WE have heard a lot of talk in the last few weeks about creating a fairer Scotland.
That is something that we all want to see – and every political party has made that a key part of their election message. But what does that mean once the dust settles on the 2016 Scottish Parliament election?
There is pretty broad agreement on what much of a fairer Scotland would look like. There would be none – or at least much less – of the child poverty that shames our society, standards would be equally high across all of our schools and no-one would have to struggle as so many of us currently do to get time with our GP or a health specialist.
How we achieve that is another thing entirely, on that there is little agreement. It is, however, the grounds on which our new Scottish Government will be judged five years from now.
Scotland is a very different place to what is was when the SNP won its historic parliamentary majority in 2011.
We are a more confident country, following the great national debate sparked by the referendum, and a more empowered one – with significant new powers about to be transferred to our parliament.
It wasn’t captured in the flat election campaign of recent weeks, but we should be excited about what might be achieved with right focus and determination over the next five years.
But, while our parliament is stronger than ever, the same cannot be said of our city. Edinburgh is a wealthy city and should be able to play its part in tackling inequality, as well as ensuring that our crumbling infrastructure – our schools and potholed roads – is properly repaired and maintained.
Why shouldn’t our city leaders have the authority to impose, for instance, a tourist tax if they believe that it will improve life in the Capital? Or vary the council tax bands in the city to create a mansion tax?
Removing the shackles from the City Chambers to allow Edinburgh more control over its own destiny should be one of the priorities for the Scottish Government.
Congratulations to all those elected to represent us in the Scottish Parliament for the next five years. For you, the hard work starts here.
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