Saturday, 13 November 2010

REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 14th November 2010








The day when those killed in wars from 1914-18 and 1939-45 and later conflicts are commemorated.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

POLL - SCOTS BLAME LABOUR FOR RISING UNEMPLOYMENT

POLL - SCOTS BLAME LABOUR FOR RISING UNEMPLOYMENT

ANOTHER SURVEY PUTS LABOUR ON THE SPOT FOR RECESSION & JOB LOSSES

Commenting on another poll which shows that most Scots blame Labour for the economic problems Scotland faces the SNP’s Deputy Whip Angela Constance, and MSP for Livingston, said:

“This is a bad poll for Labour coming in the week that they hold their Scottish conference. It also confirms the previous Mori poll showing most Scots blame Labour for the spending cuts.

“The SNP is the only party offering better for the people of Scotland. An alternative to the dismal cuts and risk of double dip recession coming from London with a call for economic powers for Scotland to continue investment in training, apprenticeships and support for employment.

“While Alex Salmond and the SNP's experienced team are working hard to help households through the recovery Iain Gray cannot escape the fact that the recession happened on Labour’s watch.

“Gordon Brown may be gone but Labour’s legacy will not be forgotten and Cameron's cuts are risking thousands more Scottish jobs.  Voters will not allow Labour, the Tories or LibDems to escape from their responsibility for the economic mess and the cuts coming Scotland’s way."


1. The poll results are as follows:

YouGov / Scottish Daily Mail Survey Results     

Sample Size: 1405 Scottish Adults        

Fieldwork: 18th - 20th October 2010      
           
QUESTION:

Unemployment levels rose in Scotland in the three months to August, with an extra 13,000 people out of work. Which of the following politicians, if any, do you blame the most for rising unemployment in Scotland?          

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown
32
Prime Minister David Cameron
27
First Minister Alex Salmond
8
None of these
19
Don't know
13

2. Details of the Mori poll showing Scots blame the former UK Labour government for forthcoming spending cuts can be sought form here:

Thursday, 29 July 2010

CHANCELLOR SAYS MOD MUST PAY FOR TRIDENT


CHANCELLOR SAYS MOD MUST PAY FOR TRIDENT

TRIDENT BECOMES DEFENCE DANGER TO CONVENTIONAL FORCES

Confirmation from the Chancellor that the costs of replacing Trident
will come from the Ministry of Defence's core budget has been met with
concern by SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus
Robertson MP, who warned that inclusion of Trident into the MoD core
budget changed the terms of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

In an interview during his visit to India, Osborne is reported saying:
"The Trident costs, I have made it absolutely clear, are part of the
defence budget. All budgets have pressure. I don't think there's
anything particularly unique about the Ministry of Defence. I have
made it very clear that Trident renewal costs must be taken as part of
the defence budget."

Mr Robertson said:

“George Osborne’s announcement fundamentally changes the context of
the strategic defence review which began on the assumption that the
cost of Trident would be met centrally by the Treasury.

“From being a deterrence during the Cold War, Trident has itself now
become one of the biggest defence risks we face with the cost of
replacement threatening the future of conventional forces and bases.

“Absorbing Trident into the core defence budget is unsustainable and
would have a devastating impact for spending on conventional forces,
which are already overstretched. The implications of this decision
could not be more serious.

“The strategic review is about choices for the future and prioritising
our defence needs in a changed world. Conventional forces, which have
already been cut back, should not be forced to compete with Trident
for resources.

“Anyway that you look at it; on moral, economic or political grounds,
renewal of these weapons of mass destruction is untenable.

“The SNP believe it should be scrapped and more so, at a time when
public spending faces savage cuts across the board, the time has come
to accept that Trident can no longer be treated as some sacred cow.
The majority of Scots oppose Trident along with the Scottish
Parliament and civil society. In these financially difficult times why
should Scots pay for the London parties' obsession with weapons of
mass destruction?”

SNP ON INDEPENDENT BUDGET REVIEW


SNP ON INDEPENDENT BUDGET REVIEW
 
LABOUR FAIL TEST OF OPPOSITION – NEVER MIND GOVERNMENT
 
Commenting on the Independent Budget Review produced by a team led by Crawford Beveridge  SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said:
 
“This report exposes the true scale of the cuts Scotland will face as a result of Labour’s mismanagement of the UK economy and the Tory and Lib Dems desire to cut too quickly and deeply.
 
“Labour’s pathetic response fails the test of opposition – never mind government.  They are responsible for two-thirds of the cuts, and are desperate to dodge saying what they would do.    Their ridiculous notion of publishing a draft budget in September before we know what the budget is in October – a daft idea which parliament specifically rejected in a vote on 1 July – would  leave  no time to consult on any of this with anyone!
 
“Labour crashed the public finances – and they are left with absolutely nothing sensible to say on one of the biggest issues of our times.
 
“Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems have put Scotland’s public sector and our valued public services in real danger.   Labour in particular must lift their heads out of the sand, face up to the situation they created, and join a real discussion to minimise the impact on jobs and public services of Labour, Liberal and Tory cuts.
 
“When spending in Scotland is directly controlled by first Labour and now a Tory / Lib Dem Government in London they cannot escape responsibility for this situation.
 
“Labour’s long list of extra spending pledges – added to daily – must now be scrapped and they along with the other parties must set out where they stand on the review’s recommendations.
 
“The SNP has a long standing commitment to free personal care and concessionary travel as part of the debt we owe our older generations.
 
“Just as we opposed Tory plans to privatise Scotland’s water in the 1990’s we will not give way to Tory pressure to privatise Scotland’s water now – a damaging idea which the Review rejects.  The Scottish people have invested in Scottish Water and there is no good reason why the private sector should get billions of pounds in benefit from taxpayers investment.
 
“This report has very serious recommendations and puts the challenge Scotland faces into stark perspective.  It must be properly discussed and debated just as other parties must face up to the need for full financial responsibility in Scotland so investment in our public services is no longer left to the whims of Westminster politicians.”

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

BLAIR SHOULD BE RECALLED AFTER DANNATT EVIDENCE TO IRAQ INQUIRY



BLAIR SHOULD BE RECALLED AFTER DANNATT EVIDENCE TO IRAQ INQUIRY

Commenting on evidence from the former head of the Army to the Iraq
Inquiry today (Wednesday) SNP Westminster leader and Defence
spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said the testimony underlined the
impact the Iraq quagmire had on operations in Afghanistan.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt told the inquiry that the Army had come close
to "seizing up" over Iraq and that the decision by Tony Blair to
increase British troops to Afghanistan at the same time as the force
in Iraq was facing a growing insurgency represented a "perfect storm"
for the Army.

