sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul

Wings Over Scotland

Still not getting it

Posted on November 13, 2012 by

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to look at things from a neutral viewpoint (something which is possible even when you’re not a neutral, incidentally), you can’t help but throw your hands in the air and bang your head off the desk in frustration at the sheer clueless stupidity of certain politicians. Today provided a case in point.

Dear old Magnus Gardham has a piece in the Herald covering last night’s inaugural public conference of the Labour For Independence group. After a very brief report on the event he quite reasonably solicits a reaction from “official” Labour, whose constitution spokeswoman Patricia Ferguson obliges with one of the most cosmically witless statements to disfigure the independence debate thus far (no small feat):

“This really seems like desperate stuff from the Yes Scotland campaign. Trying to claim Ricky Ross as a Labour supporter when he was a founding member of Artists for Independence as far back as the 1980s is just absurd. It begs the question of how many other supporters of this group are really just SNP supporters.”

Horrendous as such a prospect is to contemplate, the evidence inescapably points to the conclusion that Ms Ferguson may be so inconceivably thick she genuinely doesn’t see what’s wrong with the above comments. So just this once, we’ll spell it out for her.

The entire point of Labour For Independence, blindingly obviously, is that “independence” and “the SNP” aren’t interchangeable terms. Independence is supported as an official policy by several other parties including the Greens and the SSP, as well as by non-aligned MSPs and individual members of other parties.

So when Ricky Ross supported Artists For Independence in the 1980s, that doesn’t mean he was in the SNP. It just means he was a Labour supporter who believed in independence – as around a fifth of Scottish Labour members do, according to consistent polling. (Unless they’re ALL just SNP sleeper agents, of course.) The clue, as anyone smart enough to blow their own nose might deduce, is in the name.

If Patricia Ferguson and the rest of the No camp are absolutely determined to turn a blind eye to the independence supporters in their own ranks, it does at least explain why they’re so complacent about the result of the referendum (one prominent Labour activist recently predicted a Yes vote as low as 20%), and why they’re conducting such a lazy, shambolic mess of a campaign.

It goes against our instincts to interfere with that, but there are some of us who, in the interests of post-referendum harmony, would still like a clean fight.

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59 to “Still not getting it”

  1. Macart says:

    “It goes against our instincts to interfere with that, but there are some of us who, in the interests of post-referendum harmony, would still like a clean fight.”

    Steady now, they’re doin’ just fine as they are. :) 


  2. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Its not about turning a blind eye Rev, its about trying to marginalise the Labour for Independence group.

    The same article sees the fact that Allan Grogan is a professional wrestler mentioned… why? It is totally meaningless. Would his voice count more if he was Allan the Flower arranger or Allan the Bank Manager or Allan the MP???

    No, he has his own views and they are equally valid regardless of his profession.

    Further into the self same article there are insinuations that Labour for Independence is no more than a “Fringe” group, a clear atempt to insinuate that they are some sort of extremists, strange and not normal.

    To then follow these assertions up, as you have noted, with the deliberate conflating of any Labour voting independence supporter as SNP is to put the final boot in. They hope to bring out the anti-snp tribalism and brand the group as nothig but an SNP ploy.

    The sad fact is that this tactic is in actual fact “desperate stuff” from the ‘Better No’ campaign.

    The tactic is definately to discredit the movement. I dont think this is stupidity at all…


  3. mato21 says:

    A bit like a Mr Smart who claimed on the Sunday Politics show that Labour for Indy as far as he could see was a one man organisation
    That by my counting makes two one man organisations in favour of independence We don’t stand a chance with these small numbers
      There are none so blind than those who don’t want to see


  4. muttley79 says:

    Yes, the Scottish Labour elite are trying to marginalise this group.  However, when it has the support of the likes of Dennis Cannavan, a Scottish Labour MP for decades, Bob Thomson, a former General Secretary of Scottish Labour, an former aide to Jack McConnell, and Tommy Brennan, a well-known Trade Unionist at Ravenscraig, and a diehard supporter of Scottish Labour, it is going to be very difficult to portray this group as a SNP front.  The credibility of this sort of attack by Scottish Labour is laughable.  As Rev Stu says, this is political stupidity of the highest order by the Scottish Labour party leadership, and their increasingly detached from reality followers.


  5. Macart says:

    Scott Minto

    Agreed, this is not stupidity, but it is a thoroughly unsubtle tactic. Liberal supporters of independence go through much the same schtick.

