Edinburgh bin strike: Politicians' blame game will not impress voters – Scotsman comment

Rubbish lies strewn along Edinburgh's South Bridge (Picture: Ilona Amos)Rubbish lies strewn along Edinburgh's South Bridge (Picture: Ilona Amos)
Rubbish lies strewn along Edinburgh's South Bridge (Picture: Ilona Amos)
As the Edinburgh bin strike continues and rubbish piles up in the streets, the blame game between the Scottish Government and local authorities shows no sign of abating.

With trouble brewing elsewhere, Nicola Sturgeon noted that “nobody wants to see the kind of disruption and impact of strikes that many people are witnessing in Edinburgh right now”.

She stressed her government was “determined to deliver, as far as we can and to facilitate as far as we can, fair pay deals”, adding that they had provided more resources to councils to “facilitate” – the nuance of the word may be important – just such a deal. However she stressed, quite accurately, that the councils were the employers.

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On the other side, Edinburgh Council leader Cammy Day has called for Scottish ministers to provide “fairer funding to sustain services”. With underfunding of councils by the Scottish Government a long-standing, widespread complaint, he could have a point.

However, whatever the rights and wrongs of their arguments, both Sturgeon and Day may discover that the public is not particularly interested in excuses, claim and counter-claim.

Instead, what they are concerned about are the problems caused by large piles of rubbish accumulating outside their homes.

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While some may blame the strikers, polls suggest there is considerable sympathy for low-paid staff who worked through the Covid pandemic and who are now facing soaring costs and unaffordable energy bills.

Public ire is, therefore, likely to be largely focussed on the politicians. This might not be entirely fair to one side or the other, but most people have neither the time nor the inclination to hold their own personal inquiry into whose fault all this is.

Ultimately, what this means is that politicians should stop squabbling and sort things out. All disputes end in negotiation so, as we have suggested before, it might be wise to cut a deal quickly. With inflation predicted to hit more than 18 per cent early next year by banking giant Citi, even the most cynical of politicians should be able to see the advantage in doing that sooner rather than later.

Politics right now is about making the best of bad choices and looking after those who are otherwise not going to be able to cope. A blame game helps no one.



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