Mr Robertson said:

“General Dannatt’s testimony underlines the real effect of the Iraq
quagmire on operations in Afghanistan. We are living with the
consequences of that decision even now, and Tony Blair must answer for
his decisions.

“The evidence is mounting against Tony Blair, and it would seem
incredible if the former prime minister was not now recalled to
explain his decisions.

“Tony Blair’s last appearance raised more questions than it answered
and I would hope, with considerations of the general election now
passed, that he will be totally straight with people on what was going
on in Downing Street -  this is a time for total candour on the worse
foreign policy decision in recent history.”

SCHOOL CLOSURE HYPOCRISY FROM LABOUR

 
 
SCHOOL CLOSURE HYPOCRISY FROM LABOUR
 
LABOUR PROPOSED AND VOTED FOR KILMARNOCK CLOSURE
 
The closure of Crossroads School in Kilmarnock, reported in today’s Herald was proposed and voted for by Labour in East Ayrshire.
 
The SNP MSP for the area Willie Coffey today condemned the utter hypocrisy of Labour’s education spokesman after it was revealed the closure motion was put forward by a Labour councillor and that Labour voted for the closure throughout the process.  Mr Coffey also said it was ridiculous to claim that this closure meant other rural schools would close and it exposed how Labour's Holyrood group would stoop to any level of dishonesty.
 
Mr Coffey pointed out that:
 
* The key vote on the closure of the Crossroads school was moved by the leader of the Labour group on East Ayrshire Council, Maureen McKay, at the council Cabinet meeting of 23 June and it was passed unanimously by the Council Cabinet – which includes Labour members. It was also unanimously backed by all parties, and local education and church representatives.
 
* Labour MSPs also voted in favour of the Schools (Consultation) Scotland Bill on 19 November 2009 which was passed unanimously by the Parliament.
 
* Between 1999 and 2007 Labour closed 64 rural schools.
 
* Labour’s manifesto did not offer a commitment to any additional protection for rural schools. Under the old legislation that Labour would have left in place, the school would not have been referred to Ministers for a decision and the closure would simply have gone ahead on the basis of the Council’s decision.
 
Mr Coffey, who represents Kilmarnock said:
 
“Des McNulty’s comments are misleading and utterly hypocritical.
 
“This is typical of the unsavoury depths Labour have sink to in opposition. No one can trust a word they utter. They voted for a closure so they can protest about it afterwards.  Labour have been misleading parents and children.
   
“No one likes closing schools and this was a very difficult decision.  But Labour MSPS should have the guts to admit that their councillors proposed the closure and that Labour voted for it’s closure. 
   
“The unanimous decision was backed by education and church representatives because of the circumstances of the school and the alternatives on offer.
   
“This decision has no bearing on any other school.  Each case is unique as each school, and the local circumstances will be unique.
   
"The SNP Government has put in place steps to support parents and children in rural areas in making the case to save their school.  Labour simply closed 64 rural schools without question.
 
"In this case the planning, the consultation and the proposals for future education for children from Crossroads in Kilmarnock ensured the best possible education."

RUSI REPORT SCUTTLES TRIDENT RENEWAL



RUSI REPORT SCUTTLES TRIDENT RENEWAL

The SNP has seized on a report by the Royal United Services Institute
(RUSI) which says the so-called continuous-at-sea-deterrence is no
longer necessary following the end of the Cold War, and that Trident
should be scaled back or abandoned altogether.

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said:

“From being a deterrence during the Cold War, Trident has itself now
become one of the biggest defence risks we face with the cost of
replacement threatening the future of conventional forces and bases.

“As our brave forces serve in Afghanistan they should not wonder
whether their battalions and bases face cuts to pay for renewal of
this redundant weapons system. The prospect of liability for Trident
being absorbed into the core defence budget would either have a
devastating impact for spending on conventional forces, which are
already overstretched, or just lead to more damaging cuts.

“The Treasury say they do not want to pay for it, the Defence
Secretary warns that the country can no longer afford to be equipped
against every conceivable danger, and now this report confirms Trident
is no longer necessary. It should be game, set and match.

“The strategic review is about choices for the future and prioritising
our defence needs in a changed world. Conventional forces, which have
already been cut back, should not be forced to compete with Trident
for resources.

“Anyway that you look at it; on moral, economic or political grounds,
renewal of these weapons of mass destruction is untenable.”

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

TREASURY AND MOD AT ODDS OVER DEFENCE FOOTPRINT



TREASURY AND MOD AT ODDS OVER DEFENCE FOOTPRINT

CHIEF SECRETARY REVEALS RIFT ON COMMUNITY IMPACT OF CUTS

A public rift between the Treasury and Ministry of Defence has emerged
over the extent to which defence chiefs must take into account the
effect cuts under the strategic defence and security review will have
on local communities.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, who is charged with
slashing public spending to reduce the deficit, has said the MoD must
take into account the effect of decisions on local economies, however,
his claim comes just a week after the Armed Forces Minister refused to
continue publishing a regional breakdown of defence statistics and
claimed that the MoD would not consider local economic factors, only
defence needs. See references in notes.

The Treasury and MoD are already at loggerheads over who will pay for
Trident renewal – with the Treasury insisting the bulk of the capital
expenditure for Trident should come from the MoD core budget – a move
that would have serious implications for defence spending in
conventional areas.

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP
welcomed the Treasury intervention which vindicated his long-standing
calls for the continued compilation of regional defence statistics.

Mr Robertson said:

“This extraordinary public rift between the Treasury and MoD totally
vindicates the calls the SNP have been making for the continued
publication of regional defence spending statistics.

“The MoD says local considerations don’t count, but the Treasury say
local economic factors must be considered. If Danny Alexander is being
honest, then this is the best news we have had from the Treasury for
years.

“We can only continue to track the impact of government decisions in
Scotland and elsewhere if the MoD answer the questions. The stakes
could not be higher and the government must make a fair and balanced
defence footprint across the UK a priority.

“To date, Scotland has been massively short-changed on its fair share
of defence spending and all the indications are that the SDR could
have further catastrophic consequences for the defence footprint in
Scotland. The MoD’s own figures show that £5.6bn less has been spent
on defence in Scotland than has been contributed by taxpayers, and
10,000 defence jobs have been lost in Scotland since the last
strategic review.

“If the strategic review fails to address the mammoth cutbacks in
defence spending that we have seen over the last decade, then the
coalition government risks even more damaging decline for the defence
footprint in Scotland and causing irreparable damage to local
communities across the country.”

