Sunday, February 17, 2008

Scotland, England? (Daddy, Chips?)

All this talk about Berwick-Upon-Tweed becoming a part of Scotland again (The town has changed hands between the two nations at least 13 times) is typical of the media driven political world in which it's our joy to live.

According to a 'referendum' for Monday's ITV1 Tonight programme, 1,182 voters in favour of becoming part of Scotland and 775 in favour of staying in England. Now that is clearly a 'vote' in favour but I wonder if it would stay that way if a real vote was taken . A vote in which all the pros and cons were considered in a more thoughtful and less simplistic way. Particularly when it's considered how much it will cost to make all these changes, and who is going to pay for them?

According to the survey it was better financed public services, including free personal health care for the elderly, which were the main reasons for a pro-Scottish Berwick. However, how will that really shake down if suddenly the perceived advantages of being part of Scotland were to change? We can assume that Berwick-U-T will become part of the Scottish Borders. How will they like being administered from Newtown St Boswells - it's almost 50 miles away? Already the focus of Scottish Borders Council is very 'central Borders centric', will this make any difference? Could it even put up council charges for the rest of us who live in the Borders?

It's a Scottish SNP MSP that is behind the current talk and of course it suits their purpose well to try and highlight how much better 'living in Scotland' is. But, most of what is perceived as being better was as a result of the Labour administration and may well not be deliverable in the long term.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Purvis was the MSP talking about it first and has highlighted the 2 statuatory instruments that would be needed for Berwick to become part of Soctland. Purivis is a Lib Dem.

Richard Havers said...

That's as maybe but it's Christine Grahame who is making al the running. The question to my mind is not which statutory instruments are needed but what are the 'hidden' difficulties. It's far from as simple as a straight swap. It's not a football transfer!

Anonymous said...

Berwick is a happy local authority to work for, according to local employees and ex Borders Council workers who have moved to work for Berwick; Borders is not a happy authority to work for, according to a very large number of vocal employees.

As it is very difficult to change the ethos of an institution it would make sense for Berwick administration to take over the running of the Scottish Borders, and not vice versa. Would this fit into the political planning of Christine Grahame and Jeremy Purvis?

Richard Havers said...

If anything happens it's going to get very messy....

Birthday Girl said...

I have to disagree with Anonymous's representation of the relative merits of Berwick Borough Council (BBC) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC). I actually worked at BBC for a short while and found that (a) their attitude to the public was appalling and (b) their staff all wanted to be working elsewhere. I don't think those of us living on the Scottish side realise how much worse things could be!

Huttonian said...

I have had a lot to do with the SBC as chairman of the local community council and found them not a bunch of happy bunnies-especially the planning office and the doctrinaire driven education lot who so gleefully closed down a number of excellent primary schools. I have also heard criticism of Berwick Council but not as trenchant as from Birthday Girl. Anyhow this whole business has been hijacked by the SNP as a publicity stunt but matters nota whit in the real world. Should SNP bring in a local income tax into these parts just see what the voting figures will then be!

Richard Havers said...

This one is likely to run and run and until all the skeletons come out the closet then I'm not sure anyone can be positive how it will shape up

Richard Havers said...

The more I think about it the more think it'll come down to parochial issues rather than the E vs S argument. There's nothing quite like a little local difficulty.