Martin Whitfield MSP column: Fixing problems the priority

Martin Whitfield MSP column: Fixing problems the priority

PARLIAMENT returned last week and the SNP-Green Government decided its desire to hold a second independence referendum should be the topic for the first debate of the year.

Given the array of problems, including the growing NHS crisis, industrial action in schools and continued rise in living costs, this decision was disappointing to say the least.

In fact, I believe it was a dereliction of duty to devote the debate to this obsession rather than confronting the various difficulties in our public services. I spoke during the debate and argued that ministers were ignoring the multiple crises we are experiencing and that these should be the Government’s priority rather than another referendum.

The Government’s decision to avoid the important issues and focus on the mechanics of holding another referendum most Scots do not even want is symbolic of the way they have governed over the last 15 years.

Rather than focus on improving public services, the SNP has consistently preferred to spend time and money on the divisive constitutional questions that fire up its core supporters. Indeed, as the First Minister has made very clear in the past, for them independence “transcends everything”.

I believe this is dismissive of the 61 per cent of East Lothian residents who voted No in 2014. I speak to people every week who say they are fed up with the way that result has been ignored. Most are exhausted by the endless wrangling over another referendum, despite the pressing priorities of Covid recovery, our struggling NHS and rising living costs.

There are thousands of East Lothian residents using foodbanks, many more waiting for operations and others struggling to pay their bills. I will continue to argue that these issues, not another referendum, must be the Parliament’s priority.

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