Monday, 31 August 2009

SCOTLAND’S FAITHS UNITE BEHIND MEGRAHI DECISION.


SCOTLAND’S FAITHS UNITE BEHIND MEGRAHI DECISION.

Scotland’s faith communities have united behind the Scottish Justice Secretary’s decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Writing to all MSPs ahead of a parliamentary debate on Wednesday the Joint Faiths Advisory Board on Criminal Justice state;

“We write in support of the decision to release Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The JFABCJ believes that this decision was both right and just.

“Terrorism brings death and destruction but perhaps more than that it seeks to degrade the ordinary life of the world; striving to dehumanise us all by encouraging intolerance, fear, xenophobia and the desire for vengeance and retribution. You have, by your action, shown to all of those who would subvert the ordinary daily life of the world that we will not allow them to dehumanise us because we will continue to show mercy. Mercy which is valuable to all even when it is hard to be merciful and it may appear that the consequences of that mercy are not in our immediate interest.”

The letter continues;

It would be impossible not to be aware of the feelings of those who lost loved ones as a result of what happened in the skies above Lockerbie and we would never fail to recognise their pain, anger and loss but we believe that to show mercy can only lead us all further down the path to understanding, peace and the restoration of wholeness to the hearts of individuals and the world. At the Scottish Government debate on Wednesday morning we encourage you to call for a free vote on this matter of conscience.”

Welcoming the letter SNP MSP Michael Matheson said;

“More and more people are recognising that the decision made by Kenny MacAskill was the right decision for the right reasons.

“Scotland’s faiths have always maintained an interest in our criminal justice system and their support for this decision is welcome.

“This endorsement comes only a day after it was revealed that Nelson Mandela supports the Justice Secretary's decision and adds to the recognition from churches and civil society across Scotland as well as politicians of all parties.

“Such decisions will always be difficult but by sticking to the values and principles of Scotland’s justice system the Scottish Government has acted properly at all times and that action is being received positively by countries around the world.

“When opposition parties approach the debate on Wednesday they must recognise the difficulty of the decision that had to be made and consider the wealth of opinion, at home and abroad supporting the steps taken by Kenny MacAskill.

“As several senior politicians have made clear this was not and should not be an issue for party politics. The decision reflected the principles of the Scottish Justice system and it would be wrong for opposition within Holyrood seek to politicise what was a judicial decision.”

CHILD DETENTION LATEST



CHILD DETENTION LATEST

HOME OFFICE UNDER FIRE OVER CHILD DETENTIONS

ANGER AT CLAIMS FIGURES ARE UNAVAILABLE

The UK Government is under fire after the Home Office revealed that hundreds of children are being held unnecessarily in immigration detention centres. While Ministers would not reveal the length of detention, it provided a ‘snapshot’ picture of those held on a single day (30 June 2009) when 470 minors were being detained.

SNP Home Affairs spokesperson Pete Wishart MP has written to Immigration Minister Phil Woolas demanding a full breakdown of the number of child detentions, including the length of incarceration in each case. Mr Wishart expressed anger that a written parliamentary question answered last week (25 Aug) said figures on child detentions could not be provided – yet officials were able to provide a snapshot figure for 30 June rubbishing claims figures could not be provided.

The continued detention of children at immigration centres, including Dungavel, comes despite assurances given by the Scottish Secretary in October 2008 that detention of children would stop.

Mr Wishart said:

“It has never been right to detain a child behind barbed-wire in immigration centres and these official figures reveal why Ministers are trying so hard to hide the scale of child detentions.

“This snapshot reveals how many children were locked up on a given day, but is does not tell us for how long, or whether that number was typical, low or high. Neither do these figures tell us what the effects of detention are on children in terms of their health and wellbeing - it is not uncommon for children to suffer from post-traumatic stress after their release.

“Just last week I received a response to a written parliamentary question telling me that figures were not available on the number of children detained – that is clearly untrue as this briefing to the press by officials underlines. The Minister himself has to sign the authorisation for children detained longer than 28 days, so to say this information cannot be collated is a nonsense. This information is in the public interest, and it must be provided. It is not credible to maintain that the information is unavailable or too expensive to provide.


“Last October the Scottish Secretary said that detentions would end – they have not – and UK Ministers must explain why children are still being locked up by a Labour government.

“The SNP has had a long-standing commitment to ending this practice and has repeatedly called on the UK Government to act - not only in practice but in law through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Report from 2008;;

Pilot of alternative to detention for Dungavel children

23 Oct 2008

Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy revealed today that a pilot scheme offering an alternative to the detention of children of failed asylum seekers at Dungavel prior to removal could be up and running by the start of the new year.

Negotiations between the UK Border Agency and Glasgow City Council over final details continue, but the principle is that failed asylum seekers awaiting removal would be housed in former council houses in Glasgow instead of at the South Lanarkshire removal centre, with access to basic amenities, before being sent back to their country of origin.

Jim Murphy said: "This is a trial based on the concerns raised in particular by churches in Scotland.

"As Secretary of State for Scotland, one of the first things I did was to see whether we can bring this process forward. I would hope to be able for it to be actually launched at the start of the new year."

He added: "I want to see if we can do something that is sensible, but also sensitive, that looks after the children. The truth is that no politician of any party would ever like to see families being put behind the barbed wire in Dungavel, but the worry in the past has been that if they weren't behind barbed wire and walls at Dungavel then they abscond. Now, on a pilot basis, we're trying to do it differently."

The Scottish Secretary said the families involved would be vetted carefully to assess the threat of them absconding.

"The intention is to prepare families for returning to the country which they came from on a voluntary basis. I think most fair-minded people in Scotland would say that where there's a genuine threat of them absconding, then living in a flat in Glasgow isn't the right solution. But what we've got to do is look at the families, particularly those with younger children, and to see whether we can keep the families together in a home in a supervised way and prepare them for going home."

AFGHANISTAN MCCHRYSTAL REPORT MUST FOCUS MINDS IN WHITEHALL AND WASHINGTON



AFGHANISTAN MCCHRYSTAL REPORT MUST FOCUS MINDS IN WHITEHALL AND WASHINGTON

ROBERTSON REPEATS CALLS FOR AFGHAN STRATEGIC RETHINK

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP has repeated calls for a rethink of UK strategy in Afghanistan as the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, presents a report saying that the current military strategy is not working.

Mr Robertson, who visited forces on the frontline in Afghanistan earlier this year, has repeatedly called for a strategic review of operations and objectives.

Mr Robertson said:

“General McChrystal’s report must focus minds in Whitehall as well as Washington, and his admission that the current strategy is not working should have alarm bells ringing.

