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The Tory goody bag

Brian Taylor | 16:05 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

None of your air kissing from Annabel Goldie. No, a firm peck on each cheek for those supporters who congregated in the Glasgow Science Centre to witness her launch of the party's manifesto.

"I can't kiss you all", she wailed as they clustered round in goodly number. A question of time, one suspects, rather than predilection.

For Tories in Scotland still need all the friends they can get - even after the positive reviews for her performance in the leaders' debates to date.

To govern is to choose but the advance preparation for these Holyrood elections amounted to a dilemma rather than a choice for the Tories.

Their party at Westminster, their Prime Minister, is pursuing a narrative which tells us that this is the age of austerity, that "we're all in this together" (thankfully, he doesn't break into the song) and that, consequently, the pain must be shared.

That left Scottish Tories with little option other than to adopt and adapt; to swallow the medicine and pronounce it delicious or, at least, beneficial; to tell it like it is, in the phrase of the day from the launch.

Free bus fares

They seek to make a virtue of this, arguing that voters in Scotland will tend to trust a party which is blunt about the economic challenges and the consequences for public spending.

Hence £5 prescription fees (with the previous exemptions). Hence a graduate contribution of around £3,600 for each year studied (with a maximum cap of £4000) which falls due when the individual is earning enough.

Hence pegging back free bus fares, restricting them in future to those aged 65 and over (existing users keep the benefit.)

There are goodies too - maintaining health spending and offering pensioner households a £200 council tax discount.

As we in the wicked media speculated on what that said about the Tory voter demographic, the party sought to dispel such thoughts by announcing plans for more health visitors to assist families.

Today's launch featured the contemporary blend familiar at such events - enthusiastic supporters seated alongside sceptical journalists (who are only waiting for the wild applause to die down in order to pose awkward questions.)

The Tory fans today tended to respond most warmly to traditional party themes. (A clue: they are Conservatives.)

Tough time

So they liked the emphasis on the three Rs in schools. They liked the notion of a kid leaving school at 14 to train for a trade if that's available.

They lapped up the idea of giving offenders a tough time, including the reinstatement of short-term jail sentences.

While we're on justice, there are some interesting policy positions to pick through.

They back a single police force for Scotland - but want to mitigate that with elected police commissioners in distinct local areas.

They say the "public expect knife carriers to go to jail" - yet they qualify that somewhat by "recognising the sentencing discretion of the courts."

In the first instance, they'd introduce a knife amnesty.

Their overall message? That times are tough (they blame Labour) - but that targeted support to bolster the private sector can revive the economy.

There are, said Miss Goldie, some notes to cheer within the gloom. And, with one final double-cheeked kiss, she was off.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Brian,

    For all Auntie Annie's attempts to remodel herself to show that she is a sympathetic and tender old lady, it must be remembered she is a tough old 'Tory Boiler' - if she had not been, she would not be where she is now.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hmmm ... A kiss from Bella in Glasgow; think I'd prefer a Glasgow kiss ...

  • Comment number 3.

    Regarding graduate contributions, the principle appears to be that those who benefit most (recognising that everyone benefits from having an educated populace) should make a contribution once they can afford to do so. I wonder if that principle will be extended to other forms of assistance from the state, e.g. unemployment benefit to be repaid (or at least a contribution made towards it) if/when the recipient is back in work and earning above a certain threshold? If the principle holds for the former then why not the latter?

    I'd also be interested to know how the calculation was made as to the earnings premium a graduate can expect to enjoy. Was it based on the average earnings when only ~25% of the population had a degree, or the current ~40%? If anyone knows I'd be grateful for some more information on this point.

  • Comment number 4.

    The Scottish Tories occasionally have a good idea!
    Honestly - I kid you not!
    But de-schooling makes sense - and effectively enabling those 14 year olds who are wasting time at school - is a good idea.
    2 pre-requisites. Firstly that the scheme is a 2 year pilot with an evaluation to ensure that young people are not being exploited. And secondly, that all must have passed some form of "Leaver's Certificate" that provides a view to prospective employers about their numeracy, literacy, ICT skills, timekeeping and general communication skills.
    I'm sure that after independence the Tories will find a place within Scottish politics - a minor place albeit.
    On another front, really excellent news for the SNP in the Highlands. John Farquhar Munro the retiring MSP - and probably the most respected Liberal politician alive across the whole of the North has come out in favour of Alex Salmond leading the next Scottish Government.
    A big slap in the face for Danny Alexander and for Tavish Scott.
    I hope that in retirement JFM returns to better health - Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 5.

    And the Tory launch is immediately over-shadowed by the breaking news that the retiring John Farguhar Munro of the Lib-Dems has publicly backed the Echmeister for First Minister!!

    And in his own words, too!!

    Will the Lib-Dems now get less than 5 seats in the new Parliament.

    And has Auntie Bella made a major faux pas with her pledge to re-introduce prescription fess just 3 days after they had been eliminated??

  • Comment number 6.

    Whilst Bella may yet do enough to get the odd extra list seat, the Tory results are not going to determine the outcome of the election.

    An observer of Scottish politics might have thought the the story of the day so far is the endorsement by retiring LD John Farquhar Munro of "Alex Salmond for First Minister", as reported elsewhere on this site.

    On the off-chance that someone from the BBC actually reads these threads, would they please note that the latest version of the "Scotland politics" page has lost the list of constituencies and candidates, something one would think the public had a right to know.

