Monday, 30 November 2009

SCOTLAND VOTES ROBERT BURNS THEIR GREATEST EVER SCOT.

SCOTLAND VOTES ROBERT BURNS THEIR GREATEST EVER SCOT.




SCOTLAND VOTES ROBERT BURNS THEIR GREATEST EVER SCOT.


Scotland's people voted today on ST Andrews Day their greatest ever Scot was Scotland's Son; Robert Burns whom the Scottish people considered their greatest ever Scot which was broadcasted tonight on the STV show named, "Greatest Scot".
In the year of "HOMECOMING SCOTLAND", which was also the 250th year of the anniversary of the birth of Scotland's famous poet the acknowledgment and recognition from the Scottish people only served to broadcast to the World how much the Scottish people recognise their own folk, be they at home or abroad.
From loads of nominee's the selection boiled down to five people from different era's with some surprising results. Many World famous names were considered and mentioned but only five came through the voting to be acknowledged tonight. Those mentioned are the STV viewers choices.

In number five(5) the Actor David Tennant (Doctor Who) was recognised.
In number four(4) Scotland's past football manager Jock Stein was recognised.
In number three (3) the man who is reputated to have saved two billion lives Sir Alexander Flemming.
In number two(2) the hero of Scots for over 500 years William Wallace.

In number one (1) the one and only, World famous Scotland's Son;

ROBERT BURNS.

SNP TAKE HISTORIC STEP TO LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE



SNP TAKE HISTORIC STEP TO LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE

The SNP today hailed the publication of Your Scotland, Your Voice, the
referendum blueprint that makes the case for independence in unparalleled
depth and clarity.

The ground breaking document is a historic step toward a referendum to
give the people of Scotland their say on Scotland’s future.

(http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2009/11/27154409
)

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP said:

“The people of Scotland want to have their voice heard on Scotland’s
future. This white paper brings them closer to that goal than ever
before.

“There is an overwhelming desire in Scotland for the Parliament to move
forwards with more powers to independence. The status quo is no longer
acceptable to the people of Scotland.

“This white paper is historic step forward on a journey the SNP has
travelled with the people of Scotland for 75 years."

SNP Constitutional Affairs Spokesman Pete Wishart MP added:

“Independence would see Scotland able to generate jobs and investment with
full control of our economy; to remove nuclear weapons from our waters
rather than spend £100 billion on new weapons of mass destruction; to keep
our forces out of illegal wars; to use all the levers available to tackle
poverty and to fully represent our interests and our values – such as our
world leading commitment to tackle climate change - amongst our
neighbours, in the EU and in the world.

“The people of Scotland have a series of options before them, from the
status quo to the Calman proposals, full devolution and Independence.

“The SNP will make the case positively and passionately for Scotland to
gain the full power and responsibility of independence, to live up to our
potential and to take control of our future.

“There is a clear desire for Scotland to move forward and as this white
paper puts the argument for independence before the people of Scotland, so
the SNP will lead a campaign across the country to give the people of
Scotland the say they are entitled too over Scotland’s future and to win
their support for Scotland to achieve it’s full potential with more powers

Sunday, 29 November 2009

ST ANDREWS DAY 2009.

Finale Celebrations -



At A Glance




Monday



30 November -



St Andrew's Day


Here is a list of Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebration Events taking place on November 30th, Scotland's national day:

East Renfrewshire’s St Andrew’s Day Festival - Giffnock
This new festival in East Renfrewshire will involve local musicians and internationally renowned Scottish bands performing music and rhythms which explore our linked heritage with other Celtic countries.

Stirling’s St Andrew’s Day Celebrations - Stirling
Stirling celebrates the finale of Homecoming Scotland 2009 by hosting an exciting range of events.

Dear Mister Burns... - Irvine
A unique collection of handwritten letters to Irvine Burns Club from prominent figures, including Dickens, Garibaldi, Roosevelt, and Connery, provides the core for a celebration weekend of ceilidhs, concerts and entertainment across Irvine.

Dumfries Fling – The Reel Thing - Dumfries
Enjoy a feast of music, culture and street theatre in the heart of Dumfries.

St Andrew’s Weekend Homecoming Finale - Ayr, Troon, Prestwick, Girvan
Celebrate Homecoming Scotland’s Finale weekend in the home of Scotland’s national bard.

St Andrews Festival 2009 – Scotland’s Celebration St Andrews
Join us in the historic town of St Andrews to celebrate Scotland’s patron saint.

St Andrew’s Celebrations - Blairgowrie
Celebrate St Andrew’s Day in the picturesque setting of Blairgowrie, Perthshire.

Martin Boyce: ‘What You See Is Where You’re At’ - Edinburgh
In celebration of contemporary Scottish art, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art marks the beginning of its fiftieth anniversary during Homecoming Year by unveiling a major new work by Scottish artist Martin Boyce.

Renfrewshire Celebrates St Andrew’s Day - Paisley
Experience a truly Scottish series of events featuring a St Andrew’s Farmers’ Market, the Alternative Highland Games, storytelling activities, opportunities to research your family history and an evening of traditional Scottish music and dance at a St Andrew’s ceilidh.

St Andrew’s ‘DO’ - Edinburgh
Edinburgh celebrates Scotland’s National Day and the finale of Homecoming Scotland 2009 with an exciting programme of events.

Land of the Standing Stones: Celebrating St Andrew’s Day - Aberdeenshire
Renowned fiddler Paul Anderson has created a new tune in celebration of the landscape and cultural traditions of the north east.

