ScotRail service cuts are just the latest example of SNP's 'reverse Midas touch' that turns everything into sewage – Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

It’s hard to believe the SNP/Green government took over the running of our nation’s railways less than two months ago.

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 4:45 pm
According to myth, everything King Midas touched turned to gold. The SNP's touch has a different effect (Picture: Aaron Chown/PA)
According to myth, everything King Midas touched turned to gold. The SNP's touch has a different effect (Picture: Aaron Chown/PA)

Hard on the heels of their 3.8 per cent fare rise, they've slashed services by almost a third, leaving commuters stranded and national events in peril.

Both actions will cause tens of thousands of people to drive when they would have otherwise taken the train. It’s hard to imagine SNP and Green ministers bragging about that on their COP26 summit selfie tour.

Next month the Royal Highland Show will begin and unless the rail crisis has been resolved, the heavy congestion we are used to around the showground will be amplified dramatically.

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West Edinburgh will look like a car park as gridlock bites. Then there’s Edinburgh Festival. After two years of pandemic, the Fringe and International Festivals are on their knees.

They need this year to be a good one, but train service cuts seriously jeopardise the domestic tourism from outwith the Capital on which they depend. No one is going to come through for an evening show if they can't get home.

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The Scottish Government has proven time and again that it has something of a reverse-Midas quality. There are few success stories in the history of its interventions, but you will find disaster in abundance. Everything it touches turns to sewage. Sometimes quite literally, given that our waterways are being pumped full of untreated waste every day.

On the Clyde, the government took over the running of Ferguson Marine but its two new ferries are five years late and it might turn out to have been cheaper to give every worker at the shipyard a million quid each.

At Prestwick Airport, tens of millions have been ploughed in but no buyers are interested. In Lochaber, the government promised 2,000 jobs but these have never materialised and now their business partner is being investigated for fraud. The list goes on.

All of this adds to the weighty pile of reasons why this​ clown-show of a government wouldn’t have the first idea how to set up an independent nation. More worryingly, it should give us pause around some of the significant interventions they still have planned.

It was a flagship commitment of both SNP and Green coalition partners at the last election to establish a ‘National Care Service’. It’s deliberately called that to sound like our most treasured national possession, the NHS, but it’s nothing of the sort.

It won’t be free at the point of delivery, but largely delivered by private providers and it’s unlikely to improve the end-user experience. What it will represent is a ministerial takeover of social care in this country.

It will snatch power over the delivery of care and big sections of social work from local ​authorities and permanently place it in the hands of the same ministers who decided to send untested and Covid-positive patients into care homes.

I don’t believe for a second that ministers or bureaucrats in Edinburgh know how to answer the care needs of communities in Moray or Caithness better than local practitioners do.

The railway debacle should serve as a warning about what happens when this government steps in to take over and what happens to anything it touches.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western