SNP should not need to be forced to be open and honest with public – Scotsman comment
Promising an “unprecedented level of openness in government”, he stressed that this policy would “strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government”. Obama was absolutely right and the reverse is also true: secrecy weakens democracy and good governance.
So the track record of the SNP in government should be of concern to us all.
The Scottish Government has failed to publish legal advice on whether it has the power to hold a second independence referendum, and has also attempted to hide important information about Covid, the Ferguson Marine ‘Ferrygate’ scandal, and harassment complaints made against Alex Salmond.
And even what might seem like a welcome development actually raises a number of troubling questions.
Amid the furore over the SNP MP Patrick Grady’s sexual misconduct and Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s efforts to rally support for him from fellow MPs, Nicola Sturgeon yesterday pledged that the outcome of investigations into complaints against Scottish ministers would now be made public.
This represents a change in policy. Former SNP minister Fergus Ewing was reportedly the subject of a bullying complaint but the outcome of the investigation remains a secret.
The First Minister had somewhat airily blamed “legal requirements, data protection and confidentiality issues” but now, it appears, she has received new advice that will enable openness about future complaints.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, among others, pointed out that “legal experts are clear that there is not a case for the government to hide behind GDPR [data protection law] when it comes to these complaints”, adding “it is convenient that it [the new policy] will apply only to future investigations and not previous investigations”.
The Scotsman would be interested to read both the old and new advice given to Sturgeon on this matter – which both mean Ewing’s actions will remain unknown – but we do not expect to do so any time soon, given our struggles to persuade ministers to release legal advice on Indyref2.
The SNP’s repeated reticence suggests they keep trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Truly democratic leaders should not need to be forced, kicking and screaming, to be open and honest with the public.
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