Expects you to peg out. A study by NHS Scotland suggests we've been shuffling off with alacrity since 1980, one year into the reign of Thatcher, M. She must have had pretty strong magical powers to send us into a suicidal binge of chip-eating and booze-swilling after just one year. Indeed, we carried on being rubbish at living long after she'd gone.
But what really drives us to an early grave? The report's lead researcher, Dr Gerry McCartney, says it's insufficient to try explaining health trends by simply looking at "proximal causes" such as smoking or alcohol.
"Income inequality, welfare policy and unemployment do not occur by accident, but as a product of the politics pursued by the government of the day," he says.
Before you dust off your "Maggie out!" placards, you have to bear in mind that the rot began in 1950, when we first diverged from the rest of Europe. According to the study, published in the journal Public Health, there's no clear reason for this.
But it's less equivocal about the 1980s, when negative health behaviour – nae salad – was "heavily influenced and shaped by the social, cultural and economic disruption which occurred as the political and economic policies of the UK changed from the late 1970s." All part of the Union dividend, Nationalists might say, when Scotland got a party she didn't vote for. To modify the Unionist slogan, "Stronger together, apart from all the deaths."
It's theoretically possible that we should have got better after devolution. One of the micro powers allowed the Scotch was health. Hence, the focus on fruit by the first Labour administrations, and the Nats' big downer on alcohol.
It's small beer compared to control over the economy and welfare, not to mention how much you want to spend on nukes. Having control over health, while the economy follows the old right-wing route of poverty and austerity, is just giving you a mop to clean up the blood. They might as well have delivered devolution in an ambulance.
Still, at least we can count on the sympathy of ordinary citizens south of the border. Here are messages of support from leading intellectuals on a London-based newspaper's website. "And no doubt the whining Scots will say that this is all the fault of the English."
"Perhaps if they had to pay for perscriptions (sic or, indeed, sick) and university like us English they would not have so much money for booze, fags and junk food."
"The reasons for the lower life expectancy are (a) what they smoke; (b) what they drink; (c) what they eat; (d) their generally miserable attitude to life."
"Poor genes equals poor people."
"These people are the cause of their own deprivation. It doesn't matter what you give them they will destroy it."
And: "They have lower vitamin D levels because of the high latitudes."
I see. It's impossible not to sympathise with such reasonable views. Perhaps we are just rubbish and it's nothing to do with governments, right, left, centralised or devolved. Recently, I read about non-aligned supporters of independence, frustrated at the poor level of public understanding, starting to wonder if the Scots really are too stupid to run their own affairs.
How ironic would that be? One of the alleged central tenets of Unionism (along with too wee and too poor) turns out to be true. Look at our footer players: the least eloquent in the world. Neds: this is their world HQ. Watching televised debates where the public are allowed to speak is always distressing, but by all accounts a recent BBC effort on independence plumbed new depths of hebetude.
You hear it on the streets. "What will happen when Alex Salmond dies?" "There hasn't been any debate." "Please spell out every single detail. Under independence, how many dogs will there be in Fife?"
Have successive governments reduced us to this state: poor, ill, dense? Is this the result of the Union? Or Thatcher? Or devolution? None of the above?
Personally, I blame the weather. Damn those high latitudes.
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