SNP-Tory blame games risk damaging the fight against Covid – Ian Murray MP

With power comes responsibility but blaming others comes naturally to SNP politicians.

By Ian Murray
Thursday, 19th November 2020, 7:00 am
The Covid rules should be co-ordinated across the whole UK for Christmas, says Ian Murray MP (Picture: PA Photo)
The Covid rules should be co-ordinated across the whole UK for Christmas, says Ian Murray MP (Picture: PA Photo)

Their underhand tactics really should no longer surprise anyone, but sometimes the bare-faced check takes my breath away.

Yesterday, I took part in a BBC Radio 5 panel discussion with Nationalist MP Carol Monaghan. She was quizzed about the SNP’s disastrous record on education.

Despite the First Minister continually saying education was her top priority, the Nationalists have failed to close the attainment gap, and in fact for adults living in the most deprived areas of Scotland, the most common level of qualification is now no qualifications at all.

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Under the SNP, teachers are paid less in real terms, they have less time to prepare and their classes are packed with more pupils; remember the broken election pledge to slash class sizes to 18?

The government has removed Scotland from most international education surveys to avoid embarrassing comparisons, and abolished the literacy and numeracy survey.

The problems are not just at school level: last week it emerged that the proportion of students with positive post-college destinations has decreased.

What was Carol Monaghan’s response?

You don’t need to know much about Scottish politics to know that she blamed Westminster, despite education being fully devolved.

The failed Tory austerity regime certainly exacerbated poverty and inequality across the UK, but it was the SNP which chose to cut council budgets by seven per cent in real terms while the Scottish government’s revenue budget was cut by only two per cent.

It was encouraging that presenter Emma Barnett called out Ms Monaghan’s baseless argument – the SNP can’t keep on behaving like it’s in opposition.

This is even more important following the row about devolution this week.

On one hand, we have the SNP determined to destroy devolution, pretending it isn’t responsible for decisions taken here in Scotland despite being in government for 13 years.

And on the other hand, we have the Tories determined to undermine devolution, with Boris Johnson calling it a “disaster”.

Devolution is not a disaster – his premiership is.

It’s clear Labour is now the only major party which supports devolution.

The Tories don’t care about it as witnessed by the PM’s shambolic Brexit process and reckless attitude, and the SNP wants to stop the sharing of resources across the UK which ensures we can spend more on devolved services like the NHS.

The reality of the Nationalists’ plan was laid bare in figures which show public spending in Scotland is almost £1,700 per person more than the UK average at £11,566.

It’s time to focus on ensuring that devolution works for every community in Scotland rather than using it as a vehicle to wrench Scotland out of the UK.

We can’t continue with the situation where our two governments are more interested in fighting each other than working for everyone.

Opinion polls show people want both governments to work more closely together on the Covid-19 response.

It’s time to get the testing and contact-tracing systems up to scratch, co-ordinate the Christmas rules across the UK, and prepare for the logistical challenge of the vaccine roll-out.

That means it’s time for the Tories and SNP to end their blame games, their buck-passing, and the undermining of our Scottish Parliament.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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