Thursday, 21 January 2010

FMQs 21 January 2010

Woeful, just woeful. I refer to the performance of Iain Gray, the leader of labour MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. His three questions centred on two paths which are part of the Cairngorm National Park but are close to the Balmoral estate. Mr Gray suggested the issue of whether the paths be noted on a map of the Park had been incorrectly handled.

The First Minister, in in his responses, robustly wiped the floor with Mr Gray who, for some strange reason, didn't seem to understand that after his first question was answered fully and succinctly he should change tack. He didn't and continued to dig himself into such a hole that he became the laughing stock of the whole chamber, other than his colleagues who, if you do watch the replay, displayed faces of incredulity.

As Mr Gray had also been on BBC radio Scotland this morning discussing the same subject and one which the Home Office had advised was a security issue concerning the royal family, Mr Salmond has asked the Home Office to investigate the leak of the security information.

Can I suggest if you want to see incompetence from the Scottish labour leader, please watch the first ten minutes of the replay. It shows, if nothing else, how inadequate and ineffectual the opposition is within the Scottish parliament and that is not good for our democracy.

Ms Goldie questioned the FM on walk-in surgeries. She appeared to be striving to push Scotland down the NHS privatisation route which England is speedily following. The FM was having none of it but one interesting fact did emerge from the exchange. Yesterday there was a report earlier this week from the Nuffield Institute which did a comparison study of the NHS is the 4 areas of the UK. The study was compiled on figures from 2006 and the Nuffield has now confessed they over-calculated the number of doctors in Scotland by 27%. Makes me wonder if any report is worth the paper it's written on these days.

The Libdem leader, Tavish Scott, in electioneering mode like the tories, asked about cutting the pay of top public service earners. Alex Salmond was quick to say he agreed with the principle but, as many of the contracts had been drawn up by the previous administration in which Mr Scott had been a minister, he would have difficulty enforcing them.

Jackie Baillie, the labour Health spokesperson, suggested the Scottish government were being slow to address any additional funding to the Thalidomide Association given that England had promised an extra £27m last week. The FM will discuss, with the Thalidomide Association, the needs of those affected by this tragic medical blunder and make extra funding available on a pro-rata basis with England.

That was FMQs for today. Many people would not believe Scottish labour could fall much further but they did and the Tories along with the LibDems are now obviously in full election mode. If you wish to watch it the programme is available on HolyroodTV and will also be available shortly on the BBC iPlayer. Do watch for the first 10 minutes or so and see the skill of a top-class politician and one I will gratuitously call second-rate.


TartanSeer said...

Quite agree, Gray was an embarrassment.

However most of this will pass the voters by if the 'reporting' of BBC Scotland is anything to go by.

A simple editing job & hey presto, Gray & the FM are on equal terms.

Nothing about Salmond's demolition of Gray's pitch & the utter inability of the leader of the opposition to think on his feet, change tack & ask questions of genuine import.

Come to think of it, BBC Scotland were up to the same tricks when it came to the powerline decision & minimum pricing for alcohol.

subrosa said...

I can't do anything other than concur with your comment TartanSeer.

Allan said...

I saw the Nuffield report yesterday being reported ad nausium. Would i be right in thinking that prehaps this institute might be funded by one of the private healthcare companies?

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

I think Goldie's point on the right of access of Scottish NHS patients to GP surgeries is valid.

Her point is not about privatisation or anything, she made clear from my point of view her own committment to a continued NHS free at the point of need. But she had a valid point about GP walk-in surgeries.

Other than that, I agree with what you say about Gray. Totally discredited man, can we honestly see him being first minister going into 2011 Holyrood GE? I dont think so, that is why SNP admin is secure for another term.

Need to watch for losses on the regional list though, to SSP, LibDem and Tory, and green...its going to be a tight one!

subrosa said...

Allan I tried to find out how they were funded with no success, before I posted. Perhaps others with better search skills can find out.

subrosa said...

Glad to hear your view Dean but I think Annabel Goldie is wrong.

The only place I can see that 'walk in' surgeries would be of any good are in Glasgow and Edinburgh and I've never heard the people of either city complain loudly about GP access. As for her saying anyone who walks in can be seen by a doctor within 15 minutes that's just tripe.

I know folk in London who have tried this (private and profitable) system. Yes they see a doctor within 15 minutes but it's certainly not a consultation, it's just a 'hello'. This is another move from the Westminster parliament to privatise the health service.

We don't want that here. Did you watch BBC Scotland news tonight and see the innovations we have in the Scottish NHS? People from the island being able to send their daily health report straight to their mainland doctor? That costs money. It would cost a great deal more if private medicine was involved.

Yes indeed, it is going to be tight because of split votes but I'm sure the SNP are up to it.

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

Oh the SNP are certainly up for it Subrosa.

But the NHS in Scotland has made some very real progress, the number of docs and nurses per year brought into the system has been great. But what is required is not a continuation of this priorities.

We need a new priority plan, to see more decentralisation, localisation in the system. Yes this shall cost a lot of dosh, but I believe in localisation.

That said, surely walk in GP surgeries at more patient-friendly hours is part of this plan? Decentralisation and localisation [i.e. communitarianism] demands an element of independent sector involvement share the burdens of these high costs.

But we all agree that the service shall always remain free at the point of need.

subrosa said...

Dean, I've actually discussed walk-in surgeries with my own doctor. She's very against it.

The reason is that they would have to be run by the private sector thus reducing GP in the NHS who were attracted by the extra income offered.

Can't you see your or any doctor within 24 hours where you are? If not then you should write to your health board and not wish private walk in centres on us. We don't need them in Scotland. Our GPs do a reasonable job.

Plus of course I completely refuse to give more money to privateers.

Strathturret said...

Nuffield Trust funded by Lord Nuffield, of Morris Motors fame. Seems to do research into medical matters. Not obviously political from its website. HQ in smart part of London. In fact just round corner from Harley Street...

Strathturret said...

Look closely at the Labour faces sitting behind during Grays abysmal performance.

subrosa said...

Difficult to find out too much about the Nuffield Strathturret.

Aye that's why I said the faces looked astonished when Gray continued on the subject with his 2nd question then dropped into apathy thereafter - or was it disbelief?

subrosa said...

Dean, I do hope Clarinda comments on this post. She is a fountain of knowledge regarding the NHS and will say it needs reorganised from top to bottom. She will possibly start by saying the top heavy management requires a radical reduction.

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