Blair's big picture

6th October 2000 at 01:00
AS the party conference season draws to a close, thoughts will turn to the general election likely next year. In Scotland it is going to be a strange affair. Already there is speculation about the relevance of Scottish National Party involvement since it has said that the goal of independence will come through winning a majority in the Scottish Parliament, not of Scottish MPs at Westminster.

But the issues on which the election will be fought in England are in many cases the responsibility of the Parliament in Edinburgh (and the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies). It is almost the West Lothian question in reverse: Scottish voters will not play a direct part in the debates about education and health. And the political leadership in Scotland belongs to the Edinburgh Parliament, with MPs like Donald Dewar, Jim Wallace and John Swinney surrendering their Westminster seats.

However Tony Blair seeks to advance the cause of education, education education with a renewed mandate will no affect Scotland, nor directly would William Hague's plans to release schools from bureaucratic thrall. But the colour of the next administration will still affect voters north of the border and not just in reserved matters. If the British Government takes education down a particular path in England, the influence will be felt here. That could happen even if the two administrations were of a different colour. Let us assume that a Conservative government launched a crusade for higher standards in schools, backed by significant money. The Scottish coalition would opt out at its peril, because of voter expectations.

It is already clear that although devolution allows the Executive to determine how money will be spent on education and health, the decision to concentrate funding on these services comes from Downing Street and the Treasury. To that extent an election campaign that turns on spending commitments and tax levels should engage voters here as much as south of the border.


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now