    Two weeks into the campaign and still not a page dedicated to the 2011 Scottish general election is a pretty poor show.

  • Comment number 7.


    There are only a handful of MSP that exhibit a talent for politics. Bella
    is amongst them, even if the hand in question has seen a few chainsaw
    accidents.

    Tis a pity she is a British Tory, I suspect she and her party would much
    better if they were an entirely seperate Scottish Conservative Party
    and able to set and sell their own policies and open some distance from
    Toxic Dave's all new dogma cutlets.

    No chance of that now its run from and all finance directed back to
    central office in the old smoke.

    One can but dream.

  • Comment number 8.

    Things just get worse for the LibDems.Hugh O'Donnell abandoning Tavish's Viking ship on the eve of campaign.John Farquhar Munro's endorsement of Salmond.Now the LibDem candidate in Clydesdale failed to get his nomination papers in!Scottish LibDem HQ must be a happy place to be.

  • Comment number 9.

    I wonder if Bella is in favour her tory man in England has to say.


    Now Scots are promised council tax and water bill freeze... paid for by the English





    Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP said: ‘Scotland should not expect England to be the cash cow for the rest of the UK. It’s an appalling mess and it has to be confronted.’

  • Comment number 10.

  • Comment number 11.

    Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP said: ‘Scotland should not expect England to be the cash cow for the rest of the UK. It’s an appalling mess and it has to be confronted.’

    I'm sure Scots are grateful to be told that THEY don't pay taxes... and that all that oil out there that belongs to SCOTLAND isn't taxed. But oh yes, as long as it's a resource it belongs to the UK... right?

    Silly me. I keep forgetting that.

    John Farguhar Munro backing Salmond made me laugh. He says in effect, "I'll campaign LibDem but please vote SNP". I swear, only in Scotland. You lot have the weirdest politics.

  • Comment number 12.

    PS to my #6
    This website's Vote 2011: Details of elections taking place across UK usefully reminds us that: "The shape of the parliamentary map is significantly different this time." and "The boundaries of more than half of the constituencies have been re-drawn since 2007 and one in six voters are now in a different seat than they were last time around."

    Sadly, though, it currently provides no links at all to the BBC sub-site which lists all the constituencies and candidates (plurality and list) as well as providing us with the notional 2007 results on the new boundaries.

    Access to that page should be available to everyone at all times until the polls close, and it still exists here but is no longer linked to.

    One would think it would not be beyond the whit of man for the BBC to create one Scotland 2011 Elections page with links to that as well as to party policies, debates and election news plus the AV referendum latest. One would have expected that to be an automatic part of the public service BBC's remit, and such pages were certainly constructed for the 2010 UK general election. Why is the BBC having difficulty in emulating this for the 2011 Scottish general election?

  • Comment number 13.

    Also be wary of politicians who refuse to reply to voters.

    http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com/2011/03/scottish-labour-endorses-smoking-ban.html

  • Comment number 14.

    I think the BBC has decided that resources are better spent on Royal Weddings, Libyian updates and radioactive Japanese fish than any election thingy in out
    of the way places.

    Even Brian is blogging at half pace.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hence pegging back free bus fares, restricting them in future to those aged 65 and over (existing users keep the benefit

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 Anagach

    "Royal Weddings ..... election thingy"

    Does that mean we get a vote on whether Ms Middleton should marry Mr Wales?

  • Comment number 17.

    Good to see you back Brian. Your blogs were getting as rare as Labour party policies

  • Comment number 18.

    re the conservatives aiming to re introduce prescription charges.

    This issue has being getting particular attention by the BBC over the last few days. On call Keye this morning the host kept going on about the fact that for only £28 you could have a prescription season ticket thing that covers your medication for the year.

    The way she went on about this showed how out of touch she and the BBC in general are out of touch with how hard it can be to be an "ordinary" person.
    She patiently failed to grasp that if you were on a low income that £28 you have to find for the prescription season ticket is almost unattainable. Faced with the choice of household needs or buying the prescription charge season ticket feeding the kids or petrol for the car come first.

    She also kept going on about being able to pay for prescriptions, Its so easy to say such things when your on over £50k a year. but what happens next month when your company goes bust and your left to survive on the £150 a week you get from your wee job in the tills you've been forced to take because there is nothing else. What I'm trying to say is that it is so easy to fall in and out of a position where a £3 prescription charge is either nothing or all you have left for three days. And the cost of administering such a position would be unsustainable, so universal free prescriptions are the sensible answer.

    Can someone explain why the BBC in Scotland has been going to such lengths to discredit this policy. It seems strange. PS On an impartial public participation radio show, is it not the job of the presenter to manage the discussion, rather than using the program to put forward her own view.

  • Comment number 19.

    In being honest, Annabel is an admirable politician; she brings a sense of maturity to the chamber; she acknowledges good proposals from other parties but suggests alternatives in a mature manner when she disagrees (Bring on the swathes of proof saying otherwise :S). This is most certainly something that the labour party should learn from. Annabel has shown - throughout all four years - that she is there as an MSP representing her constituents and not simply opposing for the sake of opposing. People before the party. However, from debating this in my workplace, it does seem Annabel is forever doomed under the toxicity of the tories which is rather saddening.

