Scotland’s Auditor General Caroline Gardiner has announced the NHS is on ‘amber alert’ – and today, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont put this charge to Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions.
Gardiner says that despite boards within the NHS being on budget, this was only achieved through reallocation of money from board to board. She warned this facilitated short-term thinking, which should be discouraged for the benefit of the longer-term economic picture.
Scottish Labour have warned the SNP are not dealing with harsh economic facts in their drive towards independence and are ignoring the further cuts that are necessary and delaying them until after the independence referendum.
Shadow health minister, Jackie Baillie, has raised concerns about policy regarding the NHS, saying the SNP are refusing to face up to the facts – 2,500 fewer nurses and record numbers of complaints.
Salmond also, in the past, denied Labour’s allegations of cutting funding to colleges, cuts which have now been announced by the Auditor General to the tune of 24% in real terms, twice.
This comes amidst yet more concerns about the SNP and how open they are; Salmond’s chequered past regarding legal advice on EU membership has yet again come to haunt him.
Aileen McHarg from the University of Strathclyde and Alan Trench of the University of Edinburgh have both expressed doubt that the meeting between the UK and Scottish governments – the “Edinburgh Agreement” – constitutes a basis for legal consultation. Scottish Labour says these incidents are the latest in a long line that proves trust in the SNP, and the party’s credibility, has been damaged.
If we are to have a genuinely democratic referendum on Scottish independence, we must have open and accountable economic and policy debates and not let certain people’s political motivation override this principle.