The Scottish electorate ought to be concerned about the dearth of talent in the SNP’s Holyrood ranks where ministers, sacked years ago, have been resuscitated and offered places in Nicola Sturgeon’s inner circle.
Can it mean that newer MSPs are considered incapable of handling a ministerial role?
Angela Constance has made a comeback, this time as minister for drugs policy, after being discarded as Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities three years ago. This time round, she may have come in via the “who can we get to do this job?” approach.
This week, Ms Constance flagged up a big announcement on the drugs issue in Scotland. Alas, when the words came from her mouth, the speech was flat and uninspiring.
We’re top of a highly undesirable European league
With more than 1,300 drugs deaths last year – a new record high that puts us top of a European league we don’t want to be part of – we held our breath. Would the shiny new minister produce an idea that would signal how she will tackle this abominable problem? No such luck.
Instead, she told us that “the loss of life in Scotland from drug related deaths is as heart breaking as it is unacceptable.” Yup! Everybody knows that.
“It’s our national shame,” she added. “I offer my condolences to all those who have lost a loved one […] On Friday night I heard from many people who have been directly affected by drug deaths and been let down.” She left out “by the Scottish Government.”
Yes, yes, Angela. What about the remedy?
“We know drug deaths are preventable and avoidable (what preventable measures have you put in place, minister?) […] and that the poorest communities suffer the most.” OK, OK. We know that, too. So, what’s the plan?
Ms Constance spoke of ‘the terrible scale of inequality between our most and least deprived communities’. Who knew?
“Funding for a new national facility for families affected by drug use, with £250 million to be invested over the next five years.” Is that it? And how will that stop drugs deaths, pray tell?
Ms Constance spoke of “the terrible scale of inequality between our most and least deprived communities”. Who knew?
“Public Health Scotland is using a groundbreaking programme of data linkage which will help identify where actions are most needed.” You mean you don’t already have that information? Let me help you.
Dundee comes into that category as the drugs capital of Europe. Wouldn’t that be a good place to start, Angela?
Hot, recycled air, from the minister, say desperate addicts. Meanwhile, that “national shame” she speaks of blights the lives of too many poor souls who have surrendered to the evil of narcotics while the Scottish Government continues to dither on an issue which has never been a priority for the first minister.