    Time to go read her wee book of common sense - lets see what she is offering. I do wonder if having swathes of kids drop out of school to become joiners etc is a good idea though. Yes, they have a trade. But if no jobs exist for those trades will we then have countless unemployed youths unable to compete for other jobs as they wave some replicated and generic certificate which doesnt allow competition for vacancies? Will there be limited numbers which can leave? Will the certificates reflect levels of abilities or just that specific skills are obtained? Lets go have a nosey at the blue book of despair and cuts and glooom :) reminds me of a Tim Burton-esque movie.

  • Comment number 20.

    Well, well Brian,

    The tory goodie bag?

    You can't be serious.

    This bunch of westminster-loving unioninst capitalists want to:

    SELL SCOTTISH WATER FOR PRIVATE PROFIT

    CHARGE FOR EDUCATION

    CHARGE FOR HEALTH CARE (AND PRIVATISE THE REST)

    REDUCE MOST STATE BENEFITS

    SUBJEGATE THE SCOTTISH LEGAL SYSTEM TO LONDON

    GIVE OVERALL PLANNING PERMISSION FOR SCOTTISH PROJECTS TO WESTMINSTER

    TAKE MORE TAX FROM THE SCOTTISH OIL INDUSTRY (although liberal Danny Alexander's idea!)

    AND ALLOW CHIMNEY-SWEEPS TO LEAVE SCHOOL AT FOURTEEN


    Seriously, who in their right mind would vote for this. What I find particularly hard to understand is that their are Scots who do vote for this. Do they not understand how bad this union is for Scotland, or do they just not care?

    I want a Scotland that lives up to Scottish values, not those imposed by westminster. I want a Scotland that makes its own decisions. A Scotland that controls its own economy (all of it, not just the pocket money from westminster). I want a Scotland that isn't a nuclear dumpsite. In short I want the sovereignty of Scotland returned. Now.

    I will be voting for the SNP.

  • Comment number 21.

    I've been waiting for this for a long time, a whole host of workers that I can exploit on tiny wages (if I have to pay them that is), and to make it even better Granny will get 200 quid knocked of her council tax. Mind you how will she afford the extra prescription charge?

  • Comment number 22.

    #20 x-sticks

    Couldn't have put it better. Is the Tories answer to helping business by providing a youthful (very youthful) low low paid workforce. Remember we are talking about kids that only moved up from primary school 3 years ago!

  • Comment number 23.

    Well, has Auntie Annabel NOW completely lost HER Marbles.

    Children will be able under any Conservative Administration be able to leave School at 14 Years of Age?, for just what are these amongst the crewie's of screwie's in the Scottish Tory's on, for we are repeatedly being told today that many Children CANNOT even join together more than a couple of word's in a sentence to be understood NOW while they still leave School at 16+, so therefore what chance will they get to improve upon this favourite Old - Chestnut of Conservative thinking with "The Three - R's" when leaving School even earlier at 14 Years of Age.

    As for Prescription Charges, for it was completely correct that they were abolished, since over 80% already got Free - Prescriptions anyway while many more within the remaining 20% earning just a fraction more then Job Seekers Allowance having to pay to obtain their medication whereby many of them when without due to the Cost, while Conservative's can easily afford to go Private and do jumping NHS Waiting - List.

  • Comment number 24.

    The plan to allow teenagers to transfer from schools at age 14 to alternative training is fantastic news. In fact I think I can safely say that it is the only policy that has the slightest chance of substantially improving the delivery of secondary education within the UK.

    It won't be too much of an exaggeration to say that about every single teacher I know working in a non-selective state school in the UK would sell their soul to work in a school where those kids over-14 not benefiting from being in a school environment (or more likely just screwing it up for other students and staff) went elsewhere at age 14.

    Keeping kids who are either illiterate, innumerate or just wilfully disruptive in a school environment when it wastes resources and actively disadvantages other students is an utterly flawed policy and congratulations to the Scottish Conservatives for being brave enough to articulate this.

    Now all we need is for Annabel Goldie needs to get on the phone to Michael Gove and tell him he's an idiot for sticking with his moronic idea of forcing teenagers to stay in formal education or training until age 18.

    (We then just some advice flow in other direction as well. There are plenty of Conservative councillors in Manchester who would be happy to tell Annabel she was the idiot for opposing minimum alcohol pricing.)

  • Comment number 25.

    April 1st would have been a better date to launch the idea of children leaving school at 14. Is this a Tory scheme to ensure we can compete with economies based on cheap child-labour perhaps? School may not suit every child and leave some feeling disenfranchised with learning but the school needs to offer alternate curricular paths for these children which combines what may be interesting to them alongside more academic subjects. Society should not regress to having an uneducated workforce no matter what 'trade' is followed.

  • Comment number 26.

    Welcome back Brian.
    Why did you decide to take a holiday when there's a Scottish election due?
    Your previous Blog opened on 30th March and closed 24 hrs. later.
    WHY?
    Surely at this time you should be alowing political discussion more freely.
    Why is there no mention of Labour's policy of resisting SNP ideas of an LIT?
    Is it because the SNP have ditched the idea for the course of the next parliament?
    Do Labour have any good ideas? Or should that be, "Do Labour have any idea?"

    The Tory idea of allowing pupils to leave school at 14 is pehaps not as daft as it first sounds. PROVIDED there was the offer of an apprenticeship (non-publicly funded) and that a cetificate of competence in English & Arithmetic were prerequisites there may be some credence to the idea. Too much has been made lately of the necessity of attaining Academic Excellence to the detriment of Vocational qualifications. There is no point in having 100 architects if you can't find any brickies, chippies, sparks, or plumbers.