Aberdeen’s St Andrew’s Day Celebrations - Aberdeen City
On St Andrew's Day, Aberdeen's Beach Ballroom will come alive with a traditional ceilidh featuring all your favourite dances played and sung by top class ceilidh band, Shindig.

Homecoming Borders Banquet - Scottish Borders
Homecoming Borders Banquet is a ten day celebration of the world-class food which comes from this beautiful part of Scotland.

St Andrew’s Day Celebration - Edinburgh
Enjoy the best of traditional Scots and Gaelic instrumental music and song on St Andrew’s Night 2009 in McEwan Hall.

St Andrew’s Day Debating Championships - Edinburgh
Fast becoming one of the main events on the University debating calendar, this year’s St Andrew’s Day Debating Championship has an exciting twist, with each team comprising a University and School speaker, paired together on the day.

Burns Cottage Free Preview - Alloway
An exclusive free preview of the newly refurbished birthplace of Robert Burns.

Burnsong - Edinburgh
Burnsong, Scotland’s song writing competition, celebrates Scotland’s Year of Homecoming with a showcase concert in the Scottish Parliament on St Andrew’s Day.

Zig Zag: The Paths of Robert Burns - Glasgow
For the first time ever, some of the 36,000 objects from Scotland's national collection of treasures associated with Robert Burns will be brought together in a major touring exhibition.

This Is Who We Are - Edinburgh
This exhibition demonstrates the strong influence of Scots abroad when they travelled and named 1000 Canadian towns after their homeland.

Homecoming Trad Music Sessions - Across Scotland
Over 300 Homecoming Trad Music Sessions will take place across the country throughout the year celebrating the contribution of traditional music to Scottish culture.

UNIONIST CONFUSION OVER CALMAN AND CONSTITUTION



UNIONIST CONFUSION OVER CALMAN AND CONSTITUTION

OPPOSITION PUT PARTY POLITICS BEFORE SCOTLAND'S PEOPLE

The launch of the Scottish Government's white paper on Scotland's future has caused confusion amongst Scotland's unionist parties as the Calman consensus fell apart today.

Under questioning on BBC Scotland's Politics Show Tory leader Annabel Goldie refused to commit to implementing any of the proposals in the Calman report, while Iain Gray accepted the principle of a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future as he failed to defend Jim Murphy's decision to kick Calman into the long grass.

Mr Grays attempts to set out three conditions for a referendum backfired as he was told the SNP Government's proposals would meet them all.

Commenting on the collapse of the Calman parties SNP Constitutional Affairs Spokesman Pete Wishart MP said:

"The bizarre performances from Labour and the Tories show they have no intention of implementing the Calman proposals and no vision for Scotland's future.

"The only way the Scottish Parliament will achieve the increased powers an overwhelming majority of people want is with the open and democratic efforts of SNP.

"Once again Iain Gray is failing the key test of leadership. Instead of engaging in the debate Labour are looking for excuses. Iain Gray backs a referendum but lacks the courage to vote for it. By conceding that a referendum is the right way to determine Scotland's future Labour now have no grounds to reject the SNP Government's referendum.

"As for the Tories they are returning to their true colours. While the rest of Scotland looks toward a Parliament with more powers and an independent nation, Scotland's Tories are hiding their heads in the sand in case it upsets David Cameron's ambitions.

""By refusing to act now Labour have shown they cannot be trusted to deliver for Scotland and the Tories have shown how low Scotland is on their priority list.

"The unionist parties Calman consensus has collapsed under the weight of a Westminster election. Where Labour and the Tories are putting their party fortunes first the SNP will always put Scotland's people first as we work to transfer powers such as control of air guns or drink driving as soon as possible and put forward the democratic referendum that will let the people of Scotland have their say over Scotland's future.

LABOUR LIES: BLAIR KNEW WAR WAS ILLEGAL




LABOUR LIES: BLAIR KNEW WAR WAS ILLEGAL

“BLAIR KNEW FROM THE BEGINNING”

SHAMEFUL TRUTH REVEALED BY “SMOKING GUN” MEMO

Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence Spokesperson, has
reacted angrily to reports in the Mail on Sunday that Tony Blair had been
warned the Iraq war was illegal by the Government’s top legal adviser a
full eight months before the conflict broke out.

The “smoking gun” memo, sent to the former Prime Minister by Attorney
General Lord Goldsmith in July 2002, outlined starkly that ousting Saddam
Hussain was a breach of international law.

Commenting Mr Robertson said:

“The more we hear about the web of Labour lies which led to the Iraq war,
the more we realise no one can believe a word this Labour Government says.

“If Tony Blair knew the Iraq war was illegal then there is absolutely no
doubt that he lied to the country and that he lied to Parliament. Blair
knew from the beginning and these flagrant deceptions sent the UK
careering head first into the worst foreign policy disaster in modern
times.

“It’s a sad tale that it comes as no surprise the former Prime Minister
was involved in such a shameful cover up. It is only the first week of
the Chilcot inquiry and we’ve already heard a number of senior UK
diplomats damning the decisions of Labour ministers.

“ With this inquiry revealing more deception by the day serious,
penetrating questions must be asked of Tony Blair when he appears before
the Chilcot inquiry; not least why he failed to admit that he knew from
the start that the war was illegal.

“Put simply, the Chilcot inquiry must be thorough, searching and
transparent and dig deep to get to the core of Labour’s deception.

“Hundreds of brave troops and countless civilians have paid the ultimate
price for Labour’s untruths. The public deserve to know the real story
about a war fought in their name. "

TORY TURMOIL GROWS FOR GOLDIE



TORY TURMOIL GROWS FOR GOLDIE

ONLY SNP OFFER A STRONG SCOTTISH VOICE

Internal turmoil in the Tories is growing as senior Conservatives in
London suggest abandoning the party in Scotland and more questions are
raised over the leadership of Annabel Goldie and David Mundell.

The Sunday Herald reports business leaders have warned Mr Cameron over
Annabel Goldie’s leadership in Scotland. Last month it was reported David
Mundell’s role as Shadow Scottish Secretary was under threat.

Commenting on the Tory turmoil SNP MSP Bill Kidd said:

“It seems there is little unity left in the Conservative and Unionist party.

"With London Tories proposing abandoning the Scottish Conservatives to
their own devices and threats to the position of their only Scottish MP it
is clear that the Tories offer nothing to Scotland.

“The Tories have been in the wilderness in Scotland for many years and
Tory turmoil over their failure to win support in Scotland has been
growing for some time. Now it seems there is a schism between David
Cameron, David Mundell and Annabel Goldie.

“As the Tories fight amongst themselves and as the phoney war between
Labour and Tory continues only the SNP offer a strong voice for Scotland
at Westminster.”

CONSENSUS AGAINST CHILD DETENTION GROWS



CONSENSUS AGAINST CHILD DETENTION GROWS

GLASGOW GIRL’S EXPERIENCE SHOWS DISTRESS OF DETENTION

A report from the Home Affairs Select Committee has backed the view of the Scottish Government and Parliament that holding the children of asylum seekers in detention centres is wrong.

The Committee report recommends that the power to detain children should be used “only sparingly, as a last resort and for the shortest possible time” and rejects claims that families due for deportation would abscond without detention saying that “we believe that this risk is very low and in both moral and financial terms it is a price worth paying to prevent the long-term, indeterminate detention of small children.”

While the report focuses on Yarls Wood in England, children are also detained at Dungavel in Lanarkshire.

A recent case in Scotland, highlighted by the media including today's Scottish News of the World has seen a 10 year old girl detained first at Dungavel and now at Yarls Wood as she and her mother wait to see if their case for judicial review will be accepted.

SNP MSP Anne McLaughlin, who is currently working with Florence Mhango and her daughter Precious welcomed the House of Commons support saying:

“Scottish society at all levels has strongly objected to the detention of children behind bars at Dungavel.

“The raw numbers in this report highlight the unacceptable number of children being detained with one sample showing up to a third had been detained for more than 30 days when there is no real risk they will abscond.

“The experience of 10 year old Precious Mhango shows how distressing it can be for children to be detained. Precious goes to school in Glasgow, she belongs in Scotland but the indiscriminate asylum system has seen her detained twice when there is no danger that her family would abscond.

“Her unnecessary detention is exactly what this report is talking about.

“There is a real campaign building behind Florence and Precious to keep them in Scotland and to ensure no other children go through the experience of detention that Precious has had to face.”

ROBERTSON SLAMS NUCLEAR DETERENT COVER UP



ROBERTSON SLAMS NUCLEAR DETERENT COVER UP

TRIDENT RELIANT ON U.S. TECHNOLOGY

‘WE CANNOT BELIEVE A WORD LABOUR SAY’

Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence Spokesman, has slammed Labour’s “shocking cover up” surrounding the UK’s status as an independent nuclear deterrent.

A report released under the Freedom of Information Act by the U.S. Government’s National Nuclear Security Administration has revealed the neutron generators vital for warhead functioning are supplied to the UK by America.

The UK Government has previously refused to release this information in response to parliamentary questions by Mr Robertson on “security grounds”.

Commenting Mr Roberson said:

“The claim that the UK is an independent nuclear deterrent is a keystone in the Labour Government’s justification of its nuclear obsession.

“Labour’s cloak of secrecy is unravelling at the seams. Their lies about weapons of mass destruction were revealed by a succession of witnesses before the Chilcot Inquiry this week. Now these reports destroy the claim that the UK possesses an independent nuclear deterrent.

“We simply cannot believe a word the Labour Government says – not least when it comes to defence.

“Maintaining the nuclear deterrent is morally and economically unjustifiable. To renew it would be folly. Gordon Brown should abandon his plans for a Son of Trident immediately."

Saturday, 28 November 2009

SNP TURN THE HEAT ON LABOUR ENERGY FAILURE



SNP TURN THE HEAT ON LABOUR ENERGY FAILURE

"SHAMEFUL EXPLOITATION" OF PRE-PAY ENERGY CUSTOMERS MUST END

SNP Energy Spokesman, Mike Weir MP, has slammed the “shameful exploitation” of society’s most vulnerable people by energy companies and the Labour Government's failure to properly cap prices for pre-pay meters.

His comments follow National Housing Federation allegations that five of the big six energy suppliers are still overcharging customers using pre-pay meters, despite Ofgem rules.

Commenting Mr Weir said:

“For big businesses to cash in on their most vulnerable customers is nothing short of immoral. Pre-pay meters are often used by the poorest in society and these people should be protected, not exploited.

“It is utterly unfair to punish people using the pre-pay option. After all, these are people that are choosing to manage their finances by paying cash in advance for a service. Ofgem’s investigation into the matter must be thorough and comprehensive. Action must be taken to ensure their rules are enforced.

“Positive steps such as the SNP Government’s Energy Assistance Package bring welcome help for the fuel poor but firmer action is needed now from the UK government. Labour is failing spectacularly to deal with fuel poverty UK wide. In fact Labour policies, such as the 15 per cent levy on domestic heating oil or liquid petroleum gas users in rural areas will make matters worse. These energy customers do not have access to the social tariffs available to gas customers.

