Friday, 16 October 2015

Just how good are the SNP at running Scotland? On education, policing, health - not well

Not good is the answer. Look at public services across the board and assess the relative merits of the English and Scottish systems. The journalist Fraser Nelson has done a brilliant job evaluating the actuality of SNP rule in Scotland:
"The SNP has governed public services in Scotland since 2007, so it is easy to test its central theory: that “home rule” is better rule. If this were true, we would see Scottish students pulling ahead of English ones; hospital waiting times crashing down and exciting and innovative methods of policing. Instead, a very different picture presents itself for those with an eye to see it.
The steady exam improvement in England has seen no equivalent in Scotland, which is now the worst place in Britain to be poor and bright. Next month, almost one in five English students from poor backgrounds will go to university – twice the level of poor Scots. Lucy Hunter Blackburn, a former civil servant who crunched the numbers in an Edinburgh University study, puts it starkly. The SNP’s abolition of tuition fees helps rich families, she says, she says, and grants for poor students are lower. So the SNP “is actively reinforcing inherited inequalities in wealth. It’s that simple.”
The SNP’s great policing experiment – merging eight constabularies into one nationwide force – has also become a case study in what not to do. The promised cost savings have not materialised, the huge force struggles with basic communication and is under fire for bungled responses to emergencies. In July, a man was found dead inside his car on near Bannockburn three days after the crash was first reported. His girlfriend was found alive, but unconscious next to him. She later died. Sir Stephen House, chief constable of the two-year-old Police Scotland, recently announced his resignation. If Theresa May’s flagship police reform had gone so badly, she would be an ex-Home Secretary. But things are different in Scotland. The SNP is adept at changing the topic of conversation to one it prefers and dodging the scrutiny it deserves. It likes to hold debate over issues where it has no authority. On Tuesday, for example, MSPs discussed the refugee crisis and parliament voted to “recognise the severity” of the situation as if this would do any good. About £1 billion of British money is being spent helping Syrians by the UK overseas aid department, which has hundreds of staff in East Kilbride. If the SNP wants an example of Scots making a difference to those most in need, it need look no further.
So there is a scrutiny gap, which Mr Cameron’s government can help fill. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, it ought to concern him that educational opportunity is being denied to bright Scottish teenagers simply because they lack the money. But there is good news too. Poverty in Scotland is falling, contrary to the SNP’s predictions. It is also one of the very few countries in Europe to enjoy record employment; who would argue that this is unconnected to its being part of the UK and its jobs miracle? Mr Cameron could trumpet these successes."
The full article is here: