Just in time for the weekend, here’s a look at the top 10 political must-reads from the last seven days:
1. Scotland’s drugs crisis
Shocking new figures released this week confirmed that Scotland again has the highest rate of drugs death in Europe, after another 1,339 people died of substance related causes. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the figures “unacceptable” saying “each one a human tragedy” but her political opponents say successive SNP governments have been too slow to react, unwilling to listen to experts and risked making the drugs death crisis worse by rolling back counter measures. The Courier’s Political Editor Paul Malik has all the political reaction included in our comprehensive coverage of the issues. Read Paul’s story at this link.
2. Dundee Drugs Commission chairman warns it could take a decade to turn around deaths crisis
Scotland’s drug deaths crisis could take a decade to turn around, a leading expert has warned, after figures rose for the seventh consecutive year. Dr Robert Peat, chairman of the Dundee Drugs Commission, tells The Stooshie podcast it could take up to 10 years to see a sustained downwards trend. Dr Peat, who also previously sat on the Scottish Government’s drug deaths taskforce, described the latest figures as “hugely concerning” and said it was clear that compared to the rest of Europe, Scotland has a “major, major problem”. Read the full story here.
3. Vast majority of care home complaints were not investigated
Regulators only investigated 5% of complaints about care homes for older people as Covid-19 was leaving a trail of tragedy across Scotland last year. As Investigations Editor Calum Ross uncovered, shock data showed a huge drop in the number of probes carried out by the Care Inspectorate into concerns raised by relatives of residents, as well as carers and staff. You can read Calum’s full investigation at this link, and search an interactive map of care home complaints and deaths.
4. Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie re-elected as Scottish Greens’ co-leaders
Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie have vowed to tackle the “urgent threat of the climate crisis” after being re-elected as co-leaders of the Scottish Greens. As Rachel Amery reports, the pair stood unopposed for the positions after leading the party to its best-ever election result at Holyrood. They will now lead the party for the next two years, and say they will build a “fairer, greener and independent Scotland”. Read more here.
5. SNP rejects claim independence cash went on HQ refurb
The SNP has dismissed “nonsense” suggestions cash donations to a referendum campaign were spent redecorating the party’s offices. Nicola Sturgeon’s party denied the claim, which emerged on Sunday, insisting all the money in the £600,000 fund will go towards campaigning for independence. As Andy Philip reports, the comments came this week after police said they will investigate fundraising after complaints were made. Meanwhile, the Crown Office refused to comment on separate claims prosecutors are at “loggerheads” with Police Scotland over the probe. Read more here.
6. Alex Cole-Hamilton confirms Lib Dem leadership bid
The MSP tipped to take over from Willie Rennie has announced his intention to stand as party leader. Alex Cole-Hamilton, who represents Edinburgh West, is widely tipped to replace Mr Rennie, who announced his resignation earlier this month. The party was pegged back in the Holyrood election to just four MSPs – their worst result at the Scottish Parliament. Read more.
7. SNP urged to ‘get a grip’ of ‘spiralling’ A&E waiting times
The SNP have been accused of “failing to re-mobilise the NHS” after new figures revealed A&E waiting times were the worst since January 2018. As Adele Merson reports, opposition politicians have claimed a “treatment backlog” is “pushing more and more desperate Scots into accident and emergency” in a bid to access care. The latest statistics from Public Health Scotland show just 78.7% of attendances at A&E were seen within four hours, the poorest weekly figure in three years. Read Adele’s full story here.
8. Chancellor Rishi Sunak promotes the union and avoids hard questions on whirlwind visit to Scotland
Rishi Sunak is the latest senior Conservative politician to make an appeal for the union, hailing its economic “strength” before meeting businesses and individuals in Fife, Edinburgh and Glasgow. However Mr Sunak avoided most of the press and praised his own policies live on social media, in a visit with time for tightly controlled visits to unannounced locations in the Central Belt, but without time for questions from journalists from papers including The Courier. Read more here.
9. Pols on their hols: What our MSPs and MPs have planned for the summer recess
With summer recess now underway at both Holyrood and Westminster, MSPs and MPs will be putting their feet up and enjoying a relaxing break from work. Some are travelling around the UK, while others are spending time with their families, reading books and enjoying the sun in a beer garden. Although Scots can now travel abroad for their holidays this summer, the Scottish Government is still advising against non-essential overseas travel, so many politicians will probably steer clear of any international jaunts this year. However, as Derek Healey and Rachel Amery report, that is not stopping our elected officials from having some fun in the sun this summer. Read more here.
10. Farewell to Westminster: The thrills and spills of covering Scotland in London
Our Westminster correspondent – and resident Scouser – Dan O’Donoghue is leaving us this week, moving to work at a newspaper in Manchester. Over the last few years he’s had a ringside seat to watch political history unfold and we asked him to write a few of the highlights, and give us some behind-the-scenes info about life in the Mother of all Parliaments, and he didn’t disappoint! So put the kettle on, pull up a chair, and enjoy reading Dan’s last report for us at this link.