Scotsman gives a burnt-out Thatcherite space to attack the SNP on NHS Scotland


(c) Brian Monteith from


Under a headline and a mugshot, in today’s Scotsman, a right-wing extremist Tory writes:

‘Brian Monteith: SNP will be under fire for handling of NHS: This tactic of deflection has now worn thin and the evidence that Scotland’s NHS is in really serious trouble is growing. The reason for this is not just that the evidence shows it is true, but that the Conservative and Labour opposition are both using Freedom of Information requests and highly embarrassing Audit Scotland reports to bombard Scottish Health secretary Shona Robison with exposés of failures on the SNP’s watch.’

Monteith was a Tory MSP from 1999 to 2007. He used to work for the openly Thatcherite, Centre for Policy Studies. After that, he worked for Michael Forsyth Associates and even shared a flat with Forsyth. He then set up his PR company, Leith Communications which went bust in the 1990s owing more than £50 000 to its creditors.

He’s clearly a man, we’d walk miles to hear him talk about how he’s going to ……. go away?

Anyhow, back to the quote. The ‘tactic of deflection’ he’s talking about is those comparisons of NHS Scotland with NHS England that many of us use as a guide, if only partial, to the state of NHS Scotland. It’s called context and it’s a widely used tactic used by groups such as the Centre for Policy Studies. I have a feeling that if NHS England was demonstrably doing better than NHS Scotland, the tactic would be more than popular with the Tories in Scotland. The current tactic is ‘find anything, no matter how insignificant or how localised’ and make a crisis out of that.

I’ll let him have his way on this. He doesn’t like comparisons with NHS England, so here are a few which don’t have them and the first is from Audit Scotland and far from embarrassing:

Despite massive increases in demand, NHS Scotland maintains performance levels extremely close to the most rigorous of targets and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high. Audit Scotland say: ‘There were no significant weaknesses in the overall quality of care being provided.’

NHS Scotland has massively increased staffing of consultants and acute medicine specialists under SNP administration. Try telling the Daily Excess.

NHS Scotland continues improvements with 65.7% drop in young mental health patients treated in non-specialist wards, in one year

NHS Scotland research applauds major successes of Scottish Government’s pioneering tobacco strategy

As I looked through my archives, I can see why the comparisons with England are not popular with the Tories and why they had to think of a name to discredit them with. See this just from the beginning of the year. Many more could be added but I don’t want the tactic to look too thick and unworn:

  1. We’ve had nothing you could call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in NHS Scotland. Red Cross chief executive, Mike Adamson, said: ‘The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country [England].’ Indeed there is no evidence of anything like a system wide crisis in Scotland. Reporting Scotland have scrabbled around for something/anything as in their sad Twitter plea for pregnant mothers who have been inconvenienced which found five who had to travel an extra 7 miles for a bed. See:
  2. We’ve had NO junior doctors’ strikes causing thousands of cancelled and delayed operations because the SNP unlike the UK Tories haven’t tried to bully them into new contracts. Thank goodness for BBC News at 6 telling us this because Reporting Scotland won’t touch the story with a disinfected endoscopic probe.
  3. NHS Scotland has NOT been cancelling large numbers of urgent operations like NHS England ( If they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
  4. Scottish hospitals have NOT been told to put thousands of operations ‘on hold’ over Xmas and New Year to ‘free up beds.’ ( Again, if they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
  5. There is NO social care and bed-blocking crisis in Scotland because the Scottish Government has been integrating the two for years now (
  6. Bed blocking by the elderly is down 12% in Scotland ( and up 80% in England for the same reason (
  7. There’s NO evidence of a crisis in Scottish Maternity wards despite a shamefully distorted Reporting Scotland story (

Who is next, Scotsman: Damien Green on the pornography crisis at Holyrood?


12 thoughts on “Scotsman gives a burnt-out Thatcherite space to attack the SNP on NHS Scotland

  1. gavin January 8, 2018 / 10:57 am

    Alas for the full-on squint of the North Britisher “journalist” working for the Hootsman, Glasgow Herod (thanks John) and BBC/Radio Hootsman.
    We have seen the appalling decline of these news outlets, from “papers of record” allied to responsible journalism in the past, to bias, selection, and stories verging on fabrication now. Sad days for real journalism.
    All we need is for the headline “Hitler’s plane found on moon—-Sturgeon accused” and the nadir MAY have been reached.


  2. macgilleleabhar January 8, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    Curious choice of Tory to regurgitate “SNP Bad”.
    Wait for BBC Jockland to rerun” Jim”ll Fix It”on the logic that it was once popular with the age group the Unionists pin their hopes on.


