Tuesday, 15 March 2011

SNP Delusion..

....or should that be lies?

 There have been two SNP party political broadcastss in the last two weeks. One is an all-women presentation and another features a "what has the SNP ever done for us" skit based on the Monty Python  "what have the Romans ever done for us" scene from The Life of Brian. In both of these broadcasts the claim is made that the SNP has built 330 new schools in the last four years.

Common sense tells us that cannot be true: in my own area, after having built five new schools between 2003 and 2007, there have been no schools built in the last four years.... Surely, if hundreds of schools were being built, we would have been allocated at least one... and surely if hundreds of new schools were being built we would not have the employment problems in construction that we do have?

From 2001-2007 Labour (and Lib Dems) at Holyrood provided matching funds to councils to build schools. Holyrood supplied 60% of capital costs of these projects, with councils raising the other 40% usually (I cannot swear for all of them) using PPP.

Under that dispensation, hundreds of schools were built and contracts for signed to design and build new schools .

In the 2007 manifesto Labour promised to build 100 more schools using the same mechanism. The SNP opposed PPP, but promised to match Labour's programme "brick for brick" using the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT). SFT is a proposed new mechanism that the SNP would create for funding and managing large capital projects. It is necessary because the SNP hates PPP, and refuses to use it to fund and manage new contracts.

However the SFT never materialised. There is no new funding mechansim for large capital projects. It never really existed other than an empty manifesto promise. So three years pass and, as the SNP refuses to use PPP and they have no SFT, no matching funds are available from Holyrood and therefore no new schools are commissioned from Holyrood. None. Not one. In all of Scotland.

Any schools "completed" since 2007 already had authorisation and/or funding and/or contracts in place before the SNP came to power, or some may be financed by councils out of their own capital funds. But none are due to the SNP at Holyrood.

In 2010 Holyrood says councils can put 14 secondary and 21 primary schools (approximately, I don't have the exact figures to hand) in their capital plans. That's a total of 30 odd schools for all of Scotland. The matching funding will only be 50% and will not include extraneuos items such as new road formation, school crossings etc that were typically included in the previous allocations.

In December 2010 councils which had been planning to start a school got a letter from the SNP administration saying that the money would no longer be in their capital budget, but instead would be allocated from revenues. And, btw, you have to use PPP to design, build and maintain them!!!!

Councils are still not clear what the switch means, what impact it will have on design and build timetables etc.

The result is that only one (that I know of) schoool has been started with Holyrood money  authorised by the SNP administration (remember brick for brick?). And none will be completed before the May 2011 elections.

The question is: were the 330 schools that the SNP claim to have "completed" (weasel word) since 2007 all authorised before the SNP came to power?  I.e. did the prevous administration authorise the schools, authorise the funding and the contract mechanism, have the project in place and started or ready to go before the SNP stopped all new PPP contracts?  It seems likley that this is that case.

It is clear that none of the 330 schools that have been "completed" since 2007 have been due to anything the SNP at Holyrood did. There was no matching funding from Holyrood between 2007 and 2010, how can there have been new build?

The SNP might say that their claiming to have "completed" these schools is sort-of true. Some of them have been getting built while the SNP has been in Holyrod, but in claiming the credit for "building" these schools, it becomes, in my opinion, a direct lie.

Of course I  might be barking up the wrong tree. Maybe the SNP has built 330 schools since 2007. Maybe the evidence is just not clear and they're too shy to put it into the public domain. Who knows?

So if anyone out there  has a list of these projects, their timeline and funding, then maybe they could send it, or point us to the source. Then we could get to the bottom of the mystery of the mysterious "330 new schools completed" claim. That'd be nice.


  1. It seems there has been a (small) surge in visits to this blog in the last couple of days. So, thanks and welcome to our new visitors.

    There have also been a number of comments on the "SNP Delusion" post today, but unfortunately they have been off topic, so I am unable to post them.

    So far nobody has challenged the contents or implications of the post.... which is that the SNP is not telling the whole truth when it claims to have built 330 schools.

    I wonder why.

  2. Are you saying they've 'sexed up' their claims on the school building?

  3. Jim
    I'm not "suggesting" anything. I have put up a pretty detailed post which challenges the SNP's claim to have built 330 new schools since 2007.

    You could respond to what I say with facts, if you have any.

    It's obvious to anyone with eyes, or who has any connection with the construction industry, that very few new schools have been started in the last four years and that the SNP's SFT is not providing any building projects or jobs.

    BTW are you suggesting that, if the SNP has "sexed up" its claims on schools building, that that's ok?

  4. I'm not saying anything - I was gently ribbing you on the fact that you seem very het up about the SNP claim on school building.

    I suspect that what the SNP are saying is that the number of schools planned to be completed in this parliamentary term was exceeded. You don't seem to like that and are indeed disputing it - Hopefully someone somewhere will address that (my money is on LPW!)

    I struggling to get my head around why so many new schools are actually needed though?

    Seeing as the population seems to be declining I would have thought there was plenty school building provision.

    Are the existing buildings not good enough? If, not then why were so many sub-standard school projects sponsored and who is respsonsible for that?

  5. I'm sorry if I've come to this post a little late, but this is also a claim that has really annoyed me.

    Taking my own area - 10 schools have been completed since 2007. I'm guessing that these must be part of the 330 schools completed by the SNP.

    However, 7 of them are PPP Schools authorised by the previous administration, and the other 3 were fully funded by the council, with no Scottish Government input.

    In fact, the only school the Scottish Futures Trust has had any involvement with has now been delayed further, and a recent email to the Council reveals that the funding method is being changed to someting that is very similar to PPP!

  6. The reason so many new schools are needed is to replace the ones that are falling apart.
    We have a situation where two primaries are in need of £thousands needed to be spent on them, hundreds of new homes being built and a promised new school to accomodate those homes has been cancelled. The kids will have to go to the two old schools and we have a situation where portacabins will be needed to accomodate them. the only new build in my area was a ppp academy, supposedly a community school, the rents are so high that the community cannot afford to use it, we have lost our local pipe band as a result.
    If the SNP has built 330 schools they must be where the sky is a different colour.The SNP needs to get its act together and stop gimmicks like free prescriptions, there are those of us who can afford to pay and there was a system whereby you got help if you couldn't. I would rather my money went on education our kids.