Serverin Carrell of the Guardian – Attacks the Scottish Government with a catalogue of Innuendo and distorted Information- An Accredited NUJ Reporter Provides the Truth




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Scotland’s Debt Mountain: Holyrood’s Borrowing Could Hit £50bn by 2020

The article is complex covering almost the entire spectrum of government activity in Scotland with the emphasis remaining fixated on unfounded allegations of financial mismanagement by the Scottish government. The author is a vastly experienced journalist and production by himself of a article full of innuendo and distorted truths is very sad. The article is reproduced in full so that readers will be able to read Serverin Carrell’s account then compare this with my submission

Severin Carrell is Scotland editor for the Guardian. He was previously the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent. He has worked as a home affairs, environment and politics correspondent for the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, and as a senior reporter with the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

Guardian investigation finds public sector borrowing for schools, roads, rail and education is set to dwarf Scottish parliament’s annual £30bn budget, prompting auditor general and opposition parties to call for greater transparency

Public sector debt in Scotland has mushroomed to record levels after an SNP government spending spree funded by billions of pounds’ worth of borrowing from pension funds, international banks and the Treasury. An investigation by the Guardian has found that total borrowing to build schools, roads, railway stations, colleges and hospitals under the devolved government could reach £50bn by the end of the decade, putting a heavy strain on the public finances. The scale of the debt, which dwarfs Holyrood’s annual budget of £30bn, has never been set out by ministers or investigated by the Scottish parliament.

It has led to calls by Scotland’s auditor general, Caroline Gardner, and opposition parties for greater openness over public finances. Gardner said the need for full transparency was even more urgent given that Holyrood is due to get far greater tax-raising powers and is under significant pressure on public spending. John Swinney, the Scottish finance secretary, is expected to reveal new spending cuts in his budget on Wednesday after a 1.3% cut in Scotland’s block grant from the Treasury in London.

Calling for Swinney to publish whole government accounts that would set out in a single document the full details of all Scotland’s devolved public spending, borrowing and assets, Gardner said: “It is critically important that the Scottish parliament and the people of Scotland have got a very clear picture of what both those assets and those long-term liabilities look like.”

She added it was a “basic matter of accountability” and necessary “to enable the Scottish parliament to make some of the difficult decisions that it will need to make in future, particularly as it takes on its new tax-raising powers.”

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s finance spokeswoman, said she would be urging Holyrood’s finance committee to investigate. “Future generations are facing a debt mountain and we’re putting more and more on the nation’s credit card. What the Scottish government is doing to add to public sector debt is like PFI on steroids. It is essential with the new powers coming to the Scottish parliament on tax, spending and borrowing that we have complete transparency on the nation’s finances.”

Scottish public authorities and ministers are committed to spending at least £9bn on dozens of privately financed projects overseen by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) – the arm’s-length body overseeing infrastructure investment. That is in addition to £22bn-worth of historic private finance initiative (PFI) debts still to be paid off.

There are currently £6bn-worth of privately financed and managed projects under way through the SFT. Including historic PFI repayments, servicing the existing debt already costs £1bn a year. That cost will be at its highest between 2018 and 2028 when Scotland’s public sector will be spending more than £1.2bn a year to repay private finance deals. It will reach more than £1.3bn in 2025.

In addition, Scotland’s 32 councils owe nearly £15bn to banks, public debt agencies and pension funds, and are planning to spend nearly £500m more on new capital projects, in addition to sharing billions of pounds’ worth of private financing through the SFT. Those debts need to be repaid more quickly than before, official data from the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy has shown.

The latest data from the industry body shows that nearly 50% of the borrowing must be paid back within 20 years. But councils are expected to face deep funding cuts of up to 5% in their £10bn annual funding in Wednesday’s budget.

Scottish ministers have also been cleared to borrow up to £4.9bn on upgrading the rail network by 2019 – more than double the borrowing attributed to Scotland in 2009 – using debt funded by Network Rail at UK level.

Scottish ministers are also floating proposals for expensive high-speed rail lines from Scotland, which are not yet funded. Scottish investment in rail funded with record borrowing

Figures given to the Guardian by the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, show that Scottish ministers would be due to pay up to £868m on financing and interest costs between now and 2019 to service that borrowing.

Meanwhile, households and taxpayers are forecast to come under additional financial pressure with Scottish graduates and students set to owe £6bn by the end of the next Scottish parliament in 2021, according to an analysis by the higher education funding expert Lucy Hunter Blackburn.

That debt would be three times their borrowing when the Scottish National party (SNP) first won power in 2007 on a promise to abolish student debts. The debt is funded by the Treasury in London and is not directly repaid by taxpayers. But Scottish ministers write off an average of 30% of that debt every year to cover students who do not earn enough to repay it, defaulted loans and subsidised interest payments.



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Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – An understanding

At the beginning of 1997 the Tory Party Government, led by John Major had re-established stability in the UK economy weathering the financial disaster of membership and withdrawal from the European Community, Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The long recovery process was hard on the UK electorate who suffered the brunt of strictly observed control measures designed to reduce government spending and debt bringing stability to the economy.

With the improving revenue boosting to their fortunes and re-election a distinct possibility the party pressed the self destruct button, when in-fighting broke out within the parliamentary group over the future direction of the party in regard to membership of the EC. The tactics of feuding individuals included releasing damaging information providing opportunity for the media and press to accuse the government of being embroiled in scandal, sleaze and corruption. The party was by result perceived by the electorate to be financially capable but also corrupt tired, leaderless and without vision and at the General Election in May 1997 it was removed from office.

The Labour Party, in opposition had been through 10 years of processes similar to the Tory party, as the old guard fought to retain policies which had been repeatedly rejected by the electorate. But as 1996 drew to a close leadership of the party was decided upon a compromise. The old guard would be allowed to monitor policy discussions but any proposed contribution would be made in private to the party leadership. Tony Blair, as leader would provide the charisma whilst the dour mannered Gordon Brown would have charge of the Economy. The old guard monitor appointee role was given to ex shop steward John (two Jags) Prescott.

Allaying the fears of the electorate (who were concerned about Labour’s previous excessive spending record whilst in power) the 1997 Labour Party manifesto for government undertook, (in government) to retain and manage the economy following the financial policies of the Tory Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, (whose tenure at HM Treasury had brought with it a reduction in income tax from 25% to 23% and a marked improvement in the budget deficit, (due to reduced government spending), from £51 billion in 1993 to £16 billion in 1997.) Interest rates, inflation and unemployment were also reduced significantly. The pledge to the public was duly honoured and the UK economy returned to balance in 1998. The successful policies were maintained in the lifetime of the parliament and the economy recorded an ever increasing budget surplus.

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was a mechanism established by Tory Chancellor Norman Lamont so that a few large infrastructure projects could be commissioned and completed using private sector finance, transferring all liability for construction and maintenance (off the books) of government. Recurring financial liabilities to contractors (for periods between 30 to 150 years) would be charged to revenue expenditure. The schemes offered a means of attracting private finance into a public sector that had been starved of funds for many years. But the consensus, in financial circles was (if used sparingly) PFI had benefits, but any widespread use would be counter-productive since the cost to revenue budgets would greatly exceed the initial projected (on the books ) capital cost including interest charges. The Shadow Chancellor, Gordon Brown attacked the Tory government’s use of PFI as “a cynical distortion of public finance.”

But in government Brown was unable to curb his inbuilt urge to spend, regardless of risk He became enamoured of PFI identifying it as a convenient way of concealing public debt. It was the mother and father of the discredited “never never” hire purchase schemes so prevalent in the UK consumables markets of 1950-70. Simplicity indeed. The government would agree to contracts committing their various agencies to make fixed payments to the private sector for a fixed period, typically 30 plus years (the useful life of the asset). And the entire spectrum of business would be conducted outwith the control or inspection of any lending authority. A hospital built by the South London Healthcare Trust under the PFI cost £118 million to build, but had a hidden payback over the life of the PFI contract of £1.2 billion. Cloak and dagger expenditure on a grand scale.

Norman Lamont, (having stepped back from front-line politics but never one to hide his views) alerted the media and press about the Labour Government’s abuse of PFI and whilst accepting responsibility for creating it he insisted it had only intended to be used for projects such as new bridges or roads. There were strict rules in place forbidding use of PFI on normal capital spending but Gordon Brown removed the constraints so that PFI could be used extensively to complete basic structure upgrading projects (the UK treasury building, the Docklands Light Railway in London) and the purchase of hospital equipment and procurement of military hardware and vehicles. A scandalous abuse of financial authority by the New labour government.

The European Commission also became concerned and after a long drawn out process of discussion (lasting many years) the UK Treasury was forced to conform to EU accounting standards. from 2010. Details of the new methodology are to be found in IFRIC12 and ESA95.

Accurate financial figures are impossible to identify but in the period 1996-2014 a PFI contract value of £150 billion with a recurring 30 year commitment of £255 billion would not be that far out. These figures equate to a UK debt commitment not far short of 50% of the UK gross domestic product GDP. So much for Gordon Brown’s sustainable investment rule.

The new rules will transfer the bulk of the £255 billion back “on book” which will further reduce finance available. The only solution open to government for new capital expenditure is to borrow money further increasing the national debt which is nearing £2 trillion. What a disaster.



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The 2007- 08 world financial crash proved disastrous for PFI deals. Many participating companies found it difficult to attract new finance and the added burdens of existing debt repayments meant there was a reduced amount of finance available to support existing contracts with result that many establishments had to function understaffed and routine maintenance was often abandoned. Many prospective deals were either abandoned or severely cutback and there was concern the entire PFI system would fail. The crash also exposed, to the public (for the first time) the massive level of previously undisclosed PFI debt repayments being met from revenue allocations, revealed just as the new Tory/LibDem coalition government introduced measures reducing available finance in the public sector forming part of their declared austerity programmes.

But the PFI debt remains within the system and will be a significant burden on the UK’s revenue availability for the next 30 plus years. New Labour (Blair and Brown stand accused of passing a debt of mega proportions on to our children and grandchildren. There are strict rules which prohibit government from concealing debt from taxpayers. It is called “malfeasance in public Office.” and “New Labour” should be asked to answer the charge in a court of Law.