“We need a major rethink, and Ministers must convince us that they have a proper strategy and a proper objectives with the likelihood of success.


“The dreadful toll of military personnel killed in Afghanistan has understandably led to questions about just what our forces are fighting for.

“Military action is simply not enough and, perhaps most crucially, we need development, as the UK’s former ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, says the army has been "holding a wall up" in Helmand, but "no one has come along to build a buttress" of development.

“What is required is a major rethink that looks at all the options, and that will give people, not least our troops themselves, the confidence that the right strategy is being pursued and is achievable.”

EVIDENCE SUPPORTS END TO SHORT SENTENCES



EVIDENCE SUPPORTS END TO SHORT SENTENCES

LABOUR AND TORIES MUST FACE FACTS – NOT PLAY POLITICS

Official figures released today show that people sent to jail on short sentences are more likely to re-offend than those on community service orders – supporting the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce the use of short sentences and to increase the numbers of offenders on community payback orders.

The figures show 75% of those sentenced for less than 6 months re-offend within two years. In contrast a majority of those given a community sentence do not re-offend.

SNP MSP and member of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee Angela Constance said;

“It is time opposition parties faced the facts and accepted that community service works.

“For too long prison policy has been driven by politicians clamouring to lock more and more people up instead of making our communities safer.

“These figures show quite clearly that locking people up on short sentences does not provide long term benefits for communities.

“Far more people are leaving their life of crime behind as a result of community service than through short term jail sentences. This is real justice delivering real results on our streets.

"The figures for women are particularly stark with only a quarter of women on community service re-offending as opposed to over half of those who had been jailed.

“Instead of cutting offending rates short term sentences are seeing people offend again and again, damaging communities across the country.

“There will always be a need for some people to be locked up but it is clear the Scottish Government’s proposals to increase the use of community punishments are the only way to address Scotland’s re-offending rates and make our communities safer.”

1. Only 42% of people undertaking community service orders re-offend within two years as opposed to 75% of those jailed for six months or less.

2. The rate of re-offending amongst women was halved if the women had been sentenced to community service (26% within two years), as opposed to a jail sentence (56% within two years)

PARLIAMENT URGED TO LET THE PUBLIC DECIDE ON SCOTLAND'S FUTURE.


PARLIAMENT URGED TO LET THE PUBLIC DECIDE ON SCOTLAND'S FUTURE.

The SNP has today called on opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament
to support a referendum on Scotland’s future.

Despite Opinion polls consistently showing the Scottish public want a
referendum on independence opposition parties are preparing to deny voters that opportunity.

SNP MSP Dr Alasdair Allan called suggestions in today's press that the
opposition would deny the public their chance of a say over Scotland’s future an affront to democracy and urged opposition leaders to allow the Parliamentary process to take place in full. Dr Allan, MSP for the Western Isles said;

“All MSPs know that Scots want a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future. “It is for Scotland’s people to decide our constitutional future and it would be ridiculous for opposition MSPs to deny them that opportunity. “The SNP was elected on a commitment to introduce a referendum bill and that is what we will do. For any MSP to argue otherwise is utterly perverse.

“A majority of Scots consistently support a referendum as the best way to decide Scotland's future and the SNP is happy for that referendum to consider the proposals of the Calman Commission – if the other parties can ever agree on them.

“There are people in all opposition parties who believe a referendum is the right way to address Scotland’s constitutional future. The Labour group has previously said it will not block a referendum bill in this Parliament, Lib Dem MSPs have supported a referendum and senior Tories are calling for a referendum to go ahead.

“To block such a bill would damage democracy." More info,
1. A BBC Scotland / ICM Poll in June 2009 (22-24) showed 58% of people in
favour of a referendum on independence, with 37% against and 5% undecided.

2. TAVISH SCOTT ON A MULTI OPTION REFERENDUM
“We will see what legislation the SNP comes forward with. I am not intuitively against making sure that people have a choice and opportunity to vote on these things, but I believe it should be for a strengthened Scotland within the UK.” Times, 26 August 2008

3. DUNCAN McNEIL MSP, CONVENER OF LABOUR’S HOLYROOD GROUP, ON INDEPENDENCE
REFERENDUM “we are now in a position where, as a group, we will not vote down any Referendum Bill that comes into the Parliament.”

4 . Dennis Canavan’s submission to the Calman Commission is reported to state; "If the final report of your commission is going to have any credibility across the political spectrum in Scotland, then it must accept the right of the people of Scotland to determine their own destiny. "A significant number of the people of Scotland want independence and the most democratic way to measure that number would be to have a referendum including the option of independence. "Failure to recommend such a referendum would reinforce the allegations that your commission is simply a unionist ploy to undermine the Scottish Government."

5.Tories call for referendum
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6806563.ece + Daily Mail, Tuesday 25th August "Secret Tory Plan to Call SNP's Bluff"

UK DRIVERS PAY PRICE OF FAILURE AGAIN AS TREASURY INCREASES FUEL DUTY.


UK DRIVERS PAY PRICE OF FAILURE AGAIN AS

TREASURY INCREASES FUEL DUTY.

PETROL PRICE HIKE WILL HINDER ECONOMIC RECOVERY,

SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP has warned tomorrow’s 2p increase in fuel duty could hinder economic recovery, and repeated calls for the increase to be scrapped.

Mr MacNeil said:

“Pushing up fuel prices is absolutely the wrong thing to do when the economy is in the grip of recession, and this action could well hinder recovery.

“At a time when the UK government should be looking at ways of stimulating growth, the Treasury is intent on slapping another 2p on the price of petrol and diesel. This course of action can only result in increased costs for businesses and hard pressed households.

“At present taxes account for just over 70% of every pound spent at the pumps. In the Highlands and Islands that price is further distorted by transportation costs and the price of fuel influences the cost of every commodity and service brought to the area.

“Treasury Ministers in London fail to understand that in rural areas the operation of a car is a necessity rather than a choice. Such an increase should be recognised for what it is; it is not a Green Tax but a Brown Tax.”

Sunday, 30 August 2009

SUPERMARKETS EXPOSE NEED FOR ALCOHOL MINIMUM PRICE.


SUPERMARKETS EXPOSE NEED FOR ALCOHOL MINIMUM PRICE.

TACKLING PUB DISCOUNTS LEAVES SUPERMARKETS RESPONSIBLE,


SNP MSP Michael Matheson has today issued a renewed call to end the sale of cheap alcohol in Scotland's supermarkets.
The call follows a survey by the Scottish National Party last week that found alcohol could be purchased, as part of cut-price offer in one of Scotland's leading supermarket chains, for as little as 16 pence per unit.

