Ooooh, did you hear about…?

It’s Neil Mackay again! I know, leave ‘im ee’s not warf it!

Oh OK, just one more time? I’m completely aff the Scotsman now so I need to chew on something.

Today’s twaddle:

THERE’S one of the SNP top brass I’m friendly with, and not so long ago they brought the MP Joanna Cherry up in conversation apropos of nothing. She must have been playing on their mind. “It’s all about Joanna,” they said – with an acid-drop hiss which made clear they wouldn’t be inviting their party colleague around for Sunday afternoon tea any time soon. Cherry, they felt, is too fond of the limelight and her ambition is damaging and distracting the party. My acquaintance is a big noise in the SNP – one of the party’s most prominent politicians and a close pal to Nicola Sturgeon.

Sounds like an imaginary friend there and if there is one of the ‘SNP top brass’ who is such a sad ‘Johnny-no-pals’ as to have befriended a Herald journo, he’ll be breaking-off toot suit after reading that.

Do the rest of us care that much about these twitterspats between one or two leading members? I don’t. I have my eye firmly fixed on the big target and, crucially, I can still see clearly that only the SNP can get us out of this mess – the Union.

Opinion poll after opinion poll tells us that 99% of the electorate is not paying a blind bit of attention to the commentariat gossip.

As for Mackay’s pal, if you’re real, get a life saddo!

Finally, leading the Yes movement, whoever said the SNP should take it over? They haven’t to my knowledge.

Dear reader, who should be the face of the Yes Movement 2021?

Sanjeev Kohli (Navid) or Jack?

He who hingeth aboot getteth heehaw”

Really? That’s what you think? I despair of such mean thoughts

I only joined the SNP on retiring, in 2016. I’d been sympathetic to the idea for most of my adult life but working with young people in education, I felt it was unethical to be party member. There is no way that party membership will not affect your thinking and then your teaching and research.

For all of that time my teaching and research was ‘critical’. That meant taking nothing at face value and insisting on evidence and the constant improvement of the pursuit of evidence.

Now, the brutally exploitative nature of imperialism and capitalism in which we all live meant that what I then did, based on the evidence, would be seen by others in the academic world as somehow ‘leftist.’

It was. A leftist solution to exploitation, poverty and war is the only rational one, based on evidence. I’m not talking about the Soviet Union or Communist China before some mentions them, although both did massively reduce material poverty.

There is no perfect example but the social democracies of Northern Europe are the best so far.

Anyhow, back to this astonishing claim.

Here are some of the reasons why I have been able to answer the independence question long before considering the need for our own currency which, I agree, we should just set-up in the first year or so:

  • No more military interventions
  • No nuclear weapons
  • No poverty or homelessness
  • No hunger
  • Fair taxation
  • Land reform
  • No private education
  • A public health approach to drug abuse
  • Carbon-free energy

There are more of course and then, what was thing? Oh yes, our own currency. We’ll need that. Someone set that up.

Damned if they did damned if they didn’t?

THE numbers of women dying with dementia at home has risen by 75% according to figures which have been attributed to over-stretched health and social care services during the pandemic. Figures suggest significantly more women have died with the disease outwith care homes and hospitals than in previous years.

The Herald’s Caroline Wilson opened with the above and I thought, wait, do the ‘concerned’ think we should have put more into care homes, to infect or to get infected?

Confusing me a little, the report then seems to be about excess deaths in care homes.

So, is the point really, that there have been excess deaths among the elderly as in the recently misused Stirling University research which does show that but also shows there were fewer in Scottish care homes and that more of those with dementia should have been admitted?

Am I missing something?

It’s not clear who is pushing this story. Independent researchers are mentioned and both Age Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland comment. There’s no sign of Scottish Labour, yet. Are they struggling with the necessary three-point turn?

Watch this space for Monica Lennon.

Not one word of praise for the SNP despite the UN recognition

Reflecting on the above, the Herald‘s Catriona Stewart:

She’s right that we need a more coherent approach but why is there no word of the numerous attempts, against the tide of Tory austerity ideology, by the Scottish Government to do something to make life a bit better for the most vulnerable?

The UN and researchers across the UK have:

In 2019, the United Nations report on ‘Workhouse Britain’ noted that Scotland was spending ‘£125 million per year to protect people from the worst impacts of austerity and unlike the UK Government provided funds for emergencies and hardships.

In 2017, researchers in Wales who studied how 7 ‘small countries’ – Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Denmark, Quebec, Netherlands and Austria were ‘weathering the storm’ of increasing demand and reducing budgets, by developing a ‘golden thread’ linking more open government and participation in improving services. They wrote: A review of a small country’s approaches to public policy reform in response to economic, demographic and other pressures found that only in Scotland could this ‘golden thread’ be so clearly discerned

Just on trying to ensure the poor got a living income, here at the Scottish Government’s initiatives in the last few years:

