The Scottish labour Party: Kezia Dugdale is actively broadcasting Scottish Labour’s plans (for Education, Education, Education) to be given a top priority in any future government lead by herself. But in doing so she is simply repeating the slogan used by Tony Blair in his 1997 campaign. So nothing new.
But a look-back at New Labour’s time in office, from 1997 reveals unacceptable levels of ministerial incompetence together with excesses of government practised by Blair and then Brown on the UK.
Education: The budget for education was tripled (from £22bn to £68bn.) But 250,000 children still left primary school unable to read, write and add up. About 110,000 parents were routinely refused a first choice of secondary school. And, largely due to the inadequate education in their formative years nearly 1 million (16-24 y.o.’s) were not in any form of education, employment or training.
Health: From 1997 Labour tripled financial allocations to the NHS (from £35bn to £104bn). The action was laudable but Health Service minister, John Reid squandered vast amounts of the new money awarding senior medical staff and G.P.’s obscene pay increases securing nothing in terms of flexible working in return.
Coupled with the foregoing the introduction of the Blair/Brown privatisation “agenda for change” brought about a huge increase in the levels of senior administration managers and their legions of support staff. So money for healthcare ended up in the already well filled pockets of Senior Medics and administrators progressing the “agenda for change”.
An added disgrace is that only 49% of cancer patients were surviving for five years after diagnosis – lower than virtually all Europe. MRSA and C-difficile killed almost 44,000 people since 1997.
Criminal Justice: Financial allocations were increased (from £16bn to £24bn). But in 2008-09, there were in excess of 100 serious knife crimes a day, nearly a million victims of alcohol/drug fuelled assaults and over 10,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour daily.
Defence: Spending was increased (from £27bn to 37bn) necessary due to the illegal deployment of the armed forces to the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. But the new money was insufficient to support regular forces fighting bitter wars of attrition on 2 fronts.
The British Army sustained casualties well in excess of the USA, due to being ill-equipped and over deployed (rotation) to the fields of war resulting from cutbacks in the level of the very forces needed to support a nation at war.
Since Labour came to power, regular troops are reduced by 21,000. Naval forces have lost 12 warships and the RAF 217 war planes.
Against this scenario of incompetence the death toll in Afghanistan mounted. The daily press carried stories of bereaved families speaking out again and again about the lack of proper equipment and support.
Other intolerable insults foisted on the young men of the nation included housing their families in sub-standard leaky, ill-maintained, rat infested housing unfit in many cases for human habitation and the final insult being handed their notices of redundancy on the field of battle.
And yet Gordon Brown assured the recently published Chilcott inquiry that defence spending had been increased so that all aspects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fully funded.
Immigration: Official figures, (and they are not entirely accurate) record that the number of new arrivals annually increased from 48,000 in 1997 to 163,000 in 2008. After a decade of Labour government it is accepted that there were between 800,000 – 950,000 illegal immigrants living in the UK at 2008.
The Economy: Being fair-minded the UK and the world was hit with a series of financial disasters largely created by greedy, incompetent utterly useless bankers and no political party could have emerged without criticism.
But many believe Gordon Brown’s earlier reckless spending, banking deregulation and sale of gold reserves at knock-down prices just about bankrupt the UK in the first place.
The budget deficit is well in excess of the level reached during WW2. Companies are folding and dole queues are lengthening daily.
Faced then with a basket case economy and a high level of financial attrition, reversing of which has been forced upon the electorate, (allowing bankers to distance themselves from the effects of their largesse) it was imperative that all parties committed unreservedly to the task of saving the nation.
But just as this message was being released Westminster was caught up in the expenses scandal which revealed many M.P.’s, ministers and civil servants to be little better than greedy pigs with their heads permanently in the trough ripping off the electorate.
Summary:The Tory Party took up the reins of government in 2010 and will remain in place until 2020 (unless the new Prime Minister calls an early election.)
The national debt is around £2.0 Trillion (up from £840 Trillion inherited from Labour in 2010). The budget deficit fluctuates between £200-£300.
Many more radical cuts, to be introduced over the term of the parliament will be concentrated on reducing welfare spending with the purpose of rescuing the UK from terminal economic decline.
Taking all of the foregoing into account there is no way a vote for the Labour Party can be justified. I doubt the party will ever be electable again. A sad end to a great ideal.
Scots who wish to be free of the incompetence of Westminster should support the SNP in it’s mission to achieve independence for Scotland.
The system used to elect MSPs is known as the Additional Member System (AMS). At the May 2016 Scottish Parliament election each voter has two votes.
* With one vote, voters choose between candidates standing in their constituency to elect a constituency MSP. The candidate who receives the largest number of votes in the constituency wins the seat. This voting system is called first-past-the-post. There are 73 constituencies for Scottish Parliament elections.
* The other vote is for a political party, or for a candidate standing as an individual, within a larger electoral area known as a region. (A region is formed by grouping together between eight and ten constituencies.) There are eight Scottish Parliament regions and each region has seven additional seats in the Parliament. The MSPs chosen to fill these 56 additional seats are known as regional MSPs. Regional MSPs are allocated seats using a formula that takes into account the number of constituency seats that a party has already won in that region, as well as the number of regional votes an individual or party received.
Prof Curtice – Echoes of the Spymaster Daniel Defoe in his pronouncements – Another Snake in the Grass?
Shaping the voting electorate’s intentions in favour of political parties against each other is a well practised strategy used by politicians and lobbyists. But secret agenda’s intent on manipulating the minds of voters should not be used by political pundits and commentators who lay claim to the title, “honest John”. It is evident from recent public statements that Prof Curtice is embarked on a mission to ensure an election outcome meeting his intent. SNP voters should bear the foregoing in mind at the time they place their votes. It is ludicrous to expect an SNP supporter to vote for a party other than the SNP. Lend both votes to the SNP.
The activities of the Spymaster Daniel Defoe come to mind:
“In September 1706, in the critical run-up to the Union, Defoe was sent to Edinburgh, where he became an adviser to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and to committees of the Scottish Parliament: from where he could feed inside information back to his controllers in England. He wrote pamphlets selling the benefits of the Act of Union to Scots, usually anonymously or while pretending to be a Scot: and often using arguments that directly contradicted those he used to sell the Act of Union to the English. His spin continued into what represented itself as an objective history of the Act of Union (but in fact was anything but) published in 1709.”
Set out below are two examples of the unwelcome involvement of Prof Curtice in the political affairs of Scotland.
21 January 2014: Prof Curtice works with the BBC manipulating the outcome of the referendum
The ScotCen Social Research conducted a survey interviewing 1,497 adults between June and October 2014. Speaking to the report, Prof John Curtice, said “voters want to hear about the economic and financial consequences of the choice that they make and it is on the outcome of that debate that the result of the referendum is likely to turn.” This is hardly as surprise when the questions asked focused on economic rather than political matters.
A write up of the story on BBC Online also extracts specific questions that focus on voting intentions based on whether Scots will be £500 better or worse off after independence, or whether the Scottish economy will be better or worse. There is no report of the all-important political factors, which is what the independence debate is all about.
It is important to note that the piece included comments from four Scots voters. Only one of them said financial considerations were an important factor when it came to voting on independence. The other three spoke about variations on the theme of who decides how Scotland is run.
Once this segment had been played, the presenter then ignored the voter contributions and turned the discussion straight back to economics, disregarding what the voters had said. Curtice himself then introduced identity as an issue rather than politics, to move the conversation further away from the central political dimension.
The feeling is of there being a clear agenda to frame the Scottish debate firmly in terms of economics, while doing everything possible to confine the politics to the wilderness. The BBC and Prof Curtis are manipulating the Scottish public into focusing on issues that are irrelevant to the concept of independence – namely who should run Scotland.
No matter whether one feels Scotland should be independent, or whether the union should be preserved as it is, all should be concerned that the crux of the independence issue is being airbrushed from the discourse by the media, which is taking its line from entities with vested interests in keeping all structures as they are – which suits Westminster perfectly. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-25833692
17 April 2016: Prof Curtice (Yet again) seeks to influence the outcome of the Scottish election manipulating party political information
A recent study was commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) a left wing motivated organisation headquartered in London (with a Scottish branch.) It is headed by Katie Ghose who is a Labour Party member who has tried on four occasions to be selected as a Parliamentary candidate. Her partner is Andrew Harrop, General Secretary of the Fabian Society. Celebrity ambassador for the ERS is the notorious Dan Snow (married to the richest young lady in the UK). The Scottish branch is staffed by individuals with strong links to the Labour party.
Curtice advised he had collated and analysed recent opinion polls and found that the SNP would win all but three constituencies and be returned firmly as the majority party of government on that vote alone. Speaking to the report he said “SNP voters should give their second vote to another pro-independence party (such as the Greens or the left wing party Rise) to prevent unionist MSPs being let in by the back door.”
The controversial claims of Curtice are designed to weaken the ‘Both Votes SNP’ campaign. The SNP responded to the Curtice study saying voters who followed his advice “risk playing into the hands of those who oppose a fully self-governing Scotland”.
Director of Electoral Reform Society (Scotland), Labour Party stalwart, Willie Sullivan, said “the report is intended as a resource for voters who want to understand the election – but the analysis clearly has implications for the smaller parties whose support could be squeezed by the ‘both votes SNP’ strategy. We think politics should contain lots of different voices, said Sullivan. In the past we have stated our concern about the predominance of a single party in Scottish politics.” Read all about Willie here:http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/Willie_Sullivan
A spokesman for the SNP said: “Only by giving both votes to the SNP can people be sure of returning Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister, leading a re-elected SNP Government in a position to take forward our manifesto plans. While we welcome other parties’ backing for independence, fracturing the pro-independence vote merely risks playing into the hands of those who oppose a fully self-governing Scotland.”
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) – An instrument of the State?
The BBC is funded by compulsory public subscription in the form of a Licence Fee. Licence payers paid £2.7billion in fees in (2002-2003) making the BBC the most extensive and best funded Public Service Broadcaster in the world.
BBC Public Radio Broadcasting in the UK
The delivery of Local, national and international news, current affairs, entertainment, social services and documentaries through the medium of radio retains it’s place at the head of broadcast media. Distribution of financial resources in support of the foregoing should reflect the financial contribution of all who purchase an annual licence fee. The BBC is in breach of the trust the people of Scotland have a right to expect of those who levy the compulsory annual licence fee against them.
Broadcasting and the Scottish Parliament – Scottish Broadcasting Commission Report
When the Scottish Broadcasting Commission published its final report in September 2008, the final recommendation was that “Scottish Ministers report should overall progress on implementing the report to the Scottish Parliament. This extract is from the final report.
A proposal to establish a Scottish Digital Network received unanimous support from the Scottish Parliament in October 2008 but little progress has been made on implementing the key recommendation — the establishment of a Scottish Digital Network to ensure secure and sustainable competition to the BBC for public service broadcasting in Scotland. Since broadcasting legislation is reserved, responsibility for establishing a network rests with the UK Government, which refused to implement the proposal. But notwithstanding the lack of Westminster support the Scottish Government commissioned the Scottish Digital Network Panel to investigate funding models for a Scottish Digital Network. It’s final report supported a publicly funded network financed by the BBC licence fee. In October 2010, the UK Government and the BBC Trust secretly agreed a licence fee settlement for the BBC, to last until 2016-17. The agreement, which was decided in a matter of days, with no external consultation, had contrasting consequences, It endorsed the principle that television licence fee revenues could be used for public service broadcasting purposes other than the funding of core BBC services.
For example, from 2013-14, the S4C network in Wales will receive a significantly increased level of licence fee revenue support. But the new settlement also made it almost impossible for licence fee revenues to be allocated to a Scottish Digital Network before 2016-17.
The UK Government also made it clear that it is not inclined to reconsider the licence fee settlement before 2016-17, and because the licence fee negotiations took place in private, Scotland’s public service broadcasting needs do not seem to have been considered during the decision-making process for the settlement.
It is imperative the Scottish Government is granted the power to establish broadcasting organisations in the Scotland Bill. Scotland’s public service broadcasting needs to implement recommendations which attract a consensus across the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Parliament should have greater powers to take action itself. However until the UK Government agrees to work with the Scottish Government on the establishment of a digital network for Scotland, the work of implementing the Broadcasting Commission’s report will remain unfulfilled. http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/127313/0121552.pdf
UK Networked Radio Stations
The BBC has ten Radio Stations broadcasting UK wide. All of these are based in London with very little, or in most cases no, Scottish output. London and the south-east of England accounted for 69 per cent of all BBC output in 2002-2003, with the other English regions accounting for most of the rest.
