The new First Minister and the Prime Minister can press the ‘reset’ button and seek to deliver more together on jobs, health and climate change in Scotland, a paper by Our Scottish Future argues today.
The report sets out 16 concrete projects for the Scottish and UK Governments to collaborate on which could begin the moment Scotland’s new First Minister takes office at the end of this month.
Despite the major political differences between the UK and Scottish Governments, the paper says London and Edinburgh can agree a fresh plan on economic development, through collaboration on a revamped Glasgow City Deal and a beefed up Scottish National Investment Bank. It also says the new First Minister and all devolved leaders should be part of the next UK trade mission.
It backs deeper Scottish-UK Government cooperation on the drive to hit net zero, with reform to Britain’s national grid and an expansion of a North Sea grid, linking the UK to the Nordics.
Following the worst winter for the NHS in history, it also suggests that Britain’s four health systems come together to review healthcare practices and examine common problems and solutions.
And it says the UK and Scottish Governments should capitalise on the recent Windsor Agreement to further strengthen ties with the EU.
The report comes two weeks before the winner of the SNP leadership race is announced and the new First Minister is elected.
Authors Jamie Gollings and Eddie Barnes argue that the election of the new First Minister provides an opportunity for the Scottish Government to start afresh.
They write: “On the cost of living, on the future of the NHS, on our environment, and across our communities, there is so much that can be achieved better by working together. The election of a new First Minister in the coming weeks provides an opportunity to do so.”
“As Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged in her resignation speech, politics in Scotland had become entrenched over the course of her time in office. The post-referendum divide that continues to hang over Scotland had forced parties into polarised positions which has made cooperation more difficult to achieve. The arrival of a new First Minister in a few weeks, with a clean slate, means there is a rare opportunity to reset the dial.”
They conclude: “While it will be for the new First Minister and the Prime Minister to decide what projects they want to work on together, the biggest thing they could both do is to reset the mood.”
They add: “There will always be political differences between the various administrations across the UK – that is the point of devolution. But what Scotland needs more than anything is a better political culture which recognises that self-government and shared government must go hand in hand if we are to build the better society we all want.”
Today’s paper makes recommendations in four key areas: economic growth, net zero, health, and social cooperation.
Other ideas include a COP UK summit made up of the UK Government, the devolved administrations and the regional English leaders to set out how best to invest in green technology and renewable power over the coming decade.
It also proposes the creation of a new Institute of British Devolution, to act as a “policy lab”, examining which different policies across the UK have had the most impact.