New first minister can ‘reset dial’ on inter-government relations – think tank

The new first minister will present an opportunity to “reset the dial” on relations between the Scottish and UK governments, a think tank founded by Gordon Brown has said.

Our Scottish Future has published a report which sets out 16 projects the two governments can collaborate on when the new leader takes office.

The SNP leadership contest will determine who takes over from Nicola Sturgeon, with voting closing on March 27.

Report authors Jamie Gollings and Eddie Barnes said there should be deeper co-operation between ministers in Edinburgh and London on the drive towards net zero.

Among the 16 projects are a fresh economic development plan, a revamped city deal for Glasgow and an improved Scottish national investment bank.

“The election of a new first minister in the coming weeks provides an opportunity to do so.”

The report continued: “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 co-operation 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.”

The report concluded: “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.”

Commenting, SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “Working together to address common issues is fine in principle but the reality – which this report completely ignores – is that the current UK Tory Government isn’t remotely interested in partnership and instead is hell-bent on riding roughshod over devolution and on watering down Holyrood’s powers.

“Gordon Brown and Scottish Labour are part of the shameful conspiracy of silence between the Westminster parties on the damage being done by Brexit – something that only independence can help to reverse.

“And while the SNP will always work together with others when we believe it is in the best interests of the people of Scotland, health and social care are entirely devolved policy areas and will remain so. As such, many will be surprised that Mr Brown’s think tank suggests the Westminster Tory government should be given the chance to meddle with Scotland’s NHS.”

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