The SNP manifesto and Shakespeare

By Professor Hugh Pennington

The first President of Eire, Douglas Hyde, summarised it nicely when commenting on the exaggerated anglophobia of the Irish, that there is a hibernian habit of denouncing England while imitating everything English. The SNP is the same.

A topical example is the concept of the Major Trauma Centre, which gives state-of-the-art specialist acute care and top-class long-term on-site rehabilitation to patients with serious injuries.

A network of MTCs was rolled out in England in April 2012, from Newcastle in the north east, to Plymouth in the south west. In April 2014 Alex Neil, the then Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, announced that there would be similar MTCs  in Scotland. There would be Centres in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

But two years on the MTC concept seems to have gone. Centres are not mentioned in the SNP manifesto. All it says is that there will be a “major trauma network to reflect our unique geography, utilising sites in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.” This is nothing more than a description of the status quo.

William Shakespeare died exactly four hundred years ago. But as ever, his words are uncannily apposite:

Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

Polonius: By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel, indeed.

Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.

Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.

Hamlet: Or like a whale?

Polonius: Very like a whale.

The whale looks today to be an accurate measure of the exaggeration behind Alex Neil’s pork barrel inducement to vote “Yes” in 2014.

Weasel words leave the impression that a meaningful statement has been made in the 2016 manifesto, although the ambiguity allows a denial to be uttered later (wait until the election is over).

And a camel has two humps –there is a strong evidence-based suspicion that if MTCs are ever to be established there will only be two - one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow.

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