Independent Living

In the Herald today, Helen McArdle wonders why life expectancy in the UK has stalled since 2012 and why in Scotland it’s the the lowest and the slowest growing in Europe. Do you think it might have anything to do with Tory austerity combined with Tory privatisation of the NHS and Tory total f**cking incompetence across the board? Is Scotland flatlining because we’re not independent, do you think? No? Being dependent is good for us? Hmm, see below.

Then she is surprised that Ireland is improving fast. Is that because she thinks they’re still subsisting on potatoes after their hasty, ill-considered freedom dash from Britain. I’m not surprised. They’re independent and benefiting from EU membership. Could that be it? Duuuh!

What evidence is there that leaving the British Empire is good for life expectancy?

There’s this:

During the heyday of British rule, or the British Raj, from 1872 to 1921, Indian life expectancy dropped by a stunning 20 per cent. By contrast, during the 70 years since independence, Indian life expectancy has increased by approximately 66 per cent, or 27 years. A comparable increase of 65 per cent can also be observed in Pakistan, which was once part of British India.

You’re not listening, Helen?

8 thoughts on “Independent Living”

  1. Off topic but the daily Covid figures were released very very late today (for England). 21309 (no thats not a typo, it really is over twenty thousand for the day).
    This plus the 10800 from Saturday pretty much doubled the rolling 7-day rate over 2 days.
    I had been wondering if the apparent relative drop in the Scotland/England ratio was real or not. It seems not!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It appears there has been a systematic under-reporting of cases across England for at least week and the apparent surge over the past 2 days is due to adding them all in over the Saturday & Sunday figures. Utter incompetence…

      Liked by 3 people

  2. It must be the past 13 years of SNP rule, destroying lives, imposing terrible austerity, trashing health and social care, no investment in jobs or anything for the young, making sure pensioners receive a very low pension, lowest in Europe, bad diet, feeding people crap, making sure drugs are imported & supplied in Scotland’s communities to quell any dissent, no investment in infrastructure, telling people they are too stupid and too poor anyway, while laughing in their faces as they vote for the SNP, oh wait, that’d be the past 300+ years of BritNat rule and many decades of Labour running the show in Scotland’s councils, ah, Isee, it’s historic, what a surprise.

    Poverty, bad housing, no prospects, lack of any opportunities, low paid factory work, etc, all causes of low life expectancy and it doesn’t improve in a single generation, it takes much much longer. The future is very bleak within the UK, with Tory/red Tory austerity and Brexit, Scotland must get out or be destroyed, except for the few very rich who will escape any negative effects.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We are watching the series Andromeda, it’s very good indeed, 2000-2005. Much of the message is about peace, ( though of course the various space species are fighting each other!) and they hit on some issues that the US is of course still dealing with today, their prison system and private profit for one. ‘File and forget’.
      Anyway, it seeps into dreams, and if I use words like destroy, that’s why.


  3. I’m still unwell and this is probably too long a read.

    With regard to good health, what kind of political system would you like to see in Ireland in the place where you live or across the island?

    If it is useful, there is some research into the effect of political systems on health outcomes. The research says that, of the four political systems compared, social democracy (e.g.Nordic countries) gives best health outcomes to the people. That is followed by Christian democracy, then neoliberalism and finally the politics among former fascist countries.

    Click to access caa632d451e366e71d906fdc355516929d19.pdf

    Research on the subject is limited. It might be useful to have some more.

    People in the Nordic countries seem satisfied with their lives. Stability seems to be a part of what makes it so. Also, the consistently good quality of the institutions, a good welfare system that protects people from adversity, relatively low levels of inequality and good employment conditions. There are relatively low levels of corruption, a sense of social cohesion and of democratic freedom.

    Poverty rates among the Nordic countries have been increasing since the turn of the century though they remain some way below the EU average levels of poverty.

    These two videos linked below have speakers talking about salutogenesis, a different way of looking at “wellness” and creating health.

    Health inequalities are unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population, and between different groups within society. Health inequalities arise because of the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age. Health inequalities are not inevitable.'s%20life%20expectancy%20at%2081.5,%2Dincome%20groups%20of%2021.5%25.

    In the 2013 “Ministerial Review of health Inequalities in Scotland” Dame Professor Macintyre said that 40% of health spending was on interventions that were avoidable.

    The Review made a number of policy recommendations to address the fundamental causes of health inequalities (page 6), many of which could not be introduced without additional devolved powers. Those powers are still absent despite limited additional devolution of powers. It is still the case that the devolved governments lack the powers to address the fundamental causes of health inequalities.

    Another recommendation was that those most affected by health inequalities should be consulted on any decisions by government affecting the issue.

