Thursday, 26 May 2011

Bigotry and Booze

Alex Salmond has been announcing his administration's programme for Holyrood.

He highlights the need to tackle bigotry and booze.  That probably neatly sums up the key social problems that affect the modern Scotland - not the only ones - but crucial ones.

I hope the Scottish Parliament as a whole can rally round tackling these problems in a positive way, working together to make policies and legislation that emerges as effective as possible.

I think our other big social problem is our health record with death rates from heart disease and cancer high by European standards.  I hope, as the parliament develops, policies to tackle these issues emerge.  I am concerned that things like free prescriptions are cosmetic and somewhat trivial in their actual impact.  I am concerned that we are not putting more resources into things like cancer clinics like they are doing south of the border.

Salmond also discussed what he is calling the social wage.  He defined this as a pact between politicians, public services and the people.  He went on to say, "We shall deliver the social and economic circumstances that allow for people to dream, to aspire and to be ambitious - but it is for the individual to realise their dreams, to reach for their hopes, to meet their ambitions".

A fine statement, which I agree with and I hope the whole parliament can come together to achieve these ends.

Salmond also said, "Elsewhere on these isles, the tolerance of the poor is being tested - budgets slashed, priorities changed, hope crushed in the braying tones of people who claim to know best".

This is interesting because Salmond does not have to deal with the structural deficit and the economy.

If he was in full government he would have to cut many things that given the choice he would not, and to suggest otherwise is wholly disingenuous!  Remember how marginal Salmond and his administration were to being able to deal with the global financial crisis!

Expanding the fiscal powers of the Scottish parliament does not entirely answer this.  Furthermore, if there was full fiscal autonomy budgets would have to be slashed and priorities changed by Alex Salmond too!

So let us work together on the problems of Scotland.  Be positive to advocate improvements where we can and oppose where cheeky Alex is spinning us.

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