Scottish National Party Government

First Minister’s Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at on 2 May 2024.

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Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

Scotland cannot afford this distracted, divided and incompetent Scottish National Party Government. When we look past all the shouting, we see that our country is facing the greatest challenges since the creation of this Parliament. More than 800,000 people are on national health service waiting lists.

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

We see increasing violence and falling standards in our schools.

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

Police numbers are being cut and crimes are not being investigated. I remind Mr Brown that we are talking about his constituents, who are suffering those consequences. Police numbers are being cut and crimes are not being investigated. Almost 10,000 children are living in temporary accommodation, millions of pounds is being wasted on failed projects and our economy is flatlining, while the huge potential of our people is being squandered.

Yet again, the SNP is putting party before country and its own problems before the people of Scotland. Is it not the case that, regardless of who the SNP imposes, it will not be able to fix this mess and deliver the change that Scotland needs?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Obviously, I do not agree with that in the slightest. What I would say about some of the issues that Anas Sarwar has raised is that there are of course challenges, particularly in the face of a recovery from a global pandemic. However, on the NHS and our public services, we are choosing to invest in those public services, as opposed to introducing tax cuts for the wealthy, which is the choice of the United Kingdom Conservative Party but, it seems, is now also the choice of the UK Labour Party. Anas Sarwar once stood on a platform of progressive taxation, but that, like all his other principles, has gone out of the window.

Anas Sarwar asks us to concentrate on the day job. I remind him that it was he and his party that, yesterday, brought to this Parliament a motion of no confidence that they knew they were going to lose. Due to that waste of time, we had less time to debate justice and compensation for the WASPIWomen Against State Pension Inequality—women. Perhaps Anas Sarwar wanted it that way because, for all the photographs that he takes with the WASPI women, all the warm words and all the hugs that he gives the WASPI women, it was a disgrace that the Labour Party led by Anas Sarwar abstained on a motion that demanded full compensation for the women who have suffered such a disgraceful injustice.

While we are getting on with the day job and getting on with serving the people of Scotland, Anas Sarwar and his Labour Party are U-turning, flip-flopping and deflecting. They should not think that the people of Scotland cannot see through that.

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

Presiding Officer, things are going so well that the First Minister is stepping down this week, yet he is now giving us political advice after the week that he has just had. I do not think that we could make it up. Regardless of—[ Interruption .]

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

Regardless of the list that the First Minister wants to read out, it does not reflect the lived reality for people in Scotland right now under this SNP Government. While our country is crying out for change, what is the SNP’s answer? It is an internal stitch-up and more of the same—either the man who broke the public finances, who was the worst education secretary in the history of the Scottish Parliament, who was the Deputy First Minister who deleted evidence to the Covid inquiry and who has been at the heart of this incompetent SNP Government for the past 17 years, or a former cabinet secretary who many on her own benches say is more akin to a member of Douglas Ross’s party than one of her own? Both represent chaos, both represent division and both represent more of the same. After 17 years of incompetence and failure, is that really the best that the SNP has to offer?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Anas Sarwar talks about a leadership stitch-up. He should know about that. Just ask Richard Leonard about what he did about a leadership stitch-up.

Our record has seen more young people from deprived areas going to university than ever before. Our record has delivered more than 128,000 affordable homes. Our record has established Social Security Scotland with 14 benefits, seven of which are available only in Scotland, including the game-changing Scottish child payment. It is estimated that our anti-poverty measures will lift 100,000 children out of poverty.

Anas Sarwar talks about what the Government has been doing over the past two weeks. In the past two weeks alone, we have announced £80 million of additional funds to ensure that we boost our affordable housing stock. On top of that, we confirmed £11 million of grant funding for public bodies such as leisure centres. What have Anas Sarwar and the Labour Party done in the past two weeks? They voted against keeping the Promise to care-experienced children. They are going to water down their plans for workers, and they announced that on May day, of all days. I say once again that, disgracefully, they refused to back justice and compensation for the WASPI women—a betrayal that they will not be forgiven for.

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

The First Minister cut £189 million from the housing budget and then miraculously found £80 million on the day when was begging to keep his job. People can see right through the sham. As so many in his own party have said, continuity will not cut it. We need a Government that is focused on fixing the mess that the SNP has made. For all the First Minister’s bluster today, he cannot ignore the fact that people across our country are being forced to remortgage their homes to pay for hip replacements.

There are mothers going without food in order to feed their children. There are families travelling south to get their child a private mental health diagnosis. Cash-strapped families are being made to pay more and get less from their public services. What is the SNP focused on instead? It is desperately trying to cling on to power.

The SNP is so divided, so chaotic and so dysfunctional that it cannot now provide the stable, competent government that our country needs. That is why we need an election, but it does not want to call one. Why? Is it because it fears the judgment of the Scottish people?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I remind Anas Sarwar that, less than 24 hours ago, this Parliament voted to give confidence to the SNP-led Scottish Government. [ Interruption .]

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Let me also say to Anas Sarwar that, whoever succeeds me, they can say unequivocally that we stand proud of not only our record but the policies that we have enacted over 17 years. The difference between Anas Sarwar and me, my colleagues on the front benches, and colleagues such as John Swinney and Kate Forbes is that we are consistent in our principles; the only consistency in Anas Sarwar is his complete and utter inconsistency. I am surprised that he is not more embarrassed by that inconsistency. [ Interruption .]

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

He has U-turned on the two-child limit and the rape clause; he has U-turned on bankers’ bonuses; he has U-turned on progressive taxation; he has U-turned on the £28 billion green prosperity fund; he has U-turned on rejoining the European Union; and he has U-turned on his support for compensation for the WASPI women. Anas Sarwar says that continuity will not cut it. It would be nice if, for five minutes, Anas Sarwar could continue with one principle without dumping it.