These ten Radio Stations broadcast 63,740 hours of programmes between them in 2002-2003. Only four of the ten broadcast programmes that had originated in Scotland and the other six had no Scottish output at all. The Scottish output from these ten Stations was minuscule in comparison to their total hours of broadcasting i.e. 779 hours from a total of 63,740 hours (1.2%).
UK Networked Radio Hours Output Scottish Radio Input
BBC Radio1: 9,021: 89
BBC Radio2: 8,760: 124
BBC Radio3: 8,760: 404
BBC Radio4: 8,013: 162
BBC Radio5: 8,760:
BBC Extra: 1,320
I.xtra : 5,454
BBC 6 Music: 8,760
BBC Radio7: 1,911
Total 63,740: 779 (1.2%)
BBC Radio Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland is something of part-time service. It concludes each evening at midnight, carries a number of repeated programmes and broadcast for only 6,029 hours in 2002-2003.
Radio Scotland/nan Gaidheal / Community Radio together broadcast for only 9,267 hours for the year.
Such a limited service is grossly inadequate for a national community of over 5 million people. This London and south east of England bias at the BBC not only in its network broadcasting but on BBC Scotland television has no place in a fair and equitable society and certainly not in today’s age of advanced technology.
The BBC – Provision of Regional radio services
The BBC has eleven regional television services in England. These regional channels produce their own local programmes as well as commissions for the BBC network. They are:
BBC North, BBC West, BBC North West, BBC South, BBC North-East and Cumbria, BBC South East, BBC West Midlands, BBC South West, BBC East Midlands, BBC London, BBC East.
Excepting London and the South East, the BBC English regions have similar, or indeed smaller, populations to that of Scotland. However, this “similarity” in population is where the similarity ends. Unlike in Scotland, each of these English regions has a number of local BBC radio stations.
The West Midlands region has five. East Midlands region has four. BBC West region has six. BBC East region also has six. The North region has four. The South East and South West regions each have two, The North West three and the North East and Cumbria region four, as the following table illustrates:
BBC Regions England Number of BBC stations & Broadcast Radio Hours
BBC North 4 BBC local radio stations 24,316
BBC North West 3 BBC local radio stations 18,384
BBC North East & Cumbria 3 BBC local radio stations 17,537
BBC West Midlands 5 BBC local radio stations 24,458
BBC East Midlands 4 BBC local radio stations 22,321
BBC East 6 BBC local radio stations 30,224
BBC West 5 BBC local radio stations 20,017
BBC South 3 BBC local radio stations 15,895
BBC South East 2 BBC local radio stations 14,741
BBC South West 4 BBC local radio stations 20,587
BBC Scotland Radio Scotland/nan Gaidheal 9,267
As the above figures show, BBC local radio broadcasting hours in Scotland is paltry in comparison to the individual English regions despite Scotland having a larger population than most of them.
That a Scotland of over 5 million people can have only 9,267 of local BBC radio broadcasting hours per year while the BBC provides anything between 14,000 to 30,000 hours of local broadcasting for individual English regions defies belief and is nothing short of a national scandal.
Not only is Scotland being short-changed by the BBC in its London-based UK Networks, Scotland is also being very much under provided for in the Corporation’s local services, and most notably radio provision.
English BBC local Radio Output
According to the BBC’s 2002-2003 Report and Accounts, there were 38 local BBC Radio Stations in England. These range from BBC Radio London with an adult catchment area of over 10 million to BBC Radio Guernsey with a catchment area of 50,000. See below:
Station: population (1000’s): Hours of Broadcasting per Year:
BBC London 10,384 8,736
BBC Southern Counties 2,383 8,460
BBC WM 2,770 8,816
BBC Bristol 1,238 7,555
BBC Wiltshire Sound 498 7,287
BBC Three Counties Radio 958 6,895
BBC GMR 2,081 6,871
BBC Nottingham 736 6,708
BBC Solent 1,659 6,684
BBC Newcastle 1,361 6,450
BBC Norfolk 683 6,430
BBC Leeds 1,506 6,406
BBC Cambridgeshire 612 6,373
BBC Devon 916 6,327
BBC Kent 1,293 6,281
BBC Merseyside 1,623 6,178
BBC Berkshire 794 3,714
BBC Cleveland 794 5,302
BBC Cumbria 384 5,853
BBC Lancashire 1,134 5,785
BBC Sheffield 1,227 5,875
BBC Derby 588 5,127
BBC Essex 1,173 5,522
BBC Northampton 440 5,004
BC York 467 6,249
BBC Gloucestershire 464 5,175
BBC Hereford Worcester 492 5,192
BBC Humberside 729 5,786
BBC Lincolnshire 490 5,263
BBC Oxford 504 5,497
BBC Leicester 760 5,223
BBC Stoke 603 5,144
BBC Suffolk 422 5,113
BBC Cornwall 416 5,735
BBC Shropshire 361 5,306
BBC Jersey 74 4,294
BBC Guernsey 50 4,231
Total for all 38 Stations 222,849 hours
BBC Radio Scotland 4,190 6,029
Radio nan Gaidheal 4,190 2,616
Community Radio 622
UK network radio broadcasting aside, Scotland has a population equivalent to 10.5% that of England. One would therefore assume that BBC Radio Scotland should be broadcasting approximately 10.5% of the radio hours that the BBC English Regions broadcast.
Indeed, given Scotland’s national status, one would think that BBC Scotland would be broadcasting more hours per head than the average English Region or County.
However, as the tables above and below show, BBC Radio in Scotland broadcast only 3.9 % of what is broadcast in England.
Total Local Radio Broadcasting Hours % Share
England (local): 222,849: 96.01%
Scotland (local): 9,267: 3.99%
Total 232,116 100%
As the above figures show, BBC local radio broadcasting hours in Scotland is paltry in comparison to the individual English regions despite Scotland having a larger population than most of them.
That Scotland with over 5 million people can have only 9,267 of local BBC radio broadcasting hours per year while the BBC provides anything between 14,000 to 30,000 hours of local broadcasting for individual English regions defies belief and is scandalous misappropriation of Scottish taxpayers compulsory financial contribution.
Not only is Scotland being short-changed by the BBC in its London-based UK Networks, it is is also being very much under provided for in the BBC’s local services, most notably radio provision.
Finally, this overall London/English bias at the BBC is not in the best interest of the licence payer with London and the South-East of England being the most costly place to produce and broadcast programmes in the UK.
The BBC produced 69 % of all its radio programmes in London and the South-East in 2002-2003. Costs per Hour of Originated Programmes. Radio:
BBC Radio1: £ 2,700 per hour
BBC Radio2: £ 4,200 per hour
BBC Radio3: £ 4,000 per hour
BBC Radio4: £11,000 per hour
BBC Radio5: £ 7,900 per hour
Nations and Regions £500 per hour
As can be seen from the costs above, not only is it culturally and economically disadvantageous to the Nations and other regions of the UK that 69 % of the BBC’s output originates from London and the south-east, it also doesn’t make economic sense for the BBC and the licence payer.
By its own admission, the BBC accepts and acknowledges that these programmes can be produced so much less expensively elsewhere.But the corporation insists on doing it’s own thing regardless of public concern.
There are many cultural and economic benefits that a vibrant and thriving media can produce with the many quality jobs, training and opportunities that that entails.
However, due to the present underfunding of BBC Scotland, many of those benefits are limited or simply denied to the people of Scotland and the few that we do have are completely reliant on the decisions and whims of others.
Those benefits are very much concentrated in London and the south-east of England, with the other English regions taking a lion’s share of the little that remains.
Scotland having 25-30,000 hours of BBC radio broadcasting, which would be more proportionate to the service currently available in the English regions, could mean the creation of other national and/or local BBC Scotland services.
This would not only produce a much more diverse service for the Scottish licence payer with an inevitable increase in jobs and opportunities but would end the national travesty and embarrassment of Scotland having only one national BBC Radio station trying to be all things to all men and all women and all age groups.
Having a more abundant and diverse BBC Scotland service would be entirely in keeping with the situation in similarly sized and smaller neighbouring countries where they have a more extensive service from their Public Service Broadcaster.
For example, RTE, the Public Service Broadcaster in the Republic of Ireland, has four national radio stations, despite the licence fee being similar to that of Scotland and the UK.
RTE also broadcasts an Irish Gaelic language channel, separately funded by the Government. The Republic of Ireland has a smaller population than Scotland.
Indeed, a number of “regions” in some neighbouring countries already enjoy a greater service from their respective PSB. Again, for example, the Flemish Community in Belgium also has four national radio stations, despite Flanders having a similar population to that of Scotland.
The vexed issue of the relationship between nationhood and the Union pervades recent Scottish historiography, much of which has focused on the kinds of nationalism that developed in response to perceptions of the British Empire.
Throughout the twentieth century political commentators delineated the political, social, economic and cultural landscape through which Scotland’s relationship to the United Kingdom may be understood.
Their analyses contributed to defining a frame of reference through which “Scotland” would be envisioned, an imaginary largely generated from within by Scottish historians discussing “our” accommodation to or rejection of Britishness.
It may prove instructive to compare such inside stories with external notions of Scottishness, these latter ranging from racist caricature, through invented traditions, to academic accounts of Britishness itself.
The ensuing discussion argues that in the emergence of a documentary way of viewing the earlier twentieth century, there exists evidence of a popular British conception in Westminster of Scotland within the union.
This article considers the role of Picture Post, in its time the UK’s most popular photo-weekly, in visualising Scotland during a period of significant economic and social change after the 1930 depression and prior to the advent of mass television.
It explores how the magazine constructed a journalistic space through which Scotland’s encounter with modernity could be understood by the wider nation state. The research involved a contents analysis of many articles and photographs alongside readers’ letters and editorials, and assesses the combination of image, narrative and dialogue in creating perceptions of Scotland.
Picture Post sought to map ordinary lives while implicitly reforming society. Yet, in focusing upon its innovative means of capturing “a new social reality: the domain of everyday life”, via “the punchy radicalism of the photo that shows and the caption that tells”, critics neglected some of its more conservative aspects such as a rather banal imperialism.
When one recent commentator remarked that Picture Post “ventured forth into strange landscapes to try to present to its readers a varied world yet one that all people could feel at home in” he is referring to the sense in which England was that home – it was “strongest in capturing the native strengths of English life.”
The “we” being addressed were always its predominantly English readers. To this extent, its absorption with British national character is one that over-rides and enfolds the delineation of Scotland and the Scots – they are not “other”, but differently British.
Consciousness of Nationhood
Hungarian refugee Stefan Lorant, having edited four German and one Hungarian picture magazine, became founding editor of the British Weekly Illustrated (1934) and Lilliput (1937) before introducing Picture Post in 1938. Prior to this, pictorial publications (Illustrated London News, Sphere, Tatler, Sketch, and Bystander) had catered only to the aristocracy.
Staff were mainly recruited from European anti-fascist political refugees and the editorial content of the publication, up to 1945 emphasised the political significance of its editorial connections, continuity and control.
In 1945 the ownership of the Picture post changed. The new owner supported the concept of a mixed economy welfare state and welcomed Attlee’s Labour victory. However, by 1950 editorial support had swung back firmly to the Tories. There then ensued a period of “vacillating market strategy, frequent changes of editor and mounting losses”, forcing the magazine’s eventual closure in 1957.
Whilst these factors assist the reader clarifying Picture Post’s editorial preoccupations, they reveal no clear ideological breaks in a portrayal of Scotland which consisted of the themes of Empire and Identity.
The depiction of Scottish history was evident only in articles such as those concerning institutional differences from England and coverage of occasional pageants. In the main, it was a narrative conveying the residual strengths of the British Empire, with an increase in royal visits suggesting “concessions to combat the perception of Scotland’s diminishing nationhood.”
Because of its adherence to the overarching sense of Britishness, no coherent idea of Scottish national identity in or for itself emerged. Instead, Scottish articles were conveniently subsumed under a handful of stock categories, each of which played a part in the representation of British culture, in the Geertzian sense as “the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.” The “we” here was an English one that looked at Scotland.
