Narrow shoulders: Three centuries of Westminster control have produced the lowest life expectancies in Europe

In the Herald today:

NEARLY one in three of Scotland’s 32 council areas have registered drops in life expectancy of over a year with levels of deprivation being blamed in many cases. New figures show that Scotland has the lowest life expectancy in Western Europe having increased since the early 1980s but has now remained virtually unchanged for eight years.

Leaving aside the headline problem of how you can have a national slump if it’s been virtually unchanged for eight years, who is to blame for this sad state of affairs?

We know what’s coming. Conveniently forgetting the last century, Scottish Labour will blame the SNP, after more than a decade ‘in power.’ The Cons and the Lib’s will then pile in having long forgotten the responsibilities they had in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Getting Scotland to this position with the lowest life expectancy in Europe took centuries of exploitation of the people living in what was really a colony despite the ‘glorious’ narrative and the rewards for its tiny elite. From 1707 on, it took imperial wars, clearance to city slums to work in the hellfire of the factories making the ships and the guns for those wars, life in the stinking poisonous slums next to them and the brutal suppression of labour movements.

From 1707 until 1886, a series of aristocrats and Tories ran the colony. From then until 1924, Liberals were often in control. In the last 100 years, we’ve seen a shifting series of Cons, Libs and Labour secretaries of state but with extended periods of Labour control.

Even when Labour has not been in power in London, there has been a tacit agreement that at least the worst of Westminster policies would be moderated in Scotland and, of course, considerable autonomy was devolved to the larger urban councils typically dominated by Labour. These, of course, are the places where the life expectancies were shortest. There were achievements but life expectancy remains short.

The SNP has had more than a decade ‘in power’ but it has been a very limited kind of power. We see it clearly right now as Scotland is unable to fully tackle the pandemic without borrowing powers.

With only a fraction of the fiscal powers and crucially no borrowing rights, there have nevertheless been achievements, especially in housing, child poverty and in moderating the worst benefit cuts, but life expectancy change would require full autonomy and efforts over decades to come, to tackle.

8 thoughts on “Narrow shoulders: Three centuries of Westminster control have produced the lowest life expectancies in Europe”

  1. There are dark overtones of eugenics (dysgenics) in that headline, echoing the racist arguments which many British colonialists deployed regarding black people, people of Asian descent – that they were some kind of inferior subspecies and so were incapable of managing their own lives. They had to be led by a superior race of people.

    One of the specious straw man jibes deployed against independence is the ‘nationalist ‘ blood and soil one, that by wanting to run your own affairs is to claim involves asserting that you are, by virtue of the place where you live or were born that you are ‘superior’ to people born elsewhere.