In an offer from Tesco anyone who spent £30 or more could purchase 18 cans of Tennents lager for £5; and Asda was also offering 45 cans of Fosters or Carling lager for £20 Commenting Michael Matheson said:

"Drinking alcohol is part of Scottish culture, but unfortunately it's clear that the relationship is affecting the nation's health. No one is out to end responsible drinking, but irresponsible sales support irresponsible drinking.
"

Last week in stores across Scotland it was possible to buy 18 cans of lager for only £5, that is less than 16 pence per unit.


"One in 20 Scots are dying from alcohol related causes and our drinking is costing our public services £2.25 billion, with much more in terms of human misery as these figures starkly demonstrate.

"Together we've got what it takes to change this culture. We need a radical solution and part of that is tackling the sale of cheap alcohol.

"Tesco and their supermarket allies may think they are offering a good deal to the consumer, but cheap alcohol is a bad deal for society.


"The big stores talk about "corporate social responsibility" but are failing to show that responsibility in their sale of alcohol "A minimum price per unit of alcohol needs to be set.

This would not increase the price of medium range wines or whiskies, instead it would tackle these cheap ciders and irresponsible promotions.


"New laws in force this week have brought an end to irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs, now it is time to address the problem of deep discounts in Scotland's supermarkets.

“As a licensed product alcohol should never be used as a loss leader or a marketing tool for a supermarket."




Information on all the said recent offers,

Tesco:

Spend £30 or more and get 18 x 440ml of Tennents (4%) for £5. Deal ran from 19th to 26th August.

Asda:

45 x 440ml cans of Fosters or Carling (4%) for £20
32 x 568ml bottles of Bulmers Cider (4.5%) for £20

Deal on going.

2ltr Oakstone Cider (4.2%) for £1.21 – on going.

NELSON MANDELA BACKS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ON MEGRAHI RELEASE.


NELSON MANDELA BACKS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ON MEGRAHI RELEASE.

Commenting on the report in the Sunday Post which reveals that former South African President, Nelson Mandela, supports the decision of the Scottish Justice Secretary to release Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds, the SNP Westminster leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Angus Robertson MP, said:

"This is an extremely welcome intervention, which indicates the extent of international support for the Justice Secretary's decision.
"Nelson Mandela had personal involvement in the case, having persuaded the Libyan authorities to hand al-Megrahi and his co-accused over for trial.

"The fact is that many people from across the parties, the legal fraternity, churches, civic Scotland and throughout the world have endorsed Kenny MacAskill's difficult decision to send al-Megrahi back to Libya to die. “Nelson Mandela’s views demonstrate that there is a great deal of international respect and support for what was a humanitarian decision by the Justice Secretary."

NEW POLL SHOWS SNP VOTE RISING AS LABOUR FALL FURTHER



NEW POLL SHOWS SNP VOTE RISING AS LABOUR FALL FURTHER

SEVEN-POINT HOLYROOD LEAD AFTER DIFFICULT DECISION

Welcoming the YouGov poll published in the Scottish Mail on Sunday - which shows a 7-point SNP lead over Labour in the Holyrood constituency vote, and a 4-point lead on the list question - marking a substantial increase since last week's poll, with the Labour vote falling, Deputy First Minister and SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon said:

“This is a hugely encouraging poll for the SNP. It shows our level of support rising from the Scottish Parliament election in 2007 when we were elected to office, and the gap with Labour growing – with a seven point lead on the constituency question and four points on the list vote.

“For a government in mid-term, in the aftermath of a difficult decision, these are excellent figures for the SNP – and disastrous for Labour and the other Opposition parties. For a Westminster election, SNP support is up 8 points and Labour are down ten.

“Even people who disagree with the Justice Secretary’s decision to release Al-Megrahi back to Libya to die respect the fact that he had the courage to face up to a difficult issue, and that his decision was made on justice grounds. It was the right decision for the right reasons, which upholds the due process of Scots Law.

“And as the government prepare to publish our third Legislative Programme, this poll also demonstrates that people like what they are getting from the SNP, and our strong track record of policy delivery. We have delivered over half of our headline manifesto commitments, with more to come in the year ahead, and substantial good news to come in the week ahead.

"We have frozen the council tax, slashed business rates, abolished bridge tolls, saved A&E units, and scrapped tuition fees; we are phasing in free prescriptions, delivering 1,000 additional police officers, and much more besides.”

ENDS

Notes:

The results of the YouGov poll for the Mail on Sunday are as follows (With changes from previous poll last week in brackets):

Holyrood Constituency Vote:

SNP - 34% (+1%)
Lab - 27% (-4%)
Tory - 16% (n/c)
LibD - 16% (n/c)
Other - 6% (+1%)

Holyrood Regional Vote:

SNP - 30% (+3%)
Lab - 26% (-2%)
Tory - 16% (-1%)
LibD - 16% (+1%)
Green - 7% (+1%)
Other - 5% (-2%)

Westminster Vote:

SNP - 26% (+1%)
Lab - 30% (-3%)
Tory - 20% (+1%)
LibD - 18% (+2%)

1183 adults were interviewed between 26th and 28th August 2009.

CALL FOR ACTION TO SAVE ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE



CALL FOR ACTION TO SAVE ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE

Responding to the UK Government's proposals to abolish attendance allowance and disability living allowance Bill Kidd MSP for Glasgow has expressed concern that this will result in many vulnerable member's of society losing out as a result of it's abolition.

Attendence allowance is a tax free benefit for people with physical or mental disabilities or who are deaf, blind or partially sighted and who need assistance, for example with personal care.

For many people Attendance Allowance has become a lifeline and has enabled them to receive the care they require, without it many people would find it hard to survive with the pressures that their condition has brought.

However the UK Government has proposed scrapping the allowances in favour of centralising the funds, a move which many say is in order to plug an ever growing funding black hole at the centre of social services in England.

As a result numerous charities such as the well respected Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) have expressed serious concern over the proposals and are actively campaigning to save the attendance allowance.

Commenting on the proposals Bill Kidd MSP said:

"As we have seen faced with the need to cut costs the UK Government has once again opted to punish those most in need of assistance. It is little surprise that this 'Labour' Government has lost the trust of the people when we see it attempt to remove the very help which so many rely upon for their health and wellbeing.

"What's more this move is spectacularly short sighted when we consider the benefits of the Attendance Allowance and the consequences of its scrapping. Many people gain independence and the ability to lead as normal a life as possible as a result of the allowance, who if denied it would require more intensive care resulting in ever increasing costs.

"In my duties as Disability Reporter for the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee I have seen first hand how this allowance has changed people's lives, some who had reached a point of despair in their struggle to survive were given a new lease of life, and having seen this change, the difference it had made to their lives, I was proud to have witnessed that.