    You have to wonder where the butter together mafia would be without their ever helpful friends in the media? This most recent attack on the cross party appeal of independence is insulting to say the least. Do you reckon there’s any chance of this tactic backfiring?


  6. muttley79 says:

    Meant to add a point in my last post.  Not only is Ferguson effectively saying to people like Ricky Ross, that you are not a Labour supporter if you back independence, so get to fuck, but she is also telling all SNP supporters to get to fuck as well, regardless of the fact that they do not all support independence!  Is this really the way to win back disillusioned supporters and former voters, and attract new ones, who back the SNP at the moment, but do not support independence?  Scottish Labour are unwittingly getting funnier and funnier by the day.  What a shambles!


  7. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


    “Do you reckon there’s any chance of this tactic backfiring?”

    Yes. Muttley has the answer right there.

    The only way ‘Better No’ could convince voters that its just a “fringe group” would be to deny them publicity. If that is not possible then prevent the association of those people with the group from becoming common knowledge. Keep trying to make out that its a one man band in Mr Grogan.

    Our job as Independence supporters would be to make those backing labour for indy well known across as many sites as we can whenever the line is trotted out that they are “Fringe” or an “SNP front”.


  8. Doug Daniel says:

    Putting Patricia Ferguson in charge of constitutional affairs is like putting Nick Griffin in charge of immigration. She just cannot see past her complete hatred of the SNP, and to put her in that role – after having already put Ian Davidson in charge of the Scottish Affairs committee in Westminster – shows the utter contempt Labour hold for the constitutional issue, and by extension the Scottish people, who are denied a proper debate thanks to the inclusion of people whose sole intention is to attack, attack, attack.

    As for Ian Smart’s “20% Yes” comment, I’d forgotten about that one. I’d like to think that not even the nuttiest nationalist would try to claim YES will with 80% of the vote, because doing so shows a complete ignorance of the reality of the situation, and complete disrespect for the other side. The loser in 2014 will get more than 35%, and to suggest anything lower than that is just daft.

    Why do the BBC ask him onto TV again…? (Rhetorical question)

    Incidentally, I would very much like to see Allan Grogan debate with someone like Ian Davidson or Anas Sarwar on TV, with the debate ending in a suplex through a table (Stu will know what I mean…) 


  9. mato21 says:

    Going back (sorry) to PPP this school is approx. 10years old


  10. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    I see that the DR has come out full against Independence in their latest offering…

    Canavan claimed that independence is the best way to change Scottish Labour for the better.

    In many ways, his point was similar to the SNP argument that breaking up the UK is the best way to keep the Tories out of power.

    This is not the SNP argument. Their argument is that it is better to have the people who care most about Scotland (i.e. those living here regardless of political leanings) to make the decisions for Scotland.
    However, as we have said before, understandable contempt for the current Con-Dem Government is a pathetic argument for independence.

    Although Canavan is not the sole former senior Labour figure to back independence, he is in a very small minority.
    The vast majority of Labour supporters realise that the fight for a fairer society does not stop at the Borders.

    And they also know that while we have a responsibility for our brothers and sisters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is plenty of room for policies that are distinctly Scottish.

    And so we are back to the solidarity narrative again. Apparently we are our neighbours keepers and destined to fail to improve our own lot in life unless we can convince them of the error of theri ways. Martyred for the Union as it were: 

    Yet somehow they fail to mention that the Scottish Policies are undermined by Westminster all the same:


  11. Macart says:

    Incidentally, I would very much like to see Allan Grogan debate with someone like Ian Davidson or Anas Sarwar on TV, with the debate ending in a suplex through a table (Stu will know what I mean…) 

    😀 You need to warn people before coming out with lines like that Doug. Coffee and Jaffa cakes everywhere.

    Scott: Agreed, Labour/Liberal and yes tory voters in favour of independence should be encouraged more to make their voices heard.


