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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

The honeymoon’s over Nicola - now it’s time to deliver

This opinion piece is almost 8 years old

Susan Smith says Nicola Sturgeon may be feeling smug right now but the next Scottish Parliament term is not going to be plain sailing.

You’ve got to hand it to Nicola Sturgeon - rarely in the history of elections has a party leader looked so smug. And why not, with all the polls predicting another SNP landslide, this is probably as good as it’s going to get for Sturgeon, ever. After 5 May 2016, things are going to get real.

As First Minster for the last 18 months, Sturgeon has been riding high on post-referendum euphoria and promised much to the Scottish people. Not least a fairer, more considerate Scotland where, in contrast to south of the border, the poor are treated with respect and given the chance to improve their lot. Those are strong, election winning words but it remains to be seen whether the SNP is prepared to take the radical, and perhaps unpopular, steps needed to make it a reality.

With new powers to raise income through taxation and develop a Scottish welfare system there are few excuses left for failing to create a social security that has “dignity and respect at its heart”, as the SNP told TFN earlier this month. Sturgeon has promised a fairer Scotland to SNP voters, and this means more free or affordable childcare, more Living Wage employers, the NHS protected and community services prioritised. It's not going to be easy to balance this with the need to boost businesses following recent news that the Scottish economy is trailing behind the rest of the UK.

In keeping with traditional cycles of power, the SNP’s halcyon days are unlikely to survive the next parliament

Local authorities struggling to make ends meet as a result of dramatic public funding cuts from Westminster will also want to see their lots improve now the Scottish Parliament has more powers. If they don’t, local voluntary organisations providing preventative services that reduce the burden on the NHS and the welfare system will feel even more pain. We know local services are already struggling with reduced budgets and the growth in foodbank use cited by the Trussell Trust this month suggests demand is continuing to rise.

The First Minister has a welcome respect for the third sector and has expressed her personal commitment to working in partnership with the sector on a number of occasions, most recently at the Gathering in February. This will start to feel hollow though if there's not a bigger role for the sector in health and social care integration, new employment programmes and social justice initiatives.

Currently it is impossible to predict which of the opposition parties will emerge as a legitimate foe, but surely the only way is up for one of them anyway. The Scottish Green Party is the only other strongly predicted victor expected on 5 May, so perhaps it can finally emerge from the sidelines and flex a bit of oppositional muscle. To make a real lasting impact though, it will have to hold firm to its radical roots and avoid the temptation to nuzzle up to the mundane middle.

In keeping with traditional cycles of power, the SNP’s halcyon days are unlikely to survive the next parliament. Hopefully that means the 2021 Holyrood election will at least be a little more interesting (even without another referendum).



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Ian Davidson
almost 8 years ago
A strange article to publish BEFORE the election result is announced?!
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