Daily Archives: August 16, 2019


The Devolution Trap

For the many who expressed kind concern at the bureaucratic impasse involved in Cameron starting his new school, I should update you with the good news. Cameron was able to start on time in the local school, and I am very happy to say that both staff and pupils have been extremely friendly and helpful. Which does not obviate the daftness of the system which makes it impossible to get more than a day’s notice of acceptance, but we are getting over the problems that caused.

But I have also to say that I am genuinely shocked that Cameron took the 33rd place in his class, which is now full. Class size is a very major factor in pupil achievement and I am perplexed to find these Victorian levels of pupil/teacher ratio still surviving in 2019.

This is illustrative of the trap that is devolution within the UK. The SNP devotes the large majority of its resource as a party to attempting to manage vital services within the UK settlement through government in Holyrood, and does so with competence and professionalism. But a decade of austerity and budget squeeze, and still more the profound economic malaise caused by the sucking out of Scottish capital and human resource by London over centuries, make it an impossible task.

Within the UK, Scotland will never have the economic resources at the disposal of its government which will enable it to provide public services of the standard its people ought to expect.

If you look at nations comparable to Scotland, these are the primary school pupil teacher ratios

Denmark 10.7
Sweden 12.1
Norway 9.01

The reason the devolution trap is so deadly is that it seduces the SNP into expending its energies in genuinely well meaning attempts to mitigate the disastrous public sector climate of Tory UK. It is very easy in these circumstances for Scottish ministers to become over-proud of tiny achievements in making life better for people, and miss the big picture.

The big picture is that within the UK Scotland will never escape the drain on its economic resources and subsequent impoverishment, and will never fulfill its economic potential. Meanwhile, in trying to run public services within the context of Tory austerity, those services are simply bound to be inadequate and the SNP ends up taking the blame for failures created deliberately in Westminster.

Devolution has run its course. There is no devo-max solution that will make things better. It is time to forget all ideas of making the UK less disastrous, and to concentrate all energies on one thing and one thing only: Independence.

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