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by Louise Wilson
29 April 2021
COVID recovery will be priority of first 100 days in government, says SNP

David Anderson

COVID recovery will be priority of first 100 days in government, says SNP

Recovery from the COVID pandemic “must and will” be the priority of the SNP for the first 100 days of government if reelected next Thursday, the party has said.

In a document detailing its plans for the early days of the next government, the SNP said it will establish a cross-party steering group on COVID recovery.

The party has also said it will begin to set up the public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, as well as changing legislation on restrictions to remove rules which are no longer necessary.

Launching the plan from Aberdeenshire, leader Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland would be able to “make real progress” out of the pandemic over the summer months.

Sturgeon said: “This 100-day plan demonstrates the SNP is the only party that is serious about government and serious about helping people in Scotland through these difficult times.

“In seven days’ time, it is only by voting SNP that people can ensure the experienced leadership required to keep Scotland in safe hands.”

The document commits to publishing an NHS recovery plan to increase activity by 10 per cent, start a consultation on a National Care Service, roll out a summer programme for school pupils and give low-income families £100 each before the end of August.

The plan to move Scotland to level two COVID restrictions from 17 May is also reiterated, with a move to level 1 expected on 7 June and level 0 towards the end of that month.

All adults are expected to be vaccinated within those first 100 days, “subject to supply”.

On the economy, the document commits to the creation of a Council for Economic Transformation to shape a ten-year strategy, as well as the creation of a new ministerial role specifically focused on youth unemployment.

It also says it will set up a new green jobs workforce academy to help reskill people amid a move to net-zero.

And with COP26, the UN climate summit, set to take place in November, the SNP said it will appoint a new minister for just transition and a cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport.

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, said the plan was "not credible and not good enough", adding it promoted an idea that problems caused by COVID would be over once lockdown ended.

He said: "We have taken an economic hit even sharper and deeper than the banking crisis. That took us ten years to recover from. Now I don't want us to take ten years to recover from the pandemic and that's why the choices we make and the decisions we take in the next parliament mean that we either have a prolonged recovery or we have a fast-tracked recovery."

The SNP's plan does not include any commitments on an independence referendum, with the foreword stating the “immediate priority” would be to “steer Scotland through the COVID crisis and get our recovery underway”.

This is despite calls from rival Alba Party to begin negotiations with the UK Government immediately after the election.

Alba candidate Eva Comrie said her party was the only one stressing the need for immediacy, adding the new economic powers which would come from independence would be necessary for COVID recovery.

She said: "When the people of Scotland deliver yet another mandate to progress the case for Scotland’s independence we can’t afford to let Boris Johnson go on holiday for 100 days, hiding from, dodging and belittling the democratic will of the people of Scotland."  

The First Minister has previously backed a referendum taking place before the end of 2023, assuming the immediate pressure of coronavirus has receded.

But the Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP of "deceiving voters".

Leader Douglas Ross said: "They’re claiming to be pausing independence for three months and expecting us to be grateful but they’re not being honest with voters. Everyone has seen this act before... If they win a majority, Nicola Sturgeon will claim a mandate for indyref2 by Monday."

Describing the plan as "dismal", Lib Dem campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP said: "The promises are out of date and just advertise how the SNP have broken their promises and are dashing for an independence referendum."

Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - Long COVID raises hope for 'forgotten' people with chronic illnesses

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