“As the temperature drops and we enter winter, scrutiny on the UK government’s energy policies is hotting up. Domestic fuel bills have gone through the roof and fuel poverty levels are now more than three times the rate of five years ago.

“For an energy rich country, it is a scandal that citizens are suffering from the cold in their own homes. Action must be taken now to ensure investigate this disgraceful situation and bring it to an end."

LABOUR’S CASE OF IRAQ INVASION SHATTERED BY CHILCOT



LABOUR’S CASE OF IRAQ INVASION SHATTERED BY CHILCOT

AFTER ONE WEEK OF EVIDENCE JUSTIFICATION IN TATTERS

‘WE CAN’T BELIEVE A WORD LABOUR SAY’

Highlighting a week of evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry where the UK
Government’s justification for the war in Iraq has been destroyed, SNP
Defence and Westminster Spokesman, Angus Robertson MP, has said ‘no-one
can believe a word Labour say’.

In its first week, the Chilcot inquiry heard evidence from a number of
senior UK diplomats each of whom gave testimony damning the decisions made
by UK Government Ministers.

Wednesday heard the former Foreign Office Director General of Defence and
Intelligence tell the inquiry that UK Ministers had continued to press the
case for invasion based on the weapons of mass destruction claim – after
they had seen a report which suggested that such weapons may have been
"disassembled".

While on Thursday the UK's former ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher
Meyer suggested Tony Blair had discounted a UN intervention in Iraq and
agreed to a military campaign in a closed meeting with President Bush.

A week of damning testimony concluded on Friday when UK ambassador to the
UN in 2003, Sir Jeremy Greenstock questioned the legitimacy of the
intervention given the lack of public and diplomatic support and said the
UK’s policy had been driven by the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence Spokesperson Angus
Robertson MP said:

“With every day that passes, it becomes all the more apparent why the UK
Government were so keen to have this inquiry in private: every witness is
giving testimony damning the decisions made by UK Government Ministers.

“The UK Labour Government misled the people into the worst foreign policy
disaster in recent history. This week, we also heard they billions of
pounds in secret loans from the taxpayer. Quite simply, no-one can believe
a word Labour say.

“Sir John Chilcot will have to dig deep to uncover the truth about the
decisions which led us into this illegal, illegitimate conflict which cost
so many lives.”

Friday, 27 November 2009

UN AMBASSADOR QUESTIONS LEGITIMACY OF WAR IN IRAQ



UN AMBASSADOR QUESTIONS LEGITIMACY OF WAR IN IRAQ

‘CHILCOT MUST DIG DEEP TO UNCOVER THE TRUTH’

SNP Westminster Leader and Defence Spokesperson Angus Robertson MP has seized on comments made Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK's ambassador to the UN in 2003 who today (Friday) cast doubt over the legitimacy of the Iraq invasion.

Sir Jeremy said "whole saga", in terms of UK policy, was driven by the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. On Wednesday, the inquiry heard that UK Ministers had been informed Iraq’s nuclear weapons had been dismantled.

Giving evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, Sir Jeremy said:

"I regarded our participation in the military action against Iraq in March 2003 as legal but of questionable legitimacy in that it did not have the democratically observable backing of a great majority of member states or even perhaps of a majority of people inside the UK.”

Commenting, Mr Robertson said:

“The Chilcot inquiry is showing no one can trust a word Labour says about anything. With every evidence session, the UK Government’s case for the war collapses further.

“The people of Scotland were opposed to the invasion of Iraq and opposed the US/UK occupation, yet we were dragged into an illegal war on a false premise.

“With senior UK diplomats are expressing serious doubts, the case for Gordon Brown to appear before the committee is becoming more pressing by the day.

“Sir John Chilcot will have to dig deep to uncover the truth about the decisions which led to the biggest foreign policy disaster in modern times.”

NO EXCUSE FOR SCHOOL FAILURE AS SNP COUNCIL LEADS THE WAY



NO EXCUSE FOR SCHOOL FAILURE AS SNP COUNCIL LEADS THE WAY

LABOUR LET DOWN SCOTLAND’S CHILDREN

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson today said there was no excuse for councils to fail to cut class sizes or to keep teacher numbers up as figures released today showed SNP East Ayrshire Council had delivered a massive improvement in the number of children in P1-3 classes of 18 or less as SNP research on newly published figures showed Labour councils account for 66% of the fall in teacher numbers across Scotland with Glasgow accounting for 28% of the fall.

Where SNP East Ayrshire Council increased teacher numbers other councils across Scotland led by Labour in Glasgow, who cut teacher numbers by 380 - a quarter of the total fall in numbers, failed to live up to the expectations of Scotland’s parents, teachers and children.

In East Ayrshire 12 new teachers were employed, the number of P1-3 pupils in class sizes of 18 or less increased from 7.8% to 41.5% and average class sizes for P1 of less than 18.

In contrast in Glasgow Labour cut teacher numbers by 380 in 12 months, the number of P1-3 pupils in class sizes of 18 or less fell from 9.3% to 7.1% as class sizes increased.

Kenneth Gibson, Deputy Convener of the Parliament’s Education Committee and MSP for Cunninghame North said:

“While Labour councils are letting down Scotland’s children SNP East Ayrshire council has demonstrated that these targets are achievable.

“It is for those administrations that have failed to keep teacher numbers stable and failed to cut class sizes to explain what has happened to the money they received to support our schools.

