Brian Monteith: Stop throwing your toys out of the pram

European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L) welcomes Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon before their meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters. Picture; Thierry Charlier

European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L) welcomes Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon before their meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters. Picture; Thierry Charlier

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How desperate do things need to become in Scotland before our grandstanding First Minister actually does the job she is paid for?

Apologies if this column borders on a rant today but it is hard not to control oneself when you are constantly assaulted by images of Nicola Sturgeon in Brussels and when the proverbial wheels of Scottish public services are coming off the wagon.

Am I alone in believing that we had a referendum on Scotland’s place in the UK less than two years ago where we said yes to staying in the UK, or was it just a dream?

Why oh why then are we in a constant state of government readiness to have another vote as if Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers do not have better things to do?

Has anyone looked at the state of the Scottish economy, has anyone considered the state of our schooling? Has anyone read about what has been happening to our police force? I could go on with a longer list of the appalling state of modern Scotland – all of which is in whole or part the responsibility of the Scottish government – but should I expect our ruling SNP government to focus on its real job rather than the one it would like?

The devolution Act that delivered the Scottish Parliament was meant to make our public services accountable to the Scottish people instead of Westminster politicians. It was not meant to become a stage for drumming up grievances between Scotland and England to foment ill-will and even hatred so we can have never-endums until we capitulate to independence. All of the constitutional distractions are at the cost of our public services being mismanaged or neglected.

Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum resulted in a very high turnout of 84.6 per cent giving a resounding 55.3 per cent to 44.7 per cent vote in support of us remaining in the UK. A majority of over ten per cent is high in any referendum, accordingly it was a slam dunk for remaining British and Scottish, and yet rather than accept the democratic outcome the losers are intent on maintaining a political state of emergency in the hope of restaging the event.

This week we heard that the Scottish economy has enjoyed zero per cent growth in the first three months of 2016, falling further behind the rest of the UK, with construction and manufacturing in particular contracting. Scottish unemployment at 5.5 per cent also remains higher than the UK’s 4.9 per cent. Leading economist John McLaren has commented that prospects for growth “are probably bleaker now than at any time since the finance-led crisis in 2008”.

Also this week a report from the Scottish Police Federation lays the facts bare for all to see about the impact of funding cuts, including procedural short cuts that sacrifice crime-solving to bean counting.

Likewise our schools are falling behind the international standards we once established and our hospitals constantly face threats of closure.

Don’t tell me it’s about lack of money, it’s how it’s spent that matters. And if more money is really needed why wont the SNP raise taxes? They have been given the powers, after all.

When I voted in the EU referendum the question asked if the UK – not Scotland – should remain in or leave the EU. That’s it settled, let’s move on. We need fewer toys thrown out of the pram when the First Minister doesn’t get her own way and more attention to the day job. She’s paid as much as the Prime Minister, it’s time she earned it.

Excitment in store for unloved BHS

The BHS store in Princes Street is one of Edinburgh’s sixties architectural gems but like so many buildings of that period it is probably unloved an unappreciated by those that did not experience its heyday

What great news then that rather than be razed to the ground it is going to be given a £50 million revamp that will see it retain its retail purpose while the largely unused storage space in the upper floors will be rebuilt as a new hotel, restaurant and bar with great views towards the castle, the Old Town and Arthur’s Seat.

We need to learn to love the best of our modern buildings – like the Commonwealth Pool – and not just the neo-gothic and neo-classical relics of our past. What’s your favourite post-war Edinburgh building?