The difference a week makes

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Y’know, you’d be forgiven for wondering what you have to do to get a balanced interview on any current issue were you a member of the Scottish government. Yesterday’s Andrew Marr show provided a perfect example as Scotland’s First Minister, ostensibly invited on to presumably answer questions on the upcoming general election,  spent a fair chunk of the interview discussing the devolved issue of education in Scotland. Again, you’d be forgiven for expecting the issues of Brexit, the constitutional question and perhaps the performance of SNP MPs over the past two years may have been on point, but hey ho, different strokes for different folks.

No question, the fall in standards in literacy and numeracy within the P4, P7 and S2 are poor over the period specified. No one should take a drop in educational or child performance standards lightly. Quite rightly, the First Minister held her hands up right away and said exactly the same thing, not once, but a number of times throughout the interview. The buck does indeed stop with those responsible for budget oversight and curriculum. Mr Marr was expecting what precisely after the second and third repetition of the same question? I’m not entirely sure he was used to a politician coming back with an honest answer and accepting responsibilty.

Still, if we’re going to be picking facts out of performances it’s surely also worth taking these on board. Attainment for school leavers over the same period has also markedly risen. It may also be worth noting that there are some things both the Scottish government and even the local authorities, (tasked with maintaining and staffing of the schools within their communities), may find beyond their ability to alter. Poverty for instance, has long been linked closely with educational attainment or lack thereof.

You know it’s true enough that if you throw enough money, manpower and resources at a situation, you can solve almost any problem. What happens though, when you can’t? What happens if you don’t have the money, the manpower, or the resources? What happens when you can’t generate the things you need, make the alterations you want, provide what you desperately want to provide, because you don’t have the latitude you require with your own economy? Because… you don’t run your own economy?

Bit of a rule of thumb, but there’s never an easy single answer to highly complex questions. Just a thought.

Still, not to be deterred from all things devolved, Ruth Davidson stuck her own oar into the paddling pool on this self same issue recently, with the broad claim that “The SNP has been in sole charge of education for a decade, and these failings are inexcusable. One in five children leave school functionally illiterate.” So how did that truly stack up then? Well, according to Ferret Fact Service, not so much as it turns out. This IS an election period. If something has a poor result or record, you better believe that by the time a party politician has finished spinning it, that poor result will be released as a biblical catastrophy beyond endurance.

(Keep an open mind. Do a little digging and decide for yourself whether a headline or a soundbite has gone a bit too far. Don’t let the meeja and the spin doctors lead you by the nose.)

Not content with merely the one tack on devolved issues, Ms Davidson then moves smoothly (cough), on to the subject of ‘free prescriptions’. Forgetting for a moment that this is one of the most colossal U turns by any Scottish Conservative ever, there is the teeny matter of competency involved here. Once more this would fall into an area of devolved government. On a few counts this may be a tad problematic. Firstly, she’d clearly have to go and ask the PM, (very nicely), if this is okay to pledge as a general rule and secondly she is NOT Scotland’s First Minister.  The next Holyrood elections are a wee bit far off at this point and let’s face it, there’s also the small issue of trust involved here. Neither Conservative government as a rule, or Ms Davidon in particular, has proven the most trustworthy of individuals on pretty much anything in terms of policy.

Worth listening to this recent radio interview to get a taste of how Ms Davidson’s views, on any given subject, change according to the weather. (LINK)

Then we get to it. THE question. Why aren’t we talking about general election matters? Why aren’t we discussing the issues generated by Westminster legislation and Conservative government? Could Ruth’s widely publicised support of the Rape Clause have anything to do with it? Or could it be the recently publicised revelations over the  improper and abusive social media behaviour of some of her party support and indeed new local authority councillors?  It must seem to the casual observer, when watching or listening to Ruth these days, if someone so much as mentions the ‘R’ word or Brexit, the subject changes faster than you can say ‘delete history’.

The gaffs on devolved issues are bad and bad enough, but having the media or the public look more closely at the legislation and nature of Conservative government and Conservative support in Scotland? Drawing people’s attention to what lies beneath the spin, the photo op and the soundbite? Don’t look over here, look over there springs to mind. Manipulation by media and soundbite. A time honoured sport in political circles.

Some say a week is a long time in politics. In a little over a week Ms Davidson has come dangerously close to proving that adage accurate beyond all reasonable doubt.

