SNP treating city as showground for their own rows - Ian Murray
I know the festivals split opinion amongst Edinburgh residents, and I’ll admit that I’m somewhat biased, as I used to run a large event, but I think we can all feel an immense amount of pride for what our city has to offer.
Wherever I go in the world, I always find myself in conversations about our beloved festival season, and I am heartened to be reminded of Edinburgh’s cultural brand-recognition. We are truly the centre of the world in August.
We’re never short of examples of Edinburgh’s cultural capital, and as I reflect on the summer we’ve had so far, we can’t forget that Murrayfield and the Castle has welcomed some of the world’s biggest musical icons.
Fans have flocked from all over the world to Edinburgh to see Beyonce, Rod Stewart, The Who, Harry Styles and Bruce Springsteen, and next June tens of thousands of “Swifties” will arrive in Edinburgh for several nights of the European leg of Taylor Swift’s iconic Eras Tour.
Scotland’s culture sector is a huge asset, and as someone with a background in the sector, I’m fiercely passionate about Edinburgh being the beating heart of it.
This year however, there is a new kind of show on offer as some key SNP figures are using our beloved festival as a platform for their ongoing intraparty feuds.
SNP politicians, including Kate Forbes and Joanna Cherry, have agreed to appear alongside Alex Salmond at his show, The Ayes Have It!.
The fact that key SNP figures are willing to share a platform with the discredited Salmond demonstrates the fractious state of both the SNP and the wider nationalist movement.
Nicola Sturgeon will be undoubtedly irritated by this news, but it appears the former FM has more pressing issues at hand as she faces fresh evidence relating to the investigation into her party’s finances that she and her staff spent around £10,000 of public money on VIP airport upgrades.
Chaos reigns, as ever, but there are serious consequences.
This year, while failing to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, the SNP has decimated City of Edinburgh Council’s budget further and we are now the worst funded council in Scotland. The result – inadequate public services but also forcing some of our city’s most treasured cultural and educational institutions like Gorgie Farm and the Filmhouse to close.
Summer in Edinburgh brings in a huge boost to our local economy, but our struggling council must have the levers available to it to capitalise on the tourism boom.
After 16 years, the Scottish Government has finally agreed to the visitor levy that Edinburgh so desperately needs if it is to serve the growing number of Edinburgh’s residents whilst also being an accessible cultural hub for tourists. Still, this will not be introduced until 2026. Twenty years of lost revenue running to hundreds of millions of pounds.
I am unimaginably proud of my home city, but we must not take Edinburgh’s position within Scotland and the wider world for granted, it’s high time the SNP start taking our city seriously, instead of using it as a showground for their own rows.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South