The Lion and the Unicorn

 

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Friday, August 16, 2002

 
Jack McConnell's Unionism

In an interview in the Financial Times, Jack McConnell, Scotland's first minister, accepted that the high turnover of the executive; the unpopularity of 'spin' and the debacle of the high price paid for the Holyrood Parliament had undermined the legitimacy of the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition.

With an eye on the elections in 2003, McConnell rejected any changes to the devolutionary settlement and maintained the course of 'minimalism' that has characterised the first term of the Scottish Parliament. The governments have adopted certain policies like student grants and free long term care taht provide a distinctive welfarist tinge to Scottish politics but have not advocated or used any of the fiscal powers that they hold.

As a unionist, McConnell refuses to engage the SNP in debate about the powers of the Scottish Parliament and remains firmly wedded to the partnership with Westminster.


Thursday, August 15, 2002

 
Water, Water everywhere and drinkable after boiling

There has been a spurt of problems for Scottish Water over the last fortnight due to outbreaks of Cryptosporidium, a nasty bacterium caused by sheep faeces that send you running to the toilet.

The episode has shown the disadvantages of retaining services under political and executive control (for which, a libertarian would read statist), as the Environmental Minister, Ross Finnie, decided when warnings should be made, and has had his judgement called into question by the SNP and the Tories because of a delay. Moreover, it appears that Scottish Water had not set in place systems to properly monitor possible dangers to the health of its cutsomers.

Ministers have also called for a review of Scottish Water's own arrangements to ensure that it holds accurate information on its networks.

However, as this is seen as an issue of public health and municipal services, the Scottish Executive has swung into action by setting up an "ad-hoc group of ministers" who have concluded that they require "greater clarity and transparency" and have convened an "expert group". This is an addition to Scottish Water and a drinking water regulator. Does Scotland also have a normal water regulator?




 
Water, Water everywhere and drinkable after boiling

There has been a spurt of problems for Scottish Water over the last fortnight due to outbreaks of Cryptosporidium, a nasty bacterium caused by sheep faeces that send you running to the toilet.

The episode has shown the disadvantages of retaining services under political and executive control (for which, a libertarian would read statist), as the Environmental Minister, Ross Finnie, decided when warnings should be made, and has had his judgement called into question by the SNP and the Tories because of a delay. Moreover, it appears that Scottish Water had not set in place systems to properly monitor possible dangers to the health of its cutsomers.

Ministers have also called for a review of Scottish Water's own arrangements to ensure that it holds accurate information on its networks.

However, as this is seen as an issue of public health and municipal services, the Scottish Executive has swung into action by setting up an "ad-hoc group of ministers" who have concluded that they require "greater clarity and transparency" and have convened an "expert group". This is an addition to Scottish Water and a drinking water regulator. Does Scotland also have a normal water regulator?