Jim O’Neill takes aim at failures in health and education in Scotland, and profligacy in Westminster. But he has learned that nothing is ever the SNP’s fault.
There are some people who read and comment on my articles who seemingly can’t believe that the SNP can do anything wrong. They accuse me of being one of the “SNP bad” brigade. Can I just say to them that if you want a hagiography of Nicola and her cohorts, don’t read my stuff. Try another site like “Wings over Scotland” or some other scurrilous blog.
Even when I use a well-regarded independent organisation like Audit Scotland, they look for other reasons for the failure, such as when I noted the Auditor General’s comments on the funding of local authorities and the crisis in education. Well, I’m going to try once more.
The SNP have been responsible for the National Health Service in Scotland for ten years, with a succession of Health Ministers including our current First Minister. So, when the Auditor General brings out a report, as she did last week, suggesting that some Boards will not be able to balance their books and that the government were only achieving one out of eight of their own health targets, it is hard to see who else to blame but the successive SNP governments. Indeed, Audit Scotland pointed out that, in three areas, performance had actually deteriorated since the SNP took over. She noted also that some individual agency doctors were being paid over £400,000 for work totalling less than a year, and that there was a serious recruitment crisis in nursing.
It took the Royal College of Nursing to point out that the Health Minister who cut nurse training was…..wait for it….Nicola Sturgeon. So the problems of the NHS in Scotland are traceable right back to the First Minister’s own front door. So, who, all across Scotland, was out campaigning last weekend for greater support for our Health Service? Labour. And where were the SNP? Out delivering their independence questionnaire. Says it all, doesn’t it?
Another report last week, into support for poorer students, pointed out that grants to students had been cut by 35% while loans had increased by 161%. This from a government that promised to wipe out student debt, although you will remember that last year they abolished a £10m fund which was to help the poorest of students. Shirley Anne Somerville, the Further and Higher Education Minister, has admitted that this approach is not helping poorer students, but what has she come up with to resolve this problem? Nothing. Another example of a failure of SNP promises and an inability to govern well for all the people of Scotland.
For those who are not aware of the arcane workings of Westminster, an Early Day Motion is intended to draw attention to important mainly local issues without taking up Parliament’s valuable time with a debate. They are printed on the order paper every day and typically cost £271 per motion to process (figures from the House of Commons library). So, what vital local issues have the SNP members (12% of MPs) used their 869 motions (some 43% of the total) to draw attention to?
Vital constituency issues include the 50th anniversary of the first Star Trek episode, the new Christmas tree to be sited on Maryhill Road, Glasgow, the success of the Bagel Basket café in Largs and the St Andrew’s parkrun for organising a run in Craigtoun Country Park. The acknowledged king of the EDMs is one Paul Monaghan, MP for Caithness, who, among his 77 EDMs, congratulated Bower Primary for building a Bug Hotel and Invergordon Academy for receiving money to buy tents.
While all this could be laughed off as a bit of a vanity project for SNP MPs with little else to do in Parliament, it all costs money. Together, the Commons Library have confirmed, the 869 EDMs have cost some £235,499. So, come on Angus. Get you act together and stop your colleagues wasting our taxpayers’ money.