Scottish devolution: Boris Johnson's comment was disappointing but for the Labour party it has been a 'disaster' – John McLellan

Congratulations must go to Ethan Young, the new SNP councillor for Craigentinny and Duddingston after his victory in last week’s council by-election, and I’m sure I speak for my Labour and Green colleagues in saying we look forward to working with him on ward issues in the coming months.

Boris Johnson's reported remark that devolution had been a 'disaster' was disappointing on so many levels, says fellow Conservative John McLellan (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson's reported remark that devolution had been a 'disaster' was disappointing on so many levels, says fellow Conservative John McLellan (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

National issues determined the outcome and, as the events elsewhere this week have illustrated, we in the Scottish Conservatives have a lot of work to do between now and the Holyrood elections in May.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leaked assertion that devolution has been a disaster was disappointing on so many levels, but particularly after all the effort in the past ten years to turn the party from one opposing more devolution to harnessing the opportunity to make Scotland a genuinely more competitive place.

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The irony is that the one party for which devolution has proved an unmitigated disaster is its instigator, Scottish Labour, which for a combination of reasons has been progressively destroyed by the growth of nationalism and finds itself further away from power locally and nationally than ever.

Only 13 years ago in Craigentinny and Duddingston, Edinburgh’s Labour leader Ewan Aitken polled 29 per cent of the vote (whisper it, the BBC’s Nick Eardley was the Scottish Socialist candidate and got 82 votes) and last week that was down to 16 per cent. The Conservative vote dropped to 18.9 per cent, but that’s still up on 2007’s 14.4.

After this week’s hokey-cokey of Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension, Labour’s revival looks as far off as ever.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny and Duddingston

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