Scotland’s councils must stand up to Nicola Sturgeon and SNP funding cuts – Brian Wilson

First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament has been taking on an increasing air of unreality. The gender self-ID debacle sets the scene but that is only the beginning.

We had equally surreal exchanges between Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Nicola Sturgeon about cuts to council budgets which will affect a lot more people than gender reform. Each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities is being forced into swingeing cuts, threatening every public service and amenity on which the most vulnerable depend disproportionately. Thousands of jobs will go. It is back to the 1980s.

Every council leader – including those from the SNP – has signed the message warning of “a real risk that many of our essential services will not only be cut but may have to stop altogether”. The Fraser of Allander Institute confirms that councils will see a “real-terms decrease relative to a GDP deflator of 4.9 per cent”. The Scottish Parliament’s research centre says the same.

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According to Ms Sturgeon, they are all wrong and she is right, armed with a babble of selective statistics. Denial is her only weapon. But why would councils be united in protest and alarm if this was true? There would be some integrity if she sought to defend politically the years of cuts now culminating in this latest assault but that debate cannot move past first base if she simply denies it is happening.

Local government has been a whipping boy for 15 years. This time it must continue to fight for its very existence.



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