Gordon Lindhurst: Stop saving SNP face and sort out the real issues

Gordon Lindhurst is a Conservative MSP for the Lothian region
Gordon Lindhurst is a Conservative MSP for the Lothian region
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As Holyrood and Westminster Parliaments return this week, politicians come back to work facing many challenges.

The Christmas festivities offered the chance for some reflection and to put things into perspective, away from the parliamentary bubble.

It also reminded us that while politicians have an important job to do, the people running our vital public services keep going year-round to ensure we can all have a safe and enjoyable Christmas with our families. We are all thankful.

And as the Brexit “debate” slowed down ever so slightly, the festive period also highlighted problems our public services continue to face.

We learned of a police force facing ever greater pressures in the future as retirement numbers for officers were set to hit record levels.

Staff shortages in our NHS resulting in record levels of overtime paid to paramedics.

And teachers writing to the First Minister, desperately trying to convince her that the stresses they face are real and the profession at crisis point.

Just a flavour of some issues facing the people of Scotland this year.

Issues that directly affect all of us and which the Scottish Government is fully responsible for.

Solving the problems which confront us may not be easy, but to do so requires the unwavering attention of government backed by the resources at its disposal.

But by distracting itself from the task at hand, the SNP is making these core responsibilities of government even more difficult to act upon.

And it’s not only Nicola Sturgeon’s obsession with ripping Scotland out of the UK to which I refer.

In the face of public, and even legal opposition, her government ploughs on regardless on some issues, more content with trying to save face than to do what needs to be done.

An example – the Named Person’s Scheme – which leaves parents feeling as though the state thinks it knows better than they do what is right for their children.

And as we enter the new year, the smacking ban bill proposed by Green MSP John Finnie is being heralded at Holyrood for the coming months.

The government has the chance to quash the fears of parents, say no to their Green masters and dump this proposed legislation which was already fully considered only a few years ago.

Doing so would send a clear message to the people of the Lothians and wider Scotland that the government understands where its responsibilities lie, including ensuring an NHS workforce fit for the future.

That it knows where it can resolve the problems our teachers are highlighting rather than creating yet more where they are not needed.

We already have the right balance in place between preventing disproportionate physical punishment of children and giving parents the space to make decisions in the best interests of their children. The proposals as set out and given initial backing from the government would simply muddy the waters.

New year’s resolutions give us the opportunity to take a step back, take a breath and think about the year ahead.

The SNP would do well to do that and concentrate on where government can make a positive difference.

Gordon Lindhurst is a Conservative MSP for Lothian region