LibLink: Christine Jardine – Sturgeon’s dead cat distracts from multiple failures

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine highlights 3 major SNP Government failures and suggests Nicola Sturgeon’s publication of her tax returns is merely a dead cat to distract from them.

The first failing is the lack of dualling the main route to the north of Scotland, the A9. It was supposed to be one by 2025 but that is not going to happen and fatalities on this road are going up.

Failure to make the promised improvements will impact the economy as well as the health and well-being of isolated communities with poor access to vital services. But most of all it is a failure to make the main route north safe for all of us. Safety was a major factor in the decision to upgrade a road on which the number of deaths still managed to record a heart-breaking 20-year high in 2022.

Thirteen people lost their lives on the stretch from Inverness to Perth of which approximately 77 miles remain to be dualled and the tender for the latest stretch – Tomatin to Moy – was announced this week to have been delayed. Promised improvements now will have to wait while thousands continue to face the real fear of driving on a road which switches intermittently from dual to single carriage and on which you can meet a tractor or road works at any moment.

And then there is the unbelievable capacity to make a mess of a good idea that is the proposed Deposit Return Scheme. Anyone who wants to sell drinks in bottles, or cans, in Scotland after August is supposed to sign up for the new scheme by the end of this month, but businesses are saying they may not bother because of the additional costs they will incur. This weekend no Scottish Government Minister would appear on the main Sunday morning shows to defend the scheme which has even been criticised by SNP MPs.

On a practical level, retailers are unhappy that the vending machines will cost around £20,000 to install and take up valuable retail space. Producers are also beginning to ask questions, and then there are the problems of different pricing for different parts of the UK. Which raises another not insignificant problem: the Internal Markets Bill.

A leading lawyer this week claimed that Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme could create an unlawful trade barrier with the rest of the UK where a similar scheme will be introduced in 2025.

Finally, the Government is yet again delaying the full implementation of welfare powers.

The change was originally supposed to happen in 2020 but was, perhaps understandably, delayed because of Covid. This week, however, we learned that there has been “slippage” in the Scottish Government plans and the latest projected date for implementation is now 2026. Of course, the Scottish Government is seeking to deflect blame by pointing out that this is a joint delivery by both governments.

But in a letter to the SNP/Green administration this week, the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions warned that there should be “no further slippage” in the plans.

And Christine didn’t even get to the crisis in our NHS and the fact that pay disputes in health and education are still unresolved.

You can read the whole article here.

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5 Comments

  • Daniel Howitt 15th Feb '23 - 9:52am

    She seems to have lost the political touch of late

  • Well, she’s now resigning as Leader. What better way to pass the buck for her government’s failure to deliver as Christine points out. It will be very short term dead cat. Her resignation will dominate the news for some time I suspect. It makes cynical me wonder what the real reason for her quitting is!

  • Mel Borthwaite 15th Feb '23 - 5:58pm

    @Martin
    Agree with your comments completely. It would be nice to the SNP being friendlier towards federalism-supporting Liberal Democrats but, of course, that may require the Liberal Democrats to take a less stridently Unionist stance.

  • Jenny Barnes 16th Feb '23 - 11:06am

    “The first failing is the lack of dualling the main route to the north of Scotland, the A9.”
    How much would that cost? Could the money potentially save more lives and reduce CO2 emissions if it were spent on public transport and active travel? The Welsh government has shown the way by cancelling their road programmes.

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