The SNP: decline and fall (6)

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…it’s a Christmas festive bonanza of Nat uselessness. There’s almost too much to write about, so I’ll try to keep it brief (with the relevant links)

18. Scottish education – judged by outcomes rather than platitudes – plumbs new depths

If you’re not in the position (about £11000 per annum is good value) to send your child to a private school  – and they are booming, for obvious reasons – then you can enjoy the state system. The great Gerald Warner summed it up better than me in this essential piece. Bottom line: since the SNP took over in 2007, numeracy and literacy have plummeted, compared to the rest of the world. This is using robust OECD figures released this month, even the official Scottish data suggests that “28% of P7 pupils are not achieving required levels of literacy and numeracy”. As The Donald would say, that’s yuuge. This is way worse than England, despite the generous Scottish per capita funding. It’s serious.

19. Possibly related – SNP MP can’t spell

Angus MacNeil has never come across as a sharp tool, so to speak. If you’re going to employ public scorn, then avoid spelling your insults incorrectly. This was back in June, but it’s too good to miss

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20. SNP superstar Derek Mackay talks gobbledegook 

His predecessor as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and various other things , John Swinney, whilst not being in any way outstanding was at least fairly calm, polite and experienced (it’s a low bar in Scotland). Along comes university dropout Mackay and he’s not short of chutzpah, but he rarely makes any sense. Judge for yourself, if you can bear it. Everything is about creating confusion and scoring cheap points and headlines, to the point where he makes Gordon Brown seem an honest, transparent and prudent financier.

The associated budget is similarly misleading, dishonest and moronic. The remarkable work of @kevverage and @FraserWhyte81 is assiduously documented in the former’s essential blog. It can get complicated, but this is heroic stuff. So accurate and thorough are the analyses that these guys are true Nat hate figures, yet all the media read them. The inconvenient truth is that:

1. the figures don’t suggest that the Scots have been victims of Sturgeon’s favourite accusation of “osterrty”,

2. there’s been some very dodgy manipulation of the numbers.

A very credible independence supporter (and a Nat insider), Alex Bell, sums it up.

21. Exciting new Sturgeon Brexit plan is shot down by her own team

This one could run and run. It’s really a variation on a theme, that being milking Brexit to make weird links to the ‘next’ referendum. None of it is real world stuff. Iain Martin is always good on this, and he’s had enough.  If they’re not already, I reckon the entire UK will soon be fed up with the whole Hard/Soft Brexit rubbish beloved of a diminishing claque of politicos and hacks. As it happens, Europhile  Charles Grant is the latest member of her own team to discredit it.  At one point do even the zoomers lose faith?  And at one point do the SNP begin to respond to the concerns of  Scots who didn’t vote for them, or who did vote for Brexit? (I’m not holding my breath on this one). The summary that keeps cropping up is uncomfortable in the extreme for mad Nat Remainers, to wit:

Scottish exports to the EU total £11.6bn

Scottish exports to the rest of the world total £15.2bn

And Scottish exports to the rest of the UK total £48.5bn –  64% of the total.

 

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@ScottyNational tell it like it is

22. News in brief

Difficult to keep up with the SNP  elected members who are in trouble. Is Tasmina bankrupt yet? Dodgy Michelle Thomson was still ‘reaching out’ to her former bosses back in July. Is slanderous donations queen Natalie McGarry in or out? How is the credit card activity going these days?

caption-competition-sturgeon-salmond-and-the-scottish-kiss-136397733287103901-150424151939
…where to begin with this one?

23. Humza and trains

I’m worn out, just look it up (1,2) if you’re interested.

……to be continued….

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Knifonomics (part 36): Scotland v the UK

This post is a bit of a double header. The first part is to bring to the attention of anyone interested a quite remarkable bit of presentation and exposition by Scottish businessman Kevin Hague (AKA @kevverage on Twitter). Hague has been a major thorn in the side for the numerous SNP fantasists who are either too thick, deluded or malign to admit that the entire Nationalist economic ‘strategy’ went up in smoke a long time ago – the main reason they lost the referendum, as the public aren’t daft. He seems to do this stuff in his spare time, and it is quite brilliant in both content and execution. His Chokkablog is great reading. Any teacher or lecturer could learn from the clarity of his thinking and his use of evidence. The video is worth 8 minutes of anyone’s time, particularly if you live in Scotland. See what I mean:

You could probably rename that video ‘why Scottish independence is dead in the water, whatever you may hear to the contrary’. The point is that besides Hague’s narrative and logic skills, he is a genuine practising economist, ie: a succesful businessman who sinks or swims according to his decisions. This is compared to current Finance Minister John Swinney – nice guy but a politics graduate who has always lurked in the public sector – Alex Salmond, who bafflingly claims to be an economics guru because he worked for RBS aeons ago, despite his lies/ramblings over the years, and Nicola Sturgeon, a lawyer who has only worked briefly in that area, then the public sector. In fact the SNP have still not provided any factual and coherent assessment of the Scottish economy. Who would you trust with your dosh?

