Wednesday, 30 September 2009

SCOTLAND SETS “GOOD EXAMPLE” IN SOCIAL WORK SAYS CEO OF UK SOCIAL WORKERS



SCOTLAND SETS “GOOD EXAMPLE” IN SOCIAL WORK SAYS CEO OF UK SOCIAL WORKERS
FORMER LABOUR MP SUPPORTS SCOTLAND’S ‘EARLY INTERVENTION’ PROTECTION
SNP MSP Christina McKelvie – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Children Committee – has welcomed comments made by the Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers, Hilton Dawson, on Channel 4 News where said Scotland set a “good example” in social work provision, with earlier intervention to protect the vulnerable compared to the system in England.
Interviewed on Channel 4 News last night (29 September) about the tragic case of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter, Mr Dawson – a Labour MP between 1997 and 2005 - said the following when asked about the need for better engagement between the different governmental bodies concerned with social care:
“The different bodies need to work together very much more effectively, and there’s a good example in Scotland very close to Mr Brown’s heart, where again a nation which has invested in social work, which does support social workers, is intervening earlier to protect vulnerable adults. And there’s good reason to suppose – and many of our… my Scottish colleagues tell me – that this sort of situation would not have been allowed to happen in Scotland, where there would be mandatory involvement and co-operation between the agencies at an earlier stage.”
Welcoming his comments Ms McKelvie said:
“These are significant and welcome comments from the Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers. As leader of the social work profession, Mr Dawson also has a wealth of practical experience and expertise in social work and children’s services.
“The Scottish Government’s policy of early intervention and co-operation across public agencies is working, and Mr Dawson’s supportive comments carry great authority.
“I am pleased that the Scottish system has secured this recognition, which Mr Dawson regards as being more robust than the system south of the Border. There are very difficult of issues, and Mr Dawson’s remarks recognise that our social workers and social carers are the professionals who are there when society needs protection for our most vulnerable citizens, and it is important that we recognise their work and commitment.
“And further, it underlines today’s child protection statistics which show how action is being taken to protect our children, strengthening at-risk families and helping our parents to look after their children.”

NOW BROWN CONCEDES PRINCIPLE OF REFERENDUM



NOW BROWN CONCEDES PRINCIPLE OF REFERENDUM
CONFUSED REFERENDUM POSITIONS AFFECTS LABOUR IN BRIGHTON
Commenting on Gordon Brown’s comments this morning where he said that Labour support for an independence referendum was a possibility, SNP MSP Kenny Gibson, said it was a significant shift since he had never conceded such a position before.
The SNP has already seized on his pledge to hold a referendum on electoral reform “early in the next parliament” – since it will be exactly the same time as Scottish Labour are refusing people in Scotland the opportunity to have their say in a referendum on Scotland’s future.
Adding that the issue of an independence referendum had now overshadowed two UK party conferences, Mr Gibson said:
“This is a significant move by Gordon Brown since he has never conceded the principle of an independence referendum until now.
“It also shows up the confused thinking by Labour on an independence referendum. Gordon Brown has undermined Iain Gray’s arguments that it is not the time to say you want to let people have their say on the constitution since he is also conceding a referendum on electoral reform ‘early in the next parliament’.
“Labour know they can’t stand against the people of Scotland having their say on their constitutional future without being seen as anti-democratic.
“Their position on when to hold an independence referendum is bizarre. They have failed to realise that by the time of the referendum, economic forecasts – including their own - predict that Scotland’s economy will be moving out of recession.
“By opposing a referendum next year, Scottish Labour are effectively talking down Scotland’s economy - an extraordinary position.
“Just as the referendum issue overshadowed the Scottish LibDems at their UK conference, the ‘sea air and pina coladas’ are obviously getting the better of Labour in Brighton.”

INDEPENDENT ADVISOR CONFIRMS LABOUR GOVERNMENT’S CUTS FOR SCOTLAND



INDEPENDENT ADVISOR CONFIRMS LABOUR GOVERNMENT’S CUTS FOR SCOTLAND

A report by Professor David Bell for the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee has confirmed that the UK Labour government’s cuts are hitting the Scottish budget and warns of further cuts to come.

The report describes 2010-11 as “a turning point – where Scotland passes from a benign public spending environment to one which will be as tough as any experienced during the 1970s and 1980s.”

Discussing the Scottish budget Professor Bell states “Additional Efficiency savings at a UK level have had a negative impact on the block grant to the Scottish Government via the Barnet Formula.”

The report also comments on UK financial management saying that the UK has experienced “almost the worst deterioration in its public finances of all OECD countries.”

Bell also warns that ending Government spending too quickly – adding to the Scottish Government’s call for the acceleration of capital to continue for a further year. Professor Bell states “taking Government spending away too quickly or increasing taxes too rapidly might cause the economy to tip into a second recession.”

Commenting on the report SNP Finance Committee member Joe FitzPatrick said:

“This report will leave people in no doubt that Scotland’s budget has been cut this year and will be cut in future years.

“Labour’s fantasy figures have been exposed and the financial mismanagement of the UK is on show for all to see.

“Importantly Professor Bell’s report adds to the calls for capital to be accelerated in the coming year to ensure the Scottish Government can continue to invest in recovery.

“Ending the enhanced public sector investment that the Scottish Government are delivering could choke off recovery and prolong recession.

“All parties must support the Scottish Government’s call for the UK Government to allow continued capital acceleration, so that Scotland can continue to build a strong recovery."

EXTENT OF TRAM PROBLEMS REVEALED



EXTENT OF TRAM PROBLEMS REVEALED

Commenting on reports from sources close to the tram project that the scheme could end up being between £100 million and £200 million over budget and not be completed until 2013, Lothians MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

'This project was never going to be delivered on time or on budget. The business case never did stack up. That is why the SNP voted against it in the Scottish Parliament and within City of Edinburgh Council.
" With over 400 potential disputes yet to be resolved, it's clear why TIE can't give a firm answer on costs and timelines. They have promised councillors that they will have a better idea in January 2010 but with so many disputes still outstanding it is difficult to see how they can deliver.

" In the meantime the council are being asked to write a blank cheque for this project at the very time when financial resources are under pressure.