In the years before, much boils down to the presentation of stereotypes: picture stories about the kilt, ships being built and launched, and miners coming from the “filth of the pit” to “the row of mean, sordid houses”, of “grey fishing villages.” In sharp contrast there is the scenic beauty of the landscape. And there is Glasgow. So Scotland in the round is imagined rather dichotomously, either as a place of “grave beauty” and “wild, infertile districts such as the Highland [deer] forests”; or it is the home of scandalous urban poverty, appalling housing and rickets.
Symbolism of Crown Authority
The symbolism is clear from depictions of George VI opening the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow and the richly ceremonial images of Queen Elizabeth’s 1952 trip to Edinburgh.
A photo-essay of her rain-sodden voyage in the Hebrides was rather less formal, although the opening line of text served to remind readers of the ritual aspect: “To go to Scotland in August has been a habit with the Royal Family since Queen Victoria’s time.”
“Bed Socks for a Queen” sought to make the link between everyday working life in Scotland and the wardrobes of the grand: “Through five generations, this factory in Edinburgh has been making quality footwear for monarch, soldier, sportsman and glamour girl.”
Meanwhile, the effort to convey an impression of Anglo-Scots unity led to some extraordinary tweaking of the historical record. A wartime propaganda piece juxtaposed photographs of Fort George with images of Culloden Moor where the names on the stones are the same names which label wooden crosses in the sands of the Egyptian desert now.
The men of the Highland Division – the men who stormed the Axis lines at El Alamein – are the kith and kin of the clansmen who rose for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the ’45 … neither the men nor the lands they live in have changed … they’re fighting for the same age-old Highland cause.
The saddest part about the Battle of Culloden is the fatalities on either side– nearly 2,000 Jacobites were killed. Only 50 died on the British side.
Scottish military stories were few, although articles about clan gatherings, Highland games, and the aforementioned kilt, in conflating “Highlander” with “Scot”, provided a spurious sense of national singularity.
Unsurprisingly, discussions of a separate national identity were few during the war years. However, an intermittent dialogue around nationalism was ongoing. Some Scots blamed Westminster’s dismissal of independence claims for Scotland’s manufacturing industry falling into dereliction.
Yet, railed Compton Mackenzie embracing the Scots audience, “it is our own fault”; so long as “we” submit to London control, we can only blame ourselves for industrial decline, unemployment and rural depopulation.
His 1939 article stressed growing political support for the Nationalists, sporting a photograph of graffiti with the caption “few Englishmen have heard much of the discussion on Home Rule for Scotland – but a plea for it covers almost every bridge on the Edinburgh-Glasgow road.”
Mackenzie’s article unleashed a slew of correspondence. Some questioned the wisdom of publishing material suggesting British disunity in the face of impending world war, blithely adding that “Scotland sends its best to England and we are glad to have them”.
But political nationalism resurfaced very quickly in 1945. Responding to a line in the King’s speech at the opening of the first post-war Parliament that “the special problem of Scotland” would gain ministerial attention, the Nationalist John Kinloch described how the country’s greater resources, output and manpower were accompanied by greater unemployment, poverty and death rates, a predicament he attributed to “Scotland’s subordinate governmental position.”
When subsequently the devolution minded Scottish National Assembly drew up a Covenant supported by thirty-six percent of the Scottish electorate, Fyfe Robertson remarked that “the English press can almost be accused of a
conspiracy of silence” for ignoring important constitutional concerns.
His subsequent investigation asking “Are 2,000,000 Scots Silly?” reported “a new liveliness and confidence largely due to a new awareness of nationality.”
Despite Robertson’s claim of “massive” English indifference, the article sparked a rush of letters, an edited postbag being published under the heading “The Question That Has All Britain Talking.”
For all this, the next month, as “Queen Elizabeth of Scotland” rode in state up the Royal Mile, a decidedly unionist Picture Post praised the protective loyalty of the Royal Company of Archers, contending that “If the Scottish Republican Army were to start any trouble they would soon resemble a row of over-patriotic pin-cushions.”
Sport, Arts and Entertainment
Sports coverage as existed tended towards elitist pursuits – deer stalking and grouse shooting, yachting, rugby union, and – guaranteed to captivate visually – skiing.
Despite its mass popularity, and, indeed, its importance as a lighting-rod for the solidarity of skilled workers, football received scant coverage.
Until a 1955 initiative which saw the launch of “A Great Scottish Football Series” profiling all the major teams in successive issues, the only stories are a piece considering the precarious survival of amateurism, and two negative articles about fan behaviour. “The Football Ticket Stampede” (1952) attempted to explain an incident when 12,000 Glaswegians waiting for tickets for the England v. Scotland game ran amok.
An English sports journalist noted that the Rangers v. Celtic match was traditionally considered “an opportunity to get rid of your empty bottles and vent your religious bigotry.” His article drew indignant responses from many Scots, some accusing the author of being anti-Celtic, others anti-Rangers, others simply arguing that in highlighting the Old Firm’s routine rivalry he was promoting a caricature. “He airs, in true English fashion, the old lie that civil war is our national pastime.” Outside Glasgow, argued another, “people go to see a football match, not two teams representing different religions.”
Moral and Social Issues
For a country supposedly steeped in Presbyterian culture, discussion of religion was rather thin: a photo-essay on the parish kirk of Burntisland, showing “the whole history of the Reformation made permanent in stone”; a quirky tale about the Arbroath padre using ship-to-shore radio telephones to entertain fishermen; and a story about the activities of industrial chaplains questioning the contention that “the Church has lost touch with the workers.”
Nevertheless, complemented by articles on the Iona community’s mission “to bring Christianity to the workers of Glasgow”, this struck a tone very much in sympathy with the magazine’s visual ethos, where locals were pictured engaging in social activity.
Commentary on social issues ranged from health and education to youth crime and immigration. In a debate conducted via the letters page concerning the scourge of “young thugs”, a reader commented give one family a house with modern conveniences; another a room in which there are no sanitary arrangements, in which plaster is falling off the walls and people are forced to sleep four or five in one bed.
Which will be the readier to conform to social laws? Which will produce the delinquent children? This is glaringly obvious in Glasgow, where housing conditions are the worst in Scotland and criminal figures are the highest.
The problems of the “swarming tenement” were being dealt with, but “not always imaginatively” through re-housing schemes lacking in social amenities, as the image of the violence-prone slum continued to cling to the city. Some Glaswegians protested that this was distortion, others that “slums are not an excuse for filth”, while “I’ve had it drummed into me that England is the most democratic country in the world. I find it hard to believe after seeing those slums…. Thank you for opening my eyes.”
Post-war responses to social medicine were nevertheless redolent of an innovative approach so that although, for example, a doctor attributed Scotland’s singular failure to show improvement in tuberculosis mortality to “scandalous overcrowding in insanitary, badly-ventilated and sunless houses” and lack of hospital accommodation, Picture Post could show people being encouraged to attend mobile X-ray units using incentives such as raffle tickets and images of futuristic infirmaries.
Elsewhere there were attempts to dispel detrimental cultural stereotypes, with, for instance, the reputedly “inferior” Scottish diet called into question. The education system was revered as being rather better than
England’s. “Little Scotland, with a population equal to Finland, still sends forth from her highlands and islands a steady stream of talent to rule the Empire. This is because she has possessed universal education since the end of the 17th century … and courses of University standard in village schools.”
Similarly, despite Glasgow’s razor gangs, a decline in violent crime, compared to a rise in England, was attributed to differing domestic practices and values: “early discipline in home and school is stricter, the home is a tighter and better-functioning unit, and what is left of regular church-going and Presbyterian morality is still potent.”
In stark contrast to the claustrophobic poverty of the slums the wartime sense of rural Scotland as distant panacea is evident from an advertisement placed by railway companies reading: “What do you seek for your 1940 holiday? A mountain retreat? A lochside resort? A seashore playground? Go to Scotland, where solace comes to weary minds and balm to fretted nerves.”
While similar evocations studied the text of advertisements regularly taken out by bus and ferry companies and holiday resorts, there were also features on yachting on the Clyde, the diverse delights of Arran, the new pastime of pony-trekking, and school adventure holidays. Such escapism was highlighted by photographs of spectacular mountain scenery, majestic sea cliffs and snowbound landscapes.
“Scotland is a lovely place for wildness and beauty, but not in its towns … such a waste to have all those open and often wasted spaces and such huddled towns”, wrote one correspondent.
By 1945 readers were suggesting that the “private wilderness” be handed over to ex-servicemen to farm – “Why does the Government talk about emigration to the Dominions, when Scotland is almost vacant” – and, indeed, land settlement schemes were being developed. The question was posed: “Why can’t the Highlands … be opened up for the Gorbals dwellers?”
“I went on a tour in the Highlands and the conditions are awful”, added another correspondent, “deserted shielings and poverty-stricken crofts, next to mansions whose owners only come in the grouse season and take no interest in their poor tenants”, while a third cited “appalling” unemployment figures and referred to “one long tale of misery” since 1745 with “huge areas denuded of people” to make way for sporting estates.
Crofters’ houses, Stornoway, Lewis, Western Isles, Scotland, 1924-1926
Reconstruction and Modernity
During the inter-war years the Labour Party “pushed the notion of a democratic and radical Scotland which had been under the heel of a corrupt aristocracy … The Scots were a democratic and egalitarian people.”
But the Party did not betray any lasting nationalist commitment and in the immediate post-war years Scottish developments were very much regarded as part-and-parcel of Britain’s wider economic renewal.
Picture Post published a “Plan for Britain” in January 1941. The modernizing vision of “rationally ordered sites and spaces” was embraced by Tom Johnston, appointed by Churchill in February 1941 as Secretary of State for Scotland.
A Labour stalwart, Johnston was “a giant figure …promised the powers of a benign dictator” went on to set up some thirty-two committees and developed planning perspectives in concert with the various socio-economic issues.
Johnston’s single most successful venture, the Hydro Board, was designed to alleviate a British fuel crisis while promoting industrial recovery, re-population and electrification in the Highlands.
Tom Johnston. Father of Hydro power in Scotland
Power generation carried much symbolic weight in the push for reconstruction. However, initial proposals were strongly opposed. A graphic feature on the Glen Affric scheme set the alliance of “beauty lovers” fearing the loss of sanctuary, holiday resort and sporting preserve against the plight of local people.
While the text conveyed a good deal of technical detail, economic and political, regarding the progress of hydro-electrification, its human dialogue came from conversations with the local crofters. Subsequently, a reader wrote in to re-iterate the stark contrast between the lovely landscape and the “abject poverty” and “backwardness” of its inhabitants.
“New hope for the Highlands” ran another article, as “Highland glens light Highland homes.” With dams “surprisingly hidden in the hills”, aqueducts and pylons were “a small price to pay for new prosperity” and relative national efficiency, the more so as a UK fuel crisis loomed.
Re-forestation and ranching added optimism, yet with “roads inadequate beyond belief”, “archaic farming methods” and “progressive deterioration of morale and opportunity” the Highland economy remained precarious, albeit that the sight of Highland cattle presented “A Highland Idyll.”
In January 1955, Picture Post released a special supplement. “Festival Scotland” was both informative and promotional, a shop window of the nation’s attractions and advertisement of its successes.
It provided a potted inventory, incorporating articles on religion, the arts, nationalism, food, fishing, Highland games and Gaelic, but also shipbuilding, shopping, manufacturing, the Scottish joke, history and national identity.
In a foreword, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh noted that he regarded the Edinburgh Festival as “the focus of the post-war revival of Scotland.”
For the tourist, there was advice on “where to go and what to see” from the Secretary of the Scottish Tourist Board as well as guidance on “How to see Scotland”, each itinerary “a gateway to romance” in places “where the dolce far niente of the Mediterranean is matched by the quiet Celtic ways and gentle manners.”
Similarly, Nigel Tranter stressed the urgency of building a Forth river crossing, whether a bridge or a tunnel: “right in the heart of industrial Scotland, precious hours are wasted while cars, lorries and ambulances wait for overworked ferry boats.” Doubtless these writers added weight to debate – much nationalistic, much eccentric yet there is something of the feel of a patrician coterie pontificating from their shared literary quarter in New Town Edinburgh.
Nevertheless, a certain gritty realism remains apparent, for instance in a fine portrait of Dalmellington. Here much is redolent of the emerging community studies tradition in British sociology, with its analysis of social segmentation, gendered mores, statistics of religious observation, and anthropological, almost colonial distancing – “Even the “natives” can be sub-divided, for the men who have come down from the now abandoned hillside hamlets … still cling together. You can see at the local dances how much Dalmellington is a man’s world … the young men stood in large clusters talking to each other. There are 1,709 adult communicant members of the Church of Scotland.”