  12. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Yet another, YAWN, shining example of the utter blind stupidity and hypocrisy of Labour. Ever since the Bitter camp started all they have ever been about is to slag off the SNP. Fortunately for us, unfortunately for Labour, there are a hell of a lot more groups/individuals speaking up for Independence than the Bitter group have speaking up for the union. 
    What this utterly pathetic bunch of no hopers do not seem to understand or comprehend is that the YES camp is made up of a hell of a lot more than just the SNP. Despite this they just carry on with their usual anti SNP lies,deceit and misinformation. They are totally blinded to the fact that they were utterly gubbed in May 2011 and they are still, eighteen months later, sulking in the closet. They are incapable of seeing what the May 2001 result meant for Labour, namely no one trusts them. Despite this all they see is the SNP sitting where they, Labour, believe they should be.
    Labour are so bitter and twisted that all they are capable of doing is “playing the man not the ball.” Their bitterness and hatred of the SNP is clouding their vision so much that they all they think about 24/7 is what lies they are going to release next. If they continue down this road of absolute hatred they will find themselves, in my view, turning into the absolute laughing stock of Scottish politics.
    I find it incredulous that with all the damage Labour has done to Scotland since 1999 the current crop of numpties are blinded to everything bar their almost fanatical hatred of the SNP. I am wondering about one thing though.
    I wonder if the fanatical tribalism in the hatred of Labour towards the SNP might be linked to the idea that the SNP have been adopting policies that they would have wanted to adopt but have been denied by London. Could the suicidal attacks from Labour be somehow linked to their utter frustration at not being allowed to adopt the same, or similar, policies. Could, in fact, the constant Labour attacks on the SNP actually be a substitute for their frustration at their London controllers.


  13. Luigi says:

    The decision to broaden the YES campaign and distance the SNP from direct control/involvement has been an absolute blinder. The Better Together group are desperate to turn the referendum campaign into a classic political fight against the SNP. Hence their sheer terror when the YES SCOTLAND group are increasingly represented by non-politicians. The attempt by the MSM and unionist parties to marginalise non-political figures will continue, with all sorts of threats, smears, bribes, offers etc but I think YES SCOTLAND should stand their ground and keep putting non-political spokespersons forward. If the political leader of the NO campaign refuses to participate in a debate with the non-political leader of the YES campaign, then he should be exposed and held to account. People will want to know what he is afraid of.


  14. Training Day says:

    A couple of points:

    – The Bitter Together campaign will increasingly boil down in the coming months to a simple logical absurdity.  Salmond is untrustworthy/fat/wealthy therefore independence can’t work.  The identification of Salmond and the SNP as independence will be the modus operandi of the Unionists until polling day, hence the need to characterise such groups as Labour for Independence as sleepers, stooges of Yes etc.  This despite the fact that Mr Grogan and Mr Syme heading up LfI have both posted their Labour membership cards for all to see on their facebook page.

    – My view, growing stronger by the day, is that many Labour MSPs simply do not have a view on independence other than that with which they are supplied by central office.  Witness the recent ramblings of Anne McTaggart MSP, who apparently believes that ‘Britain should be kept in the union’
    The lack of basic understanding of the issue evidenced in this and in Ferguson’s idiocies reinforces the notion that many Labour MSPs are incapable of thinking through a view of their own (why, they might be the very ones who won’t understand the referendum question) and, like their leader in Holyrood, are simply there to parrot out a script.

    – As for the Daily Record, what about our ‘brothers’ in France, Germany, Estonia, Uzbekistan etc.?  What a lot of utter, unadulterated, shite.


  15. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Sorry for slipping sideways here but found this and it might cheer a few up. This is not a new story, in fact it is the result we were all calling out for back in May 2010. However, I think you will find the punch line of the article quite a wee smile creator. Just make sure you are sitting down when you reach the end. 😆


  16. muttley79 says:

    @Arb,  No, I don’t think the Scottish Labour Leadership, and their elected and non-elected followers, will get over their hatred of the SNP, even if there is a No vote in the referendum.  I think it is too ingrained among the British nationalist core in the party.

    It is not a recent development either.  In three by-elections over three decades, 1967 Hamilton, 1973 Govan, and 1988 Govan, the SNP showed they had the potential to challenge and beat Scottish Labour in their heartlands in the West Central Scotland.  This threat was looked on as an opportunity by a small section of Scottish Labour.  This included Denis Cannavan and John McAllion, who saw a chance to use the threat posed by the SNP to fulfill Scottish Labour’s historic commitment to Home Rule for Scotland.  However, the main Scottish Labour base had people like Brian Wilson and Tam Dayell (Sp), British nationalists, who were bitterly opposed to devolution and hated the SNP.  This strain of Scottish Labour lives on today in the likes of Lamont, Davidson, Ferguson, Ballie, Alexander, Murphy etc.

