SNP-Green incompetents keep turning reasonable ideas into disastrous legislation – Christine Jardine

People’s patience is wearing thin with repeated problems and failures of SNP-Green policies

Tackling climate change, having a deposit return scheme, and clamping down on hate crime at a time of rising anti-semitism and Islamophobia, all are good ideas that parties of all stripes could get behind. Many did. Unfortunately, when it was then up to the SNP-Green government to implement them, chaos ensued.

The list of reasonable ideas which have gone wrong or been handled poorly grows longer with almost every successive Scottish Government action. It’s deeply frustrating to watch it happen again and again, when there’s so much that needs attention in our increasingly beleaguered communities.

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If there is a desire for a change of government at Westminster, that is nothing to the desperation I hear on doorsteps to be rid of this ramshackle bunch of incompetents at Holyrood. You only need to look at the handling of Hate Crime and Public Order Act to see it.

At first, it seemed a welcome move to counter the increased intolerance and, yes, hatred we're seeing, detailed in a lengthy, detailed review by Lord Bracadale. When MSPs of all parties were asked, many of them lent their support to legislation they trusted would be an effective way of protecting vulnerable communities. Painstaking work was done on amendments to ensure the Bill was the best it could be.

Now, however, I have every sympathy for them as we all watch in horror as their good intentions have been handled disastrously by the SNP-Green government for reasons that are difficult to discern. Having endeavoured for seven years at Westminster to fight the scourge of domestic abuse and outlaw misogyny, I welcomed the work done by Baroness Helena Kennedy and her working group to advise the Scottish Government on how best to address the issues.

Yes, we need a separate law tackling misogyny but where is it? Why did they seemingly listen to one half of the advice but not the other? And why have they handled the introduction of a potentially significant law so badly that even those who originally supported it are now expressing frustration at the incompetence?

The Hate Crime Act has caused a storm of controversy (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)The Hate Crime Act has caused a storm of controversy (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The Hate Crime Act has caused a storm of controversy (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most annoying thing is that this could all have been avoided if this government had learnt some of the lessons of almost 17 years in power. Did the debacle of the now abandoned deposit return scheme not point out the importance of making sure you have thought through every conceivable implication and not ignored the opinions of key stakeholders and businesses. Or making promises to dual roads that go unfulfilled, ferries that take too long to build and climate targets that go unmet.

In the case of the latter problem, of course, we now know that the answer is just to abandon them. Forget that you have repeatedly brandished them as evidence of the superiority of your administration and criticised others for “rowing back”. It is almost as if they perhaps banked on never being held to account on those promises.

That, somehow, they would be able to blame Westminster until they either achieved independence or lost power. Sadly, for the SNP, people now see through those means of avoiding responsibility. People’s patience has worn thin. Now it’s time for the SNP-led government to shape up and govern. I doubt they can manage that either.

Christine Jardine is Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West

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