Jim O’Neill takes on Nicola Sturgeon for her shameless reverse ferret as she plays games with Indyref2 rather than tackling the failures of three terms of SNP government.
We are now well into the third term of SNP government. During the first they were a minority government, having to seek the support of other parties to get their policies through. Notoriously, in that first term, they did many deals with the Tories. Hardly a progressive alliance.
This, their third term, is also a minority government, and so far they have not shown their hand except, in Derek Mackay’s first budget, to reject every progressive tax proposal put forward by Labour and the Greens. And they still try to portray themselves as a progressive party! In their second term, when they had an absolute majority, and could have implemented any progressive policy they wanted, John Swinney resolutely followed George Osborne’s austerity agenda.
This has resulted in the decimation of local government, and the loss of thousands of jobs and services. It has led to unrest in our schools, with their continual tinkering, and a new plan to load more work on to headteachers at a time when they should be focusing all their attention on repairing the increasingly poor outcomes for our children, as seen in the recent international assessment of Scottish education.
And it has led, we now hear, to the cancellation of 21 hospital operations per day, many of which are an essential lifeline to the wellbeing of patients across Scotland. The deterioration of our NHS has been overseen by, among others, none other than our current First Minister, who must bear responsibility for that decline. And this is a First Minister who talks big, but runs away from action.
This has been best seen recently by her obsession with a “soft” Brexit and Indyref2. Every indication from Theresa May since she became Prime Minister has been that Brexit means Brexit, despite clearly having no effective plan to clarify what this means. In the gap, the right wing of the Tory Party has filled in the space, and more and more Mrs May seems to pander to them. At the same time, our erstwhile partners in Europe seem disinclined to make any breakaway easy for Britain, for fear of other countries following suit. And finally, the xenophobia of the Tory Party seems to be trumping the need to have a successful economy.
Sadly, this also seems to be infecting Jeremy Corbyn and the current leadership of our own party. Corbyn has always been lukewarm about Europe, and is falling into the trap of giving into a referendum based on lies and deceit to hang Labour’s policies on an acceptance of Brexit. As the lies and deceit become ever more obvious, and the dreadful consequences of Brexit become ever more clear, we should be pulling back on the reins and saying “can we think this out again, please”.
Meanwhile our own little First Minister has been talking tough, demanding first an opt-out for Scotland (impossible) and then a “soft” Brexit. She even went so far as to threaten Indyref2 if a soft Brexit was not delivered “and I’m not bluffing”. But she was. As soon as polling showed that 61% of Scots opposed Indyref2 this year, and that 55% of Scots still opposed independence, she performed a reverse ferret, and announced that there would be no Indyref2 in 2017. She has been shown up as the little girl who cried wolf. No-one will now believe her threats, even if some believed them before, other than the most committed of Nationalists, some of whom I expect to comment on this blog.
So, there we have it. A regressive Scottish Government who have failed to improve Scotland, and with an obsession on independence that has been shown to be little more than failed bravado. Maybe, having decided not to have a referendum this year, they will focus on making our schools, our hospitals and our local services better. Their local manifestos for May will be instructive!