The daily dominance of the mining industry is evoked in the accompanying pictures and their captions, which highlight the day-shift waiting for the bus at 6 a.m., then leaving the pit at 2.30 in the afternoon; meanwhile, the text beside an image of the Saturday dance notes: “it was a grand evening – even for the back-shift who couldn’t get there till after eleven.” There is also a debunking of stereotypes – “curiously enough, Dalmellington does not look like a typical mining village… you do not find there the long, repetitive rows of houses … Instead you see a large country village built around a square … at the edges you find twentieth-century suburban-style houses.” Finally, we read: “There is the insularity of the villages, and, on the other hand, there are the young people’s July excursions to Blackpool.”
This is mid-1950s Scotland in the throes of modernization and a tension between cultural continuity and economic change. Subsequent readers’ letters endorse the “strong community spirit of Dalmellington’s citizens”, extending this sensibility to the city:
Although I have lived in Glasgow all my life I do not think of myself as a Glasgow man. When I was a child the word “home” as it was used by my parents meant not the city tenement, where we lived, but a croft on the Isle of Mull. There may be thousands of Glasgow citizens like me, and perhaps it is because to so many of us our real background is in the Highlands, or the country places, that Glasgow, despite its size, is … like an overgrown village.
Complaints over London dominance of the BBC were being addressed as the network sought to embrace regional broadcasting, they saw no cause for alarm, continuing to represent Scotland as resolutely provincial. (This was, after all, one area of the country where people were still getting their news stories from the press.)
In this imaginary of the nation “Edinburgh is a village where everybody meets everybody else” Characters abound in the Old Town, for it retains many of the qualities of a self-contained community. Neighbours are known to each other.” Glasgow’s “warm-hearted loyalty” draws much praise, while the nation becomes a cultural space in which each major city is given a defining character.
A story about Inverness strikes at the contradictions of capitalism: “Inverness is the great paradox of the Highlands today, the shining example of prosperity and growing population amid economic malaise and depopulation.”
These contradictions are played out in a number of articles concerning the Hebrides. “The Last of the Gaelic” bemoans the “hopeless stand” of a once-widespread language, the “wild, departed spirit” of a dying way of life on Eriskay. Once “peopled by enterprising fishermen”, but now “an island of the old and infirm, with a few horses laden with “creels” to act as transport”, Eriskay’s way of life is being rapidly dispersed by “the dramatic invasion of an air service from the mainland.”
Seaweed-processing came and went on South Uist, where, however, more obviously political concerns had emerged over the proposed siting of a guided missile range. A local wrote to warn that “the entire peace of the island, as well as its crofting and craftsman traditions are likely to be shattered … by the arrival of troops.”
He was not alone: “The Fighting Priest of Eochar” presents “the story of a courageous Hebridean and his fight to save the future of his parish”, the very place that had been so sympathetically photographed the previous year. Again, in the images, there are the expressive rugged faces, mirroring the wind-torn landscape; again, the odd juxtaposition of a precious living on the cusp of change: “On her croft, by the rocket site, a woman finds barbed wire – and wonders.”
Meanwhile, some Hardy images of figures silhouetted against a broad sky suggest a vanishing spiritual purity in a mechanistic industrial age: “the eternal bounty and struggle of life in its simplest, and at the same time, most profound form. I came away from the Crofters’ Isle cleansed and refreshed.”
This dialectic of tradition and modernity, development and dependency, finds broader resonance across the Highland region. “No Future for the Highlands?” asks: “What shall we do to arrest the process of decay … which threatens disaster in the North?” The inner malady of depopulation and ruined cottages. “Some townships will perish within a generation”;
A futuristic shot of Herculean engineering, carries the caption: “Due for completion in 1957, the Loch Shin hydro-electricity scheme employs 900 men, nearly 4/10 of them from the Highlands. But the permanent staff may total only 30.”
Against such brooding concern, “The Road to the Isles” is sanguine. A picture of a woman at a water pump might not suggest progress or engagement in the process post-war industrialization. But the caption suggests otherwise: “Where guidewives gossip in Gaelic, in the old village of Glencoe. Crofting has ceased, and most of then men are employed in the aluminium works at Kinlochleven.”
Vignettes of the triumph of the machine age find their crudest visualization in a photograph of fish being blown sky-high. The caption reads: “Depth charge in the loch. Seventy tons of gelignite are detonated to destroy pike and perch before this water is stocked with young salmon from the hatcheries.”
At the sophisticated end of the spectrum lay the construction of Britain’s first large-scale nuclear fast reactor at Dounreay, a site chosen “because any possible radiation effects can be more easily checked in a sparse population.
Dounreay: Radioactive waste was disposed down the Shaft from 1959 to 1977, when an explosion ended the practice
” As with the guided missiles on South Uist, the motives for scientific advancement concerned strategies other than the strictly socio-economic. They indicated the continuing role of Westminster government in the political management of change. External control of the Scottish economy was welcomed as inward investment.
Where Clydeside shipbuilding, like other heavy industries, had figured in the wartime propaganda effort and “men who build the ships that sail the seven seas” were still honoured reflecting the mood of post-war optimism in its embrace of manufacturing as the route to economic buoyancy.
Promotion of the “American Invasion” was accompanied by photos of the Queen visiting an adding machine factory, a “bonnie Scots lassie” checking clock mechanisms, more “Scots girls at work on assembling components of electronic devices”, rubber footwear, mechanics at an IBM plant. Here were the newly “thriving towns” of the Central Belt, its oil refineries, rolling mills, and, indeed, fresh orders for the shipyards.
Dounreay: shaft cleared of waste after huge explosion
“Let Glasgow Flourish” brought characterful resilience to the fore: “Thrice within a couple of centuries, Glasgow has reeled from the impact of economic forces beyond its control. Each time it has recovered. Now it faces the hazards and opportunities of a new industrial age…. Here is vitality, energy in abundance. Here is the Vulcan’s forge of the North.”
Cue pictures of busy quaysides, locomotive and tobacco production, golf club manufacturing, and “a pavement of biscuits” on the conveyor belt at the Glengarry Bakery, churning out “a quarter of the total chocolate biscuit
output of Britain.”
In the “breath-taking panorama of Glasgow”, was an optimism underpinned by commitment to adaptation and diversity. And not just in the big conurbations. A social commentator said “Kilmarnock has been called “a planner’s delight, ready-made for prosperity.” Where else can one find such a remarkable variety of industry? With full employment, progressive businessmen, and a rigorous spirit of craftsmanship, its future seems secure.
“But is the town really slump-proof?” With images of tractor assembly lines, shoe patterns, distilleries, men at Glenfield and Kennedy, hydraulic engineers, “leading organisation of their kind in the British Commonwealth”, and sub-heads such as “Cushioned against depression”, the answer was a resounding Yes!
Mass production without tedium, in the highly modernised assembly department of British Olivetti, Ltd., at Queenslie Industrial Estate, a young lass from Airdrie, dexterously plays her part in the building of a portable typewriter. Many of these machines go to Australia and New Zealand; also to Africa.
“The Hospital of the Future” provided “an exclusive peep into the first complete new hospital to be built in Britain since the war” at Alexandria. Futuristic architectural images accompanied the “new design for living – for patients and hospital staff.”
The fight against urban health problems was still being conveyed by photo-journalists with characteristic vigour. In March 1957, a double-page feature showed long queues awaiting X-raying under the banner “Glasgow Blasts TB.”
TB Epidemic in Scotland. X-Ray Coaches deployed from all over the UK to Assist
Caused by overcrowded houses and poor diet.
While nationalization, new towns, engineering projects, tourism and Edinburgh Festival culture were promoted as the New Scotland, so the meaning of nationhood came under fresh scrutiny as unionist-nationalism declined.
Contradictions surfaced over the presentation of national identity, and, relatedly, land use and access, that are still important today. “An American in Scotland” opined “they have mountains like the Alps and roads like Burma”.
while the historical Scotland author, Nigel Tranter provocatively argued that a new road should be built through the Cairngorms. It was only, he said, “the remoteness of legislators, hunting, shooting and fishing interests, those benefiting from other roads and the sanctity-of-the-wild enthusiasts” that were preventing the construction of “a glorious, a darling road.
Likewise, when a reader responding to an article on the “strange collapse” of Scotland’s former aviation industry pleaded “Let us concentrate on our tourist industry and have more beaches, better roads and better hotels rather than more factories, with their dirt and smoke”, he was effectively arguing for the preservation of an invented tradition – romantic tourism – within a framework of modern industrial development. In grasping the horns of a dilemma first captured visually through the hydro-electric debate, both writers were perhaps more prescient than they imagined.
Typical Tourist photo
1955 was a pivotal point, for it was in this year that two significant events occurred: a General Election on 26 May in which the Unionist party reached its zenith of 51% of the Scottish vote, never to be achieved again as the end of Empire, decline of sectarianism and, latterly, Tory anglicisation conspired to create an agenda for national identification dominated by debates between Labour and the Nationalists
Michael Bates: The Architect of PFI (Rewarded with a life peerage by John Major).As Lord Bates now responsible for administering overseas aid through the Department for International Development (DFID)
Geoffrey Robinson, Labour Party Paymaster General (expanded PFI with a vengeance)
Private Finance Initiative (PFI) –
By 1997 the Tories had exhausted most of the possibilities for the direct sale of state-owned assets. Public transport, utilities, energy and communications infrastructure had all passed into private hands, raising £123bn. What remained were mainly services – health, education and local government – impossible to privatise without guaranteed profits.
Facilitating the changes required the state to continue to levy charges from every individual taxpayer for the service concerned in the form of taxation, passing the collected revenue to the private sector as profit. Gordon Brown talked of ‘risk transfer’ to the private sector, but, in reality the state retained the real risk so far as the private sector was concerned. That of getting the money out of the taxpayer.Multinationals did not have to worry about whether or not they would collect payments from the ‘taxpayer’ the state would continue to take care of that.
This was not a problem for the new owners of gas, electricity and telecommunications industries: they would simply cut off consumers if they failed to pay their bills. In education or health this was not acceptable but private capital still needed to make a profit from running these services, and that required cuts, whether in services, or in the pay of the workers providing them, or both. Universal provision would be further eroded since it was services to the working class that bore the brunt of any cuts.
Unelected Now Lord Dunlop Arch Right Wing Tory Minder at Scottish Office for Mundell
PFI – Rejected by labour in opposition but embraced just as soon as they took office in 1997
When Labour first came to office in May 1997, PFI under the Tories had stalled. On taking up office New Labour appointed Geoffrey Robinson to the post of Paymaster General. Working with Gordon Brown’s Treasury team he proclaimed his and the labour Party’s support for PFI. He then contracted Michael Bates, (later knighted for his services to privatisation) then head of global finance services organisation AMP, to complete a review of PFI.
The subsequent report presented a glowing future for the country under the PFI banner. Tony Blair & Gordon Brown soon kick-started a programme of change through the establishment of a dedicated Treasury taskforce to handle the process across government.
From £7bn in April 1997, the value of PFI contracts rose to over £25bn by October 2000 with a further £11.5bn in the pipeline. The first £14bn of PFI would yield the private sector a guaranteed £96bn income over a 26-year period. estimates were that PFI contracts could be worth £30bn per annum to the private sector, £5bn in education alone, including one in five schools.
To promote it, new quangos were formed. The New Local Government Network (NLGN) and its equivalent for the NHS, the New Health Network (NHN). Connecting them was the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and part-privatised Treasury taskforce, Partnerships UK.
Previously, public-private partnership used to be called corruption. Now it became the norm – private companies no longer needed to bribe public officials to influence policy; they worked openly with the enthusiastic support of said officials in deciding what service was next for sell off.
A typical example was the plan to close down Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and associated financially lucrative premises in the middle of Edinburgh, and replace them with a new hospital built by a private enterprise consortium on the outskirts the city. The area got a new hospital, the consortium got the business, but the people of Edinburgh got a hospital with 300 fewer beds than originally planned and substantial cuts in staff.
John Major and his secret lover Edwina Currie. John sent the first PFI team to Scotland to kick-start the PFI process in Scotland (shades of the Poll Tax. Try it on the Jocks first)
1996: John Major Sent Civil Servant John G Henderson (Civil Servant) to Scotland to Develop PFI – These are his memories of the Early Days of PFI:
“When I arrived as head of the Private Finance Unit PFU it was just after the 1997 General Election. I had some experience of PFI in my previous job funding further education colleges, but I had much to learn. Fortunately, most other people had as well. It was a time of rapid change. There were doubts about the ability of local government and health bodies to undertake PFI, and the policy had yet to deliver its potential.