  • Comment number 27.

    Annabel gets away with a lot because she has an attractive manner.
    If Michael Forsyth, for instance, had suggested re-instituting prescription charges. locking up minor miscreants without giving them the opportunity for early release through good behaviour or taking the free bus pass off the over 60s he would be getting pilloried.

    The Tories (Annabel included) have no sense. They don't understand that things they think are dead sensible are only thought to be dead sensible by their own little group who don't actually relate to the rest of us.
    And to talk of sending people to jail without the encouragement to behave themselves which getting out a bit early gives them is just plain stupid and appeals ony to the dimwit
    They belong in the last century.
    I suspect her manifesto may just have sunk her.
    The conversation on the bus into town tomorrow might be quite interesting.

  • Comment number 28.

    Other developed countries allow Young People to leave formal schooling at younger than 16 years. If "leaving early" involves passing some form of literacy, numaracy, ICT skills etc thresholds, then it may bring in an aspiration to achieve.
    A 15 year old cannot be forced to learn - not by teachers and not by parents.
    It might be that a link with formal education is a requirement of a such a scheme - perhaps extended to age 18?
    The sad reality is that significant numbers of young people are excluded or self-exclude themselves. Just because its a Tory proposal doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered. Try reading Illich's Deschooling Society before judging?
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 29.

    #24 The_Ex_Engineer

    And just what would be the effect on FE colleges of moving disruptive children into a structure designed for adults - and already has some difficulty in dealing with 16 year olds?

    Modern Apprenticeships aren't the apprenticeships of the 1950s that the Tories obviously imagine them to be. They aren't the place for troubled adolescents, but for well prepared and educated young people.

  • Comment number 30.

    Come on Malcolm Chisolm!

    You know it's right.

  • Comment number 31.

    29 Reinc
    "They aren't the place for troubled adolescents, but for well prepared and educated young people."
    However, a problem we have is that a proportion of Young People regress.
    At age 14 they might be less-troubled and better prepared than they end up being at 16.
    Run a pilot scheme for 2 years and evaluate?
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 32.

    This is rediculous... the Idea of Children at 14 leaving education is 'victorian-primative'... I didn't know wha I wanted to do at that age... I was struggling to select which subjects I would choose. It was only in 4th year (ie.at 16 years old), I found a skill at Technical Drawing which led on to College then University and now I am an Experienced Engineer.

    This idea will do nothing but open another door to let another lost generation slip through the little remnants of a safety net of education for our young that we have left. This foolish idea will (has) finish(ed) the current Tory campaign in Scotland!

  • Comment number 33.

    Reinstate the right to buy is another nonsense coming out using Scottish money to recycle to Westminster.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    "So they liked the emphasis on the three Rs in schools."

    --

    Not Writing, Arithmetic and Reading, then?

    From where I stand, it appears that, from Maggie onward, all British PMs (and their respective parties) have been obsessed with W.A.R.

    --

  • Comment number 36.

    brian you have went from a regular guy to become an occasion bloger .
    i am now on valium!

  • Comment number 37.

    #28. spagan wrote:

    "Try reading Illich's Deschooling Society before judging?"

    Wow, now there's a blast from the past. I still have my highlighted copy of this said classic. Did the Tories of the 80's not save some money by just stamping 'Tory Policy' on each page rather than writing their own policies.

    If I remember right, the pages on mine were not highlighted because they were interesting or important - it was more that it was so unbelievable and I wanted to ask someone else if it said what I thought it said.

    The other essential read of the era was '36 Children' which was much more possitive (unworkable in a schools of more than say - oh 36ish - but possitive none the less). Left a warm glow after reading.

  • Comment number 38.

    Pity the poor Tories.

    Both at Scotland and UK level, they have magnificent leaders but the followers drag the party/parties downward.

  • Comment number 39.

    #34
    re being sent to the naughty step
    oops, I inadvertantly called my pupils a very bad word which added an 'r' to the tool used to play table tennis, so am now on the pending list for a detention.

    ah well,
    I'll try again with the offending bits sanitised.


    Way-Hat Bella - way to go.

    Couldn't agree more about the little 'troublesome ones' (mod - hope this description is better) - oops sorry - young apprentices leaving the haven of the classroom earlier. Best idea I have heard for years and is light years ahead of this new CfE nonesense.

    One or two slight problems that need to be ironed out though I would have thought.

    1. The academic achievements of the 'normal' (mod - I assume this is an OK description but you could change it to 'well behaved' if you like) pupils will go through the roof compared to present. But with cuts in university funding how are we going to fit them all in when those getting adequate entry qualifications reaches up to 80 and 90% of those left.

    2. What are you going to do with all the redundant teachers? We have about 80-100 'pupils of varying degrees of work ethic' going through a 'non-academic' subject each year in S3 and also in S4. Apprentices at 14 would be very attractive for about half to two-thirds of them. If that many leave who are we going to teach, or has my early retirement package finally been agreed? (PS did I get an enhancement to make it even more attractive?). One question though. What is the fascination for 'age related' policies like this. Why not have it as a 'number of years educated' instead. In this case - after 9 years full time education. With that scheme, there would be no 'Christmas Leavers' and therefore nobody studying half a course and then opting out.