"This is why I would urge the UK Government to abandon these plans and listen to the concern of the various charities and member s of the public who have expressed their concern over the effect these changes will have on some of the most vulnerable members of society."

Friday, 28 August 2009

SMEARS MUST END AS NEW DEFENCE CHIEF TAKES POST.


SMEARS MUST END AS NEW DEFENCE CHIEF TAKES POST.


As General Sir David Richards takes over as Chief of the Defence Staff today (Friday) the SNP called on the UK Government to get behind the new forces commander – and put an end to the Labour smear campaign which had been directed at his predecessor.

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said Ministers must give their full support to Gen Richards as he focuses on the military effort in Afghanistan. Labour has been under fire over attempts to smear his predecessor, General Sir Richard Dannatt, after a peer, Lord Foulkes, tabled parliamentary questions seeking to embarrass the head of the Armed Forces. Lord Foulkes previously accused Gen Dannatt of giving 'succour to the enemy' for demanding more helicopters in Afghanistan, and recent media reports suggest Labour are co-ordinating an effort to smear the outgoing commander.

Mr Robertson said:


“General Richards takes on his role at a critical time, and he must be able to count on the support of ministers and be able to speak frankly about operational issues without fear of vilification.

“Sir David’s predecessor spoke out about defence needs and was met with slurs and smears from Labour.

“Instead of asking serious questions about equipment and military strategy, Lord Foulkes was more interested in trying to embarrass the chief of the defence staff over his travel arrangements. As our forces face very difficult challenges in Afghanistan, we must have no repeat of these petty attacks.

“The UK Government must give our forces, at every level, the support they need as they serve the country.”


Notes:

1. Lord Foulkes questions, tabled in the House of Lords, are detailed below:

(a) Lord Foulkes of Cumnock to ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the cost of providing (a) accommodation, and (b) chauffeur-driven cars, for the Chief of the General Staff in the last 12-month period for which figures are available. [MoD] HL5182

(b) Lord Foulkes of Cumnock to ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations the Ministry of Defence received for additional helicopters in Afghanistan from the Chief of the General Staff prior to June; and what were the responses. [MoD] HL5183

(c) Lord Foulkes of Cumnock to ask Her Majesty’s Government on how many occasions and for what purposes the Chief of the General Staff travelled by helicopter in the United Kingdom in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. [MoD] HL5184

Found at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldcumlst.htm

2. In July, Lord Foulkes sparked outrage by accusing Britain's military chiefs of giving “succour” to the Taliban. Speaking in the Lords [21 July 2009] he called for defence minister Baroness Taylor to remind General Dannatt and Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup of the “importance of loyalty”. Lord Foulkes said: “In this media dominated age it is even more important than ever to maintain a united front in dealing with ruthless and cunning enemies like the Taliban and al-Qaeda...the public comments of Sir Richard Dannatt and Sir Jock Stirrup threaten to undermine our effort in Afghanistan and give succour to the enemy.

Al-MEGRAHI RELEASE, LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES.


Al-MEGRAHI RELEASE, LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES.

KENNEDY ADDS VOICE IN FAVOUR OF MEGRAHI RELEASE,

FORMER LIB DEM LEADER SPEAKS OUT,

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats Charlie Kennedy MP has given his support to Kenny MacAskill's decision to grant the release of the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber on Compassionate grounds.

Mr Kennedy also stated that this should not be a political matter, but a question of Justice - further undermining the position of Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott and the response of Nick Clegg.

Mr Kennedy told his local newspaper - the Ross-shire Journal - that;

"Mr Al-Megrahi is dying, and the Justice Secretary was required to find a balance between justice and compassion in these circumstances. It was his judgement as Minister that compassion was appropriate. It is not surprising that some disagree very strongly given the scale of the atrocity committed, but I think the decision was probably the right one even if it was not necessarily taken in the right way.

"This is not a party political matter, and it should not really be an international political matter either. It is a question of justice, rightly taken by the Scottish Justice Secretary, and for which he has rightly been held to account by MSPs with a full range of opinions in the Scottish Parliament."

Charlie Kennedy is the latest senior Liberal Democrat to support the decision after Lord Steel and Lord Owen backed the move, as have several Lib Dem MSPs and a majority of Lib Dem voters also indicated their support for the decision.

Sir Menzies Campbell has also criticised the politicisation of the issue stating that "Labour is clearly facing two ways on this issue: wanting to enhance relations with Libya but at the same time determined to criticise the SNP for an American audience.”

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson said;

"Charlie Kennedy's open and honest response is a welcome contrast with that of the Lib Dem leadership in Scotland whose political opportunism on this issue appears to know no bounds.

"This decision would never please everyone and there will always be people who disagree but there is clear recognition that the decision was Kenny MacAskill's to make and that this should not be a matter for political point scoring.

"It is time Tavish Scott and his leadership colleagues considered the reaction of their more experienced predecessors and learnt some lessons.

"A majority of Lib Dems support the decision and an overwhelming number support Kenny MacAskill as Scotland's Justice secretary.

"The Scottish Parliament will debate the Megrahi decision, next week. The Lib Dems should use that opportunity to show they support the Scottish legal system and its principle of compassion, not seek to score political points."

More info on this fast paced story.


http://www.ross-shirejournal.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/6683/Megrahi_release_backed_by_MP.html

1. The Daily Mail / You Gov Poll of 1078 Scots adults between 24th and
26th August shows that amongst Lib Dem voters in a Westminster election
57% support Mr MacAskill's decision, as do 51% of Lib Dem voters in
Holyrood elections.

2. 39% of Labour voters and 30% of Conservative voters also support the
decision.

3. A majority of voters of all parties support Mr MacAskill remaining as
Justice Secretaty (51% Con, 61% Lab, 76% Lib Dem)

4. Lord Owen – former Liberal Democrat leader:"I am a humanitarian,” he
said. “Wherever you can you come down in the final analysis to looking at
the individual. Are they entitled to die at home or die in prison? If it
is humanely possible you should allow them to die at home

5. Lord Steel – former Presiding Officer: “I don’t necessarily think he
made the wrong decision, I mean it was quite clearly made on compassionate
grounds. It wasn’t made as part of a prisoner deal; it wasn’t made as part
of a trade agreement, and I think people should focus on that and I think
most opinion in Scotland therefore is in favour of the decision to release
him on compassionate grounds.”

6. John Farquhar Munro, MSP : I’m of the opinion that Mr MacAskill had no
other choice but the one he made. It was obvious from the doctors that
Megrahi is suffering with cancer and that Megrahi’s health was going down
every day and with that the correct thing happened and that MacAskill let
Megrahi go with the information he had.

7. Central Scotland Lib Dem MSP Hugh O'Donnell : "I thought the release of
Megrahi in the circumstances was the right decision." (Herald, 26/08/09)

8. Dr Christoper Mason, Leader of Liberal Democrats, Glasgow City Council
in a letter to the Herald (26/08/09) “I wish to state, as a Liberal
Democrat, that I think Kenny MacAskill's decision to release Abdelbaset
Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on licence was right."

UK MUST OPEN UP ON ALL LIBYA DEALINGS.


UK MUST OPEN UP ON ALL LIBYA DEALINGS.

UK DEALINGS SHROUNDED IN SECRECY,


Commenting on reports in The Herald newspaper in which Colonel Gaddafi's
son, Saif al Islam Gaddafi suggests that negotiations over the Prisoner Transfer Agreement struck between Tony Blair and Libya connected trade deals to the release of the Lockerbie bomber SNP MP and Westminster Leader Angus Robertson said; "Kenny MacAskill made the right decision for the right reasons and he has explained that decision in Parliament.

"The SNP spoke out against Tony Blair's deal in the desert when it was first struck, but the UK denied that Megrahi was the target and refused to exclude him from the agreement. "The UK Government's negotiation of a prisoner transfer agreement and meetings between the UK Government and Libya remain shrouded in secrecy.

"It is time for the UK to open up on Blair and Brown's dealings with Colonel Gaddafi. "The Scottish Government has said it will release all possible information on the consideration of Mr Megrahi's release as soon as it can. "If the UK Government wants to end suspicion over it's own dealings with Libya Gordon Brown should adopt the same approach and put the details of these meetings into the public domain."

Thursday, 27 August 2009

SUPPORT FOR SCOTTISH HOUSE BUILDING PAYS OFF.


SUPPORT FOR SCOTTISH HOUSE BUILDING PAYS OFF.

SNP MSP Bob Doris has today welcomed official figures showing a record number of public sector affordable homes were built in the last year.

The figures show that nearly 5,000 affordable homes were built last year by housing associations or local authorities.

The Scottish Government brought forward £100 million of investment in affordable housing last August to help the construction industry through the downturn. In addition £50 million has been made available to local authorities for new council house building.

SNP MSP Bob Doris said;

“The impact of the recession on private developers is clear but today's figures show the record funding from the Scottish Government to housing associations and councils has helped to ease the pressure on the construction industry.

"With private sector home builders pulling back because of the recession it was essential investment in affordable housing by councils and housing associations could fill the gap.

"The SNP Government acted quickly last August to bring forward £100 million of housing investment to support our construction industry through tough times and while this recession still has a long way to go this pubic sector support has clearly helped to ease the impact on the housing industry.

Commenting on a fall in right to buy sales Mr Doris added;
“It is encouraging to see that public sector housing stock is staying in public hands. The reform of right to buy has had some impact.

“It is now essential that to continue encouraging local authorities and housing associations to build and invest in new affordable homes we bring an end to the right to buy on all new builds.”


1. Scottish Government Housing Statistics can be found at; http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/08/26141508/1

JOHNNIE WALKER UNDER PRESSURE NOT TO WALK OUT ON KILMARNOCK


JOHNNIE WALKER UNDER PRESSURE NOT TO WALK OUT ON KILMARNOCK.


Kilmarnock & Loudoun MSP Willie Coffey today said there were two billion reasons for Diageo not to walk out on Kilmarnock after the company announced annual profits this morning.

Mr Coffey, whose constituency includes the closure threatened Johnnie Walker plant said;
“Diageo’s profit announcement today of over Two Thousand Million pounds is now a defining moment in the campaign to keep Johnnie Walker in Kilmarnock.

“When the company is announcing such massive profits, it really doesn’t wash that they have any justification for closing the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock, destroying Walkers' historic links with the town.

“ Today's announcement should be great news for the company, its shareholders and its staff. But instead, it’s another PR disaster for the company due to its plans to withdraw from Kilmarnock and put 700 workers on the dole. An incredible situation.

“This announcement means that there is no credible argument left to justify their proposals.
“I want the company to go from strength to strength but the workers in Kilmarnock and Hurlford and in Glasgow deserve to share in that successful future. They have contributed to it for years.

“Johnnie Walker is a global icon and maintaining the brand and it’s link to Kilmarnock gives it a heritage that Diageo could use to build sales, not slash jobs.

“Let’s make no mistake, Diageo is a very profitable and successful company and all of its plants in Scotland should be looking forward to a secure future. Profits like those announced today should make that more rather than less certain.

“Along with colleagues in the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and East Ayrshire Council, I will continue to press the case for the retention of Kilmarnock as the spiritual home of Johnnie Walker.

“I am hopeful that we can still persuade the company to work with us to secure that successful future.

ALCOHOL ACTION CAN IMPROVE DRINKERS KNOWLEDGE.


ALCOHOL ACTION CAN IMPROVE DRINKERS KNOWLEDGE.

PRICING EFFORTS WILL END UNKNOWN ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION.

The introduction of minimum pricing will help to end the problem of drinkers not knowing how much alcohol they are consuming.

A new study from market research firm Mintel shows that UK drinkers do not know how much alcohol they are consuming. This has become an increasing problem as drinks become stronger.

The research shows that despite drinking similar quantities of alcoholic beverages to previous years, the amount of alcohol being consumed has increased significantly as the alcohol content of wines and beers in particular has increased.

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson, who supports action to tackle Scotland’s alcohol problem said:

“It is clear that many people no longer know how much alcohol they are consuming as drinks get stronger and stronger.

“Many people will be going over the recommended level for alcohol consumption without knowing it – not only having consequences for their health but potentially for their safety.

“The Scottish Government’s proposal for minimum pricing will make it far easier for consumers to know the alcohol content of their drink.

“The more expensive the beer or cider the more alcohol it contains. With products such as wine or beer and ciders where the content may vary significantly this will help consumers make an educated choice. It will also bring an end to the days where litres of strong cider can be purchased for only a couple of pounds.

“At the same time I urge the UK Government to adopt the recommendations from the BMA and others to ensure the number of units of alcohol in a bottle or drink are clearly labelled on all alcoholic products.

“When alcohol content is not reflected in the price of products and the number of units are not explained on the label it is hard for consumers to make the responsible drinking choices we all want them to make.

MAJORITY LIB DEMS BACK MEGRAHI COMPASSIONATE RELEASE.



MAJORITY LIB DEMS BACK MEGRAHI COMPASSIONATE RELEASE.

LIB DEMS LEADERSHIP UNDERMINED BY OWN SUPPORTERS,


A YouGov poll for the Daily Mail has seriously undermined the position of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland as a majority of Lib Dem voters in both Westminster and Holyrood elections put their support behind SNP Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. The poll which shows that 57% of Lib Dem voters back Mr MacAskill’s decision and that 76% of Lib Dem’s want Mr MacAskill to remain as Justice secretary will further add to the pressure on the Lib Dem leadership. Despite the opposition of Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott two MSPs have spoken out in favour of the decision, with reports of more in support, as have a senior councillor, former Presiding Officer David Steel and former Lib Dem leader Lord Owen. Commenting on the overwhelming support from Lib Dem voters for Mr MacAskill’s decision SNP MSP Michael Matheson said; “Kenny MacAskill faced a difficult decision, but he made the right decision for the right reasons. “With supporters of all parties endorsing the decision this poll exposes the opportunism of those party leaders who have chosen to politicise what was a judicial decision. “This poll is particularly humiliating for the Lib Dem leadership who are not only facing backlash from the back benches but from their membership and their supporters. “Tavish Scott should listen to the voices of the far more experienced figures in his party who have given their full support to the Justice Secretary’s decision. “With a Parliamentary debate next week the Liberal Democrats have an opportunity to reflect on their position and to support the principles of Scots Law by which anyone in Parliament and Government should abide.”



Notes

1. The Daily Mail / You Gov Poll of 1078 Scots adults between 24th and 26th August shows that amongst Lib Dem voters in a Westminster election 57% support Mr MacAskill's decision, as do 51% of Lib Dem voters in Holyrood elections. 2. 39% of Labour voters and 30% of Conservative voters also support the decision. 3. A majority of voters of all parties support Mr MacAskill remaining as Justice Secretaty (51% Con, 61% Lab, 76% Lib Dem) 4. Lord Owen – former Liberal Democrat leader:"I am a humanitarian,” he said. “Wherever you can you come down in the final analysis to looking at the individual. Are they entitled to die at home or die in prison? If it is humanely possible you should allow them to die at home 5. Lord Steel – former Presiding Officer: “I don’t necessarily think he made the wrong decision, I mean it was quite clearly made on compassionate grounds. It wasn’t made as part of a prisoner deal; it wasn’t made as part of a trade agreement, and I think people should focus on that and I think most opinion in Scotland therefore is in favour of the decision to release him on compassionate grounds.” 6. John Farquhar Munro, MSP : I’m of the opinion that Mr MacAskill had no other choice but the one he made. It was obvious from the doctors that Megrahi is suffering with cancer and that Megrahi’s health was going down every day and with that the correct thing happened and that MacAskill let Megrahi go with the information he had. 7. Central Scotland Lib Dem MSP Hugh O'Donnell : "I thought the release of Megrahi in the circumstances was the right decision." (Herald, 26/08/09) 8. Dr Christoper Mason, Leader of Liberal Democrats, Glasgow City Council in a letter to the Herald (26/08/09) “I wish to state, as a Liberal Democrat, that I think Kenny MacAskill's decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on licence was right."

GIBSON ASKS PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE FOSSIL FUEL LOGJAM



GIBSON ASKS PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE FOSSIL FUEL LOGJAM

MARINE ENERGY REPORT BACKS FUEL LEVY ACCESS

SNP MSP and Member of the Scottish Parliament’s Committees on Energy and Climate Change Rob Gibson has today urged Parliament to hold an inquiry into Scottish access to the £150 million of money accumulated on Scotland’s behalf as a result of the Fossil Fuel Levy.

Mr Gibson’s call comes after a report suggested there could be 12,500 jobs in marine renewables which could contribute £2.5 billion to Scotland's economy by 2020. The reports recommendations included “the release of the Fossil Fuel Levy surplus funds to help promote renewables in Scotland.”

There is at least £150 million held by the UK under the Fossil Fuel Levy that should accrue to Scotland. Due to Treasury rules any transfer of the money to Scotland would see the Scottish Government’s budget cut by the same amount – meaning no actual funding increase.

Mr Gibson, Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism committee and a member of the Parliament’s Climate Change Committee said;

“I want to find a way for Scotland to prise open the door of this bank vault and start investing this money in Scotland’s green future.

“As the recent report into marine renewable potential made clear we could generate over 12,500 jobs from investment in marine technology alone. Access to the Fossil Fuel Levy is a key part of realising that investment.

“There is universal agreement that, but for Treasury rules, this money should be being invested in Scotland’s green energy industry. We have been stuck at a logjam for years now – despite repeated Scottish Government efforts.

“I want to see the Energy Committee, which has previously recommended releasing the funds, take evidence on the value of this money and the reasons it cannot be accessed . We must look at ways we can release this money for Scottish investment.

“This £150 million of potential investment is sitting in a bank account in London when it could be being supporting Scotland’s green energy potential, creating jobs and working for our future.

“Scotland has vast potential when it comes to marine renewable energy.

“With over 12,500 potential new jobs in the industry we can not afford to let this opportunity pass.”

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

SCOTTISH POLL SHOWS UNDERLYING STRENGTH OF SNP GOVERNMENT.


SCOTTISH POLL SHOWS UNDERLYING
STRENGTH OF SNP GOVERNMENT.


VOTERS ENDORSE MACASKILL AND
SALMOND AFTER "BRAVE DECISION",


Support for the SNP remains strong despite opposition attacks over the last week according to a YouGov poll for the Daily Mail.
The poll of 1078 Scottish adults between the 24th and 26th August shows that *More people support Alex Salmond as the best Scottish First Minister than support three opposition party leaders - combined! *Support for Alex Salmond as First Minister was 32%, nearly 3 times higher than that for Ian Gray and Annabel Goldie and over 5 times higher than Tavish Scott at 6%. *A majority of Liberal Democrats - 57% - think releasing Abdelbasset al-Megrahi was the right decision, as do well over a third of Labour voters (39%). *Two thirds of those questioned support Kenny MacAskill remaining as Justice Minister regardless of their view of the decision. *More people support the SNP in the Scottish constituency vote than any other party. *Support for the SNP at a Westminster election is 7 points higher than the 2005 result. Commenting on the results SNP Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP said; "The Justice Secretary made a brave and difficult decision, and this poll illustrates the underlying strength of the SNP and Scottish Government in these circumstances. The First Minister's ratings are three times higher than those of the Labour or Tory leaders in Scotland, and there is strong support for the Justice Secretary. The SNP maintains a Holyrood constituency poll lead, and our support is 7 points up on the last General Election. "The Justice Secretary had to make a decision about Mr Al Megrahi. He had the courage to make the right decision for the right reasons, which attracts very substantial support in this poll. It will gather further support on that basis, because people recognise that Mr MacAskill upheld the due process of Scots Law in difficult circumstances. The poll also indicates how ill-judged it was for the other parties to politicise the issue, with, for example, a majority of Lib Dem voters in support of the Justice Secretary's decision. "Some polls have put support for independence lower, some higher. What is important is that the SNP Government - unlike the London-based parties - have the confidence to put the issue to people fair and square in a referendum, and we are confident that the people will choose independence and equality for Scotland."


