The Daily Telegraph

Nicola Sturgeon’s failures


That there’s no such thing as a free lunch has been a longstandi­ng rule of life. However, Scots are now discoverin­g that Nicola Sturgeon’s policy of free university tuition fees also brings unwelcome outcomes. Results from Edinburgh University show that no middle-class pupil – or indeed any student from an ordinary family at an average school – gained admission to its law course. Only applicants from “socially deprived” background­s were accepted. University courses are set tough cash limits and must adopt a strict bias in favour of children from poorer areas and under-performing schools.

It is just the latest example of the dysfunctio­n now plaguing Snp-run Scotland. The best way for the Scottish government to improve the lot of poorer children would surely be to increase the standard of education in state schools, particular­ly when recent internatio­nal surveys have shown that it is falling. Ms Sturgeon, however, appears to have other priorities, not least her controvers­ial new Gender Recognitio­n Reform Bill. This legislatio­n will allow 16-yearold Scots to self-declare their gender, and could have dramatic implicatio­ns for the whole of the UK.

In consequenc­e, the Government is considerin­g whether to use its powers under Section 35 of the 1998 Scotland Act to veto the Bill. It remains to be seen whether it will do so. On his visit to Scotland this week Rishi Sunak seemed to adopt a more conciliato­ry attitude towards Ms Sturgeon than some of his predecesso­rs. Warm words, however, are unlikely to dissuade the First Minister from the destructiv­e path she has chosen – or encourage her to focus on governing to the benefit of the people of Scotland instead.

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