    3. The savings in not having to pay capitation for these 'prospective apprentices' and the savings in staff salaries will be transferred to hospital a+e departments as the little apprentices stick chisels in themselves and hit each other over the heads with hammers when left to their own devices (as they tend to do now in class but under controlled circumstances), or alternatively the foreman or other elected worksperson 'lamps' one of the 'apprentices' after being told for the umpeenth time that day to do what Wayne Rooney suggested on camera this past weekend, or being threatened with a very big vocal mother who seems to be a little lacking in basic scientific knowledge by appearing to equate the sun and her childs rectum as being coincident and hence the glow from behind her little angel.

    4. I would be VERY wary about hiring a tradesman to do work in the house, and I would want to ensure none of our ex's were on the workforce. It is bad enough for a period or two during the week, but there is no way Jose that they are getting loose in my house.

    Bella, you're a doll. How soon can we get rid of them.

    PS #24 ex-engineer. Aye! you were spot on about the feeling of the teachers. This is such a good idea that Bella could probably go back to that ridiculous pay reduction thing from a couple of weeks ago that we got offered and probably get it passed in a trade for her new idea.

    Ah well, here's hoping for a better result for the sanitised version. Wish me luck.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi i am new to the blog but i thought i would join in as a lot of the posts are very interesting. I was watching the tv going on about the conservatives manifesto and of course people were on saying why should they get prescriptions for free when they earn lots and lots of money. This was of course being used as an argument for the reintroduction of prescription charges.
    It struck me that a good solution to ease these peoples conscience would be to allow them to opt out of free prescriptions. They could pay their doctor when he writes them one,or two. They could pay by a prepaid card in the chemist, if they are on regular medication they could set up a direct debit. I am sure many of you clever bloggers could think of an easy way to ease these peoples suffering. They want to pay but are being made not to.
    You have got to laugh!

  • Comment number 41.

    # barba
    i admire your tenacity. but when alex and the snp win with a landslide. bb scotland
    will get the blame from their superiors.for opening the flood gates in scotland.
    by the way try the threads on other sites but watch out for the dirty tricks brigade

  • Comment number 42.

    The more you think about the practicalities of Bella's plans the more questions arise (although it is still a cracking plan)

    CfE is just being launched and I would assume that Bella and other of her party have been fully involved with the planning of the new structures.

    Why then did she plump for 14 rather than 15?
    The new courses are meant to be a three year exercise in secondary schools before the National 4 results are announced. If the planned opt out age is 14 pupils will only be 2/3 the way through the new course. Leaving the class then would be almost as disruptive to the rest of the class as keeping some of them in the class, and would leave a lot of the teachers work in preparing the pupils for the final part of the course in the bin to be recycled.

    Is this an admission that she doesn't understand the new course structure, or that she disagrees with it in principle and that this would undermine it? Does she want to redraw the CfE plans now before they are fully implemented or is this going to be another planned change within the first year or to after implementation?

    This seems more and more like a sound bite rather than a well thought out strategy.

  • Comment number 43.

    #39 skoubhie_dubh

    Unfortunately, you are going to get transferred to the annex of an FE College (in one of these now redundant PFI funded Secondary schools - since they still have to be paid for, they have to be used) and you don't get to retire till you're 70.

    Your entire timetable will be classes of unmotivated 14-17 year olds because there's no way that existing FE lecturers are going to teach them, or the Principal let them anywhere near the adult students who bring in funding.

    Enjoy Tory Scotland!

  • Comment number 44.

    I've never understood why Annabel Goldie is referred to as "Auntie" Bella because as far as I'm concerned she's a rather nasty piece of work and I've thought this since the decision on Megrahi.

    When Megrahi was released she insinuated that he had been released by the SNP in return for money from Qatar going to the Scottish Futures Trust. In other words insinuating that the SNP government was both financially and morally corrupt.

    Read it here in the official report from the Scottish Parliament.

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-09/sor0903-02.htm#Col19255

  • Comment number 45.

    I have to laugh a the strange Tory fascination with "those who can afford to pay " being asked to pay for lots of stuff tha we presently get for free.
    Those who can afford to pay have already paid, Annabel.
    They provide the tax revenues that make it all possible so I suggest they should be well up the queue when the benefits are being distributed.
    They shoudn't have to pay twice.
    (And I'm not a "Tory")

  • Comment number 46.

    i see brian may of queen is supporting scottish labour on their act abolishing animal traps. ed balls must have told him how easy iain greay snared himself at first ministers questions. also that self preservation labour ,were becoming a rarer species in scotland and needed the protection of the english.
    who wants to live forever?

  • Comment number 47.

    #42 skoubhie_dubh

    Good point!

    I suspect it may have something to do with private schools not following CfE. They are probably unaware that the curriculum is changing.

  • Comment number 48.

    So do 14 year olds who go straight onto the brew qualify for jobseekers allowance?
    If you also have a child at 14 can you qualify for jobseekers allowance AND child benefit allowance at the same time??

    we need more detail!

  • Comment number 49.

    The real-tory party,(as opposed to the liberal tory party) the UKIP, are also running in the Scottish polls.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-12964769

    Apart from the hang-em flog-em and beat-em stuff they appear to love Scotland and want us jocks to stay forever and ever in blissful union with the South.

    It's nice to have a true partner you can rely upon when times are tuff, although I'm really not sure if I can vote for a Nigel.
    If he changes his name to Jim or Eck I may reconsider my position.

  • Comment number 50.

    Social mobility: Clegg to pledge 'fair chance' for all
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12962487
    An ex-Cambridge chappie will sort things out, yup.