    Perhaps the writer of the headline should look into a mental mirror and see his own ‘nationalism’.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It will take a lot longer than a decade to have any serious impact on national life expectancy figures, even if the SG had the wherewithal to throw buckets of cash at the problem it wouldn’t have any effect on the historic root causes, poverty, poor housing, alcohol, drugs and linked to poverty poor nutrition. Despite the fact Scotland ‘ is ‘ one the richest countries in the world it has been systematically impoverished by westminster. The damage has already been done, those already damaged physically and mentally by historic political and government abuse won’t really benefit from any major changes other than an easier end.
    Which is why the SG is focused on the young, not the old, though I would certainly appreciate a wee doubling of my pension.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well said Golfnut. Also, long term poverty, ill health and lack of good nutrition, has a knock on effect on generations after. It is a fact that bad health and nutrition caused by poverty abd rationing during the war, negatively affected the next generations’ health, and probably their offspring as well. The BritNat media and their masters in London hope the people of Scotland have collective amnesia, and won’t remember the terrible poverty, bad housing conditions etc which were imposed by the BritNats onto the people of Scotland.
      More and more people can however see for themselves how much the SNP have done and are doing now, to repair decades, even centuries of BritNats’ neglect and lack of investment in every area of society.
      The SNP will I am sure double your pension when independence is clinched.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It will take a very long time to repair the damage of 300+ years of British rule in Scotland. The Labour party are an absolute disgrace, they did NOTHING positive for Scotland in 10 years of power at Holyrood, not one good thing. They sent £BILLIONS back to Westninster, saying ‘nothing to spend it on in Scotland’ (!) and plunged Scottish councils into £billions of ‘debt’ with their PFI scams! That ‘debt’ will take decades to pay off to private companies, and even then is it not the case that the buildings like the ERI in Edinburgh still will not be owned by the people of Scotland.
    With Labour and the Tories in coalition in 9 councils in Scotland, let’s see how those areas differ in
    terms of povert reduction shall we. They will create more inequality for sure.
    Labour ran Glasgow City council for what 80 years, where poverty was rife, where their housing schemes were ghettos, with all of the societal despair and depravation that goes with that. Utter utter disgrace. The SNP have made huge strides, against massive odds in making a start on improving the lives of the people of Scotland, while mitigating dreadful cuts to the poorest and most vulnerable from the English government, the bedroom tax, what a cruel attack on the poor, how dare you have a spare room in your pokey flat. Infrastructure, housing, education, health, social care, the environment, all improved and invested in by the SNP. Now with Covid19 and
    Brexit, and working within huge constraints imposed by the government in England,
    it will take a miracle to keep Scotland afloat, nevermind moving firward.
    How dare the BritNats attempt to lay anything negative on the SNP, just imagine if Labour or the other BritNats had been at the helm in Scotland for the past ten years, it just does not bear thinking about! I could say more, but mostly, it makes me incredibly angry that the BritNats ruled for so long in Scotland, and caused so much damage to the lives of people, stealing their land and creating ghettos, keeping people poor, keeping Scotland poor. Grrrr.
    Only independence can take Scotland forward now, or be taken back decades, by the British Nationalists, it’s simple as that.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just another example of how badly Scotland performs within the constraints of the UK.
    If we were a normal democratic country,then the accountability for this would lie 100% with
    our elected government but when,as we are seeing with Covid19,the required economic levers are
    “reserved” to Westminster,then the buck stops with them.
    There are other policy areas such as drug policy which are also determined by England’s Tories.
    How would England’s right wing press react to say Berlin deciding how much money the Tories could bung
    to their cronies masquerading as health service providers?
    However,England’s Tories seem intent on “reserving” all powers governing Scotland to themselves so at least it will clear up who is really responsible.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Insurrection: Scotland’s Famine Winter: By James Hunter

    I am in the middle of reading this book and it tells how Scotland has been treated all down the years by Westminster and the landed gentry,I doubt if many younger people know about the potato famine in Scotland I was never taught it at school and that is a very long time ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It hurts for me to say Fret not for these things are in the past and soon will be forever and the only benefit derived
    Shall be what we must NOT do
    BUT that of
    No matter what where when or how all that any group of any size
    inherently the social animal that is Human have in their possession is the
    Ground they stand upon
    The air that they breathe
    The Seas that surround them
    And ours are abundant
    So it is how we interact with those assests and deploy our efforts that and that alone determine our collective future
    And in order to do so upon Indy it is of the utmost importance that
    A constitution enshrines the rights of the citizens to equal access and oppurtunity
    To deploy there abilities in a responsible,
    Equitable manner for and too the benefits of all
    Decentralise power TRUST the People
    Illegal to own any more than 5 Ha of any land
    Prevent at all costs large multi national
    Companies having majority control of any
    Of our assets. Norway shows us how
    All Business to have workers councils with full voting rights but with one very important caveat and that is
    That only decisions that increase productivity, socially beneficial and enhance our environment are passed and enacted
    We the people are the sovereign power
    And such power can only be enacted through our fully democratic representatives Who in turn must have no external influencer estate whatsoever
    In any form or manner
    Leading modern economic academic thinking states this
    In order for any Nation to prosper in todays fast changing world of neo liberal capitalist world which now has no alternative but to change expeditiously & dramatically to counter Climate change and without doubt the future pandemics
    About to befall us all
    Small Nations have to carve out only 5 areas of excellence then turn them into a niche that none other can possibly equal or compete
    Scotland is almost there already
    2.Food and Drink
    3.Higher educational facilities
    4. Medical and Bio Sciences
    5.Renewable energy engineering
    Whilst large Nations have to carve out
    At least 50 number such niches
    So ask all of yourselves this
    What 50 areas of such niches of excellence the UK currently has or
    Has the potential to develop without Scotland,s resources
    Answer. YesThe Uk has Plenty Then the plunder and impoverishment will only increase
    Answer very few or none So Separate from them
    Then the future indeed is bright and entirely in our hands
    There is only one place for Wisdom to be found and that is From Within
    Awaken and use our Wisdom and deploy not for selfish gain but for all and in particular for the coming generations
    Who we must insure that by proper custodial use of our resources that such is passed on to them in a far better condition than that of what we inherited
    Upon Independence
    Their is no greater reward than that


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