The Tory party aren’t the nasty party. That’s the message Ruth wants to send. That’s the face we are to be presented with. If there isn’t a convenient photo op to hand, then the focus is to be upon devolved issues and a shouty, pointy fingered and pure dead serious Ruth being all concerned about folks welfare.

As far as yer average policy wonk is concerned, people having short memories? They’ll never be any the wiser… etc.

In my opinion ‘nasty’ seems somehow a little weak and inadequate. Conservatism to me, through words and policy, unreservedly stands full square behind societal division along lines of whom they deem worthy. In fact I’m pretty certain that their idea of unity may not exactly conform to the norm (sarky).

What we in Scotland experience today? I reckon this IS their idea of better togetherness. This IS their idea of union and unity. Their UK, their Britain, is a ‘know your place’ Britain. It is a deference Britain, a dog eat dog Britain, an isolationist Britain, but y’know, proud for all that.

Near as I can see, the defining traits appear to be fear, suspicion, envy and intolerance. Intolerance of anything that doesn’t fit, ain’t from around here, doesn’t conform. Under those terms I’m afraid I simply don’t qualify and for that I am profoundly and eternally grateful. I refuse to live constantly with fear and suspicion of our neighbours and friends. It’s not in me to feel envy or intolerance simply because I don’t or won’t understand.

I personally never have and never will vote Tory. They are the party of deference and exclusion, of ignorance and arrogance. They are the party of self. Don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never been one for conformity or ‘knowing my place’ and today I mainly feel like standing on my feet and holding out my hand to new friends.

31 comments on “The difference a week makes

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug The difference a week makes […]

  2. As a new friend, it’s a pleasure both to read you and to meet you Sam. Shake!

  3. diabloandco says:

    You are so right ‘ nasty’ doesn’t begin to cover the incompetent , manipulative lying b^ggers.

    I’m with you ,

    ‘And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!
    And give us a hand of yours!
    And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will
    For long, long ago.

    Sorry about the anglicised version!

  4. Irony: ‘The term Nasty Party is a term used to refer to the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom. It was popularised in October 2002 by Theresa May, the then Chairman of the Conservative Party and future Prime Minister, when she said in a conference speech that: “There’s a lot we need to do in this party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us – the Nasty Party.” ‘. [Wikipedia: “Nasty party”]

  5. Brian Fleming says:

    Perhaps it was just someone with a speech impediment trying to say “Nazi Party”.

  6. xsticks says:

    Hi Sam, doing a great job holding the fort while Paul’s of gallivanting!

    Regarding the Nicola interview with Marr (and indeed the Andrew Neil interview with Alex Salmond last week) where he used the education figures as a club to beat Nic. I was shouting at the screen on both occasions; turn it back on him. Tell him it’s a devolved matter that has NOTHING to do with the GE. Ask him to ask questions relevant to THIS election! Both times this would have disarmed the interviewer.

    Even Nicola and Alex need to get better at hitting back (in the best possible taste of course) when bbc pundits are trying to undermine the SNP in the minds of the viewers.

    Tonight it was that sarky Sarah on the main news giving it SNP bad, SNP bad.

  7. Isabel Cooney says:

    Agree with you in all you say. And yes it also occurred to me that poverty was likely a factor in poor school performance.
    Thank you. Enjoyed your blog.

  8. Patience is a Virtue says:

    Twas only last week Mr. Corbyn announced Labour’s ‘free University Tuition fees’ (in England!),, or was that England and Wales or was that England + the northern County of Caledon.

    This week, in the ‘not sure what is worth Conserving anymore of our previous Conservative free- enterprise policies’ the Conservative Party) – that will be the same Ruth Davidson/Conservative Party , the one that only recently was on the same platform as Ms. Sturgeon and the SNP campaigning for an EU ‘Remain’ Vote and now has total amnesia on that one -despite the BBC historical records to the contrary- yes vote Ruth/Remain Vote remember,…
    and total U-turn on that one…..

    insist now that only ‘Leaving’ the EU is good for you….