“It is an absolute disgrace that Labour council’s account for two thirds of the fall in teacher numbers. That is an astonishing figure.

“All councils must take responsibility for their own actions but the widespread fall in teacher numbers in Labour councils and the deliberate refusal of Glasgow to cut class sizes or to replace teachers exposes Labour’s decision to put politics before education.

“When East Ayrshire has delivered real progress this year there can be no excuses from Glasgow or anywhere else for this failure to deliver on a promise council’s made and that the Government has funded.”

Thursday, 26 November 2009

UN INTERVENTION DISCOUNTED IN SECRET MEETING



UN INTERVENTION DISCOUNTED IN SECRET MEETING

‘CHILCOT MUST DIG DEEP TO UNCOVER THE TRUTH’

SNP Westminster Leader and Defence Spokesperson Angus Robertson MP has demanded Gordon Brown and Tony Blair appear before the Chilcot Inquiry immediately to explain their actions in the lead up to the war in Iraq.

Mr Robertson made the call after it emerged that UK Government Ministers had seen a report which suggested Iraq would be unable to use chemical weapons. Additionally, the UK's former ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer, today (Thursday) suggested Tony Blair had discounted a UN intervention in Iraq and agreed to a military campaign in a closed meeting with President Bush.

Commenting, Mr Robertson said:

“The UK Government’s already discredited case for going to war has been totally shattered by revelations that Ministers knew the so called weapons of mass destruction were useless.

“Tony Blair went to war in our name – but it now emerges he was dissuaded from pursuing UN action in a secret meeting with George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz.

“With every evidence session, the need for Gordon Brown to give evidence becomes all the more pressing. As Chancellor at the time, did he sign cheques but ask no questions?

“Sir John Chilcot will have to dig deep to uncover the truth about the decisions which led to the biggest foreign policy disaster in modern times.”

GRAY ACCUSED OF “POLITICAL COWARDICE”



GRAY ACCUSED OF “POLITICAL COWARDICE”

LABOUR CONDEMNED ON ALCOHOL DECISION

Iain Gray has today been accused of “political cowardice” by SNP MSP Dr Ian McKee who said Gray is not fit to be Labour leader after he failed to address the dominant political issue of minimum pricing for alcohol at First Minister’s Questions.

Despite turning against the SNP Government’s proposal for minimum pricing earlier today Gray ducked the issue at First Minister’s Questions as divisions in his party continue over Labour’s rejection of the policy.

Speaking after FMQs Dr McKee said:

“Iain Gray has disgraced himself, the Parliament and the Labour party with his actions.

“Putting party politics before public health is crass and opportunistic.

“Iain Gray is rightly facing the condemnation of Scotland’s health professionals and members of the licensed trade as well as those within his party for his political cowardice. If he cannot have the courage of his convictions at First Minister’s Questions then he is not fit to be Labour leader.

“If Gray had guts he would have raised minimum pricing – instead he hid from Parliament, from his party and from the public.

“His health spokeswoman claims she has consulted on this decision – but she has clearly ignored all those who deal with the problems alcohol causes.

“As Labour’s divisions over their leaderships rash decision are exposed it is Iain Gray’s future that is on the rocks.”

The following comments have been issued today in reaction to Labour’s decision

Jack Law, chief exec, Alcohol Focus Scotland:
‘Alcohol Focus Scotland is profoundly disappointed at the position Labour has taken in advance of evidence to the Health Committee. This flies in the face of all the advice and evidence from Public Health and other experts who have to deal with alcohol related harm. Establishing a minimum price for alcohol is the most important element of the range of proposals the Government is proposing in the Alcohol Bill, and its rejection by Labour is a major blow which could set back our attempts to make a positive change to Scotland’s drinking culture.’


Commenting on the Labour Party’s decision not to support the Bill, Dr Keighley, BMA Scotland added:

“I am especially disappointed that the Labour group has decided not to support minimum pricing - a decision that will blot their excellent track record on public health policy. It is a premature step by the party in an attempt to derail this legislation before it’s even begun. I am confounded by their announcement and I would urge them to consider, with an open mind, the evidence that will be presented at stage 1 of the Bill’s process. By listening to the overwhelming evidence in support of minimum pricing, I believe that the Party’s concerns could easily be resolved.

Prof Sir Neil Douglas, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said,
“We are deeply disappointed that opposition politicians have chosen the day of publication of the Alcohol Bill to signal their intent to vote down this vital legislation. The death toll and ill-health in Scotland attributable to excessive alcohol consumption has reached an appalling level, with 3 Scots dying every day as a result of such abuse. It is even more disappointing that opposition politicians have elected to determine their position before the Health and Sport Committee has had an opportunity to receive and review the evidence on this area as part of the democratic process. We would urge politicians of all parties to put the interests of the people of Scotland ahead of party politics and to recognise that the time has come for action and not more words. Further delay may only result in the preventable loss of Scots’ lives”

MORE PRIMARY SCHOOLS TO BE BUILT UNDER SNP



MORE PRIMARY SCHOOLS TO BE BUILT UNDER SNP
SNP DELIVERING BETTER SCHOOLS FOR SCOTLAND’S CHILDREN
Western Isles SNP MSP Dr Alasdair Allan - a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Communities and Local Government Committee – has welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government that a further 21 schools are to benefit through the new building programme.
This announcement follows on from the 14 secondary schools announced in September and this latest tranche includes 20 primary school projects and one involving a new special school which will benefit a further 6,000 pupils. Amongst those 21 schools are Daliburgh in South Uist in Dr Allan’s constituency.
Dr Allan said that the latest announcement exposed the doom mongering from the Labour party and showed the SNP was delivering in tough economic times.
Commenting Dr Allan said:
“The SNP knows how important education is and is investing in schools across the country.
“I am delighted that that the Scottish Government has invested in another Western Isles primary school, which I know will be a huge local asset to all those families and children in the southend of South Uist.
"The SNP have already lifted 100,000 children out of the crumbling school estate Labour left behind - these school buildings will see more children moved into good quality accommodation.
“It was Labour which bequeathed Scotland a crumbling school estate which 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.
“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 the previous announcement of 14 new secondary schools it is the SNP which is turning around Scotland’s school estate and giving our young children the new, good schools they deserve.”