    The SNP poses such as existential threat to Scottish Labour’s core British nationalists, as the SNP have been the only party to really challenge, and then break Labour’s hegemony in Scotland.  Equally important, if not more, is the SNP’s threat to Scottish Labour’s London careerists, which threatens to end the faces in the troughs indulgences, and the high life at Westminster.  Darling’s house flip-flopping is a prime example of this mentality.  This is something they cannot come to terms with.  I genuinely think these people have no understanding of the philosophy of Scottish Nationalism, or other supporters of independence generally, as they are so used to putting self-interest before their own country.


  17. McHaggis says:

    Arbroath, its true to say that politicians from various parties had their hands in the till and were caught, however, I’m pretty sure the ratio of Labour MP’s is fairly high in the total.

    What makes it worse is you might even ‘expect’ a tory to be guilty of fraud, but surely not our left wing <sic>, socialist <sic>, caring for the common man <sic> friendly old Labour MP?!?

    Her defence is an insult to those who genuinely suffer from mental health problems but am I surprised? nope, not one bit.


  18. Erchie says:

    The plan of the Labour Party, and its pals in the press and the BBC is imple.
    Indy is to be identified only with the SNP. The idea that anyone outside that party is to be denied at all times.
    If it can be categorised only as SNP then potential Indy supporters who do not favour the SNP can be put off.
    So, at all times, only the SNP is to be identified with this campaign, no one else


  19. muttley79 says:

    I agree with that.  However, the problem for the No parties, and the media, is that it does not correspond to reality.  Almost every time there is a official independence debate on BBC, there will be a Green presence, or an Independent (Margo MacDonald), on the Independence side, along with an SNP rep.  Hopefully Blair Jenkins will appear at some stage!  I reckon their campaign to have the SNP solely identified with Yes side will soon lose any credibility it might have had. 


  20. mato21 says:


    The tories fiddles were a bit more up market, what with duck houses and moat cleaning unlike the toilet seats and vermin catching  of the labour lot

    Class always shows does it not?


  21. tartanfever says:

    on the subject of the Daily Record, Joan McAlpine has written about the McCrone report, but going back to the article that Scott mentioned on Dennis Canavan – tagged onto the bottom of the page is a quote from Patricia Ferguson where she states

    ‘63% of SNP voters don’t support independence”.

    I know, I had to sit down too ! 


  22. David McCann says:

    To those who are still in denial, here is a link to a discussion document which the Scottish Independence Convention have produced.
    The AGM of the Convention is taking place on Tuesday 27th Nov. at the Quaker Meeting House, in Edinburgh.


  23. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “’63% of SNP voters don’t support independence”.”

    Close – she says only 63% of them DO.


  24. tartanfever says:

    Sorry Rev Stu, the shock was obviously too great for me that I confused the figures, Apologies.


  25. muttley79 says:

    If Ferguson thinks only 63% of SNP voters do support independence, then she must have been smoking a crack pipe….It is in the Daily Record though, and is it stated by a Scottish Labour politician, who has just also told a sizable number of her party’s own supporters, plus all SNP supporters, to fuck off.


  26. mato21 says:

    It’s surprising how the little bits of old news you had forgotten about come in handy when they resurface
    The leader of Better Together obviously must have known how his fiddling would be viewed so he resigned to stop the investigation
    Would you trust this man?


  27. Fiona says:

    A bit O/T but I wonder if Aileen McLeod MSP will get an answer to the questions she posed Labour during the debate on universal benefits in Parliament today- she doesn’t appear to have missed an hit the wall.
    “Labour wants to reintroduce prescription charges – an unfair tax on the ill – so it should clarify exactly what groups of people it would apply this to. We’ve even had the Labour Health spokesperson Jackie Baillie say she wants prescriptions “as they were before”.
    “Before the SNP abolished prescription charges, people who had conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, Asthma, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, HIV and COPD were not entitled to free prescriptions.

    The full text is here, it is what I want to here more of from Independence supporting MSP’s.


  28. orpheuslyre says:

    New labour are now officially & formally no longer New Labour. The ecstatic rhetoric of the Third Way has risen from the dead, as ‘One Nation’.



  29. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Thankfully McHaggis I had put my mug of tea down before I read Moran’s claim of “Mental Health” as a defence. It is bad enough that she took the proverbial by falsely claiming £53,000 on her parliamentary expenses but to claim it was all done under the auspices of mental health problems really does take the biscuit. In fact irt is probably the most disgusting excuse I’ve ever read for someone falsifying their expense claims.
    I always wondered how the big feartie honed his scaredie cat skills Mato 21, now I know. First he runs scared from the Faculty of Advocates, now he constantly runs away from Blair Jenkins. I always remember at school the old joke about how many gears an Italian tank has…..6 Five reverse and one forward. Well I think we can quite readily swap the Italian tank for Alistair Darling. I think he slips into that joke quite well. For someone who, allegedly, is the head of the Bitter camp he is most noticeable for his absences rather than any appearance he may have thought he has made.
    Right just for a bit of fun I’ve looked up the number of votes each party received last year.

