The Scottish National Party have governed one of the most powerfully devolved administrations in the world for the last ten years, giving them power over education, healthcare and housing, to name a few. Their eagerness to emphatically condemn the Conservatives in Westminster ought to be backed up by a shining record of their own. However, the indisputable and appalling failures of the SNP, epitomised through their track record in education, renders them as a party only good for fuelling a second divisive independence referendum.
The SNP claim their first priority is education, yet the facts display the nationalists’ incompetent, unsuccessful and frankly disgraceful method of tackling the said ‘first priority’. First things first, the very standard of education in this country has plummeted, with Scotland hurtling down international league tables — under the SNP, Scotland has gone from 11th to 24th in maths and from 11th to 23rd in reading. This shocking failure is epitomised by the fact that pupils leave primary school with extremely poor levels of literacy and numeracy — the numbers of those who are illiterate have doubled in recent years. In addition, the SNP’s ceaseless claims of helping the poorest in society and the closing of the attainment gap are, in reality, another indictment of the SNP’s failure in education. This is clearly demonstrated by studies which show that by the age of five, the vocabulary of the poorest quantile of students remains thirteen months behind that of the richest quantile. Furthermore, this gap continues to widen throughout further education. The richest Scottish students are 3.53 times more likely to enter university than poorer ones, compared to being only 2.52 times more likely in England. This is testament to the fact that not only is the level of education in Scotland greatly diminishing, but also that the most deprived in society lose out the most under this incompetent leadership.
When Ms Sturgeon became first minister, she proclaimed that she wanted to be judged on her reputation in education. Under her leadership, we have seen standards plummet in our once esteemed education system with remarkable speed and to quite horrifying depth. What makes it worse for the SNP is that they cannot blame their arch enemies, the ‘Tories’, for their failure; in fact, the Conservatives have a far superior and more successful education system in England that offers a better level of education and a lower attainment gap. Based on the shockingly poor track record of Ms Sturgeon and her party on all accounts in this field, and the indubitably damaging manifestations that this bestows on young people, my generation has been left as victim of this terrible leadership. To judge Ms Sturgeon and the SNP on their reputation in education only leads to one abominable indictment of this government’s ghastly performance.
What does this tell us about the leadership of the SNP? It shows not only that they have been damaging in government, but that they are willing to let society suffer as they search for their one true goal: Independence. Yes, this wonderful concept that will lead to a Scottish Utopia, allowing the SNP to fix all the problems they already could have over the last ten years. Ms Sturgeon could have used her time in government to display a competent and successful leadership, however the SNP’s track record portrays the antithesis of this as all other sectors are neglected. The fixation on independence is as apparent as it is shocking, as the party drives for a second divisive referendum three years after the ‘once in a generation opportunity’. Not to mention that the pros of independence are now far less viable than before with the oil price crash, not being allowed access back into the EU and in turn losing a large amount of trade with a market four times more profitable than the EU — trade with England.
Lastly, one should not expect any humility from the SNP for their failures, as regardless of this track record they gain votes on purely nationalistic grounds. I only hope that young people are wise and aware enough to see through the grave failures of the SNP and the horrifying ramifications this has on our generation, as well as the flawed independence argument. This obsession with independence has led to ten years of failure and ultimately left a generation of young people as victim.