GRAY and BAILLIE PUT PARTY POLITICS BEFORE PUBLIC HEALTH



GRAY & BAILLIE PUT PARTY POLITICS BEFORE PUBLIC HEALTH

LABOUR WILL PAY HEAVY PRICE FOR BOOZE BLUNDER

Commenting on reports that Labour has decided to vote against minimum pricing of alcohol before the Scottish Government's alcohol bill is even published, and even before hearing expert evidence, Dr Ian McKee - a member of the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee - said:

"Iain Gray and Jackie Baillie are putting party politics before public health in Scotland.

"This crass and opportunistic decision is an enormous error of judgement by the Labour party, for which they will pay a heavy political price.

"This blunder will be greeted with fury by Scotland's police officers, it will be greeted with fury by the country's health professionals, and above all it will be greeted by fury by people in communities across Scotland which are blighted by cheap booze fueled anti-social behaviour.

"It will also be greeted with great unease among Labour MSPs and members, many of whom are enthusiastic supporters of minimum pricing.

"There are 3,000 deaths every year in Scotland caused by alcohol misuse and Labour doesn't seem to care..

"Labour have buckled under pressure from the supermarkets and big busness - Iain Gray and Jackie Bailiie should hang their heads in shame."

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

SNP RESPOND TO UK GOVERNMENT CALMAN PROPOSALS



SNP RESPOND TO UK GOVERNMENT CALMAN PROPOSALS

ECONOMIC PROPOSALS ‘A MESSY FUDGE’

DEEPLY CYNICAL AND IRRESPONSIBLE DELAY

SNP Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson, Pete Wishart MP, today (Wednesday) condemned the UK Government over its cynical proposals to delay taking forward the recommendations of the Calman Commission.

The UK Government today laid out proposals to transfer limited tax raising and borrowing powers to the Scottish Parliament as well as control over airguns and drink driving and speeding limits – but only in the next UK Parliament.

Commenting on the UK Government’s delay in transferring powers over speed limits, drink driving and air guns, Mr Wishart said:

“We have agreement today, why do we not have action today? This delay is a deeply cynical and irresponsible move by the UK Government – putting lives at risk for political advantage.

“There is absolutely nothing standing in the way of the UK Government handing over powers where consensus exists in order to improve the governance of Scotland. Indeed, Kenneth Calman himself said they could be implemented ‘quickly and easily’ without fuss.

“The Scottish Government has made clear it is ready to legislate where agreement exists – and has now laid out a timetable for doing so. It is the UK Labour Government which is stalling progress.”

Commenting on the UK Government’s proposals to transfer certain tax raising and borrowing powers, Mr Wishart added:

“The Calman Commission’s own experts have described these flawed tax proposals as ‘worse than undesirable, they are unworkable’.

“The SNP Government is seeking full fiscal autonomy and with that full responsibility for Scotland’s finances. Anything less risks being a messy fudge which will damage the Scottish economy in the long term.”

MINIMUM PRICING – GRAY MUST COMMIT TO FULL AND OPEN DEBATE



MINIMUM PRICING – GRAY MUST COMMIT TO FULL AND OPEN DEBATE

RUMOURS LABOUR IS TO REJECT MINIMUM PRICING
Responding to suggestions that the Scottish Labour party is preparing to reject the Scottish Government’s proposal for a minimum price for alcohol – when new alcohol legislation is published tomorrow – SNP MSP Dr Ian McKee urged Labour and other opposition parties to listen to the evidence on the bill.

It has been suggested that Labour will reject minimum pricing tomorrow before the Health Committee even begins to take evidence. It is understood the Labour party are split on the policy and that this has led to numerous disputes within the Labour group.

Dr McKee, a former GP and member of the Health committee said:
“If this speculation is true Labour’s leadership will disappoint people across Scotland’s health sector and many members of their own party – including their own MSPs.

“With rumours already circulating that Labour are set to reject minimum pricing for alcohol Iain Gray must take this opportunity to commit to giving all aspects of the bill a full parliamentary hearing.

“When so many public health, crime, justice and alcohol industry representatives know the benefits minimum pricing will bring it would be a disgraceful decision for any party to reject this bill before they have heard the evidence.

“All of the UK’s Chief Medical Officers, Scotland’s Police Chiefs, the BMA, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Royal College of Physicians, the Episcopal Church and members of the alcohol trade support minimum pricing.

“When the bill is published Labour must commit to give this legislation a fair hearing in Parliament. To reject legislation that will save lives, families and billions of pounds without hearing any of the evidence would be utterly irresponsible.

“When the SNP pushed for legislation to ban smoking in public places Labour’s initial reaction was to oppose the measure - now it is one of Parliament’s greatest achievements.

“There is an overwhelming bulk of evidence in favour of minimum pricing and for Labour to ignore that evidence in favour of lobbyists for cheap booze would be a disgrace to Labour and to Parliament.”

