SNP's manufactured outrage at Post Office fraud announcement - Sue Webber

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I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read the manufactured outrage of both First Minister Humza Yousaf and justice secretary Angela Constance after the UK Government announced that legislation to clear all Post Office managers accused of fraud would not apply in Scotland.

I was also confused, because as far as I was aware, that decision had already been taken, by none other than the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain who told the Scottish Parliament that there was a process to follow in Scotland, and that each case would be looked at on its merits. The clear inference was she could not guarantee that every accused Post Office manager was innocent.

She went out of her way to point out the Scottish Appeal Court’s constitutional role, so the message that she was calling the shots was crystal clear to both MSPs and anyone from the UK Government listening.

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The last time I checked, the Lord Advocate is the Scottish Government’s senior law officer, certainly that’s how it looked when she was in the Supreme Court trying to tell the judges that SNP ministers had the legal power to hold a second independence referendum. Then, and on every other occasion the UK Government has not allowed the SNP to bend the constitutional rules, the SNP’s fury knew no bounds, but when the same rules are applied in a different context and recognises when power does lie in Scotland, there is still fury.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QCLord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC

If proof was needed that the SNP will pick a fight in an empty room, this was it. Similarly, when it was first announced that the Levelling Up fund would be used by the Scotland Office in Westminster to directly fund local capital projects without going through the SNP, there was more outrage. “It’s disrespecting devolution,” they whined, as SNP-controlled councils lined up to apply for the cash.

Never ones to identify a standard they couldn’t double, up popped Edinburgh Council’s now ex-SNP leader, Adam Nols-McVey, at his last meeting in charge to moan about how little Edinburgh received from the Levelling Up pot, because the UK Government had the temerity to invest in housing in two of the UK’s most deprived boroughs, which just happened to be in London.

In Councillor Nols-McVey’s mind, it seems, helping poor people only really counts if they live in Scotland, but that’s Nationalism for you.

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His misery continued in an Evening News column this month in which he bleated about Edinburgh only getting a “tiny fraction” of UK Government investment, and this from someone who opposed the Forth Freeport which will pump £26 million into the Firth, including the Port of Leith and Edinburgh Airport.

In total, the UK Government has committed more than £81m for new Levelling Up projects in Edinburgh and the Lothians, and that’s on top of the £300m it invested in the Edinburgh and Southeast Scotland City Region Deal.

There has been £27.7m for the Granton Gasworks regeneration project and the redevelopment of the old Cockenzie Power Station site in East Lothian. Then upgrades for 11 grassroots sports facilities and more than £3m to support six community assets, including the King’s Theatre. If the SNP’s grievance machine printed banknotes we’d all be millionaires, but instead it leaves us all the poorer.

Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP