking some responsibility for our own actions, wouldn’t it?