"With years of construction still to run I do fear that what we know to date is the tip of a financial iceberg. It's time that the MSPs and councillors who voted through this project take some responsibility for their decision. The Scottish Government has made plain that they will not put a penny more towards completion. It is up to those who insisted we press ahead with this ill-thought out scheme to say where the money is going to come from and to admit that to the people of Edinburgh.

"My main concern is that public services in Edinburgh don't suffer as a result. We need a cast-iron guarantee that no money will be diverted from schools and frontline services to pay for trams."

"Glasgow should also look to Edinburgh and learn from this city's mistake. The other political parties seem content to vote through large transport projects even when there are warning signs about soaring budgets before the work has begun. They did so for the trams and now they want to do the same thing with GARL.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

BROWN CREATES MORE CONFERENCE CONFUSION ON REFERENDUM



BROWN CREATES MORE CONFERENCE CONFUSION ON REFERENDUM

DESPERATE LAST THROW OF THE DICE TRIES TO PLAY CATCH UP WITH SNP

FAILURE TO SUPPORT ACCELERATED SPENDING TO FIGHT RECSSSION IN SCOTLAND

Commenting on Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour conference SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP branded the speech a desperate last throw of the dice to catch up with the success of the SNP Government. The Prime Minister also created more confusion on referendums as he gave the green light for one on PR despite Iain Gray and Jim Murphy saying now was not the time to support constitutional referendums.

The SNP seized on this pledge to hold a referendum on electoral reform “early in the next parliament” – since it will be exactly the same time as Scottish Labour are refusing people in Scotland the opportunity to have their say in a referendum on Scotland’s future.

Mr Robertson said:

“This was a desperate last throw of the dice by Gordon Brown – and people will not be impressed with promises of action that should have been delivered years ago and many which are now being delivered by the SNP in Scotland.

“It says everything when the biggest cheer the prime minister got was when he ditched his government’s plans for compulsory ID cards – a truly humiliating climb down after eight years of insisting they were essential.

“Where he did make such policy commitments, he was playing catch up with the position of the SNP on free personal care, tackling climate change, House of Lords reform, supporting Post Offices and, of course, on the issue of constitutional referendums. As if Scottish Labour’s position on a referendum was not confused enough, Gordon Brown has just undermined Iain Gray’s arguments that it is not the time to say you want to let people have their say on the constitution .

“What was missing was the absence of any mention of a further acceleration of capital spending to help Scotland out of recession or any climb down on Labour’s cuts to Scotland’s budget.

“Where the SNP is looking to the future by slashing taxes for small businesses and helping Scots through current financial hardship by freezing the council tax, Gordon Brown is preoccupied by his own future and is not addressing the needs of the country.”

BETTER SCHOOLS FOR SCOTLAND’S CHILDREN



BETTER SCHOOLS FOR SCOTLAND’S CHILDREN

FIGURES SHOW SCHOOL ESTATE IMPROVING UNDER SNP

More of Scotland’s children are in better quality schools after two years of an SNP Government.

New figures released today show school quality improving across Scotland with new school building and refurbishment continuing to lift more children out of poor quality buildings.

The figures, do not include the announcement yesterday of new school building plans that will ensure good quality school buildings for a further 100,000 pupils.

Welcoming the improvements to Scotland’s school estate SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson highlighted key results showing;

    · 75% of schools are now good or satisfactory – compared to only 68% last year
    · The number of pupils in poor schools has fallen by over 50,000 pupils.
    · 92 schools were rebuilt or substantially refurbished last year
    · Capital spending on schools rose to £429 million last year – an increase of £43 million on 2006-07

Under Labour there was no information about the school estate - leading Audit Scotland to condemn their school estate strategy saying: the strategy does not set out exactly what needs to be done or how it will be achieved’.

‘It is very difficult to say exactly how many schools have been improved as a result of the investments by the (then) Scottish Executive and councils because of a lack of clear definitions and targets’

Mr Gibson, Deputy Convener of the Parliament’s Education Committee also pointed to Labour’s failure to develop a proper schools estate strategy;

“Labour bequeathed Scotland a crumbling school estate that is finally improving under the SNP.

“Audit Scotland condemned the Labour / Lib Dem school building programme for failing to meet any aims – in fact for not even knowing which schools needed rebuilt.

“That’s why schools like Garnock Academy in my constituency, or others like Wick High, Lasswade and James Gillespies were untouched by the previous administration with no funding and no new plans.

“And that is why the SNP announced yesterday that our new school building programme will lift 100,000 children out of poor quality schools.

“Today’s figures show real progress is finally being made. After 8 years of Labour - Lib Dem control Scotland’s school estate is finally improving under the SNP with more children being taught in good quality schools.

“Added to yesterday’s announcement of 14 new secondary schools with more to come the SNP is turning around Scotland’s school estate and giving our young children the new, good schools they deserve."

WELCOME FOR CROFTING CHANGES



WELCOME FOR CROFTING CHANGES

SNP COMMITTED TO CROFTING FUTURE

The SNP MSP for the Western Isles has hailed the decision by the Crofting Minister to heed advice from crofters in the constituency to remove draft plans for a residency requirement on decrofted houses.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

"This is a very welcome sign that the Scottish Government is listening to crofters, and ensuring we get a crofting bill that reflects their genuine needs.

"The SNP has always said we will listen to what communities need. Nobody disputes the need to tackle the speculation of croft land, and it is now for everyone with an interest in crofting to produce measures that are workable.

"After much lobbying, not just from me, but from the Crofting Foundation and others, the Minister has indicated that the residency requirement in the draft bill will not appear in the Bill itself. That is the occupancy requirement, widely criticised for placing an unworkable role on local authorities, who would have to assess whether those living on decrofted land were doing so for 184 days a year.

"As Roseanna Cunningham has said, doing nothing about the problem of speculation is not an option. However, her willingness to go back to the drawing board about this measure reflects well both on her, and on the many crofters and others who made their feelings known to her throughout the consultation on the draft Bill.

"I will continue to meet with the Minister and officials about other aspects of the Draft Bill. I want to see a Bill, when it is put to Parliament, that tackles the real problems in crofting, and heeds the evidence received from crofters."

