SNP and Conservative priorities are all wrong as shown by a tumultuous week in politics – Ian Murray MP

It can sound clichéd to refer to monumental weeks in politics. But there really is no other description for the news cycle of the past week.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 7:00 am
New Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is focused on the public's priorities, says Ian Murray (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

The extraordinary developments related to the Scottish government’s mishandling of sexual harassment complaints have exposed catastrophic failings in the government and our Parliament.

As Labour’s Jackie Baillie has said, there is something rotten at the core of the SNP. It is poisoning our democratic institutions and causing untold damage.

Jackie has rightly received high praise from all quarters for her work to hold those in power to account.

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What a contrast between her forensic scrutiny and the unedifying spectacle of Scotland’s Justice Secretary, the person in charge of our courts, providing a politicised running commentary on Twitter of evidence being provided under oath yesterday.

If someone in the Trump administration had done that, we would have been outraged – and yet here it was happening in Scotland.

We also had the spectacle of the Deputy First Minister twice ignoring majority votes in the Scottish Parliament to publish critical legal advice, before caving in only when his own job was put on the line once again. Reading the damning legal advice, I can see why they didn’t want it made public.

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Yesterday the bitter feud between Sturgeon and Salmond was played out in the Scottish Parliament in front of everyone.

All the while, my email inbox is full of correspondence on very different subject matters.

Issues about delays with Covid vaccines; problems with the quarantine policy; difficulties with the Test and Protect system; businesses in crisis and individuals worried about their livelihoods.

The SNP’s civil war is of its own making, but it matters to all of us because it is distracting government from the Covid response and the priorities of most Scots.

But it’s not just the SNP which has got its priorities wrong.

Yesterday’s Budget from the Tory government fell far short of what’s needed. The Chancellor did not unveil a plan for rebuilding Britain or to sort the foundations of our economy that have been undermined over the last decade.

What people wanted to hear was a relentless focus on jobs, a plan to tackle inequality and a long-term plan for our NHS and social care.

But the budget didn’t even attempt to rebuild the foundations of our economy; it was just a political quick fix to paper over the cracks.

We are crying out for political leaders who are focused on rebuilding our country and your priorities.

And that’s precisely the type of leader we’ve just elected in Scottish Labour. Anas Sarwar has hit the ground running since winning our party’s contest, and I’m delighted to be joining his Campaign Cabinet.

Anas won with a positive message about prioritising unity over division and having a relentless focus on Covid recovery.

We will now be taking that message to the country. We can’t be distracted from the job in hand by old arguments about the constitution or the SNP civil war.

People’s livelihoods and lives are on the line and Anas has made clear he is firmly on your side.

We need to focus on bringing people together so we can rebuild Scotland and provide that hope for the future that Anas espouses.

Ian Murray is Scottish Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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