    .now after a decade of SNP Baness- after a decade of SNP bating in Parliament by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals (how dare they , the Baad SNP promote tertiary education and support students with our taxes, how dare they , the nerve, and how dare they have an NHS service that is free free! at the point of use (those thoroughly nasty SNP types-actually helping the old the sick and those requiring treatmen, it must be true because we said so… many ,,, many times),,,,

    now the Conservative (substitte Borg – absorbing Party of any policy that will sustain/conserve the continued existence of the Borg, sorry Conservatives) advocate ……

    ‘free University tuition fees ‘….as in a blinding flash of enlightenment they now perceive the aforesaid (Baaad Essenpee) policy as actually being …. ‘sound policy’ ….what ??!…..and a general Election only three weeks away….. what are chances of that!

    [searches news stands for newspapar frontpages in shock ‘SNP sound policy’ exclusive!… SNP to blame for sound policy …. extra,,,, extra… extra Baad ]

    -another sound policy being ‘Independence’…… am sure next week Ruth will no doubt be claiming that Independence (from Europe at least) is the start of great things to come…. I beleive she is explaining to everyone on the difference between patiotism and nationalism today for those not on the know….. not sure if the same policy/speech applies next week. though…….

    and as if somehow the rocks were starting to melt in the sun (three weeks of it not raining does not count by the way) and Ruth throws in ‘free prescriptions’ for good measure…… I’m sure I’ve seen these policies somewhere before?…. but they always tended to get a slagging from the Scottish/Main Stream Media under the general banner of SNP badness, when enacted by the totally Baad SNP government of the day .

    In short , as entertaining as it is, no-one s fooled by any of this…. call a spade a spade…..

    the Conservative Party got us all into this EU mess (on a non-binding Referendum lest ye forget ) and are taking eery opportuntity to further their own opportunistic self interests at every step … the best solution being getting out there to vote and make your voice count on this… and all the other things.

  9. Cairnallochy says:

    Having fought local elections on a constitutional matter which lies out with the competence of councils, Ruth now appears to be fighting a Westminster election on devolved issues. What next ?

  10. ockletycockletywitch says:

    Another “dancer” of a post!

    I was watching a programme on TV about Friedrich Nietzsche last night. (I know, how sad am I?) I can’t help feeling that Conservatives in the UK have taken his flawed logic too much to heart. They seem to believe in the Hitlerian concept (rather than Nietzsche’s own) of the “Ubermensch” and to have cast themselves and their faithful supporters in that role. The rest of us, especially the “unruly Scots”, are good for nothing but tugging our forelocks, putting our noses to the grindstone and our shoulders to the wheel (nice trick if you can do it, anatomically speaking) and getting on with the business of making wealth for our “Masters” in Westminster.

    I absolutely agree that their “defining traits appear to be fear, suspicion, envy and intolerance. Intolerance of anything that doesn’t fit, ain’t from around here, doesn’t conform”. Mouthie Ruthie needs to wake up and realise that the majority of Scots just are not buying that. Yes, when I first moved to Scotland in the 1980s, I did meet with some overt hostility in the small village in Lochaber where I lived with my Highland husband. I was called a FEB to my face on one memorable occasion, although in fairness the speaker had “dined well”, as the euphemism goes.

    But the point is that the VAST majority of my neighbours were welcoming, friendly, open-hearted and generally “good” people. And almost everywhere in Scotland that we visited or lived thereafter, I met with nothing but kindness and warmth. Scotland is my home, its people are my people and we are NOT of the model that the Conservatives would seek to make us!

    • Macart says:

      Whoever said that to you missed the point of citizenship and belonging altogether.

      Scotland isn’t simply a geographical location, it’s a state of mind. 🙂

      • ockletycockletywitch says:

        I know that, Samuel. I’m sure that in his sober moments he did too … but small communities with many legitimate grievances sometimes lash out at a convenient scape-goat. I’m long over it and as I said, he didn’t represent the Scotland that is my spiritual home if not, at the moment, my physical home.

  11. gordoz says:

    Who is Samuel Mlller ?

    Damn well written sir!

    You describe my feelings on Ms Davidson & the ‘No More Scotland’ party so accurately its scary.
    Sad to say hadn’t read your material before – please keep it up!

    Have to make this available to family & wider public – powerful stuff!

  12. Robert Harrison says:

    The last 2 paragraphs you practically described bigots of England to a tee there and those close minded hate filled unionists up here

  13. Robert Graham says:

    EVIL thats my definition of this tory party pure EVIL .
    Every one of them when presented with their record cant defend it , lets face it no one could , ruth was interviewed on 5live by a real questioning interviewer, it didnt take long to get her wound up , at one point she resorted to saying , oh that sounds just like a SNP press release , then it was pointed out that she had prior knowledge of all questions ,so even with time to prepare she still got tetchy and rattled , This is where the BBC and the Media in general have let the whole country down they are a disgrace in allowing these obvious liars to continue without being really questioned on their scandalous record .

