Endless independence debate has left Scotland ‘worse than it has ever been’, says Lord McConnell

Scotland is “worse than it has ever been” thanks to independence debate causing utter political paralysis in Holyrood over major domestic issues, a former prime minister said in a damning indictment of devolution.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale said the country was “stuck in molasses” with no progress on issues ranging from education to economics to registering drug-related deaths as both sides of the constitutional debate wait for a another referendum.

Former Labor prime minister, who was ousted from power by the SNP in 2007, said no one in Holyrood “is getting involved in the problem itself” because everything is seen by the PSM as a proxy for the debate on independence.

When asked if the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 had improved the country, a clearly moved Lord McConnell remained silent for several minutes and expressed sadness that it had not worked out as he had hoped.

He told Holyrood magazine he campaigned for devolution from the age of 18 in the hopes of creating “a new quality of public debate” and better political choices in Scotland.

With tears in his eyes, the former math professor said: “But I think we are now in a situation where Scotland is probably worse than it has ever been. And I just find it incredibly sad. I am really, really sad.

A country plunged into crisis

His extraordinary intervention came as it emerged that the Scottish government had agreed to provide a 25-year financial guarantee worth £ 586million which allowed steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta to take over a site industrialist in Fort William in 2016.

The Financial Times got the figure for the deal with the Lochaber foundry after a two-year battle for freedom of information. However, the Scottish Government now estimates the net present value of the remaining guaranteed payments at just £ 285.9million.

It was claimed that the investment would create 1,000 direct jobs and 1,000 other indirect jobs, but only about 50 jobs were created.

Mr. Gupta’s GFG Alliance was plunged into crisis in March following the collapse of its main financier, Greensill Capital. It emerged in November that French authorities had opened an investigation into Mr. Gupta’s business empire.

Lord McConnell said that “almost nothing has changed in Scotland” since the 2014 referendum in terms of public opinion on independence and “everything else,” including policy areas such as education and l ‘use.

“Some things are slightly worse and at the heart is the polarization around the constitutional question,” he said.

“The public discourse in Scotland has brought us to a point where there is no potential in the immediate future, I don’t think, to change policies or delivery in areas where things could be improved, because everything what we are doing is waiting for the next referendum.

He said there was “no public debate and no public accountability” for the Scottish government, a situation which he said was “the exact opposite of what I had believed and hoped for since I was old age. of 18 years on decentralization “.

‘Stuck in molasses’

The former Scottish Labor leader said he had been disheartened by this year’s Holyrood election campaign, whose dominant question again was whether to hold another independence referendum.

He added: “Right now I really feel like we’re stuck in molasses and I don’t know how to get out of it… I mean, you look at the situation in transport, in education, in children experienced in care, and you wonder if we even have ministers.

Lamenting the “lack of accountability for poor performance,” he said incompetent ministers “are simply not kicked out of cabinet” and that this had been a problem during the SNP’s past 14 years of rule.

He said he was “particularly angry” at the “lack of engagement” with education directors from local authorities over the impact of the school closures during the first lockdown last year. , claiming that there was “the denial that there is even a problem”.

An SNP spokesperson said: ‘If Lord McConnell seriously thinks that the people of Scotland living under repeated Westminster Conservative governments that we do not vote for are better than running some of their own affairs, then frankly he has showed its true colors.

“Decentralization has clearly improved the lives of ordinary Scots on a range of indicators – allowing us to make different choices in areas such as free personal care and the abolition of tuition fees, and the development of our own system social security. “


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