SNP's culture of secrecy over Covid shows contempt for voters and puts recovery at risk – Ian Murray MP

The recent Holyrood election was something of an inconvenience for the SNP.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 4:55 am
Nicola Sturgeon needs to agree to a Scottish public inquiry into the country’s Covid response (Picture: Jane Barlow-Pool/Getty Images)

The nationalists don’t like public scrutiny of their decisions in case it detracts from Nicola Sturgeon’s performances in front of the TV cameras.

So, using the power of office, they sought to brush as many problems under the carpet as they could. They had plenty of experience.

The cover-up of the first Covid outbreak in Edinburgh, and the cover-up of the infections scandal in Glasgow’s new hospital being cases in point.

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In the run-up to the election, there was a problematic draft OECD report on the performance of Scotland’s education system which ministers had already received.

It confirmed that Scotland’s once world-leading education system had utterly failed to keep pace best practice and had no long-term strategy or vision.

So it was kept under lock and key until after voters had gone to the polls.

And this week The Scotsman has revealed how an SNP minister intervened to delay the publication of the number of Covid-19 deaths in individual care homes. It was set to be published in February, but was held back until after the election.

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The SNP government is gripped by a culture of secrecy, and is treating voters with contempt.

Time and time again we have seen their obsession with hiding the truth from the people of Scotland.

Of course, it’s little wonder that ministers want to hide from the truth given Scotland’s current levels of Covid, which are among the highest in Europe.

But attempts to re-write history or spin their way out of this won’t wash.

Look at the recent Scotland vs England match when the government clearly said people could travel if they had a “safe place” to watch the match from – and then when it led to a surge in cases the First Minister claimed she had told people they shouldn’t travel without a ticket.

And when they’re not telling fibs, SNP politicians are dreaming up bizarre excuses.

In a baffling TV appearance, SNP MP David Linden managed to blame Westminster for cases soaring in Scotland and claimed Scots have lower levels of “natural immunity”. The wheels are falling off.

NHS Lanarkshire is being pushed to ‘breaking point’ by the spiralling pandemic and NHS Highland placed Raigmore hospital on ‘code black status’ as it reached capacity.

Unless ministers get a grip soon, we’ll see similar problems here in the Lothians as infections surge.

Test and Protect is collapsing, and the vaccination programme has been too slow compared to other parts of the UK.

Given the crisis we’re facing, Anas Sarwar is right to demand that the Scottish Parliament is recalled from its summer recess.

But that would mean the SNP agreeing to face scrutiny.

And in case we weren’t already aware how hostile the SNP is to scrutiny, Nicola Sturgeon still refuses to agree to a separate Scottish public inquiry into the country’s Covid response, despite the organisation representing nurses, the RCN, calling on her to drop her opposition. She instead wants Boris Johnson to run it. Imagine if he demanded that?

The people of Scotland deserve answers from the government about its failings, as well as solutions for the future amid this third wave of Covid, otherwise normality may never come.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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