The first Bates Review was quickly upon me, and I had to quickly assess its implications for Scotland. The key recommendation was the establishment of a Treasury Taskforce under Adrian Montague. I was very lucky over that first summer in having a mini-taskforce in Edinburgh in the Shape of Charles McLeod, who was at the time working with the Panel Executive. Charles was both a source of information and an inspiration with his can-do attitude. That, of course, led to his later success heading the 3ED team in the Glasgow schools project.
Once Adrian was in post I recall meeting him in London when he came to brief the late Donald Dewar with Geoffrey Robinson, at the time Paymaster General. This was the beginning of a very constructive relationship with the Taskforce. Particular mention needs to be made to the assistance that David Goldstone and Lindsay Watson gave to pathfinder projects such as the Glasgow and Falkirk schools.
On the delivery front a key requirement was to get PFI established in local government. It was natural that the focus should be on schools, with the new Government’s emphasis on ‘Education, education, education.
To achieve success in schools projects we had to roll-out a system of revenue support, called level-playing field support. This helped make projects affordable and incentivised authorities to develop schemes. That combined with the skills in project teams, consultants and bankers led to breakthroughs such as the £65m Falkirk schools project, the first large bundled deal in the UK. John G Henderson:http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/1069/0005211.pdf
Captain Charles McLeod MBE – John Major’s man in the Scottish Office – The man behind the first PFI (ED) scheme in the UK (Falkirk)
Labour Lib-Dem Coalition Government in Scotland – Scottish Executive Private Finance Unit – The Key Role of Captain Charles McLeod MBE
McLeod’s employment record is chequered. Born in London, he spent his first seven years in Rhodesia, before moving back to England and Kent, where he spent much of his childhood. A spell in the army preceded his attendance at King’s College, London, where he gained a BA (Hons) in German, after which he went to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He served as a platoon commander with the British Army for 10 years, and saw service in Northern Ireland.
He eventually became captain in the Queen’s Regiment and was later awarded an MBE for his services in Northern Ireland. He left the army after 10 years and joined the Foreign Office (diplomatic service) taking up a post as monitor (spook) for the European Community Monitor Mission in the former Yugoslavia, and went on to work as a political adviser to the International Conference in the region.
September 1995 – September 1997: On return to the UK from Europe he joined the Tory government’s “Private Finance Panel Executive”, working out of the Treasury Office.
The Treasury’s first quango, developing with others the concept of using private finance to fund public utilities.
Still with the team and a civil servant he was soon seconded to the Scottish Office where he helped the Inland Revenue and West Lothian College with restructuring projects. He then worked out of the Scottish Office restructuring local government funding.
He also worked with Falkirk Council procuring their first schools project for five new schools, the first grouped schools PFI project in the UK.
Still with the Scottish Office he went on to prepare and introduce local government restructuring policies for the distribution of local government finance.
The Ugly truth of the labour Party and PFI – Typically the unitary charge is three to five times the capital cost, and on more egregious PFI projects as high as seven.
May 1996: PFI conference in Edinburgh: The conference discussed what the establishment of a devolved Scottish Parliament meant for joint projects. Would a Scottish Parliament look to private finance to play a role in its plans for Scotland’s infrastructure?
Speakers from local government, the construction industry, finance and business brought their views on current arrangements and possibilities for the future. Charles Mcleod, MBE Alistair Darling MP led discussions outlining the Labour Party’s proposals.
1997: In Scotland the Directors of Education Services and Financial Services submitted a joint report to the “Scottish Executive Private Finance Unit” on a feasibility study for a PFI project in education.
February 1998: Glasgow City Council decided to reduce its secondary school estate from 38 to 29 secondary schools and reinvest the savings. An outline business case was prepared to assess the affordability and value for money of a PFI for the modernisation of its secondary school estate. Subsequent developments relating to the modernisation of Glasgow secondary schools buildings and the introduction of an ICT programme were based on this Council strategy.
August 1998: In November 1999 the 3ED Consortium was selected as the preferred bidder to provide accommodation services for 30 years and ICT services for 12 years. The agreement was titled Project 2002,
September 1997 – January 2001 (3 years 5 months): Captain Mcleod resigned from the Scottish Office quango and transferred his employment the newly created 3ED Glasgow private Consortium. He assembled then guided his team setting up the award winning Glasgow Schools PPP.
The £225million construction programme of change included, establishing a 30-year maintenance and a 12-year programme of Information Technology Services for 29 secondary schools and one primary school. He further delivered 10 additional new secondary schools within the client’s affordability. Won Project of the Year Award at the 2001 PPP Awards and Education Project of the Year at the 2002 PPP Awards.
October 1997 – August 1998 (11 months): Captain Mcleod Departed 3ED and joined Miller Construction as Business Development Manager.
June 1998: Captain Mcleod directed the development of Group strategy, establishing a new division to secure major PPI regeneration and partnership projects.Teams were quickly formed and trained and bids submitted for a number of PFI projects.
Brian Wilson (Labour) Minister for Construction – Given a Key role implementing New Labour’s PFI policy
April 1999: The row over Scottish Labour’s support for the Private Finance Initiative deepened after the party treasurer called on it to ditch the policy.
June 1999: The Scottish Administration promised reform of the controversial private financing of public sector projects in Scotland. Finance Minister Jack McConnell told MSPs new measures would be introduced to protect public sector workers’ pension rights and prevent revenue from surplus land being lost by the government.
He also said the government will now make it possible to buy back buildings when PFI contracts expire and return them to public control. In a debate initiated by the Scottish National Party, ministers were accused of allowing privatisation of school, hospital and transport projects “by the backdoor”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/377145.stm
January 2001 – March 2003 (2 years 3 months): Amey inc: restructured creating a Scottish corporate presence (Amey Scotland PLC) allowing it to “focus more closely on Scottish business opportunities, reduce operating costs”.
Amey: A FTSE 250 construction company metamorphosed into a support services business.Scottish turnover was c.£100m, generated by 1,400 employees.
Amey was the lead partner in the 3ED consortium formed specifically to provide £1.2b for the Project 2002 schools’ modernisation programme in Glasgow, the largest PFI scheme in British education.
The project included a £225m capital construction programme, establishment of 30-year FM and 12-year ICT services for 29 secondary schools and one primary school and delivered 10 additional new secondary schools.
Amey won a £360m schools contract from the City of Edinburgh Council. Under the 30-year contract, 10 new primary schools, two special schools, two high schools, a secure unit and a community centre would be built, and three high schools and one special school would be refurbished.
Amey was also involved in running a large number of public sector services, including Railtrack (it was a contractor at the time of the Hatfield crash).
Amey also planned to expand into the health sector, specialising in the provision of back-office and administrative systems for hospitals rather than front-line medical care.
Amey won the right to provide road maintenance projects including a 176m contract to maintain eight motorways and 16 trunk roads from Perth to the Borders.
In addition, Amey won an 8m a year contract for 10 years to maintain all roads in North Lanarkshire.
Labour Party Minister of Construction PFI Brian Wilson (Now semi-retired from politics and a Multi-millionaire) Nice one Brian
August 2001: an article in the Guardian reported that teachers at a Glasgow PFI school were threatening strike action due to the poor standard of rebuilding and refurbishment work.
Staff complained that on returning to the school for the new term building materials and equipment still lay in the corridors. Five schools involved in the scheme failed to open on time and teachers reported that classrooms were much smaller than promised and that there were fewer of them.
Poor school design led to soaring temperatures in classrooms.Children fainted in the heat. The highest recorded temperature was 38 degrees in Home Economics dept’s. Identified later that designs did not take into consideration that departments had ovens. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/1500052.stm
March 2002: Amey announced radical changes in its accounting policies. Under the changes, Amey would write off all bidding costs and similar costs incurred in winning work as and when they were incurred.
In addition Amey committed to spreading income it would have received on the closure of a project over its early years, so deferring this income. Previously, it had deferred or capitalised costs only when it was named preferred bidder.
The changes led to a 17% decline in Amey’s share value and turned the company’s £55m profit for 2001 into a pre-tax loss of £18.3m.
It also highlighted concerns that Government’s PPPs could be jeopardised by the City’s concerns over new accounting standards.
November 2002: Amey reversed an earlier decision, announced to the City, to pay a 1.16p interim dividend costing £2.9m because it had “insufficient distributable reserves”.
Shares in Amey slid a further 15% to 26p; meaning 90% of the company’s market value had been lost.
Amey tried to offload its equity stakes in all of its PFI contracts – with the exception of its one third share in the Tube Lines consortium.
Poor building standards blamed for the collapse of PFI built building wall at Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh
December 2002:Amey announced plans to slash £85m from the book value of its assets and warned shareholders that pre-tax results would take a further hit because of contract delays on the London Underground public-private partnership.
Amey hoped to offload its PFI contracts to John Laing before the year end raising around £50m – some £30m less than book value.
January 2003: Amey sold its stakes in eight PFI projects to rival John Laing, including 30-year building and maintenance contracts for Glasgow and Edinburgh schools, but retained sub-contracts to provide cleaning and IT services.
January 2003: Leading PFI firms including Amey, saw their share price fall. An investor who brought £100 worth of shares in each of 9 leading PFI education firms would be left with just £371 worth of shares – a loss of £529.
March 2003: Amey posted a pre tax loss of £129.5m for 2002 compared with £18.3m in 2001.
Amey sacked its Chief Executive and two finance directors.
The company stated it had incurred exceptional charges of £110.2m in 2002, mainly through writing down PFI investments such as the Croydon Tram-link.
Figures illustrated the fluctuations in the stock market which characterised and influenced private companies’ performance and viability. This made clients of the consortium 3ED, which included schools in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk and other Council operations, very vulnerable.
Private companies have no statutory responsibility nor public duty to provide education services nor are they democratically accountable to their communities.
They are bound by contracts which can be varied or broken. Profit to the private sector from outsourcing to contractors arises from money previously ear-marked for the benefit of schools and their pupils.
This is achieved by reducing the service through efficiency gains or reductions in provision. But the addition of a profit margin and the providers’ management and staffing costs to the contract mean that the real cost of providing services increases:
April 2003: Amey goes bust Sold for £81m to Ferrovial, a Spanish construction and business services giant, which assumed debts of £190m.
Ferrovial Servicios, whose British interests had been limited to a half-share in Bristol Airport, said it intended to use Amey as a stepping stone into the world of PPP in the UK and further afield.
April 2003: The board of troubled Amey PLC – once one of the biggest PFI firms – agreed to an £80m takeover offer by Spanish construction group Ferrovial. Amey was until recently a construction and services powerhouse worth £1bn.
But it squandered its advantages – contracts to take over parts of London Underground and various Ministry of Defence and Network Rail deals – through mismanagement and too-fast growth.
A black hole was found in the accounts, leading to the exit of two finance directors and, finally, the removal its of chief executive.
May 2003: The Glasgow Herald, reported that that the Financial Services Authority would investigate possible insider dealing following unusual share price movements before the takeover of Amey by Ferrovial Servicios. Shares in Amey had changed hands in unusually high volumes prior to the takeover by the Madrid.
Meanwhile, the torrent of academic papers critical of the PFI continued.
Inveterate critic Allyson Pollock, head of health policy at University College London, shredded the performance of a PFI scheme for the new Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.
In the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary a 24% reduction in numbers of acute beds was supposed to have been offset by efficiency improvements and greater use of care outside the hospital. But these aims had not been met, claimed Pollock and co-author Matthew Dunningan, writing in the British Medical Journal. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/482840.stm
In the Glasgow City Council schools project charges for accommodation in year one grew from £24m in the feasibility study to £36.7m in the Full Business Case (FBC).
Seven swimming pools were lost along with classrooms and staff common-rooms. The original requirement for refurbishment of 26 schools and the construction of two new schools changed to the construction of 12 new schools as this would be more profitable for the construction company.
Allyson Pollock – Head of health policy at University College London
The National Audit Office – the spending watchdog, called for more transparency in PFI bond issues, while the Conservative Party accused Gordon Brown of being the “Enron chancellor” because he used PFI to push spending off his balance sheet.
A recent study by consultancy “Capital Economic” suggested that £22bn had been moved in this way. The labour government insisted any criticism was simply petty politicking.