WELCOME FOR SAFER SCOTLAND AS CRIME FALLS TO 30 YEAR LOW



WELCOME FOR SAFER SCOTLAND AS CRIME FALLS TO 30 YEAR LOW
EXTRA POLICE OFFICERS PAYING DIVIDENDS
Commenting on today’s publication of the latest official crime statistics which show that recorded crime in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level in almost 30 years, with a fall of 11% in crime rates across Scotland since the SNP took office, Scottish Parliament Justice Committee Member Nigel Don MSP said:
"These figures are extremely welcome and I am very encouraged that the SNP is delivering on its pledge for a safer Scotland.
"Of course, there is no place for complacency when it comes to tackling crime across Scotland which is why the SNP is delivering 1000 additional police officers across Scotland.
"With more police on our streets, efforts to tackle the link between alcohol and crime, and investment in new prisons, the SNP is delivering a safer Scotland.
"With falling rates of violent crime and of vandalism the efforts of police and communities to tackle offending appear to be paying off and with renewed efforts going into tackling the Mr Bigs of Scotland's crime scene this is good news for communities across Scotland."

MURPHY ADDS TO LABOUR’S REFERENDUM CONFUSION



MURPHY ADDS TO LABOUR’S REFERENDUM CONFUSION
“’SEA AIR AND PINA COLADAS’ NOW AFFECTING LABOUR IN BRIGHTON
Commenting on Jim Murphy’s comments about an independence referendum this morning where he said Labour would consider a referendum on Scottish independence "at some point in the future", SNP MSP Kenny Gibson, said he had only added to the confusion set running by Iain Gray.
Commenting Mr Gibson said:
“Jim Murphy has only added to Labour’s confusion over an independence referendum. Yesterday people were talking about Iain Gray’s latest shift on a referendum and now Jim Murphy has caught the Wendy Alexander referendum bug.
“They know they can’t stand against the people of Scotland having their say on their constitutional future without being seen as anti-democratic.
“Jim Murphy’s latest intervention is as bizarre as Iain Gray’s. He has failed to realise that by the time of the referendum, economic forecasts predict that Scotland’s economy will be moving out of recession.
“By opposing a referendum next year, Scottish Labour are effectively talking down Scotland’s economy, which is extraordinary.
“Just as the referendum issue overshadowed the Scottish LibDems at their UK conference, the ‘sea air and pina coladas’ are obviously getting the better of Scottish Labour in Brighton.”

Monday, 28 September 2009

SECRET 1970’s PAPER REVEALS OIL OWNERSHIP WOULD BOOST SCOTTISH INCOME BY 30%.


SECRET 1970’s PAPER REVEALS OIL OWNERSHIP WOULD BOOST SCOTTISH INCOME BY 30%.

Civil servants calculated that North Sea oil could boost incomes in an independent Scotland by up to 30% according to government records made public today at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.

SNP MSP and Chief Whip Brian Adam, who represents Aberdeen North, said the papers reflected the McCrone papers and others which revealed the lengths to which both Labour and Conservative Government’s went to keep Scotland from her oil wealth.


Commenting Mr Adam said:


“These explosive figures confirm yet again what the SNP said at the time and what revelations have shown over last few years – that Scotland would have boomed with ownership of its oil revenues.

"Scotland would have flourished as an independent nation and investing in an oil fund would have built a firm foundation for Scotland's future. These figures show the missed opportunity that came from UK control of Scotland's oil revenues.

“There is a real sense of déjà vu with these revelations. In Brighton we hear Labour politicians scaremongering Scots about the 1980’s – the very decade huge oil revenues underpinned Margaret Thatcher’s destruction of Scotland’s economy.

“Scotland’s oil industry has a bright future with an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil still to be extracted, new technology developing and a central role in the global oil industry.

“There is as much oil left in the North Sea as has been taken out of it – and much more than half of the revenues. Scotland’s oil industry has a positive future.

With the UK making £250 billion of revenue from North Sea oil over the last 30 years in real terms, it is now time to ensure that future revenues are invested properly for Scotland’s future.

“In the 1970’s requests for an oil fund were turned down – a repetition of this failure by Labour in the 21st century would be unforgivable.

“The UK Government must see the error of its ways and enable Scotland to invest our own oil revenues for our future.

“Oil has become the new taboo for Scottish Labour. It must not be another missed opportunity for Scotland.

“The lessons of 30 years ago must be learnt – and applied to ensure Scotland’s prosperity is a thriving one.”

DEMAND FOR MoD TO PAY COSTS AFTER CONSULTATION CLIMB DOWN.


DEMAND FOR MoD TO PAY COSTS AFTER CONSULTATION CLIMB DOWN.

Demands for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to compensate Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) and HIE for costs incurred in the successful campaign to save 125 local defence range jobs in the Hebrides have been made by the areas local MP. Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said the UK Government should pick up the £100k tab for the campaign after abandoning plans to downgrade operations on the Uists and Benbecula in the face of the community campaign. The SNP MP has written to the MoD seeking compensation for the community. Mr MacNeil said: “Our community fought a terrific campaign, and forced the UK Government to see sense and abandon their reckless redundancy plans for these bases.

“It was a great victory for the community, but after all the unnecessary stress of a consultation and climb-down the community has also been left paying for the privilege of keeping jobs that should never have been threatened in the first place.

“In these tough economic times £100,000 is no drop in the ocean, particularly for a small community like the Western Isles.

“Surely, after everything that they have put the community through over the past three months, the MoD should now do the decent thing and pick up the tab for the costs involved in reversing these half-baked downgrade plans.”

GRAY-MURPHY DOUBLE ACT SHOWS TWO FACES OF NEW LABOUR.


GRAY-MURPHY DOUBLE ACT SHOWS TWO FACES OF NEW LABOUR.

WHOOPS HE DID IT AGAIN! – GRAY CREATES MORE CONFUSION ON A SCOTTISH REFERENDUM,

MURPHY COMMENTS ONLY HIGHLIGHT LABOUR’S TORY AGENDA,

Commenting on Iain Gray’s comments about an independence referendum during and after his speech where he raised, once again, the circumstances under which he would support a referendum, SNP MSP Kenny Gibson, said:

“Iain Gray has got the Wendy Alexander referendum bug as Labour’s chaos on the issue continues under his leadership. It’s like he is re-running his infamous Newsnight interview all over again.

“It seems Labour are happy for there to be a referendum at any time other than the 2010 referendum promised in the SNP manifesto.

“What he has failed to acknowledge is that two-thirds of Scots back a referendum and the SNP Government is committed to introducing a Referendum Bill next year as we promised in our manifesto.

