Responding to a letter from Tory MP Andrew Bowie, SNP MPs representing the North East have delivered a scathing assessment of the UK Conservative Government’s record locally.
Richard Thomson (Gordon), Dave Doogan (Angus), Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) and Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) highlighted a catalogue of failures, discriminatory decisions, betrayals and broken promises.
Commenting on the letter, Richard Thomson MP said:
“From energy to farming, from the City Region Deal to support for local businesses in the face of Brexit, the Scottish Government is working hard to deliver for the North East, often having to mitigate the impacts of Westminster policies.
“I will take no lectures from Andrew Bowie who, as a secretary to former Prime Minister Theresa May, was happy to serve in the most incompetent UK Government of all time until the current one.”
Angus MP Dave Doogan added:
"I'm pleased to help Mr Bowie better understand why it is his government in Westminster that continues to be the central impediment to higher growth and prosperity in Scotland in every sector not just engineering and energy.
"An uncomfortable truth no doubt for my constituency neighbour but one I hope he will reflect on in future before he seeks to interfere in the political balance of the Scottish Parliament."
In their response to Mr Bowie’s letter, the four MPs state:
“The North East certainly faces many challenges right now, not least the long-term impact of Covid-19 and the continued impact of the oil and gas downturn as we look to embrace energy transition – on that we can at least agree. However, the response of your party at both Holyrood and Westminster to those challenges we are sorry to say has in many respects only served to make matters worse.
“Your party continues in government to impose discriminatory transmission charges on electricity producers, something which is holding back the development of the sector all across Scotland but particularly in the north. We also have a much trumpeted ‘sector deal’ from the UK Government which in contrast to the approach of the Scottish Government - which let’s not forget has no regulatory responsibility for the energy sector – places not a single penny on the table upfront to assist energy transition.
“Even where it takes the chance to invest directly, the UK Government lags behind. The City Region Deal still sees the UK trailing behind the level of financial commitment made by the Scottish Government. And of course, following Brexit and your party’s power grab on the Scottish Parliament, we can see exactly the level of commitment that your party has to the North East through the so-called ‘levelling up fund’, where your colleagues in the UK Treasury have deliberately placed Aberdeenshire in the lowest funding priority and both Angus and Aberdeen City in the second lowest.
“Even turning to our traditional North East industries of farming and fishing, your party’s record is one of betrayal and broken promises. Brexit has hampered exports and is costing our food and drink sector millions of pounds in increased costs and lost opportunities. It has made it harder to export to Europe as well as to Northern Ireland, after your Prime Minister decided on a withdrawal agreement which placed a trade border down the middle of the Irish Sea, all while talking of a ‘precious union’.
“If there were any lingering doubt about how little the Prime Minister’s previous words and commitments actually mean to him as soon as they become politically inconvenient, then his actions in this regard surely dispel those doubts for good. Sadly, however, the Prime Minister’s facile ‘Get Brexit Done’ slogan – and his desire to get it done at any cost - is something which you and your Scottish Conservative colleagues were all too happy to stand behind after 2019, having failed utterly to use any influence you might have had in the previous parliament to pull the hard-core ideologues in your parliamentary party towards a more sensible set of outcomes.
“The difference in the approach of our respective parties right now is that the SNP has a focus on the challenges of the future and in bringing to bear the powers of the Scottish Government to deliver the best outcomes it can for the North East, even in areas which are ‘reserved’ such as energy. That’s the difference between an SNP which sees continued investment and a just energy transition as a social and economic imperative for the North East, rather than just fodder for press releases and leaflets at election time as your party seems to.
“Scotland and the North East needs a government and politicians who can be completely focussed on delivering for Scotland, rather than on trying to make excuses for the woeful government of Boris Johnson. Thankfully, that’s exactly what it has in the present Scottish Government.
“Given its miserable track record in office, we have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that the biggest single threat to the present and future prosperity of the North East comes entirely from the utter inadequacy of your own Government in Westminster in responding to the challenges we face. The silence and complicity in the face of this by North East Conservative politicians helps to make the case for why Scotland would be better taking all of its own decisions to position itself for recovery through independence.”