Bread and butter issues are what matter to voters in Scotland

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf -Credit:PA

Humza Yousaf’s resignation is another sign Holyrood’s politicians are out of touch with the people they represent.

With hospitals in crisis and patients struggling to get GP appointments, the NHS is on its knees. Education has never recovered from the pandemic and the attainment gap is stubbornly high. Homelessness levels are a national scandal and young people cannot get a foot on the housing ladder.

Local authorities, whose funding has been cut to the bone by a council tax freeze, are teetering on the brink. We can see the evidence in the state of our roads and streets – and are facing a summer of discontent after a miserly two per cent pay rise offered to council staff.

Sorting out these thorny issues should be the priority of MSPs. Instead they are engaged in a major bout of infighting, self-promotion and Holyrood intrigue in the hunt for a new first minister.

Yousaf was a disappointing leader and it had become clear he could no longer command a consensus in the Scottish Parliament for any important new ­legislation, effectively paralysing the normal function of government. But the last week has not shown any party in a particularly flattering light.

Opposition MSPs were more focused on trying to bring down the government than improving the lives of Scots. Meanwhile, the SNP and the Greens were engaged in a war of mutually assured destruction that was miles away from the priorities of most voters.

What we now need is for MSPs to get back to the bread and butter issues ­devolution was supposed to tackle. Public opinion on the Scottish ­Parliament is becoming increasingly negative. This is the fault of politicians who concentrate on narrow agendas.

Another SNP leadership contest should provide a chance for a reset but the signs are not great. Swinney is a man of integrity but had announced his semi-retirement from frontline politics. His likely rival, Kate Forbes, is opposed to abortion and gay marriage, sparking fears she could drag Scotland to the right on social issues.

Both potential candidates could struggle to unite the parliament behind a compelling vision of change. The public put the SNP on notice and they must respond positively. We need practical solutions to cut drug deaths, homelessness and child poverty levels.

Improving public services and ­dragging them into the 21st century shouldn’t be a party political hot potato. It should be the stated aim of every MSP. Yousaf’s resignation must be a turning point for politicians to raise their game. It is not just the fate of the government at stake but the devolution project Scots fought so hard to create.

If they fail in that task, the only option will be a Scottish election to let the people have their say.

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