“More crucially what he has failed to realise is that by the time of the referendum economic forecasts predict that Scotland’s economy will be moving out of recession.

“How can then he oppose a referendum on the basis of his own logic without undermining his own party?”

Commenting on Jim Murphy’s brief remarks to the Labour conference, SNP Shadow Scotland Office spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Jim Murphy is frantically back pedalling over the damaging admission by his Cabinet colleagues that there is no difference between Labour and the Tories.

“Bluster about Thatcher’s grandchildren would have been rather more convincing if Ed Miliband had not just admitted there are no big differences between Labour and the Tories, and Lord Mandelson had not said he would happily work for the Tories.


“Labour and the Tories are indeed peas in a pod on the big issues - they both want to cut Scotland's budget, both are pro-Trident and both share the same anti-democratic stance in opposing a referendum on Scotland's future.

“By coming clean and confirming that there are no big difference between Labour and the Tories, it is clear that the next election in Scotland is a two horse race between London Labour and the SNP.”

LABOUR LETTING GLASGOW DOWN - JUST LIKE IN THE 1980's


LABOUR LETTING GLASGOW DOWN - JUST LIKE IN THE 1980's.

SNP OFFER OPPORTUNITY FOR GLASGOW NORTH EAST,

MANDELSON & MILIBAND ADMIT LABOUR JUST THE SAME AS TORIES,

As the Labour Party conference continues in Brighton, SNP Candidate for
Glasgow North East David Kerr has called on Glasgow’s Labour council to
get its priorities straight - and to invest in education and young people.

Mr Kerr said:

"After decades of Labour control in Glasgow North East, it is time for a
fresh start.

"Labour stood back and let the Tories betray Glasgow in the 1980s. Twenty
years later and Labour are no different to the Tories - Peter Mandelson
and David Miliband admitted it at the weekend.

"Only the SNP offer an opportunity for Glasgow North East. The SNP’s
priorities are shared with those of local people – improving education and
opportunities and cracking down on crime.

"That’s why we have made record funding available to Glasgow city council,
put more police on the beat and invested in 1000 apprenticeship places –
just for Glasgow.

"While the Labour council talk of cutting services, putting up charges and
closing schools, the SNP Government will continue to invest in new
housing, regeneration and jobs.

"Instead of spending the least on education, it’s time Glasgow City
Council started to spend the most – that’s what children in this area
deserve.

"Together, the people of Glasgow North East and the SNP have what it takes
to see this area thrive."

More info

1. In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Miliband said: "On certain areas
there are no differences between us . . . People don't like (politicians)
pretending there are big differences when there aren't."

Further details of Mr Miliband’s interview can be found at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/6231232/Ed-Miliband-no-differences-between-Labour-and-the-Tories-in-some-areas.html

2. The Times article "Lord Mandelson: I would work for the Tories", can be
found at:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6850863.ece

SNP TO REBUILD SCOTLAND’S SCHOOLS.


SNP TO REBUILD SCOTLAND’S SCHOOLS.

Schools across Scotland are to be rebuilt by the SNP Government in a £1.25 billion programme.

The new building will include Lasswade High school in Midlothian, Wick High in Highland, Ellon and Mearns in Aberdeenshire, Harris Academy in Dundee and Garnock Academy in North Ayrshire.

These schools come on top of £2 billion of school rebuilding already underway and ahead of announcements of new primary schools in all local authorities.


SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson has campaigned over the failure of previous administrations to rebuild Garnock Academy – he is also Deputy Convenor of the Parliament’s Education Committee. Welcoming the news Garnock Academy in North Ayrshire would be rebuilt by the SNP Government Mr Gibson said:

“The SNP is delivering where Labour and the Lib Dems have repeatedly failed.

“This new school will be incredibly welcome in the local community. Not only will North Ayrshire pupils get a new school but this project will provide much needed work for the construction industry, protecting jobs and the economy.

“It is only under an SNP Government that money has been put into this and it is only the SNP that will deliver this school in the public sector.”

“The SNP is building schools for Scotland’s children lifting thousands of our young people out of substandard school accommodation, and I hope all parties will welcome this investment.


SNP MSP Rob Gibson also welcomed the news of a new school for Wick Academy

“The SNP’s commitment to rebuild Wick academy and to give Highland children the school they deserve for the good quality education they already get is a monumental decision for the area and shows the commitment this Government has to Scotland’s children.

“Wick has long been in need of a new school and unfortunately neither the previous Government nor the local authority has provided one.

“Construction in the highlands has been hit by recession, just like the rest of the country and along with Scottish Government investment in housing and infrastructure this is a further investment to keep the industry going.”


Welcoming two new schools for the Lothians, Lasswade in Midlothian and James Gillespies in Edinburgh Lothians SNP MSP Dr Ian McKee added:

“In Midlothian and on the south side of Edinburgh there will be real enthusiasm for these new schools.

“Along with Edinburgh Council’s commitment to build Portobello high school the city is finally getting the secondary schools it deserves.

“Importantly the strategy for building these schools will ensure they are not just new, but they are good quality schools to bring real benefit to our young people.”


Commenting on the two new schools in Aberdeenshire North East MSP Maureen Watt said:

“This is excellent news for Aberdeenshire and I know pupils in Ellon and Mearns will welcome this announcement.

“Instead of making unsubstantiated scare stories about school building, as Iain Gray did over Ellon, the SNP are getting on with the job and building new schools for Scotland’s children.”

1. The full list of schools can be found at:

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

WRITTEN ANSWER

28 September 2009
Index Heading: Education and Lifelong Learning
Christina McKelvie (Central Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide an update on the action that it has taken following the publication in 2008 of the Audit Scotland report, Improving the school estate

(S3W-27721)

Ms Fiona Hyslop :

I am pleased to announce that the Scottish Government and COSLA are launching a new School Estate Strategy Building Better Schools: Investing in Scotland’s Future today. Copies have been placed in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre
(Bib. Number
49305) and the document is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Education/Schools/Buildings/commitments.

Building Better Schools: Investing in Scotland’s Future represents the Scottish Government and COSLA’s agreed destination and route map to get the School Estate up to the standard which Audit Scotland set out in Improving the School Estate. It has been developed as a partnership between national and local government and we are jointly committed to continuing this partnership as we proceed with implementation. The Strategy has pupils at its centre and sets out the joint Government-COSLA target of achieving 90% of children being educated in good condition schools (condition A & B) with firm plans to lift the rest of pupils out of being educated in schools in conditions C & D.