    From this site I’ve done a bit of Arbroath 1320 magic and come up with these figures.
    Unionist parties (Labour/Tory/LibDem)  totalled 1,937,825
    Pro Independence parties (SNP/Greens/Margo/Socialist Labour party/SSP/Solidarity) totalled 1,929,015
    Taking the ever knowledgeable Patricia Ferguson’s extremely accurate figure of SNP voters voting YES in 2014 this gives me 1,215,280 who will vote YES in 2014.
    Now on the face of it it looks like a loss to the YES camp. However this assumes the unionist total of 1,937,825 does not lose any votes to the YES camp. This is something that despite Labour claims to the contrary we all know WILL happen.
    With a total of 3,866,840 voters voting in May last year we end up with (just from the parties I’ve counted) only 722,545 votes of a difference, approximately 18.7% of the total votes. Of course what is not included is the number of “undecideds”. Could it be that the “undecideds” account for more than the 18% difference?
    I realise this is probably a load of old gobbleby gook but as a basic idea of where we stand as opposed to where Labour tell us we stand I think it shows that we could very well be a hell of a lot closer to winning than we are “informed” by the MSM and BBC.
    1,000 apologies for all the confusion I’ve caused and all the headaches now aching all around Scotland. 😀


  30. Erchie says:

    Have you seen this Tweet from a SNP Councillor

    “Spoke to a Labour member today who supports independence, but party leaders have told all members the referendum is about defeating the SNP!”


  31. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    @Arbroath 1320

    So 63% of SNP voters vote YES = 1,215,280 votes

    Plus 20% of unionist party voters (as per polls) = 387,565

    Total = 1,602,845 votes

    80% of the unionist party voters vote NO = 1,550,260

    I doubt if many SNP voters will vote NO

    So Total NO = 1,550,260 votes



  32. Arbroath 1320 says:

    I think when you look at it like that AFG it makes for an interesting couple of years, particularly as like you, I don’t think the unionist vote is going to hold up for too much longer.
    I don’t think there will too many, if any actually, SNP voters who will vote NO. If anything the “missing” 37% from Ferguson’s figure would more than likely have voted for Devo max had it been permitted by the unionists.
    If you look at the figures, which can only really be considered guesstimates, then on the face of it 722,545 votes does seem a lot. However, when you start looking at Labour for Independence, Tories for Independence, LibDems for Independence and others then this 722,000 figure will really start to fall, dramatically in my view, and the “difference” between the Bitter camp numbers and the YES camp numbers will in a reasonably short period of time become a lot less. Not only will the Bitter camp figures become less but by definition the YES camp figures will rise. In fact we would only need the minimum of 362,000 to NOT vote for the union and I believe the YES campaign will win. This is not the figure I’m looking for, I believe we will see the figure rise higher beyond the 362,000 leaving the referendum in no doubt about the result.
    As I’ve tried to suggest here the “difference” figure leaves me feeling a bit more buoyed about the 2014 referendum result than I have previously felt. Now all we have to do is to get out there and convince the “undecideds” and then we can really start to bite into the pseudo majority of the Bitter camp. 😀


  33. sneddon says:

    ‘separating the UK’  what is McTaggart on about.  Does no one proof read these things.  Seperating it from what you bampot?  I know 7 year olds with a better grasp of written english.  Waste of a education.


  34. Bill C says:

    @Arb 1320- Confusion? I love confusion! I like your style.


  35. dadsarmy says:

    I’m not a trade unionist, nor have I ever belonged to a union, but I think perhaps the deciding factor in 2014 will be the STUC, the unions and the union memberships. I was looking for any news article telling us what Tommy Brennan had to say at the conference Monday evening, but didn’t find any. I have found this link though from October, he’s quoted halfway down:

    Another interesting webpage is:

    I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on the STUC; it supported devo-max and has been let down by not having that as an option. It’s not far off Independence, and I have a feeling that as a whole, in the event, it would probably welcome Independence and work well with it. Slowly gathering momentum – e.g. prison officers – may take it as a whole to support before the referendum in 2014.

