Kezia Dugdale: SNP’s Blair-like discipline is starting to break down

A tax on hotel stays could raise extra cash for Edinburgh, but opponents fear it might discourage visitors (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
A tax on hotel stays could raise extra cash for Edinburgh, but opponents fear it might discourage visitors (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
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It’s fair to say that SNP politicians never have been and never will be fans of Tony Blair.

That doesn’t mean that they didn’t study his electoral success and learn what lessons they could. Two of the keys to New Labour’s triple election-winning strategy was clarity of message and a strong sense of discipline.

The SNP spotted that and has followed that text to the letter throughout its reign since 2007. It’s starting to crack and creak now though, and there was ample evidence of that last week when the SNP Culture Secretary and the SNP council leader in the city had a very public spat over the issue of a tourist tax for Edinburgh.
READ MORE: City leader McVey defiant over tourist tax despite slapdown

This is an idea which Labour has long championed and one which most European tourist destinations have without blinking – a small tax on each hotel bed which is used to support the cities’ tourism growth.

It’s just good sense and Adam McVey, the city’s leader, knows it. I just can’t comprehend why Fiona Hyslop, the SNP Culture Secretary, felt the need to slap down the idea on Twitter. Local government means taking local decisions in the best interests of our city.

While it’s tempting to revel in the SNP’s internal squabbles, I’d much rather focus on the job of delivering this policy for our city which desperately needs the additional investment to protect what makes it so appealing to hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

That’s the prize, and – with a bit of discipline – we’ll get there.
READ MORE: Edinburgh tourist tax voted through by council