  3. Ludo Thierry January 8, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Hi John – Yes, Monteith is a burnt-out Thatcherite as you say. I’ll pick you up on a small point – He actually ceased as a North Brit Tory MSP in, I believe, 2006. He had to resign from the Tory Group (to avoid expulsion) having briefed Scotland on Sunday regarding David McLetchie’s ‘Taxi scandal’ (£11,500 taxi expenses – involving multiple receipts, allegedly, to visit a particular address where a ‘close friend’ lived). See below beeb report from time:

    MSP quits Tory group after probe

    The MSP Brian Monteith has resigned from the Conservative group at Holyrood after being accused of disloyalty.
    The move follows an internal probe into his conduct during David McLetchie’s taxi expenses controversy and he could now face expulsion from the party.
    Mr McLetchie resigned as Scottish Conservative leader on Monday.
    Mr Monteith had e-mailed a Sunday newspaper editor suggesting a leader column calling for Mr McLetchie to quit as party leader.
    Mr Monteith said: “I fully accept the seriousness of the matter and deeply regret the difficulties that my misjudgement will cause to my friends, colleagues and the party.
    “Under the circumstances, it is therefore only right that I resign the Conservative whip with immediate effect.”

    He completed his parliamentary term as an ‘independent’ (He must have choked on that descriptor!)

    Charming folks these ultra BritNats. We can see a current rendition of a britnat ‘love-in’ going on right now. I wouldn’t normally have followed the story except that I noticed Scotland in Union had a tangential role. Have you seen the stuff about a raving rightist columnist called Toby Young. he has played a bit part in the indy process – mainly by bigging up the idiot Kevin Hague in his Spectator rantings. Anyway, he has had his reward from Theresa on behalf of the britnat elite by being appointed to the new Office for Students last week. Except, he has now been outed as having a long history of deeply unpleasant tweets involving all the predictable stuff and more. So far so typical of the Westminster/Whitehall midden. The interest in this particular sordid tale comes because one of the recipients of Dear Toby’s slavering happens to have been one Pamela Nash (former britnat/Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts). See below:

    In 2012 during PMQs he tweeted: “Serious cleavage behind Ed Miliband’s head. Anyone know who it belongs to? #pmqs”
    He followed it up with “Breaking: Cleavage belongs to @pamela_nash #pmqs”, referring to former Airdrie and Shotts MP Pamela Nash.

    Well – Pamela Nash is now in very mega paid employment as the director of Scotland in Union (much troubled britnat loon-fest of this parish). Clearly we are observing a britnat ‘union’ made in britnat heaven. They thoroughly deserve each other, clearly.

    Andrew Cooper, who was a senior adviser to David Cameron, has observed: “Having a free school entrepreneur & Conservative on the Office for Students is an excellent idea,” he tweeted. “But surely they could have found one who doesn’t also have a trail of vile, leering nastiness.” He warned it was the “latest example of the Tory values failure, which is killing them”.

    Monteith, Theresa, Nash and Young – They could almost have been a 60’s Rock outfit!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gavin January 9, 2018 / 2:33 pm

      “60’s Rock outfit”—-Except Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young was a *Super Group*, but Monteith, Theresa, Nash and Young is a bunch of *Loopy Dupes*.


      • johnrobertson834 January 11, 2018 / 1:20 pm

        Good one Gavin. More like the short-lived and not well-known Saville, Glitter and Harris Band?


  4. mamaphee January 9, 2018 / 11:02 pm

    I don’t know if you’re aware John, he was one of the co-authors of ‘Direct Democracy – an agenda for a new model party’ in 2005 – the book that steered Jeremy Hunt onto his path. Michael Gove, David Gauke, Greg Clark are also on the list, ‘amazingly’ they now have high profiles posts. Oor Murdo is there too, along with a host of very colourful characters, with Brexit and UKIP tendencies.
    Here’s a link to a pdf copy of the book.


    • johnrobertson834 January 11, 2018 / 1:24 pm

      Thanks very much for this. Didn’t know about it. What do you make of it? Don’t say toilet paper.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mamaphee January 12, 2018 / 4:05 pm

        I haven’t read the whole book yet, I don’t know if my stomach can hold any more bile, but I did look up the co-authors and they are a right motley crew. What concerns me is that the Tories are perhaps using this as their bible and view the authors as messiahs – looks very likely that one of them could be the next PM!
        re Toilet paper – it would be a bit too acrid! 😉


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