The SNP-Green Government failed to focus on Scotland’s real priorities in their Programme for Government, by reaffirming their commitment to hold another divisive independence referendum.
The Scottish Conservatives have outlined their key priorities for this year’s Programme for Government following a statement from Nicola Sturgeon on her administration’s plans for the new parliamentary session.
Among her plans is a renewed commitment to hold a second vote next year on breaking up the United Kingdom.
In contrast, Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross believes both of Scotland’s governments must work together to help people navigate the cost-of-living crisis in the months ahead. He described the Nationalist coalition’s bid to hold a referendum next year as ‘the wrong priority at the worst possible time’.
Instead of another divisive referendum, the Scottish Conservatives have said that the Programme for Government should focus on five main areas:
- An extensive support package to help Scots deal with soaring prices, including reallocating the £20m earmarked for Indyref2 to those receiving the Scottish Child Payment.
- Growing the Scottish economy by measures such as reinstating business rates relief, freezing the rates poundage for the current financial year and pausing introduction of the workplace parking levy.
- Rebuilding public services, including measures to tackle NHS treatment delays and court backlogs, and dropping plans to set up a centralised £1.3billion National Care Service and using the money saved to improve local social care provision.
- Empowering our communities to recover by giving greater funding and powers to councils, improving transport links and introducing initiatives to help those in rural areas and the islands.
- Building for the next generation with a focus on improving education – including establishing a national tutoring programme and replacing Curriculum for Excellence – and a raft of environmental measures.
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said:
“The global cost-of-living crisis is as big a challenge to the Scottish people as the Covid pandemic. It must be treated with the same seriousness by our governments.
“In a time of emergency, governments must focus on what they need to do, rather than what they wish to do for political purposes. They must govern for our whole country, not just for their supporters.
“Unfortunately, this programme falls woefully short of rising to the big challenges we face.
“The Prime Minister has changed, but sadly it’s the same First Minister directing blame elsewhere and seeking grievance with the UK Government.
“Both governments need to do more to tackle the cost of living crisis. But there’s no doubt the SNP are not delivering their side of the deal.
“When Scottish people are struggling with their bills, instead of the right level of help, they’ll get another unwanted bill from the SNP Government – an Indyref2 Bill.
“This SNP Government are giving precedence to planning for a vote on separation, which they know will divide Scotland at exactly the point we should be coming together and uniting. A vote that is the wrong priority at the worst possible time.
“The Scottish Conservatives have published our own plan for the year ahead in this Parliament, focused on five key priorities. On supporting families and households through the cost-of-living crisis. Working with businesses to grow the Scottish economy. Rebuilding our public services after the damage of the Covid pandemic. Empowering every community to recover. And building a better Scotland for the next generation.
“Those are the people’s priorities – and in this time of national crisis, they are the right priorities for Scotland.”