Friday, 16 July 2010

EDUCATION SECRETARY BACKS MSP's CALL TO LIFT TAX ON LEARNING



EDUCATION SECRETARY BACKS MSP's CALL TO LIFT TAX ON LEARNING

SNP MSP for Glasgow, Bob Doris, who has been supporting a campaign by the  British Universities Finance Directors’ Group to have VAT reduced on e-resources, has won the support of Mike Russell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Life Long Learning.

Former teacher Mr Doris wrote to both the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Mike Russell MSP, ahead of the recent UK budget asking them to support the request by universities across the UK to have VAT reduced on e resources. Currently electronic resources such as e-journals, e-books and online databases attract a VAT rating of 17.5% (soon to be 20%), whilst their paper copy counterparts such as books and magazines are VAT exempt.

Mr Doris was disappointed that the chancellor chose not to act for the benefit of the higher education sector and has still to receive a formal reply from the chancellor to his letter. However in a boost to the campaign Mike Russell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Life Long Learning has added his support in a letter to Mr Doris saying 'I am disappointed that the issue you raised does not appear to have been addressed in the recent budget but I would urge you to continue to pursue your case'.

Commenting Mr Doris said:

"The support of Mike Russell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Life Long Learning is a timely boost for the campaign and I will forward a copy of his reply to me to the  British Universities Finance Directors’ Group. There was disappointment when the chancellor missed a golden opportunity to reduce the VAT burden and create a level playing field between books and e-resources.

"I very much hope the UK Government will reconsider the matter with a view to reducing VAT to 5% on such materials. I know the UK is in a difficult financial situation but any reduction in this area could be self financing by boosting the amount of such publications sold and hence maintaining the overall tax yield. This could benefit our higher education sector without increasing the burden on the public purse.

"I continue to welcome the acknowledgement from past and present UK Governments of the importance of zero VAT books but  with the growing importance of e-resources for learning, particularly in Scotland’s Higher Education institutions, it is now time to look at reducing the VAT burden on electronic media".

SNP SEIZE ON TREASURY AND MOD TRIDENT DISPUTE



SNP SEIZE ON TREASURY AND MOD TRIDENT DISPUTE

WHY SHOULD SCOTS PAY FOR LONDON PARTIES' NUCLEAR OBSESSION?

Seizing on reports of a dispute between the Treasury and Ministry of
Defence over who will pay for Trident renewal, SNP Westminster leader
and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said the battle underlined
how renewal of the nuclear weapons scheme was unaffordable, and warned
over the threat to spending on conventional defence equipment.

It is understood the Treasury expects the bulk of the £100bn capital
expenditure for Trident to now come out of the Ministry of Defence's
(MoD) core budget – a move that would have serious implications for
defence spending in conventional areas.

Mr Robertson said:

“This is the kind of waste of money the SNP highlighted at the recent
election. Absorbing the cost of Trident into the core defence budget
would either have a devastating impact for spending on conventional
forces, which are already overstretched, or just lead to more damaging
cuts. The implications of this dispute could not be more serious and
totally change the context of the current strategic defence review.

“The strategic review is about choices for the future and prioritising
our defence needs in a changed world. Conventional forces, which have
already been cut back, should not be forced to compete with Trident
for resources.

“Anyway that you look at it; on moral, economic or political grounds,
renewal of these weapons of mass destruction is untenable.

“The SNP believe it should be scrapped and more so, at a time when
public spending faces savage cuts across the board, the time has come
to accept that Trident can no longer be treated as some sacred cow.
The majority of Scots oppose Trident along with the Scottish
Parliament and civil society. In these financially difficult times why
should Scots pay for the London parties' obsession with weapons of
mass destruction?”

OUTRAGEOUS WASTE IN NHS BY TORY/LIBDEM GOVT



OUTRAGEOUS WASTE IN NHS BY TORY/LIBDEM GOVT

SNP REJECTS & PROTECTS SCOTLAND'S NHS FROM IDEOLOGICAL AGENDA

Commenting on the revelation that the Tory/LibDem London government has set aside nearly £1.7bn this year for reorganisation plans - more than seven times what it aims to save on management - SNP MSP Dr Ian McKee – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee – said it was an outrageous waste of money in these financially troubled times and was an ideological chimera which was flatly rejected by the SNP.

Commenting Dr McKee said:

“These figures are astronomical in these financially troubled times. When cut backs are being threatened across the board by the Tory/LibDem government because of Labour's economic mismanagement it is unbelievable that such money will be wasted on yet more postcode health care in England.

"This underlines why it is welcome that Scotland has an SNP Government protecting us from these ideological chimeras. A Scottish Government that is pursuing a better, more efficient healthcare policy for all the people of Scotland.

“The UK Government’s disruptive and ideologically-driven experimentation is the very last thing the Scottish NHS needs – it is now clear what the Tories and LibDems would do to the Scottish health service if they were given the chance.”

Thursday, 15 July 2010

NICOLA STURGEON and PETER MURRELL WEDDING


NICOLA STURGEON & PETER MURRELL WEDDING

Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and SNP Chief Executive, Peter Murrell will marry tomorrow (Friday).

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell will marry at a ceremony attended by close family members. It will be followed by an evening reception attended by family, friends and Party colleagues.

UK GOVT REFERENDUM DATE BREAKS THE LAW

 
UK GOVT REFERENDUM DATE BREAKS THE LAW
 
Commenting on the report in the Scotsman today which reveals that the Interim Electoral Management Board has warned the Tory/LibDem government that it will have to change the law if they want to hold an AV referendum on the same day as the Scottish Parliament elections SNP MSP Dr Alasdair Allan said:
 
“The London Tory/LibDem government bounced this referendum on Scotland without a word of consultation, and no thought as to the consequences.  
 
“This revelation shows that they failed to look into whether holding a referendum on the same day was within the rules. Therefore this effectively is breaching the law.
 
“They have to think again, because either holding the two votes on the same day would carry double the bureaucracy and costs – the opposite of what Michael Moore says.
 
“Nor should Westminster would force through a combined poll by unilaterally changing a piece of Scottish Parliament legislation, against the wishes of three-quarters of MSPs.
 
“This revelation shows that their position on the AV referendum date is not tenable, and cannot stand.”

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

MACNEIL CALLS ON PM FOR ISLAND FUEL RELIEF


MACNEIL CALLS ON PM FOR ISLAND FUEL RELIEF



SCHEME MUST BE IN PLACE BEFORE VAT HIKE



SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus MacNeil, today (Wednesday) called on the Prime Minister to introduce an Islands’ Rural Fuel Derogation before the January VAT hike comes into force. 



Commenting after Prime Minister’s Questions where he raised the issue, Mr MacNeil MP said:



“The Liberals and Tories inflicted a VAT hike which will hit those already struggling with sky high fuel prices especially hard.