Notes:

The Daily Mail / YouGov poll sampled 1078 Scottish adults between the 24th and 26th August 2009.

1.Which of the following do you believe would make the best Scottish First Minister; Alex Salmond – 32%, Iain Gray – 12%, Annabel Goldie – 11%, Tavish Scott – 6%.

2.Do you think releasing Abdelbasset al –Megrahi was the right or wrong decision to make ; Right 42%, Wrong – 51%, Don’t Know 6%

3.Among Liberal Democrat voters 57% think it was the right decision, as do 39% of Labour voters and 30% of Conservative voters.

4.Asked if Kenny MacAskill should remain in post 62% said he should, including 20% who disagreed with the decision.

5.Asked who they would vote for in the Scottish constituency vote ; 33% SNP, 31% Labour, 16% Lib Dem, 16% Con, 5% other.

6.The poll puts the SNP Westminster vote at 25%, compared to only 18% in 2005.

MP APPEALS FOR EU - U TURN ON SCOTS GAELIC SNUB.


MP APPEALS FOR EU - U TURN ON SCOTS GAELIC SNUB.

GAELIC WAR OF WORDS OVER ENGLISH SPEAKING POST,

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at “crackpot bureaucracy” after being contacted by a constituent who had a job offer withdrawn at the last moment when European Commission officials realised she spoke Scottish Gaelic rather than Irish Gaelic - despite not needing either language for the job.

Mr MacNeil’s constituent, Anne-Margaret Stewart, was offered a traineeship as fisheries socio-economist with the European Commission Research Centre after demonstrating she could speak two languages, but was contacted just weeks before her start date when HR officials realised she was Scottish and not Irish. The job offer was withdrawn – despite the fact that the post only required communication in English.

Mr MacNeil said:

“Brussels reputation for crackpot bureaucracy is not helped by this ridiculous discrimination. Ms Stewart was well qualified for the job and passed through the interview stage without difficulty. It was only at the last minute when it was realised she spoke Scottish Gaelic instead of Irish Gaelic that the job offer was withdrawn.


“The fact is that this job only required communication in English, but despite clearly being qualified and capable the offer was withdrawn because officials didn’t know the difference between Scots and Irish Gaelic. Ms Stewart has been treated terribly and these loopy language rules should be changed.

“This job was in the field of fisheries which as an industry, is of key importance to Scotland, and in particular to communities where Gaelic is spoken which makes the decision all the more unacceptable.

“I think people in Scotland will feel badly let down by this shabby treatment, and we should expect a rather more common sense and accommodating approach from European institutions.

“Gaelic is not just part of our cultural life and heritage, it is an everyday living language and it should be recognised as such.

“The situation also underlines the success of the Irish in securing official status for their language and the failure of the UK Government to treat Gaelic with anything other than indifference. Thank goodness we have a Scottish Government that is actively promoting the language, investing in Gaelic education, and encouraging a whole new generation of speakers.

“I will be in touch with my SNP colleagues in the European Parliament and the European and Irish authorities to see if there is a way through the current impasse that would help Ms Stewart take up the post she is eminently qualified for.”

ENDS

Note:

1. Background – Anne-Margaret Stewart, from Grimsay, North Uist, was offered a traineeship with the European Commissions Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy. Ms Stewart was preparing to start on 1 September, when the centre’s HR department realised she spoke Scots Gaelic and not Irish Gaelic.

Her appointment was then withdrawn until she could provide certification that she was proficient in another European recognised language to level B1/B2 as outlined in the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF).

2. Yesterday (Tuesday) Scottish Government Minister for Gaelic announced £1.5 million investment to increase the number of places in Gaelic-medium education across Scotland from the Gaelic Schools Capital Fund. Highland Council will shortly be identifying suitable sites for the establishment of full-Gaelic schools in Portree and Fort William. This funding will allow Highland Council to accelerate progress on these projects.

LABOUR PARTY'S JOHN PRESCOTT SUPPORTS SNP JUSTICE SECRETARY.


LABOUR PARTY'S JOHN PRESCOTT SUPPORTS SNP JUSTICE SECRETARY.

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has today (Wednesday) said that he has no has no objection to the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

In comments which undermine the position of Labour’s leader in the Scottish Parliament Iain Gray – when asked on Sky News if he had any objections to al Megrahi's release, Mr Prescott said:

“No, I don't have any objections. If the man is dying, if compassion is part, as it is, of the Scottish administration and the medical authorities then get proof to that effect, then it's a decision for the legal authority. You know, Scotland has always had a great deal of independence of its legal authority, going back many years, so we have to respect that decision. And I do.”

Commenting on Mr Prescott’s intervention SNP Westminster leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Angus Robertson MP, said:

“John Prescott’s intervention is very welcome, but starkly underlines the naked opportunism of Iain Gray and Labour in the Scottish Parliament. It is plain to most right thinking people that Kenny MacAskill made the right decision and, above all, he made it for the right reasons.

“John Prescott’s endorsement of the decision highlights the Iain Gray’s shameless attempts to politicise the situation. Last week, Iain Gray refused to give his opinion on compassionate release, which he said must be based on the medical reports. The Justice Secretary’s decision was indeed based on the medical evidence – which he published, showing a life expectancy for Mr Al Megrahi of some three months. Yet quite shamefully, at that point – and only at that point – did Iain Gray oppose compassionate release.

“Kenny MacAskill made his decision on the basis of the medical evidence presented to him which clearly supported the application for compassionate release – and on the recommendations of the Parole Board and Prison Governor.


“This issue has nothing to do with party politics, and attempts by the Labour party and the Conservatives to politicise it are extremely regrettable.”

UK POLITICAL PARTIES MUST COMMIT TO HIGH SPEED RAILWAY LINE.


UK POLITICAL PARTIES MUST COMMIT TO HIGH SPEED RAILWAY LINE.

REPORT SHOWS REAL BENEFITS OF INVESTMENT,

Shirley-Anne Somerville, a member of the Scottish Parliament's Transport Committee, today welcomed the Network Rail report

which proposes a £34billion High Speed Railway line connecting Edinburgh and Glasgow to London and challenged UK parties to commit to the line.

Her Westminster colleague SNP Business and Enterprise spokesman Mike Weir also backed the line for the economic benefits it can deliver to Scotland.

