The Scottish First Minister seems determined to secure a second referendum on independence in Scotland ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. This week, she claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not oppose IndyRef2 if the SNP win a majority. In an interview with the Guardian, she said: “If people in Scotland vote for a party saying, ‘When the time is right, there should be an independence referendum’, you cannot stand in the way of that – and I don’t think that is what will happen.” As Scotland prepares to elect its leader, Ms Sturgeon’s record will come under scrutiny.
One figure who has condemned the SNP is former BBC journalist Andrew Neil, who claimed the party had left Scotland “stagnating in mediocrity”.
He made the claims in a column for MailOnline in November last year.
Mr Neil said devolution had been “a huge disappointment” and added that Edinburgh had “built something close to a one-party state”.
He continued: “It has hardly been a success. As a result of this remorseless expansion by the state, Scotland is now one of the most over-governed, bureaucratised countries in the Western world.”
The journalist also mentioned Scotland’s education downturn.
He said: “SNP governance has disappointed in many respects but perhaps most of all in education, for which Scotland used to be world famous.
“For a long time, Scotland had a proud tradition of social mobility, where high standards and expectations in schools helped to ensure that bright but poor kids could overcome the disadvantages of their backgrounds.”
In 2019 the number of students achieving passes in core higher subjects dropped significantly, just as international comparisons showed Scotland falling behind other countries in attainment, Mr Neil highlighted.
He also cited the analysis of Lindsay Paterson, Professor of Education Policy at Edinburgh University, who said Scotland’s system is “stagnating in mediocrity”.
Mr Neil added that “progress has stagnated on so many fronts” in Scotland, including on key issues such as poverty.
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He said: “It is scandalous that SNP ministers get to see the first findings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) six months before anyone else.
“Conveniently, the rest of us only get sight of anything after the Holyrood elections.”
The OECD review has previously led to negative headlines for the SNP.
The last OECD report in 2015 found that a fifth of schools were only rated as “satisfactory”, with one in ten branded “weak or unsatisfactory”.