Coming to terms with the end

Ludo Thierry

Some encouraging Ipsos Mori numbers demonstrate the wider UK population is, increasingly, anticipating the ‘union’ not surviving in current form even into the medium term. Link and snippets below:

New Ipsos MORI research shows that people in Britain have become less confident that the UK will continue to exist in its present form in the medium term.

Key findings:

• 72% of British adults think the UK will exist in its current form in one year’s time, a similar figure to when Ipsos MORI last asked this question in 2014.

• But people are split on whether the UK will exist in its current form in five years’ time, with 42% saying it will and 44% that it won’t. In 2014 the figures were 61% saying it will and 27% that it won’t.

• Half think it won’t exist in its current form in ten years’ time, with 50% saying this, up from 34% in 2014. And 51% think it won’t exist in its current form in twenty years’ time – up from 38% in 2014.

Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “While no one would expect public confidence in the Union’s future to be higher now than it was five years ago, what’s striking is just how much it’s dropped. These findings show that the British public are now much more divided in their expectations of the Union’s future than they were in 2014, when the Union’s future was under intense debate with Scotland just three months away from an independence referendum. With independence a key faultline in Scotland’s election debate, the findings will be concerning for those who want Scotland to remain in the Union, while those campaigning for an independent Scotland will hope that this is a continuing trend.”

The more the ‘man+woman in the street’ south of the border come to accept that the ‘union’ game is up – the more straightforward and clinical the Indy negotiations become. This more informed climate in advance of Treaty negotiations will be beneficial for the populations on either side of the border (‘harder’ or ‘softer’ border depending on negotiations/agreements in due course).

Increased doctor and nurse training in NHS Scotland

Two linked reports from Ludo and Legerwood:

Ludo Thierry

The SNP Scottish Government find funding to recruit a further 70 Doctors in Training (for specialties experiencing particularly high demand). Link and snippets from below (over 6% increase in Doctors in Training in Scotland since SNP Scottish Governmentt took office:

70 extra frontline medical trainees.

Hospital patients and staff will benefit from the creation of 70 new posts for trainee doctors in several medical specialities.

All of the additional posts will support hospital-based medical specialities which have been identified as under pressure from increased patient need, including radiology, oncology, anaesthesia, intensive care and obstetrics and gynaecology. 14 of the trainees will also spend time training in general practice and mental health placements.

The Scottish Government will cover the costs of the trainee salaries, which will amount to £2.3 million in 2020-21, increasing to £3.4 million in 2021-22 and beyond. Successful applicants will start in their new posts in autumn 2020.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Scotland has an excellent reputation as a place to work and train for doctors. The number of doctors in training in Scotland has increased by more than 6% since 2006.’


The number of student nurses and midwives has also increased again to 4006 for 2019-20. In 2012-13 the intake was down to 2400 after a series of cuts in part due to the, then, record numbers in training – just over 10,300 – which led to fear that there would not be enough jobs for them when they qualified.

The intake has increased in each year since then to the current 4006.

Their tuition fees are paid by the SG and they get a bursary. This year it is £8,100 up from £6,500 last year and intended to be £10,000 by the end of this Parliament.

In addition there are Dependent’s allowances of £3640 for a dependent spouse/partner or for a child. Full details here:

BBC ‘reality team’ fact-check Nicola Sturgeon’s launch speech and get it WRONG

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Not really

Once again thanks to Legerwood for alerting me to this misuse of data.

The graph below has been used before to illustrate the A&E performance of the 4 NHS regions in the UK and is re-used by the Reality Check Team. It seems to suggest little difference between that of NHS England and NHS Scotland but is incorrect.

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The team reports:

The first minister also said: “We have the best performing accident and emergency services anywhere in the United Kingdom.” Health is a devolved power, and each nation expects 95% of patients to be treated or admitted in four hours. Nicola Sturgeon is right to say that performance against this target was better in Scotland than in the rest of the UK in 2018-19 – when 91.2% of patients were treated or admitted in that time – but Scotland still missed its target. The figure compares with 88% in England, 80% in Wales and 69.9% Northern Ireland.

Leaving aside the unnecessary carping about devolved powers and missing the target, the FM was simply correct in her claim, but the NHS England performance was in fact much lower:

‘78.9% of patients were seen within 4 hours in type 1 A&E departments compared to 78.8% in Jun 2019 and 83.3% for the same month last year.’

