Well, I've had another highly instructive day. As you probably know, life expectancy in Scotland is considerably lower than in the rest of the UK, and there are pockets of Glasgow where it is lower than even the Gaza Strip. As this situation has arisen entirely on London's watch, you'd think it would be an open and shut case that the UK government must take at least a modicum of responsibility for it. But no - my CyberTory friends advise me that such an idea is ludicrous. Here is their list of excuses -
But...but...health is devolved! (Yes, but it's only been devolved since 1999, and the life expectancy differential has been in evidence since the 1950s. Fourteen years is scarcely enough time to turn around decades of damage caused by London misrule - and arguably it's six years rather than fourteen, because when Labour were in power at both Holyrood and Westminster the Scottish Government functioned more like the Downing Street-controlled Scottish Office of old. In any case, health policy is far from being the only determinant of life expectancy that is controlled by government, and many of the others such as welfare are still the sole preserve of Westminster.)
But...but...it's preposterous to suggest that Westminster is to blame when everyone knows this is all down to the Jocks' bad diet and lack of exercise! (So no-one has ever resorted to comfort eating or alcohol abuse after becoming unemployed, or being bullied by Atos? Can you truly see no connection to Westminster policy there?)
But...but...that's only Westminster POLICY you're talking about. It's absurd to blame the policies of individual governments on constitutional structures! (So how exactly do you think we ended up with all those government policies we didn't vote for, if not as a direct result of constitutional structures? Scotland didn't exactly win the Thatcher government in a game of cards, you know.)
But...but...pointing out that Westminster is to blame for the poor life expectancy of Scots is NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING! (Has anyone seen my irony-ometer lying around somewhere? I seem to have mislaid it.)
But...but...nobody knows what causes the poor life expectancy of Scots. It's a total mystery! (My personal favourite. Anything good that happens in Scotland = conclusive proof that we are 'better together' in this, the most glorious political union that our planet has ever been blessed enough to witness. Anything bad that happens in Scotland = BAFFLING.)
Well, I'm convinced. In future, I'll try not to be so impertinent as to expect the No campaign to actually defend the track record of the union. Let's not over-think things too much, as we join with Blair McDougall, Alistair Darling and the rest of the Scottish Labour family in saying "Play it again, Dave"...