Better Jobs and a Fair Deal at Work

Published date : 12 May, 2021
We all know the challenges that we face following covid, particularly those facing our young people due to the loss of economic opportunity and the loss of opportunities through our withdrawal from the EU, including the right to live, work and study freely across the continent. They, above all others, needed something particularly special in this Queen’s Speech, and this simply was not it.

Throughout the debate, we have heard tales of electoral success and triumph, and I am sure that by this stage in the afternoon, Government Members’ appetite for hearing tales of how the SNP secured twice as many MSPs in the Scottish elections as the Conservatives is quite sated. Nevertheless, the contrast between the sparse content of the programme before us and the ambitious prospectus on which the Scottish National party secured 48% of the votes and 49% of the seats could scarcely be starker.

In the time I have, I would like to focus as best I can on three areas: 5G, broadband and the delivery of infrastructure spending. The Government say that they aim to ensure that 95% of the UK’s geographic land mass has 4G coverage from at least one operator by 2025 and that the majority of the UK population has 5G coverage by 2027. In other words, that is an ambition to have 4G coverage by 2025 that is no better than the 3G coverage we have at present, which still misses out large areas of the land mass, and to take another six years to have 5G coverage that barely extends out of the main urban centres.

If that leaves my constituents in Gordon distinctly underwhelmed, imagine how they will feel hearing that the Government only plan to ensure 85% coverage of gigabit broadband by 2025. As ever, the challenge is not about claiming credit for what the commercial build was going to do anyway. It is about building from the outside in and ensuring that people have the economic capability—the financial wherewithal—to pay for the services they need and to have the access. There is absolutely no indication that that is what the Government intend to do.

On infrastructure spending, instead of trying to grab powers and agency away from our Government in Edinburgh, who have a proven track record for delivering major road and rail projects, the UK Government need to be working with the Scottish Government on these things.

Once this crisis is over, there will be a referendum to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands rather than in the hands of the Prime Minister. This Conservative Government might be determined through their actions and inactions to hold back Scotland’s recovery, but they cannot and will not stand in the way of our democracy.

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