I am also pleased to announce the 14 secondary schools will benefit from the new £1.25bn school building programme that will follow on from the current £2 billion of school investment that is being supported by the Government which are:

School Authority
Ellon Academy Aberdeenshire
Mearns Academy Aberdeenshire
Brechin High Angus
Dalbeattie High Dumfries & Galloway
Harris Academy Dundee
Eastwood High East Renfrewshire
James Gillespie's Edinburgh
Auchmuty High Fife
Wick High Highland
Lasswade High Midlothian
Garnock Academy North Ayrshire
Clyde Valley High North Lanarkshire
Ayr Academy South Ayrshire
Dumbarton Academy West Dunbartonshire

As I have previously set out to Parliament (Col 19247) we have engaged with COSLA, councils and the Scottish Futures Trust to identify the 14 schools and have taken into account the distribution of needs throughout Scotland; the best available information about schools' condition and unsuitability to deliver the curriculum for excellence; additionality; and authorities' plans and priorities and readiness to proceed.

We have also agreed with COSLA that we would accelerate the primary school announcement and that the same criteria will be used to identify these schools. We anticipate that all councils will benefit from the first tranches of the school building programme.

UK GOVERNMENT SIDELINE SCOTLAND AT CLIMATE CONFERENCE.


UK GOVERNMENT SIDELINE SCOTLAND AT CLIMATE CONFERENCE.

Labour have been accused of putting political grudge before global action on climate change, after Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy defended the decision of the UK Government to refuse a seat to a Scottish Government Minister at the UK climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Speaking on the BBC Politics Show today (Sunday) the Scottish Secretary said the Scottish Government could only send an official to observe at the summit, in line with practice in previous years.

SNP MSP, and member of the Scottish Parliament’s Climate Change Committee, Shirley-Anne Somerville, condemned the decision to sideline the world leading Scottish legislation.

Ms Somerville said:

“It is pathetic, but sadly predictable that Labour have chosen to sideline world leading legislation on climate change because they could not stand to see a Scottish Government Minister centre stage.

“For Jim Murphy to try and defend this decision as being in line with the practice in previous years is simply woeful. The difference from previous years is that Scotland today has the most ambitious statutory emissions reduction target of any country in the world.

“Scotland has a great story to tell on climate legislation, and our voice should not be excluded from those heard at the Copenhagen summit.”

SHEFFIELD STUDY SUPPORTS MINIMUM ALCOHOL DRINK PRICING.


SHEFFIELD STUDY SUPPORTS MINIMUM ALCOHOL DRINK PRICING.

EVIDENCE SHOWS ACTION WOULD SAVE LIVES AND CUT CRIME,

Researchers at Sheffield University have backed Scottish Government plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol in a report which says the action would save hundreds of lives every year, cut crime and improve quality of life.

Welcoming the findings, Dr Ian McKee, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee, said:

“The evidence now supporting the Scottish Government’s proposals is overwhelming with this report confirming minimum pricing would save lives, cut crime and improve quality of life.

“As the evidence stacks up week after week those politicians who oppose minimum pricing look increasingly irresponsible.

“The scale of Scotland's alcohol misuse problem is shocking: 42,500 alcohol-related hospital discharges; 1,500 deaths per year; soaring rates of liver cirrhosis; the eighth highest consumption in the world, and a 2.25 billion annual cost in public services and lost productivity.

“The report by Sheffield University underlines why the Scottish Government is right to tackle the scourge of alcohol misuse"

RED FACES FOR MURPHY AND GRAY AS LABOUR TURN BLUE.


RED FACES FOR MURPHY AND GRAY AS LABOUR TURN BLUE.


LORD MANDELSON SAID I WOULD WORK FOR THE TORIES,

ED MILIBAND SAID NO BIG DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LABOUR AND TORIES,

POLLING SHOWS SCOTTISH LABOUR GOING NOWHERE,

In another interview that will haunt Labour in the Glasgow North East by-election, UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has admitted he would have no qualms about continuing his career under a Tory government. Lord Mandelson’s admission follows remarks by UK Energy Secretary, and someone tipped to succeed Gordon Brown as Labour leader, Ed Miliband, that there are no "big differences" between Labour and the Tories.

The admissions are especially difficult for Scottish Labour and come as polling research over the last year shows that both Iain Gray and Jim Murphy have singularly failed to improve Labour’s polling position in Scotland.

A series of Scottish opinion polls reveal that after 12 months of Iain Gray’s lacklustre leadership the SNP remain 13 points ahead on the Holyrood constituency vote and on average 8 points ahead throughout the year, with the SNP averaging 37% with Labour on 29%, Conservatives on 14% and the Lib Dems on 13%.

Polls also show the General Election in Scotland is a two horse race between Labour and the SNP, with Labour support falling by 5 points under Jim Murphy, whilst voters have maintained their backing for the SNP.

Over the last 12 months the SNP have gone from a 2% lead over Labour in the Westminster elections to a 6% lead, whilst in Holyrood the SNP is consistently ahead with an average lead of 8% on the constituency vote.

The poll figures mark the end of a turbulent twelve months for Labour with the party coming second to the SNP at the European elections and an admission by Iain Gray that the public do not know who he is.

Commenting, SNP Campaign co-ordinator Stewart Hosie MP, said:

“Lord Mandelson and Ed Miliband have removed once and for all any doubt that Labour has lost touch with its roots, and their admissions will haunt the party in the run up to the Glasgow North East by-election and the General Election.

“By coming clean and confirming that there are no big difference between Labour and the Tories, it is clear that the next election in Scotland is a two horse race between London Labour and the SNP – a fact confirmed by the latest polling analysis.

“Labour and the Tories are indeed peas in a pod - they both want to cut Scotland's budget, both are pro-Trident and both share the same anti-democratic stance in opposing a referendum on Scotland's future.

“The timing of these comments could not be worse for Jim Murphy and Iain Gray as they try to put on a united front in Brighton – they should use their joint speech to say whether they agree with Ed Miliband and Lord Mandelson, and whether they would work for the Tories.

“With the General Election just around the corner, the latest polling shows that the SNP is the only party trusted to stand up for people in Scotland and to make sure Scotland’s voice is heard on the issues that matter at Westminster.”