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Scotland and PFI under the SNP government

In Scotland in 2007 the minority SNP government accused Gordon Brown of selling out the Scottish taxpayer, (for allowing private profiteering backdoor entry to the public sector) and refused to embrace the PFI option believing it to be a wasteful process which allowed private contractors to make massive unwarranted profits from the nations public services. Indeed publication of information pertaining to recently PFI financed new builds at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and James Watt College proved that the projects could have been completed for half the cost using traditional methods.

In their manifesto for the 2007 election, the Scottish National Party (SNP) proposed the establishment of “The Scottish Futures Trust” as an alternative to PPP/PFI, encouraging greater use of public bonds, to access to lower-cost borrowing. It was a solution conceived to allow the devolved administration to gain some leverage around private sector investment.

With the approval of the Scottish audit office, the SNP government established, in September 2008 “The Scottish Futures Trust” (SFT). A public corporation of the Scottish Government, operating at arm’s length from the Government the Trust’s remit is to work closely with the public and private sectors to deliver value-for-money on all public sector infrastructure investment across the country. The trust has the aim of saving £100–£150 million each year through a wide range of activities. improving public infrastructure investment.

The SFT team is comprised of around 50 professionals, who have the responsibility of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure investment in Scotland. It is run by a board of seven members appointed by Scottish ministers, headed by a non-executive chairman.

Programmes of work given over to the SFT include the building of affordable homes and homes for rental throughout Scotland. Healthcare projects, including the Aberdeen Community Health and Care Village (opened 2013) and the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Department of Clinical Neurosciences in Edinburgh due to open in 2017). Other major projects include a £1.5 Billion schools upgrade programme, dualling of the Inverness – Perth road, completion of the Aberdeen bypass. Relocation, new build for the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service Headquarters and a number of smaller but no less important projects. Note: All projects are subject to Scottish Office Auditor approval before implementation

Financial savings achieved by the SFT are significant. In 2009−10 the Scottish taxpayer benefited from £111 million savings increasing to £129 million in 2010–11: £131 million in 2011-2012: £132 million in 2012-13: £140 million in 2013-14: £135 in 2014-15 and £146 million in 2015/16; Note: calculations verified and validated by Grant Thornton LLP and independent academics from the London School of Economics. Cumulative savings over 7 years £924 million plus.



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Infrastructure Investment – SNP government Policy

MP for Gordon, Alex Salmond, visited the Inveramsay new bridges site which includes 1.5km of new road, and a new bridge enabling the A96 trunk road to be realigned over the Aberdeen to Inverness railway. An underpass has also been incorporated into the upgrade to allow for more efficient farm access. A notorious bottleneck, the route has was popularly known as being one of the worst areas for delays in the North East of Scotland. The infrastructure upgrade will dramatically improve the reliability of journey times. Commenting, Mr Salmond said:

“This is a great step forward for infrastructure in the North East of Scotland. I inspected the new route today and contractors and workers should be congratulated for bringing this project forward on time and within budget. In the 50 years since the discovery of North Sea Oil the Tories ran Scottish roads for 22 years and Labour for twenty, eight of these hand in glove with the Liberals. In that entire time they did not build a single centimetre of the AWPR while bottlenecks like the Inveramsay Bridge were an embarrassment to the North East. Indeed, the Liberals represented this area for over 30 years with no action whatsoever on Inveramsay. Now after nine years of SNP Government we can see the AWPR take shape before our eyes in one of the greatest road investments in Scottish history. The new Inveramsay Bridge is nearing completion and the route to Ellon has been prioritised in the building of the AWPR. These investments are transformational for transport in our corner. That is a legacy of achievement of which the SNP can be proud just as our opponents should be ashamed of their years of negligence. However, the SNP have shown yet again, that a proactive approach is the only way to solve issues like those which have plagued motorists at the Inveramsie Bridge. I am fully confident that road-users will immediately feel the benefits of the upgrades, and they are but part of the SNP’s wider transport plans for the North-East.”



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Transport Minister Derek Mackay MSP commenting on the progress of the works said:

“For years drivers and local communities who use this section of the A96 have endured delays to their journeys with this bottleneck earning notoriety as one of the worst in the country. The old rail bridge was simply not fit for purpose and is why the Scottish Government committed to tackling a unique set of engineering challenges to help bring the A96 at this location up to 21st century standards. We wanted to ensure drivers and local communities who have waited patiently for the upgrade feel the benefits at the earliest opportunity, so I’m delighted that in just a few hours time, they will get the green light to drive on the new road. Inversamsay, which is on time and on budget, is emblematic of our wider commitment to delivering transport improvements right across the region.” He went on to say that:

“The 58km £745 million Aberdeen bypass is on schedule to open to traffic in winter 2017, preparatory work is ongoing which will allow us to start construction of an upgraded Haudagain roundabout on completion of the new bypass, and early design and assessment work to dual the full length of the A96 from Aberdeen to Inverness is making good headway. We are also investing £170 million to strengthen rail infrastructure between both cities to help make journeys shorter, more frequent and more comfortable, and have committed £200m through the City Deal to upgrade the rail line between Aberdeen and the central belt. We have also invested in more trains which will mean from 2018 more local rail services across the north east rail network, and faster, more frequent links from Aberdeen to the central belt.”

He concluded:

“We are determined to transform transport infrastructure right across the region and this much needed improvement here at Inveramsay Bridge underlines that the Scottish Government is getting on and doing just that.”



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The Office of National Statistics ONS

ESA10 (European System of Accounts 2010) is a set of Eurostat rules, introduced in September 2014, that determine how the UK government reports its overall levels of debt in the national accounts prepared by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The rules have set out a particular approach to classifying infrastructure projects developed across Europe under various forms of public-private partnership. How the new rules and associated guidance are being interpreted is an evolving picture across Europe as national statistical agencies and Eurostat apply the rules to projects and conclude classification decisions.

In Scotland, projects delivered through the NPD programme as well as all hub Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) projects fall under the scope of the revised rules and guidance. All projects of this nature see a delivery partner raise debt to pay for construction, and take responsibility for both construction and maintaining the asset in a good condition.

The asset is ultimately paid for by a public authority over time as it is used. A privately classified project sees the debt classified to the private sector whereas a project classified to the public sector counts towards the national debt.



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In December 2014, the ONS decided (as part of its work programme) to review the classification of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) NPD project.

In February 2015, Scottish Government stated that in light of this review a number of steps would be put in place to refine the NPD programme, and that some changes would be required to hub DBFM projects impacting on the timescales of an anticipated eight projects at that time.

In July 2015, ONS decided that the AWPR should be classified to the public sector under ESA10. This was based on its interpretation of the degree of public sector control over the special purpose vehicle established to deliver the project, and the balance of risk and reward between the public and private sector partners. The Scottish Government stated that as a result of that decision further changes may be required to the hub DBFM structure and that there was likely to be some further impact on the delivery timetable.

hub update (26 November 2015): ONS has now considered proposals for revised hub DBFM arrangements developed and submitted by SFT. The revised arrangements would see hub DBFM projects maintain the current balance of public good, with projects taken forward by special purpose DBFM companies owned 60% by the existing hub private partners, 20% by a Hub Community Foundation charity, 10% by SFT and 10% by the procuring Authority.

On 26 November Parliament was advised that, on the basis of an ONS review of these new proposals developed by SFT, projects could now proceed. Since then a significant number of projects have reached financial close allowing construction to start.

NPD/SFT continues to review options for the potential amendment of the AWPR project and potentially other NPD projects in the light of the ONS’s decision on the revised hub model. All contracted NPD projects continue to be built on site as planned and the classification does not affect this progress.



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Transferring Projects  to “on book” status

November 2016: Scottish Ministers took the decision to reclassify the funding of a new children’s hospital in Edinburgh, an acute hospital in Dumfries and a new Blood Transfusion Service Headquarters as public projects (on book) taking guidance from events and project management changes pertaining to the Aberdeen Bypass construction, which when implemented satisfied the requirements of the new (ESA10 2014) legislation. Ministers were not confident contract arrangements could be amended in similar fashion in respect of the three projects in question hence the decision to transfer the works on book. Then to appeal the measure. There is the option of transferring all aspects of contracting and financial responsibilities to the SFT which would require the creation of a Scottish National Trust Charitable Foundation. A way forward will be identified in 2017 and put in place before the next round of capital projects



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Scotland’s Historical Local Council Debt to be retained on the books of the UK Treasury:

Before devolution local councils were able to borrow money from the Treasury in London, for completion of new housing. Loans were arranged for a fixed term, usually 30 years at a repayment interest rate of 8%. The outstanding loan figure at the time of devolution was £2.45 billion and it is the responsibility of local councils to continue making loan repayments until the loan closure date. In the 17 years since devolution, Scottish Local Councils have paid a minimum of £3.3 billion (interest charges only) to HM Treasury. Projection are that a further £1.95 billion interest payments will be made providing a total interest only charge of £5.25 billion and the prime loan sum will also need to be paid off at the end of the loan period.

Local government is Scotland is committed (over the next decade), to spending 44p of every £1 of Council Tax collected from Scottish residents on servicing debt liabilities. 10p can be attributed to outstanding pre-devolution liabilities.. The government in Westminster confirmed the loans and any financial matters arising will be retained by the UK treasury for accounting purposes.



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8 Jun 2014: EU farm payments deadline extended to October

The deadline for paying European subsidies to farmers has been extended from 30 June to 15 October, a senior EU official has confirmed. Problems with a new Scottish government computer system have caused delays to many Scottish farmers due the money. The Scottish government had been facing fines of between £40m and £125m if it did not meet the June deadline. But the EU’s commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan, announced the new date.

The move followed a meeting between the commissioner and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh last month. Mr Hogan stressed that this was “an exceptional measure” which reflected the difficulties some member states and devolved regions had experienced with the first year of payments under the new CAP. He emphasised that the move should not be used as an “excuse” to slow down the rate of payments.



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30 September 2016: Auditor General reports on Scottish Government accounts

The Auditor General has welcomed steps taken by the Scottish Government to strengthen transparency of public finances, but says there’s more work to do as new financial powers are introduced at a time of uncertainty created by the EU referendum result.

The Scottish Budget for 2015/16 reflected new tax and borrowing powers for the first time. With further powers flowing from the Scotland Act 2016, it’s increasingly important that the Scottish Parliament and the public have comprehensive, transparent and timely information on how public money is used and what has been achieved.

