Think Scotland report entitled “The SNP Record: good or bad?” – a review of the impacts and outcomes
Think Scotland report entitled “The SNP Record: good or bad?” – a review of the impacts and outcomes of SNP Government policies
Whilst the views expressed in this 72 page report are the authors own, we have been asked to publish this report given its importance ahead of the May elections in Scotland. The report has been promoted by Brian Monteith for ThinkScotland.org and the foreword has been written by the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP who says:
“Scotland has not failed; its leadership has failed”. These were the words of Alex Salmond, speaking after the SNP government was found to have acted unlawfully in its handling of an investigation into harassment complaints against him.
The behaviour of the Scottish government under Nicola Sturgeon had, he said, “shed a light on a government whose actions are no longer true to the principles of openness, accountability and transparency, which are the core principles on which this Scottish parliament was founded.”
It was a damning indictment.
Yet that damning indictment can be extended to many areas of Scottish life under SNP rule.
This report sets out that far from the “progressive” politics that the SNP claims to represent, the Scottish people have suffered in many key areas of life under SNP government.
While poverty rates had been steadily declining in Scotland for many years, once the SNP took over that decline stopped and poverty began increasing again. By contrast, in the UK as a whole, absolute poverty fell by 1.4 percentage points between 2010-11 and 2018-19. The situation in Scotland cannot be blamed on anyone but the SNP government itself.
What is worse, this dismal record has occurred at a time when UK taxpayers have funded spending in Scotland that is 17% above the UK average.
In other areas where the SNP has had complete authority under devolution the picture is the same.
When I attended one of Scotland’s biggest comprehensive schools in East Kilbride, Scottish education was respected the world over. Since 2006 Scottish pupils have fallen in international rankings from 10th to 19th in science, from 11th to 23rd in reading and from 11th to 24th in maths. It is a handicap that the next generation of young Scots will have to bear as a result of SNP failure.
When I trained as a doctor at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the 1980s, I would not have believed that by 2021 Glaswegian men would have a lower life expectancy than men in Venezuela, Libya, or Iran, well below the rest of the UK and further behind the most affluent parts of Scotland.
The figures are even worse on drug deaths. Under the SNP, Scotland is the drug death capital of Europe.
Drug deaths in Scotland are three-and-a-half times the drug deaths in the UK as a whole yet England and Wales operate under the same drug legislation as Scotland. The only people who can possibly be to blame are those in the SNP government.
Similar failures can be seen in policing, local government and in basic rights such as freedom of speech where the SNP’s much hated hate crime legislation means that Scots, who led the global enlightenment, are now less free to speak than other parts of the UK.
All of this comes alongside questions about unspent and unaccounted for funds including potential investigations into how the SNP handles its own funds and the lack of transparency in its accounts.
All of these issues, and others, should be the core of political debate in Scotland because they are the issues that affect ordinary Scottish men, women and children. The Scottish nationalists constantly want to talk about the constitutional issue of independence because it distracts attention from the SNP’s appalling failure in government in Scotland.
The issues explored in this report should be the key debates in the Scottish parliament, among Scottish politicians and in the Scottish media, but too often they are not.
It is time for that to change.
Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP