Nicola Sturgeon should have acted on Scottish drugs deaths years ago

Scotland recorded the highest number of drugs-related deaths on Friday, provoking a political storm, writes John Rentoul

Saturday 31 July 2021 21:30
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<p>The first minister hasn’t even used the powers she already has</p>

The first minister hasn’t even used the powers she already has

The tragedy of drugs deaths in Scotland ought not to be a party political subject. It is awful that the rate of deaths is so much higher in Scotland than in any other European country, and shocking that it is so much higher than in the rest of the UK.

But it is Scottish National Party MPs such as Tommy Sheppard who make it a partisan issue. He said on Friday that he was “hopeful that new spending by the Scottish government will save lives in future but major changes in UK law are required to really tackle the problem”.

This is an attempt to absolve the SNP of responsibility for the problem and it should persuade no one. The Scottish government has full devolved responsibility for health policy, and most people agree that hard drugs ought to be treated primarily as a health issue.

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