Monday, 24 August 2009

The Flags Were the Last Straw....

I was quite willing to go along with Justice Secretarty Kenny McAskill when he said the release of Meghrahi was on compassionate grounds. It seems so plausible: the guy is dying and he wanted to be near his family.

But then he did get released and he did get near his family, and what happened? The Gadafi mob flying Scottish Flags happened. It struck like a kick in the stomach: horrible and awful. Who are these people and what gives them the right to wave our flag in support of a man who has been convicted of 270 murders?

It seems the right has been presented by our very own Justic Secretary. Now, you may say: what else could he do? Well, the answer is, anything that made sure these morons were not implicating us in their hero worship. Keep Maghgrahi in a secure hospital, or in some other secure establishment where he can get treated. Allow unlimited visits for family members. Then he wouldn't die in jail, or alone, and that would be compassionate enough for me.

Anything but what he did.

Monday, 17 August 2009

UK Underwrites Glasgow - Edinburgh Rail Upgrade

The headline in the Herald says "Edinburgh to Glasgow in 35 Minutes". The story, which is good news in itself, tells how Minister at Holyrood are "relieved" that the money has been found to finance an improvement to the railway line between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and that the key financial element is that the money can be borrowed against the security of the value of UK Rail Network (my italics and emphasis).

So. It's the value of the UK network that allows a vital upgrade to go ahead in Scotland. Is this a benefit of the union or what?

Also, just a passing thought: why is this top-notch-high-grade-really-really-vital infrastructure development not being financed using the wonderful-marvelous-better-than-anything Scottish Futures Trust? Could it be because the SFT is a duck which can now be clearly declared as a dead and buried duck? Isn't it time to give the SFT a solemn sending off, along with the LIT, the abolition of Student debt, the 18 class sizes, the brick-for-brick school building programme and all the other fantastical elements that padded out the SNP's 2007 election "manifesto"?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Google flavoured pie in the sky from Andrew Lansley

Jim took me to task for being too occupied with the silliness of the Nationalists, so I have deversified, just this once, into the silliness of the Tories. That all right Jim?

Andrew Lansley, who is Tory Health spokesman, and apparently "untouchable" by David Cameron because he is head and shoulders above other Tory shadows, gave an interview to the Andrew Marr show yesterday.

It was the usual inconclusive waffle from Lansley and the Tories. They'll cut, but not the stuff you like missus, the stuff the other person likes. The stuff you like is well protected, believe me, I'm a Tory politician. Is that ok? Make you feel better? Good! Now go away and stop asking difficult questions.

But the really interesting part of the interview was Mr Lansley's idea of having your health records on Google!

If there's a more bonkers idea out there on the interweb, it has yet to breach the public consiousness!

If Mr Lansley really believes in freedom of information, why not just give us the right to access the info, now, as it is, with no moderation? Point is, we already have Mr Lansley would have us spend unknown amounts of resources populating an undefined system with dodgy security with our most sensitive information... why? And for whose benefit? And at what cost?

Flying pigs will be eating pie in the sky the day that works...

If Andrew Lansley really is "untouchable" because of what are supposed to be his "qualities", what does that say about the rest of the Conservative front bench? Not a lot, I'd say, and none of it complimentary.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Record numbers killed by "C-diff". SNP demands immediate public enquiry*

* Warning. Only part of this headline is accurate...

The herald reports here that the C-Difficile hospital acquired infection is killing more Scots than ever before. The figures jumped from 597 in 2007 to 765 in 2008, a rise of a third.

The one thing that is missing is the Nationalist outcry which greeted the C-diff figures before 2007. In 2006 hospital acquired infection was the direct responsibility of Labour ministers in Holyrood ad Westminster, the fault of the UK union and quite possibly a plot by the English to infect innocent Scots in their hospital beds.


Well... silence actually... Where is the strident voice of Nicola Sturgeon calling for an immediate public investigation and Ministerial resignations? Difficult, isn't it when you are the Minister responsible..? Where are the sirens of the cybernats demanding to identify whose fault is it now...? Who is to blame? And who should resign...?

Actually, it's the same as before.... Ministers can set all the policy targets they want and exhort this action ot that, but it is ultimately down to the people on the ground to take the necessary steps. Sometimes they do, and things work out. Sometimes they do, and things still don't work out. And sometimes they don't........ The point is that things happen, and the Minister, while top of the tree of responsibility is sometimes dependent on the workers at the roots to solve the actual problems

In short, government is difficult. And slogans and campaigns are great for stirring up emotions, but there is no substitute for clear thinking, hard work and perseverence. Even then, sometimes the problems remain stubbornly unresolved. If the lack of outcry from the SNP grass roots on this issue is a sign that, at last, they are beginning to recognise these hard facts, then hallelujah!

Of course it might just be that they never really cared about C-diff as a problem in itself, just a stick to beat the other parties with.... In which case, their silence on the issue now is understandable if, predictably, hypocritical.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Postcode Lottery -v- Local Decision Making

What is the difference between a "postcode lottery" and the devolution of local decisions to local bodies?

I only ask, because, according to the BBC, there is a "postcode lottery" for fertility treatment: i.e. if you live in different areas, such treatment might be given a higher or lower priority in terms of spending, delivery etc.

But then, we are all aware of the outcry that occurs when central government intervenes to direct spending and resources (NHS or otherwise) in a particular direction. Up goes the cry of "too much central interference" and "why can't they leave local decisions to local people?". So when does a "devolved decision" become a "postcode lottery"?

It always annoys me when the BBC, in particular, follows the tabloid view and takes the lazy journalistic path of sloganising rather than thinking the situation through. In an interview on Breakfast TV, an NHS representative pointed out that there is no centrally enforced rule. There are "guidelines" which can be interpreted and applied on the judgement reached by local agencies and taking into consideration local conditions and priorities.

This is the perfect definition of a locally devolved decision making process.

Think of the complaints if central government applied rigourous rules and strict regulations on the provision of this type of treatment. The first case which fell outwith the rules, or offered some ambiguity or difference from local practice or failed a local test of some sort, you would hear the voices of complaint all over the airwaves. Probably the same people who complain about the so-called "postcode lottery".

Come to think of it, far years now we have been spending more per head of population in Scotland than on England, on the NHS. Is that "devolution" or the ultimate "postcode lottery"?