SCOTTISH Tory MPs are a pretty inexperienced bunch, which is probably why they keep up their one-chord chant of “no indyref2”. Many clearly didn’t expect to get elected – and neither did their constituency associations. No wonder many have become dedicated disciples of longer standing Tories. This week I’m leafletting for John Nicolson against Tory Luke Graham in Ochil and South Perthshire. Graham is a devoted follower of Liz Truss MP, International Trade Secretary, founder of the Tory Free Enterprise Group and one of the authors of Britannia Unchained. All sounds familiar doesn’t it, except that he won’t be tweeting that in Alloa?

But what this Tory cohort can’t conceal is what it means to live in Scotland with an SNP government. Despite limited funds, a Scottish government has done as much as possible to protect us from 10 years of Cameron/Osborne, May/Hammond and now Johnson/Javid deliberate Tory austerity, especially NHS cuts, the bedroom tax and Universal Credit.

In contrast, anyone with a family member in England with a re-occurring health problem which means brief spells in hospital will tell you they don’t know in which hospital they may have to spend the night.

No wonder, too, that friends in England tell me that they’ll have to move to Scotland because they fear the dismantling of the NHS if the Tories get an overall majority tomorrow. No wonder there are families with elderly relatives already moving to Scotland to benefit from the personal care allowance.

READ MORE: Ex-Labour minister Les Huckfield says indy must be priority

It’s the same with higher education. None of my students at GCU have to pay £9000 in fees like their English counterparts, introduced by a Tory/LibDem coalition in 2010. And, thanks to Tory transport cuts in England, outside big cities you’ll be lucky to find a bus after 6pm in the evening, with problems for hospital visiting, shopping trips and all that we regard in Scotland as part of our social fabric.

Much of the economic and social fabric we cherish in Scotland is already “in the market” in England. An October 2019 King’s Fund estimate is that, including independent, non-profit, voluntary providers and GPs, pharmacy, optical and dental services, around 25% of total NHS spending is already delivered outside the NHS.

The private sector has made such inroads into the NHS, that the two main English deliverers, NHS England and NHS Improvement in their NHS Recommendations to Government and Parliament for an NHS Bill report in September 2019 argued for removing Section 75 of the Tory Health and Social Care Act 2012, and for removing commissioning of NHS healthcare services from the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. These changes would remove the presumption of automatic tendering of NHS healthcare services more than £650,000.

There’s still an even greater threat from a continuing Tory government hellbent on securing Brexit on any terms and doing trade deals with the US. Much more of Scotland’s health and care system remains inside the NHS. But with a Trump trade deal, that will be difficult to maintain.

There’s also a wider European context to all this. During Scotland’s first steps towards devolution between 1997 and 1999 – and since then too – Scotland’s representation in the EU has been via London.

It’s hard to imagine how seriously this has undermined Scotland’s economy and society.

When he signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, John Major’s Tory government opted out of Jacques Delors’ Social Chapter – a critical moment for Scotland from which we’ve never recovered.

At that time, most other EU member states wanted increased EU funding for “social protection” to expand their social spending. Because Major’s government argued that the EU had no role in social policy, Scotland was the biggest loser, as we were already beginning to develop our own social policies.

THOUGH an incoming UK Labour government later ratified the Agreement on Social Policy to be included in the Treaty of Amsterdam in July 1997, by then this had been downgraded to a request for the EU Commission to encourage co-operation between the member states.

READ MORE: The Tories can run for now, but they can’t hide from reality

All this means that Scotland has been effectively excluded from any meaningful role in EU policy making for 20 years – since the 1992 initial council recommendation and its absorption within the Employment and Social Affairs Council.

For Scotland since 1997, with employment and social protection more aligned to an EU agenda, our own devolved policy development would have been enhanced and better funded through direct participation in EU policy discussions, since their thrust was aligned with the mainstreaming of social inclusion and social protection sought in EU policies.

Most other EU nations have higher levels of public spending than the UK. While Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have rightly made proposals to restore the UK to the EU average, Scotland still has too much catching up to do, and we’ll never do this with London negotiating on our behalf.

Johnson’s Brexit means Scotland will lose nearly £800 million EU Structural Funds.

Though the UK Government keeps talking about a Shared Prosperity Fund to replace this, no-one knows how much this will be and what it can fund.

Hopefully we won’t have to worry about what London says or thinks for much longer.

Les Huckfield is a former Labour MP for Nuneaton and MEP. He is now a PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University researching social enterprise and third sector organisations