Cross the border and head today for Westminster, where (history graduate) George Osborne knocks out a budget that is economically cautious and safe, but politically astute. No Eck-like lies or wild claims. The initial reception is remarkably good, both from fans and enemies – as the Guardian says: a dish of Conservative and Labour ingredients seasoned with the promise of economic competence. Both Osborne and Hague frame their message around evidence freely available to the public. Plausibility and pragmatism.

The Knife, as an interested observer, makes no claim to economic expertise, but I’m happy to pay  homage to Hague. The standard of debate in Scotland has been so poor at times, he stands out like a beacon of common sense and reasonableness. When it comes to Osborne however, four years ago when the Osborne hatred and the cliched omnishambles claim were really building up, I invented PWUGO (People Who Underestimate George Osborne), in response to the now utterly defunct DUEMA (I lifted Iain Martin’s witty joke). PWUGO appears to have a rapidly declining membership now.

The point is that Osborne always struck me as having genuinely thought things out carefully, developed a long term plan accordingly, and stuck to it. This was greatly helped by Cameron’s refusal to sack him, despite a clamour which reached a peak in 2012, aided and abetted by Ed Balls and serious political commentators alike**. Nobody knows anything, as the saying goes.

My conclusion: you don’t have to be likeable (Osborne struggles) to make it. You do have to be serious, plausible and authentic. Both Kevin Hague and Osborne in their different ways demonstrate this. Salmond and his cronies, along with the two Eds, have proved that the alternative approach always ends in failure. Deservedly.

There, but for the grace of God, go I
There, but for the grace of God, go I

**It’s amusing to read Peter Oborne, one of the guilty parties, drooling a bit over Osborne now

Paedophilia is wrong…er…on the NHS

As if by magic, following yesterday’s post on the BBC, tying itself in knots over Jimmy Savile, actually condoning underage sex, comes this little gem.

Someone called Amy Danahay, apparently connected with Warwickshire Council, and with NHS funding, explains:

‘We have completed the young people’s wish list.

‘They asked for the sextionary, pleasure zones and the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered honestly.

‘There is also a section for parents as we believe it is important to keep them involved.

‘The site is primarily for young people aged 13 upwards but some of the information may be useful for young people experiencing puberty.

‘The website deals with this curiosity in a fun, yet carefully thought through and educational way.’

All of which is marvellous no doubt, but, how can one put this,a little inappropriate, and in part illegal. However, in the interests of broadmindedness, I have to highlight this valuable specific  piece of advice: ‘sex with animals is illegal, fantasising is not’

That’s cleared that up.

Nope…doesn’t do it for me

English: the rot is at the top

Heard just now, on Radio 4’s PM programme:

..a similar level of disquiet was expressed..

The speaker was a man called Mike Tomlinson, hauled in to comment on the “controversy” about exam grades not actually going up, for once. The main issue appears to have been in relation to the English GCSE. Mike investigated something similar a few years ago, and has a long professional history in exams, education and so forth, hence his reference to the previous episode.

My beef though, is his English. I would suggest that you don’t express a level of disquiet. You express disquiet.

Pernickety and anal retentive, you might think, and fair enough. However, if the concern is the fine detail of marking an English exam, then I would hope for less of the sloppy and pompous phrasemaking, and a more reassuring use of the Queen’s English. I’m not the only one.

Happily our Education Secretary cares, as is evident in this exchange with posh Labour twerp, Tristram Hunt, a couple of years ago:

Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central, Labour)

Is the Secretary of State aware that figures from his department show that academy schools are, on average, teaching one third less GCSEs in history and geography than schools in the maintained sector, and are often inflating their grades through the use of GCSE equivalents? If that is to be the model for the future, what steps is the Secretary of State taking to ensure that academic subjects are protected in academies?

Michael Gove (Secretary of State, Education; Surrey Heath, Conservative)

Like the hon. Gentleman, I am committed to academic excellence, so I should point out that he should have said “fewer”, not “less”

Nice one.

Michael Gove: very well read, actually.

The doctor/patient relationship: class war

…yes of course, how insightful of you…

You know when a consultation has run its course when your inner Tourette kicks in.** The scenario is nearly always the same: a straightforward clinical problem, treatment commenced or completed, nothing to report basically…but then it begins, a series of minor questions/points half of which have already been dealt with. The consultation doubles to 20 minutes or more, outside the waiting room is full and getting restless, and that silent voice in your head starts yelling. Please, just **** off.

I accept that this reflects badly on me. I’m only human.

The thing about it though, is that it’s always a particular type that brings it on. It’s not the punters, it’s not the occasional toffs, it’s the middle class.

Now,  The Knife was raised in the middle class, I live in the middle class, my offspring are exceptionally middle class. However, I like to think that my professional insight has prevented me, so far, from inflicting my “I- know-best-because-I’m-educated-not-like-your-usual-client” views on whichever teacher/doctor/manager that I’m speaking to. Why do these people think give the impression that they know there’s a vast conspiracy against them by the medical profession, and they’re too smart to be suckered by it?