    My own view is that it should perhaps work a bit faster at this, take a stand as soon as possible, and become part of the campaign. For its early support, which in my view would make a YES vote nearly certain, it could quite possibly entrench itself firmly into the structure of an Independent Scotland, establish now and keep strong links with government. And perhaps start up that new old Labour Party of Scotland. That in its turn, with STUC support and backing, would surely attract Labour councillors. MSPs and party members.

    Perhaps what’s holding it back is that it feels that would be stabbing Scottish Labour in the back. Well, perhaps it depends on who has been stabbed first.


  36. Arbroath 1320 says:

    We aim to please Bill. 😀
    I think it is interesting D.A. that the Scottish Prison Officers appear to be the first to openly come out and give their backing to Scottish Independence. I have always thought that it might be difficult for the first union to break ranks and give their support to the YES campaign. Now that this has happened I believe the way has now been cleared for other unions to follow suit. It may take until around this time next year, after the individual unions hold their annual conferences, but I believe that the Prison Officers are just the first of many unions who will climb about the Scottish Independence train. I believe that by this time next year we will have quite a few unions on board and, more significantly, a few of the big unions will be among that number.


  37. dadsarmy says:

    That’s what I’m hoping Arb1320. I was “saying” to Macart over a week ago that I’d heard something – it was about the STUC, 8th Nov, new party. I guess it didn’t happen, or has changed. I’ve seen that branches are being encouraged to have discussions and make decisions. I guess the STUC, rather than going from the top down, is looking for reactions to come from the root and branch upwards – and that will take time.

    Perhaps as well, it might be a good idea if the STUC doesn’t tie itself to any political party – a TUC for the 21st century. I could see a lot of advantages in that, as it would make itself open to near 100% membership rather than being limited to Labour supporters only. Mmmm!

    I think one big problem is that solidarity angle; the STUC wants to work together with the TUC, and workers of the UK unite and stick together. Well, the strikes being organised in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece give the answer to that. If there’s common cause, political or geographical borders are no obstacle.


  38. mogabee says:

    When it comes down to it; nobody will be watching as you cast your vote in that booth! Nobody can control your voting hand. Outwardly you can be undecided or no but secretly……!


  39. Macart says:

    All good points dads. I’ve never been part of any union myself, so not really up on the politics there. Still your point on cross border cooperation between unions is one I feel should be taken on board here. Being in a union should prove no barrier to voting for independence.


  40. Willie Zwigerland says:

    Fiona – I’m not a Labour party man – but are the prescription charges in England and Wales really so evil as the SNP claims? Anyone who is claiming benefits gets the charge waived. Children and students get free prescirptions. And the charge is capped at something like 20 pound a month. If you’re really ill you pay more in hospital car-parking fees than prescriptions.


  41. Miles Cooper says:

    Can anyone point me in the direction of the formal debate and vote the Labour Party had to decide its position on Scottish Independence. I am sure there was a full public debate similar to the SNP debate on NATO but I can’t find it for some reason….


  42. scottish_skier says:

    @ Willie Z

    Why should those most deserving of free prescriptions – i.e. those that pay the most into the communal pot – be denied these? While not ‘evil’ as such, it’s really rather rude to charge them. Might make them resent paying into the pot, even cause them to vote to reduce what they pay into the pot, whereby causing said pot to become increasingly empty. When this happens, net result is those that can’t afford the charges would then have no pot to help them out.


  43. Luigi says:

    Wise words – another way to think about it is, if free prescriptions are only available to the poorest and neediest in society, then what about free health care? Should contributing taxpayers be denied free health care because they are too rich? If we allow them to attack free prescriptions today, then it’s the NHS tomorrow.


  44. Willie Zwigerland says:

    I’d rather pay for prescriptions as and when I need them, (and seeing as they are capped at a very low amount – my wife is American so she views the charges as a real bargain! –  it doesn’t cause any change in my behaviour), rather than have to pay the extra tax throughout my life to support provision of ‘free’ prescriptions. YMMV.


  45. dadsarmy says:

    Macart – me neither. But the last 20 years have, to me, seen a huge abuse of employees in general, whether public or private sector, union or non-union.

    Thinking about it, I’d really like to see a series of open conferences to include unions, government – and employers, even micro businesses. There’s no reason an independent Scotland can’t change all the rules. We don’t have to do it the UK way, and though different ways in other EU countries such as Germany can be explored, there’s no reason it couldn’t just be done totally differently. So as to protect employers and employees alike.

