FAILING AND DELAYED procurement projects are burning a very big hole in Scottish taxpayers’ pockets – SNP ministers can’t seem to stop themselves from scuppering contracts they oversee themselves.

The scandal of the CalMac ferry contract is a good example. In 2015 the SNP chose the highest bidder, the shipyard Ferguson Marine, to build two ferries. Constriction began before design was completed and six years later the ferries are still not complete and a £97 million contract is now expected to cost at least £230 million.

The £840 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, which eventually opened in 2015, was another SNP procurement disaster, with sewage leaking into operating theatres and a series of other dangerous contamination problems. At least four people died as a consequence. Infections caused by pigeon droppings spreading through contaminated air vents caused the deaths of two patients. Staff had raised concerns about safety but were ignored. For example, in 2014, before the hospital opened, a consultant microbiologist raised issues in writing but was told, “you’re new to Glasgow, but here we don’t put things in writing because of inquiries and things.” The SNP has since been forced to appoint a public inquiry but these take time and will not report until well after the May 2021 elections.

Other procurement disasters include the saga of the sick children’s hospital in Little France, Edinburgh, which was originally due to open in 2012, but only opened at the end of March after incessant delays over the last decade. It was originally meant to cost £150 million, but faults in the air conditioning and drainage systems not only delayed opening, but added a further £90 million to the bill while it lay empty.  An inquiry into the repeated failure of the Edinburgh hospital is due to begin in September 2021.

THE SNP ARGUES CONSTANTLY that Tory austerity imposed by an overbearing Westminster government is an evil that strongly affects Scotland. The reality is the SNP leadership has imposed more widespread and extremely damaging cuts than ever considered in Westminster.

Local councils are amongst the worst-affected by a slew of cuts inflicted by the SNP since its politicians came to power. Glasgow has suffered a real-term reduction in local authority spending of £233 per Glaswegian resident from 2014-2019, a fall of 11 per cent. Glasgow City Council has reported a funding gap of £12.2 million for next year. South Lanarkshire Council will in 2021 miss out on £53 million.

Unfortunately, SNP-controlled councils refuse to fight back. They instead toe the party line, endorse every new cut from Sturgeon in Edinburgh, and endlessly express gratitude for any small funds that are promised by central government.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, the deficit is likely to reach 25 per cent of GDP this year and remain around 10 per cent until at least the middle of this decade. North Sea Oil revenues will not provide a silver bullet, despite the claims of some nationalists. Scotland ran a fiscal deficit even when oil prices exceeded $100 per barrel, and the oil fields are fast depleting, with those being decommissioned attracting tax relief rather than delivering tax revenues.

But this should not come as a shock. Although Scotland’s deficit is more akin to a southern European country, Scotland’s politicians have long expressed a desire to follow the Scandinavian model for high state spending – including if the country went independent

“Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all.”

THIS IS THE FIRST sentence of a statement on the United Nations homepage on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2021.

Three days later the Scottish parliament voted with a majority of 50 votes in favour of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill which excludes women from protection against hate crimes – crimes committed because the victims are what they are: women.

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