“Road users in my constituency are paying more tax per litre than anywhere else in the UK. Only this week a constituent who works in Benbecula but who lives in South Uist told me that the price of fuel at around £1.35-£1.40 means that it is becoming too expensive for her to travel to work.



“The VAT hike inflicted by the Tories and the Lib Dems yesterday will make rural fuel even more expensive and action must be taken without delay.



“The Prime Minister has pledged his government to look at the issue and I am optimistic measures will be in place by January 2011 to make life a little easier for rural road users.”

NEW EMBARRASSMENT FOR SCOTS TORIES ON PRISON SENTENCING – CLARKE SPEECH


NEW EMBARRASSMENT FOR SCOTS TORIES ON PRISON SENTENCING – CLARKE SPEECH

SAFER SCOTLAND WILL COME BY DRIVING DOWN REOFFENDING RATES

Annabel Goldie and the Holyrood Tories have yet again been left high and dry by their London party bosses says SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, after the Westminster Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said there was no link between rising levels of imprisonment and falling crime since the falling crime levels were reflected in most of the Western world without rising prison populations.

In his speech Mr Clarke said:

“There is and never has been, in my opinion, any direct correlation between spiralling growth in the prison population and a fall in crime”

Mr Clarke has already signalled that he wants courts in England to impose fewer jail sentences of less than 12 months – a move which has undermined the Holyrood Tories who voted against a presumption against sentences of less than 3 months in the Scottish Parliament!

Mr Clarke’s plans for south of the Border could include a big reduction in jail sentences of less than a year – a much greater move than the SNP Government’s proposals.

Ken Clarke’s move also leaves Labour in Scotland as the most right-wing and out of touch party on law and order issues.

Commenting Mr Maxwell – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee – said:

“This is another embarrassment for Annabel Goldie and the Holyrood Tories, who have been left high and dry by Ken Clarke. With yet another statement from Mr Clarke that is at odds with the Holyrood Tories it has to be asked again if the UK Government even bothered to tell Annabel Goldie about Ken Clarke’s latest speech?

“Ken Clarke’s move also exposes Labour in Scotland as the most right-wing and out of touch party on law and order issues – Labour backbenchers were already deeply uncomfortable with Richard Baker’s inept, hard right approach to the justice brief.
 
“The Tories – and Labour – have spent the last three years supporting taxpayers money being wasted on free bed and board for people who should be paying back their debts to society through hard work.  Their position increases reoffending and doesn’t create a safer Scotland.

“Instead of indulging in ill-informed posturing, it is about time that the Holyrood Tories showed some leadership for once and provided some positive answers on what they would do about sentencing – as Ken Clarke has done for the Tories in England.

“To date we have heard nothing but cheap sound bites – which have just turned to ash in their mouths.”

PM WARNED OVER DESTRUCTION OF SCOTTISH DEFENCE CAPABILITIES


PM WARNED OVER DESTRUCTION OF SCOTTISH DEFENCE CAPABILITIES

Speaking at Prime Ministers Questions today (Wednesday) SNP
Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson, Angus Robertson MP,
warned over the “wholesale destruction of conventional defence
capability in Scotland” as the second phase of the Strategic Defence
and Security Review reported back.

Mr Robertson has already raised concerns over the shrinking defence
footprint in Scotland – highlighting the £5.6bn defence underspend in
Scotland and 10,000 job loses since the last strategic review.

Mr Robertson said:

“Scotland has already been massively short-changed on its share of
defence spending and all the indications are that the SDR could have
further catastrophic consequences for the defence footprint in
Scotland.

“The Prime Minister must recognise that further cuts threaten a
wholesale destruction of conventional defence capability in Scotland.

“If the strategic review fails to address the mammoth cutbacks in
defence spending that have seen over the last decade, then the
coalition government risks even more damaging decline for the defence
footprint in Scotland.

“The MoD’s own figures show that £5.6bn less has been spent on defence
in Scotland than has been contributed by taxpayers, and 10,000 defence
jobs have been lost in Scotland since the last strategic review.

“People in Scotland support our armed forces, and are proud of the
nation's military tradition, but those UK politicians responsible for
the decrease in jobs, the overstretch, and the under-equipping of our
brave servicemen must now address this decline.”

LABOUR WILL BE HAUNTED AT HOLYROOD OVER VAT VOTE


LABOUR WILL BE HAUNTED AT HOLYROOD OVER VAT VOTE

FRAUD MURPHY URGES LIBERALS TO VOTE NO, WHILE LABOUR ABSTAIN

The decision by Scottish Labour MPs to abstain in a Commons vote to
stop the rise in VAT will haunt the party in the run up to the
Holyrood elections next year the SNP has warned.

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP branded Labour claims the
party would defend Scotland from Tory policies as a “fraud” by
pointing to a letter from Labour Scotland spokesperson, Jim Murphy, in
which he urged Scottish LibDem MPs to vote against the VAT increase,
before abstaining in a vote himself.

Just two Scottish Labour MPs – Michael Connarty and John Robertson –
voted in support of an SNP amendment to bring relief for households
and businesses from the coalition government’s VAT hike.

Commenting, Mr Hosie said:

“Yet again we have seen how Labour can’t be trusted to protect
Scotland from the Tories. Claims they would protect Scotland from
damaging Tory policies are a fraud by Labour.

“We know the Lib/Dems have sold out already, but for Labour MPs to sit
on their hands and do nothing to stop this VAT hike is unforgivable.
This failure will haunt the Labour Party in Scotland in the lead up to
the Holyrood elections.

“Jim Murphy talks the talk, but when it came to going through the
voting lobbies he didn’t walk the walk. Instead of letters to
Liberals, Jim Murphy should have been writing to his own Labour
colleagues telling them to vote against this VAT bombshell.

“Throughout the election campaign Labour candidates claimed that only
they could stop the Tories. Now, not only did they rush for the
comfort of opposition instead of building an anti-Tory alternative,
but these Labour MPs are standing back while the Tories and Liberals
impose savage cuts and painful tax hikes.

“Labour let the people of Scotland down. They promised to protect
Scotland from the Tories - instead they opened the door to a Tory
government in Scotland.”

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

SCOTLAND LEADS WORLD IN UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FUNDING


SCOTLAND LEADS WORLD IN UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FUNDING
RESEARCH FUNDING IN SCOTLAND’S UNIVERSITIES TOPS INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE TABLE
Education Committee member Kenneth Gibson today heralded the news that Scotland invests more money in universities than any other country in the OECD.
The GERD report, published today, highlights many reasons why Scotland’s universities should have reason to celebrate research success.  The report shows:
·       Scotland’s expenditure, as a share of GDP, on university research was higher than any OECD country. Investment in higher education research was 0.82 per cent of Scottish GDP in 2008, compared to 0.47 per cent for the UK, 0.42 per cent for the EU and 0.39 per cent for the OECD.
·       Expenditure in Scotland was £939 million in 2008, 13.8 per cent of the UK figure and an increase of £69 million since 2007. This represents a real terms increase of 5.3 per cent since 2007.
Picture (Device Independent Bitmap)
Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson said:
“This is fantastic news for, not just those involved in education, but the whole of Scotland. Investment in our universities has once again been shown to be truly world beating, underlining Scotland’s long held and sustained devotion to academia.
“The report shows that Scotland not only devotes a larger proportion of its economy to university research than the rest of the UK and Europe, but is the highest country in the OECD. This is a feat that is truly outstanding.
“Scotland’s been a world leader for centuries when it comes to education and despite Labour’s constant attempts to talk our universities down and hope for failure, they continue to hold their heads high in all the international standings.”

TORIES AND LIBERALS VOTE FOR VAT BOMBSHELL


TORIES AND LIBERALS VOTE FOR VAT BOMBSHELL

LABOUR MPS LET SCOTLAND DOWN BY ABSTAINING ON VAT VOTE

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP has hit out at the London
parties after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats this evening
(Tuesday) voted to raise VAT, while Labour MPs abstained in a vote for
an SNP amendment to bring relief for households and businesses.

Commenting, Mr Hosie said:

“The Con/Dem coalition’s decision to proceed with this rise is
economically illiterate. This increase in VAT will cause real pain for
households and businesses, and hinder economic recovery.

“For Labour MPs to sit on their hands and abstain on this vote is
absolutely unforgivable. First Labour let the Tories into government,
and now they are standing back while the Tories and Liberals impose
savage cuts and painful tax hikes. This failure will haunt the Labour
Party in Scotland for years to come.

“The poorest families will be hardest hit with some estimates
suggesting their VAT bill will go up by £31 a week. Unemployment
benefit will be reduced in real terms, tax credits cut and massive
pressure put on housing benefit, particularly in areas where rented
housing is expensive.

“Increasing VAT will put a strain on our public services at a time
when they need support more than ever. The NHS in Scotland, for
example, will be hit by a £26m hike in the VAT bill.

“The VAT increase also piles the pain on businesses already struggling
through Labour’s recession – taking spending power out of the economy
and exacerbating cash flow problems.

“The Tories and the Liberals have already endangered the recovery by
cutting too far and too fast. The decision to increase VAT is a
political choice and it is a wrong choice.”

COST OF TRIDENT RENEWAL INDEFENSIBLE


COST OF TRIDENT RENEWAL INDEFENSIBLE

Commenting following the Chatham House speech by the Defence
Secretary, in which he claimed renewal of the £100bn Trident nuclear
weapons programme represented value for money, SNP Westminster leader
and Defence spokesperson, Angus Robertson MP said:

“To claim Trident represents value for money is the economics of the
madhouse. It cannot be right to proceed with its procurement whilst
aiming to cut other conventional areas of defence spending at a time
when our forces need support most.

“The strategic defence review is necessary to prioritise our defence
needs in a changed world, and top of the list for that review must be
ditching Trident. Anyway that you look at it; on moral, economic or
political grounds, renewal of these weapons of mass destruction is
untenable.

“The SNP believe it should be scrapped and more so, at a time when
public spending faces savage cuts across the board, the time has come
to accept that Trident can no longer be treated as some sacred cow.”

ABERDEEN MSP COMMENTS ON FUTURE OF FORENSIC SERVICES IN CITY


ABERDEEN MSP COMMENTS ON FUTURE OF FORENSIC SERVICES IN CITY

Brian Adam, MSP for Aberdeen North has welcomed the publication of an options paper from the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) into the future structure of Forensics Service in Scotland.

Mr Adam, as well as other North East MSPs, campaigned for a wider review of forensic services after the Aberdeen Forensic and Fingerprint Laboratories were threatened with closure.

The options paper published by the SPSA today is open for comment until the 20th of August, with Tom Nelson, Director of Forensic Services anticipating that the SPSA board will make a final recommendation to Kenny MacAskill, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, during September.

Mr Adam said:

“I very much welcome this paper published today which is another step forward to resolving the uncertainty over the Aberdeen labs and for their staff.

“I am disappointed that two of the four options would see the forensic and fingerprint labs in Aberdeen closed or reduced to just 12 to 15 staff members.

“This prospect is still worrying for me, and I will be interested to hear staff and Police Forces reactions to these proposals.

“In the coming weeks I hope to have meetings with staff and talk to other stakeholders before putting forward my own responses to this paper.”
***

CLEGG AND CAMERON ON COLLISION COURSE OVER ACT OF SETTLEMENT


CLEGG AND CAMERON ON COLLISION COURSE OVER ACT OF SETTLEMENT

SNP CALL FOR CLARITY ON REPEAL OF ANTI-CATHOLIC ACT AS LONDON PARTIES
DRAG THEIR FEET

SNP Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has called on all London parties to
clarify their position on the Act of Settlement  - which forbids
Catholics or anyone married to a Catholic from becoming monarch -
after David Cameron refused to repeal the legislation despite Nick
Clegg seeking nominations for the abolition of archaic and unnecessary
laws as part of his much vaunted Freedom Bill.

Mr MacNeil also called on the Labour party to disown Jim Murphy's
former Special Advisor, John Mcternan, after he blamed the Queen for
wanting to block the repeal of the Act of Settlement on last night's
Newsnight and then proceeded to defend taking no action to repeal the
legislation. This was despite promises by Labour to do so.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“Nick Clegg is looking for ideas on what out-of-date laws should be
repealed, and the Act of Settlement should be the first to be
consigned to the dustbin of history. This discrimination is an 18th
century anachronism with no place in a modern constitution.

“The coalition appears spilt over this with David Cameron ruling out
repeal while his Liberal Democrat deputy seeks nominations for repeal
of out-dated and unpopular laws.

“If Nick Clegg can find the time to remove meaningless laws, covering
issues like the sale of Japanese knotweed or the impersonation of
Chelsea pensioners, it would be an absolute farce if he failed remove
this law which discriminates against Catholics from the statute books.

“The Act of Settlement represents clear institutional discrimination
against millions of our fellow citizens, and we need a clear timetable
for its removal from the statute book. With the Pope visiting later
this year, what better time to this forward.