Brian Wilson, Minister for Construction (in executive control of PFI policy in Scotland) claimed it was ludicrous to highlight as typical a few PFI deals that have gone wrong.
Did the labour Party set up it’s own PFI then sell Scottish utilities back to the party
A company that made many millions from the Scottish taxpayer was Amey’ It soared into the new PFI market, strongly backed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (Putr), the biggest accountancy firm in the county.
It was PwC, for instance, which persuaded Glasgow and East Renfrewshire councils in Scotland to hand over the running of their schools to a consortium led by Amey. The public private partnership (PPP) for the Glasgow schools led to widespread protests in the city, especially over the closure of swimming pools.
To make matters worse for the company, the Scottish government auditors were unhappy when they studied the “public sector comparator” in which private consortia bidding for PFI contracts are expected to show that their project is cheaper than additional procurement would have been. The auditors concluded:
“The result of the public sector comparator test does not indicate compelling evidence that the PFI deal offers the most economic option compared to conventional procurement.”
Few paid any attention to that warning. Amey and PwC were a convincing double act and went on winning PFI contracts to run schools all over the country, most notably in the London borough of Waltham Forest.
Into the bargain, and just to prove the firm’s close association with the government, Amey was awarded a £35million – 35-year contract to run an “accounts service” for the department of trade and industry.
A Closer Look at Amey PLC Scotland
Meantime there were warning signs that all was not well with Amey. At the beginning of 2002′ Amey was knocking at the door of the Footsie top 100 companies in Britain. But by late summer the share price had slumped.
The firm was obliged to admit that its stated profits of £55m were in fact losses of £l8m. How had such a glaring mistake been made?
Amey put most of the blame on something called Urgent Issues Task Force Note 51, a note issued by the accounting standards board.
This specifically prevented an accounting trick which companies like Amey had used to massage their figures into something very different to the reality. One way they did this was to pretend that the vast costs of bidding for a PFI contract were “investment” and therefore need not be set against profit figures’. This was nonsense and should not happen again the auditors note insisted.
So Amey said publicly that because of the accounting standards note, with which it obviously disagreed, it had to admit that a hefty profit was really a hefty loss.Even this turned out to be deception.
ln August 2002 David Miller, Amey’sfinance director, resigned. He was replaced by Michael Kayser. Kayser soon discovered that the Amey accounts were worse even than had appeared in the summer crisis, and that the firm’s prodigious losses were caused by much more than just a note from the accounting standards office. As soon as he absorbed the state of the accounts, Kayser resigned too.
The remaining directors brought in a partner from Deloitte and Touche who insisted that £122m – an enormous sum for a company the size of Amey – should be written off.
The 2002 Amey accounts indicated that the huge write-off was necessary for reasons far wider than the accounting standards note. The accounts referred to “write-downs of construction work in progress balances and forward loss provision for which previous optimism as to the recovery. .. has not been born out in Practice”.
Amey charged Council £2000 to plant a tree
Amey had set up “a subsidiary appropriately called “Treasure Park,” half-owned by another company run by a businessman not entirely unknown to Brian Staples, Amey’s chief executive. Because this management was known as a JANE (‘joint arrangement not an entity’)
Amey hoped to avoid Losses on its Croydon Tramlink PFI catastrophe and at the same time book some profits to close the £55m hole.” This it plainly failed to do.
Chief executive Staples took a pay off of a quarter of a million quid and went to join the board of a company called “IMI” and sat on the audit committee there.
Amey, however, had lost an enormous sum of money, not just by fiddling the PFI books but also as a result of the deranged optimism that plagued a lot of construction companies at the time.
Part of the reason for this was the absurd faith placed in the company by the PFl – crazed New labour government.
For instance, just as its 2002 financial difficulties were being unveiled, the Amey board was joined by a New Labour leader of utmost prominence.
Baroness Jay had been New Labour’s leader in the Lords and a member of the cabinet. She joined Amey when the company most needed her prestige. Among her fellow directors was former Tory secretary of state for education, John Patten.
Patten’s abilities had been questioned by John Major, former Tory prime minister, who suggested his problems in the education department had brought about something close to a nervous breakdown. Patten’s job at Amey was to keep a reliable eye on PFI contracts in schools.
The three Amigo’s Falconer, Mandelson and Jay (chairman of Amey)
In 2003, Amey posted a loss of £130m and was duly gobbled up by a Spanish building company called Ferrovial.
Sceptics in the City were surprised that the Spaniards would want to buy a clapped-out loss’ maker like Amey.
But the Spaniards’ enthusiasm was easy to understand. Amey was still part of a consortium bidding for a PFI contract to run the London tube. The cream from the tube would easily drown the losses of the past.
Thus was Amey’s survival due in no small part to the chancellor, Gordon Brown, described in the Eye as “the only person left in the country who still believes the London Underground should be flogged off to companies such as Jarvis and Amey“.
There was, however, one other Person who, despite all the evidence to the contrary, continued to believe in the magic of Amey.
In August 2003, at the depth of Amey’s misfortune, Nigel Crisp, head of the NHS, put Ken Anderson in charge of Tony Blair’s ‘fast track’ hospitals”.
Texas born Anderson, former development director of Amey, (now the new commercial director of the NHS) whose job included tempting private entrepreneurs with records as impressive as Amey’s to run newly privatised diagnostic and treatment centres. So Amey owned Scotland’s public utilities and New Labour runs Amey!!!!!
Gordon Brown – The Enron Chancellor – sold Scotland’s public utilities to the private sector then ordered the Councils to rent it back!!! Many people are making many £millions from the sweat of the Scottish taxpayer. The buck stops at the doors of the Labour Party and the Conservative Party who were complicit in the transfer of £Billions from Public ownership to the private sector. An added insult to the injury is that the bulk of the money is now in the hands of foreign countries. Crazy.
Part 1 of the report was centred upon the activities of Lib.Dem MP’s and David Mundell in Scotland actively undermining the Scottish government at Holyrood in the period 2013-2014, up to the time of the referendum.
After the referendum, armed with a “No” vote majority and backed by the resources of the state at Westminster the persons concerned, (aggressively led by Mundell) saw no reason to continue with a low key approach developing their plans for the islands.
The gloves were removed and any disguise of their activities was abandoned in the knowledge that the Westminster government had taken charge of the agenda to the complete exclusion of the Scottish government.
27 November 2014: Islands welcome Smith Commission findings
The Leaders of Scotland’s three Islands Councils have welcomed the findings of the Smith Commission as a major landmark for the “Our Islands Our Future” campaign. The Commission was set up following the Referendum. Its recommendations will form the basis of legislation on more powers for Scotland and the 3 Isles.
Through “Our Islands Our Future”, the councils in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are working together to achieve a further devolution of powers to the islands they represent. Their shared aim is greater control over decisions that affect island communities – and an enhanced ability to develop their local economies for the benefit of the people the Councils serve. The campaign made a joint submission to the Smith Commission.
In his report published today, Lord Smith says: “There is a strong desire to see the principle of devolution extended further, with the transfer of powers from Holyrood to local communities.
The Scottish Government should work with the UK Parliament, civic Scotland and local authorities to set out ways in which local areas can benefit from the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”
A key aspiration of “Our Islands Our Future” is for the three Councils to take over the Crown Estate’s current responsibility for the foreshore and seabed around their islands. Lord Smith says responsibility for the management of the Crown Estate’s economic assets in Scotland – including the seabed and foreshore – should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. “Following this transfer, responsibility for the management of those assets will be further devolved to local authority areas such as Orkney, Shetland, Na h-Eilean Siar.”
Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle said: “This is a major achievement for the campaign, with the island authorities the only councils referenced by name in Lord Smith’s report. Devolution of the Crown Estate’s assets will give us the ability to ensure development in our waters is sustainable and delivers the maximum benefits for our communities.
This has been a good week for “Our Islands Our Future.” Today’s announcement follows the appointment of Scotland’s first Minister for the Islands – another of our aspirations. Derek Mackay’s brief also includes transport and he has already demonstrated his willingness to discuss matters such as the future of our internal ferry service, reiterating that the cost of replacing vessels should not rest solely on the island authority.
Our joint campaign is clearly making a difference for the three island communities, and adds value to the extensive lobbying we carry out individually.
Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “The recommendations on the Crown Estate are historic and very welcome indeed. The Comhairle has long made the case that Crown Estate revenues should be retained in Scotland and that local communities should be the beneficiaries of income derived from sea-bed and foreshore developments. Indeed, this was a key aim of the OIOF campaign and was recognised by the Scottish Government in the Prospectus, Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities, which set out an agreed way forward for Island authorities and the Scottish Government.
The Commission’s recommendations are a fundamental shift in the democratic structure of modern Scotland and recognise the wish for the further transfer of powers to local levels.
This is a particularly welcome recommendation and I look forward to discussing the format and structures that will make this a reality. I would urge both the Scottish and UK Governments to enter into discussions immediately to implement this recommendation and we will be seeking a meeting with both Governments at an early stage to take forward those discussions.”
Gary Robinson, Leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: “The publication of Lord Smith’s report is an important milestone in the OIOF campaign and we expect it to deliver tangible benefits for our island communities.
For example, the proposal to devolve powers over Air Passenger Duty to the Scottish Parliament is to be welcomed. The Scottish Government has made no secret of its wish to abolish this tax, which will obviously benefit our lifeline air transport services. Further control by the Scottish Parliament over home energy efficiency schemes will reduce the scale of fuel poverty in our islands.
If all the recommendations in Lord Smith’s report are implemented, it will deliver many positive outcomes for all of us. We welcome the support of national politicians for our work on the” Our Islands Our Future” initiative.”
13 May 2015: Island Councils Taking “Our Islands Our Future (OIOF) Forward With New Government
The three Island Councils of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are seeking early meetings with the new Secretary of State for Scotland and other key players to discuss (OIOF) and specifically to seek reassurances on the commitments of the previous Government on the campaign for more powers for Island areas.
Although the previous agreements took place with a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, the 3 Councils expect commitments to be honoured by the new Conservative Government.
Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, said: “We welcome the appointment of David Mundell as Secretary of State for Scotland, having worked productively with him in the past, and look forward to doing so in the future. We did the groundwork previously with the UK Government and although there has been a change in Government we would expect them to continue along similar lines with regard to Our Islands Our Future.
It is good to hear the Prime Minister say that the Smith Commission recommendations, arising from the ‘Vow’, will be honoured in full. From the Islands point of view that is important as one of the key recommendations is the transfer of revenues and management of the Crown Estate to the Scottish Government and, as agreed by Scottish Government, onwards to local coastal communities, one of the key aims of the OIOF campaign. Hopefully there may be additional powers for Scotland as argued for by the islands Councils in their submission to the Smith Commission”.
The Island Councils continue to meet with the Scottish Government on a regular basis in taking forward discussions on OIOF and hope to meet with the new Secretary of State for Scotland, as the UK Government’s representative, in the near future. Mr Campbell said: “Whilst we recognise that some of the faces we will now be meeting at a UK Government level will have changed, many of the key players, including Ministers and senior civil servants, will be the same and they are well acquainted with OIOF and the wishes of Island Councils and communities.”
Orkney Islands Council Convener, Steven Heddle, added: “We’re keen to quickly build on the progress made with the last UK government in terms of ensuring the islands have a voice and have our perspectives considered and accounted for as matter of course.
This is across a whole range of reserved issues, but notably with respect to our ambitions for the ultimate transfer of the powers and revenues of the Crown Estate to the islands councils, as recommended by the Smith Commission following our representations. The new government has undertaken to implement the Smith recommendations in full and we are clearly keen to see this happen.
We’ve always based our arguments on principles rather than personalities so that the results can be long lasting, but nonetheless we welcome the appointment of David Mundell as Alistair Carmichael’s successor, as we’ve worked productively with Mr Mundell in the past and look forward to continuing this in the future.”
The Scottish Secretary Mundell praises the work of the OIOF campaign
Confirming, (ahead of a visit to Stornoway) the British Government’s on-going commitment to working with the OIOF campaign Mundell is to attend an upcoming “Islands Working Group” meeting with each of the islands leaders and those closely involved in the campaign taking forward commitments detailed in the Islands Framework. He also confirmed the British Government’s on-going commitment to a major decentralisation in decision making across Scotland.
He said: “I’m looking forward to visiting Stornoway to confirm my on-going commitment to the Islands framework, placing power in the hands of communities making sure opportunity and prosperity reach every part of the United Kingdom.
