Our am­bi­tions for the fu­ture

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - NEWS -

The Scot­tish Par­lia­ment is now back in full swing af­ter the sum­mer re­cess.

We re­con­vened and spent the first week back de­bat­ing the Pro­gramme for Govern­ment an­nounced by the First Min­is­ter. Look­ing back over the me­dia com­men­tary that came from that an­nounce­ment, it is crys­tal clear that the First Min­is­ter’s ob­jec­tive to de­liver a bold and am­bi­tious pro­gramme was ful­filled by the com­mit­ments and the ideas con­tained within the doc­u­ment.

Af­ter ten years in of­fice, the Govern­ment has to take stock around what it has done in that pe­riod. We have quite lit­er­ally trans­formed the in­fra­struc­ture of Scot­land with ma­jor in­vest­ment in road, rail and broad­band in­fra­struc­ture. Early learn­ing and child­care has been ex­panded and we have a ris­ing level of at­tain­ment amongst school pupils. Our NHS is the best per­form­ing in the UK for A&E ser­vices and we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a 42-year low in crime.

Add to that the re­cent economic data, that showed Scot­land had a lower un­em­ploy­ment rate and a higher em­ploy­ment rate than the rest of the UK and higher economic growth rate, there is clear ev­i­dence of stronger economic per­for­mance be­ing de­liv­ered.

There is much there­fore about which to be pos­i­tive in the per­for­mance of public ser­vices and economic ac­tiv­ity in Scot­land.

The Pro­gramme for Govern­ment aims to build on that record with clear com­mit­ments to re­form our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem to make it world class, dou­ble the level of early learn­ing and child care and widen ac­cess to uni­ver­si­ties.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by a Na­tional In­vest­ment Bank will be sig­nif­i­cant in build­ing fur­ther economic growth and the measures to achieve our cli­mate change tar­gets will see Scot­land lead the UK in trans­form­ing our trans­port in­fra­struc­ture with a move to ear­lier con­ver­sion to elec­tric ve­hi­cles. There will also be an open and trans­par­ent de­bate about the cor­rect ap­proach to tax­a­tion at a time when public sec­tor pay con­straint has been hav­ing an ef­fect for some time.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the World Economic Fo­rum have com­mended the Scot­tish Govern­ment for bring­ing for­ward such an am­bi­tious agenda and it is re­ally en­cour­ag­ing to see the in­ter­na­tional com­men­da­tion for the steps we have taken. It is of­ten dif­fi­cult to hear this com­men­tary when our do­mes­tic de­bate is dom­i­nated by such neg­a­tiv­ity.

The Pro­gramme for Govern­ment also sets out the con­sid­ered ap­proach the Scot­tish Govern­ment is tak­ing to the is­sue of Brexit. And it is much needed.

As the UK Govern­ment demon­strates a far­ci­cal lack of co­her­ence on the whole topic, and try to use Brexit to claw back pow­ers from the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment, the clear think­ing demon­strated by the Scot­tish and Welsh Govern­ments is vi­tal at this time. It is also es­sen­tial to give hope to many busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als many of them who have made Scot­land their home in re­cent years - who fear a sig­nif­i­cant a neg­a­tive ef­fect of Brexit.

As we em­bark on the next par­lia­men­tary year, I look for­ward to ad­vanc­ing our agenda to make Scot­land a more pros­per­ous and a fairer coun­try.

Char­ity sup­port

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