The SNP Lacks Credibility on the Attainment Gap.


One of the great contradictions of contemporary Scottish politics is the emphasis the nationalists have placed on tackling inequality despite having done virtually nothing to redistribute wealth and opportunity.

The Scotsman today suggests there is some movement in the SNP on this issue and, after eight years in power, they will adopt a successful Labour education policy.

However, I am unsure that this initiative alone will be enough. Authoritative analysis by Unison has estimated that the council tax freeze has cost £2.5 billion and thousands of job losses in local authorities – this has had a direct impact on every state school in Scotland. Class sizes are rising and Scotland has 4275 fewer teachers. In addition to this, our colleges have been cut and university students from poor backgrounds receive the worst grant in Western Europe.

These cuts have taken place to enable the SNP to deliver populist policies which in many cases have also worsened economic inequality as well as the attainment gap. For example, the council tax freeze gives an annual saving in Band A of  £60, or 0.3% of net household income, compared with £370, or 0.8% of net household income, for Band H residents. This is good news for those living in mansions, but those on low incomes face high costs for everything from school meals to people with learning difficulties being charged for access to day centres.

Let’s get serious about the attainment gap. Let’s tackle educational inequality from pre-school to university. Let’s fund it by having the wealthiest Scots pay a fair share, not cutting service to the vulnerable in Scotland.

The Yes movement did campaign on the basis that “there must be another way” to run the economy.


Joyce McMillan is correct (Scotsman on Friday), the Yes movement did campaign on the basis that “there must be another way” to run the economy. However, the problem for them was that they failed to answer any questions about what that alternative was.

This mode of operation for the nationalists is continuing. For example, we know they oppose Tory austerity, and Labour’s alternative, but they fail to say what their plan is.

Despite this, Joyce McMillan may feel the SNP is challenging a “right-wing” Scottish Labour Party,  but the reality is they have failed to redistribute wealth and opportunity in Scotland. Whilst Labour is outlining redistributive policies such as funding public services via a Mansion Tax and the 50p tax rate for highest earners, the SNP are busy creating divisions in the UK. That may be “Social Democracy”, but it does nothing for social justice.