So I came across this piece this evening. It’s from a blog that I’ve never heard of, but to be fair, I don’t spend all that much time in the unionist bubble. I visit occasionally, just to keep tabs on what they are discussing; it’s good to know the opposition after all.
It’s fair to say that both sides of the Scottish independence debate, at least online, exist in bubbles. There are pro independence and unionist Facebook pages for example, where people mostly just agree with each other. They even put up polls asking things like “Should Scotland have another independence referendum?” Or, “how would you vote tomorrow?” They do this in the full knowledge that the vast majority of people who are members of their bubble, will vote exactly how they expect and give them the result they want. Such polls are a pointless waste of time, but people do them anyway.
It was while perusing one of these unionist Facebook bubbles that I came across the following:
As is usual for me, I got annoyed. The blatant lies and stupidity in the article, frankly pissed me off. So, I did what I usually do, and wrote an off-the-top-of-my-head-while-slightly(ahem)-inebriated response. The thing is, while writing yet another ridiculously long Facebook rebuttal, it occurred to me that I do that way too often, and that it is of little benefit, since only a handful of people ever see it. It further occurred to me that maybe I should start a blog. That way, I can rant all I want, without annoying friends, but those who are interested can read it. And so this blog is born.
It’s only hour one, and this is my first ever post, so don’t judge it on what you see now, but rather on what it could become.
Below is the Facebook response to the above article which spawned the whole silly idea. It could have been far more comprehensive of course, but it was a FB comment and was getting stupidly long as it was. Feel free to leave a comment (if you can…I have no idea how this thing works, it’s only been an hour since I opened the account). Do you appreciate my writing? Am I right or wrong? Does it have potential? Should I continue or stfu? Let me have it.
Oh dear. This piece is quite simply dreadful. There are only two factual statements in the entire thing. One is that education has slipped down the world rankings (the other I’ll get to later). Shock horror! The Scottish Government is not perfect across every sphere of society, like erm, no government ever. They are aware of it and, I’m sure, working to improve it.
The rest of it is, quite simply, a litany of the usual unionist out and out lies. Take this peach for example: “the BMA had described the Scottish NHS as “near breaking point”.” Woopsie alert! Sorry Gerald, that’s a ludicrous stretch. That claim wasn’t made by the BMA as an organisation (which incidentally is a trade union, not to be confused with the BMC, and hardly unbiased when they’re looking for funding) but by a single BMA member, while being interviewed alongside a Tory, in a particularly one sided BBC interview. They repeated the phrase at least ten times (almost as if they had rehearsed it eh?) without providing a single shred of evidence for the claim. Nothing. Not a single statistic. The fact of the matter is that waiting times in Scotland’s NHS are far lower than in England, and patient satisfaction is at an all time high, unlike in England where the NHS really is in meltdown. These simple facts are available to check from the NHS’ own published stats. Why let the facts get in the way of a good lie though eh?
I have to say it did give me a laugh though. It was almost as funny as the time Ruth Davidson stood up at FMQ’s and lambasted the ScotGov’s handling of the NHS, because she had a report that showed it faced “pockets of meltdown” that winter. The laugh came when an SNP MSP pointed out that the report she was waving about, referred not to Scotland, but to the English NHS, which is run by her own party.
Incidentally, it should be pointed out that the good health of Scotland’s NHS will not last much longer. Why? Well because the UK Tory government effectively abolished the NHS in England in 2012. Wait, I hear you say. No they didn’t! Well, actually, yes they did. They abolished the UK Government’s duty to provide health care to it’s citizens with the Health And Social Care Act (2012). “But why would they do that?” I hear you ask. Well, because that pesky legal requirement (which came in to being with the foundation of the NHS), prevented them from legally being able to privatise the NHS entirely. I’ll leave it to your imagination to decide why they would possibly want to do such a thing.
But how does that affect Scotland’s NHS? Sadly, it does. Our NHS funding comes through the Barnett formula, as a population based percentage of the rUK budget. If the rUK health budget drops, ours drops too. If the rUK budget drops to zero (because they have sold the whole thing off to private companies and no longer have to fund it) ours drops to zero as well.
No doubt though Gerald would claim (if he were honest about it being better in the first place) that Scotland’s superior NHS performance is due to that “£1,720 additional expenditure per skull over England”. This is another favourite unionist trope. They love to point out that Scotland gets more expenditure per head than England does (which is the second true statement). What they are not so keen on telling us is that Scotland pays far more per head INTO the UK coffers than any other part of the UK does, or that Scotland has in fact subsidised the UK to the tune of some £64bn over the last three decades (according to the UK Government’s own GERS figures, which incidentally, were designed from the outset to make Scotland’s economy look weak, and are about as reliable as me pulling figures out of my arse).
I could go on and on (OK, I know, I already have), particularly about Gerald’s ludicrous parroting of the unionist line about Scotland being a “one party state” (despite the SNP being a minority Government, in a parliament that was specifically designed by a unionist Government to make it practically impossible for any one party to win a majority, leaving them reliant on, ahem, a second party to get anything done). Then there’s my current favourite, the “slump in oil revenues” to a mere £60mn due to (according to the unionist parties and the UK Gov) the drop in oil price. There’s a tiny issue with that narrative though isn’t there? Actually there are two glaring issues that a five year old might point out. 1) How come, when the oil price dropped (at it’s worst point) by 55%, the revenues dropped by 99%? And 2) How come Norway extracted the exact same amount, of the exact same oil, and sold it at the exact same global oil price, and made £17.6bn? I think someone’s telling porkies.
OK, as much as I enjoy debunking unionist nonsense, it’s getting late, so I’ll leave with the one part of Gerald’s rant that actually made me laugh. The SNP is in decline he says. It’s the beginning of the end. Oh, Gerald, you are a funny one. Just two years ago, at the UK general election, the SNP utterly wiped out the Labour party, who had represented Scotland (badly) for some 40 years. They won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats, leaving the unionist parties with just one measly seat each. Forward to 2016 and the Holyrood election. Here they won an historic 3rd term, where despite losing their (impossible) majority, they actually got 238 thousand MORE votes than the previous Holyrood election. They also got more of the vote than the Tories, Labour, and Lib Dems combined. That’s a funny kind of decline Gerald.
But that’s the unionist spin that’s so familiar from people like Gerald, and his chums in the UK media, in a nutshell. According to them, a landslide victory in the UK election + an increased share of the vote in Holyrood = decline. Scottish Tories achieving less of the vote share than they did at the height of Thatcher’s unpopularity (22% vs 24%) = spectacular Tory revival in Scotland. Ah, thanks for the chuckle Gerry. And you keep clutching at those straws mate.