    Click to access 1-healthinequalitiespolicyreview.pdf

    Professor Sir Harry Burns, former Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, has spoken about “wellness” and also about the effects of poverty. Chronic stress can affect people, young and old, throughout their life courses and leads to early ill health and shorter life expectancy. Add to that all the financial costs, early deaths and misery of social problems associated with poverty and deprivation. Adverse childhood experiences can cause long lasting damage.

    “Effects of poverty on brain development start early and are seen in infancy. In a longitudinal analysis of 77 children participating in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) MRI Study of Normal Brain Development and seen between the early postnatal period and age 4 years, those in low-income or poor families were found to have total gray matter volumes that were nearly half a standard deviation smaller than their better-off counterparts.”

    Poverty can make its mark on genes, changing how our bodies work.

    The remedy, so says the research, is to redistribute wealth, power and income. Without that, it is not possible to address the fundamental causes of health inequalities. Evidence to the Scottish parliament (and across the UK) from academic research is that the fundamental drivers of health inequalities are the unfair, unequal distributions of wealth, power and income within the population and that little can be done to reduce health inequalities unless the fundamental causes are addressed effectively. The problem is structural and not one of individual behaviour or lifestyle choices which have little impact overall.

    How much poverty is there in Ireland, North and South?

    In the Republic, child income poverty rates were estimated in 2020 at 16 .6 per cent with a large increase anticipated without economic recovery from the covid19 pandemic. The earlier economic crash of 2008 saw child poverty levels reach 32 per cent in 2013.,rate%20of%20child%20income%20poverty.

    UK government statistics for 2018/19 show that, after housing costs, 4.2 million children in the UK or 30 per cent were living in relative poverty. That percentage has fluctuated little over the years from around 33 per cent in 1997/8. After housing costs, the number of children in the UK living in absolute poverty in 2018/19 is 3.7 million or 26 per cent. In 1997, 45 per cent of children in the UK were living in absolute poverty.

    In some areas child poverty is already at 60 per cent.

    Research by the IFS and by Stark and Reed, 2018, for the Scottish government show child poverty in Scotland increasing as a result of the welfare policies of the current UK government. By 2030/31 child poverty levels in Scotland may be 38 per cent, currently 24 per cent. Will things be much different in other areas of the UK?

    Then there is Brexit.

    There are economic savings to be made by addressing the fundamental causes of health inequalities. More people will be able to fulfil their potential in life, free from the misery poverty can cause. There will be savings from fewer welfare payments, benefits from greater productivity, increased taxes and lower spending on health.

    “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.” So said Martin Luther King.

    Modern Monetary Theory, MMT, suggests money can be afforded for many policies of the right or the left. The covid-19 virus and Mr Sunak (furlough scheme) have shown Mrs May to be wrong. There is a magic money tree (if shrinking in size). MMT has critics and advocates.

    Richard Murphy tore into the second effort by Mr Sunak to help avoid mass unemployment.

    Pay. What would be a fair ratio, if one was needed at all, between those at the bottom of the pay scale and those at the top?

    The nature of employment matters as well as the pay it provides. Evidence was given to the Scottish Health Committee in 2015 that zero hours employment was damaging to the health of those engaged in it and that it could be more damaging than long term unemployment.

    Click to access low-pay-no-pay-full_0.pdf

    Being on a zero-hours contract is bad for your health

    Perhaps the first choice to be made when considering the political futures of NI, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK is which political system is best for all of the people: social or Christian Democracy ( Nordic countries or Germany might be exemplars) or Neoliberalism (take your choice)?

    It might be as well to mention here that Sec 46 of the Internal Market Bill gives the UK government powers over the devolved governments in the areas of health, education, justice, transport, culture, sport, housing and economic development.

    When it comes to the health of a country or region, particularly the health of the poor and most vulnerable, it probably pays to look first at the past before thinking of the future.The block grant to Wales, Scotland and NI depends on spending on public services by the UK government.

    There have been many failings by the UK government with regard to England’s health service. This is, perhaps, the most significant and it is likely to have implications for devolution. The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 passed by the UK Coalition government removed the duty on the secretary of state for health to secure and provide comprehensive health care. No reason can be given by the UK government for this abdication of responsibility except to claim that it is “vital”. I guess you know why. Prescient Professor Pollock.,a%20no%20vote%20%E2%80%93%20Allyson%20Pollock&text=The%20Coalition%20Government%20abolished%20the,Social%20Care%20Act%20in%202012.&text=So%20the%20rate%20of%20privatisation,is%20accelerating%20across%20the%20country.


    1. Wow, just wow, from me too, I’ll have to bookmark it and peruse it in stages – loads of work there Sam well done!


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