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Radicalness of Sturgeon's ‘transformational’ plan called into question

NICOLA STURGEON announced a “potentially transformational” plan today to increase capital investment by £1.5 billion, but her critics questioned whether the SNP government is as radical as it claims to be.

As Holyrood resumed after the summer recess, the First Minister said her government would introduce “legislation that will formally underpin a Scottish investment bank.”

She said this would be “a cornerstone of the high-innovation low-carbon economy we want to create in Scotland.”

The initiative would raise investment in hospitals, schools, houses, transport and low-carbon technology to around £7 billion higher than current spending projections, she told MSPs.

She was delivering Scotland’s Programme for Government, which sets out legislative plans for the new parliamentary year in a similar fashion to the Queen’s speech in Westminster.

Ms Sturgeon also pledged to increase capital investment year on year, so that by the 2025-26 financial year it would be £1.5 billion higher than in 2019-20.

She vowed to “continue to make the case for EU membership” and argue “to remain in the single market and customs union” if this was not an option.

Scotland would be “carbon neutral” by 2050, with no net emissions of CO2, the First Minister pledged.

She also said the Scottish government intended to move towards achieving zero net emissions of all greenhouse gases “as soon as we credibly can.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard asked: “Where is the real radical vision in this programme for government?

“Over those 11 years, the SNP’s ambition has not matched this Parliament’s power. For our part, Labour will welcome use of the powers and always push for a bolder agenda.”

He said the real divide was not between England and Scotland or between pro- and anti-independence voters, but between the wealthy elite and the majority.

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “Over recent years, the Greens have worked hard to do just what we said we would in the last election – pushing the government beyond its comfort zone, leading the change that Scotland needs.

“It’s clear that there remain many parts of the programme for government where we’ll need to step up that pressure for change.”

And Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the programme should be taken with “a gritter-load of salt”, claiming the SNP had not delivered on numerous pledges and had only managed to get two laws through Parliament over the last year.

Conrad Landin is the Morning Star’s Scotland Editor.

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