The proposal would cut journey times from Edinburgh to London from 4hrs 23minutes to 2 hours and 9 minutes.

The Scottish Parliament's Transport Committee has already endorsed a high speed rail line connecting Scotland to London.

Edinburgh and Lothians MSP Ms Somerville said;

"I welcome this detailed study from Network Rail which lays out the clear case for a high speed line running between
Scotland and London.

"Scotland needs faster and better rail connections to London and Europe, and we need to get to work now to make it happen.

"Labour's current commitment to a high speed line goes no further than Birmingham, with vague options to extend north at a later date.

"We need firm commitments from both Labour and the Conservatives that they back a high speed line to Scotland as a priority

"To cut carbon emissions we need to dramatically increase passengers using our railways, and a high speed link is the best way to meet that challenge.

"The Scottish Government have made their support clear, the question is will the UK parties play their part.

SNP Westminster Business and Enterprise Spokesman and MP for Angus Mike Weir MP added;

"This line could have immense benefits for Scottish business. Cutting journey times and costs between the Scotland and London would be a real boost to our economy.

"A journey time of 2 hours 9minutes from Edinburgh to the centre of London offers an attractive alternative to a short-term flight.

"This would enhance sustainable growth, cutting carbon emissions whilst supporting travel across the country.

"This is a long term project, that requires an early commitment to make it happen. It's time for Labour to stop dilly-dallying and start building railways fit for the 21st Century"

JOHNNIE WALKER PLAN GOOD FOR KILMARNOCK AND GOOD FOR GLASGOW.


JOHNNIE WALKER PLAN GOOD FOR KILMARNOCK AND GOOD FOR GLASGOW.

SUPPORT FOR PORT DUNDAS WELCOMED - KILMARNOCK MSP PRAISES CO-OPERATIVE
EFFORTS.


SNP MSPS Bob Doris and Willie Coffey have given further reaction to the
Diageo taskforce's proposal to save jobs across Scotland.

The inclusion of Port Dundas distillery in the alternative business
proposal has been welcomed by Glasgow MSP Bob Doris who chaired a meeting
of trade unions, Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow council to ensure a
future for Port Dundas was included in the proposals.

SNP MSP for Kilmarnock Willie Coffey has today praised the efforts of all
involved in producing the plan.The proposals will now be put to Diageo.

Mr Doris said;

"I am pleased that the proposal agreed by Scottish Enterprise, the
Scottish Government and both local authorities includes plans to retain
production at Port Dundas.

"The Finance Secretary has been clear from the start that this was about
securing as many Diageo jobs in Scotland as possible and the support he
has shown for Port Dundas is a real boost to this campaign."

Willie Coffey, the Kilmarnock MSP added;

"The next few weeks will be crucial in this fight and it is essential that
across the country and across parties we retain the united front that has
demonstrated so clearly to Diageo that the public are opposed to this
plan.

"In particular the support of the work force across Diageo has been
tremendous.

"Along side the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, East Ayrshire
Council have worked hard and all have played a blinder in producing a plan
that can keep Johnnie Walker in Kilmarnock - if Diageo will accept this
proposal.

"This plan is good for Kilmarnock and Glasgow, good for Diageo and will be
good for the whole of Scotland."

LIB DEM VOICES REJECT LEADERSHIP VIEW ON MEGRAHI RELEASE.


LIB DEM VOICES REJECT LEADERSHIP VIEW ON MEGRAHI RELEASE.

The Scottish Lib Dems face a growing rebellion over Tavish Scott’s
position on the Justice Secretary’s decision to allow the Lockerbie bomber
to die in Libya as more MSPs join John Farquhar Munro in support of Kenny
MacAskill’s decision. Central Scotland MSP Hugh O'Donnell added his voice
today, and reports of third Lib Dem MSP also backing the decision.

Outside the Scottish Parliament the Lib Dem leader on Glasgow City Council
Dr Christoper Mason has today written to the Herald stating:

“I wish to state, as a Liberal Democrat, that I think Kenny MacAskill's
decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on licence was
right."

Speaking on Radio Four on Monday 24th August senior Liberal Democrat and
former Presiding Officer Lord Steel also supported the decision made by
Kenny MacAskill saying:

"I think most opinion in Scotland therefore is in favour of the decision
to release him on compassionate grounds.”

And Liberal Democrat MSP John Farquhar Munro, added in an interview with
BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal: “I’m of the opinion that Mr MacAskill had no other
choice but the one he made."

SNP MSP Michael Matheson said;

“It is clear from the reaction of Lib Dem MSPs and others such as Cllr
Mason that the position taken by Tavish Scott does not have the support of
several Liberal Democrat MSPs or members of the party.

“At grass roots level even the Lib Dem candidate in my constituency has
objected.

“Lib Dem leaders would do well to learn from the position taken by Lord
Steel.

“It is encouraging that at a time when opposition leaders are choosing to
politicise what was a difficult, but judicial decision, others are able to
speak out with honest support for the decision made.

"As the Justice secretary acknowledged people will have different opinions
on this decision.W ith political credibility needing rebuilt after
expenses scandals this kind of honesty from Lib Dem Members as well as the
position taken by Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm is a welcome.

“Last time John Farquhar Munro backed the position of the SNP Scottish
Government over his Lib Dem leaders – for a referendum on Scotland’s
constitutional future – he mysteriously disappeared – I sincerely hope
that will not happen again.”

More info-

1. John Farquhar Munro “I’m of the opinion that Mr MacAskill had no other
choice but the one he made. It was obvious from the doctors that Megrahi
is suffering with cancer and that Megrahi’s health was going down every
day and with that the correct thing happened and that MacAskill let
Megrahi go with the information he had." (Radio Nan Radio Nan Gaidheal)
2. Central Scotland MSP Hugh O'Donnell said: "I thought the release of
Megrahi in the circumstances was the right decision." (Herald, 26th
August)

3. Lord Steel, I don’t necessarily think he made the wrong decision, I
mean it was quite clearly made on compassionate grounds. It wasn’t made as
part of a prisoner deal; it wasn’t made as part of a trade agreement, and
I think people should focus on that and I think most opinion in Scotland
therefore is in favour of the decision to release him on compassionate
grounds.” (Radio 4 Today programme August 24th ")

4. Letter from Dr Christopher Mason – Leader Liberal Democrat Group,
Glasgow City Council
http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.2527435.0.LibDem_rebels_are_likely_to_kill_off_censure_motion.php

5. Liberal Democrat Candidate Stephen Glenn:
http://linlithgow-libdems.blogspot.com/2009/08/time-to-stop-this-political-fitba-match.html