"This is an issue of cross-party and cross-faith concern. Repealing
the Act of Settlement allows us to deal with a fundamental issue of
discrimination; it enables us to state clearly that discrimination is
unacceptable and will not be tolerated in a modern country.

“The UK Government must act to bring forward real reforms and end
institutional discrimination however high up it is.”

Commenting on John McTernan's remarks Mr MacNeil said:

"If Labour do not distance themselves from Mr McTernan's remarks then
it will only beg the question of how serious their opposition is to
the Act of Settlement. As always they treat voters as fools and talk a
good game but then fail to deliver.

"His claims were outrageous. First he blamed the Queen and then a
number of our Commonwealth friends. However in 2000 some commonwealth
countries said it wasn’t even on their statute book anymore since it
was archaic. His excuses are a red herring. If, as he says, it is
effectively meaningless in the 21st century then it should be quite
simple to abolish. Just what is it that people like John McTernan and
David Cameron are afraid of?"
***

LABOUR’S HYPOCRISY ON JUSTICE KNOWS NO BOUNDS


LABOUR’S HYPOCRISY ON JUSTICE KNOWS NO BOUNDS

IF SCOTLAND WON WORLD CUP, LABOUR WOULD STILL WHINGE

Bob Doris has today [Tuesday] slammed Labour’s shameful hypocrisy and their ability to see the negative in almost everything, after Richard Baker (Labour Justice Spokesman) complained about the SNP delivering extra police officers when his own party had promised ZERO extra police officers.

Commenting Glasgow MSP Bob Doris said:

“Richard Baker has zero credibility – this is the height of hypocrisy as there would not have been a single extra police officer in Scotland had Labour won the 2007 election.

“There are already over 1,000 more police officers on the streets of Scotland since the SNP took office, protecting local communities and helping cut crime to a near 30-year low – the target was met well ahead of schedule, and there will be 1,000 extra at the end of this parliament, exactly as pledged by the SNP.

“The fact is that Strathclyde has been well ahead of the game in ramping up police recruitment, and we are seeing the benefits of that on our streets.

“However, like everyone else in the public sector they are having to come to terms with the savage spending cuts set in train by the last UK Labour Government, and the extra Westminster cuts announced by the Tories and Liberals – two-thirds of the cuts were Labour’s, and the Con/Dem coalition added the other third.  That is exactly why Scotland needs the powers of financial responsibility.”
***

‘NORTH SEA GUSHES AGAIN’ AS MILIBAND SAYS LABOUR NOT LEARNING LESSONS OF 1980’s


‘NORTH SEA GUSHES AGAIN’ AS MILIBAND SAYS LABOUR NOT LEARNING LESSONS OF 1980’s

NORTH SEA OIL INVESTMENT DEFIES DOOMSAYERS

The SNP have seized on remarks made by Labour leadership contender David Miliband who regrets the fact Labour failed to set up an oil fund like Norway’s – a scheme supported by the SNP.

In the Keir Hardie Lecture in Wales David Miliband said:

“Under Mrs Thatcher the public benefits of North Sea Oil were used for tax cuts – often to benefit the richest.  The Norwegians used theirs to build a sovereign wealth fund.  But we did not learn the lesson.”

The Labour leadership contender’s remarks come as reports of another boom in North Sea oil are forecast.

Commenting on David Miliband’s comments SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee – said:

"These comments are an embarrassment to the Labour party in Scotland and show they have learnt nothing from the 1980’s.

“Yet again we see Labour politicians regret not setting up the means to forestall the negative effects a London Tory government will have on Scotland.

“In the 1980’s it was their failure to implement Scottish devolution and the resulting devastation the Tories caused to Scotland’s economy.

“Now we have Labour repeating history again with this admission that they should have set up an oil fund. It’s not as if they weren’t warned. Labour’s Malcolm Wicks suggested they set one up in 2007.

“This is just another example of how Labour cannot be trusted to protect Scotland from a London Tory government. When they have the chance to put in the place the means to avoid the worst excesses of a Tory government they fail to do so and then they pretend they should have implemented those policies.

"They are taking the voters for fools if they think they can get away with their empty oppositionalism again.

"As the latest reports on another oil bonanza show it's Scotland's oil and gas industry which is the only thing keeping the London Treasury afloat. Over the next few years, billion worth of North Sea revenues will flow to the London exchequer to shore up the UK's precarious finances.

"In the 1970's requests for an oil fund were turned down by a Labour government - the repetition of this failure by Labour in the 21st century is unforgivable.”

Monday, 12 July 2010

SCOTLAND REJECTS TORY/LIBDEM NHS PLANS

 
SCOTLAND REJECTS TORY/LIBDEM NHS PLANS
 
Commenting on the Tory/LibDem government’s Health White Paper for England, SNP MSP Dr Ian McKee – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee – said:
 
“This is an expensive prescription for yet more postcode health care in England – and it is welcome that the SNP Scottish Government is pursuing a better, more efficient healthcare policy for all the people of Scotland.
 
“The UK Government’s disruptive and ideologically-driven experimentation is the very last thing the Scottish NHS needs – it is also a clear indication of what the Tories and Lib Dems would do to the Scottish health service if they were given the chance.”

Sunday, 11 July 2010

CALLS FOR MUNDELL TO HAND OVER ELECTION ACCOUNTS


CALLS FOR MUNDELL TO HAND OVER ELECTION ACCOUNTS

Commenting on reports that David Mundell, Scotland's sole Tory MP, is
facing an inquiry into his election expenses, SNP South of Scotland
MSP Aileen Campbell said the Scotland Office Minister must account for
the discrepancy in his campaign spending.

Ms Campbell said:

“David Mundell must explain this discrepancy and hand over his
accounts to allow a proper investigation to take place into the
Tories’ campaign spending.

“The way the Tories have funded local campaigns with huge donations
from the likes of Lord Ashcroft is worrying enough, but to flout
election rules and limits is even more serious. As a government
Minister with responsibility for elections in Scotland, David Mundell
must explain these damaging allegations.”

GLASGOW PROBLEMS PILE-UP FOR LABOUR


GLASGOW PROBLEMS PILE-UP FOR LABOUR

DRIP-DRIP OF ALLEGATIONS IS DAMAGING CITY’S REPUTATION

The further drip-drip of allegations over the management and conduct
of the Labour party and organisations of Labour run Glasgow City
Council is damaging the reputation of the city, the SNP have warned.

Reports in the weekend press reveal that Labour’s disgraced former
council leader, Stephen Purcell, helped arrange access to a top
official for two Labour-supporting developers and, separately, that a
councillor embroiled in allegations of drugs and cronyism linked to Mr
Purcell has been suspended by the Labour Party. It is understood that
funding to Cllr Ruth Black’s gay and lesbian centre has been axed
after financial irregularities were uncovered.

