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National Focus: Stories From Scotland

COSLA in “Fundamental” Funding Dispute

Relations have broken down between the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the organisation that represents Scottish local councils, due to concerns about the planned council tax freeze by Humza Yousaf’s SNP and lack of proper consultation before this was announced. Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe said, “it should be up to local councils to set the tax,” and the relationship between the government and local councils has weakened due to a “dismissive” and “threatening” tone during discussions. According to Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, the government is seeking a funding compromise that is fair to the whole public sector and will provide funding to support any local council that agrees to the freeze. Glasgow and North Lanarkshire Councils have so far voted in favour.

YouGov Poll Forecasts Loss of 23 SNP Seats

Recent YouGov polling suggests that the Scottish National Party (SNP), who currently hold 45 seats in the UK House of Commons, will lose more than half of these to Scottish Labour. That would make this election the SNP’s worst since 2010. The polling company predicts a loss of 23 seats to Labour, attributing this to the recent finance probe, during which high-profile figures, including the former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, were arrested. YouGov modelling suggests most of Labour’s gain is expected in the central belt. The next UK election must take place before 28 January 2025, however, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has suggested it will occur in late 2024.

SNP Seeking Ceasefire in Commons

On 14 February, SNP MP and leader in the House of Commons, Stephen Flynn, announced the intention to propose a motion in the next week calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Flynn cited figures from the Hamas-controlled health ministry — which reported around 30,000 Palestinian deaths and 70,000 injuries, and that an estimated 90 per cent of the Gazan population is approaching starvation — as grounds for the proposal. He said of the conflict, “enough is enough […] we need all of Israel’s allies to speak out in favour of a ceasefire.” This follows an unsuccessful previous ceasefire motion proposed in November.

Image by Wikimedia Commons

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