Nut roast

In a recent interview with the British Medical Journal, the eminent philosopher, writer and Professor of geriatric medicine at Manchester University, Raymond Tallis, was asked: “Who’s been the best and the worst health secretary in your lifetime?”

His answer: “The worst by far was (secretary of state for health from 2010 to 2012 Andrew) Lansley. If his health act is not repealed, the NHS will be destroyed and we shall have less care for more money.

“Bevan (Nye, who spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Serviec) remains unsurpassed as a practical, compassionate visionary who was exercised by the unnecessary death, suffering and hardship that resulted from the pre-NHS world – to which the coalition wishes to return us.”

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Fortunately, we in Scotland have our own version of the NHS, already undermined and further threatened by coalition cuts, but set on a different course from creeping privatisation.

The professor’s observations underline a fundamental difference in outlook between our two nations: we do not share the same values.

To illustrate this, one need only compare and contrast the treatment of Ukip’s Nigel Farage in Scotland and England.

Fear of Farage (and of his own far-right backbenchers) has already compelled Prime Minister David Cameron to call for an in-out referendum that poses a greater threat to Scotland’s EU membership than independence.

As Scots have little time for a dunderheid, Nigel came close to being tarred, feathered and run out of town.

His subsequent cretinous remark that a post-Dunblane ban on handguns was “ludicrous” only serves to confirm our opinion of him. There are shades of Sarah Palin here.

And yet, this man is currently shaping UK policy. Like the coalition, Ukip should come with a government health warning: “May contain nuts.”

James Stevenson