    There’s two years to the referendum, but I daresay much of the last year will be hard campaigning. Such open conferences about the future shape of Scotland should happen NOW.

    It was this on from Christina McKelvie (SNP MSP) that made me think:

    I come from a long line of trade union activists and I can see a future Scotland where trade unions and government work together to support and create jobs.”

    I like that, yes, but it misses out the third part of the triangle – the employers!


  46. Fiona says:

    @Willie Z
    If you take the time to read the list of conditions which don’t qualify for free prescriptions then you will find that on the list are conditions such as Asthma which will not usually qualify someone for disability benefits but in order that they are fit to go to their work they will have up to 3 prescriptions a month. If you can’t afford the medication then you end up at the doctor and hospital more often thereby costing the health service a heck of a lot more money in the process.
    I also seem to recall that the cancer charities have to employ special advisers so that cancer patients can find their way through the maze of paperwork to apply for benefits- at a time when you are going through a living nightmare as it is to then have to go through all this so that you can get your lifesaving/prolonging medicines without paying again(taxes having already been paid)- how long does the process take? Cancer patients are also known to have far higher heating bills than the average, how much misery do you want to put onto people- I would rather give a helping hand to them at such a distressing time.
    A cap at £20 a month – how generous, with all the other bills going up and up for many families this is the £20 that can break the camels back.
    Anyway how much money does it take to administer the prescription system in England and Wales- if you are happy to pay taxes then have this put towards administration of this system and then have to pay for your medicine then that’s fine, but it’s not the type of country I want to live in thanks very much


  47. balgayboy says:

    Patricia Josephine Ferguson (born 24 September 1958, Glasgow) is a Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Maryhill, a seat which she has held since 1999.
    Ferguson was educated at Garnethill Convent Secondary School in Glasgow, and at Glasgow College of Technology, where she obtained an HNC in Public Administration.
    Prior to entering the Scottish Parliament, she worked as a health service administrator, with the Scottish Trades Union Congress and with the Scottish Labour Party.

    Yup, another expert with expansive work experience in the real world advising people how it really is! Make one’s own mind up. 


  48. Doug Daniel says:

    Willie, it costs about £57 million to make prescriptions completely free every year. There’s somewhere in the region of 2.8 million taxpayers in Scotland (according to 2008-09 GERS report – I couldn’t find the figures in the most recent one).

    That means it costs an average of around £20.40 per year to stop people with long-term conditions like asthma having to shell out about the same amount every month. If you’re trying to tell us that you begrudge those people not having to fork out £20 every month because £20 of your annual tax bill is spent providing their prescriptions, then you’re a bit of a grippy bastard really, aren’t you?


  49. John Lyons says:

    I think calling Labour voters for independence SNP members is great, because eventually they will become disillusioned enough that they will move over to a new party, and really, there’s only a couple of choices, SNP or Green.

    I recall Johann Lamont saying they were a small group with only 1000 members. She was determined to ignore them. The problem is these 1000 people support independence but also want to do the difficult thing of staying in the labour party to try to make it better. I would imagine there are more who have turned there back on Labour completely so how many votes have they lost? 3,000? 5,000? In a vote as close as the Referendum will be, neither side can just toss away that many votes.
    I also found it incredible someone was suggesting 20% yes. I had to click the link to find out more and of course as soon as I saw the name, I didn’t bother reading it. There’s only one word for him.


  50. Willie Zwigerland says:

    If it means that the 20 pounds can gets diverted towards something else,  say subsidising car parking for hospital patients  then that’s fine with me. Asthma impacts 5% of the population and has low cost proven effective solutions so spare me the special pleading. 
    Try to avoid the name calling in the future, it weakens your arguments.


  51. Macart says:

    I like that, yes, but it misses out the third part of the triangle – the employers!

    Fully agree with that statement dads. It shouldn’t be just about unions and government making employers dance to a tune. It really should be all three talking about a way forward with the clean slate a re-emerging state provides. As you say the precursors of serious employment change debates could and probably should be happening now.


  52. balgayboy says:

    Yes, let the needy and the sick subsidise the private sector car parking contracts signed by the then incumbent Lab/Libdem coalition scottish government so that these privateers can enhance their yearly profits for the next 25 years for a minimum investment. Ask the public and employees at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee how they feel about this racket.


