As Scotland faces winter of discontent, SNP comes up with meaningless gimmicks – Daniel Johnson MSP
We all rely on governments to provide the basics. Public services that we can access and essential services that are carried out routinely.
We pay our taxes and expect a certain minimum delivery of services,. However we are increasingly seeing signs, as we enter winter, that this government is increasingly failing in its duties.
Notable amongst these failings is transport. The ongoing calamity of unfinished ferries looms large along with ScotRail where we’ve seen ongoing pay disputes and threats of a strike during the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
We’ve had 'unhackable' mobile phones which were given to prisoners in Scotland during lockdown by the Scottish government at a cost of £3 million being hacked and used for drug deals. And figures from Police Scotland state there have been 722 suspected drug deaths in Scotland in the first six months in the year, illustrating an upwards trend in such deaths.
We expect our government to plan ahead and to engage with all sectors. Given the new and very broad nightclub definition announced yesterday and the three weeks’ notice businesses now have to implement the new Covid certification process, it’s clear that this government is behaving irresponsibly.
The public service on which we all depend though is the NHS. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen strains with nurse and midwife vacancy rates and a crisis in our ambulance service with one OAP waiting 22 hours for paramedics and another frail pensioner dying following a 40-hour wait for an ambulance.
A number of health boards, including Lothian, have cancelled elective surgery procedures in recent weeks; we have 600,000 Scots stuck on waiting lists; monthly A&E waiting times are at an all-time high, with thousands of Scots waiting hours for treatment and, as already discussed, ambulance services are in disarray, with average wait times rocketing and waits of up to 40 hours recorded.
On top of this, over 1,000 people are currently in hospital with Covid-19, case numbers are stubbornly high and experts are warning of a tough flu season.
These failings are not wholly the fault of Covid, as confirmed by the president of the Royal College of Surgeons. They have their root in poor workforce planning that goes back years to when Nicola Sturgeon was Health Secretary and, amongst other decisions, cut the number of nurse places.
The health of its citizens is one of the core responsibilities of any government and it’s one that the Scottish government is shirking.
The First Minister has announced that the army is being drafted in to assist with the ambulance service, assistance that should have been called upon far sooner.
A more local brainwave from another SNP administration is happening in Glasgow. Thousands of public bins there are to have new QR codes displayed so residents can complain instantly about overflowing litter. Residents don't need QR codes, they need their bins collected.
This bizarre response sums up what's wrong with the SNP. Ignoring problems and the coming up with meaningless gimmicks instead of a proper response.
Whether it’s planning, transport, the NHS or local services, the red lights are flashing.
Unless robust changes are made and the Scottish government engages with doing the basics right, we’re due a winter of discontent.
Daniel Johnson is Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern