Boris Johnson shocked many when he told Conservative MPs in a meeting that devolution has been a ‘disaster’ for Scotland. Like any other Unionist, I understood this was said not to discredit the concept of local government. Instead, Boris’ comment serves merely as an explanation and response to the growing nationalism we’ve witnessed across Scotland since Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland, first won the Scottish Assembly in 2007.
I always presumed the issue of Scottish Independence would die down after the SNP lost their bid during the 2014 referendum with 55% voting to retain the Union in its current form. However, we’ve seen the SNP stoop to new lows since the ‘once in a generation opportunity’.
First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has since continually pushed for another independence referendum as a premature, undemocratic response to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
Since the EU Referendum, Sturgeon and the SNP have continually painted Scotland’s relationship with the EU as being more valuable than its links with the UK’s remaining nations. Unionists would argue that Scotland’s place within Great Britain runs a whole 313 years deep and its relationship with the EU is insignificant in comparison.
The value of Scottish exports to the UK sits comfortably at £51.2 billion. In comparison, exports to the EU are worth a mere £16.1 billion. However, in the SNPs mind, it is best to forget the facts stated here and get behind the idea of an independent Scotland. Doing so will provide the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon with even more power which can supposedly be used to fix Scotland’s socioeconomic problems.
Having been in full-time higher education for the last three years, I have witnessed first-hand the high support for the SNP among students. Support from the young is partly explained in retaliation to the result of the EU Referendum but also because I believe many presume Nicola Sturgeon has some sort of ‘successful’ progressive track record. In reality, the SNPs track record of governing Scotland has been abysmal.
While the SNP are continually shoving information about an independent Scotland at us, we often forget that 1 in 4 Scottish children now live in poverty. Furthermore, when looking at the UK as a whole, low-income Scottish families are more likely to live in dwellings unfit for habitation than low-income English families. Precise estimates state that 45% of Scotland’s low-income housing is in a bad state.
Scotland now has the highest rate of unemployment among the UK’s four nations. The figures put Scotland’s unemployment rate at 4.6%, 0.7% higher than the UK average. Scotland’s deficit is also seven times higher than the UK as a whole and while average state spending per person proves higher than other UK nations, you would presume Scots have it better. This could not be further from the truth.
Higher education spending has become more of a burden for the Scottish taxpayer than a benefit to those wanting to study in Scotland. Scotland has the lowest proportion of undergraduate students from poor backgrounds than anywhere else in the UK. According to current research, poor English schoolchildren are twice as likely to go to University than their Scottish counterparts.
The SNP frequently raves about the A&E waiting times of NHS Scotland but never admits that waiting times for planned treatments in hospitals are appalling. A large proportion of patients wait more than four and a half months for a planned surgery. Further forgetting the detrimental effects of the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is also important to reiterate that Scotland still has the highest rate of drug deaths in Western Europe.
I could go on, but what’s the point, no matter how dreadful things get you can always trust the SNP to gloss over the bad and blame everyone but themselves. Even during these unprecedented times, the SNP will continually show greater interest in planning legislation for a Scottish Central Bank and currency in the hope that once again they will be permitted another independence referendum.
The Prime Minister confused many with his recent devolution comments, but it is easy to understand that the dig was directed at the SNP. Although I reiterate the SNPs failings in government, polling shows that support for independence is at its highest levels (58%). It will be interesting to see how the elections play out next year and whether another SNP landslide could yield another referendum.
Only time will tell. Just remember that the SNP are not the only choice for sensible voters on the ballot sheet.
Image: Wikimedia Commons