As Nicola Sturgeon has realised opposition to her Indyref 2 is hardening and growing among prospective voters, including SNP supporters, she has shied away from treating the council vote as a “warm-up” to that referendum, let alone as another mandate for her demand for a second referendum. So now she is trying to orientate the local election campaign away from independence and towards local services, and specifically the impacts of “tory austerity”.
The problem here isn’t just that her councillors have a very poor record in standing up for local services. It’s that the real reason for their failure is SNP austerity. Between 2010 and the new financial year, the Holyrood budget increased by 0.4% in real terms. In the same period, the Scottish Government has cut like-for-like, real terms funding to local councils by 19.4%, as confirmed by their own figures.
Blaming these cuts on “tory austerity” does not wash when the Barnett Formula has continually given the Scottish government more money and ensured that public spending for every man, woman and child in Scotland is £1500 higher than in the rest of the UK.