The current rail disputes have revealed the two-faced nature of Toryism in Scotland.
On the Scottish Conservative Party’s website one finds this dated 26 May 2022: ‘Stop Sturgeon’s ScotRail Cuts’. It relates to Scotrail’s response to the dispute with ASLEF.
The Scottish Tories wanted Scottish Government intervention: ‘Instead of TAKING CONTROL of this dire situation, Nicola Sturgeon is HIDING BEHIND SCOTRAIL ..’ (my emphasis)
Similar complaints were made by Tories in the Holyrood chamber on 8 June. First from Graham Simpson MSP: ‘I am encouraged to hear that there will be talks tomorrow. I know that THE MINISTER HAS NOT BOTHERED TO DIRTY HER HANDS BY GETTING INVOLVED IN THE TALKS SO FAR, but can she tell us how confident she is that the situation will be resolved tomorrow and that we will not have a summer of chaos?’
Then from Liam Kerr MSP: ‘Does the minister recognise the concerns of people who might think that, IN REFUSING TO STEP INTO THE SITUATION, SHE IS ABDICATING THAT ACCOUNTABILITY?’
So the Tory tactic was clear, to denigrate Scottish Government ministers for their lack of direct intervention to resolve the ASLEF dispute.
Today the BBC News website is covering the RMT dispute with Network Rail and train operating companies. The headline is: ‘IT IS NOT FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO INTERVENE TO STOP RAIL STRIKES, the transport secretary has said – despite unions calling for talks.’
We’re told: ‘Mr Shapps said negotiations HAD TO TAKE PLACE BETWEEN UNIONS AND EMPLOYERS – RATHER THAN MINISTERS – “In any pay discussion, in any negotiation over terms, over in this case modernisation, IT’S ALWAYS THE EMPLOYER AND THE UNION WHO NEED TO GET TOGETHER to speak,” he said.’
The BBC adds: ‘Although most rail operators are not owned by the government, THEY ARE NOT ENTIRELY INDEPENDENT’ adding ‘The government provides subsidies to the network – including £16bn to keep the railways running during the pandemic – and NETWORK RAIL, WHICH OWNS THE TRACKS AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE, IS GOVERNMENT-OWNED.’
A Tory minister keeping his ‘hands clean’ and ‘hiding’ behind government-owned Network Rail? Do Mr Simpson and Mr Kerr – or Douglas Ross – have nothing to say about the Westminster government’s seeming ‘abdication’? After all, their constituents in Scotland will be among those suffering inconvenience if RMT members strike.