Anne McTaggart MSP addressed Scottish Labour Conference during the Local Government session on Sunday 21st April 2013.
Over the past few months I have been working with my colleague John Pentland MSP to challenge the Scottish National Party and their tragic disregard for local government across Scotland. As members of the local government and regeneration committee, we have witnessed the cynical way in which the Scottish Government have sought to use their majority to inhibit the ability of opposition MSPs to hold them to account.
Too often committee sessions of the Scottish Parliament are not open to the public, where discussions that affect the daily lives of ordinary Scots are held behind closed doors. The SNP are so keen to shield their failures, that they would rather be accused of secrecy and concealment than have to expose their bad decisions and misplaced priorities.
This is evident not just to opposition MSPs, or those councillors who understand the impact of these severe cuts, but to ordinary people in communities across Scotland. They know that the SNP isn’t being straight with them, and they want answers to the questions that aren’t being addressed by this Scottish Government.
With a majority on each committee, and convenership of most, those who criticise the record of the Scottish Government on local authority funding are marginalised and labelled as ‘scare-mongerers.’
Conference, we know this is not true. We know the impact of SNP cuts on local services, on our communities and on those families worst affected by the economic recession. That is why we cannot lose sight of the important job we have to do in the Scottish Parliament. It is our responsibility to expose this hypocrisy, the secrecy and the double standards of a government with a one track mind. Whilst they concentrate on breaking up the United Kingdom, we must use this opportunity to prove to the people of Scotland that our priorities are the issues that affect their lives on a daily basis.
The inability of opposition MSPs to fully expose the misplaced priorities of the SNP tells us that now, more than ever, we must come together as a movement to build widespread resistance to the draconian cuts imposed on the most vulnerable in our communities. The SNPs majority in the Scottish Parliament can only do so much to silence those who suffer from these misguided policies and by working together, we will expose the failure of the SNP to address the problems they have created.