Monday, 29 September 2008

Devolution works

So, the Northern Irish Assembly is to follow the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament in abolishing prescription charges - using the same phased reduction and full abolition scheme which is to be implemented in Scotland.

As the BBC rightly point out, this leaves England as the only country in the UK to retain the charges - though Gordon Brown announced plans at the Labour conference to abolish charges for cancer patients.
Makes you wonder though doesn't it.

First the UK Government lumps top-up fees on students in England, then implements foundation hospitals... in England. And now, when everyone else has moved to abolish prescription charges, those in England still have to pay them.

Bet the Campaign for an English Parliament are making the most out of this...


Sam 29 September 2008 at 13:34  

If the "UK" Government is making decisions about healthcare which only apply to England are we not de facto devolved anyway? I know the West Lothian question comes into this but given that the majority of MPs in Westminster represent English constituencies would we not get those same policies in healthcare if we were electing an English Parliament?

Devolution experts correct me if (as) I'm wrong.

James 29 September 2008 at 14:53  

Malc, I couldn't agree more: devolution was also meant to put pressure on the UK Govt to change, and this surely will.

I'm also glad to see you're still blogging away despite being evicted from the Parliament. One thought, though: do you still think McCain was right to boycott the debate?!

Malc 29 September 2008 at 15:25  

Sam - I'd say yes to your first question with a slight qualification. Scottish/ Welsh/ NI Irish MPs still get to vote on "decisions about healthcare which only apply to England." And without the backing of Scottish Labour MPs, you wouldn't have top-up fees or foundation hospitals.

So yes - to a degree.

Also, the UK Govt might be shortchanging you... re prescription fees for example. £7.10 is a lot more to pay when you live, for example in Carlisle when if you lived a few miles further north you'd get them free.

Malc 29 September 2008 at 15:28  


But of course I'm blogging. Also means I'll (hopfully) be less partisan and a wee bit more neutral... though I'll still probably end up blogging about how useless the Lib Dems are...

On Mr McCain. I like the tongue in cheek comment. I think an actual boycott would have made a fairly strong statement. Honours even on the debate itself? I think different sources have called it a tie or a narrow McCain win on points.

Still a long way to go in this one...

Sam 29 September 2008 at 19:47  

Malc got evicted from the Parliament! Thats not how you're spinning it to those out of the loop!

On prescription fees, yep £7.10 feels like a rip-off whether your in Carlisle or a lot further south. As for the bloody Scottish Labour MPs, what did I do to them?!

On the debate, a couple of polls immediately afterwards gave it to Obama. And surely for McCain any foreign policy debate in which the experienced war-hero doesn't massively thump softy, liberal, appeaser Obama is a loss in the traditional Republican area of strength?

Malc 29 September 2008 at 20:06  

Malc never got evicted. James is just well-versed in the act of spinning...

As for the debate. The BBC - not renowned for its unbiased reporting of the US election - gave it to McCain on points. Which I guess says something.

But I take your point - McCain should have thumped Obama on foreign policy as a traditional Republican strength. The fact he never looks good for Obama.

Sam 29 September 2008 at 21:07  

My link was to the BBC but the polls it quoted are respectable.

"A telephone poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp afterwards found 51% said Mr Obama had won, to 38% for Mr McCain.

Obama was widely considered more intelligent, likable and in touch with peoples' problems, and by a slight margin was seen as the stronger leader and more sincere.

A CBS News poll of uncommitted voters meanwhile found that 39% gave Mr Obama victory, 24% thought John McCain had won, and 37% thought it was a dead heat".

Albeit those are polls conducted immediately after debates, that "stronger leader" tag is a really surprising boost for Obama surely.

Malc 29 September 2008 at 21:20  

Agreed. Though my point was kind of that the BBC's reporter - Kevin Connolly - in the analysis section gave it to McCain. This despite the BBC heavily favouring the Democrats in their coverage. Though as you say, the polls suggest Obama might have shaded it.

So... is it still too close to call? Potentially...

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