    The opportunity to sort social mobility was missed in the post WW2 period, when every private education school should have been closed down or converted to a comprehensive.
    Nothing less than a "dissolution of the Monastries" approach will fix the chronic lack of social mobility which UK kids face.
    The best way for many UK youngsters to get ahead nowadays is to emigrate to a place where there are no chronic class barriers, like Australia.

  • Comment number 51.

    brian welcome back, it seems like so much has happened since you were last here.

    For example the John Farquhar Munro incident among things.

    To be fair to the man he is only saying out loud what most reasonably minded people already think.

    For what it's worth, I think that labour and their media supporters should do the right thing, put their hands up and sit this one out for the open armed benefit of the many, rather than the self interest benefit of the very few.

  • Comment number 52.

    Today really isnt a good day in the Labour Party, first we have the former Libdem MSP John Farquhar Munro backing Alex Salmond for First Minister. As mentioned on last night's Newsnight Scotland, an unpresidented occurance. Now we have a rumour that Gordon Brown is set to resign on Friday in order to have a by election also on may 5th (his pa is already touting her CV around London).
    These events are alos overshadowing the Tory launch of their manifesto. Could this be classified in political terms as a perfect storm?

  • Comment number 53.

    "Oppositions don't win elections, Governments lose them" sums up the current Scots political environment.

    Looks like a slam dunk for Alec this time round.

  • Comment number 54.

    An air of flippancy in your article on the Tories Brian. But then flippancy seems to be all around us. Labour have flipped their policies to mirror the SNP policies. And currently they are adopting the "keep repeating it" strategy in the hope that the public will begin to believe that these new policies were actually originally Labour's.
    BUT LET'S BE FAIR TO LABOUR - a drowning man will clutch at straws.

  • Comment number 55.

    PPS to my #6 & PS to my #12

    To my sorrow, but not entirely to my surprise, the link in my #12 to the BBC sub-site which lists all the constituencies and candidates (plurality and list) as well as providing us with the notional 2007 results on the new boundaries now produces a 404 error, and no new URL seems to be available anywhere on the website.

    Could this problem be having an impact even on the BBC's own reporting? It would certainly seem so when GMS reporter Kevin Keane's Orcadians speak with clear voice is the featured item in the Voter views section of the main Scotland [sic] politics page, unsurprisingly headlining the view of one voter that "We're always going to be ruled by London anyway, I mean it's just a throw back - but let them have their wee bit of fun" but giving no analysis of how he ensured his sample was representative of local views or even any mention of who held the plurality seat at the dissolution.

    One can only assume that Mr Keane had the same problem of access to useful information as any voter will who visits the BBC website in search of it.

    I'm not usually a huge fan of the Herald, but at least they're providing a useful public service with their equivalent to the BBC constituencies and candidates sub-site now sadly gone. Their Orkney constituency page gives:

    ● Potted bios of the 5 candidates for the plurality seat:


    SNP Donna Heddle
    Con Jamie Halcro Johnston
    L-D Liam McArthur
    Lab William Sharkey
    Ind James Stockan


    ● The Notional 2007 result for the plurality seat:

    L-D 47.53%
    SNP 18.92%
    Con 18.86%
    Lab 13.11%
    Ind 1.58%


    ● The Notional 2007 result for the Highlands and Islands list:

    SNP 34.40%
    L-D 20.16%
    Lab 17.66%
    Con 12.43%
    Oth 10.71%
    Grn 4.63%


    It even gives full lists of all the list candidates. If the BBC cannot provide this information to its own reporters, let alone us ordinary mortals, it could at least have the decency to link prominently to a site that does.

  • Comment number 56.

    Back to the good old days - leave school at 14. How many kids would see this as an opportunity to pack in school, take on an apprenticeship they have no intention of completing then sit on their backsides and do nothing. Who on earth thought this one up?

    Is it aimed at the kids who won't have a chance at University due to the re-introduction of fees in Scotland by the Tories (should they win) and then they can claim they are looking after the disadvantaged.

    Then ther's the 5 quid prescription fee. We have paid through our National Insurance for free medical care from the NHS so why should we pay for prescriptions. Just like their colleagues in Westminster they want your cash and they want it now!!

  • Comment number 57.

    #50

    Yes private schools ensure the wealth stays in the family.

    The phrase 'social mobility' is acknowledging that we will always have an inequality gap, (the have and the have-nots,) and we can pretend that everyone has a shot at being in the 'have' category now and again.

    If we really want to erode the inequality gap, we could start with 100% inheritance tax for over £1million say?

    1/3 of the worlds billionaires inherited the money.

    Perhaps William and Kate should have a wedding fit for a helicopter pilot?

    Encouraging kids to leave school at 14 is the other side of this same coin...

  • Comment number 58.

    PS to my #55

    Perhaps even better than the Herald's site is STV's excellent Your Battleground sub-site of their Election 2011 site, where again for each constituency you can view notional 2007 results, see bios of all plurality and list candidates who have submitted one as well as a profile of the constituency discussing its history & boundary changes, etc.

    Should anyone from the BBC should happen to notice this post, perhaps they would be so kind as to pass the link on to GMS.

  • Comment number 59.

