Scottish public sector to put poverty and inequality at heart of decision-making despite UK Government’s abandonment of the principle

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I wrote this earlier in July:

Our media and political elites are always keen to tell us we’re not so different from our neighbours in England and I do recognise we’re not radically different in that there are selfish individualists here and caring communitarians there but that doesn’t mean the countries are not still different enough in overall tendencies to be seen as worthy of autonomy from each other. I’m thinking of little things that all add up to make us less like England than we’re told. Look at this:

  1. Free bus pass for the over 60s
  2. Free care for the elderly
  3. Superior NHS
  4. Free HE tuition
  5. More GPs per head of population
  6. Compensation for the bedroom tax
  7. Stronger fire and flood safety regulations
  8. Less child poverty
  9. Lower stillbirths and early deaths
  10. Better police/Muslim community relations
  11. No junior doctor strikes
  12. Tories who support the winter heating allowance!

Don’t these add up to evidence of the dominance of a more caring communitarian set of values even in our Tories? You can also add targets for the reduction of child poverty to that that list.

Now the Scottish Government has announced:

‘Tackling inequalities will never be an optional extra for this government – it is core to everything we do. Implementing this duty, and requiring public bodies to put reducing inequalities at the heart of their decision making, is an important step. It further contributes to our actions on inclusive growth, ensuring increased economic prosperity goes hand in hand with a fairer, more equal country….. For the first time, public bodies will be required to set out how their plans will help in reducing poverty. In recent years the number of people living in poverty has shrunk, but poverty has become more concentrated in some communities.

The UK government did include something similar in 2010 but never implemented it so the Scottish Government is ‘pressing on alone’. Says it all?

 https://news.gov.scot/news/socio-economic-duty

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4 thoughts on “Scottish public sector to put poverty and inequality at heart of decision-making despite UK Government’s abandonment of the principle

  1. Contrary July 19, 2017 / 8:17 am

    I didn’t pick up from your article that the Scottish government is legislating this – they are making the councils legally obliged to tackle poverty – this is quite something! All public offices should be legally obliged to act for the best for society, I believe. Anyone that acts only in their own interests should be fined and banned from public office. And why do I keep getting the feeling, any time I see him, that David Davis should be in jail?

    Legal obligation for councils to reduce poverty:

    https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/politics/scotland-puts-legal-duty-councils-reduce-poverty-uk-first/amp

    This article includes the whining from other parties, sigh, why can’t they work together instead of whining, or even better, actually try and resolve the problems that they are whining about – mainly that there isn’t not enough council funding. The greens managed to throw in the air tax thing – I understand their reasoning, but really, is it relevant to this legislation?

    Bizarrely, I was just thinking about this the other day, a kind of old folks home, community, pleasant environment & nursing care,,, trying to think of an ideal set up. As is always the case, someone else has already DONE it rather than sitting pondering. looks good to me:

    http://www.orbit-comms.co.uk/first-minister-meets-residents-of-pioneering-community-care-housing-complex/

    And that just goes to show that if you improve people’s environment & give them some self confidence back, you can have a productive, happy, society (extrapolating a bit there).

    I got round to putting in an idea on the mobilise website – now I think about it, I don’t know that ‘join the movement’ is the best way to promote independence, even though it is a nice play on words, which I always appreciate (mobilise,,, movement), I’ve been hemming and hawing over whether to expose myself to potential ridicule by publishing here those ideas, but on the off-chance some of them spark a creative idea in someone else, I thought I would post it – as usual, it is lengthy, sorry Prof.! :

    1. A procedure for negotiating independence: there needs to be a clear timetable of what needs to be done in which order in the event of a vote for independence (e.g., are tax powers transferred before currency is resolved, at what point would a national bank be required, do we take each reserved matter as a whole or gradually integrate, should our political system be revised first, or later? Etc!). I feel this will give everyone some amount of clarity, what to expect in the, preferred, future without relying on details. We need to show a serious and pragmatic approach, not just a ‘nice-to-have’. It will also demonstrate independence will not mean another crisis like Brexit.