  53. Elizabeth says:

    Abolishing the charges definitely helped a lot of people with chronic conditions and life threatening illnesses who fell between the exemption categories – one of my family included who really has enough to contend with.  Abolishing the charges underlined a commitment to the principle of universality and the iniquity that is means testing.  It’s certainly the path I want for ‘my’ Scotland – a kinder, more caring and fairer society, one not based around the depth of the pockets.   


  54. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “If it means that the 20 pounds can gets diverted towards something else,  say subsidising car parking for hospital patients”

    The Scottish Government has, of course, already abolished parking charges at every hospital where it had the power to do so. The only ones where you still have to pay are those landed with appalling PFI contracts by previous administrations.


  55. muttley79 says:

    I have read quotes from an article by Dave Watson, a member of Labour Party’s Scottish executive committee, and an organiser of public-sector union Unison in the Scotsman today.  Some interesting lines are:
    He said that a socialist vision of an independent Scotland would attract both him and plenty of other natural Labour supporters over the coming two years.

    Watson is talking about a socialist vision of an independent Scotland being attractive.  However, he is on Labour’s Scottish executive committee.  Scottish Labour have indicated that they want to bring back tuition fees, prescription charges etc, they support upgrading Trident, and are almost as far away from supporting a socialist vision as you can get.

    He said: “Let’s say they come up with a credible left-of-centre policy, and Labour just declared they were for the status quo and did nothing for devolution and then, into the mix, the Tories appeared to be here to stay – then a lot of members, and me included, could come within that category and that would make the referendum a lot more interesting. I wouldn’t be backing independence on their current prospectus but they have got plenty of time over the coming two years.”

    Watson says that the SNP has to come up with a credible left-of-centre-policy for independence.  However, the referendum is not about policies, it is about who should makes decisions for Scotland, Holyrood or WestminsterIt is not an election.

    “If the key economic levers are controlled by another country, then there is less influence on monetary, and fiscal, policy than under devolution.”

    This quote is just nonsenseHow could we have less influence over fiscal policy if we were independent than we have now?  That does not make any sense at all.  If we were independent, we would have fiscal powers, such as corporation tax, all income tax, VAT, alcohol duty etc.  We have barely any fiscal powers at the moment.


  56. David McCann says:

    At the end of the day, I believe that universal benefits are what defines a civilised society. Provided we operate a tax regime whereby those who earn the most pay the most, then why should those who need a doctor, prescription etc, be means tested, with all that implies? Free at the point of delivery, means exactly that . If you don’t need the service, it costs nothing.


  57. Xander Henry says:

    I am all for universal benefits, especially the free prescriptions. I sometimes think that the headline costs of such a policy don’t give a true representation of the value of the policy. For instance, it has got to be cheaper and better medical practice to have a serious infection treated with antibiotics rather than the patient requiring more expensive and serious intervention later i.e.intensive care or amputation. The preventative nature of the free prescriptions policy could save more money than the policy itself costs. This seems like a prudent way to use public funds to me.


  58. Silverytay says:

    I take great exception to lamont,s something for nothing statement .
    I have been an asthmatic all my life and need to take regular medication , but I dont mind paying a bit extra on my income tax to help out people less fortunate than myself .
    I have been in and out of hospital so much that I know what would happen to people who had to decide wether to buy medication or to buy food .  My father in law worked all his life paying his taxes until he had to retire due to c.o.p.d aggravated by breathing in melamine particles at his work is now almost house bound and my mother in law who has leukaemia only gets out a couple of times a week due to her having a bus pass and lamont wants to treat people like these as criminals and force them to have means testing .
    So much for us being a civilised society when we are prepared to treat the sick and old as criminals while letting the real criminals the m.p,s and bankers off scot free . 
    We should take a leaf out of Iceland,s book and start jailing the m.p,s and bankers .
    Vote Yes in 2014 for a fair and civilised society . 


  59. Nellie Scot says:

    All the “free”” services have already been paid for through our taxes.Johann Lamont seems to forget this. I would not pay twice for any item I bought. Why should I be expeceted to pay twice for prescriptions. For the first fifty years of my life i hardly knew what a doctor or chemist looked like and for that I am thankful. During that time I worked and paid full taxes. To have a poititian tell me that now that I need a little help I am asking for something for nothing is so infuriating that I am tempted to use unladylike languge to express my feelings about Ms. Lamont, but it is before the watershed so in the interests of others I will restrain myself. Please, someone, to prevent me having apoplexy, explain to said MP ,that these things she is so keen to get rid of are a better way to spend OUR money than engaging in illegal wars and WMD’s


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