Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
I feel I must reply to Sam Daly’s letter in this weeks Advertiser. As Sam says I have known him a long time. I served in the same regiment, support the same football team and work for the same company. However as I was responding to a public letter, in a public forum, I used the formal term when referring to him. After all, whether I know him personally was not something the Advertiser readers were aware of, nor needed to be, although they are now. It just detracts from the debate in my opinion. However if he wishes something less formal, I’m happy to do so.
As regards the principle of “if you have to say something to someone, say it to their face”, I think Sam has perhaps forgotten that he emailed his letter to me two weeks before it was published, and we debated it by phone and email at the time. I told him at the time that I would probably write in response, but wouldn’t immediately do so for two reasons. One, I was at the time writing a response to one of David Stephen’s letters. Two, I couldn’t very well write to respond to a letter which hadn’t been published yet!
Sam seems to think there is a problem with my arithmetic, however after double checking my facts it looks like he still misunderstands the tax system. The Scottish NHS is funded through the block grant, not council tax. His offer to pay more tax to fund the NHS wouldn’t affect council tax in any way.
Sam also states that my assertion that free prescriptions for all can be obtained for little more than was already being paid for a means tested system is a baseless supposition, yet provides nothing to support his claim. I do actually put in a bit of research before making any claim, unlike some of the more prominent members of the No campaign who make public statement about numbers which fail to stand up to any reasonable scrutiny. The figures I have show that free prescriptions cost Scotland around £57 million a year, but a system of means testing is estimated to cost over half of that, and depending on which source you read would be anywhere between £30 and £50 million pounds. The difference between the two systems is barely the cost of an average premiership footballer. Considering that in 2007, 800,000 people in England and Wales failed to collect all or part of their prescription because they couldn’t afford to pay for it, I’d say the difference is well worth paying.
On the subject of football, Sam mentions a conversation which took place while at a football match. I won’t refer to anything Sam has said in private conversations, as I do not believe that this is an appropriate place to do so. Having said that I would like to clarify one thing. Regarding the Bedroom Tax, I think I’ve always been pretty clear on this. I fully agree that social housing is a resource of the state, not the property of the tenant, and that some sort of system should be in place to make sure that it is used to the full. However to say to a tenant that they are being penalised for not moving into a one bedroom house when there are no such properties available is just completely wrong. Given that the editor has requested letters are kept short and I’m already failing miserably, perhaps I will return to this at a later date.
If Sam is happy with the union, fair enough. That is his entitlement. Some people have done well out of the union, such as our MPs (and their colleagues in the cash cow for elderly politicians that is the House of Lords, the Holy Grail of the gravy train). I would expect them to defend it to the last, irrespective of whether it is bad for the country as a whole. But for working class people to defend it, knowing that the cuts yet to come will be deeper and harder than before, irrespective of who gets in to Westminster simply defies reason. A no vote is a vote to set in motion a process which will emasculate Scotland and reduce us to regional status. Scotland isn’t a region. I’m not North British, I’m Scottish, and it is my view that we should be able to take our own decisions as to what goes on in this country. Just like any other country. The ever more influential Nigel Farage wants to see the Scottish Parliament scrapped. The Tories want our MPs reduced. Labour wants to scrap the Barnett formula by the back door. Both Tories and Labour are focussed on stripping the NHS to the bones, and will turn their sights on Scotland’s NHS if given half a chance. Strip away the union flag waving and the 300 years of shared history rhetoric, and that’s what is waiting. There will be a heavy price to pay if we cling to the UK comfort blanket, and it’s a price not worth paying.