    2. Getting information out there: the media is not going to help, and mostly just causes distress – the information they broadcast is unclear, weak, and biased against what they think of as independence – to the extent people cannot have any hope of understanding how even devolution works. To keep people properly informed, there needs to be more honest reporting of events, and more honest interpretation of events. When a political event is reported, it should be put in context of devolved/reserved issues, political leanings, personal interests from politicians. More publications need to be circulated, to give a balanced view, e.g. The SNP could be constantly leafleting their achievements, or could money be put towards a free newspaper/pamphlet, distributed like the metro? I would like a council-run community radio channel (in Glasgow?) – a talking radio channel, that gives news/weather/traffic locally, it could be used to keep everyone informed of local events, what facilities the council has (sports facilities, where they are, what classes etc do they have), put on plays – I see this as a good way to tackle loneliness in that people will know what is happening locally & can feel a greater part of it – but also allow some pro-independence people and groups air time. People are treating independence as though it is the extremist view, while it is, in fact, the normal, rational view – this needs to be reinforced. There is nothing out there that is a rational argument against independence, if you want to live in a socially progressive country. Honesty is sufficient to promote independence.

    3. A draft written constitution: or at least a promise of a written constitution – this needs to be done, and can only really be done by political/legal teams. I understand the difficulty with setting out sticky problems with possible allegiance to a crown, but any kind of draft will show a positive, forward-thinking, serious attempt at building a nation that has self determination.

    We have an extremist right-wing media and a biased national broadcaster who are normalising a socially backward, bigoted viewpoint, people must be told that this is not ethical, or normal. Hatred of any group is unacceptable. To be a progressive society, the people of Scotland need to be told constantly and emphatically that they CAN do what other people can, that they ARE good enough – we have been told for too long how we can’t and aren’t, it will be a hard cycle to break without constant affirmation. [end of ideas]

    A bit weak I know, put it’s nice to get the opportunity to stick one’s oar in.

    I have been busy reading up on local history (of the glens, not of Glasgow), quite fascinating, and makes me wonder how society would have developed without the overbearing Union, though there have always been close ties and political pandering with the southern states,,, “no man is an island” I suppose, so society’s development is nearly impossible to predict – maybe I need to read up on chaos theory!

    Like

  2. Ludo Thierry July 19, 2017 / 5:47 pm

    Hi Prof, and a big Hi to Contrary – I am very glad that you decided to start posting some of your ideas Contrary – I know it takes a surprising bit of courage to put one’s ideas out there for public dissection.

    Sorry I can’t give a detailed response right now – time pressure – but will hope to add comments on your ideas in future –

    Re. your ideas on the written Constitution I agree with much of what you say. Don’t know if you were able to catch Derek Bateman’s podcast featuring Elliott Bulmer (apols if I have made error on name) which is to be found on Newsnet Scotland website (very recent – approx 2 weeks ago) – Dr. Bulmer discusses this info in some detail (I found it interesting) and mentioned how the Federal German Republic adopted a ‘temporary’ written Constitution in advance of ‘Independence’ with the plan being to make arrangements for the new Republic to draw up a further Constitution – but then the Republic found itself successfully operating within the draft written Constitution and deciding to stick with it onmore permanent basis – So a lot of useful ‘examples’ exist to help guide the new Scotland as we come to move into the Independence process proper.

    (As you rightly point out – the general public often don’t have this sort of info at their finger-tips – and finding ways of getting and keeping good quality info available to all in the face of BBC and press inadequacies is going to be a matter of paramount importance as we move towards Indyref) – Thanks, ludo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Contrary July 19, 2017 / 8:22 pm

    Thanks Ludo! It is always good to discuss and hear other folk’s ideas & opinions. I will take a look at the Newsnet site & try and find the podcast – I tried reading some random constitutions, which made me realise how many difficulties there are with it. I would like to have it written so that we can never ever turn into a fascist dictatorship (there is nothing to stop the uk government if they can get people to vote for it), but wouldn’t have a clue on how you’d write that down! And we could even stick in the declaration of Arbroath – it has been verified as a legal document now I believe (maybe modernise it a bit though?).

    The media, particularly the national broadcaster (though we should not mention their name here, John is banned from knowing anything of what they do, so we can’t even mention the huge salaries they are paying out to waste-of-space presenters,,, hmm, it will be interesting to find out how many people stop paying the licence fee because of that, ,,, so we will have to invent a secret code word if we want to mention them) – are toxic, and I think John proves here that we can have positive news and still know what’s happening, but people just are not aware. How do we make them aware that there can be a better way? Folks do like their gossip though.

    Liked by 1 person

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