Spin Over Substance – 15 September 2022


The SNP trumpeting lodging written legal arguments with the Supreme Court on Indy Ref 2 was spin over substance. Sadly, a trait that’s all too habitual from Nicola Sturgeon’s administration. 

Of course, their Lordships acceding to the request had more substance than me sending them a copy of the Beano. But the right to appear, it was not. Besides simply having your pleadings with the written papers matters little, when you’re not there to argue in support of it. Instead, they’re dependent on it being mentioned by the Lord Advocate in her oral pleadings.  

Yet the reason that we’re there is she was unwilling to sign off legislation on a referendum showing her own views. Compounding that her own written submissions accept earlier judgments of Westminster sovereignty on Holyrood legislation. If that’s some historic victory, then I’m a Dutchman.  

Instead, it’s simply spinning when they know the reality’s poor. But hey ho having started down that route to appease growing disgruntlement on the handling of their fundamental cause, it’s also replicated in their wider governance. 

Firstly, there was the announcement of a rent freeze to address the cost-of-living crisis. Excellent a hard-pressed tenant might think and I’ve children, now young adults, struggling to meet what are sky high prices in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. But as with the Supreme Court, the spin wasn’t matched by any substance.  

Many rent levels have been set as they follow the financial year but blow me down with a feather, the freeze ends next year just when they’ll be set again. This got headlines but achieves little other than ensuring some rented properties will be sold off. What was needed was both targeted powers that would actually work. That and building more council and rental houses, as well as cracking down on AirBnB. This is a rent freeze which freezes few rents  

Secondly, as the alcohol death toll mounts, policy inaction remains. Ask the government about flagship policies and addressing the tragedy and they’ll mention Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP)? But the reality is the price is too low to be effective and there’s no review now until the end of 2003. With galloping inflation, a great policy’s evaporating like snow on the hills. 

But the spin over substance will continue relentlessly.