In her report on the Scottish Government’s consolidated accounts, the Auditor General notes that progress has been made to improve reporting of the Scottish Government’s budget and spending decisions. Her independent audit opinion on the 2015/16 accounts is unqualified.

She has identified a number of areas for further improvement to support the Parliament’s scrutiny of the draft budget and new powers. These include making it clearer what spending aims to achieve and how this contributes to the Scottish Government’s overall purpose and outcomes.

The report highlights risks to the management and control of European funding which, for the foreseeable future, will continue to be an important income stream for the Scottish Government.

Other significant matters from the 2015/16 audit include:

The continuing risks in the delivery of the Common Agricultural Policy Futures Programme, established to implement reforms and deliver financial support to farmers and rural businesses.

The need to ensure that management of European Structural Funds, which provide financial assistance in areas such as transport links and business growth, comply fully with European Commission requirements. During 2015/16, three of the four programmes managed by the Scottish Government were suspended by the Commission. While the Scottish Government has taken action to have the suspensions lifted, the accounts show that it may not be able to recover an estimated £14 million in grant funding.

The Office for National Statistics’ decision to classify the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route as a public sector project and the Scottish Government’s decision to adopt a similar treatment for three further projects reduced its capital spending power in 2015/16, though this was successfully managed within overall budget limits.

Caroline Gardner (the Auditor) concluded:

“The construction and management of the Scottish budget is becoming increasingly complex and the Scottish Government has established a strong base to address the substantial changes and uncertainty affecting public finances. While recent developments show the Scottish Government is heading in the right direction, there’s much still to do to ensure that the Scottish Parliament, and the public, have the information they need to fully understand and scrutinise the implementation of the new powers, especially the new tax and spending choices.”



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Article Published in the Sunday Post – Same Info Presented Without the Anti – Scots Spin by an Accredited NUJ Reporter



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2014 Scottish Independence Referendum Campaign – Scottish Press Shows Its Hand

Towards the end of April, (less than 6 months before the September referendum) the BBC and Scottish press relentlessly bombarded Scotland with distrorted information designed to ensure the Scottish electorate would turn away from the “Yes” campaign in favour of retaining the “status quo”. Deprived of any form of rebuttal Scots had to soak up a barrage of patronising mis-information and mind shaping, wearing down any opposition to the views of the Westminster controlled BBC and american owned press in Scotland. The article below appeared in the Sunday Post and provides example of my earlier assertions. The second article presents the same information mindful of a journalists sworn “code of conduct” which appoints them as “guardians of the truth” and protectors of the public.



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27 April 2014: Scandal of vanishing NHS beds

Hospital beds in Scotland are disappearing at a faster rate than in almost any country in the western world. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development has looked at the number of hospital beds per person across 34 developed countries. It revealed that in England and Wales there are 2.95 beds per 1,000 people, compared with 6.37 in France, 7.65 in Austria and 8.27 in Germany. While the report didn’t include data for Scotland, the Scottish Government’s own figures show the ratio here is 4.67. But that is 21% down on 2004. It means Scottish hospitals have got rid of beds at a faster rate than almost anywhere else, with more than 5,000 disappearing in just seven years. Critics have raised fears hospitals are being stretched to breaking point.

In 2004 the average number of staffed beds available in Scotland was 29,886, which worked out as 5.88 beds for every 1,000 people. Three years later, when the SNP came to power, the number had shrunk to 27,735, or 5.2 beds per capita. The downward spiral has continued during their tenure, with the statistics for 2011 showing almost another 3,000 beds had been lost, leaving just 24,760 spaces at a ratio of 4.67. According to the OECD, only Finland and Ireland have seen bigger decreases.

Jackson Carlaw, Tory health spokesman, said: “There is no doubt that an increasing lack of acute hospital beds in Scotland would put patients’ lives at risk. “What really matters however, are the actual health outcomes from hospital. “It is critical that those who should no longer be in hospital are encouraged to go home and, where necessary, provided with the continual support that they may need.

Labour’s shadow health minister, Neil Findlay, agreed the Government’s record wasn’t good enough. He insisted: “The health service has struggled to cope with the growing demands on services as the SNP have systematically cut bed numbers, which means patients are left on trolleys in corridors for hours or treated in cupboards.

However, the Scottish Government insisted their health policy was on track. A spokeswoman said: “Care patterns have changed over the years, with more care delivered in the community, shorter hospital stays and more same-day surgery without the need for any overnight stay, which is good for patients. We know that the number of beds should vary throughout the year to reflect demand. “Since 2006/7 inpatients and day cases have increased by more than 10%. That is why we are developing an evidenced-based bed-planning toolkit to help Health Boards ensure they have the right number of beds in the right place and at the right time.”

The OECD report also showed that, in 2011, 84% of NHS beds south of the Border were full at any one time above the OECD average of 78%. The ratio for Scotland in the same year was 80%.

Nearly 40 elderly Scots a day are being hospitalised after suffering a fall. Research by the Scottish Conservatives shows there were 14,346 emergency admissions among over-75s last year.
The alarming haul is up from last year’s 13,355 and significantly up from a decade ago when the tally was 10,924. NHS figures also show there were 574 deaths in over-75s as a result of a fall. Around half of the falls occurred in the home, the data revealed.

Jackson Carlaw MSP, Scottish Conservative Health Spokesman, warned the figures are a sign of the strain the NHS faces from Scotland’s growing elderly population. He said: “While it’s extremely welcome that people are living longer, there are problems emerging within that. The fact 276 people aged 75 and over are being rushed to casualty every week as a result of a fall is extremely worrying. Unless we take action, this number will only increase as our population ages. “As we know from these figures, a fall at home for a frail person can be fatal, but it can also leave a lasting impact for the rest of a person’s life. Our NHS is already stretched to the limit, so if we can reduce these admissions, that would allow nurses to focus on other challenges.”

In February, Health Minister Alex Neil admitted the level of bed-blocking, where patients ready to leave are not discharged because there is nowhere for them to go, was “unacceptably high”.
Almost 135,000 days’ of hospital bed space was lost because of the problem in the last three months of 2013, an increase of 10,000 over the same period in 2012. A survey also found 254 patients had been waiting to leave hospital for more than four weeks in January, 2014, a spike of almost 50% on January, 2013.

Dr Neil Dewhurst, (outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh) claimed the number of hospital beds being occupied “commonly exceeds” what is regarded as the maximum safe level. Replying the Health Minister said: “the current level of delayed hospital discharges is 68% lower than it was in 2007, but this is still unacceptably high and shows there is still much to do, one person inappropriately delayed is one too many.” The hospital bed crisis is having devastating consequences and leaving a trail of unanswered questions.

Scandal of vanishing NHS beds



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The same information presented without spin, (compiled by an accredited NUJ reporter)



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27 April 2014: Hospital beds are disappearing at a faster rate in England and Wales than in almost any country in the Western World.

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) recently reported on the number of hospital beds per person across 34 developed countries. The survey revealed that in England and Wales there were only 2.95 beds available per 1,000 people. The report did not include data for Scotland, but the Scottish Government’s own figures showed the ratio to be much higher at 4.67. Bed availability in comparable countries was: France 6.37, Austria 7.65 and Germany 8.27.

In 2004 the average number of staffed beds available in Scotland was reduced to 29,886, which worked out as 5.88 beds for every 1,000 people. Three years later, in 2007, when Labour handed responsibility for the NHS in Scotland to the SNP this had shrunk to 27,735, or 5.2 beds per capita. A further reduction of 2151 beds in only 3 years

In the years since 2007, bed availability in Scotland had reduced to 24,760 (3000 or 0.53), a quite remarkable record since the 2008 financial collapse brought with it a severe cutback in financial allocations to Scotland from Westminster. In the same period bed availability in England and Wales reduced to a dangerous and unacceptable 2.95 per 1000 people.

Jackson Carlaw, Tory health spokesman in Scotland, said: “There is no doubt that the increasing lack of acute hospital beds in England puts patients’ lives at risk. It is critical that those who should no longer be in hospital are encouraged to go home and, where necessary, provided with the continual support that they may need.”

Labour’s shadow health minister in Scotland, Neil Findlay, agreed the Westminster government record wasn’t good enough. He insisted: “The health service has struggled to cope with the growing demands on services as the Con/Dem government has systematically cut bed numbers, which means patients are left on trolleys in corridors for hours or treated in cupboards.

The Scottish Government insisted their health policy was on track. A spokeswoman said: “Care patterns have changed over the years, with more care delivered in the community, shorter hospital stays and more same-day surgery without the need for any overnight stay, which is good for patients. We know that the number of beds should vary throughout the year to reflect demand. “Since 2006/7 inpatients and day cases have increased by more than 10%. That is why we are developing an evidenced-based bed-planning toolkit to help Health Boards ensure they have the right number of beds in the right place and at the right time.”

The OECD report also showed that, in 2011, 84% of NHS beds south of the Border were full at any one time well above the OECD average of 78%. The ratio for Scotland in the same year was 80%.

Research by the Scottish Conservatives showed there were 14,346 emergency admissions among over-75s in 2013 (up from the 13,355 incidents in 2013) A decade ago the figure was a much lower, 10,924. Figures also show that there were 574 deaths in over-75s as a result of a fall an around half of the falls occurred in the home. This vindicates the SNP government’s recent announcement of a transfer of finance and staff to “Care in the Community” starting 2016/17.

Jackson Carlaw MSP, Scottish Conservative Health Spokesman, was concerned the figures were a sign of the strain the NHS faces from Scotland’s growing elderly population and in support of the SNP government said: “While it’s extremely welcome that people are living longer, there are problems emerging within that. The fact 276 people aged 75 and over are being rushed to casualty every week as a result of a fall is extremely worrying. Unless we take action, this number will only increase as our population ages. “As we know from these figures, a fall at home for a frail person can be fatal, but it can also leave a lasting impact for the rest of a person’s life. Our NHS is already stretched to the limit, so if we can reduce these admissions, that would allow nurses to focus on other challenges.”

In February 2014, Health Minister Alex Neil, further stressed the urgent need to bring about change improving “care in the community” greatly reducing the level of bed-blocking, where patients ready to leave are not discharged because there is nowhere for them to go. Almost 135,000 days’ of hospital bed space had been lost because of the problem in the last three months of 2013, an increase of 10,000 over the same period in 2012. A survey also found 254 patients had been waiting to leave hospital for more than four weeks in January, 2014, a spike of almost 50% on January, 2013.

Dr Neil Dewhurst, (outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh) also supported Health Minister Mr Neil stating that the number of hospital beds being occupied beyond their need “commonly exceeded” the regarded maximum safe level, (bed blocking.)

Replying the Health Minister Mr Neil said: “the current level of delayed hospital discharges is 68% lower than it was in 2007, but this is still too high and shows there is much to do, one person inappropriately delayed is one too many.”
Which report truly reflects the information?


Urban Regeneration – New Labour – Billions Frittered away – The Tories – Billions Transferred to Their Financial Cronies – The Plebs Lose Out Again



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Natural Selection

Almost all of the towns and cities in the UK evolved meeting the challenges of the nineteenth century industrial revolution. But whilst the intensity and types of industry has changed markedly, in recent years the location and size of the vast bulk of UK towns and cities has not. One notable exception is London which is an ever expanding city state and financial capital of the World.

Gauging success by outcomes alone indications are that interlinking cities, feeding London will provide a more secure future but this will be at the expense of towns and villages which will decline as services and smaller industries are withdrawn in favour of their larger neighbours.

The skills mix of the working population will also change at an ever increasing speed. Manual work will be reduced in favour of white collar and service industries. Youngsters entering the jobs market will need to possess a range of formal qualifications or risk a life dependent on social service support, (which will be strictly rationed).

The “New Labour” government identified the challenges facing the country and committed huge amounts of finance aimed at Urban Regeneration which, if successfull would greatly improve the smaller towns and cities to the North of London, Wales and Scotland. “Education, Education Education” was the mantra driving the changes. But “New Labour” failed to make any significant impact and the education gap (10-20%) between London and the South and the rest of the UK remained. Companies in London and the South East of England needed to meet the many demands on their services and embarked on a massive recruitment bender taking in well qualified students from Europe and the Far East. What was feared might happen has occurred. London has moved on but without any significant input from the North.







Urban Regeneration in England and Wales and Scotland

I have extracted information about Urban Regeneration programmes in England and the impact of the current recession on these. Scotland also suffered (through the Barnett formulae) as regeneration funding was reduced forcing the Scottish government to cancel or defer programmes and projects or transfer revenue to capital (potentially adversely impacting on committed expenditure.)







Capital Expenditure and Urban Regeneration

In the period (1997-2010) Westminster politics was dominated by Labour Party ministers representing poorer urban areas in England. The Cabinet comprised -– Jack Straw, Blackburn; David Miliband, South Shields, Tyne and Wear; Jacqui Smith, Redditch; Harriet Harman, Camberwell and Peckham; Hazel Blears, Salford; Andrew Burnham, Leigh; Hilary Benn,Leeds Central; Alan Johnson , Hull West and Hessle; Ed Balls, Normanton, West Yorkshire; and Yvette Cooper, Pontefract and Castleford.

Inevitably these ministers were committed to urban regeneration and it is no surprise that spending on urban renewal increased in the last seven years of the decade. The rise in spending under the Labour Government is comparable with the rise under the Tories in the late 1980s. But while the Tories were responding to an obvious rise in urban problems caused by a sharply changing industrial structure, Labour spent more simply because it chose to and spending from choice rather than necessity can be reversed, but at a cost.
Westminster – Capital Funding in Billions:

1997: 2.4
1998: 2.1
1999: 2.5
2000: 2.0
2001: 1.7

2002: 2.8
2003: 3.2
2004: 4.0
2005: 5.0
2006: 5.5

2007: 6.0
2008: 6.2
2009: 2.0
2010: 1.5

Note: Data based on government spending with explicit urban regeneration objectives (excludes transport, housing and industrial policies unless part of a regeneration programme.)

Data includes:

Urban Programme, Urban Development Corporations (including Docklands Light Railway and Jubilee Line Extension), Enterprise Zones, Urban Development Grant, Urban regeneration Grant, Derelict Land Grant, City Grant, Estate Action, Inner City Task Force, City Action Teams, English Partnerships, Housing Action Trusts, City Challenge, Coalfields Areas Fund, Objective 1 and URBAN II European Funding, Single Regeneration Budget Challenge Fund, Manchester Olympic/Commonwealth Bids, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Coalfields Enterprise Fund, Regional Development Agencies, New Deal for Communities, Neighbourhood Support Fund, Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder, Sustainable Communities Plan (without housing costs), Local Environment/Liveability Fund, Community Empowerment Fund, Thames Gateway, London 2012 Olympics.



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In 2010, at the start of the Tory/LibDem coalition government’s tenure finances were in a parlous state. and something had to give. The government tried to save money by staging pay awards but the political fallout was costly in terms of the adverse publicity it attracted and any move to cut public sector pay, nurses, doctors, teachers, police was ruled out since this would be an electoral disaster for a government, which might not serve a full term. The decision was taken to cut urban regeneration funding, which being project based was a soft target and funding was only released for projects that had enjoyed the support of large swathes of voters.

This was very bad news for many urban regeneration towns. Additionally a cost and benefit analysis indicated that urban regeneration spending had not worked, since the towns had not been regenerated. What had been achieved was a raised standard of living, since it was impossible not to derive some benefit from a spend of billions of pounds.

Withdrawal of financial support resulted in towns, (already slipping down the approval queue) falling even further behind. Cancellation of regeneration works also further adversely impacted on the personal incomes of those living in poorer urban areas. So, after nearly ten years of recession the rapid decline of many towns has been exacerbated and the salary gap between the have and have nots of society has been elevated markedly. Lessons from history indicate that even when the good times return, (if ever) the decline of towns and wages gap will not be reversed which does not bode well for the future.




The David Lloyd Complex - images courtesy of Drone Stock Scotland

Leith Docks Project




Scottish Independence

If or when the opportunity arises for another Scottish independence referendum Scots should reflect on the foregoing (since the direction of an economy run by Westminster is recession after recession and an ever widening earnings gap between the richer and poorer members of society.) and vote “Yes” taking Scotland away from the madness of the Westminster elite




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Children in Scotland Falling Standards Under the SNP – Unionists & BBC Attack – Ignore the Rhetoric and Media Hype – Study the Facts and Decide For Yourself




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Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – The 2015 Report

Judging one country’s performance against another, blindly utilising information contained in a PISA report is unsafe since there are so many conflicting characteristics to consider. It is only really useful to compare a country’s previous performance and economic performance against the present report to identify if it has improved or declined and even then basing judgements on performance figures alone is unsafe. It is better to read the report taking guidance from the information to be found at: “

With the foregoing in mind, the BBC headline grabbing report “” (as usual) seeks to pervert the truth, placing perceived blame for failings in the performances of 15 year old pupils, in its entirety on the SNP government. Par for the course, this is a blatant attempt to distort the truth, (yet again).



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This is the truth:

In 2012 a major core academic subject study of 500,000 students aged 15, (conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)) identified that the performance of British schoolchildren had failed to improve over the period 1997-2012 despite a multi-billion pound rise in education spending, (under the New Labour government) taking the spend on education above the world average.

The difference in performance was particularly significant when compared to pupils in the Far East, (China, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan) but in general terms teenagers in other developed countries of the world (Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) were also edging ahead of the UK.

The review ranked the UK 26th for maths, 23rd for reading and 21st for science. An overall performance markedly similar to previous years (but the first time ever that the UK had failed to make the top 20 in any subject.) Other countries had improved in the same period giving the effect that education in the UK was foundering. Within the UK, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland achieved broadly similar results but Wales lagged behind in all three disciplines.

In 2012 around £60K was invested in each child a figure only bettered by a few other nations. For comparison this was double the amount spent by the world leader, China, meaning that its performance would have been even better if it had invested the same amount of financial support as the UK.

Another major concern in the report drew attention to the much vaunted (by the Labour government) year-after-year rise in headline test results (between 1997 and 2010,) fuelling concern over “grade inflation” (dumbing down standards artificially improving results. The revelation further fuelled allegations that the £30 billion rise in spending, (under Labour) had been wasted casting a major shadow over the Labour government’s education record since it had failed to translate into improved standards.



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The study recommended that:

* Much greater emphasis should be given to the selection and training of teachers, encouraging them to work together, prioritising investment in teacher quality, not classroom sizes.

* Teachers should be set clear targets and outcomes, coupled with autonomy in the classroom.

* The status of the teaching profession should be placed higher in society (mirroring that of the Police). Providing opportunity for recruitment and retention of a much higher quality of students.

* Whilst the need for reform was urgent it was crucial to take time, completing a wide ranging consultation of all interested parties and other nations before introducing any further changes to an already badly bruised service.



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9 Year analysis:

                                              2009  2012  2015  9 Yr Ave  Mean Ave

Maths:                                   493     495      493      493            502
Reading:                               495     500      500      498
Science:                                515     516       512      514

Maths:                                  499    498     491       496             501
Reading:                              500    506     493       500
Science:                               513    514      497       508
Northern Ireland:

Maths:                                 492   487      493        490            498
Reading:                             499   498      497        498
Science:                              511    507      500        506

Maths:                                472    468     478       472             480
Reading:                            476    480     477       478
Science:                             496    491     485       491



Scotland was consistently the best performing home nation in Maths and Reading and second to England only in Science



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Signs of a Westminster Civil Service Rebellion Against the Rule of Sir Jeremy (Machiavelli) Heywood – A Deserving Cause



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Sir Jeremy Heywood, Downing Street Cabinet Secretary Issues Warning letter About Information Leaks – letter is Leaked to the press the Day After

Prime Minister, Theresa May instructed her Cabinet Secretary to take urgent action preventing government officials from leaking information to journalists. He acted immediately, issuing a warning memo to permanent secretaries in government departments to say that the “spate of corrosive leaks” must end. The content of the memo was passed on to a national newspaper within days. In the memo said: “Anyone found to have leaked sensitive information will be dismissed, even where there is no compromise of national security.” He then set out plans to review areas vulnerable to leaks and to place security teams in charge of ramped-up inquiries into who was passing information on.
Comment: Hoisted with his own petard methinks. His gathering, organisation and direction of the (fifth column) of English senior civil servants who conducted a very effective fear campaign against Scots before and throughout the 2014 Independence referendum was reprehensible. And adding insult to injury the salaries and expenses of the team were charged to the Scottish Office. I have added information below providing explanation of the rightful grievances held by Scots against corrupt civil servants who gloated at an after Independence party that they had thoroughly enjoyed their time away from routine duties stuffing the Scots who had the effrontery to challenge Westminster




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Heywoods team of Fifth columnists scuppered the Scots in 2014


2014: Westminster Civil Service, “Devolved Countries Unit”, (Dirty Tricks) campaign team wins “special” Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award

The award, in recognition of the team’s outstanding achievement in making a difference on an issue of national significance, (the Referendum) was presented by the ”Cabinet Secretary and civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood. The proud team commented afterwards;

Paul Doyle; “This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda. The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”

William MacFarlane, Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Budget and Tax Strategy); “As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”

Shannon Cochrane; “we’ve learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you’re very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it’s possible to find your way through and to make a difference.

Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Public Policy); “In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don’t get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we’ve worked with the rest of Whitehall. We all had something in common, we’re trying to save the Union here, and it came so close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in. After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award. As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”
Comment; Any mention of the team members in the New Year honours list would be the ultimate kick in the teeth. It was always my understanding that Civil Servants were strictly apolitical and deployment to duties such as described is forbidden. But Sir Jeremy Heywood simply ignores the rules as he sees fit.



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Revealed: Treasury’s RBS email leak came from Westminster ‘referendum dirty tricks’ department

The UK Treasury has been accused of running a, “political dirty tricks department” spinning against Scottish independence after it emerged sensitive information about Royal Bank of Scotland plans to leave the country in the event of a Yes vote was leaked by a civil servant in charge of, “referendum communications” within the department. The email, sent to journalists the week before the referendum, stated RBS had plans to move its base to London in the event of independence, triggering headlines viewed as a blow to the Yes campaign.

It was issued while the RBS board was meeting to discuss the matter, and before the bank had made a statement to the financial markets – a breach of trading rules. First Minister Alex Salmond demanded a criminal investigation into the matter, while Edinburgh financier and Independent Midlothian councillor Peter de Vink, an RBS shareholder, also asked the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and police to investigate.

The Sunday Herald has now obtained a copy of the email, which shows it was sent by a civil servant who is head of Scottish Referendum Communications at the Treasury. City of London Police are also now probing the complaint by de Vink and are in the process of contacting, “relevant individuals and organizations”. SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie MP yesterday said the fact the email had been sent by the head of Scottish Referendum Communications was an, “extraordinary revelation”. He said: “The previous claims by the Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] that the Treasury was, “promoting financial stability” in revealing RBS plans has been totally blown apart by the revelation that it was actually a pro-active email from an official in a so-called, “Scottish referendum unit” and released while the RBS board was actually in session.

“It seems that the London Treasury had a political dirty tricks department operating throughout the referendum campaign. However, the huge problem they now face is the increasing likelihood that this particular trick was not just dirty but illegal.” Hosie added: “I will now table a series of Parliamentary questions on this issue to add to the proper and comprehensive investigations which must now take place.”

The Treasury email was sent to journalists at 10.16pm on September 10, around 25 minutes before the RBS board meeting on the issue had finished. It contained a response to a statement issued by Lloyds Banking Group which stated it had contingency plans to establish “new legal entities” in England in the event of a Yes vote. But it also gave a quote from a “Treasury source” which said: “As you would expect, RBS have also been in touch with us and have similar plans to base themselves in London.” The following day, RBS issued a statement to the markets which confirmed its intention to, “redomicile” in the event of a Yes vote, but added it would intend to retain a, “significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland”.

RBS chief Ross McEwan also issued a letter to staff in the morning saying the business was based in Scotland because of the, “skills and knowledge of our people, and the sound business environment”. It added, “So far, I see no reason why this would change should we implement our contingency plans … I know many of you will have already heard about this first in the media. My apologies for that, on this occasion this was unavoidable.”

Heywood, head of the civil service, subsequently rejected demands by Salmond that the matter be investigated. He stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source as stating that the bank would follow Lloyds in its plans to move its registered HQ out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.

In a response to Salmond, he claimed it was, “simply a confirmation of the Treasury’s understanding of RBS’ contingency planning”. He added, “The Treasury judged that it was important to set this out – at a time when the UK financial markets were closed – given their overarching responsibility for maintaining financial stability in the UK.”

Salmond subsequently wrote to the head of the FCA, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, and the Commissioner of Police for the City of London urging action over the alleged leaking of market-sensitive information. He stated the grounds for his belief a criminal offence may have been committed, including: that decisions of such a substantial nature should be a matter for the bank to report “openly and transparently” to markets; and that there had been improper disclosure of market-sensitive information, which is “tantamount to insider dealing”. He also raised concerns the action by the Treasury would have potentially created uncertainty if its information had differed from the position taken by the RBS board when its meeting had concluded.

De Vink, who filed complaints on the potential leaking of market sensitive information two days after the Treasury email was sent, said he has now been contacted by City of London Police and invited to attend an interview next month. He said: “They have asked would you come in and talk to us, which is what I am going to do in November. “I told them while it is a political issue, that doesn’t take away that what happened was absolutely unacceptable.” De Vink also criticised the FCA for a lack of response, describing its attitude as “lackadaisical”. “I find it incredible that these things are allowed to happen,” he added, “If anyone else would have done that they would have had the book thrown at them and quite understandably.”

The Sunday Herald asked the FCA if the complaints were being investigated. A spokeswoman said it was unable to comment on individual complaints. A spokesman for City of London Police confirmed it had received the letter from de Vink and added: “We are now speaking to the relevant individuals and organisations.” The Treasury claimed the person who sent the email was a “junior civil servant”, despite his position as head of Scottish Referendum Communications.

In a previous role he was press officer to former financial secretary to the Treasury, Greg Clark. The Treasury also refused to give any details of who approved the email being sent out. Last night, a spokesman for the Treasury said: “As is a matter of public record, the Cabinet Secretary has written to the former [sic] First Minister on this matter, and rejected any suggestion of improper actions by civil servants.”

Jim McKay commented. Heywood stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source. He must have reference for that report? Newspaper, date and edition. And what RBS source? Smoke and mirrors. He’s lying.



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Sir Jeremy Heywood




Scottish Affairs Committee Meeting – 2015 – Scottish Office – Matters Arising From the 2014 Independence Referendum– in attendance

Chair: Welcoming Francesca Osowska, OBE, Director, of the Scotland Office, to the Scottish Affairs Committee; the chairman said “we are very grateful for you coming along today. If you would like to introduce yourself and say what you do, and if there is an initial statement that you want to make to the Committee, please feel free to use that time.”

Francesca Osowska: Thank you very much. I am Francesca Osowska. I am Director for the Scotland Office and I am also Principal Accounting Officer for the Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General. I have no opening statement, other than that I am very pleased to appear before the Committee to answer questions on the Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General Annual Report and Accounts for 2014-15.

Chair: One of the things that struck me, perhaps you could explain to me how this works is that there are 100 staff currently employed within the Scotland Office. Is that correct, roughly 100 staff?

Francesca Osowska: Yes.

Chair: The last year, as I think we touched on, has been a particularly trying year, with lots of pieces of significant and substantial work, particularly the referendum and the Smith Commission. What do you see as the main issues and challenges and the main thrust of your work as you go forward over the next year or two years in the parliamentary term?

Francesca Osowska: We have a strong constitutional role, primarily in relation to the Scotland Bill, which, as you are aware, is passing through these Houses at the moment. That is a key priority for the Scotland Office. In addition we continue to be the voice of Scotland in Whitehall, so our work with other Government Departments across Whitehall, in terms of ensuring that they appreciate the devolution settlement and that they are conscious of the Scottish context, will continue. Similarly, we are the voice of the UK Government in Scotland and, again, we work co-operatively with other Government Departments who have reserved responsibilities in Scotland to ensure that the UK government can work effectively in Scotland.

Chair: Do you have any sense of the balance? I am quite intrigued by seeing that you are the voice of Scotland and Whitehall and the voice of the UK Government in Scotland. How would you see that balancing out in terms of the commitment to either of those fine offices?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of numbers of staff?

Chair: No, not in terms of numbers of staff but about how much time or effort. Do you see yourself primarily as the voice of Scotland in Whitehall or do you see more of a role as being the voice of the UK Government in Scotland? How would you characterise the effort that is put on to each of those very laudable aims and objectives?

Francesca Osowska: If I were to take those objectives along with our constitutional objectives which, as I mentioned, include the Scotland Bill, but also include responsibilities in terms of Scotland Act orders and LCMs—then I would say that we give those equal weight.

Margaret Ferrier: Looking at the 2015-16 budget for the Scotland Office it was set at £5.8 million in the 2013 spending round, but the most recent main estimate asked Parliament to approve an additional £3 million for capability enhancement. What are these additional funds for?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of the out turn for 2014-15 the total combined out turn for the Office of the Advocate General and the Scotland Office was £7.7 million. You will appreciate that that did include an uplift from the original budget setting process that occurred in 2010.

At that point, a referendum was not anticipated; a lot of the work in terms of 2014-15 has been the follow through or was related to the referendum, so the work in the run up to the referendum, contributing to the Scotland analysis papers for example, supporting Ministers as they gave public information to inform the debate about the referendum, and that explains the increase in that provision.

Margaret Ferrier: These public Ministers, are you meaning UK Ministers?

Francesca Osowska: Yes.

Margaret Ferrier: Not Scottish Government?

Francesca Osowska: No.

Margaret Ferrier: The Annual Report and Accounts show that general administration costs rose by about 8% from £7.2 million in 2013-14 to £7.7 million in 2014-15. Why do you feel the general administration costs are rising? Is there another reason, other than the referendum debate that was taking place?

Francesca Osowska: No. As I said earlier, the very initial budget was set in 2010 as part of that spending review. The referendum was not anticipated at that point and this increase represents the resources dedicated by the Scotland Office to supporting the work of the UK Government, overall, in informing the referendum debate.

Kirsty Blackman: The Scotland Office had allocated to it and spent an extra £3 million helping UK Government Ministers with information about the referendum, mainly?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of the increase, there are a number of different figures being talked about here. It might be helpful if I wrote to the Committee after this hearing to set out the sequence of events, because there were uplifts granted and changes in the Budget made from the original 2010 provision at different periods, including during the course of 2013-14, so I do not think it is entirely correct to say it was a single jump of £3 million.

In terms of what that money delivered and the outcomes that the Scotland Office delivered, I would refer the Committee to chapter 3 of the report. That sets out quite a detailed analysis of the outcomes and the outputs from the five objectives set by the Scotland Office, and certainly part of that work and a focus of that work in 2014-15 was in relation to the run-up and then the after-events—including the Smith Commission—of the referendum.

Chair: It would be helpful if you write to the Committee to explain properly what that £3.3 million did account for. What we are hearing is that this might have been the figure that was used for the referendum campaign, for the “No” campaign, and used by UK Ministers to take part in the referendum. Would that be roughly a correct characterisation of that spending?

Francesca Osowska: However, in answer to your question, Mr Chairman in relation to “Was this a way of the Government funding the ‘No’ campaign?” this was to fund the activities of UK Government civil servants, in line with the civil service code. All activities undertaken by civil servants in my Department would meet a propriety test, yet I think you would agree that in the run-up to a referendum, obviously when Ministers want to be more visible, when we need to ensure that there is a good flow of public information.



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Francesca Osowska: Common Purpose Member






Scotland Office – A Political Propaganda Unit maintained to retain supremacy over Scotland

The Scotland Office occupies plush Dover House in Whitehall and is supposed to look after our interests down south. But its role has shrunk dramatically since devolution in 1999.

It has been revealed that 20 staff, employed to deal with mail, replied to 1252 letters in 2006-2007 – just over one per member of staff every week. The letter scandal follows a series of damning reports on money-wasting at the department.

In 2009/10 around 50 staff, (working between Edinburgh and Dover House, in London,) claimed £75,000 hotel expenses spent £8000 contracting a supplier to provide and maintain office greenery (plants).

Matthew Elliot, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “These figures show how little work the Scotland Office is doing at the same time as it is costing taxpayers an extortionate amount.



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David Mundell accused of turning Scotland Office into ‘marketing campaign for the Union’

A row has broken out over the cost of the Scotland Office’s press operation. The Scotland Office plans to increase its complement of communications officers to nine in the current financial year, at a cost of £474,000.

Launching a fierce attack on the spending James Dornan (SNP) said: “The Tory government are implementing massive cuts to spending on public services and slashing the incomes of the poorest through welfare cuts, and many Scots will be shocked that they are spending over 430 per cent more on press officers for David Mundell. It is clear that the Scotland Office’s only role is as a marketing campaign for the Union. Scotland did not choose a Tory government, yet it is now paying hundreds of thousands to promote Tory policies.”

In response a UK government in Scotland spokesman said: “The UK Government has a duty to inform the public about its policy and work. These modest year-on-year increases bring the office into line with similar UK departments. It also adds new functions such as digital communications, ensuring key information reaches as many people in Scotland as possible.”









The UK Government of Scotland. Where the hell did that come from?

The cost of provisioning Mundell’s recently created UK government in Scotland is extortionately high and is ever increasing year on year without justification or satisfactory explanation. Indeed a House of Commons report submitted in 2005/2006 recorded that the Scotland Office was hopelessly overstaffed and recommended a 50 per cent establishment reduction.

But from the time the Tory Government took up the reins of government salary costs have increased year on year, but it is only recently that the method in the apparent madness of the Tory Government has surfaced. The Scotland Office is no longer a team existing to assist Scotland and it’s devolved government. It is the UK Government of Scotland. Its supremo is David Mundell assisted by the unelected, (but highly paid) Lord Dunlop.

Francesca Osowska in a number of her evasive statements to the Scottish Affairs Committee misleadingly glossed over the expensive and extensive work of a large group of (supposedly politically neutral) Civil Servants who actively supported the objectives of the “Better Together” campaign. A gross misuse of public finances and Civil Servants authorised by David Cameron and Sir Jeremy Heywood.

In addition the matter of the vastly oversized Scottish Office staffing establishment was referred to but she seek to justify retention of the previously advised 50+ excess staffing of the Scottish Office over the Welsh Office. In consequence at least 50+ unjustified posts are charged to Scotland’s block grant each year.

The political slush fund created by the foregoing is an ever increasing Tory Party financial nest egg (skimmed off Scotland’s block financial grant) abused by the Scottish Office for questionable purposes, such as:

* Creation of a Downing Street based, anti – Scottish independence fifth column civil service team.

* Production, printing and distribution (to the homes of the entire Scottish electorate) of millions of anti-devolution propaganda.

* Hiring Special Advisors (SpAds), often sons, daughters, other relations, friends of ministers or other MP’s.














Glasgow Rangers Fans – Westminster Unionists or Scottish Patriots? If You Know their History You Wouldn’t Have to Ask – True Teddy Bears Are Wrap Themselves in the Saltire



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Glasgow Rangers Scottish Fan-base and Scottish Independence

The total number of fans, family dependents and associates of voting age in Scotland is estimated to be between 250,000-350,000. Of these guestimates are that around 30% voted Yes in the 2014 referendum. Allocating the remainder to the “no” vote increases that total by 175,000 – 245,000. The numbers are significant and much work needs to be done (between now and the date if the next referendum) to convince the bulk of the Unionist supporting fans and their dependents that their future is with a Scotland free from the false utopia that is Westminster. But the challenge is immense and an understanding of what drives them is crucial to the outcome. The message to the supporters favouring independence is, “Ditch the Union Jack, wrap yourselves in the blue of Scotland and claim your freedom from a system that has sent the grim reaper on many occasions to claim the lives of many hundreds of thousands of your countrymen and women in the name of patriotism and visited, oppression, mayhem, theft and suffering on many millions of Scots.”



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Glasgow Rangers – From the Start

In the early years of the nineteenth century, Scotland was the most Protestant country in the world, and probably the most literate. The immigrants who then began to drift in from Ireland – first in a trickle then, after the Famine, in a torrent – were sharply differentiated from the society they were joining – or at least intending to live alongside. They were Catholic, many of them Gaelic-speaking, as big a proportion semi-literate at best. To an extent that was never true south of the border, Catholicism in Scotland emerged as a specifically Irish phenomenon – now presenting cut-price competition for a disciplined Protestant working class with, already, a well-developed sense of its own place and entitlements.

Celtic was founded in 1888 with a conscious perspective of giving expression to the sense of identity of the Catholic-Irish community. Within five years the club had, astonishingly, established itself as the leading side in the – admittedly still semi-organised – Scottish football set-up.

The underdogs, or at least the underdogs’ colour-coded representatives, were suddenly top of the pile. Celtic’s first honorary president (jointly with the archbishop of Glasgow), Land League leader Michael Davitt, exulted: “The Celtic club is the pride of the Irish race”.

Small wonder that many in Scotland who associated themselves with the kirk, the Queen and the Tartan establishment felt a jolt of angry disbelief at what seemed the overthrow of the natural order of things. It was inevitable that any side which came forward to put a halt to the upstarts’ swagger would become a focus for Protestant loyalty – and Loyalism. Rangers stepped up to the mark.

The club had been founded in 1872. It was now, 10 years on, that the “no Catholics need apply” signs were erected around Ibrox. The establishment of a Harland and Wolff shipyard brought a fresh influx of Belfast Protestant shipyard workers, hardening attitudes and helping give Glasgow sectarianism its razor’s edge. The ideological character of Rangers which was to persist for more than a hundred years was set by the material circumstances of the time.

Competition between the separate sections of the working class for jobs, status and access to resources constantly replenished resentments and reinforced division. There was nothing ersatz or merely symbolic about the howls of hate exchanged at Parkhead or Ibrox on Saturday afternoons. The social function of football was to give unrestrained raucous expression to the underlying tensions of workaday life, the champions of each tradition going out uniformed to do battle on their supporters’ behalf.

And thus, with the occasional, soon-corrected stumble off the narrative line, things were to remain until the 1960s when, the world over, old certainties began to fragment and fade. Traditional industries declined, dragging down old elites. The Conservative and Unionist Party went into its free-fall phase. The role of religion receded. The influence of the Orange Order on business, the professions, the civil service, the judiciary etc began steadily to weaken. Rangers “constituency” was shrinking.

Celtic’s triumph in the European Cup in 1967 and the completion of the nine-in-a-row run of League titles brought the football dimension of this harsh new truth home to Ibrox.



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Glasgow Rangers and Its Unionist Links.

Graeme Souness, a self-professed right winger and trophy hunter who had spent little time in the country of his birth and his good friend David Murray took over ownership of Rangers at the beginning of 1988/89 and established close friendships with a number of Thatcher’s Tory party MP’s and associated activists. He went on to dismantle many of the Clubs hallowed traditions which did not endear him to many fans but his arrogance knew no bounds and he ploughed on regardless of consequence in single minded pursuit of gaining success for the Club. Which he achieved but at an excessive unsustainable financial cost.

It was the desire for European success which prompted Murray to borrow massive sums from the Bank of Scotland using the assets of the club as collateral. And it appeared to work to the Clubs advantage, the money helped lure top-flight players to Ibrox and Rangers re-established themselves as the number one Club in Scotland. And all this was achieved without anyone (apart from Murray and a tight-knit coterie around him – as well as, presumably, account managers at the Bank of Scotland) – knowing that the club was meantime sinking ever deeper into what Americans might call the doo-doo.

Rubber stamping the new regime had been formalised on March 10, 1990, when Murray, (a personal friend of Malcolm Rifkind and the Conservative Party leadership in Scotland and London), organised a visit of Margaret Thatcher to Ibrox Stadium to make the Scottish Cup semi-final draw before the quarter-finals had been played. This was one of the proudest days of Graeme Souness’s life as he gloried in showing his heroine round the wonderful new stadium and introduced her to his players, all instructed to be smartly dressed for the occasion. She described the stadium as ”legendary” and said: ”It leads the UK in the excellence of its facilities.” The visit confirmed Glasgow Rangers as a Unionist entity which exists as much today as it did then.

After a number of years at the top of Scottish football successive failures to qualify for European competitions brought about a financial crisis and this linked to Inland Revenue investigations of wrong doing resulted in the club folding in default of a number of loans. A new club was then formed and had to compete at the lowest levels of the Scottish Football League. After 5 years in the lower leagues the new Glasgow Rangers returned to the Premier Division in 2016. (1)

(1) It is noteworthy that in a number of important legal actions associated with its financial mismanagement the Club was represented by Richard Keen QC, (now Baron Keen of Elie) a Conservative Party politician who was appointed Advocate-General for Scotland on 29 May 2015. Keen is one of Scotland’s richest men.



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16 May 2008: Murdo Fraser and his Ill-Judged Remarks

Will Fraser, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives ever learn? Protest in haste and repent at leisure. He must learn to contain his enthusiasm, or prejudice, before rushing out statements that turn out to be not exactly adjacent to the truth.

Questioning the heavy handed use of Manchester riot police against Glasgow Rangers fans, he also voiced concern about the approach of the Manchester city authorities in coping with the invasion of so many Rangers fans. It was chastening when a somewhat chagrined Mr Fraser, a few hours later, had to eat his words when he’d seen what the rest of Scotland saw – namely Fraser’s peace-loving Rangers fans attacking the forces of law and order in the most bestial fashion.

Fraser, in statement number two said: “The attacks on police officers and paramedics are deplorable and have to be condemned without reservation.” The moral of this story is that when it comes to issues of public order, politicians shouldn’t rush to judgement – especially when it comes to the supporters of Glasgow Rangers, or any other, football club. One cannot believe that the fact that Mr Fraser is a supporter of the Ibrox club played any part in his initial statement. Perish the thought.



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Murdo Fraser, like other Tories really believes that by defending sectarian bigots and by identifying the Tories with a club like Glasgow Rangers will endear them to the Scottish working class. This reminds me of the 1996 Tory Conference in Perth when they had a piper outside playing the sash. The fact is that the working class in Scotland have left these bigoted and outdated attitudes behind them at least 40 years ago. Even if Murdo Fraser’s remarks do get the Tories an extra few votes, he has lost his party ten times as many votes. I can’t stand Labour but the Tories are so stupid and so outdated they deserve to be heading for complete extinction.



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13 November 2011: Unionists and their sectarian tweets – Ruth Davidson’s staff provoke outrage

On April 17th, the day of a Scottish Cup semi-final match between Aberdeen and Celtic, Taylor wrote: ‘Hope the sheep absolutely hump the tims today’ –(tim is a term of anti-Catholic abuse.)

Taylor is not the first member of her staff to embroil her in a sectarian related controversy. At the very beginning of her recent campaign for the leadership of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson had to fire her Holyrood assistant Ross McFarlane – Mr McFarlane was filmed burning a European Union flag in Glasgow while sectarian remarks were made by a companion. At the time of the incident, Mr McFarlane was the president of the GUCA, as well as being Ruth Davidson’s Holyrood election agent.

The cases of McFarlane and Taylor have highlighted Davidson’s ties to Glasgow University Conservative Association (GUCA) – according to their website Ms Davidson is the group’s honorary president. She attended GUCA’s annual dinner Friday 11th. It has been noted that Ms Davidson when referring to her party repeatedly uses the name Conservative and Unionist – the emphasis on Unionist being evident. A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said: “The allegations against Mr Taylor have been fully investigated and he has been issued with a formal warning. Mr Taylor deeply regrets the comments and he apologises for any offense he has caused.”



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26 October 2012: Threats and intimidation at the hands of Rangers’ ‘fans’

Channel 4 news broadcast a report bringing to public attention alleged intimidation (by a hardcore minority the clubs fans,) of those perceived to be instrumental in the relegation of Glasgow Rangers to the fourth tier of Scottish football. The content was controversial and generated a fair amount of press coverage. Aspects of the report surfaced again in the course of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign.









22 July 2014: Glasgow Rangers fans on Scottish Independence

Pre-match interview of a group of Rangers supporters revealed an astonishing level of vitriolic malice aimed at anything supportive of Scottish independence. One fan, wearing an England football top was particularly intimidating, (check the video at 2:31)








14 September 2014: Last Week Tonight Show – Hosted by Political Commentator( Englishman) John Oliver

Oliver hosts a very popular weekly show on HBO. It usually finds its way to U-Tube and is highly recommended viewing. Just before the 2014 Scottish Referendum he presented his analysis of the referendum campaign in his usual irreverent fashion. Gaining an understanding of his views requires the viewer to enjoy the humour but assimilate the messages. As example his analogy (comparing the relationship between England and Scotland and Harry Potter and Ron) is classic observation. “I’ll have all the powers, and your brothers can die fighting my wars.”









19 September 2014: Vice news report on the outcome of the referendum

A well made documentary concentrating on the euphoria of Unionist supporters and the pain of Yes voters.











20 September 2014: Vanguard Bears Rangers Supporters Organise Clash with Independence Supporters in George Square

It was early evening. Independence supporters had gathered earlier in the day in George Square with the purpose of peacefully discussing the shock outcome of the referendum, less than 36 hours before. At around 18:30 a group of about 200 Glasgow Rangers fans (gathered by the Vanguard bears) entered the square and started intimidating the despondent “Yes” voters. Police attended in numbers and soon established control of a potentially explosive situation. But there were casualties, caused by Rangers Unionist fans attacking “Yes supporters without cause or reason.









16 January 2015: Glasgow Rangers: A club in danger of losing its identity

From Scotland’s favourite team to financial free fall. How an illustrious football club became an emblem of a faltering belief in Britain

Ibrox stadium, August 25 2011: Rangers FC, the Scottish club that is one of the most famous names in world football, are 15 minutes away from being knocked out of Europe by the champions of Slovenia. The team needs one more goal to take the game into extra time. This is the moment that, traditionally, a home team would be rallied by its fans bellowing, baying, singing a rousing song. Instead, the Glasgow crowd strikes up a weary chorus of the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen”. Rangers fail to score.

Soon, the whole club is in need of divine intervention. Without the funds from lucrative European cup competition, years of hubris and inept leadership catch up with Rangers. In February 2012, it enters administration. Four months later, it is liquidated. Following votes by other clubs, a new incarnation of the club that has been champions a record 54 times starts the 2012/13 season in Scottish football’s fourth tier.

Rangers draws much of its support from working-class fans in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, many of whom identify themselves as Protestant unionists. A spectator at the game said: “It seemed to me that too many fans are more concerned about defending Britishness than supporting Rangers.”

Today Rangers is a faded emblem of a faltering belief in the UK: a Scottish institution in Britain and a British institution in Scotland. Its rise and fall reflects not only how a football club lost sense of financial reality but much of its identity, too. Its story represents an imperfect microcosm of contemporary Scottish and British history.




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17 April 2016: Twitter – Murdo Fraser wrote: Rangers 5 Celtic 4 – The Queen’s 11 deliver Her Majesty the perfect Birthday present. The Scottish Cup


* Just watch the singing. I’d have thought keeping football well apart from the politics of the constitution might be advisable.
* Dry your eyes Of course the Queen is a Rangers fan. And a Tory. And a unionist. Like all good folks.
* What’s more embarrassing – following a Glasgow club when you’re from Perth or being a Tory? It’s a toughie!
* Police Scotland. After your pep talk with players might be worth blowing in this supposedly responsible politicians ear!!
* What is the connection with rangers and the queen. Can you explain please?
* Is this really the sort of acceptable comportment from an MSP who represents all, regardless of how/who they vote/support?
* You sir are a right wing disgrace of a politician.
* Were you elected to serve only certain people in Scotland? Remember who pays your salary and behave yourself man!
* Why are you trying to stir up tension? You need to answer this.
* We are trying to move on from this bile you headcase.
* Lost the right to say the queens 11 when they diddled millions in tax good luck with your career.
* Perth based Tory Rangers fan in popular cultural reference shocker. We need a summit + special police powers.
* A Tory, Rangers, Royalist in the unionist and conservative party. It’s hardly earth shattering news.
* Her perfect Birthday present would be the Rangers paying back of her stolen taxes.
* Sure the Queen would be happier if your club paid the tax that they cheated her out of for all those years. Shameful Comment.
* I think she’d prefer them to deliver their taxes to her Revenue & Customs officers.
* Of course they are the Queens 11, they love to avoid tax too. All in it together.
* The daftest thing abut this tweet is the thought that the Queen cares what the score with Rangers was! Ill-judged tweet though.
* Aye Murdo, I’m sure there wont be anyone more thrilled about the Rangers result than Queen Elizabeth II.
* Do you think it’s suitable to be condoning the politicisation of football when there is such tensions?
* Glad you’re able to rise above the sectarian bile associated with the old firm. Oh, wait…
* Great to see politicians at the vanguard of progress towards a Scottish society not blighted by the bile of sectarianism. Pun.
* Scotland’s shame back on the agenda.Could you explain what you mean to my wee granddaughters.
* What has the birthday of a 90 year old Englishwoman who lives 400 miles away got to do with a Scottish football match?
* Congrats on the result. Any comment on the tens of thousands of people singing sectarian songs in the Rangers end yesterday?
* Pleased to hear Rule Britannia being sung by only a few at Hampden Must mean something for the Queens11 & dinosaurs like you.
* Did you really tweet that? My god man, what is wrong with you?!
* What else might Her Majesty like? Loyalists burning saltire’s in George Sq again? GSTQ’s verse about crushing rebellious Scots?
* The queen cares about *Rangers as much as you do the working class.
* Rangers fans know your a toxic Tory. Jog on with your opportunistic crap!
* Can’t believe I just read this, with this causing such a divide across our nation, did you really think this was a good idea?
* Sectarianism is alive and well.
* Amazing you haven’t got further in life than the Scottish Tory party with this level of emotional intelligence pal.
* If the good people of Perthshire are thick enough to vote for you, they deserve you, numpty!
* Well you’ve just lost my vote.
* What a vote winner, even the demographic you are trying to appeal to know won’t buy it!
* Couldn’t care less for your football rivalry, but this is utter filth, same old bigot Tories.
* It may be a good idea to keep the political and religious nonsense out of football, a lot of young folk are atheist/agnostic
* When all right minded individuals are trying to eradicate sectarianism from football. This is your contribution. Shameful.
* To refer to the queens 11 after the tax dodging schemes does take a brass neck. But fair play your stupidity is a lesson 2 all
* Not the brightest tweet by a Tory politician. But when are they ever……?
* Scraping the barrel going for the Bigoted wife beaters but spose an another votes a vote
* Don’t mind the fitba stuff it’s the whole ” I’m a Tory ” thing that gives me the boak
* Another reason not to vote Tory. Arrogance personified. Shouldn’t you support you’re local club over a Glasgow club. Shameful!
* I’m a Rangers fan & I’m delighted by the result but associating anything beyond football with this fixture is irresponsible.
* Good to see some Rangers FC fans take Murdo to task for the toe curling creepiness of his remarks.
* Representing all areas of Scottish society eh? Bigotry is not one,not in my name, shame on you! As a veteran I am appalled
* There’s a reason football and politics shouldn’t be mixed.
* I’m a Rangers fan and I wouldn’t post this tripe grow up your supposed to be a candidate to become an MSP.
* Disgusting behaviour for a politician to write something like this.
* Wow!!! Look at all the attention you got, what you were after obviously.
* Absolute shocking comment but typical of a Tory. Shameful every sense
* No wonder no-one votes conservative with tubes like you rocking about
* As much common-sense as your political capability, zero
* You should be ashamed of yourself Mr Fraser.
* An irresponsible and harebrained comment.
* Oh grow up, for Pete’s sake. What a truly moronic post.
* Typical Tory Unionist wee mindset. It was only a game of football
* And now garnering support from UKIP. Result Murdo. You must be so proud
* Am I missing something? Why is a politician tweeting such pish? What does the queen have to do with football?
* Why is this comment bigoted ? who gives two craps if the Queen is Hun.
* Time to break out the Lambeg drum and march up the Garvaghy Road. Her Maj would be proud
* What a sanctimonious tweet,can you also add how proud you must clearly be of your fans sectarian singing-bile like your tweet
* Celebratory sectarian nonsense on old firm day. Surely Ruth_E_Davidson has something to say on the matter? Scotland’s shame
* Ruth_E_Davidson you must be proud of your right hand man Ruth? Shocking and unprofessional personified.
* Ruth_E_Davidson you’ve just lost my planned second vote. This is seriously one of your candidates?
* Your comments are very naive, your an educated public servant and you should really think about stoking sectarian tensions
* Ridiculous coming from a grown man never mind someone in a responsible position. Absolute buffoon!! Get well Soon Rupert.
* Bringing football into politics, it’s already all over F.B. proves you bring football and religion into politics Scotland’s shame.
* I was never a fan of yours Murdo but I never thought you could sink this low. #shame.
* Ruth_E_Davidson Ruth between this & your head of media tweeting pornography what is going on within the conservative party!?
* Despair at the quality of our presumptive political class, sometimes.
* Insightful & helpful tweet from an idiot MSP.
* What a way to polarise one section of the electorate. Well done. I take it your not looking for votes from any other teams fans.