MINISTER CALLOUSLY DISMISSES 6000 TOURISM JOBS



MINISTER CALLOUSLY DISMISSES 6000 TOURISM JOBS

WEIR SLAMS SCOTLAND OFFICE FOR ‘APPALLING IGNORANCE’ OF VITAL SECTOR

Mike Weir MP, SNP Spokesperson on Business and Enterprise, has slammed the Scotland Office’s “appalling ignorance” of the impact of the UK Government’s policy on Scotland’s rural economy.

Mr Weir raised the problems facing small self-catering businesses by the proposed withdrawal of Furnished Holiday Letting Relief, only for these concerns to be dismissed by Scotland Office Minister Ann McKechin.

Commenting, Mr Weir said:

“The Minister displayed appalling ignorance of the problems facing small holiday letting businesses in Scotland. In her answer she clearly did not understand the difference between such businesses and Bed and Breakfast and hotel businesses.

“She also seemed to believe that because relatively few people were involved, it was OK to undermine their businesses. There are at least 6000 of these businesses in Scotland. Is she prepared to throw away thousands of jobs in the teeth of a recession rather than consider alternative views?

“Small holiday letting businesses are a vital part of our rural economy – providing employment and custom to other local businesses.

The sensible alternative proposals that have been put forward to deal with the problem of the European ruling are both tax neutral and support the industry. They should be looked at by the Treasury as a matter of urgency before these changes cause irreparable damage to the rural economy of Scotland.”

BOYACK BLUNDERS ON HOMECOMING BY ATTACKING LABOUR’S RECORD IN OFFICE



BOYACK BLUNDERS ON HOMECOMING BY ATTACKING LABOUR’S RECORD IN OFFICE

GRAY’S TEAM MAKING A HABIT OF ATTACKING McCONNELL’S EXECUTIVE

SNP MSP Rob Gibson - a member of the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee - has seized on remarks made by Iain Gray’s party spokesperson on the Environment and Rural Development, Sarah Boyack, where she attacked her own party’s record on organising this year’s successful Homecoming celebrations.

Yesterday it was announced that the Homecoming Scotland celebrations had boosted the Scottish economy by at least £19.4m already. Despite this success Iain Gray’s Labour responded in a typically negative manner.

On STV News last night (Tuesday) Sarah Boyack said:

“Well it could have been a greater success if more money had been invested at the start … and there are particularly some issues about marketing the event in the early days. It could have been much better.”

However the Homecoming initiative was started in 2005 – TWO years before the SNP took office and under the authority of Jack McConnell’s Labour-led Executive.

This is not the first time that a Labour spokesperson has attempted to attack the SNP Government for something that was the responsibility of their party. Andy Kerr, Richard Baker and Claire Baker have all attempted to attack the SNP on the basis of policies and statistics that were the responsibility of their own party when it led the previous Executive.

Commenting Mr Gibson said:

“Labour has become so thirled to making negative attacks on the SNP and talking Scotland down that they now find themselves in the ridiculous position of attacking their own party’s record in office.

“Sarah Boyack’s blunder is the latest in a patter that is developing amongst Iain Gray’s team.

“I have to ask just what is going on in Labour? Do they think that the press and public are stupid and won’t notice their attempts to mislead them?

“In the teeth of a recession Homecoming has been a success and one would think that should be something labour could themselves welcome considering they were involved in its organisation and funding in its early days.

“However it seems that Sarah Boyack thinks her own Labour-led Executive didn’t invest enough money nor marketed it properly in the early days.

ASDA INCOME TRACKER SHOWS SCOTLAND REMAINS BETTER OFF THAN UK



ASDA INCOME TRACKER SHOWS SCOTLAND REMAINS BETTER OFF THAN UK
SNP GOVERNMENT POLICIES PUTTING MONEY BACK IN PEOPLE’S POCKETS
TIME LABOUR STOPPED TALKING SCOTTISH ECONOMY DOWN
Glasgow SNP MSP Bill Kidd has welcomed the results of Asda’s latest income tracker which shows that Scottish households have higher incomes than the rest of the UK and hailed them as a result of the SNP Government’s policies putting more money into people’s pockets in the midst of the current recession.
According to the report for October 2009:
* Average family spending shows the average UK family’s is £10 a week higher compared to £11 a week higher for Scotland – a difference of £52 over the year
* Gross incomes show the average UK figure is £6 higher than a year earlier compared to £8 higher than a year earlier for Scotland – a difference of £104 over the year
* Incomes after tax shows the average UK figure is £2 a week higher than a year earlier compared to £5 a week higher for Scotland – a difference of £156 over the year
The report also says that: "...in 2009 the average Scottish household has seen spending power rise faster than in the UK as a whole."
Commenting Mr Kidd said:
“These are very welcome figures that rather undermine the doomsayers from the opposition who would rather mislead and talk down the Scottish economy. These figures show that Scotland is faring better in the current recession and that is something that is welcome.
“I have no doubt that Scottish Government policy is helping Scottish households during this difficult economic period.
“The Council Tax freeze, scrapping bridge tolls, reducing prescription charges, scrapping graduate endowment, and the small business bonus – all are helping people maximise their incomes in these tough times.
“That Scottish households have more income than those across the UK is good news and begs questions of Labour’s policies south of the border.”