More Notes:

1. In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Miliband said: "On certain areas there are no differences between us . . . People don't like (politicians) pretending there are big differences when there aren't."

Further details of Mr Miliband’s interview can be found at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/6231232/Ed-Miliband-no-differences-between-Labour-and-the-Tories-in-some-areas.html

2. Lord Mandelson’s interview with The Times, can be found at:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6850863.ece

A full breakdown of polls is attached, but in summary:

3. After 12 months of Iain Gray’s leadership the recent MORI/Holyrood poll [1,000 people, between 20-31 August] puts the SNP 13 points ahead on the constituency vote.

SNP 38%
Lab 25%
Con 15%
LD 15%

An average of Holyrood constituency polls (see attached for breakdown of the eleven polls between September 2008 and september 2009) gives the following results

SNP 37%

Lab 29%

Con 14%

LD 13%

4. Polls confirm the General Election in Scotland is a two horse race between Labour and the SNP, with Labour support falling by 5 points under Jim Murphy, whilst voters have maintained their backing for the SNP.

Weeks before Jim Murphy took the reigns as Scottish Secretary Labour were on 32% in Westminster voting intentions [YouGov/Sunday Times poll, between 3-5 Sept 08] but a year on party has slipped 5 points to 27% [MORI/Holyrood poll between 20-31 August].


5. Over the last 12 months the SNP has extended a 2% lead over Labour in the Westminster elections to a 6% lead, whilst in Holyrood the SNP is consistently ahead with an average lead of 8% on the constituency vote.

AMENDMENT TO IMPROVE DNA RETENTION FOR SCOTTISH POLICE.


AMENDMENT TO IMPROVE DNA RETENTION FOR SCOTTISH POLICE.

Amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill will seek to end a loophole that currently prevents police retaining DNA and fingerprint evidence where an alleged offender accepts a prosecution offer of a direct measure (e.g., a fiscal fine, compensation order, or work order).

Under the current legislation DNA or fingerprints can only be retained where there is a criminal conviction or the accused is charged with violent or sexual offences. The rules for retaining DNA were last amended in the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006.

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell has today signalled his intention to lodge amendments to close the loophole after reviewing evidence given in response to a Scottish Government consultation and discussing the issue with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

In response to the consultation ACPOS replied: “The acceptance of an offer of disposal by the Procurator Fiscal should equate to a conviction and forensic samples should be retained in line with current procedures.”

SPSA responded: "SPSA consider it would be proportionate to retain forensic samples in relation to those persons arrested and subsequently issued with an Fixed Penalty Notice"

The proposal in the Government consultation also had the support of the Scottish Police Authority Conveners Forum.

Mr Maxwell, a former Minister for Communities said:

“There is a delicate balance to strike in retaining DNA between supporting the work of the police and protecting human rights.

“Scotland has been rightly praised for attaining that balance, however there is a loophole which needs to be closed.

“There is clear guidance that people found guilty of criminal offences will have their DNA and fingerprints retained. However where people accept direct measures such as fines or work orders DNA and fingerprints currently can not be kept. I want to see that changed.

“I believe that when those who have been accused of crimes accept direct measures such as fiscal fines or work orders they are also accepting their guilt. In these cases DNA or fingerprints taken by the police should be treated exactly the same as if they had received a criminal conviction.

“Retaining DNA and fingerprints from people who accept direct measures will help police identify those who re-offend or develop a pattern of offending - without impacting on human rights concerns.

“This bill is still at an early stage, however having reviewed the evidence and looked at the responses to the Government’s earlier consultation on this issue I will be bringing forward amendments to close this loophole.”

More information on this news story,

1. Letter to Kenny MacAskill

Kenny MacAskill
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Retention of Forensic Data and Alternatives to Prosecution

Dear Kenny,

As you are aware, the forthcoming Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill includes provision for the extension of police powers relating to the retention of fingerprint and DNA data.

Under existing legislation, any fingerprint or DNA data which have been obtained from an offender can be retained indefinitely where there is a criminal conviction. However, a loophole exists where such data must be destroyed in circumstances whereby an alleged offender accepts a prosecution offer of a direct measure (e.g., a fiscal fine, compensation order, or work order) as an alternative to prosecution in the criminal courts.

I would like to seek your support for my call to lodge an amendment which closes this loophole, since the Bill as introduced does not contain provisions on the issue. I would advocate the proposal which was put forward in the recent Scottish Government consultation paper on the acquisition and retention of DNA & fingerprint data that:

“DNA and fingerprint samples taken from persons arrested or detained on suspicion of having committed an offence and who subsequently accept an offer by the procurator fiscal of a fiscal fine, compensation order, combined order or work order should be retained indefinitely, in the same way as they are in respect of persons convicted of an offence.”

I am aware that responses to the Scottish Government consultation on this issue were somewhat divided. However, I believe that such measures would greatly enhance public protection and improve the law in relation to the retention of such data. It seems to me that the acceptance by a suspect of a fiscal direct measure as an alternative to prosecution in the criminal courts is an acceptance of responsibility for any alleged crime.

If you are supportive, I would appreciate any guidance you can provide on the wording for a suitable draft of the proposed amendment.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Stewart Maxwell MSP

2. Use of Direct Measures – Offences include

* riotous behaviour while drunk in licensed premises, such as a pub or club;
* Vandalism;
* breach of the peace;
* Destroying or damaging someone's property on purpose (known as 'malicious mischief').
* Possession of controlled drug (18%);
* Theft
* Assault

3.Responses to the Government consultation can be found at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/02/10141304/0

NO BIG DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LABOUR AND TORIES - ED MILIBAND SAID.


NO BIG DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LABOUR AND TORIES - ED MILIBAND SAID.

SHOCKING ADMISSION WILL HAUNT LABOUR IN BY-ELECTION,

In words that will haunt Labour in the Glasgow North East by-election, UK Energy Secretary and someone tipped to succeed Gordon Brown as Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has admitted there are no "big differences" between Labour and the Tories.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Miliband said: "On certain areas there are no differences between us . . . People don't like (politicians) pretending there are big differences when there aren't."

The admission, on the eve of the Labour party conference, is the second to cause embarrassment to Scottish Labour. In a separate interview, Chancellor Alistair Darling took a swipe at Labour's Holyrood leader Iain Gray - expressing exasperation at his incompetent leadership.

