Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Crying wolf

Recently the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) carried out a review of the Scottish education system.  The report was largely positive and highlighted some improvements that have been made as well as showing some areas that still need work.  On balance, though, it shows that education in Scotland is in a reasonably good position when compared with other countries. 

The National reported on the review in a positive manner, but also highlighted the areas that need to be improved, as you would expect from decent journalism. Everyone would be happy you'd think.

But of course, Labour in Scotland are not happy.  They do not, as the old song goes, accentuate the positive but instead respond in Eyore-ish, glass-half-empty kind of way.  An illustration of this was discussed on Wings Over Scotland, which showed a screengrab of a tweet from Blair McDougall.  In it he pulls out every negative thing said in the report with no positives to counterbalance them.  The usual 'SNP Bad' stuff.   I have no doubt that other Labour MSPs will be banging the same drum over the next day or so, when they're not criticising the Budget.

Labour in Scotland really need to rethink their reflex to declare that anything the Scottish government suggests is bad because the Scottish government suggested it, and that anything negative said about Scotland by a third-party organisation must have the blame laid at the feet of the Scottish government.  They have got to the point now where a large proportion of the electorate simply ignore their pronouncements due to their relentless negativity.  This is bad for democracy, since the odds are that at some point Labour will be correct about something that the Scottish government has got wrong, but at that point no-one will be listening to them.  They will be like the boy who cried wolf.

To me an opposition's job is not to simply oppose anything that the government might propose, but is rather to look at a proposal and ensure that questions are asked to make sure that all possible outcomes or consequences have been considered and contingency put in place to deal with them.  Sadly, however, Labour in Scotland seem to be no more capable of this than they are of persuading people to vote for them.  For too long they had things their own way, so that they didn't need to develop the necessary skills for either task, and it doesn't look like they're going to master them any time soon, if ever.

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