NEW POWERS FOR SCOTLAND MUST NOT BE DELAYED



NEW POWERS FOR SCOTLAND MUST NOT BE DELAYED

IF WE HAVE AGREEMENT TODAY, THERE SHOULD BE A COMMITMENT TO “ACTION THIS DAY”

As the UK Government prepared to issue its formal response to the
recommendations of the Calman Commission, the SNP have called on Labour to
stop delaying Calman reforms and act immediately to transfer powers where
agreement exists across the political spectrum.

In June 2009, the SNP Scottish Government published draft legislative
orders to transfer responsibility to Holyrood from Westminster for the
control of air weapons, drink-drive and speeding limits, administration of
Scottish Parliament elections, and controlled substances in relation to
the treatment of addiction – as recommended by the Calman Commission
report.

Commenting, SNP Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson Pete Wishart MP said:

“There is absolutely nothing standing in the way of the UK Government
handing over powers where consensus exists in order to improve the
governance of Scotland.Indeed, Kenneth Calman himself said they could be
implemented ‘quickly and easily’ without fuss.

“If we have agreement today, the UK Government should commit to ‘action
this day’.

“The Scottish Government has made clear it is ready to legislate where
agreement exists. It is the UK Labour Government which is stalling
progress - even though these reforms were recommended by a convention of
the Unionist parties.

“Cutting the drink drive limit and handing over control of airguns would
save lives and improve safety. Why would anyone wait to take this kind of
necessary action?

“Holding these powers back because of splits within and among the Calman
parties would be utterly unacceptable.”

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

CIVIL SERVANT WHO RESIGNED OVER IRAQ SHOULD BE INVITED TO INQUIRY



CIVIL SERVANT WHO RESIGNED OVER IRAQ SHOULD BE INVITED TO INQUIRY

Appearing on Channel 4 News tonight (Tuesday) Carne Ross – the Foreign Office civil servant who resigned over the decision to go to war in Iraq – confirmed that he has not yet received an invitation to appear before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

Responding to that confirmation Angus Robertson MP, said that it was important that someone with the experience and knowledge of Carne Ross should appear because he would bring an independent perspective to the circumstances that led to the decision.

Commenting, Mr Robertson said:

“It is clear that Mr Ross has no knowledge of whether he has been invited or not. I therefore hope that the inquiry can confirm that he will appear.

“As someone who resigned on a point of principle over the circumstances that took us to war in Iraq his perspective could provide crucial evidence.

“Free from the constraints of being a current civil servant he can provide independent evidence free from any pressures. I hope that the inquiry will quickly move to ensure that we know that someone of the stature of Mr Ross is going to appear.

“People deserve the whole truth about a war fought in their name and the inquiry must be thorough, searching and transparent. The Chilcot enquiry must dig deep and uncover those who hold responsibility.”

MASSIVE QUESTIONS OVER £62.2BN BAILOUT



MASSIVE QUESTIONS OVER £62.2BN BAILOUT

SNP CALL FOR IMMEDIATE TRANSPARENCY OVER SECRET BANK BAILOUT

SNP Treasury Spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP has called for immediately transparency from the Bank of England, the Treasury and the FSA after it emerged £62.2bn of secret emergency loans were granted to HBOS and RBS at the same time as a merger between Lloyds and RBS was being pushed through.

Commenting, SNP Treasury Spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:

“I make no criticism of Bank of England for doing its job and providing emergency funding but were HBOS and Lloyds shareholders told about this indeed did all the senior management in both banks know about this?

“Given that Gordon Brown’s Government have claimed the credit for these mergers, what did the Prime Minister and the Chancellor know about extraordinary sums of emergency funding going into banks in the middle of a highly contentious takeover? Did Hector Sants, the then chief executive of the FSA, know about these loans?

“This revelation today offers up far more questions than answers. The Bank of England, the Treasury and the FSA must immediately be open about what they knew and when they knew it.”

BE A HERO AND HELP OUR HEROES, SHOEBOX APPEAL LAUNCH



BE A HERO AND HELP OUR HEROES, SHOEBOX APPEAL LAUNCH

When: Wednesday 25 November 2009 at 14.30

Where: Turning Circle at Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS

Map: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&source=hp&q=EH8+8AS&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=Edinburgh+EH8+8AS&gl=uk&ei=gQUMS4a0O4ex4QbZ4vSHBA&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CAkQ8gEwAA


What: Bob Doris MSP will be joined by Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil MSP tol greet Donald Ritchie of Ritchies Training Centre, Glasgow, as he arrives with a HGV vehicle to launch the shoebox appeal. Boxes will be filled with practical items and sent to service personnel in Afghanistan by charity Troopaid. The appeal is being organised by Glasgow-based High Access Resuce Team. Also in attendance will be representatives from Erskine and HART.

CHILCOT INQUIRY MUST ‘LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED’



CHILCOT INQUIRY MUST ‘LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED’

As the Chilcot inquiry into the war in Iraq got underway, Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesman, reiterated his calls for a thorough and transparent exercise which would finally reveal the truth about the decisions which led the UK into the war in Iraq.

Commenting, Mr Robertson said:

“The people deserve the whole truth about a war fought in their name and the inquiry must be thorough, searching and transparent.

“It is welcome that Tony Blair will appear as a witness but Gordon Brown must also be held to account. The public won’t tolerate a Downing Street stitch up and Sir John Chilcot has to go the extra mile to unravel the truth and convince the public that the inquiry has real worth.

“The Iraq war has been the single biggest foreign policy disaster in modern times. The UK was led to war on a lie about weapons of mass destruction and hundreds of our brave troops and countless civilians have paid the ultimate price for this deception. The Chilcot enquiry must dig deep and uncover those who hold responsibility.”