Commenting, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said:

"Ed Miliband's admission that there are no big differences between Labour and the Tories will haunt Labour in the Glasgow North East by-election, and overshadow Iain Gray and Jim Murphy's conference double act.

"Labour and the Tories are indeed peas in a pod on the big issues - they both want to cut Scotland's budget, both are pro-Trident and both share the same anti-democratic stance in opposing a referendum on Scotland's future.

"Between Ed Miliband's admission that Labour are no different from the Tories, and Alistair Darling's attack on Iain Gray as incompetent, even by Labour standards, their party conference is of to a disastrous start."

Saturday, 26 September 2009

DARLING HUMILIATES INCOMPETENT GRAY



DARLING HUMILIATES INCOMPETENT GRAY

EVE OF CONFERENCE EMBARRASSMENT FOR SCOTTISH LABOUR

In an eve of conference blunder, Chancellor Alistair Darling has undermined Labour’s Holyrood leader Iain Gray by suggesting that the SNP Government has been allowed a free run because of Gray’s ineffective leadership – Mr Darling said the SNP “have had two years where they have not been exposed to particular criticism or questioning.”

Seizing on the Chancellor’s admission, SNP Chief Whip Stewart Hosie MP said:

“As if his leadership was not in enough trouble already this swipe from the Chancellor is enough to almost make you feel sorry for Iain Gray.

“The timing of Alistair Darling’s attack could not be more embarrassing for Iain Gray as he heads to Brighton for Labour’s conference – party leaders are supposed to be showcased by their colleagues, not shown up.

“Iain Gray has been branded incompetent by the Chancellor, undermined by Steven Purcell on policy issues, and is playing tug of war with Jim Murphy over who is really in charge of Labour in Scotland. To top it off, after a year leading his group at Holyrood, the polls suggest nobody actually knows who he is or what he stands for.”

Friday, 25 September 2009

STATION FUNDING SHOWS PURCELL SHOULD PUT CITY BEFORE PARTY POLITICS



STATION FUNDING SHOWS PURCELL SHOULD PUT CITY BEFORE PARTY POLITICS

GLASGOW INVESTMENT CONFIRMED

Following news that the SNP Government have given a commitment to underwrite the vital upgrading of Dalmarnock Station in Glasgow to the tune of £2.3 million, Mr Doris welcomed the move as an ongoing commitment of the Scottish Government to a range of Glasgow projects and called on Stephen Purcell to raise his game and not let party politics get in the way of running the city of Glasgow.

Despite being given a clear indication the Government would support Dalmarnock station Stephen Purcell chose to scaremonger in the media following a meeting with the First Minister yesterday.

Mr Doris an SNP MSP for Glasgow said:

"This is further evidence that the SNP Government are committed to Glasgow.

“The Dalmarnock Station refurbishment is essential to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and I welcome the Scottish Government's £2.3m financial guarantee.

“There is a growing feeling that Glasgow Labour are letting party politics cloud their judgement in dealing with the Scottish Government. I understand that Mr Purcell was left in no doubt after his meeting with the First Minister that the Scottish Government's commitment would be forthcoming.

“Mr Purcell may want to reflect on how he conducted himself during his meeting with the First Minister as well as his subsequent actions. It is Labour's priorities that seem to be all over the place.

“Despite his rhetoric Mr Purcell did not ask for GARL to be reinstated during the meeting – and it seems Labour have dropped that from its budget plans. More worryingly he refused to work with the Scottish Government to deliver on the FastLink project which the Scottish Government are financially supporting.

“Every Glasgow MSP is disappointed over the loss of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link but Glasgow Labour need to ditch the party politics and work positively on the areas that they do agree with the Scottish Government.”

MACKAY RESIGNATION REIGNITES AFGHAN RETHINK DEMANDS



MACKAY RESIGNATION REIGNITES AFGHAN RETHINK DEMANDS

ROBERTSON REPEATS CALLS FOR STRATEGY REVIEW

The resignation of Scotland’s most senior soldier, General Andrew Mackay, has reignited concerns over the UK government’s lack of support and strategy for forces in Afghanistan.

It is understood Gen. Mackay resigned his post in dissatisfaction over the UK Government’s treatment of the armed forces, and the commander has previously described the UK’s approach in Afghanistan as “constant muddling through” and “making it up as we go along”.

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP – who represents Gen. Mackay’s home town of Elgin - paid tribute to the commander and warned the Prime Minister he must get a grip.

Mr Robertson said:

“General Mackay is a first class commander who deserves recognition for his leadership and courage over a distinguished career - he leaves his post with his head held high.

“Throughout his career General Mackay has battled to improve the lot of the ordinary soldier and his departure underlines the serious dissatisfaction that exists within the military over the UK government’s strategy in Afghanistan, and the support provided for our forces.

“Gordon Brown cannot keep ignoring the questions that are mounting over our strategy. After almost eight years our military personnel deserve a realistic and focussed approach from the UK government – and Ministers must take the initiative now that the Afghan elections have past to rethink our strategy reflecting the wider regional concerns.

“Earlier this year I saw at first hand the reality of the situation facing our brave forces, and now is the time for total candour on the human and material cost of the ongoing operations, their timescale and its chances for success.

“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.”

Thursday, 24 September 2009

WELCOME FOR SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT RENT DEPOSIT PLAN



WELCOME FOR SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT RENT DEPOSIT PLAN

PROTECTION AND PEACE OF MIND FOR TENANTS

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson John Mason MP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement today (Thursday) of a national scheme to safeguard rent deposits and to protect tenants.

Mr Mason, the MP for Glasgow East, said:

“More often than not it is the most vulnerable tenants who are victims of unscrupulous landlords who withhold deposits, and this move by the Scottish Government will mean people are treated fairly and promptly when their tenancy comes to an end.

“Labour should have been introduced this sort of scheme a decade ago, but I am delighted that the Scottish Government is taking action to crack down on rogue landlords and give tenants the protection and peace of mind they deserve.

“Over the years I have been contacted by dozens of constituents who have felt powerless when landlords unlawfully withheld their deposits, and this scheme will finally put an end to that.”

