WHENEVER the Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting – a man with resting smug face – gets trending on social media, you always know it's going to be for all the wrong reasons. Streeting is on the far right edge of the Labour party, even by the standards of Keir Starmer.

In the 1990s and 1980s we would have had no hesitation in dismissing Streeting as a Tory. His links to private health companies are well documented, as is his desire to increase private sector involvement in the NHS in England.

During an episode of a podcast from the i newspaper podcast last year, Streeting said that he wanted to get "quite tough on NHS England" in order to force it to work more closely with the private sector. He added that he would "hold the door [to NHS England] wide open" for the private sector should Labour win the next General Election.

READ MORE: Labour call for greater 'use of private sector' in NHS care

Now Streeting has doubled down on his essentially Conservative vision for NHS Scotland, accusing Labour party activists of being "too nostalgic" about the NHS and insisting that pouring more cash into the health service is not what is needed.

Streeting told the Sun newspaper: "You can't just keep on pouring ever-increasing amounts of money into a leaky bucket, you've got to deal with the bucket itself."

He claimed to have identified £10 billion in savings by cutting waste and introducing reforms, which he insisted could free up cash for front line services. You don't get more Tory than using the language of efficiency savings about the NHS while talking about increasing private sector involvement.

Although NHS Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Government and Wes Streeting will never be in charge of the NHS in this country, what he says about funding for NHS England matters for Scotland too.

The block grant from Westminster which forms the bedrock of Scottish Government funding is ultimately dependent on spending decisions which the Westminster government makes about public services in England. The Barnett formula takes government spending on public services in England as the baseline from which the Scottish block grant is calculated.

Less spending in England means a lower block grant for Scotland, which in turn forces the Scottish Government to make up the shortfall by reducing spending in other areas. This is then condemned by Anas Sarwar as “SNP cuts”.

The unwillingness of Streeting to boost NHS funding in order to compensate for decades of Conservative austerity – and funding which has not kept pace with inflation – will have a very real and negative impact on Scotland. The devolution settlement acts as a mechanism for devolving the blame for spending cuts decided in Westminster to Holyrood. Streeting will only exacerbate that.

Scottish Labour’s U-turn woes

The National: Anas Sarwar was asked if a vote for Labour is a vote for the Union

Anas Sarwar is being challenged to speak out against what looks like another U-turn from Keir Starmer in the offing. In recent days there have been reports that Starmer is set to axe his commitment to investing £28bn every year in green projects. Labour's green pledge has already been heavily watered down, it's currently more of a pale chartreuse pledge.

To begin with, Starmer said a Labour government would spend £28bn every year on a green transition, but shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves later watered that commitment down, and said that the £28bn figure was only a target to work towards in the second half of a first parliament. Starmer is now saying a Labour government would "ramp up to £28bn of annual investment in the second half of the parliament" adding the proviso, "subject to our fiscal rules”.

However there are persistent reports that many senior figures in the Labour party are keen to drop the pledge in its entirety.

The issue of the Labour party's ever withering green pledge, and Sarwar's response to it, will come up during a debate in Holyrood due to be held later this week on green investment and the failure of the UK to keep pace with other major economies. Formulating a Labour government's green policy is way above Sarwar's pay grade. Don't expect anything from the branch manager other than platitudes and an attempt to turn the issue into an attack on the Scottish Government – which will be faithfully reported by BBC Scotland.

Westminster must take responsibility for UK poverty

A major new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found shocking levels of poverty in the UK, the consequence of decades of Conservative policy and the shredding of the social security system. The report finds that the six million poorest people in the UK would need to "more than double their income" in order to move out of poverty.

The report found that UK-wide poverty rates are at 22%,an estimated 14.4 million people, while UK child poverty rates are at 29%, or around 4.2m children. In Scotland, poverty rates are slightly lower on 21%, while child poverty rates are five points lower, on 24%. In England, a shocking 31% of children are living in poverty. The SNP has pointed to the Scottish Child Payment, which provides lower-income families with £25 a week for each child, as a reason for the comparatively lower rates north of the Border.

In December last year, a separate report from Unicef found that between 2012 and 2019 the UK Government had overseen the worst rise in child poverty out of the world's 39 richest countries. That's a damning indictment of a Westminster system which a Labour government will not change.

With Westminster firmly in charge of most powers over the economy, tax policy and social security, the onus is on British politicians to explain how they propose to reduce poverty in Scotland. They cannot simply wash their hands and insist it's a matter for Holyrood, which has only a small fraction of the powers that Westminster does.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

To receive our full newsletter including this analysis straight to your email inbox, click HERE and click the "+" sign-up symbol for the REAL Scottish Politics