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Who will pay for census debacle?

Byline: A Conservative voice BY WEST SCOTLAND MSP RUSSELL FINDLAY

In 1801, the first ever census for Scotland, England and Wales took place.

And so began the ten-yearly task of a valuable nationwide survey of our society and how many people it comprises.

There have been only two occasions when the census has been disrupted - in 1941 when Britain and our allies were fighting Hitler ... and now thanks to the bumbling SNP.

The census in other parts of the UK went ahead as planned in March 2021 but Nicola Sturgeon's government chose to delay Scotland's until this year.

Anything to be different, eh?

Many suspect the motivation was the usual tiresome Scottish nationalist desire to always seek division and separation from anything with the name UK on it.

The rest of the UK resulted in a solid 97 per cent completion rate. Scotland could, and should, have been the same.

But instead, and whatever the reason, the Scottish census has been a disaster.

The initial decision to delay by a year has cost taxpayers an extra PS21.6milion.

The initial May 1 deadline was pushed back to May 31 and then June 12.

We have since been hit with another PS6million bill because the deadline had to be extended due to a poor completion rate.

The total cost is likely to top PS150million.

Despite this, the most recent data shows a completion rate of 88 per cent with 10 of 32 council areas achieving over 90 per cent.

In Renfrewshire it is just 86.2 per cent - far short of the nationwide target of 94 per cent.

This is important. Local and national governments use the treasure trove of data to develop policies, allocate funding and to plan and run our services.

Now we are hearing dodgy attempts to shift the blame for this farce onto the public.

And the SNP have also launched a breath-taking exercise in spin with Angus Robertson, the minister responsible, making the absurd claim that it has been a "success".

One education expert described this as a "distortion of reality".

This week in parliament I got the chance to question Robertson, the man tipped to replace Sturgeon who increasingly appears to be tetchy and not enjoying her job.

I listed a series of costly SNP shambles including trains, ferries, Rangers prosecutions, trams, and many others that hard-working Scots end up footing the bill for.

My question to Robertson was simple: Can he say whether he or anyone else will pay the price for his costly census debacle?

His answer, as expected, was barely worth listening to.

Seasoned politicians like him and Sturgeon can spout meaningless non-answers in their sleep.

It's worth bearing in mind that aside from census bluster, Robertson's main job is pushing another unwanted and divisive referendum on Scotland while we recover from the pandemic and are in the grip of a global cost of living crisis.

Think about it. The same SNP chancers who can't run a census want you to believe they can build an independent state.

Not only is it laughable, it's delusional.

CAPTION(S):

Questioned Angus Robertson is the minister responsible for delivering the census

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Author:A Conservative voice BY WEST SCOTLAND MSP RUSSELL FINDLAY
Publication:Paisley Daily Express (Paisley, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 25, 2022
Words:523
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