Cllr James Dornan, leader of the SNP opposition on Glasgow City Council, said:

“The continued drip-drip of allegations about the activities of Labour
in Glasgow is damaging our great city’s reputation. Labour need to
clean up their act, and admit there is a wide ranging and serious
problem.

“The more allegations emerge about Labour’s behaviour, the more it
appears that Glasgow City Council has been run for the benefit of
Labour politicians and their friends rather than the people of the
city. The people of Glasgow deserve to have all of these issues
properly investigated.

“The unseemly relationship between Glasgow Labour politicians and
Labour-friendly businesses is once again exposed by these revelations.

“Along with other stories in the newspapers, these revelations go to
the very heart of how the Labour party operates when in power.”

Saturday, 10 July 2010

MANDELSON WRITES MEMOIRS WHILE MILIBAND RE-WRITES HISTORY


MANDELSON WRITES MEMOIRS WHILE MILIBAND RE-WRITES HISTORY

Commenting on David Miliband’s stinging criticisms of Gordon Brown,
SNP MP Pete Wishart said Mr Miliband, and other leadership contenders
who served in Mr Brown’s Cabinet, should also take their
responsibility for Labour’s disastrous record in government.

Mr Wishart also pointed to insights from Lord Mandelson, ahead of his
book launch, into the feuding between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Mr Wishart said:

“It is one thing for Peter Mandelson to write his memoirs, but it’s
another thing for David Miliband to try and re-write history. The
Miliband brothers and Ed Balls supported Gordon Brown all the way as
members of his Cabinet, and they must take their responsibility for
what went wrong.

“We are all paying the price of Labour’s disastrous mismanagement of
the economy, and David Miliband’s attempts to distance himself from
Gordon Brown’s dreadful time as Prime Minister will not fool anyone.

“While David Miliband rubbishes Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson has
lifted the lid on the poisonous infighting behind the scenes in
Downing Street between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

“It has become clear in this leadership contest that there is little
difference between Labour’s leadership candidates and little on offer
to the Scottish public.”

Thursday, 8 July 2010

SNP EVIDENCE TO STANDARDS COMMITTEE ON PARTY FUNDING


SNP EVIDENCE TO STANDARDS COMMITTEE ON PARTY FUNDING

Giving evidence at a public hearing by the Committee on Standards in
Public Life today (Thursday), SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson
MP welcomed the prospect of a new inquiry into the funding of
political parties.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life is considering whether to
mount a full inquiry. Other witnesses giving evidence included Sir
Hayden Philips, whose review in 2007 was suspended when talks between
the three UK parties were suspended, as well as Jack Straw, Francis
Maude, David Heath and Elfyn Llwyd.

Speaking after the public hearing, Mr Robertson said:

“Just like the overhaul of MPs expenses, reform of the party funding
system is vital to restore public trust in our democratic system.

“Sir Hayden Philips worked hard to find cross-party agreement on
reform but his talks ended in deadlock because of the three UK
parties, and it is now time to reopen and resolve the issue party
funding.

“As they consider whether or not to mount a full inquiry, I am pleased
that the Committee on Standards in Public Life is seeking views from
the parties of government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so
that all views are represented.

“As the party which sparked the cash for honours investigation, the
SNP is very much in favour of complete transparency in all aspects of
political finance, including party accounts and the registration
scheme that allows parties to be regulated. Openness in these areas as
vital to earning the trust of the electorate.”

MSP WELCOMES INVESTMENT TO PROMOTE SCOTTISH ISLANDS


MSP WELCOMES INVESTMENT TO PROMOTE SCOTTISH ISLANDS

SNP MSP for the Western Isles, Dr Alasdair Allan, has today welcomed a major investment by the Scottish Government towards promoting Scotland’s Islands. A total of £1.82 million has been allocated to promoting 2011 as Scotland’s Year of Islands Culture. This includes £820,000 which has been obtained from the European Regional Development Fund.

The announcement was made in Lewis today by Minister for Culture, Fiona Hyslop.

Dr Allan said:

“Fiona Hyslop took the opportunity today, while visiting the Morvern Gallery in Lewis, to announce that the Scottish Government, Scotland’s Island Councils and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, together with other public agencies, will be allocating this major sum towards promoting Scotland’s islands to Scotland and the world in the coming year.

“The fund will be co-ordinated nationally by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and will seek to bring visitors to Scotland’s islands from Shetland to Argyll and to promote their unique cultures to the wider world.

“Taken together with the fact that the Mod will be in the Western Isles in 2011,  this investment provides a real chance for the Western Isles to develop further its capacity for tourism and to develop facilities that go with that. I look forward to working with the Government and the Comhairle in the coming months as more details emerge about how this fund is to be invested.”

SMITH CONCERN OVER PROPOSED EU OIL EXPLORATION BAN


SMITH CONCERN OVER PROPOSED EU OIL EXPLORATION BAN



OIL PROPOSAL ‘KNEE-JERK’ REACTION SAYS INDUSTRY



SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) written to the EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger asking for a meeting with him and representatives of the Oil and Gas sector in Scotland to discuss comments from the Commissioner calling for a total ban on new North sea drilling



In his speech the Commissioner said the following



'Immediate action: Utmost caution must be exercised for the moment with respect to new drillings. As said, given the current circumstances, any responsible Government would at present practically freeze new permits for drilling with extreme parameters and conditions. This can mean de facto a moratorium on new drills until the causes of the accident are known and corrective measures are taken for such frontier operations as the ones carried out by the Deepwater Horizon.'



Smith said:



"Nobody would argue that safety should not come first, but in the North Sea and Scottish industry it already does, and talk of a ban on new developments is wholly disproportionate and unhelpful.



"The Commissioner's speech is an eye-opener and whilst the Gulf of Mexico incident is a reminder to all that there is no room for complacency and lessons must be learnt and standards raised.  Oil and gas are a vital part of Scotland and Europe's energy mix, and will be for years to come even as we develop our glittering renewables potential.



"The Commissioner has to meet with Scottish Oil and Gas experts so our voice is heard loud and ideas about bans on new drilling are kicked into touch."





A spokesperson for Oil and Gas UK said:



"We believe there is no justification for this kind of knee-jerk reaction from the Commission especially as all the details from the Gulf of Mexico incident are not yet fully understood and we  sincerely hope that Member States choose to ignore the Commissioner's advice."

WHITEFORD WELCOMES PLANS FOR PETERHEAD CARBON CAPTURE


WHITEFORD WELCOMES PLANS FOR PETERHEAD CARBON CAPTURE

BID TO BE AT CENTRE OF CARBON CAPTURE REVOLUTION

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed today’s
announcement that Scottish and Southern Energy plc is to develop a
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at its gas-fired power
station at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.

