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The Emperor's real clothes

Brown's true colours (mainly red) as revealed in Scotland - Sunday Times - Times Online

He may be chancellor, architect of new Labour and prime minister in waiting, but Brown is foremost a Scottish Labour MP. A biographer of the great Red Clydeside hero James Maxton, he is marbled with the passions and instincts of the Scottish Labour party.
For anyone living south of the border, this poses some uneasy questions: just how far removed from the needs and instincts of middle England are the needs and instincts of socialist Fife? Can Brown truly claim to be equally in tune with both? And when he becomes prime minister, which instinct will be to the fore?
To see what government might look like were Brown’s instincts given full throttle, one need only look north of the border. Scottish Labour governs there without the compromises new Labour deems necessary in England.....

Scots pay a heavy price for such ideological Labour purity.One in 10 Scots seeking treatment at accident and emergency departments waits more than four hours to be seen. This compares with one in 20 in England. While waiting times have shortened dramatically in England in recent years, in Scotland they have actually lengthened in some cases. The lack of modernisation means the vast sum of money pouring into the Scottish NHS — spending on health is 20% higher per head than in England — is having less impact.

Scottish education, once revered around the world, is unable to deliver even the basics to young Scots. Take, for example, a primary school’s ability to send more than 50% of its children to high school with the basic requirements in reading, writing and arithmetic. In Glasgow more than half of the city’s primary schools are failing to reach even this undemanding standard.

....Brown does not like to talk about England. He prefers to talk about Britain. The problem is there is no such thing as a British education system or health service. Once Brown becomes prime minister he will have no responsibility for Scottish health and education, which are the preserve of the Holyrood parliament in Edinburgh. Brown will be in charge of English schools and hospitals, which because of Blairite reforms are very different to the statist institutions found in Fife.
If Brown does carry on down the Blairite path in England it will be because he deems it politically necessary, not because his heart is in it. It will not chime with his deepest convictions. In a very real sense, and for all his talk of a new definition of Britishness, Brown will be governing a foreign country.


Before Gordy's coronation, he will resign his seat and take up a safe labour seat in England (the encumbent no doubt being offered a place in The House of Lords). This makes it slightly less uncomfortable for him re matters of a West Lothian nature. We call this democracy inaction.

I confess I was under the impression that the Lib Dems had a significant impact on policy making in Scotland since devolution, due to the use of proportional representation north of the border.

Whilst certain of the institutions (law and education for example) that existed pre devolution may have been shaped by labour ideals, recent policy in Scotland suggests a far more liberal approach to issues such as social care, in particular policies such as free care for the elderly - a concept recommended to the Blairite government in 'With Respect for Old Age: a Royal Commission'. The resultant NHS plan rejected the notion of free care in England, but the Lib Dem factor in scotland pushed it through.

Perhaps problems in Scotland (health wise) are so deep because there is a huge amount of social deprivation in comparison with even the poorest English regions (and I live in one of them!). This in turn leads to an increase in ill health, drug dependency, poor standards of living etc, which then impacts on what care is needed from the public sector. In effect a vicious circle.

The West Lothian question is one I'm uncomfortable with, purely because a group of MPs can push through statute in one country (England) whilst existing in a totally different political climate themselves (Scotland), especially on issues such as tuition feess which would never have been passed if not for the support given by Scots MPs to god's representative on earth, Mr Blair. Again, in Scotland the refusal to implement fees was pushed through by the Lib Dems.

Whilst I am not one of Brown's greatest supporters, I think the quoted article may just have been a little short on biased opinion! And who can predict if Gordy will make it to his crowning ceremony...?!

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