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20 July 2016: Brexit May Be Scotland’s Chance at Independence

Scottish nationalists may have failed in their 2014 bid for independence, but that wasn’t the end of the story. They’ve grown in strength and numbers, and now have another chance to push for a split from the United Kingdom. This video explores the resilience of the independence movement, how Brexit’s boosted its case, and why some say it’s is bad thing.







23 May 2016: The Rangers Forum – Scottish Cup Final – Rangers v Hibernian – A supporter Sent Adam Tomkins (MSP) an e-mail

I’m writing to hopefully discuss the disgusting scenes witnessed at Hampden yesterday. I would write to Nicola Sturgeon, but she’s already made it quite clear that she has no interest in condemning it, in fact, on the contrary.

At the age of 29, and having attended hundreds of football matches at both Ibrox and Hampden, I’ve never seen scenes like yesterday. As a Rangers supporter, it’s safe to say I feared for my safety, and to watch Rangers player getting attacked was my worst moment as a Rangers fan.

I appreciate there’s not a huge amount that can be done with the SNP in control, but I was curious to hear your thoughts on the matter, none the less, and hoped as the main opposition, you would be the best person to contact (I should mention I’m a local constituent).

Any suggestions on what can be done to take the matter further would be greatly appreciated. I think I speak for the majority of Rangers fans when I say that we can’t accept what happened yesterday getting swept under the rug by the SNP.

Adam Tomkins responded:

I was at the game: not on a corporate freebie but with Rangers season-ticket holders in the Rangers end. I used to be a season-ticket holder myself at Ibrox.

I have tweeted several messages about the disgraceful and dangerous actions of the Hibs fans in storming the pitch at the final whistle. Like you, I was appalled by what I saw. It is important that the police and SFA inquiries proceed without political interference, but I will be looking for answers to two sets of questions in particular:

* Why Hibs fans were allowed to reach Rangers players who were still on the field of play?

* Why the police seemed (to me) to take quite a while to restore order?

It is the job of MSPs to press for answers to questions such as these and you may be assured that I will not rest until I have them. I will be discussing with colleagues in the Parliament tomorrow morning what further action we as MSPs should take at this stage. As the father of four young children, a number of whom enjoy coming with me to football matches, I share your concerns. What follows, in case of interest, are the lines the Scottish Conservatives have put out today:

“The events after the final whistle at Hampden on Saturday ruined what should have been a day of celebration for the whole of Scottish football; not only the culmination of a long cup competition but the first time that two teams outside the top tier have competed in the final. While Hibs supporters will rightly wish to celebrate winning their first Scottish Cup in 114 years that can be no excuse for the reported assaults on players and officials, nor the destruction of the fabric of our national stadium.

l understand that Police Scotland have set up a unit to track down the perpetrators, and I would urge them to ensure that all routes are taken to identify and charge those involved in these criminal acts. Thereafter, it will be for Parliament to determine how best to review the performance of Police Scotland in responding to this disorder.

The hard work of the footballing authorities, the police, football teams and their supporters has meant that significant progress has been made in the past two decades in making attending football matches in Scotland safer and more enjoyable, sadly the scenes on Saturday represent a significant setback for that progress.” This is not the end of this matter, but I hope you can see from the above that we have made a start in getting to the bottom of this, with a view to ensuring that all relevant lessons are learned. With very best wishes: Adam Tomkins MSP: Conservative MSP for Glasgow :



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Forum members comments:

* Bravo Mr Tomkins, I actually trust this guy to do his best for us, most unusual for a politician.
* I’m heartened to read that response from Adam Tomkins MSP
* Thank you Mr.Tomkins and I trust that you will be vigilant when the SNP and Labour attempt to whitewash this affair.
* Puts his party leader to shame. If this guy was in charge, they would get more votes.
* One of the reasons why I voted Conservative for the first time in recent elections.
* That is the difference between a real political party and a shower of charlatans (SNP and Labour).
* Impressed with that response. Wee Nicola is my constituency MSP. I emailed her. Still waiting.
* He was one of my lecturers at uni. Self important, loves the sound of his own voice and very committed to the union. Didn’t know he was a bear. That reply is very good. Hope he delivers.
* Good reply, I hope he shares it with his party leader. She could learn from Prof Tomkins.
* I’ve written to mine whose constituency covers Hampden. Not expecting much … he’s an SNP ass-licking knob-end
* Just remember this is the result of voting Conservative in the Glasgow region. Far from a wasted vote. Correct, don’t give SNP or Labour your votes, they despise Gers fans.
* He is one of the reasons I voted conservative for the first time
* Puts his party leader to shame. If this guy was in charge, they would get more votes. She was too busy getting married. Don’t suppose she gave much thought to the game.
* Excellent response. I don’t know why we don’t vote more conservative in Scotland. SNP are fascist. Labour/liberals a joke.
* That is a good reply. Glad to see that we have someone our side. I was at the game (as I was in 1980) and Saturday was a lot worse.
* Best political response so far…..sadly maybe the only one. Saturdays troubles and concerns should transcend politics.
* Excellent reply from Mr Tomkins, it’s good to know we have a politician on our side, I may need some advice later.
* Read about him. Said he is a constitutional lawyer (whatever that is ) and academic and probably the cleverest person at Holyrood.
* Just gained a vote for Tory next elections. Bravo to him, hopefully he keeps his word.


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Westminster’s Capital Investment Policy and Scotland – Slash Their Budgets and When They Scream Throw Them a Bone and let them Fight Over it




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23 November 2016: Scotland to receive an £800m Boost to its Capital Budget (spread-over 5 years)

The money will be allocated to the Scottish Government over the five years through to 2020-21, as a result of increased infrastructure spending announced in the Autumn Statement.

But the money comes after reductions to the amount the Holyrood administration has to spend, which SNP ministers have branded “unacceptable”.

Prior to the Chancellor’s statement, Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Our discretionary budget will have been cut by £3.3 billion in real terms, or 10.6%, since 2010-11 and within this, our capital budget will have fallen by £600 million, or 15.7%.”



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Comment: Tory government hypocrisy – Massive budget cuts over 5 years balanced by a few heavily promoted projects worth a pittance.

Government spending on the maintenance of the UK’s existing physical assets and development of new projects — schools, hospitals, housing, roads, bridges, tunnels, rail, equipment and energy projects — has been ruthlessly reduced, (over £15bn) by the Conservative government, since 2010.

The foregoing conflicts with every budget statement, made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (from 2010 to 2016) who formally committed the government to an increase in capital expenditure, in real terms in each financial year.

Between 2009-10 and 2013-14 capital allocations to schools, communities and local government was reduced by nearly 60% following a government decision to cut many previously approved projects, including the Labour government’s Building for Schools programme of works project in 2010. The capital spend on housing was cut by nearly 65% in the same period and whilst the level of cuts in Health and Defence was much less these services were still unable to complete essential capital works.

Mandatory cuts were also imposed without regard to recurring financial commitments in support around 1000 PFI schemes costing around 4bn annually (a commitment expected to be in place for for at least 30 years at a cost to the UK of £120bn plus.) Noteworthy is the added burden at the end of contract period of either renewing agreements or a purchase of the estate, (which would be prohibitive.)

The UK’s highways bodies invested heavily in PFI (about triple the level of other agencies). This does not bode well for the future of the highways North of London with the massively expensive imminent HS2 development on the horizon taking priority. But the highway PFI will continue to be a drain on capital finances.



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