I had hoped that Nicola Sturgeon’s return to Holyrood would also mean she’d get on with running her government. After all, in Scotland recently we have seen that unemployment is rising, literacy is falling and nobody is really sure who is running Police Scotland.
Rather than address these and other issues, Ms Sturgeon chose to make further demands that Holyrood be granted more powers (report, 14/05/15). Furthermore, despite assurances last week that any SNP landslide would not trigger a second referendum, she threatens that if her demands are not met an independence vote is all but inevitable.
True to type, she claims that the powers she seeks will be used to tackle poverty without actually saying how this would be done. This is despite the fact that her government has failed to deliver on the key weapon we have to tackle inequality – education. Scotland is playing catch-up in early years education, literacy is falling, we have 4000 fewer teachers, college places have been cut and the grant for the poorest students slashed.
It is time to get back to running the country. The Smith Commission report needs to be implemented fully and tested. If gaps are found, these can be addressed.
In parallel to this, I would like the UK and Scottish Government to publish a joint working paper on Full Fiscal Autonomy. This should address the challenges and opportunity’s associated with the implementation of the SNP’s core manifesto commitment. Hopefully this would encourage an educated and realistic debate about the powers Holyrood should have and the impact on the Barnett Formula. Why would the SNP oppose such a move?