Speaking during a Scottish government debate on its ongoing call for a second independence referendum, Martin Whitfield MSP argued that it was ignoring the multiple crises facing the public, including teacher strikes, NHS waiting times and the cost-of-living, and that these should be the government’s priority rather than another referendum.

The South Scotland MSP went on to outline the array of problems currently facing households and communities across Scotland, including rising energy and other costs, long waits for ambulances and A&E and parents having to cope with the impact of industrial action in our schools.

Mr Whitfield described what was being presented in the debate – the SNP’s obsession with independence and the Tories’ status quo – as a false choice. He suggested that at the next general election, Labour is offering an alternative, the choice of a stronger Scotland within a transformed UK.

Speaking after the debate, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“Given the many problems currently facing the Scottish Government, from school strikes to the crisis in our NHS and rising living costs, I believe it was a dereliction of duty for the SNP-Green government to make independence their first parliamentary debate of this new year.

“The SNP’s costly obsession with breaking up the UK, despite the decisive result the Scottish people delivered in 2014, is the root cause of their abject failure to get to grips with the various problems in our public services. To have this debate now simply demonstrates they are ignoring people’s real concerns.

“As the First Minister has stated, for her and her party independence ‘transcends everything’. This means they view every issue through the prism of independence and how it can be achieved rather than what is best for Scotland and the Scottish people.

“I believe most people are exhausted by the divisive constitutional debate. The public want politicians to focus on the things that matter to them in their daily lives, including tackling the NHS crisis, support with rising living costs and reaching a fair deal with teachers.”