The writers make an astonishing, beginner’s error in the use of statistics, with the effect of exaggerating NHS England’s A&E performance and reducing the gap with that of NHS Scotland. The error is simple. They mistakenly use the performance figures for ‘All’ A&E departments when they should only use those for ‘Type 1’ departments in England:

Type 1 A&E department: a consultant-led 24-hour service with full resuscitation facilities and designated accommodation for A&E patients. ‘All’ A&E types, include Minor Injury Units and Walk-in Centres.

Only Type 1 data are comparable with those elsewhere in the UK and are reported discretely by NHS England for that purpose.

So, in 2018/19, 78.9% of patients were seen in 4 hours, in Type 1 NHS England departments, while in Scotland 91.2% were!

Thus A&E performance in NHS Scotland is 15.5% better than in NHS England and even NHS Wales performs better than it does.

The National and a Dundee prof’s dodgy statistics feed the Unionist press, Boris rants and that AngusTory MP on QT last night

Oh no it doesn’t!

Honorary Professor Jim Scott’s unsolicited (?) report to the Scottish Parliament does NOT demonstrate a significant impact of any kind on pupils.

Indeed, in a telling section (p14) he reads a two-year decline (0.8%) from 2010, in the percentage of pupils leaving with no qualifications followed by another two-year increase (0.6%) by 2014 back to almost the same level (2.1%) it had been before the decline as evidence that Curriculum for Excellence changes were somehow responsible. Any statistics pupil knows that a two-year change does not a meaningful trend make. Any social science graduate knows that education is affected by multiple external factors and that finding cause and effect in any curriculum change is a fool’s errand. Could an increase in pass rates followed by a return to the earlier level have been the result of assessment panels responding to accusations of dumbing down? I’ve seen that happen many times. As for the level in 2018 (2.3%) being exactly the same as it had been in 2010, what does that tell you about long-term curriculum changes? Don’t count on them!

The report is about the impact on the curriculum, on tradition and on the attainment gap. In a revealing paragraph he writes:

Many parents and learners, whether based on parental experience or a view of the learner’s future vocation, appear to have opted for either “two Sciences and a Social Subject” or “two Socials and a Science”. This undoubtedly reflects a societal (and school?) perception of the hierarchy of importance of subjects but does not fit well with the relative breadth of curriculum experienced traditionally in Scottish education. Those learners who wish to take three Sciences MAY be able to achieve this (see Section E) but they are then left with one curricular choice to cover Expressive Arts, Languages, Business, Health & Wellbeing, ICT, Social Subjects and Technology. This does not constitute a broad Scottish experience; it as far more akin to the narrower specialisation seen in the English curriculum.

I’m intuitively in agreement with that but I am getting on a bit and we can’t be hidebound by traditions for their own sake. There may be wider societal, cultural, technological changes triggering this curricular change and none of us can be sure how it will turn out. However, it gets a good reception in the Unionist and Tory press. Just search for him and you’ll find him all over the Telegraph, the Scotsman and the Herald. They and the Tories love his stuff.

There is of course no comparative element in the report, yet we need that kind of thing if we are to know how well our system is coping. Here’s one

‘Only 66.9% of GCSE entrants in England got 1 or more GCSE awards compared to the 86.1% in Scotland achieving 1 or more SCQF Level 5 awards.’

Not for the first time, the National has given space to flawed research which might undermine the reputation of the Scottish Government:

Both BBC Scotland and the ‘pro-Independence’ Sunday National use unpublished or unreliable evidence to accuse Scottish schools of ‘unlawful’ actions

EIS survey on Scottish teacher stress is stupidly covered in National then disappears before leading academic can mark it its ‘methods.’

Scotsman, Herald and National (!) contradicted as evidence shows Scottish Ambulance Service in ‘excellent condition’

Should the National have denied the BMA the chance to spread anxiety about NHS Scotland?

I’m not saying Trojan Horse but WTF Richard? And if a ‘quality’ newspaper reports on education then it needs to provide a fuller more contextualised picture. Here are some data that suggest there have been some pretty positive impacts in recent years:

Conservatives FAIL to close achievement gap as SNP school policies cut it by half!