    There are many major flaws in the Tory’s ludicrous “leave school at 14 plan” but the question that I would like answered is this. It is one thing for a 14 year old to start an apprenticeship/college/vocational training etc but quite another for them to sustain it. So, when wee Joe McBloggs decides after a couple of weeks that his apprenticeship/college/vocational training is (to use the general vernacular) “pure pish man” do the Tories expect that he can just leave to roam the streets causing havoc or will he be rounded up and sent back to school. If so, which poor sod will be responsible for undertaking said rounding up and sending back to school?

  • Comment number 60.

    58. Barbazenzero wrote:
    The british ostrich corporation seems to be keeping its head firmly stuck in the sand. La, la, la was all that was heard.

  • Comment number 61.

    Ignoring for the moment the well – made points about the practicalities and consequences (on other institutions and teacher numbers for example), and ignoring for ever the misplaced objections made by the hard of thinking, this (seemingly innocuous announcement) is nothing short of a game – changer from the anti – eponymous Bella …

    Classis Tory thinking on Education, followed in large part by successive regimes and elbow – patch wearing quango – inhabitants, has been strictly Blank Slate; give me the child (for seven years), they say, and I will give you the man (the old Jesuit mantra and Locke doctrine) … However it is Rousseau’s ‘one developmental process, common to all (children)’, built upon but varying from Plato’s instinctively correct analysis, that remains the basis for the structured, accumulative approach as currently practised …

    But Slate thinking has been utterly discredited in the face of incontrovertible data from neuroscience and countless studies in evolutionary psychology (aka Sociobiology); we are born with capabilities, tendencies and proclivities that are largely inherited – most controversially (but blindingly obviously) intelligence (again, avoiding for the moment the rabbit hole of definition) … And these vary significantly by individual; again, you all know this … To be blunt, though statistically authentic, little Johnny from Easterhouse is not capable of understanding calculus, could never (after any number of years) write an essay on inheritance in Roman Law, nor compose a symphony – I exaggerate, but not for comic effect … Statistics also lie behind the eternally uninformed discussions around Private Schools …

    The consequences of accepting this (Slate thinking is History) are profound and impact every aspect of our lives; appositely the entire Education System would be constructed along completely different lines … Which brings me back to Bella; if the City Academies were a good starting point then her proposals represent a major point of divergence from Slate – based approaches – indeed, they may spark a new debate in the Philosophy of Education that has been sorely missing for over 100 years …

    But if we are to hack away at the very foundations of the Educational System as we know it today, then why stop here ??? … Let’s do away with the trauma - inducing, and entirely artificial, change of school building (not to say entire regime) at age 12 – it is the cause of untold, unnecessary misery for countless weans (and parents) … As Joyce might have said, 'Chuck Rousseau Mikey, and come on down ...' ...

    It almost goes without saying that all elements of religious influence, including the medieval practice of forcing children from next door to attend a different school, should be removed from the system … Almost …

    And let’s please stop now the insanity of CfE; when the creators and chief proponents of this absurd monster can’t agree a simple 30 – second definition of what it actually is (though at least they agree it’s not in fact a Curriculum, worryingly) then Joe Ordinary rightly smells marine wildlife … On top of this our Education Minister (the blustering Eck – hater) can’t count; he managed to convince the Big Debate audience that the difference between his funding gap figure (£93M) and that from someone from the audience who appeared to know what he was saying ((£203M) was a not –very – gap – filling £63M, this amount being extracted from (I think) English students … Hmmm …

    Unfortunately the rest of her stuff was the usual Tory hogwash …

    Let the real debate begin …

  • Comment number 62.

    sneckedagain @45

    I am like you fascinated with "those who can afford to pay " I have never met anyone who was happy to pay the sickness charge. I work for 35 years in the retail pharmacy trade, and the most likely scenario was people asking the pharmacist which items were least needed as they could not afford the sick tax for each item on their prescription.

    I would rather 20 people who could afford their prescriptions getting them free than one person who really needs the medicine not getting it as they could not afford it. Mind you that is probably why I would never vote tory.

    As the cost of collection the sick tax is probably more expensive than the cost that would be raised by charging, this manifesto commitment can only be driven by ideology.

    Torys will never change.

  • Comment number 63.

    'The John Farquhar Munro Effect' might well be worth a blog of its own, what say Brian??

    It seems to me that, given the media exposure that this matter has had overnight, many voters might now see their Consituency vote as being their own, but the Regional List vote might now become one for the choice of leader.

    JFM has effectively jettisoned the idea of any partly leader other than the Eckmeister being capable of doing the job Scotland needs done for the next few years, and I suspect this idea will not disappear from the media coverage too quickly.

    It is in the Regional List vote that the SNP are not expected to do so well, so this is a significant boost to their hopes in that matter. JFM's maverick position is likely to convince a fair few voters to think strategically about their choices and more votes for the Eckmeister on the Regional Lists may well give the SNP the largest number of seats in Holyrood.

    Fascinating stuff.

  • Comment number 64.

    The Labour Party have nailed their colours to the mast and thrown "humanitarian issues" to the dogs but what are the Scottish Conservatives views?

    http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com/2011/03/scottish-labour-endorses-smoking-ban.html

  • Comment number 65.

    Interesting that the LibDems are also backing Young People having a choice at age 14. The vast majority of young people will select what they believe to be the correct course for them - whether that means continuing in school, moving to college earlier, or taking up an apprenticeship.
    Over 14s should be viewed as "consumers" with a range of choices - and with significant protection for those that move out of school early.
    15 year olds cannot be "forced" to do what they don't want to do.
    There may be risks with an earlier leaving age, but there may also be significant benefits.
    Pilot - Evaluate - Adapt?
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 66.

