SNP ministers cite the pressure the pandemic has placed on the health service. On the other side of the fence, opposition parties attack the government’s lack of grip. But the crisis in our public services is not just down to extenuating circumstances and ministerial incompetence alone. The crisis in our NHS and our public services is the result of the SNP’s failure to stand up against the prevailing neoliberal orthodoxy of our times. For all that the party claims to ‘stand up for Scotland’, it has bowed down before the diktats of the free market and the rigged rules of the City.
My point is this. SNP run cities are in crisis, SNP run services are in crisis. To blame this on incompetence is the easiest thing to do, I grant you. But it’s not the whole picture. Today, wherever we look, whether it be to our own funding-starved councils or to the impact of the forty year ideological assault on the British state, examples of the suffering inherent to the free market are in no short supply. And yet, contrary to their rhetoric, 14 years of SNP rule has seen no attempt to depart from this collapsing status quo. Their cumulative apathy to public service, rooted in the party’s lack of ideological base besides nationalism, is the reason Scotland’s health service is at its weakest, and Glasgow at its dirtiest. Michael Russell – whose right-wing treatise “Grasping the Thistle” backed private sector competion within the NHS – has been charged with post-independence planning because a watered down draft of thistle grasping is how the SNP have governed: austerity, individualism and putting a shine on the bonnet of capital.