Scottish Elections 2021: Boris Johnson's sleazy Tories are a gift to Nicola Sturgeon and a threat to the Union – Ian Murray MP

Honesty has been a rare commodity throughout this election campaign.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 7:00 am

At Westminster we have a Tory government engulfed in sleaze again and a Prime Minister with a track record of repulsive comments accused of yet more.

The fact people simply accept it’s possible that Boris Johnson used the phrase “let the bodies pile up” when referring to Covid tells its own story.

We now have an Electoral Commission investigation into the series of murky revelations around the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat – “cash for curtains” as it has been dubbed.

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No stone should be left unturned to get to the bottom of who funded the refurb, and what they could be expecting in return. The smell of sleaze is as powerful as the Seafield stench.

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PMQs: Boris Johnson refuses to say who paid for Downing St renovation

The endless questions about the personal conduct of Johnson weakens the Union. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the greatest threat to the UK is Johnson himself.

Just look at what happened in the Channel 4 Scottish leaders debate. Douglas Ross faced questions he couldn’t answer about the PM’s conduct, handing a gift to Nicola Sturgeon

Boris Johnson, not Nicola Sturgeon, is the biggest threat to the Union, says Ian Murray (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

The SNP and hypocrisy go hand-in-hand. After all, this is an administration which cost the taxpayer over £500,000 in the botched inquiry into sexual harassment claims, and a party which has a number of its elected representatives facing serious allegations.

Yet the SNP can get away with its failings by pointing the finger at the Tories.

Personally, I aspire for more for Scotland than “at least we’re not as bad as the Tories”. But that’s all Nicola Sturgeon can offer, gifted to her by the PM.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure the Conservatives aren’t the main opposition after next week’s election.

And while the SNP is no stranger to hypocrisy, it’s certainly a stranger to honesty.

That’s been exposed this week by the Institute for Government which laid out the massive cost to public services of leaving the UK.

And expert after expert has pointed out that separation would result in a hard border with England – devastating not only for trade, but also for families and friends.

For Nicola Sturgeon to claim that nobody in the SNP wants a border is not only disingenuous, it’s blatantly false and Faragesque – her MSP colleague Emma Harper let the mask slip when she welcomed the prospect of a barrier “to create jobs”.

She might as well have gone the full Trump and said the English will have to “build the wall”.

Thankfully, there has been some refreshing honesty on show elsewhere in the campaign. And it’s come from Anas Sarwar.

He has been honest about the scale of the challenge facing our country and the length of time it will take for us to recover from Covid; honest about the impact of years of SNP cuts and mismanagement; honest about not having all the answers but uniting to find them; and honest about why the Tories have failed as an opposition.

It’s time for a better government and opposition that will ensure the next Scottish Parliament is kept focused on national recovery – and the way to do that is to vote for Scottish Labour with your second vote on the peach ballot paper.

Ian Murray is Scottish Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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