Opposition politicians in Scotland have vehemently opposed what they perceive as looming measures that will invariably waste taxpayers’ money, particularly stemming from demands for another independence vote by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP).
As MSPs debated the Scottish Government's draft tax and spending plans for the coming year on Thursday, Neil Findlay urged the SNP-led Government to wake up to the needs of the poor and hungry.
Yesterday I called on the Govt to stop wasting money and use it to feed hungry people and house the homeless pic.twitter.com/nUecVPwzIq— Neil Findlay MSP (@NeilFindlay_MSP) February 26, 2021
Accusing the government of intentionally overlooking the poor as less likely to vote, he denounced a lack of “political will” to take the actions the challenging current pandemic-generated situation required.
“I have no doubt that the cabinet secretary will trot out her well-rehearsed lines about where the money will come from if we want to do other things. The Government pours money down the drain as if there is no tomorrow,” said the Scottish Labour MSP.
Findlay proceeded to enumerate various lacklustre, in his opinion, projects that taxpayers’ money was spent on, such as the £100 million to pay for delayed ferries as well as pointless legal fees and expenses.
The Scottish draft budget for 2021-22, unveiled by Finance secretary Kate Forbes and the minority SNP administration in January and promising a record funding of £16 billion for the NHS in Scotland, needs support of at least one other party to pass.
“The budget delivers £1.1 billion for jobs and skills, record spending for health services, £11.6bn for local government plus a further £259 million of non-recurring coronavirus (COVID-19) funding, and new resources to tackle climate change,” Forbes was quoted by The National as saying.
She also warned that “further changes may be required once our funding position clarifies following next week’s UK Budget,” as Chancellor Rishi Sunak gears up to deliver the Spring Budget on 3 March.
However, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser insisted this was not a Budget his party could support, as it “falls short of what the Scottish people and Scottish society requires."
Fraser added that Tories urged increased funding for councils "at least" in line with the amounts funneled into the Scottish Government.
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie also suggested his party would need to see more changes to the Budget before it could support it.
Co-leader of the Scottish Greens since 2008 Patrick Harvie was quoted by The National as saying his party would "continue working toward budget changes to achieve improvement for Scotland's people, both in the immediate crisis in household incomes and in the long term drive for a green recovery".
‘Endless Talk about a Referendum’
The developments come as the SNP-led Government officials are preparing to publish a draft Bill outlining the timetable and question of a potential second Scottish independence referendum.
Pamela Nash, British Labour Party politician, who is currently Chief Executive of Scotland in Union, a campaign group opposing Scottish independence, said it was “grossly insulting” that the Scottish Government was “devoting time to this during a public health pandemic that is claiming lives.”
She emphasised that the SNP “would never stop its negative campaign to divide the people of Scotland, so we must continue to make the positive case for remaining part of the UK.”
After the SNP national executive committee set aside £600,000 towards a second independence referendum, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives denounced the party for being “out of touch” with ordinary Scots.
In response, an SNP spokesman called Ross “a shameless hypocrite”, adding that the government would continue “leading Scotland’s recovery while they blow millions of public cash on pro-union propaganda”.
In 2014, the people of Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom, however, the Scottish National Party (SNP) persists in its drive for a second referendum, claiming that Brexit has changed the situation.
In late January, during a trip to Scotland which was heavily criticized by Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
"Endless talk about a referendum without any clear description of what the constitutional situation would be after that referendum is completely irrelevant now to the concerns of most people".