  • In 2013, the UK Government limited Housing Benefit and the housing element of Universal Credit for working-age council or housing association tenants if they were considered to be under-occupying their homes. This became known as the ‘bedroom tax’ and the Scottish Government fully mitigated it, spending £52 million per year. [1]
  • Beginning only this month, the Scottish Child Payment means that low-income families with a child under six will be able to apply for £10 per child, per week – equivalent to £520 per year. There are no limits on the number of eligible children supported by Scottish Child Payment.[2]
  • Scotland has the highest proportion of employees being paid at least the real Living Wage of all four UK nations – 80.6%, ahead of England 77.1%, Wales 74.0% and NI 72.3% and the UK 77.2%.[3]
  • Scotland has the smallest gap between median pay for the disabled and non-disabled. This is not the result of median wages for the non-disabled in Scotland being particularly low as Scotland has the highest median pay outside of the South of England and London.[4]
  • Only Scotland and Wales pay the living wage to all NHS employees and Scotland was first to pay the living wage to all public-sector employees. Recent consultation on taxation suggests that this group will also be protected from any tax increases.[5]
  • Scottish care workers have been receiving the Living Wage of £8.45 per hour since October 2016 and will now [unlike in rUK] receive the same rate for all ‘sleepover hours worked. This will make a big difference to around 40 000 workers. Most are women.[6]
  • Also, in 2019, the funeral support payment was introduced meeting burial or cremation costs with a flat rate £700. [8]

Perhaps Catriona Stewart doesn’t know about these for the obvious reason that her colleagues at the Herald are not interested much in this kind of thing?





[5] Make the NHS a living wage employer says UNISON




Imaging having to do this for a living?

From Tom Gordon in the Herald today:

NICOLA Sturgeon has put Boris Johnson at the heart of her campaign to win another SNP majority at Holyrood and claim a mandate for an independence referendum, trashing the Prime Minister and his record on Covid. In her closing speech to the SNP conference, the First Minister said the pandemic had shown how the PM and Westminster could not be trusted with Scotland’s future.

So based on a few words in her speech, Gordon’s political insight is the above.

Once more his view is predicated on a belief, like BBC and ITV commentators yesterday, that actual SNP performance would not win by itself.

I don’t know whether he goes on to repeat Andrew Marr’s contemptable misuse of the data to pretend ‘her’ Covid response has been less successful that that of Boris but I feel sure I don’t need to repeat the clear facts, in ONS and other sources, that infection, deaths and deaths within care homes are, and have all along been, far worse in England. The data and the links are in numerous previous posts here.

Had any significant number of Scots been listening and/or believing the fake news across the mainstream media, I’d be worried but they’re not and judging by another YouGov poll for the 27th November with SNP support at 55% the SNP doesn’t need Boris to help them over the line.

You can see from numerous polls that the Boris negative push factor is only one of many including the powerful pull factors of confidence in the FM, the SNP and in NHS Scotland. Add to that several polls showing large majorities supportive of the concept of Holyrood as the place where decisions should be taken and you have a far more robust and sustainable basis for victory.

I feels sure ‘Sturgeon’ has a large pinboard with lots of things pinned on it.

Tom Gordon, I feel sure knows better but has to write this kind of stuff for his bosses. Journalism courses are popular like the ones to become a vet. In both cases, enthusiastic first-year students may not know what bloody horror awaits them.

Not in Scotland

In a typically irrelevant style, the Herald suggests:

A BLANKET policy which requires entire primary school class ‘bubbles’ to self-isolate if one child tests positive for Covid is too restrictive and not based on evidence, researchers have said. They warned that primary school children “will disproportionately experience harm” if more is not done to take account of the differences in transmission risk between young children compared with older children.

Perhaps, I’m not looking hard enough but I see not sign of blanket policy or even a policy. I’ve searched most recent Scottish Government guidance documents but can see no sign of any such policy.

I did find in this Fife Council FAQs:

What happens if there are concerns that a number of children/staff are unwell and Covid-19 might be present in the school/educational setting but there have not been any test results?

If pupils/staff are unwell and there is a concern this might be Covid-19, the Headteacher or senior manager at a school or educational setting will contact the NHS Fife Health Protection Team (HPT) directly. It is likely the immediate advice would be that individuals with symptoms should self-isolate and are tested. There will still be circulation of other more common viruses.

Will the school close if any child or teacher tests positive for Covid-19?

Each case will be looked at individually to assess the risk. If someone in the school or nursery tests positive, the school will continue to follow measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The local Health Protection Team (HPT) will conduct a rapid investigation and undertake a risk assessment. The HPT will advise on the most appropriate actions to take.

What interventions might be put in place if there is an outbreak in the school or nursery? 

The local Health Protection Team (HPT) or Incident Management Team (IMT) will work with the school to identify the appropriate measures. They will decide what steps need to be taken locally to contain any outbreak.

There is no mention, anywhere, of whole classes having to self-isolate. The Health Protection Team will decide and advise on the basis of the circumstances operating at the time.

This is just another scare story or lazy journalism or both.


Andrew Marr’s sneaky use of data to fake the news demands complaints

Graph by UK Coronavirus Tracker, Line by James Dewar

The graph above shows how the Covid death rate in Scotland and England was similar until the 20th November when they began to diverge.

The rate had been far lower for long periods before that explaining the overall gap between 681 per 1 million in Scotland and 906 in England.

Marr’s use of a carefully selected subset of only 4 weeks between 19th of October to 9th of November, finishing 3 weeks before the broadcast (!) was scandalous.

Dear reader, put a complaint in.

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Ayrshire News Improved by Accuracy

John Robertson, retired professor of media politics and SNP member Photo: Ayrshire Daily News


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