Scottish Government has said that effective communication is an ‘essential component’ of government work
The SNP has been accused of “laundering its reputation as a failing government” by spending millions of pounds on spin doctors.
The criticism comes just months after the May local government elections when it was revealed in The Democrat that the then SNP-controlled council was spending around £500,000 a year on its communications department for which local council tax payers pay the bill.
This is the same communications department which, along with the then council chief executive, imposed a ban on West Dunbartonshire press officers speaking to The Democrat or even answering questions put by this digital platform to the Council.
This followed our editor, Bill Heaney, right, telling a press officer to “bugger off” when members of the council management team gathered round him threatening to throw him out of a meeting in the council chambers for asking the then Provost during an interval to turn the sound up in order that the press and public could hear what was being discussed in their name.
This most recent controversy has led to the accusation being levelled at the SNP by Scottish Labour who suggested that it was “immoral” for so much money to be spent on communications staff.
Responding to the claims, the Scottish Government said that effective communication is an “essential component” of government work.
And they also pointed to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in communicating vital public health messages.
Figures on the Government’s spend on communications staff was published following a freedom of information request.
It showed that the total cost for staff during 2021/2022 was £3.73m, an increase on the £3.4m spend in the previous year.
In 2006/2007, the year before the SNP came to power at Holyrood, the figure stood at £1.8m.
Scottish Labour’s finance spokesperson Daniel Johnson criticised the SNP over the spending on communications staff.
“This eye-watering bill is proof-positive that the SNP is more interested in laundering its reputation as a failing government than delivering for the people of Scotland,” he said.
“While the SNP has overseen 15 years of savage cuts and decline in public services, they have felt compelled to swell the ranks of government spin doctors using the public credit card.
“This is perhaps the only job creation plan that the SNP has succeeded in implementing.”
Johnson insisted that the Government should instead deal with the issues of the day.
He said: “The SNP rightly point out the impact of the pandemic on this bill but it is plain for all to see that the cost was soaring long before Covid-19 reached Scotland.
“At a time of a cost-of-living crisis, it is nothing short of immoral to spend so much money on spin rather than delivery.
A Scottish Government spokesperson explained that the figures reflect an increase in numbers and costs of communications staff.
“Effective communication is an essential component of government work,” they said.
“Communications activity explains policy and provides information about the Government and its services.
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, this has included communicating vital public health messages, including work to drive vaccination and ensure people receive healthcare in the correct setting.
“These figures reflect the increase in numbers and costs of communications staff.”
Despite their protestations at Holyrood, Scottish Labour are sticking to the ban on The Democrat in Dumbarton. No similar ban was imposed however on the senior SNP councillor Iain Dickson who during one meeting told Tory councillor Sally Page to F@@@ Off.