It also shows how the Western Isles coming together with Orkney and Shetland has created an example for other parts of the UK to follow. I’m keen for the Islands Councils to play a full part in the on-going debate on how the substantial powers in the Scotland Bill are used to directly benefit island communities.
Over the past few years there has been a process of centralisation from the Scottish Government but I hope through opportunities such as the devolution of management over the Crown Estate, this imbalance can be redressed.
30 July 2015: Scottish Secretary pledges more power to island communities
Days after he was met with protests at the opening of a food-bank in his Dumfries-shire constituency, Scottish Secretary David Mundell was in Stornoway today, where he pledged a commitment to handing more power to island communities. Mundell said the OIOF campaign – established earlier this year by the Comhairle, Orkney Council and Shetland Councils – was a model which other parts of the UK could learn from.
During his visit to Lewis, Mr Mundell met with officials from the Comhairle, as well as calling in on local businesses including Harris Tweed Hebrides, in Shawbost, and Hebridean Seaweed. He was also given a guided tour of the new Museum and Archive centre at the restored Lews Castle.
Mundell said: “ I’m keen for the islands councils to play a full part in the ongoing debate on how the substantial powers in the Scotland Bill are used to directly benefit island communities. Over the past few years there has been a process of centralisation from the Scottish Government but I hope through opportunities such as the devolution of management over the Crown Estate, this imbalance can be redressed.”
Meanwhile, Isles MP Angus MacNeil has claimed that by endorsing more power to island communities, Mundell has performed a ‘u-turn’. He said: “Hopefully Mr Mundell has become a belated convert to decentralisation.
If he had listened when I put this forward at the last Scotland Bill in 2011 we would be a lot further forward. He opposed moves for decentralisation and resisted a push to devolve the Crown Estate to Scotland.
His position on this issue has now changed due to the strength Scotland has with the SNP making Tory Westminster listen a little more.
I hope Mundell will see for himself during his visit to the islands what real benefits could come from more decentralisation of powers from London and that he will, from now on, be supporting me in fighting to ensure the islands voice is heard at Westminster.”
Kildonan on the Hebridean island of Eigg with the Sgurr of Eigg, the island’s highest point, visible in the background.
30 July 2015: Mundell: The Western Isles are making their mark across the globe
Mundell praised the global aspirations of Scotland’s island communities as he toured businesses across the Western Isles. His day included a visit to Hebridean Seaweed. Having established itself as the UK’s largest seaweed processor it is also one of the country’s export success stories having sold their produce across Europe, Asia and the United States.
He said: “I’ve been extremely impressed by what I have seen today. Hebridean Seaweed’s announcement of a partnership with one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world shows how far they have come and highlights the global ambitions of companies from our island communities.
He also visited the world renowned Harris Tweed Hebrides Mill in Shawbost and the Hebridean Smokehouse in Stornoway where he discussed trade, exports and the recent measures for businesses introduced in the Budget.
He commented: “From Harris Tweed to Hebridean Seaweed I’ve valued the opportunity to visit a number of innovative and established companies in the Western Isles who are making their mark across the globe. Through the UK’s diplomatic and trade network in over 170 countries around the world, we want to encourage more companies to follow in their footsteps and get exporting. With this support the UK Government is right behind the aspirations of our island communities.
Barra 23 September 2015: Mundell to visit Shetlands – but will he find his way?
Scotland’s Secretary of State David Mundell will visit the islands next Wednesday to meet representatives of Shetland Islands Council. Full details of his itinerary are yet to be released, but already some are wondering whether Mundell – who succeeded Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael as Scotland Office minister – will succeed in finding his way to Shetland.
In response to the Scotland Office tweeting a photo flagging up how 6,900 new businesses were set up in Scotland with government support, political activist Miriam Brett suggested: “If you’d like to combat the criticism that you fail to understand the north, I’d start by adding Shetland to your map.
23 September 2015: Scottish Secretary David Mundell has called for a debate on what new powers Scottish local government should be given by Holyrood in order to take greater control over their own affairs.
Mundell said that councils such as the Western Isles need to make their voice heard with the Scottish Government and make the case for greater powers. He said that Scottish towns and villages risked falling behind their counterparts in the rest of the UK.
He also said that the Smith Commission Agreement was explicit that responsibility for managing the Crown Estate should be devolved to councils such as Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. Mundell said: “The issue of devolution to local communities is now an urgent one for Scotland. There is a revolution going on in local government across the rest of the United Kingdom, with local areas regaining power and responsibility at an unprecedented rate.
Scotland cannot afford to be left behind as the rest of the UK revolutionises how it governs itself, giving towns, cities and counties more of the autonomy which our international competitors enjoy. It’s time we had a proper debate about devolution within Scotland. Councils like the Western Isles need to build on the OIOF initiative and make their voices heard with the Scottish Government on what powers and responsibilities they want to have to shape their futures.
That should be national debate, and I commit to play my part in that. Devolution is not worthy of the name if it stops at the gates of Holyrood. The Smith Commission Agreement was explicit that responsibility for managing the Crown Estate, which is being devolved in the Scotland Bill, should be further devolved to local authority areas such as Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles or other areas who seek such responsibilities.
It has been argued by some that the UK Government should legislate to devolve these and other things directly to Scotland’s local authorities: so-called ‘double devolution’. That is the right intention, but the wrong approach. The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government are responsible for local government in Scotland and it is their responsibility to drive that devolution onwards.”
8 April 2016: Councils to meet new government on islands campaign
Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles councils are seeking meetings with the new UK government to discuss the future of the (OIOF) campaign.
Council leaders hope to meet Scottish secretary David Mundell, who replaced Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, and other key players to seek reassurances on the commitments of the previous government on the campaign for more powers for Island areas. Although the previous agreements took place with the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, the councils expect commitments to be honoured by the new Conservative government.
Speaking for the three councils, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar leader Angus Campbell said: “We welcome the appointment of David Mundell as Secretary of State for Scotland, having worked productively with him in the past, and look forward to doing so in the future. We did the groundwork previously with the UK government and although there has been a change in government we would expect them to continue along similar lines with regard to Our Islands Our Future.
It is good to hear the Prime Minister say that the Smith Commission recommendations, arising from the ‘vow’, will be honoured in full. From the islands point of view that is important as one of the key recommendations is the transfer of revenues and management of the Crown Estate to the Scottish government and, as agreed by Scottish government, onwards to local coastal communities, one of the key aims of the OIOF campaign.
Hopefully there may be additional powers for Scotland as argued for by the islands councils in their submission to the Smith Commission. Whilst we recognise that some of the faces we will now be meeting at a UK government level will have changed, many of the key players, including ministers and senior civil servants, will be the same and they are well acquainted with OIOF and the wishes of island councils and communities.”
The Three Isles (Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland) and British protected semi-autonomous British Overseas Status – Scotland to be Stripped of the Islands before any future independence referendum
The Labour and Lib/Dem parties, at the time some aspects of governance were devolved to Scotland in 1999, put in place a rigged electoral system designed to ensure a recurring coalition government preventing the SNP from ever gaining a majority of MSP’s. The blocking measure was considered necessary so as to render impossible any challenge to the authority of the Westminster government by an SNP majority government in Holyrood. In May 2011 SNP MSP’s gained the bulk of seats in Scotland (in an election landslide) and the SNP took up the reins of government in Scotland, for the first time unfettered by any need to include opposition Parties in a coalition. Labour and Lib/Dem coalition governments previously in office had been rejected by the electorate and were in total disarray.
In 2010 The minority SNP government was confronted with major changes at the Scottish Office following the election of a Tory/Lib/Dem government at Westminster. The coalition agreement signed off by Cameron and Clegg placed the UK governance of Scotland with the Lib/Dem Party in recognition of their assumed popularity in the Scottish Isles and border areas. The added problem for the Tories was that they only had Fluffy Mundell as an MP in Scotland and he was not on good terms with many senior members of the Scottish Conservative Party.
Clegg duly appointed mild mannered, Michael Moore (Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk) to the post of Secretary of State for Scotland with Mundell as his deputy. Moore was well liked at Holyrood due to his preparedness to consult with and not dictate to the SNP government. But the relationship between Moore and Mundell was not good. They did their own thing, sharing nothing but an office. The Scottish public were alerted to the disunity at the Scottish Office as was the Scottish Government. The matter needed to be resolved without undue delay, but it was not until the Scottish Government announced firm plans, in 2013 to hold a referendum that there was change.
At Cameron’s insistence Moore was to be replaced as Secretary of State for Scotland with someone who would be prepared to get under the skin of Alex Salmond establishing firm control of Scotland, denying the Scots any room for manoeuvre in terms of a referendum. Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland) stepped forward and said he had the qualities needed to sort out Alex Salmond and the Nat’s and defeat them in any independence referendum. He took up the post in November 2013. Fluffy Mundell was in his element working with someone of like mind and character.
Despite many blocking measures and spoilers emanating from the Scottish Office, euphoria continued to sweep Scotland as the magnitude of the SNP victory gathered pace and the performance of the new SNP government continued to impress and Alex Salmond faced an ever increasing demand for a referendum leading to independence from the UK so that the nation would be able to decide its own future without the need to “bend the knee” to an increasingly incompetent and corrupt Westminster government. Alex Salmond accepted the will of the Scottish electorate and agreed a referendum would be held within the lifetime of the parliament.
Carmichael’s duties as Secretary of State for Scotland provided him with full access to cabinet briefing meetings at Westminster. This key source of information coupled with a new freedom to operate anywhere in Scotland allowed him to form judgements as the pace of referendum speculation increased.
At the beginning of 2014 the “Yes” campaign started to make inroads on a significant “No” majority and Cameron demanded that the Lib/Dems in Scotland improve their performance or step aside allowing the Tory Party to take control.
The reality of the predicament was not lost on Carmichael or his colleagues and they decided to step back and to limit their efforts to persuading Scottish Islanders to vote “No” allowing Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cameron and the Labour party take charge of the “No” campaign on the Scottish mainland.
From that revised strategy three right wing unionist campaign groups with strong Lib/Dem connections evolved: “Our Islands Our Future” – “For Argyll” – “Wir Shetland” (John Tulloch ex Shetlander, resident in Argyll is the prime mover of the latter two campaigns).
The Lib/Dem agenda for the islands is decided. Justifiably fearing rejection and destruction through the vote of the Scottish public the party is no longer Scottish. Instead they are working, together with Mundell and the Tory Party to remove The Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland from Scotland.
Tavish Scott, former leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland and MSP for Orkney and Shetland, called on the islands to loosen their ties with Scotland. He said that he was in favour of the islands forming a crown dependency in their own right, with a similar status to the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.
Encouraged by the aggressive direction of Mundell the “Three Isles” campaign is fast reaching a stage where attention will turn (excluding the Scottish government) to the provision of British protected semi-autonomous British Overseas Status to the “Three Isles” effectively removing them from Scotland.
The issue of sovereignty is for Westminster to decide since the “constitution” is reserved and the Holyrood government has no jurisdiction. The “Our Islands Our Future” negotiating group is in regular contact with Mundell and the Westminster government and will most likely be encouraged to request that a referendum be held to seek the views of the islanders.
A referendum was held on 18 September 2014. Scots voted to retain the status quo.
I have added information providing a more detailed analysis of the difficulties presenting with the Lib/Dems, Mundell and the Tories approach to Scotland post the 2014 referendum.
17 June 2013: Island Councils declare a shared vision on the future of the Isles within Scotland
The three Councils of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles outlined their shared vision – that empowering the islands would bring many benefits, providing the tools to invest in local communities and drive sustainable economic growth. The following month Mr Salmond, in his Lerwick Declaration, announced the setting up of Ministerial Working Group to consider the case for greater powers put forward by the three councils.
10 April 2014: Council leaders heartened by cross-party Westminster response
A pledge by Scottish Labour to devolve more powers to Scotland’s island communities has been welcomed by Council leaders from Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
Speaking following meeting in the UK Parliament with the three Council leaders, Margaret Curran MP said: “The leaders of our Island Councils have made a strong case for why their communities should have more control over the decisions that affect their lives.
Devolution was never intended to concentrate power in Edinburgh – we need more power passed to communities across Scotland. Labour would put more power in the hands of Scotland’s island communities.
This will include power to develop renewable energy resources, to tackle unemployment, to take more control of economic development and to give the maximum possible power over the Crown Estates.
