Humza Yousaf must switch off SNP soap opera and urgently address these five real-world problems – Alex Cole-Hamilton
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It signalled the start of a nightmare for the SNP from which we are all still trying to wake. Last Wednesday, like a not-so-biblical Easter epic, the turmoil was turbocharged when police arrested her husband Peter Murrell as part of an investigation into the SNP’s finances.
In recent times, the Conservative party of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss has been the hub of bingeworthy, politically scandalous content, but it seems like the SNP has watched and learned. They’re engulfed in their own soap opera and with their current treasurer now arrested it feels like we’re building up to the season finale.
But I’ve got to say that the popcorn is leaving an aftertaste. This one is a little too close to the bone for me and, I suspect, for many others out there too. What we are watching is the denouement of a party that can’t find a way out of the mess, either for themselves or for the people they govern. While the new First Minister struggles with his party's never-ending drama, who is running the country?
One in seven Scots are on a waiting list, households are straining under the cost-of-living crisis, and Islanders are being sorely let down by a miserable saga of ferry disruption. With parliament returning this week, I want Humza Yousaf to switch off that soap opera and get on with introducing a real plot twist. Here are five areas that need urgent attention.
I want him to set out plans to replace his failing NHS Recovery Plan and launch an urgent inquiry into the hundreds of avoidable deaths linked to the emergency care crisis. We must make recruitment and retention key priorities for our NHS, which is why we need a burnout prevention strategy for staff and a health and social care staff assembly.
Scottish dentistry is in disarray, with one in five of those unable to secure an appointment on the NHS turning to the barbaric do-it-yourself option. We need to urgently reform dentist funding structures so that they are incentivised to take on NHS patients.
And if the chaos of our NHS wasn’t shocking enough, my party has revealed that in the past four years, half of Scottish health boards have been reporting sewage leaks in their hospitals. That's on top of the 19,000 Olympic swimming pools of sewage that spilled into Scotland’s beaches and waterways last year alone. The new First Minister must accelerate measures to improve monitoring and upgrade Scotland’s Victorian sewage system.
Finally, this week is also a chance for Mr Yousaf to adopt Scottish Liberal Democrat plans to make every home a warm one, and to apologise to Islanders for the ferry fiasco, then explain why it was ever allowed to happen in the first place.
While scandal at its ripest is the perfect ingredient for any soap opera, it’s the last thing we need from government. Right now, the SNP is running like the seventh series of a show that’s desperately unleashing new ways to fuel the drama and just won’t accept that it’s had its day.
Alex Cole-Hamilton is Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western