'It wisnae me,' says the SNP over list of broken promises

24th June 2011 at 01:00
Party's failure to deliver its noble aims cannot be blamed on anyone or anything else

Most people are familiar with the notion that if power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. In a similar vein, power comes with responsibility, and therefore complete power should bring complete responsibility. If this is the case, then we should all welcome the SNP's absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament - even if some of us did not vote for them.

The reason is plain to see, especially for those involved in Scottish education. Over the past four years, great promises were made about improvements that would be introduced for those involved in teaching. Chief among those was the commitment to reduce class sizes to 18 or less in primaries 1-3 - a noble aim, but one that ran into difficulties almost from day one, for it had never been thought through.

Like so many aspects of the SNP manifesto of 2007, it had a ring to it that the leadership never thought they would actually have to introduce this promise in government. Soon though, the lack of funds to recruit the extra teachers that would be required, or build the extra classrooms that would needed, became apparent.

On top of this, a new priority trumped small class sizes - the council tax freeze - and this placed further strains on local authority finances that made a difficult policy well-nigh impossible.

Another promise that was regularly trotted out was how there would be jobs for newly-qualified teachers, graduating with high expectations of a career in education. Some of these potential teachers believed in the vocation of working in a classroom and had given up other jobs to work in a school. How cruelly their hopes (and economic gamble) were dashed as the jobs pool shrank instead of expanding.

Many graduates remain outside Scottish education looking in, wondering if they will ever be given the chance to teach.

The SNP was not the first administration to fail to deliver on this particular promise but in this, as with so many of its other promises, it was able to turn around and say "it wisnae me" or words to that effect. Alex Salmond and his team were able to argue that it was a minority government and that it had its hands tied.

That excuse is no longer available. With complete power comes complete responsibility. There is no political partner to pass the blame on to. There is no lack of majority that will prevent any legislation or any financial proposals being passed. There is no bargaining to be done or deals to be cut. The buck stops with Alex Salmond and in five years' time there can be no excuses.

The SNP's majority should be welcomed for it should bring greater responsibility to our politicians and that, surely, is a good thing? Absolutely.

Brian Monteith, Political commentator.

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