Brian Monteith: It’s about resources, not race or religion

File picture: Jon Savage

File picture: Jon Savage

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FREE at last! Free at Last! To paraphrase Martin Luther King, half of Edinburgh is indeed free at last. Yes, we no longer have that monkey on our backs about our team never winning the Scottish Cup for more than a century. Gone will be my self-deprecating asides about Hibs forever being the bridesmaids, Buffalo Bill being in Edinburgh in 1902 and the wright Brothers not haven taken to the air, or other such nostalgia.

Meanwhile down south Manchester United win the FA Cup for the zillionth time and promptly sack their manager for not delivering European football. It’s a funny old world.

The biggest political story of the week that was not about football has been the publication of the population projections for the UK by the Office of National Statistics.

There are some interesting statistics in there that I thought I would share with readers, statistics that show why to some degree attitudes about migration are slightly different the further north you travel in the UK.

In Scotland the official population is estimated to be 5.38 million people, a figure that is projected to rise by 65,000 to 5.45 million by 2020 and by 230,000 to 5.61 million by 2030. As just numbers these figures did not initially strike me as huge but when you begin to consider them as cities then the scale of the growth becomes more significant. A town larger than the whole of Livingston (56,570) will be needed by 2020 and a city larger than Aberdeen (196,670) will be required by 2030.

By comparison the UK is growing so fast that it needs a city the size of Liverpool – every year.

Thinking about population growth that way paints a different picture than just looking at bald statistics and percentages. It is true that the numbers will be spread across Scotland, with a large share of the growth being in Edinburgh, and so it will be absorbed – but we are already seeing what absorption means as the council begins to consider the extra number of school places that will be required.

The reason for the growth in numbers is two-fold. The first is economic migration of people coming to work in Scotland and the UK. The second is that because the vast majority of migrants are young adults they naturally generate new births and have reversed the population decline that Scotland was experiencing only ten years ago. I happen to think that this is good for Scotland but it should only be encouraged with the consent of the people of Scotland and with the appropriate allocation of resources to help accommodate the additional demands on housing, schools and healthcare.

One thing is certain and that is there has not been sufficient allocation of resources for the growth we have had in recent years and so there is a great deal of catching up to do. When people wonder why it is difficult getting appointments from doctors or being seen at accident and emergency or finding a place to stay, it’s not just about the supply of adequate services, it is also about growing demand.

There is no doubt the amount of migration Scotland has experienced is nothing like what is happening in England, especially London where the population is expected to grow by over 1.1 million just by 2024. Even so, it is now a big issue on the doorsteps. It’s not about race, it’s not about religion – it’s about resources.

Maintaining enough services at the quality we are used to is something our politicians cannot sweep under the carpet.

Nothing can take away from savouring the moment...

Saturday was a great day out for Hibee supporters – and probably many neutrals too.

While the added-time ending was the stuff of legend, the way it developed afterwards robbed supporters of seeing the trophy paraded around the stadium. We need to keep a sense of proportion and learn from it. For one thing, the policing has to be better, with more officers located in the stadium.

What cannot be ignored and should not be lost is that the Hibs team played magnificently – with an amazing 21 attempts on goal.

All players contributed to an outstanding performance and are now immortals, as they are about to discover.

A fairly happy retirement

I see Edinburgh has come in at only the 11th happiest UK city to retire in! Why is it not higher?

Could it be the cold north-easterly wind? Could it be the long winters and short summers? Surely not!

I’ve got the answer. The survey was conducted after Hibs failed to get promotion but before they won the Cup. If they were to do the survey again, surely the city would move into the top five, for at least half of the retirees will be happier.

Scaremonger of the week

George Osborne is toast. No matter what the outcome of the EU referendum he has completely ruined his reputation in his own party and no doubt with the public too. The likelihood of him becoming prime minister is zero.

In the markets there is fear of another recession around the corner – no surprise then that he is trying to find scapegoats to blame. Yet it is he that is talking down economic confidence with all his Brexit scare stories, all of which are shown to be a stitch-up. Having produced one projection that was universally rubbished by economists of both sides, this week he produced another, which missed out the economic scenario that would have ruined his doom-laden figures by making them optimistic.

That’s why he’s my scaremonger of this week.