    #65 spagan

    "Pilot - Evaluate - Adapt?"

    Actually, progress in this is being made. Not a final commitment to one strand of education or another, but through building partnerships between schools and colleges to deliver "Skills for Work" courses in a range of broad vocational areas to replace some traditional academic courses.

    I was involved in one of the early pilots, but the full evaluation is here

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/02/29105118/9

    I'm much more in favour of gradual evolution of education provision rather than politicians leaping in with ill thought out structural changes which are hugely expensive and disruptive.

  • Comment number 67.

    If anyone missed Ponsonby's live interview with Iain Gray at 12.00 today, they are re-playing it in the next few minutes.

    It's worth watching!

  • Comment number 68.

    Forgot the link, if it's allowed!

    http://news.stv.tv/election-2011/live/

  • Comment number 69.

    #49 adi
    your bbc article about U K I P united kingdom independance party. standing in the
    scottish devolved goverment elections in may, should act as a wake up call to the people of scotland, not to mention the labour party. whose clarion call was arise you
    people from your slumber! here their coming from over the border to claim back
    our devolution. what does the team think ! answers please.

  • Comment number 70.

    66 Reinc
    If evolution was faster I 'd agree. However there are so many vested interests that the pace of change is midway between turgid and morbid.
    Since the ROSLA kids of 40 years ago through to the Foonies, a great disservice has been done to more than a generation of young people - straightjacketed by HMIE's Ostler whenever I was striving for greater curricular flexibility.
    As a pedagogue yourself, you must be aware how inappropriate formal secondary education became for a considerable minority of youngsters.
    Turning "vocational" areas of study - such as "technical", "HEc" and even "PE" - into theoretical, quasi-academic subjects.
    Ask the "bottom 20%" of 14 and 15 year olds what they think would better prepare them for life and work?
    "Skills for Work" - tokenistic and marginal - IMHO.
    And even then a considerable % remain disaffected and disappeared.
    Slainte Mhor
    I'm pleased with the flexibility that has been permitted over recent years - but it miles away from where we should be.

  • Comment number 71.

    Labour (Andy Kerr) in 2005:-

    "Adult hospices are on the list of exempt premises for obvious humanitarian reasons. Psychiatric hospitals and units are included on the list because clinicians and others told us that that would be appropriate, if individuals' overall mental health and well-being were to be looked after. There were obvious humanitarian and other reasons for that exemption."

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/health/or-05/he05-0902.htm#Col1838

    Labour 2011:-

    http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com/2011/03/scottish-labour-endorses-smoking-ban.html

  • Comment number 72.

    Brian ‘The Tory goody bag’, really!

    Appears that the ‘fit has hit the shan’ again:

    British weapon sales.

    “Britain sold weapons to Libya and other dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East just four months before Colonel Gaddafi’s regime slaughtered hundreds of protesters, a damning report reveals today.

    Ministers approved the export of sniper rifles, bullets, tear gas and other ‘crowd control’ ammunition to Tripoli shortly before the murderous dictator ordered his military to crush a pro-democracy uprising.

    Labour ministers were said to have approved the sale of the crowd control weapons to Gaddafi while negotiations were under way over the fate of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al Megrahi.”

    I don’t think anyone could make this up even if they really, really, really tried.


  • Comment number 73.

    #49 adi
    'your bbc article about U K I P united kingdom independance party. standing in the
    scottish devolved goverment elections in may, should act as a wake up call to the people of scotland, not to mention the labour party. whose clarion call was arise you
    people from your slumber! here their coming from over the border to claim back
    our devolution. what does the team think ! answers please.'

    But, Rouser, just who are the UKIP going to appeal to in Scotland for the Holyrood election??

    Every one of the five main parties, therefore including the Greens and the Tories, are completely committed to, not just devolution as it is, but even greater powers than we have.

    I could imagine that UKIP would perhaps appeal to a minority of disaffected English settlers who may have, sadly, been the subject of local resentment.

    But, in no way can I envisage the UKIP having any effect on the outcome of the election!

  • Comment number 74.

    Regards calls for Brian to blog on John F Munro:

    I heard Brian on Radio Scotland this morning. Brian seemed to downplay the impact of Munro's support for Salmond to be FM, he said it was merely an individual's stance. And Brian said that Munro was "enticed" into making the statement. And no mention at all on how it impacts Labour.

    Iinteresting.

  • Comment number 75.

    68. At 14:18pm on 5th Apr 2011, Stamp wrote:

    Forgot the link, if it's allowed!

    http://news.stv.tv/election-2011/live/

    No doubt it will end up in the comedy category.

  • Comment number 76.

    #73 djmac7
    up to now i have overestimated the interest of the bloggers on this site on the arrival
    of U K I P into scotland and scottish politics maybe i need dumbed down a little .
    is their any body out their. where have all the bloggers gone?

  • Comment number 77.

    76. At 19:00pm on 5th Apr 2011, rouser

    "We have come along way together. Well, some of us have because the truth is we have more new subscribers every month to welcome aboard. In March our unique visitors grew to over 38,000 which is a rise of over 25% on the previous month/s. Our daily visits are up to over 5000 and monthly page views just shy of 2 million. And we're just getting started."

    One has to search for them!

  • Comment number 78.

  • Comment number 79.

    There must be an election on BWB has two blogs open at the same time

 

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