Testing times

WITH the news last week that support for the Scottish National Party has risen to 60 per cent, it is beginning to feel that we are part of a social experiment where normal rules do not apply.

The SNP won 50 per cent of the general election vote in Scotland after running a campaign based on one person’s personality (Nicola Sturgeon) and policies everyone accepts were stolen from Scottish Labour. Since then their new cohort of MPs have rightly received a great deal of positive coverage and public expectations remain high.

While this honeymoon ­period may explain a rise in the polls, the recent performance of the SNP government in Scotland does not. In recent weeks in Scotland we have seen that the SNP-run ­education system is under real stress. Childcare is failing ­parents. Literacy is falling. There have been problems with exams and students from poor areas are ­failing to get proper access to university.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

In addition to the problems in education, last week we found out that the SNP has missed its own A&E waiting time targets for 295 weeks, and this comes despite reports that at least one health board is manipulating the data. Further to this we have seen real problems in Police Scotland and our local authorities.

So the question must be: why is support for the SNP growing when so much of what it controls is failing? Why do normal rules not apply? One could blame the media or accuse the SNP of blaming others for their problems. However, I fear the other political parties in Scotland must accept some of the blame.

At least some of the support the SNP has gained must be due to the fact that the electorate does not trust the opposition parties in general, and Labour specifically.

How can Labour recover trust? Firstly, it must be proud of what it has achieved. It must remind Scots that it doubled NHS funding, took 200,000 people out of poverty and introduced the minimum wage. Secondly, it must build a policy platform around social justice and do all it can, including accepting support from the SNP, to deliver it.

(Dr) Scott Arthur

Buckstone Gardens


WITH A cumulative deficit over the five years to 2013 to 2014 of £600 billion, a deficit of £75bn in the most recent financial year and a national debt of £1.5 trillion, I wonder when the Westminster government will be able to demonstrate competence in managing the full fiscal autonomy of the UK? 

Douglas Turner 

Derby Street