    • Andimac says:

      Robert, the BBC and mainstream media are worse than a disgrace – collectively, they are the Tories’ Völkischer Beobachter, cheerleaders for the new “strong and stable” party that wants a new Empire or, to use another term – Reich.

  14. Iona says:

    Great post, MacArthur. I really enjoyed it.

  15. Iona says:

    Geezzz. Sometimes you wish autocorrect would take a running jump. Macart!

  16. Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) is an incurable, and a universally fatal neurodegenerative disease in humans. CJD is the human form of mad cow disease , bovine spongiform encephalopathy. or BSE.

    BSE causes a spongiform degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. It has a long incubation period, of 2.5 to 5 years, and between 1986–1998, more than 180,000 cattle were infected in the UK and 4.4 million slaughtered during the eradication program.

    In 1990 John Gummer, the Tory Minister of Agriculture was pictured with his young daughter munching on a burger, in an attempt to head off the total collapse of the UK and Irish beef industry. His daughter wisely refused to eat the meat.

    In 1996, the government at last came clean and admitted the link between BSE and the human form of the disease, the new variant CJD.
    Yet Gummer risked his daughter’s life.

    Lovely man.

    For a decade, the EU banned the export of British beef. The beef market collapsed.
    Scores of citizens died.

    We’ve had dozens of food health scares ever since.

    “Most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella.”
    Edwina Currie, Health Minister at the time in 1988.

    Edwina, secret lover of Back to Basics Traditional Family Values Sex God, John Major, who, in the run up to the Referendum in Sept 2014, joined Project Fear by declaring that ‘Scots have not thought through the implications of independence’.

    Major warned that ‘they’ would become ‘foreigners overnight”. “Scots do not know what currency they would end up with if they voted Yes. The oil was down to a ‘trickle’.’

    A love match made in Tory Unionist heaven.

    As Health Minister Currie announced that Northerners were dying of “ignorance and chips”.
    She advised the elderly to wear a pair of long-johns to keep out the winter chill.
    On Aids; ‘Good Christian people who would not dream of misbehaving will not catch Aids.’

    At the time 30 million eggs were consumed each year with only 26 outbreaks of salmonella.
    If I recall rightly, HMG had to pay egg producers millions in compensation.

    Ruth and Tomkins must have read her memoirs

    Lovely woman.

    In January 2007 Bernard Matthews had an outbreak of avian influenza in England caused by the H5N1 subtype of Influenza virus .
    The infection affected poultry at one of Bernard Matthews’ farms in Holton in Suffolk.
    Bird flu panic gripped the nation.

    In Feb 2013 the Food Standards Agency announced that the meat of some beef lasagne products recalled by Findus was 100% horsemeat.
    “In order to get to the bottom of this, we require every company to test every product line,” the FSA’s chief executive announced.
    It was “highly likely” that criminal activity was to blame for horsemeat being found in some meals.

    Romanian cart horses had entered our food chain.

    Speaking of Fast Foods, perhaps McDonald’s Mad Men were thinking of the controversy surrounding the ‘United Colors’ of Benetton series of adverts when they come up with McDonald’s latest ad campaign.

    You may recall Benetton’s series: the Pope kissing a Muslim leader on the lips; an African Boy soldier with a machine gun strapped across his back holding a human shin bone. All publicity is good publicity, and the idea was to ‘raise awareness’ of social issues.

    McDonald’s ad showed a boy talking to his mother about his dead father as he tried to find something in common with him.
    As they arrive at a McDonald’s restaurant and he orders a Filet-o-Fish, the mother says: “That was your dad’s favourite too.” She is a Stepford Widow.

    Viewers expressed disgust at the advert on social media.
    The Fast Food Giant has apologised after upset viewers complained its television advert exploited childhood bereavement .

    But, by the Chief, we are all talking about McDonalds now.
    Is McDonalds ‘raising awareness of social issues?

    A young widow, with child, in Blue Tory Austerity can afford to pop into McDonalds for two Fillet O Fish meals?
    Fillet o fish medium extra value meal £4.49 x 2 = £8.98.

