Covid: Businesses are going under as Nicola Sturgeon blames others for her failings – Ian Murray MP

Edinburgh’s hospitality businesses are dying. They contact me every day to say it’s the end of the road without adequate financial support.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 7:00 am
Nicola Sturgeon needs to do more for businesses, workers and care homes, says Ian Murray MP (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

After being ordered to close with scant notice and then offered a pittance from the SNP government, yesterday they were told they have to remain shut for at least another week.

The fact that this was trailed via leaks to national newspapers shows that the SNP treats firms with the same disdain as the Tories do across England.

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New coronavirus restrictions are clearly necessary, but there is a duty on governments to support businesses and workers in their hour of need.

In Manchester, Mayor Andy Burnham is rightly standing up for those whose livelihoods are being put at risk by Tory mismanagement.

Nicola Sturgeon is no Andy Burnham

Boris Johnson has ignored him and railroaded through measures without adequate financial help.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that she will do the same should any local leader dare to complain.

That’s despite her government starving councils of four times more cash in recent years than the cuts made to Scotland’s budget by the UK Government.

Yesterday, Alex Cole-Hamilton wrote in this paper that Nicola Sturgeon is no Jacinda Ardern. He’s right.

But Nicola Sturgeon is no Andy Burnham either.

While Andy has united a region behind him, bringing people and communities together, the First Minister continues to seek division.

Andy is seeking solutions from government because he doesn’t have the powers to act himself.

Contact tracing failings

Nicola Sturgeon has the powers to act herself (and a £200m+ underspend in current Covid support schemes) but refuses to provide solutions.

Instead, she continues to blame others.

In recent days, she has pointed the finger at the UK Government over the delays in Scottish Covid-19 testing.

But when it comes to contact tracing, she yesterday copied the Tories’ approach and outsourced contracts to private companies in a desperate bid to save her Test and Protect.

That’s because they failed to provide the 2,000 contact tracers it promised.

I’ve lost count of how many different strategies we’ve had from the First Minister in recent weeks, and now people will be asked to understand a new five-tier system. It just has to be different to the three-tier system in England, of course.

Winter plan for care homes vital

With winter looming, the public need clarity over what restrictions they will be living with and what support will be available. The SNP government must deliver this clarity as a matter of urgency.

And for the latest strategy to work, there has to be a better relationship with local councils. The SNP can’t keep treating councils like Edinburgh with contempt.

In contrast to the chaos pursued by the Tories and SNP, Keir Starmer has put forward plans for a “clear and fair national criteria for financial support for jobs and businesses”, demanding that people faced with restrictions receive at least 80 per cent of their previous incomes.

Labour is also demanding a winter plan for Scotland’s care homes.

The SNP must learn from the mistakes of the first wave, which left Scotland with the UK’s highest care-home death rate.

We were promised an eradication strategy but now with a difficult winter ahead, our governments must pull out all the stops to better protect businesses, workers and the most vulnerable.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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