Who did James Naughtie talk to about Scotland's social care service, which was to be discussed at Andy Burnham's 'emergency conference' today?
He talked to Allyson Pollock of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at Edinburgh University. She campaigns against private involvement in the NHS (not that Naughtie told us that, of course, when introducing her) and writes for two left-wing newspapers, The Guardian and The Herald.
You might expect her pro-public-sector views (reflected in Scotland's system) to chime with Jim's and you'd be dead right. He asked her no hard questions at all. Several of those he did ask merely invited her to explain how the system works. His question about the cost brought the statement from Allyson that "there are huge savings in this because...", at which Naughtie leapt in enthusiastically to back her up, "Well, that's the point that's often not made. It's a way of saving money in other costs." Well might her immediate response have been "Indeed it is!" If you thought that was a pretty biased intervention, try Naughtie's next question: "In other words what lies behind your argument is if you decide that you want to do it and it's a good thing it can be done and it is affordable." Again, how could begin her answer with any other word but 'indeed!' Allyson Pollock if anything sounded a bit startled. She's was clearly not expecting such openly supportive interviewing. Still, she immediately relaxed again (as well she might) and went on.
Naughtie's performance on today's Today was awful.
In advance of the interview Naughtie talked of Mr Burnham's wish for cross-party consensus and reminded his listeners that the wicked Tories 'broke off' private discussions on the subject last week. , b*
Interestingly Thursday night's Newnight also mentioned this glorious Scottish care system, but (and all credit to him for this) Gavin Esler asked "I mean Scotland has it's own system, which is quite different but which is also proving to be quite expensive, because it's very difficult to finance it." Now that's something Naughtie didn't point out. Quite the reverse.
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