The Scottish Labour Party’s central proposition at the moment is that we should accept Brexit and long-term Tory rule because these are simply distractions from key policy issues we aren’t tackling properly in Scotland. They’ve hired a Daily Mail guy not just as a regular staffer, but to personally lead their case in the media. Like Eddie Barnes, another journo hired by the Tories to do exactly the same thing, the Labour Party Daily Mail guy is using his new job to improve his own public profile. So he puts out the stuff of his day job in his own name, like leaders do. A lot of his stuff naturally reflects his Daily Mail values. Yesterday, he used Twitter to flag a Scottish Daily Express headline which in turn seemed to justify Scottish Labour’s present concern about a Scottish education system apparently in such a parlous state that we should ignore literally everything else to fix it. The tweet’s below.

Inside, the report is headed; “SNP accused of ‘failing our children'”. The article references a new report on education delivery by Scotland’s local authorities, published by The Improvement Service and the accusation the article refers to comes from Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray.  The central feature of the Daily Express article is Gray telling us that the Improvement Service document shows that the Scottish Government is letting everyone down on Education in schools.

Well, here’s how the actual Improvement Service source document Iain Gray refers to summarises its report on educational progress in Scottish schools over the last six years:

“Despite real reductions in the education budget since 2010/11, the number of pre-school and primary places in Scotland has increased by over 30,000 and measures of educational outcome continue to show positive progress, particularly for children from the most deprived areas….the trend on senior phase attainment shows a very strong improving trend. Overall attainment (average tariff score) improved by around 14% but, within that, the most deprived pupils improved the most (25.5%)”. 

You can read the report and make your mind up for yourself. But the report categorically says that local authorities, schools and professionals across Scotland have done a fine job over the reported period. Pre-schools, primary schools and secondary schools have all made considerable progress and most progress of all has been made in the education of children from more deprived backgrounds. All of this has been done against  a backdrop of difficult economic circumstances. By any standards, we should be proud of our schools and teachers.

What’s not in doubt is that early on in its time in UK government, The Labour Party radically increased expenditure on Education and Health, and this directly impacted upon the Scottish government’s budget and helped the Scottish government to prioritise it too.  Now that the Tories in UK government are slashing public spending as a matter of ideological priority, then all public expenditure is under continuous and extreme pressure across the UK.  Our education system in Scotland is doing well in spite of that. Would it do better without a Tory government slashing public expenditure across the board? Probably. But in the meantime, it’s quite clear that the Scottish government is funding education, in competition with other public services battling for public resources, well enough to ensure year-on-year improvement. And of course it’s equally clear that our educational professionals are doing us all proud.

It’s undeniable, then, that in this episode Scottish Labour and Iain Gray (Education spokesman, remember, not Finance) deliberately misdirected the Scottish public on schools performance through a cheap-crap piece in the Daily Express put up by the Daily Mail guy they’ve hired. And that’s literally the best they can do, because remember that this ‘educational mess’ they’ve made up is the reason they give for telling us to ignore Brexit and long-term Tory rule.

It’s not complicated. If you want cheap crap, misdirection and Tory values then you hire a Daily Mail guy who’ll likely go back there once he’s used the wee bit of profile to boost his future earning power. Disastrously for Labour, but bang-on for the Daily Mail and the Tories that paper supports, that cunning plan will also involve marginalising criticism of the ideological, public-expenditure slashing Tory government and instead actually being their support act on the dominant political issue of the day.

There are plenty of folk in Scottish Labour who think that neglecting a serious political critique in opposition and instead cosying up to the Tories is a terrible thing. And they know why this present effort at opposition is so dire. It’s  because Scottish Labour’s present leadership has made ultra-unionism – not Education, Health, the deprived or any other area of public policy – its signature feature.

The present Scottish Labour leadership’s obsession with supporting the Tory position on the constitution to the exclusion of all else is turning the Scottish Labour Party into just another mouthpiece of the Tory-supporting Daily Mail. There’s time to change yet; but not much.






11 Responses to Education: The Daily Mail lies through misdirection. Must Scottish Labour really do the same?
  1. […] 5. Eric Joyce | From No to Yes “Education: The Daily Mail lies through misdirection. Must Scottish Labour really do the same?… […]

  2. OK, conspiracy time.

    How low would Labour be prepared to sink just to stick it to the SNP?

    Ms May has decided to make a local election a definitive statement on a second referendum. Is it possible that Labour (Scotland) have hired a right wing journalist for the ‘express’ purpose of encouraging an increase in Tory support which would then be shouted from the rooftops of the shire, regardless of any SNP success.

    They wouldn’t do that, would they?

  3. I need to correct my name. Kind of reinforces my point about the elf print.

  4. Tris, I feel your pain!

    Eric, I’ve been reading your posts for a good while and this is yet another excellent example. I’m delighted to see you are getting more recognition from the likes of WoS and munguin and hope that your readership will increase exponentially as a result.

    My only gripe is that I can’t swipe to enlarge the text on my iPad and have to wear my “elf print” specs to read posts and comments!

  5. Ever since I was old enough to vote back in the ’60s, I voted Labour. That all changed for me when Callaghan took over. I thought then that there could never be a more incompetent cabal of Labour politicians than that lot. Time after time this present lot in SLab have proved me wrong. It’s as if they pull out all the stops to scrape the barrel harder and deeper than they did the time before.

    If Labour in Scotland really do have people who know why this present effort at opposition is so dire, why don’t they do something about it. I can see the problem. Jeez, half of Scotland can see the problem. It seems the only people who are blind to the problem are the ones in Slab who are calling the shots.

    SLab have reduced themselves to being mere Tory enablers. Alan Roden is not the answer to their problem. He’s just going to become part of the problem. Time is running out for SLab. If they don’t get themselves sorted out soon they’re going to be down there with the LibDems fighting for 4% of the votes.

  6. We are probably the only country in the world who have a significant number of people who think it is better to have their affairs conducted by a government in another country.
    Strange people.

  7. As an ex-Labour supporter and voter, I find their downward spiral distressing.

    This open lying to people about their kids’ education is cheap tacky and nasty.
    What’s wrong with them? Why aren’t they fighting what is really the problem? The Tories have cut and cut since 2010 and nothing has got better. In fact they have doubled the debt and reduced spending on everything from police and prisons to education to social care. most of their public services seem to be in chaos.

    They have, however, recently cut the tax on people earning over £45k +/-

    Labour should be fighting this tooth and nail. But they are utterly obsessed with hating the SNP.

    They have no real reason to fight with them so they employ Daily Mail people to make up crap.

    When I think of the principles behind the origin of the Labour Party it makes me want to weep.

    • It’s not pretty, but apparently it’s politics as it is … etc.

      Near as I can tell, the only folk who believe that almost every public institution we have is in ‘CRISIS’ are the opposition political parties.

      I don’t think there’s any doubt they’re under enormous pressure both economically and administratively and few would argue otherwise.

      How and ever, they are performing like heroes under this pressure and the Scottish Government have worked minor miracles with the handout under no small amount of stress at their end.

      Safe to say that both ends of the equation have acquitted themselves admirably under the worst of circumstances. What does NOT help is having the rest of the Scottish parliament constantly run down and undermine trust in those institutions in order to further their own political agendas.

      By undermining those vital public services they thoughtlessly, recklessly and needlessly place the public in harms way. For those actions alone, they have proven themselves unfit for government and unworthy of the public trust they would work to deny others.


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