The Celts lead, the English follow

Want to know how devolution works? Pick yourself a running sore that annoys everybody – and cure it. It’ll catch on. The SNP government has taken a huge trick by scrapping that curse of the already stressed, the hospital car park charge. Right away, a small avalanche has followed, first England – “Health chiefs in England were under pressure to scrap hospital car parking charges…” … then even someone at Stormont woke up to the possibilities. “Northern Ireland should follow Scotland’s example and abolish parking charges at hospitals, an MLA has said.” In fact the Welsh started the ball rolling but they did it so quietly you’d hardly have noticed. But Alex Salmond’s team did and snapped it up. The episode demonstrates that the devolved institutions are capable of setting the agenda for the English – and this can only be a good thing.

The Herald exposing its Presbyterian flank sees a problem. Ordinary street parkers may steal the newly free hospital spaces and crowd the deserving out. But then it occurs to them – there are ways round that one. Those popularity seekers the PFI hospitals are still holding out but it can only be a matter of time….. Even the resolutely free market Wall Street Journal has noticed the move, the paper itself to marvel at the very idea of free health care on demand and the disparities that Home Rule is opening up. And then there’s this WSJ blogger who is so stunned by the concept that s/he can only sneer. I wonder where anon picked up that habit up?

“Phew. Talk about entitlement. That is what freeness mentality breeds. Anything else? May we wipe your rear end while we are at it. After all, you shouldn’t have to tax yourself with that task!”

  • Dewi

    Not entirely quietly
    Good move though – I remember my late mother’s final illness and for months having to remember to take the correct change for the car park each night – the real last thing you wanted to be thinking about. My father is currently in hospital and yes, finding a spot is more difficult, but not prohibitively so and as the Herald and Sturgeon suggest there must be possible solutions to that issue.

  • John

    Correction, the £nglish PAY!.

  • Dave

    Exactly, John. Subvention issue aside, it isn’t “free” when taxpayers who don’t use the service are forced to pay the bill for those who do.

    It politicians want to engage in gimmicks like this in order to gain cheap kudos, then let them pool their incomes and pay for it.

  • Dewi

    “The English pay” – No they don’t – the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament decide how to allocate the Barnett grant. If a review of that formula is in order – bring it on.

  • Dave

    They only decide how to spend English money.

  • Dewi

    Why is it English exactly?

  • runciter

    They only decide how to spend English money.

    Who is spending the Scottish and Welsh money?

  • Dewi

    “The episode demonstrates that the devolved institutions are capable of setting the agenda for the English – and this can only be a good thing.”

    Missed that sentence – myself I don’t regard “setting the Agenda for the English” as a particularly good, bad or even important thing. Thay can do what they so wish, or could if they had an appropriate legislative body.

  • Nomad

    Who is spending the Scottish and Welsh money?

    The Irish!

  • Dave

    The Barnett formula distributes public expenditure nationwide on a per capita basis, ensuring that citizens in underperforming economic regions are subsidised by the better performing regions. Nothing wrong with that, since it is how nations and their states operate. However, when it is applied in a multi-nation state where those nations are becoming increasingly nationalist, it does create resentment from the ‘host’ nation (i.e. the English) which pays more taxes just for the dubious privilege of keeping malcontents in a style to which they would never otherwise have become accustomed. 😉

  • DK

    If anything, hospital car parks prices should be increased – we should be discouraging people from visiting hospitals as they are a major source of infection – and the car parks are too crowded as it is now. They should do what the Royal does – give out free parking passes to genuine visitors. Everyone else should pay.

  • runciter

    The Barnett formula distributes public expenditure nationwide on a per capita basis, ensuring that citizens in underperforming economic regions are subsidised by the better performing regions.

    Isn’t it funny that the ‘better performing regions’ happen to coincide with the centres of political power.

    The idea that the UK is a ruse by the Scots and Welsh to steal English money is endlessly amusing.

  • OC

    In the automobilecentric USA, it’s a cliché to ask, “Do you validate?”

    The driver is issued a ticket to park, and if the nurse inside stamps it, then parking is free. Set the non-validated parking fee through the roof.

    Voilà!

  • willis

    “it does create resentment from the ‘host’ nation (i.e. the English)”

    They didn’t seem too happy when Ireland ceased to avail of their ‘hospitality’ in 1920

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Shouldn’t the headline be that the Scots lead, quickly followed by our Celtic neighbours?

    I know I have made this point several times before, but it is worth noting that the SNP government currently setting the heather on fire were(being the operative word) a bunch of novices at this governing game. Amazing what you can do with people motivated to govern for the good of the people, and best of all actually listen.

    Dave/The Dubliner

    >>it does create resentment from the ‘host’ nation (i.e. the English) which pays more taxes just for the dubious privilege of keeping malcontents in a style to which they would never otherwise have become accustomed. ;)< < The host nation?!?! Malcontents?!?! I could mention a bunch of heroic malcontents in 1916, but the subtlety would be lost on the acutely moronic. And you are quite correct about the English paying more in tax than Scotland, just. mind you there are near 60 million of them and a bare 5 million of us. John >>Correction, the £nglish PAY!.<< Really John, care to explain just how they manage that.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Dave/The Dubliner & John

    Awfy, awfy quiet here. I guess bullshitting and winding up is the easy bit.