Monday, 22 June 2009

Gnats go cap in hand to Westminster

Funny how the Gnats continually insist that Scotland can survive on its own - but then moan about wanting more dosh from Westminster when it suits them.

That appears to be the case with Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon's call for £100m to vaccinate everyone in Scotland against swine flu.

There are two reasons why Westminster should tell Nicola to take a running jump. Firstly, I don't see why everyone in Scotland needs vaccinating against a disease which has killed precisely one person in this country, someone who appears to have also had complicating health issues. From what I can gather, swine flu seems little different to 'normal' flu, so why is vaccination for everyone thought necessary when it isn't done for the flu outbreaks we get every single year?

The other reason is that Scotland is responsible for health spending. If Sturgeon thinks that mass vaccination is necessary in Scotland, then it's up to the Scottish Government to find the money to do it. That's what devolution's all about.

It seems that the Gnats prefer to go cap in hand to Westminster than to do something for which they have direct responsibility.


Stephen B said...

A few comments...

I think the fear is that Swine Flu will prove both virulent and debilitating. It is expected in some official quarters to flare up strongly in the winter and, in some cases cause absences of around 30% in workplaces. So, it's not expacted to be deadly but it's still a major social and economic concern nonetheless.

Secondly, the immunization programme is being presented in some quarters as a done deal - interesting to know that they don't actually have the means to implement it!

Finally, I also think the fuss over the Uist missile bases is another example the Nationalist approach you highlight. Note that they change terminology from talking about the 'London' or 'Westminster' Government when they seek to create division but bang on about the UK government when they want something as in these cases. The irony is also that, in this case, the pacifist policies of the SNP following partition would see exactly the kind of military base closures they currently decry.

Indy said...

Firstly I wonder what qualifies you to challenge the opinion of Scotland's chief medical officer? Do you have any medical qualifications yourself or any expertise in pandemic flu outbreaks?

Secondly to Stephen B - the Scottish Government does have the means to implement it. If contingency funding is not forthcoming from Westminster £100 million will be cut from the Health Budget.

The political point however is that the funding arrangements of the Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies are not set up to enable them to build up contingency funds of their own. Westminster remains the banker. That is why all three devolved legislatures have made the request to the Treasury.

If the Treasury says no then they must logically follow through on that and agree to the devolved governments having greater fiscal autonomy.

Another interesting point is your definition of a non-nuclear defence polucy as 'pacifist'. That's a bit mad don't you think?

Stephen B said...


Almost as mad as the SNP's fundamentalist position on NATO?

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