I first encountered this as a junior doctor, in an outpatient clinic. The young patient was fine after their treatment, so discharged after the necessary assessment. All well. The father looked at junior me, with a degree of hostility “I should tell you that I’m a friend of Mr ******”. He was the consultant.

Pardon? What was I supposed to say? That I was stringing them along  and they’d found me out? Incredibly this scenario happened twice that month, and there was no clinical issue at all. Conversely, even the lowest of  lowlife junkies is usually perfectly OK in the same situation.

I’ve blogged on this before, and in that post quoted the wonderful Brendan O’Neill, and he’s back on topic:

Strikingly, while chavs and toffs might come from spectacularly different sides of the tracks, they’re attacked for the same reasons. Both are viewed as creepily materialistic. Chavs are lambasted for lusting after Nike trainers and chunky jewellery (even their alleged champion, the leftist author Owen Jones, wrings his hands over their desire for ‘more material things’). Toffs are frowned upon for blowing small fortunes in shopping sprees on Old Bond Street.

Both are condemned for being insufficiently eco-friendly. Chavs are attacked for taking carbon-puking cheap flights to cities in Eastern Europe, ‘destinations chosen not for their architecture or culture but because people can fly there for 99p and get loaded for a tenner’, in the snobbish words of the achingly middle-class anti-flying group Plane Stupid. Meanwhile, posh people who drive 4x4s — the Guardian sniffily refers to them as ‘Chelsea mums’ — are accused of polluting cities.

Both chavs and toffs are considered cruel to animals. The RSPCA now pretty much divides its time between roaming inner-city estates for signs of abuse against ‘dangerous dogs’ and moaning about poshos who long for a return of foxhunting. Both groups are seen as having a problem with drink: government attacks on cheap beer and the constant media hunt for a photo of a Tory holding a glass of Bolly suggest that both lower-order and upper-class boozing is something disgusting and shameful. Both are laughed at for giving their kids stupid names, whether it’s the chavvy Kaylee or the horsey Annunziata. Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported that some poor kids are stuck in care because middle-class wannabe parents don’t want to adopt children with names like Chrystal or Chardonnay (adoptive parents aren’t allowed to change children’s names).

And both are mocked for being thick. Consider two of the best-known comic creations of recent years: Matt Lucas’s vulgar-tongued Vicky Pollard, who swaps her babies for Westlife CDs, and Harry Enfield’s Tim Nice But Dim, an utterly clueless upper-class twit who is forever making social cock-ups. Those two characters sum up how the respectable (read middle) classes now view the Great Unwashed and the Moneyed.

In essence, chavs and toffs are hated for sinning against the middle-class moralism that dominates modern Britain. Where the do-gooding classes implore us to be thrifty, eco-decent, permanently sober and PC, chavs and toffs insist on blowing their cash on nice stuff, blowing exhaust fumes into Gaia’s face, and getting pissed. And long may it last. Rather than give in to their haters, chavs and toffs should join forces, link arms across the tracks, and say a collective ‘screw you’ to the middle-class miserabilists who want everyone to be as sappy as them.

Of course it’s the small minority who behave this way, and it’s the relatives, almost never the patient, but it’s a real phenomenon. These are also the people who write the most vicious and ill-informed garbage about doctors’ pensions – as one example – on online comment pages in the Independent and elsewhere. Nasty stuff.

This isn’t just class war, it’s class civil war.

 

**In case anyone is offended, I know Tourette’s is no fun. Colloquial usage only.

University tuition fees – all won’t have prizes after all

The university tuition fees furore seems, on the face of it, to be turning into an intractable problem. All these “universities” – and I use the word in the very broadest sense – planning to charge top dollar, a mighty £9000 per annum.

The Knife cannot find it in himself to warm to the remarkably useless Vince Cable who, on the face of it, is in the firing line . However, as I see it, there is a happy ending here, in the shape of our old and reliable friends the market forces.

Speaking as someone currently bearing the cost of university education , I am absolutely certain that neither I nor my offspring would be willing to cough up a minimum of £27,000 PLUS  living expenses, for a degree in almost anything from a rubbish university – and there are lots of them. I would question the merit of doing the same for a degree in a crap subject from a good university, again, lots of that kind of course out there.

So I predict – and I’m fairly sure that Dave ‘n’ George do too – that give it a few years and many of these courses, and some of these institutions, will have bitten the dust. It will take several years of students realising that they’re chucking money away to achieve this, but it will happen. The financial environment in even the best of British universities is such that Principals will be ruthless in cutting out the dead wood.

The corollary is that the good will thrive, but it will cost. No doubt the value-for-money degree courses  (in English) over the Channel in places like Maastricht will thrive too. All this is good, and a long overdue corrective to Tony Blair’s insane expansion of worthless degree courses, and John Major’s bizarre plan to turn any old college into a “university”. However, when you add these two meddlers’ efforts to Gordon Brown’s epic attempt to bankrupt one of the most dynamic economies in the world, there is no doubt that the free at the point of source education enjoyed by The Knife, Brown and Blair has probably gone forever. Quite a big change on the face of post-war Britain.

Vince, you may be useless, but you’re on safe ground here. Give it a few years.

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Oxbridge