Swinney ‘immensely frustrated’ election will delay Programme for Government

Scotland’s First Minister has said he is “immensely frustrated” at the enforced delay to his Programme for Government and other key announcements.

The Scottish Government announced on Tuesday that due to the pre-General Election period, John Swinney’s legislative agenda – which he had planned to bring forward to June – as well as his tax and medium term financial strategy will have to be pushed back.

The country’s most senior civil servant, John-Paul Marks, said there is a “clear case for deferral of strategic policies due to be published in the pre-election period, given this could influence the General Election”.

“You bet I’m frustrated by this,” he said aboard a train travelling between Edinburgh and Leven, Fife.

“I have to accept the advice that I get from the civil service on this particular matter, it’s part of the advice for the election that has come from the United Kingdom Government.

“But I am immensely frustrated by it because I want to get on with delivering for the people Scotland, like I’m doing today by delivering this rail line for Levenmouth.”

The First Minister would not be drawn on potentially seeking to recall Holyrood during recess to lay out his plans after the July 4 election.

John Swinney
Kate Forbes echoed the First Minister’s frustration (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Swinney’s deputy Kate Forbes also expressed her frustration at the delay, telling the Economy and Fair Work Committee at Holyrood “roll on” early July when election day has passed.

She told MSPs the Programme for Government will contain “real substantive policies and implementation of policy that businesses and the economy are looking for”.

While limited in what she could say, the Deputy First Minister said she “didn’t want officials’ time, or my time, to be consumed with writing things, I want it to be consumed with delivery”.

Her comments echo that of the First Minister, who said in his first speech in the top job that he will “demand from Government more concrete actions and fewer strategy documents”.

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