She also announced that a future Labour UK Government would maintain the Islands Desk in the Scotland Office and would also hold twice yearly summits with the Islands Council leaders. In attendance:
* Norman A MacDonald. (Convenor, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar).
* Steven Heddle. (Convenor, Orkney Islands Council).
* Margaret Curran MP. (Shadow Scottish Secretary).
* Gary Robinson. (Leader, Shetland Islands Council).
* Ian Davidson MP. (Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee).
During a busy round of meetings at Westminster over three days this week, talks on the “Our Islands Our Future” campaign were also held with:
* Alistair Carmichael MP. Secretary of State for Scotland. * Danny Alexander MP. Chief Secretary to the Treasury. * Ed Davey MP. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. * Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC. Advocate General for Scotland. * David Lidington MP. Minister for Europe. * Other senior politicians and Government officials.
Matters under discussion:
* Energy * Better representation in Europe * Powers of the Crown Estate * Island proofing (pro-active consideration of the special requirements of island communities during policy development by the UK Government.)
Speaking on behalf of the three councils, Councillor Heddle said: “We’re delighted that our campaign has received such a positive response from the Shadow Scottish Secretary. We had a very good meeting with Margaret Curran and Ian Davidson today, following on from a lengthy presentation of our case to the Scottish Affairs Committee.
We are very appreciative of the cross party support from both the Coalition and Labour at UK level, and the SNP and Labour in Scotland. We hope that our representations will translate into manifesto commitments from Labour, and specific measures in the Concordat we are developing with the Scotland Office, and in the Prospectus we are developing through the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group with the Scottish Government.
The breadth of support we have received and the large ministerial and officer commitment made by both governments in working with us offers us confidence that the approach we have taken in our campaign is appropriate and will genuinely enhance the futures of our islands.”
17 June 2014: First Minister announces response to Our Islands Our Future
The three Councils of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles outlined their shared vision for the future in the document “Our Islands Our Future”. It stated that empowering the islands would bring many benefits, providing the tools to invest in local communities and drive sustainable economic growth.
The following month Mr Salmond, in his Lerwick Declaration, announced the setting up of Ministerial Working Group to consider the case for greater powers put forward by the three councils. Today he unveiled the Scottish Government’s response.
At Orkney College today, the First Minister said: “Today’s prospectus is the most comprehensive package for empowering Scotland’s island communities that has been put forward by any Government.
It recognises the unique contribution that island communities make to modern Scotland, and also the distinctive needs and priorities they have. Most of all, though, it recognises that Scotland’s islands have huge potential – a wealth of culture and history; stunning landscapes; massive renewable energy resources; and a host of successful businesses in sectors such as food and drink, life sciences and tourism.
We are determined to work with the islands communities to unleash that potential and to create a sustainable and prosperous future. By doing so, we will honour the principles of subsidiarity and local decision-making at the heart of the Lerwick Declaration. And even more importantly, we will help to build wealthier and fairer island communities, as part of a wealthier and fairer Scotland.”
Convener of Orkney Islands Council Steven Heddle said: “The launch of Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities is a hugely significant milestone for the Our Islands Our Future campaign.
Over the past year we’ve taken a politically neutral stance in presenting the case for a stronger future for our islands. The Scottish Government has clearly been willing to consider, negotiate and respond positively to the arguments we’ve made. The detailed response to the campaign published today represents a comprehensive commitment to islands in general and our island groups in particular.
It establishes a framework for how our islands can be empowered and a bench mark for our engagement and relationship with government. There is now a far greater understanding of the unique nature and needs of our island communities and that in itself bodes well for our future.”
Leader of Shetland Islands Council Gary Robinson, said: “We asserted at the outset of this process that the seas and the seabed around us are hugely important – both socially and economically – to our islands.
By implementing the measures contained in Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities we can maximise the opportunities presented by fisheries and aquaculture, and realise the full potential of marine renewable’s, while protecting our pristine environment.
Crown Estate powers and a share of the income generated from leasing agreements will allow us to support investment in our coastal communities and ensure that this has a lasting and sustainable impact.
By strengthening and embedding the County Council Acts’ powers, each of the Islands’ Councils will be better able to manage the diverse and sometimes conflicting demands on the marine environment.”
Leader of Comhairlenan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, said: “This is a historic day for our island communities. When we launched Our Islands Our Future a year ago we could not have anticipated the amount of interest and discussion we were going to generate.
This launch of the Scottish Government’s Prospectus is a product of those discussions and negotiations on a wide ranging list of subjects including the Crown Estate, Grid connections and the constitutional position of Island areas.
Working closely with the Scottish Government, we have set out an agenda for the way forward for our Islands. The Scottish Government has now put forward the proposals in Empowering Island Communities which I warmly welcome.
Of course, the work doesn’t stop here. Irrespective of the outcome of the Referendum in September there is much that can be achieved for Scotland’s islands and our on-going task, as always, will be to maximise the benefits for those who live in our Island communities.”
15 August 2014: Scottish independence: UK government sets out island powers proposals
The UK government has set out its plans to increase representation for Scotland’s islands if there is a “No” vote in the referendum.
It said legislation would ensure it takes account of island priorities. The Scotland Office would have a UK government dedicated islands representative and an oil and gas islands forum would assist decision-making in the sector.
The UK government said it had also committed to establish renewable energy transmission links to the islands.
Island-specific challenges for transport, postal services, digital connectivity and fuel poverty will receive closer consideration, and measures will be taken to strengthen the transparency and accountability of the Crown Estate, which manages Scotland’s seas and foreshore.
There will also be a dedicated point of contact within the UK’s representation to the EU.
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said the proposals would “strengthen the voice of our islands at the heart of the UK government”. He added: “It will mean their unique needs are considered across all UK government activity and legislation, tailoring our approach to ensure islands issues continue to get the attention they require.
That is good news for the councils and for the whole country and will improve the economy, connectivity and lives of people on our islands. It shows we are not only listening, but acting – and in doing so we are strengthening the UK.”
Angus Campbell, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, welcomed the UK government’s response to the campaign. He added: “I am confident that as we approach the referendum, the island groups are in a much stronger position now with both the UK and Scottish governments than we were prior to the launch of Our Islands Our Future.”
Steven Heddle, convener of Orkney Islands Council, said: “Our intention throughout has been to secure a stronger future for our communities, regardless of the outcome of the referendum. I welcome this response to our representations.”
Gary Robinson, leader of Shetland Islands Council, said the statement “represents another important output from our campaign”.
15 August 2014: Empowering Scotland’s Island communities
In its Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities document, which was published in June, the Scottish government pledged to bring forward an Island’s Bill in the event of independence containing:
* A commitment to ensure island communities get all money generated from leasing the seabed.
* Islanders would also be given a stronger voice in Europe
* A new post of minister for island communities would be created.
Scottish Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said: “It is only with independence that the unique needs of islands can be recognised in a written constitution or that we will have the opportunity to ensure all island communities receive the net income from the adjacent inshore seabed, which currently passes through the Crown Estate to the Treasury.
The income could be used for a variety of projects ranging from harbour improvements to community tourism projects and individual councils will be responsible for administering their own fund, including determining how funds are spent, who will benefit and the level of benefit.
Our islands have huge potential in energy, tourism and life sciences, and we are determined to work with them to unleash that potential with the powers of independence, and honour the principles of subsidiarity and local decision-making that are at the heart of the Lerwick Declaration.”
18 August 2014: 10 point plan for Scottish islands
A framework between the UK Government and the 3 Scottish islands councils – the first agreement of its kind in the country – was launched today by Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael.
The “Our Islands” framework, established in response to the “Our Islands, Our Future” joint campaign, will embed the islands voice at the heart of the UK Government and reflect the priorities of those communities more closely in decision making and policy.
It follows extensive dialogue between the councils and the UK Government, and represents the most comprehensive examination of the Islands’ priorities in 30 years, since the 1984 Montgomery Commission.
Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles represent the most hard-to-reach parts of the United Kingdom and this geographical remoteness presents specific challenges to exploiting their economic and social potential in full.
The 3 islands councils are unique in Scotland in serving only island communities, and this framework recognises they have chosen to adopt a collective position in dealing with the UK Government on certain matters.
It provides the basis for joint working between the UK Government and Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles on a range of priorities. They include a 10 point plan for the islands:
* Islands proofing: These are new arrangements to scrutinise UK Government policy and legislation to ensure they take account of islands priorities.
* Economic benefits: A new Islands Working Group will be supported by a dedicated position in the Scotland Office and have its agenda set by the islands, covering priorities like Islands Innovation Zones, construction costs and community benefit.
* A new Oil and Gas Islands forum: The framework recognises the islands are vital to meeting the UK’s energy needs. The UK Government is committed to work with the Islands Councils to assist strategic decision-making on future priorities for the oil and gas industry. This will allow the councils to work more closely with the UK Government and industry.
* Renewable energy: The framework includes a firm UK Government commitment to the Renewable Energy Delivery Forum, focussed on getting transmission links to the islands. The UK Government also shares the 3 Islands Councils’ ambitions for deployment of renewable energy and for research and development activity, and we will ensure that obstacles to securing the necessary infrastructure are tackled effectively.
* The framework recognises the island groups face particular challenges in the areas of transport, postal services, digital connectivity and fuel poverty. The UK Government will work with the councils on these areas, as detailed in the document.
* Transport: This includes seeking an extension to the Air Discount Scheme and a commitment to consider fiscal measures to support transport connectivity with the island groups.
* Postal services: The UK Government is committed to working with retailers, consumer groups and enforcers to ensure parcel delivery charges to remote regions are fair and transparent, in line with the UK statement of principles for parcel deliveries.
* Connectivity: Digital connectivity is of great importance to local inhabitants and businesses on the islands, requiring subsidy from both the UK and Scottish Governments to overcome the geographical and commercial challenges in delivery of these services. The UK Government is committed to fund the Mobile Infrastructure Project, working to provide improved mobile coverage in areas of the UK which are most difficult to reach, aiming to address market failures in these areas. The UK Government is also committed to providing parity of minimum service level between the UK mainland and islands areas by delivering standard broadband of at least 2Mbps to all premises in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. Working closely with the communications industry, the UK Government is committed to fund research to identify new technologies to support delivery of superfast broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas of the UK. The UK Government will also work collaboratively with the three Islands Councils, as well as the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to identify how these technologies can be implemented in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
* Crown Estate: The framework also contains measures to strengthen the transparency and accountability of the Crown Estate.
* EU and representation on government bodies: A dedicated point of contact to offer advice and guidance to the islands within the UK Representation to the EU. The framework includes increased island representation on other government bodies, including the Scottish Business Board.
Today’s announcement is a landmark for the relationship between the UK Government and OUR island communities in Scotland. It builds on a great deal of good work in the past and will strengthen the voice of our islands at the heart of the UK government.
It will mean their unique needs are considered across all UK Government activity and legislation, tailoring our approach to ensure islands issues continue to get the attention they require.
That is good news for the councils and for the whole of the UK and will improve the economy, connectivity and lives of people on our islands. It shows we are not only listening, but acting and in doing so we are strengthening the 3 Isles and their place in the UK.
This is the start of the next part of our journey together, giving us a strong framework which will be reviewed and built on further in the future.
Cllr Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: It is to be welcomed that the UK Government has responded to the “Our Islands Our Future” campaign with this framework agreement and this opens up avenues for much work in the future.
I particularly welcome the commitment to “Island proofing” in legislation and to a formal process of dialogue through an “annual summit” between Island Councils and the UK Government where strategic matters of importance to Island communities will be taken forward.
Island desks – in Brussels and London – is also very welcome as are the other areas of direct communication with the Island Councils including the Islands Working Group which will drive forward work on key economic, social and other priorities. I am confident that as we approach the Referendum the Island groups are in a much stronger position now with both the UK and Scottish Governments than we were prior to the launch of “Our Islands Our Future.”
Steven Heddle, Convener of Orkney Islands Council, said: Today’s announcement follows almost a year of dialogue with the UK Government over issues within its powers that are of great importance to the islands.
Our intention throughout has been to secure a stronger future for our communities, regardless of the outcome of the Referendum. As Convener of the Council, I welcome this response to our representations.
As well as outlining specific measures, it importantly establishes a channel for continuing dialogue with the Westminster Government in the event of a No vote.
Gary Robinson, Leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: At the outset of the “Our Islands Our Future” campaign, we said that we wanted to engage with both the Scottish and UK Governments, and for that to lead to published statements of intent.
I welcome today’s launch and feel that it represents another important output from our campaign.