International Council Finds Improvements in Scotland’s Schools in only Two Years

Educational attainment gaps much smaller in Scotland than in England after 10 years of SNP government: JRF Poverty Report Extract 6

SNP Government increases teacher numbers to create far superior pupil/teacher ratios and much smaller attainment gaps than in England


The Big Bad Cuckoo (BBC) in Scotland’s nest squeezes out the news that we’re not better together with ‘criminals from English cities inflicting pain and suffering’ and that’s ‘tantamount to lying’

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Targeting English drug gangs?

‘Police move to protect vulnerable people being exploited by drug gangs in the North-East’

That’s the Reporting Scotland Down headline and the report which followed was careful not to tell us where the gangs were from other than deep into an extended report where we heard: ‘the dealers some coming from England can be particularly violent.’

That’s a remarkable statement. On their own website, in several articles with thousands of words but ‘England’ mentioned once or not at all, they do reveal way down the page:

The operation is targeting the activities of predominantly English-based organised crime groups (OCGs), who are believed to be responsible for the influx of drugs into the north east of Scotland.

But even that is deceptive. Police Scotland had no qualms about identifying the source last January:

The charity Crimestoppers is today 14th January 2019 launching a campaign to highlight the pain and suffering that criminals from English cities are inflicting on vulnerable people in Scotland’s rural and coastal towns. The campaign aims to raise awareness of County Lines, which is when criminals from major cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham are expanding their drug networks to other areas, bringing with it serious criminal behaviour such as violence, exploitation and abuse.

And, a year before that STV had been telling viewers what is going on:

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STV more truthful than the state broadcaster

Most will be familiar with the idea of subliminal messages where words or images are inserted to indoctrinate the viewer but there is also the opposite notion of omission as the concealment of truth:

The deliberate exclusion of relevant information can mislead others from knowing the true nature of social and scientific facts. In extreme cases, purposeful omission is almost tantamount to lying, even if it does not technically fit the definition of lying.

Massive rise in anxiety in Dundee AFTER BBC Scotland saturation coverage of NHS Tayside

EXCLUSIVE: I’m calling NHS Tayside’s breast cancer treatment department DYSFUNCTIONAL

A question in Holyrood on Wednesday 5th November 2019 has triggered a response by expert on media effects, Professor John Robertson, late of the University of the West of Scotland:

Bill Bowman (North East Scotland) (SCAUP): To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the findings in the Office for National Statistics report, Personal well-being in the UK: April 2018 to March 2019, which records 15.3% and 9.8% increases respectively in levels of anxiety over the last year among people in Angus and Dundee, and what its position is on whether the performance of NHS Tayside might have contributed to this.


Professor Robertson:

Mr Bowman is correct to draw attention to this apparent spike but has misunderstood the reasons for increased anxiety in the general population. Bowman is presumably referring to the cases of breast cancer and mental health treatment given much attention by BBC Reporting Scotland in the last 6 to 9 months. The actual performance of NHS Tayside, later defended by experts, which he alludes to, only affected a small number of people directly and so cannot explain a spike in anxiety levels among the wider population.

However, as most of us know, it is the representation or reporting of events which can cause widespread anxiety. So, the daily TV reporting, dwelling-upon and revisiting cases of alleged malpractice, regardless of the fact that they are extremely rare events which most of the population will never experience, can have a disproportionate effect and distort viewers perceptions of reality.

Researchers have already shown that the fear of crime, including medical malpractice, in most western countries, is greater than it should be given the actual level and that those who consume high levels of violent or traumatic media reports, including news reports, are prone to generalised anxiety disorder.

Now, in Angus and Tayside, Mr Bowman wonders if the ‘performance of NHS Tayside, might have contributed to’ the increased anxiety. The answer is, of course, that while the actual performance was satisfactory and only experienced by a tiny minority, it cannot, but the BBC reporting of NHS Tayside might have been.

In these two cases, it was BBC Reporting Scotland which led the accusations of malpractice, even using the word, ‘dysfunctional’, to describe the Oncology Department. Readers will know that subsequent comments by experts revealed the reports to have been utterly wrong but by then damage may have been done to the confidence of thousands living in Tayside. Indeed, some may have suffered serious harm, mental and/or physical, due to fear of coming forward for treatment they needed because of the BBC Reporting Scotland coverage suggesting they might be at risk if they did.

For fuller accounts of the faked NHS Tayside news reports:

Reporting Scotland demonstrate how to fake a connection between NHS Tayside and Breast Cancer Deaths

Why have The ‘Independent’ Inquiry and BBC Scotland told us nothing about the treatment of patients in NHS Tayside Mental Health Services?

Scottish member of the Swinson Pro-austerity Party breaks ranks with leader

We need to talk Alex!

In Holyrood, yesterday, Alex Cole-Hamilton expressed his heartfelt empathy for the poor, risking deselection:

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Having given the SNP an opportunity to remind us of what they have actually done to redress the effects of the Conservative/LibDem Alliance’s austerity programme, voted for enthusiastically, more than some Tory MP’s did, by his leader, his coat is surely on a shoogly peg when she finds out.

New cancer treatment research centre for Glasgow

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FREE PICTURE- Cancer Research UK

Research: Brian McGowan

From NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde yesterday:

Glasgow scientists have been awarded a major cash boost from Cancer Research UK to pioneer new radiotherapy technologies and techniques that could help more people survive cancer in the future.

Experts from the Cancer Research UK Glasgow Centre are set to receive £3.5 million over the next five years.

Glasgow has been chosen to be one of just seven centres of excellence** in a UK-wide network that will accelerate advances in radiotherapy research. Centres will also be located in Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds and London.

Cancer Research UK is investing a total of £56 million in Cancer Research UK RadNet – the charity’s largest ever investment in radiotherapy research.

More than 130,000 patients in the UK are treated with radiotherapy on the NHS every year. In its simplest form, the treatment works by targeting tumours with x-ray radiation, killing cancer cells by irreversibly damaging their DNA.

Cancer Research UK supported some of the earliest research into the treatment of cancer with radiation and pioneered the first use of radiotherapy in the 1920s.

In Glasgow, the funding will support researchers to develop and test new radiotherapy-drug combinations and new radiotherapy techniques. Scientists and doctors will focus on improving radiotherapy for patients with hard-to-treat cancers and cancers with poor prognosis, such as lung, brain, pancreatic, and head and neck cancers. And they will carry out research to develop personalised radiotherapy treatment, by developing new imaging techniques and identifying molecular and genetic signatures of cancers that can predict how well each patient will respond to radiotherapy.

Earlier positive news on cancer treatment in Scotland:

England and its imploding justice system.


England and its imploding justice system.

The article was on the front page of the on-line Guardian for most of the day and then was replaced by this grudging piece about the Scottish Parliament raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old.

While the article castigated Scotland for not doing more, as reports usually do, it fails to mention that in England the age of criminal responsibility is still 10 years old. In fairness it has to be said that there was a Bill going through HoC to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years but it was lost because of the GE.Then there was this in the Guardian a few days ago:

England and its imploding justice system

Then there was this in the Guardian a few days ago:

England and its imploding justice system.

The article above was on the front page of the on-line Guardian for most of that day and then was replaced by this grudging piece about the Scottish Parliament raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old.

While the article castigated Scotland for not doing more, as these types of articles usually do, it fails to mention that in England the age of criminal responsibility is still 10 years old. In fairness it has to be said that there was a Bill going through HoC to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years but it was lost because of the GE.

Tory-supporters don’t care what Tory politicians say because they’re nasty too?

His trousers were even on fiyah and he just sat there!

The latest YouGov poll based on fieldwork on 5-6 November has the Tories still strong, 11 points ahead of Labour, and apparently unaffected by their apparently disastrous week:

  • Con 36%
  • Lab 25%
  • DimLeb 17%
  • Brexit 11%

With Rees-Mogg ‘misspeaking’ to reveal his contempt for the dead of Grenfell, Tory MPs laughing at poverty, lying in a rape case and with one candidate even suggesting the poor might be better ‘put down’, you might think they’d be damaged and we’d see a fall in support. The latest YouGov poll was taken in the midst of the media frenzy about the nasty party but it seems to have had no effect. I know it’s only one poll. Are Tory-supporters mostly just as nasty as their politicians and the latter could do worse and still get away with it?

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