City Lights or pointless fights?


The Prime Minister does not have a reputation for enjoying herself.

She admitted her idea of bad behaviour when she was young was running through a field of wheat. Even Ruth Davidson - Theresa May’s closest ally in Scotland - hinted that she and the party she led was ‘too dour’.

Yet who could blame the Prime Minister for searching out some light relief during a visit to the Edinburgh International Festival today. After a difficult few months on the Brexit negotiations, she finds out Nicola Sturgeon is next on her list of appointments.

When Theresa meets Nicola today in Edinburgh, it's hardly going to be like a friendly reunion. The relationship between the two appears to be cold and stilted. Every area where joint working is required seems to end in intransigence. Whatever the Prime Minister thinks, the First Minister seems to think the opposite.

It doesn’t make for good government at any level. With Holyrood now one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world, the reality is we live in a time of power sharing, and our two governments need to learn to play nice. The economic levers which are crucial to our future prosperity now have two sets of hands on them and unless there is a degree of co-ordination between Edinburgh and London, we won’t get the full benefit.

Strangely, given the harsh political rhetoric that surrounds Theresa May’s visit, hidden in the small print is a fine example of power-sharing. 

The latest details from the Edinburgh deal and the wider city programme can’t be taken as anything but positive.

It includes :


- A £1.2 billion investment with £300 million each coming from Holyrood and Westminster. - The creation of five new innovation hubs such as health sciences and agricultural technology. - A new 1,000 seater concert hall. - Additional £13 million in funding for six science hubs across the country, including Dundee and Glasgow Science Centres.

The City Deal Programme - which now covers Edinburgh, Glasgow, Tayside, Aberdeen, the Borderlands, and Inverness - will mean billions spent on driving growth through the engines of our economy.

It gives devolved parliaments, local authorities and community partners the means and the opportunity to push through priorities for their own areas, backed by the strength of the United Kingdom and its wider economic strategy. 

Today, we will see the usual Mexican stand-off as Nicola Sturgeon ramps up the political rhetoric against Theresa May. Anything to distract from the real news - that Scotland is benefitting from being part of the UK and works best when all layers of government work together rather than against each other.

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