STURGEON’S PERIOD IN POWER LACKS POSITIVITY

Where’s the change supporters of independence crave for Scotland?

Sturgeon Ducherty Hughes and O'Hara of SNP

Nicola Sturgeon with SNP’s Westminster members Ian Blackford, Martin Docherty Hughes and Brendan O’Hara. Picture by Bernie Heaney

OPINION by Bryan Stuart in the Scottish Review

The pursuit of power for its own sake will always end in tears, but perhaps also a seat in the House of Lords or some other publicly-funded, probably untaxed, sinecure.

Gerry Hassan forensically examines Nicola Sturgeon’s period in office as SNP leader and First Minister, and sums up what it has lacked: positivity.

As with Ms Sturgeon’s step up to leader from deputy in 2014, the one word that effectively defines her is ‘default’.

The reason so many Scots seek the restoration of our independence is because we want fundamental change in how our country is governed, and a move away from Westminster centralisation and diktat. It is therefore disquieting to have a Holyrood administration that acts in the same way. Popular sovereignty surely means giving decision-making back to the people, not corralling it within a tiny coterie dominated by those there by patronage rather than public election.

Police Scotland has been politicised because its chief constable is effectively answerable only to the First Minister. Our ‘quango queen’ Health Secretary [Jeane Freeman] is so much a product of the culture of Establishment Scotland that she appears incapable of identifying the institutional failures that have delivered unusable hospitals. Meanwhile, flailing John Swinney is left to wallow at education, all the better to rule him out as a caretaker leader should Ms Sturgeon ‘fall on her sword’.

Promotion of Kate Forbes to Finance Secretary was a blast of fresh air, but handing the economy brief to Fiona Hislop does not inspire confidence where it is most needed. Fergus Ewing is a competent minister, and readily able to take tourism into his portfolio. It is a major part of the rural economy. Mr Ewing, like Mike Russell, as a white, middle-aged, heterosexual male with a successful career behind him outside politics, appears almost an endangered species in Ms Sturgeon’s cabinet.

Scotland needs reform, not more stop-gap measures. If we want to rejoin the EU as an independent nation state then we must make public spending more effective, and measure its utility by outcomes rather than simply sums expended. There are solutions to public sector inefficiency other than privatisation, while nationalisation is rarely the answer for private sector failings. Inertia is the opposite of momentum, but in the dynamic business of politics change is inevitable, the only choice is in the direction it takes.

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