This crisis demands less fighting and more common cause in 2022 - Ian Murray

I know that this coming fortnight isn’t going to bring the festive celebrations that many across Edinburgh were hoping for.

By Ian Murray
Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 4:55 am
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Boris Johnson must find common cause when dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, writes Ian Murray MP.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Boris Johnson must find common cause when dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, writes Ian Murray MP.

Once again, the spread of Covid is causing anxiety for many and leading to the re-introduction of some restrictions.

Sadly, our world-famous Hogmanay event is cancelled, and as I write this Hearts will have to beat Hibs on the 3rd without what makes these games so special – the fans.

I know it’s hard, but I urge everyone to heed the advice from the scientific experts so that we can get through this.

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Despite the disappointment we all feel, may I take this opportunity to wish all readers and staff of the Edinburgh Evening News a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

I sincerely hope that 2022 brings more joy and happiness for everyone.

Because, right now, I know that people across the city are worried about their lives and livelihoods, especially in the hospitality, events, tourism and leisure industries.

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We urgently need the Scottish and UK Government to work together in the national interest at this time of crisis.

This week’s announcements from both Governments of some extra funding simply doesn’t go far enough.

There must be an increase in the level of statutory sick pay, more significant financial support for impacted businesses and the self-employed, for the sectors that are shut down and for those that are closed by stealth like taxis etc, and a furlough type scheme so we don’t have businesses going bust and jobs lost.

Here in Edinburgh, where under normal circumstances we would be preparing for tens of thousands of tourists to arrive, the money on offer will go nowhere near covering the festive losses.

The Scottish and UK Governments must develop a framework for when restrictions will kick-in, what they will be, and what financial package of support will come with them.

Earlier this week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) put forward a number of very interesting proposals, including greater borrowing powers for the Scottish Government and a more localised furlough scheme.

Labour’s Constitutional Commission, chaired by Gordon Brown, is looking at a whole host of these issues and next year we’ll be setting out our proposals to make devolution work for the 2020s and beyond for every part of the UK.

But the most important section of the IFS report was the statement that ‘effective coordination between the two governments is vital’.

I couldn’t agree more.

Sadly, that’s what has been lacking with both governments throughout the crisis.

Even during a pandemic, Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson have been more interested in fighting each other than finding common cause.

We must learn lessons from the mistakes made right at the start of the crisis.

We all hope that omicron is the last variant to cause such significant upheaval, but it’s highly likely that it won’t be.

That’s why we need to be building resilience and contingencies in our public services and the wider system.

Whatever happens early in the new year – and hopefully we can return to normal soon – the impact on the NHS and businesses will be felt for some time to come.

At this reflective time, I plead with our governments to work together so that we can all face 2022 with greater optimism.

Ian Murray is the Labour MP for Edinburgh South