Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s Public Services and Wealth Creation spokesperson, says sooner or later the SNP is going to have to stop making excuses and start making changes.
The SNP are at the end of their second term of office. Ministers should now be skilled at driving change past reluctant civil servants. The SNP have a majority in Parliament. They never tire of telling us how strong they are, how they are ahead in the polls, how they are so very strong.
All of which begs the question: why on earth won’t they do the things they claim to be in favour of?
Take last week. A decade ago Labour proposed changing the bands in council tax to make things fairer. Nicola Sturgeon was scathing in her criticism of that approach telling voters “Labour’s hated Council Tax is totally unfair, and any tinkering with bands would not make the system any fairer…”
The SNP won in 2007, by the narrowest of margins, on a promise to scrap the Council Tax. Nicola Sturgeon was clear that it was the argument on the Council Tax that made the difference. The SNP were re-elected in 2011 with another promise to scrap the Council Tax.
Nearly a decade later Nicola Sturgeon finally brought forward her plan for the Council Tax. It wasn’t to scrap it. It was to keep it. In fact the only thing they scrapped was the Council Tax freeze.
Amusingly, the First Minister made clear that there will be a way of offsetting costs for low income earners. Just days after claiming, in criticisms of Labour’s plan to stop cuts, that it was impossible for local government to do this.
The frustration for Labour is that recently we proposed a plan to stop the cuts the SNP made by using income tax powers and a payment to the low paid. After the agreement to transfer new powers we now know that a simple £100 payment would have only been needed for one year in the budget that has now been passed. The new powers mean we can protect the incomes of low earners more directly in the next budget.
The SNP have refused to use the powers they have for radical change every time the opportunity is put in front of them.
Sooner or later Nicola Sturgeon is going to have to stop making excuses to Scotland and start making changes for Scotland.