    Quite a chunk out of a Widow’s Allowance following the cuts introduced by the Tories in April.
    Widow austerity cuts by Ruth Davidson?

    ‘Under the old system the Widowed Parent’s Allowance, which is based on the deceased’s National Insurance record, paid out a maximum of £112.55 a week until child credit ceases to be paid (up until the child is at least 16 or higher if they are in certain types of education).
    In an example provided by Royal London, someone widowed when their child was a baby – and who never remarried or had a civil partner – would have received around £96,000 over 16 years.
    But under the new system, the same person would get just £9,800 – a shortfall of around £85,000.
    Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said women were most likely to lose out as men tend to earn more and so leave a bigger financial hole if they die first.
    He added that the changes also fail to reflect the growth of cohabiting couples who are unmarried. Surviving partners will not receive anything, no matter the deceased’s National Insurance record.
    Mr Webb said: “The Government says that these changes are about modernising bereavement support and yet they still treat couples who live together as if their relationship did not exist. Cohabiting couples pay the same National Insurance as everyone else and deserve the same support following a bereavement”.

    Ah, good old Ruth, and Adam. £96,000 ‘saved’. Lovely Jubbley.

    I assume that the deceased parent in the Mcdonald’s ad was,say, in his early forties.
    What did he die of?

    From March 1996:- “McDonald’s is the UK’s biggest purchaser of beef in the UK, accounting for £50 million-worth a year. Parts of 1 in 12 UK cattle end up in their burgers. “

    I wonder if this fictitious dad ate any of the tainted food products outlined above before he discovered McD’s Filet O Fish, which, from their web site, is hoki, farmed in Australia, and New Zealand, dipped in batter and breadcrumbs and frozen by Espersen, then deep fried later in the restaurant.

    Wild Bill Hickock was shot and killed playing poker. It is recorded that his last poker hand was two black aces, two black eights, and the queen of clubs as the kicker.
    It became known as a ‘Dead Man’s Hand’.

    Perhaps McDonalds could extend bad taste to its limit in exploiting the grief of this young man by rebranding their Filet O Fish as ‘Dead Man’s Dish’.

    Of course ‘raising awareness’ of a widow’s plight is something Ruth Davidson has avoided like the plague this week. She has been cuddling fish, posing with racists and bigots who exhort others to kill our FM, blow up Holyrood, incite Ulster inspired violence and sectarianism, and lurk about in murky web sites boasting about the size of their willie.

    It has not been a good week for her, but incredibly, she would probably disagree.

    She is more and more being exposed as an empty headed rabble rouser, who would oversee the destruction of our society, drive millions into state engineered poverty, and avoid at all costs, addressing the real issues of this election; Brexit, cuts to the disabled, WIDOWS, pensioners, rape victims, children, zero hours low paid ‘just about managing’ families, and predominantly women, Trident, Foreign policy, and so on.

    Sam, the reason that there is an attainment gap in education is fairly straightforward. 260,000 of our children live in Ruth Davidson engineered poverty.
    Empty stomachs and empty lives get in the way of learning.

    The food scandals outlined above are owed in part to successive WM Governments failure to provide adequate safeguards.
    Danny Alexander sure earned his knighthood and wee sinecure with a Hong Kong Bank when he ‘saved’ half a million civil servant jobs.

    NS must go for the jugular when debating with Davidson, Rennie, and Dugdale. Concentrate on the issues, the cuts, the disaster that is Brexit, Trident, bombing Arabs, and giving more to the wealthy, taking from the poor.

    I share your rage, Macart.

    • Macart says:

      I don’t think rage quite covers it today Jack.

      • Sam, I’m at the dentist tomorrow. I am unbearable as it is.
        Three more weeks of this dross is about all a body can take.

        • ockletycockletywitch says:

          The result of gnashing them teeths in the aforementioned rage, no doubt?

          • ‘..and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’?
            At my age, I should be boasting about a trip to the dentist. But a visit is a lifelong phobia.
            And this is just a check up.

            • ockletycockletywitch says:

              I hope and trust that it was entirely painless. I, too, have a lifelong phobia … as the few teeth remaining in my elderly pus will testify!

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      Well said – yet again, Mr Collatin. I think most of us share MacArt’s rage … I know I do. You simply articulate it much better than most of us.

  17. John Edgar says:

    The Tory party is NOT the nasty party any more. It is the nastiest! Such a superlative outfit, if you pardon my grammatical comparison.

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