SNP match Tories for leadership numbers - Ian Murray

Congratulations to John Swinney on his appointment as first minister. The new SNP leader secured a coronation so that he could become the third first minister since the last Holyrood election – the kind of thing the nationalists usually denounce Westminster for and demand that the country gets an election as a result.

In fact, the SNP has had three First Ministers in as many years as the Tories have had three Prime Ministers.

No election calls this time though, of course, because the SNP is utterly terrified of voters.

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It’s not clear how long Swinney will remain in post – that probably depends on how long Stephen Flynn, who has bred the phrase “you’ve not been binned but Flynn’d” after taking out many of his predecessors, decides to keep him there – but he’s decided that he won’t hold the election the country needs.

So, as Anas Sarwar set out in Holyrood this week, the new First Minister must prioritise the people’s priorities. He inherits a government that has failed Scotland for too long.

There are more than 820,000 Scots stuck on NHS waiting lists, almost 10,000 children living in temporary accommodation with no home to call their own, drug deaths have increased by 10 per cent, climate change policies have been abandoned and the attainment gap in our schools has not closed.

It would be outrageous if Swinney spends his time on a negative campaign for independence when the entire focus of government must be on fixing our public services.

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And that means addressing the challenges right here in Edinburgh, such as the GP crisis.

With so many new homes being built, particularly in the south of the city, there needs to be corresponding services opening and infrastructure installed as well.

But that isn’t happening, which is why it’s so hard for people to get an appointment with a doctor.

I have repeatedly written to consecutive SNP health secretaries to seek government support for NHS Lothian so that it can deliver more for patients.

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This week, I have done so again – asking for assistance with the creation of a GP practice at the new Liberton High School.

We also need to see a fair funding settlement for Edinburgh City Council.

Cammy Day and his team are doing a fantastic job for the city, but they need more resource from government.

Our city is the driver of Scotland’s economy – if we can attract more jobs and investment here, the entire country benefits. That’s why we need a government which believes in economic growth.

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For too long, the SNP has ignored businesses, doing things to them without consulting. And because the nationalists have failed to grow our economy, it has made it harder to fund public services like the NHS and create jobs.

We need ministers with a focus on creating jobs and lowering bills, renewing and repairing our NHS and putting patients and staff first, ending the housing emergency and delivering the community services that must come with house building projects, raising education standards, and bringing opportunities for every Scot. But the SNP is not up to this vital task.

That’s why the people should be given the chance to elect a government that prioritises what really matters to people. The country is crying out for change.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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