From Edinburgh's bin strikes to Scotland's finances, don't fall for SNP spin – Ian Murray MP
It’s perhaps befitting that, as Edinburgh hosts the world’s greatest arts festival, the Scottish Government has transformed disinformation into an artform.
From Angus Robertson’s assertions in the pages of this paper earlier this week to John Swinney’s claims about Scotland’s finances yesterday, the SNP truly has become a global leader at spin, grievance and deception.
Inflation is rampant at a 40-year high, we’re just days away from energy bills rocketing again, and weekly shopping bills are soaring.
The focus of every politician should be on tackling this cost-of-living crisis. It’s at times like these that people turn to their governments to make the right decisions.
Yesterday’s official economic figures from the Scottish Government, known as GERS, confirmed how the people of Scotland benefit financially from being part of the UK.
The devolution benefit of £2,184 per person in Scotland, compared to the rest of the UK, is vital for maintaining cherished public services like the NHS and schools.
But what we got from the Deputy First Minister was a bizarre attempt to spin the figures, claiming “revenue raised in Scotland covers all devolved expenditure as well as all social security spending – devolved and reserved – including state pension provision in Scotland”.
So, the public spending on other reserved areas isn’t important then?
It’s the equivalent misinformation as saying “my salary fully covers my mortgage” without saying there’s no money to pay other bills.
Swinney should tell the families of the thousands of Scottish civil servants working UK-wide that their jobs are expendable. And who needs any defence spending, right? Can our national rail infrastructure and all the research grants our brilliant universities receive just be forgotten about?
Even if he was correct, aren’t they always complaining they’ve no money? Swinney knows the truth, of course, but chooses to be an agent of disinformation instead.
It’s a trait than runs through the heart of the SNP, coming from the very top.
Nicola Sturgeon gathered energy suppliers this week – not to explain how the Scottish Government will use its powers to help households – but to tell them she can do nothing.
Whatever happened to the public energy company she promised? Dropped.
The fact that the Tories are turning a blind eye to the cost-of-living crisis doesn’t excuse the Scottish Government from doing nothing.
People need solutions, which is why Labour has put forward a detailed plan to freeze energy prices, and Scottish Labour has outlined a range of measures the Scottish Government could take now, including rent freezes, cancelling school meal debt, halving rail fares and capping the cost of buses.
Meanwhile, Angus Robertson has rightly been pilloried following his attempts to blame Labour for Edinburgh’s bin strikes. What makes this even more embarrassing for him is that he knew waste workers in 13 other councils, mostly SNP-run, were preparing to strike.
The reality is that everyone knows the Scottish Government is entirely to blame.
As the trade unions have pointed out, the SNP is offering council workers an average of £900, while the even the Tories in England are offering £2,000.
If that doesn’t shame the Scottish Government into action, nothing will.
But it’s clear they have no willingness to put their constitutional game-playing aside to help Scottish households.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South