Scotland not so brave after all!

The NO side successfully hijacked the campaign from being about nationhood to being about the ‘economy stupid’. That Scotland may have had to tighten its belt a bit if oil didn’t provide all of the hoped for cushion became the defining issue of the campaign

Alex Salmond says the issue is now parked for a generation. He is wrong! The oil cushion will have been significantly reduced by the time another vote could be contemplated…so Scotland is now committed to the Union for ever

That a campaign to decide upon breaking away could be conducted without bullets is a credit to our democracy. But we cannot become complacent. The West Lothian question must be addressed now. The Prime Minister this morning appears to understand that although his proposed timetable to settle it is impossibly optimistic. Whether it is a federal state solution or just stopping non-English MPs from voting on English affairs is in itself an enormous question, and one we have covered elsewhere in articles here.

David Cameron has said that the party leaders promises to the Scots will be met in full and on time. A failure to do this would be a huge mistake

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Will a YES vote trigger a domino effect across Europe?

The polls today are indicating a win for the YES vote for the first time in the campaign for Scottish independence. If this were to translate into victory on the 18th September what would be its ramifications beyond these shores?

On 9th November the Catalans are holding a “consultation” vote on independence. This has been called illegal by the Spanish central government, with the Prime Minister, Mr Rajoy, stating repeatedly that no democratic country can hold a referendum on territorial sovereignty. The Scottish referendum (not to mention the various Canadian ones over Quebec) show this argument to have no legitimacy whatsoever. A Scottish YES vote will undoubtedly strengthen the Catalonian independence case making a “yes” vote there extremely likely

Elsewhere in Spain the Basques have continued to lobby for an independence referendum but this has been refused by the government. Success in Catalonia will of course increase the demands and make a vote much more likely to take place

Then there is Belgium. It has been looking less like a country as the many months without a new federal government have dragged on. Post industrial decline has hit the French speaking Walloons particularly hard and are seen as a serious drag on the economy, making the Flemish long for statehood. The Scottish debate has not had wide currency there yet, but a YES vote will likely be seized upon by those demanding that Flanders becomes a sovereign country

In Italy, the Northern League (Sometimes referred to as Padania) that contains both the wealthiest and most populous regions have long campaigned to separate from the poorer south (which is heavily subsidised by the north). As always in Italy the politics can be confusing to track, but a domino effect across Europe would probably galvanise the north into determined demands for independence

France is not immune to nationalist claims either with demands for independence from Brittany and Corsica adding to those of the Basques

So, the face of Europe could look quite a bit different if there is indeed a YES vote in Scotland

scottish referendum catalonia belgium flanders wallonia basque

Government minister finally admits that the NHS will be included in TTIP

Unelected Tory trade minister Lord Livingston announced on Monday that the proposed EU-US free trade deal (TTIP) will include the NHS

TTIP is the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated between the EU and US. Under it, US companies would be able to sue European states if their governments opt to return services to the public sector. This would of course mean that any privatisation of the NHS would become irreversible

The minister dismisses wide spread public concern over this as only being driven by anti-American sentiment

The government could use an opt out clause which would remove the NHS from the deal (as the French have done with their film industry) but have now ruled this out

The Prime Minister told us before the election that the NHS was safe in his hands. Sadly it seems that is not the case

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Is the police service fit for purpose?

A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into the 43 forces across England and Wales illustrates that in some regions the police attend less than 40% of crimes reported to it. Instead they are increasingly requesting victims to carry out their own investigations, including telling them to try to find their stolen goods being advertised on the internet. The inspector who led the review said that effectively what’s happening is that a number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised.

When its budget is reduced by 26% should we be surprised that the police are cutting back on the service they provide to the public?

The police have had a bad few years now. From Hillsborough through Savile to de Menezes, Ian Tomlinson, Plebgate and Rotherham, to name only a few, the public’s regard for the police force has spiraled downwards. This report certainly won’t reverse that!

What is to be done?

It is surely unsustainable to maintain 43 separate police forces in England and Wales. The Scots have led the way by creating a national force for Scotland last year. Better direction and intelligence, a streamlined organisation to fund more officers and more effective use of funds with a more consistent approach to crime would all come from such a re-organisation

We are not getting either value for money or comprehensive policing today. Something needs to happen soon

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If the Scots vote YES will it be business as usual?

Should Scotland vote to leave the rest of the UK this month attention will be focused upon how the separation should be organised, and when it should take place. Who should retain what assets, how, or if, some institutions should be shared and of course the dividing up of our debts

Important as all of this is, there are other considerations that we should be addressing which will have long and profound implications for the future of the UK

For example can the country finally grasp the nettle and admit that it’s time to stop posturing as a world power? It’s people for too long have sacrificed having world class public services to fund huge military budgets and wars that we seem incapable of winning. We spend twice as much of our GDP on military funding as say Germany, Holland or the Scandinavian countries. We have more admirals than capital ships and nuclear weapons that probably need American permission to fire. We have two new aircraft carriers being built that won’t have any planes to fly from them for a decade. And to fund this we impose a bedroom tax on the poorest in our society, deny patients the latest drugs, and cannot afford even to protect our coastlines and countryside from flooding

Another example is the way that the country is governed. A south east centric approach has turned much of the rest of the nation into an economic wasteland. For decades the defence of a high pound has built jobs in London and destroyed them elsewhere. Add to this the expensive and incompetent way in which the country is run…a class based civil service built on an ethos of well meaning amateurs that have jobs for life and regular promotions culminating in gold plated pensions and honours. It seems almost impossible that this state of affairs still exists…yet it does. Too much of the nation’s power resides in London…a slimmed down parliament in favour of powerful regional assemblies and, moving our ministries around the country would be a good start

I suspect that our politicians will want a UK without Scotland to be ‘business as usual’ rather than to deal with the profound issues that have so bedevilled the nation.  In 1945 our politicians determined that meaningful change had to take place for the sake of all the people, and, a step change took place with the creation of the NHS and social welfare policies. We need today’s politicians, with or without a Yes vote in Scotland, to be equally bold

As a footnote, it is interesting to reflect that all of the above are most of the reasons why the Scots want their independence, and, the things that will be changed in that country if it votes yes 

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The battle for Clacton…

The latest polls indicate that Douglas Carswell will romp home for UKIP in the by-election that is now being called for Clacton. The Tory right wing have already warned their leaders that any attempt to attack Carswell will be strongly resisted, and to all accounts he has been a popular MP there

I am not concerned here to comment on whether he has been two faced, promising loyalty to Cameron, praising his stance on the EU and a referendum, and then attempting to scupper the party’s chances of re-election next May thus denying the electorate the possibility of a referendum on the EU, which he claimed he wanted, is enough!

Victory for him in Clacton will probably open the flood gates (perhaps I should say sewer sluice gates) for yet more Tory right wingers to defect to UKIP

Defeat next May will result in a huge lurch to the right for the Tories to try and halt the haemorrhaging of supporters to a now rampant UKIP. The probable shift in middle ground of British politics as a result will potentially force Labour to shift rightwards too

If in the meantime the Scots have decided to leave the Union then another election sans Scottish votes will follow within a year, and without their staunch support for Labour, there will be little prospect of a new Labour administration at Westminster. The nightmare prospect of a permanent far right wing government would then not be beyond the bounds of possibility

The rest of the UK need the Scots to save them from this fate! But for them, and Scotland has always been more supportive of the EU, the prospect of UKIP gaining currency in the land will appall them…it may be the golden bullet that Alex Salmond has been seeking

Clacton may prove to be the most significant by-election in years and have a profound impact on all our futures

Clacton ukip uk politics referendum eu

Funding for care reduced to protect pensions

Healthcare specialist LaingBuisson have published figures that show that local authority funding for long-term care fell by 5% in real terms between 2010 and 2013. Some authorities are capping rates at as low as £326 pw (e.g. Surrey) which is not enough to meet care home costs which are on average £500 pw. This forces Care home managers to charge private residents higher fees to subsidise the shortfall

This of course is not a new story - we have reported funding shortfalls by local authorities for well over a decade. The authorities will complain that it is caused by reductions in funding from central government…and there is some truth in that argument, yet the funding of local authorities extremely generous pension arrangements continue to rise unchecked.

Is it not time that local authorities addressed this? 

Care Funding UK Healhcare UK Carehomes long term care NHS England

Is raising the threat level really justified?

The UK threat level was raised to its second highest level this week - severe. This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely because of the growing danger from British jihadists returning home from Iraq and Syria. Yet the Home Secretary said yesterday that whilst it meant that an attack was highly likely there was no evidence to suggest an attack was imminent

The Prime Minister made a speech saying that the risk posed by IS/ISIS will last for decades, and he went on to promise a number of uncompromising measures to help tackle British jihadists and fill the gaps in our armoury

When admirals at sea seek to cover a blunder, or to disguise their real plans they “make smoke”, in other words a smoke screen. The Prime Minister has been severely criticised for his inaction over the IS/ISIS crisis in Iraq and the beheading of an American journalist by a British jihadi. It is perhaps a convenient time for the Prime Minister to focus the nation on a terrorist threat, real or fiction. Impotence over Putin abroad, his MP’s departing or threatening departure to UKIP and the Tory backwoodsmen baying for a more anti-EU stance, as well as the Scottish independence debate shifting support closer to a YES vote

Some of the measures being discussed make good sense, but the Lib/Dem coalition partners are right to want to scrutinise these in detail before they are passed into law. We are all conscious of the way that atrocities like 9/11, Madrid and 7/7 were used by governments here and abroad to bow to the wishes of the security forces to enact illiberal and even wholly impractical or inappropriate measures

It is vital that a sense of proportion is maintained. IS/ISIS have no real interest in the UK. As we have argued earlier their focus is upon establishing a caliphate in the Middle East. Yes, some returning jihadists may be inspired to carry out atrocities here. But in a country that endured the campaigns of IRA bombings is this really justification for raising the threat level to the highest in our history?

Of course the Prime Minister may have intelligence that could justify these measures but we are right to be suspicious. Cameron’s role model, Tony Blair ignored the need to balance the perceived threats with maintaining civil liberties in similar circumstances

via https://dayone.me/JQczgD

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Cameron’s empty rhetoric about IS/ISIS
Last week David Cameron warned us that Britain faces a “generational struggle” against a “poisonous ideology”. He argued that Britain’s very security depended on the country using all its resources, aid, diplomacy and “military prowess” to vanquish IS/ISIS. With that he went on vacation for the second time this summer. His ministers rushed to explain that he did not mean that we would put “boots on the ground” in Iraq, or that our jets would do more than have reconnaissance duties. Then we had the beheading of an American journalist by a British jihadi and the PM rushed back again to London to wring his hands in front of the press but offer nothing new
At least the American president can argue that he has done something meaningful by authorising over sixty air strikes so far against IS/ISIS…and the success of this initiative is clear… the Yazidis have been saved, the Kurdish Peshmerga have reversed their defeats of a few weeks ago, and the Iraqi army is confronting IS/ISIS with more confidence. Their diplomatic efforts have also been successful with Nuri al-Maliki replaced in Baghdad by Haider al-Abadi, to lead a more inclusive Iraqi government
All of this makes Cameron’s stance look weak. The UK has a defence budget of £164 billion to be spent on equipment and equipment support over the next ten years, the second largest budget in NATO. We are spending above the NATO target of 2% of GDP on defence, yet we are unable to stand alongside our American allies against a foe that we both created when we destabilised the region by declaring an illegal war on Iraq in 2003. Perhaps this is the curse of lightweight inexperienced leaders so beloved of political parties and the electorate here in Britain
Interestingly the press have picked up on Cameron’s claim that Britain itself is in grave danger from IS/ISIS. Every day now there are stories about what atrocities jihadists may carry out when they return here. Of course there is a risk of isolated action but this is unlikely to be a part of an IS/ISIS strategy for domination of Britain. Their attempt to create a caliphate across the Middle East will absorb their full attention for years to come, and only if that were successful, which is highly improbable, would the southern shores of Europe be at any risk…Cameron must ensure that we do our part to ensure that it remains highly improbable, and very importantly help the million Iraqis displaced by the conflict
via https://dayone.me/I4Uzji

Cameron’s empty rhetoric about IS/ISIS

Last week David Cameron warned us that Britain faces a “generational struggle” against a “poisonous ideology”. He argued that Britain’s very security depended on the country using all its resources, aid, diplomacy and “military prowess” to vanquish IS/ISIS. With that he went on vacation for the second time this summer. His ministers rushed to explain that he did not mean that we would put “boots on the ground” in Iraq, or that our jets would do more than have reconnaissance duties. Then we had the beheading of an American journalist by a British jihadi and the PM rushed back again to London to wring his hands in front of the press but offer nothing new

At least the American president can argue that he has done something meaningful by authorising over sixty air strikes so far against IS/ISIS…and the success of this initiative is clear… the Yazidis have been saved, the Kurdish Peshmerga have reversed their defeats of a few weeks ago, and the Iraqi army is confronting IS/ISIS with more confidence. Their diplomatic efforts have also been successful with Nuri al-Maliki replaced in Baghdad by Haider al-Abadi, to lead a more inclusive Iraqi government

All of this makes Cameron’s stance look weak. The UK has a defence budget of £164 billion to be spent on equipment and equipment support over the next ten years, the second largest budget in NATO. We are spending above the NATO target of 2% of GDP on defence, yet we are unable to stand alongside our American allies against a foe that we both created when we destabilised the region by declaring an illegal war on Iraq in 2003. Perhaps this is the curse of lightweight inexperienced leaders so beloved of political parties and the electorate here in Britain

Interestingly the press have picked up on Cameron’s claim that Britain itself is in grave danger from IS/ISIS. Every day now there are stories about what atrocities jihadists may carry out when they return here. Of course there is a risk of isolated action but this is unlikely to be a part of an IS/ISIS strategy for domination of Britain. Their attempt to create a caliphate across the Middle East will absorb their full attention for years to come, and only if that were successful, which is highly improbable, would the southern shores of Europe be at any risk…Cameron must ensure that we do our part to ensure that it remains highly improbable, and very importantly help the million Iraqis displaced by the conflict

via https://dayone.me/I4Uzji

Politics isis UK cameron yazidis iraq kurds

Patients dying because of lack of nursing…

A comprehensive study carried out by King’s College London looking at data on 57,000 patients admitted to stroke units in more than 100 hospitals over the course of 18 months has concluded that hundreds of stroke patients are dying because hospitals do not have enough nurses working at weekends

Patients were significantly less likely to die in stroke units that had more nurses on duty at the weekend

The medical director of NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh, wants more senior staff on duty seven days a week after previous research had already suggested that patients were 16% more likely to die if admitted at weekends

This is of course no more than yet another example of the failure of successive governments to properly fund the NHS. In league tables of comparable western health services our outcomes are significantly worse. Promising to spend tens of billions of pounds on projects such as replacing our nuclear deterrent and HS2 demonstrate that our government is out of step with public opinion. We need to ensure that such choices are put in front of voters before the general election next May

via https://dayone.me/HFaz6d

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