Monday 29 June 2009

Two Related Dogs Breakfasts

The Education Minister Fiona Hyslop is in deep doo-dung (continuing) about the failure of the SNP's promise to have class sizes of 18 in all P1 - P3 classrooms. This failure is related to the SNP's inablity to finance new schools. After promising to match Labour's school building programme "brick for brick", using the "Scottish Futures Trust" as the financing mechanism, it turns out that the "Scottish Futures Trust" has no future: it doesn't exist and it never existed. So the prospect of using the "Scottish Futures Trust" to find the money to build enough schools to accommodate class sizes of 18 was never feasible, and you can't hope to reduce class sizes in all schools without an extensive programme of building new schools.

To be fair to Fiona, the "Scottish Futures Trust" is John Swinney's failure, but it is of no help to the Education Minister that her two key policies are sunk without trace half way through the Parliament. No new schools and no class-size-18. The failures in Education Policy are the failures of the Education Minister.

If it was any other party Fiona would be out on her ear by now (you can just hear the Nationalists screams if a Labour Minister ever failed to this shocking extent), but the SNP seems remarkably tolerant of those who fail to deliver for Scottsh children.

Still and all, time to do the honourable thing Fiona. Resignation time, don'tya' think?

We're Agin it!... Oh wait a minute...hold on there...

From today's Herald, this...

"An ICM poll for the BBC to mark a decade of devolution found that 46% of Scots felt it had made no difference to their lives and 4% had no view. But of the 50% who did have a view, those in favour outscored those against by 41% to 9%."

Just a wee reminder... the SNP was against Devolution....and opposed it for ten years refusing to cooperate with the Constitutional Convention...then, when other people had done the work.....

and this...

"Alex Salmond will write to Gordon Brown this week asking him to press ahead with power transfers to Holyrood, such as control over elections, air guns and drink driving legislation, backed by the Calman Commission. "It is time to seize the moment - not let the Calman report gather dust,"".

Just a wee reminder... the SNP was against Calman....and opposed it for two years refusing to cooperate with the Calman Commission and the other parties in producing the that the other people have done the work ......

Anyone see a pattern here...???

Wednesday 17 June 2009

The SNP Matches Labour's School Building Programme Brick for Brick...Only Joking.

Today the Education Minister Fional Hyslop finally, at last, announced that the SNP is ready to build some schools in Scotland. She said the move would provide 55 new schools and see 35,000 pupils taught in modern buildings, with the first bricks laid in 2010.

The mystery is, having promised to match Labour's school building programme "brick for brick", why wait two years and two months to announce your programme? What has Fiona Hyslop been up to for the past two years?

The Minister said that building these schools would begin in 2010. But why could this announcement not have have been made two years ago? If it had, we might actually be building some schools now. Who knows, some of them might even be completed and have pupils in them by now.

Fiona Hyslop, Alex Salmond and, for all I know, other SNP ministers have been traversing the country for the last two years opening schools commissioned and built under the Labour/Lib Dem administration. In the meantime they have not commissioned, never mind built, one new school themselves.

The SNP Minister said that the schools would be occupied 12-18 months after start of build. So we have the bizarre prospect of an election in May 2011 with perhaps not one new school completed under a four year administration. If that's not a scandal, nothing is.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Calman Reports

The Calman Report has been published to predictable yowls of negativity from the Scottish Nationalist Party. Like all previous constitutional investigations, the Nats refused to get involved, hissy fits being their predetermined and fearful reaction to anything that might make them think too deeply about their shibolethic single "policy" of independence or independence in Europe or Scotland free in '93, or whatever disguise it has at this precise moment.

"Constitution"* Minister Mike Russell was on telly all night complaining that Calman didn't grant him independence by default, but constructive? Aye right...... look somewhere else for that m'lad.

I have read the Summary and it seems like there are a number of serious recommendations with serious implications, and it might be wise to take a bit of time to ruminate on the issues and the evidence before commenting definitively.

First impressions: Calman has tried to meet his remit of strengthening Scotland and the Union, and that's no bad thing. The variation of 10p in Income Tax looks difficult to achieve, but it certainly poses the question to the political parties of what they will do if Labour at Westminster puts up tax or the Tories cut it..... that is a real political choice..and who can object to that...?

* what's the point of having a Minister for the Constitution when he refuses to indulge in any serious discussions about the constitution?

Friday 5 June 2009

Silver Lining Time

As Labour takes a beating in the English local elections, the good news is from Scotland, with two decisive council by-election gains from the SNP in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire and a third victory for Labour.

Two of the vacancies were created by Nationalist councillors standing down after becoming MSPs proved none too safe for the Nats. Iain Gray rightly claimed that these were "stunning" results for Labour in Scotland.

Ian Gray said: "It is a personal humiliation for Alex Salmond that two of the seats won were vacated by his SNP MSPs standing down from their dual council roles. Unlike their boss they gave up their dual mandate and voters replaced them with Labour."

In Drumchapel-Anniesland ward in Glasgow, Labour beat the SNP by 2,584 to 1,509 in first-preference votes.

In Coatbridge North and Glenboig (North Lanarkshire), Labour beat the SNP by 1,529 to 1,254 in first preferences.

And in East Dunbartonshire, Alan Moir won the Bishopbriggs South by-election following the sad death of local councillor and Provost, Alex Hannah. Alan Moir won 38 per cent of the first-preference votes, and an overall majority of 561 over the SNP.

These labour victories are a kick in the teeth for the Nationalist Party and, just possibly, an indicator that any upcoming General Election is not the foregone conclusion that opposition parties and the media foresee.