Yousaf presides over a “lazy culture of secrecy and incompetence.”

The Labor politician laughed as the SNP leader claimed he wanted his government to be the most transparent in the UK.

Mr Sarwar began by urging Mr Yousaf on the Scottish Government’s handling of freedom of information requests.

Data obtained from Labor showed that 490 FOI requests required a ministerial decision. In 2020, only 101 requests were subject to this political orientation.

Labor said this would likely underestimate the total number of political involvement cases, as special advisers – politically appointed advisers – would also review applications.

CONTINUE READING: Police admission of institutional racism is ‘monumental historic’

Data obtained by Labor via FOI also showed that the average response time for an FOI to the Scottish Government over the last 12 months was 22 days.

However, the average response time for FOIs requiring a ministerial decision in the past 12 months is 41 days.

Mr Sarwar told MSPs: “At the heart of this dysfunctional and incompetent SNP government is a culture of secrecy and cover-up.

“New data we are releasing today shows that the number of FOI applications the Scottish Government has passed to ministers for approval has quintupled.

“Once a case goes to ministers for approval or cover-up, waiting times double.”

The First Minister accused Mr Sarwar of “desperation” and said he was “trying to throw as much mud as possible hoping things would stick”.

He said the Scottish Government has ambitious targets for FOIs and said he wants to “ensure we are the most transparent government on these islands”.

Mr. Sarwar replied: “He says he is transparent, transparent hopeless, people across the country will see that.”

The Labor leader then asked the First Minister the outcome of a bullying inquiry into former Minister Fergus Ewing.

He pointed out that Nicola Sturgeon had said there were legal reasons why she couldn’t release the results of the investigation.

However, Mr Yousaf said earlier this month he would be “happy” to see if there was an absolute legal bar to the result being released.

CONTINUE READING: Humza Yousaf may release Fergus Ewing bullying investigation findings

Mr Sarwar said it was because Mr Ewing “had the audacity to question SNP leadership”.

“Does he believe in transparency every day or only when he desperately needs it to intimidate his critics?” he has asked.

The First Minister called the issue a “desperate, desperate matter”.

He said the Labor leader was “someone with a lot of style but no substance”.

“We now have a styleless and meaningless First Minister and leader of the SNP,” Mr Sarwar replied.

“The SNP takes Scots and we can’t even afford the luxury of enjoying the motorhome. FOI laws are circulated, disagreements are quashed, and issues are swept under the rug. This is a dysfunctional, incompetent and sleazy government that is failing on all the fundamentals, and that has consequences.”

“I have two questions for the First Minister. He says he’s transparent. So can you tell us how many police investigations are underway into the activities of his party and government? And second, when will he end the rotten culture of secrecy and incompetence at the heart of this SNP government?”

Referring to the latest opinion polls, the First Minister said: “I’ve seen Anas Sarwar celebrate polls that put the Labor Party second again.”

“Celebrating being a loser sums up Anas Sarwar and the Scottish Labor Party.”

Speaking to journalists following the First Minister’s questions, Mr Yousaf was asked why he had not answered Mr Sarwar’s questions about the police investigation.

He said he could not comment on live police investigations.

“You know all the ongoing investigations, that’s the only investigation,” he added.

Grace Reader

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