UN RESOLUTION SHOULD SEAL FATE ON TRIDENT RENEWAL



UN RESOLUTION SHOULD SEAL FATE ON TRIDENT RENEWAL

BROWN BRANDED INCONSISTENT ON NON PROLIFERATION

Commenting on the historic UN session today (Thursday) which backed calls by US President Barack Obama for an end to nuclear arms and the spread of the technology behind them, SNP Westminster leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Angus Robertson MP repeated calls for the UK Government to now genuinely lead the world on non-proliferation - and make real budget savings - by scrapping Trident renewal plans completely.

Mr Robertson said:

“This resolution should seal the fate on Trident renewal. It would not just be inconsistent, but utter madness, if Gordon Brown pushed on with plans to renew the UK’s nuclear system.

“The Prime Minister talks about a roadmap to eliminating nuclear weapons while waving about an expensive blueprint for a new generation of these weapons of mass destruction.

“Gordon Brown has the opportunity to show real international leadership on non-proliferation and make real budget savings in the process. A token reduction in the fleet just doesn’t cut it.

“The fact is that the prime minister has been totally inconsistent on nuclear arms limitation – he is lecturing the world on non-proliferation while simultaneously planning to pay a £2bn down payment on Trident replacement.


“To plow billions into nuclear weapons at the cost of essential frontline services is unforgivable. At a time of economic downturn and substantial pressure on government spending, it is utterly irresponsible to waste up to £100 billion on a new generation of unnecessary and unwanted weapons of mass destruction - dumped in Scotland against the wishes of the Scottish Parliament and a majority of Scottish Westminster MPs.

“Civil society, trade unions, religious organisations and the Scottish Government are working together to keep a new generation of Trident missiles out of Scotland, and this agreement between America and Russia reinforces that argument.”

GLASGOW LABOUR MSPs CHALLENGED ON PRIORITIES – EDUCATION OR GARL?



GLASGOW LABOUR MSPs CHALLENGED ON PRIORITIES – EDUCATION OR GARL?

CLOSING GLASGOW SCHOOLS IS THE DAGGER IN GLASGOW’S HEART

DO THEY REALLY WANT ANOTHER TRAMS FIASCO?

Glasgow SNP MSP Bob Doris has challenged Glasgow Labour MSPs to say what they would cut after emphatically saying that the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) should be reinstated into the budget.

This is despite the fact that GARL was going massively over budget like the trams scheme in Edinburgh and despite the fact Glasgow Labour have the best funding settlement of any mainland council in Scotland – 31% per head more than South Lanarkshire and 23% more than North Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. Yet they refuse to employ more teachers and are closing schools.

Mr Doris, a former Glasgow teacher who has been active in campaigning against Labour’s closure programme in Glasgow, has criticised Glasgow Labour for their appalling record in employing teachers and closing schools whilst wanting to waste hundreds of millions on an out of control project.

Questions remain as to whether the Labour party in the Scottish Parliament will propose reinstating GARL into the budget. If so it would mean funding would have to be cut elsewhere.

It has been reported that Labour leader Iain Gray said that he did not regard GARL as a “deal-breaker” in deciding whether Labour MSPs will vote for the Scottish Government's Budget. This was criticised by Labour insiders at Glasgow City Council who accused him of being “Edinburgh-orientated”. However then Iain Gray’s position changed to describing GARL as now being “potentially a deal-breaker”.

Commenting Mr Doris said:

“With Labour’s government in London cutting Scottish spending by £500 million and the costs of GARL escalating cancelling the project was the only option before it became another trams fiasco like we have seen in Edinburgh.

“People I meet are aghast that the costs to just move the fuel dump at the airport escalated from £8 million to £70 million. They also tell me that the real dagger in the heart of Glasgow has been Labour’s school closure programme and the council's failure to invest in new teachers and smaller classes.

“Yet Labour MSPs think it will be a good idea to carry on with spending on an out of control project whilst closing schools! How can they justify this when their government is cutting £500 million from the Scottish budget? How can they justify it when Glasgow receives the most funding per head of all Scottish mainland councils?

“It is simple hypocrisy to call for the reinstatement of that project whilst Glasgow enjoys the best funding per head of any mainland Scottish council yet fails to employ more teachers whilst closing schools.

“If the Labour party are intent on putting GARL back into the budget they must answer where they will make the corresponding cuts to pay for it?

"Will they want the funding to come from the SNP Government's funding commitment to Fastlink which will connect people and facilities all over the city, and bring much greater benefit to people across Glasgow?

"Or will it come from other major projects the SNP Government is delivering in Glasgow - the M74, the new Southern General Hospital, the National Indoor Sports Arena and all the Commonwealth Games facilities, and new colleges?

“The Scottish Government published a draft Budget, and Labour now have every opportunity to propose costed alternatives.

"If their Holyrood leadership fail to propose reinstating GARL in Budget amendments and explain what they would cut to pay for it, Labour will be exposed as guilty of the most disgraceful hypocrisy in Glasgow, and Steven Purcell won’t have a leg to stand on.”

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

TOKEN TRIDENT CUT DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH



TOKEN TRIDENT CUT DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH

PM MISSES OPPORTUNITY TO LEAD WORLD ON NON PROLIFERATION

Reports Gordon Brown is to tell the United Nations he is willing to cut the UK's fleet of Trident missile-carrying submarines by just one has been branded as a missed opportunity by the SNP.

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said the prime minister had the opportunity to genuinely lead the world on non-proliferation and make real budget savings by scrapping renewal plans completely.

Mr Robertson said:

“The prime minister’s announcement does not go nearly far enough. Gordon Brown has yet again missed the opportunity to genuinely lead the world on non-proliferation, and make real budget savings in the process.

“Instead of offering a vague pledge to make a token reduction Gordon Brown should make a firm commitment to eliminating nuclear weapons. The fact is that the prime minister has been totally inconsistent on nuclear arms limitation – he is lecturing the world on non-proliferation while simultaneously planning to pay a £2bn down payment on Trident replacement.

“Any way you look at it - on moral, economic or political grounds - renewal of this nuclear system is untenable.

“People struggle to understand, at a time when budgets are tight across the armed forces and Scotland faces cuts from London, why the UK Government is ploughing billions of pounds into a new generation of unwanted and unnecessary nuclear weapons.

“Civil society, trade unions, religious organisations and the Scottish Government are working together to keep a new generation of Trident missiles out of our waters – even military leaders openly question the affordability and rationale for these weapons, and as recent polling shows, the tide has well and truly turned on Trident.”