The project would demonstrate post-combustion capture of carbon
dioxide emissions relating to the electricity output of the equivalent
of 400MW of capacity.  It would involve using an existing gas turbine,
an existing steam turbine, an existing electricity network connection
and land adjacent to the power station already owned by SSE.

A earlier proposal to capture carbon dioxide emissions at Peterhead,
and then export them to the North Sea for enhanced oil recovery and
ultimate storage, was abandoned in 2007 because the previous Labour
Government refused to provide certainty over the policy framework
required or financial support.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This is great news for Peterhead and excellent news for Scotland’s
renewable sector given we have some of Europe’s largest carbon storage
reserves in our North Sea oil and gas fields combined with the
expertise on how to access them.

“SSE are to be commended for their continuing commitment to carbon
capture and this project has huge environmental potential, and must be
embraced by the government. This has been a key campaign for the SNP,
and Alex Salmond, as First Minister and as the former local MP,
battled to bring the development of carbon capture to the area. I am
delighted that these longstanding efforts may soon be realised.

“This project would put Peterhead at the cutting-edge of carbon
capture technology.  The UK Government must now recognise the very
strong case which exists for this project going ahead and the
investment it will bring to Peterhead.

“People have not forgotten that Peterhead could already have been
three years ahead of where it is now had the last Labour Government
not decided to pull back from its support for the previous carbon
capture project.”

SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir MP, who lodged an
amendment to the Energy Bill earlier this year to extend the CCS levy
and allow gas projects to be included, also hailed the news.

The Energy Act 2010 provides for the creation of a financial
incentive, funded by electricity suppliers, to support up to four CCS
commercial-scale demonstration projects in the UK.

Mr Weir added:

“Peterhead is a great site for this project and the government must
look favourably on this submission. For too long, UK Ministers
dithered over developing this vital resource and the new
administration must finally take steps to support the sector.

“Scotland could have been the world leader in CCS had the last Labour
government given sufficient backing to the proposed development at
Peterhead, instead it let that go overseas with its blinkered attitude
to only developing coal based CCS.”

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

SHALLOWNESS OF LIBDEM REFERENDUM SUPPORT


SHALLOWNESS OF LIBDEM REFERENDUM SUPPORT

SNP PUBLISH QUOTES SHOWING LACK OF ENTHUSIASM FOR AV

The LibDem insistence on a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) being held on the same day as next year’s Scottish Parliament elections is undermined by the complete lack of enthusiasm shown by the Liberal Democrats for AV before this year’s election.

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson, who published a list of their comments, says that the insistence of the LibDems on going ahead with the AV referendum, despite their previous opposition to that voting system, was a reflection of their weakness within the UK Government, while their refusal to consult with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland administrations completely contradicted their promise of a respect agenda.

Mr Gibson said:

“Before the election  there was no support for AV amongst Nick Clegg and his party because, as the Lib Dems made clear themselves, it is not a proportional system. That they are now pushing ahead with a referendum for a voting system that isn’t supported by any of the political parties on the same day as the Scottish Parliamentary and Northern Irish and Welsh Assembly elections, shows their newly discovered enthusiasm is little to do with support for AV and more to do with flexing their muscles as junior partners in a Tory-led government.

“By planning to hold such a referendum on the same day as those elections completely contradicts Lib Dem and Tory promises to pursue a “respect agenda” when dealing with the devolved administrations.  Instead they have followed a disrespect agenda on this issue.

“There is a real danger of the Scottish Parliamentary elections being overshadowed and the issues that really matter to the people of Scotland being eclipsed by a media focus on an electoral system that isn’t supported by any of the political parties and wasn’t embraced by the LibDems.

“It just shows that the Tory-led coalition government with the LibDems is just treating the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland with contempt.
 
“The SNP will continue to seek a vote at Holyrood at an early opportunity after the recess to use the parliamentary majority – consisting of the SNP, Labour and Greens – to block these undemocratic plans.

“The Coalition Government must allow the voice of the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to be heard and drop these ludicrous plans to have a referendum on a voting system that the Lib Dems have recently attacked for being disproportionate and the Tories will oppose.”

SNP WELCOME SUPREME COURT RULING ON GAY ASYLUM SEEKERS


SNP WELCOME SUPREME COURT RULING ON GAY ASYLUM SEEKERS

‘VICTORY FOR COMMONSENSE AND DECENCY' SAYS CAMPBELL

SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Aileen Campbell has today [Wednesday] welcomed the Supreme Court ruling allowing two asylum seekers to seek refuge in the UK on grounds of sexuality.

Previously, those who faced persecution in their home nation were often advised to ‘act discreetly’ to avoid being 'detected'. The landmark ruling will now mean a change in rules and allow others who fear persecution because of their sexuality the right of refuge in the UK.

Commenting Ms Campbell said:

“Last October at SNP Conference I seconded a motion which the party membership voted unanimously in favour of to overhaul asylum rules, which at the time did not allow people to seek asylum on the grounds of sexuality.

“While it is shameful that any country in the world would persecute someone for being gay, it is also shameful that the UK has refused in the past to protect those same people.

"I’m delighted that that has now changed for the better. Hopefully this is just the start of further significant changes which must still be made so that there is a fair and just asylum system that of which we can be proud."
***
MSP PLANS TRIP TO MALAWI TO PROVE ASYLUM SEEKERS’ CASE

In the week that asylum seekers Florence and Precious Mhango have been served with removal directions from the Border Agency, Glasgow SNP MSP Anne McLaughlin has written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, offering to fly to Malawi to get the evidence that proves the case for their asylum.

Commenting Ms McLaughlin said:

"There is no doubt in my mind that it is NOT safe for Precious to go to Malawi and so I have decided, if there is no other way of proving that, I will get on a flight to Malawi and I will meet with everyone involved and get the evidence myself.
  
"I am very hopeful that Theresa May will want to know about Florence and Precious and that when she does she will feel duty bound to intervene.

“I've written to her imploring her to do that but I've also said if there is any doubt in her mind, I will have no hesitation in going to Malawi and bringing back the evidence.
  
"We have to keep this child safe and with her mother and if that's what it takes, I am willing to do it.

“Florence and Precious have such strong support from within their community in Glasgow, where they are very well integrated, and would be in grave danger of suffering violent recriminations if they are deported to Malawi. Therefore, I am urging the UK Government to intervene to allow them to stay in their home in Glasgow.”

ARBROATH ABBEY ON ‘TENTATIVE LIST’ FOR WORLD HERITAGE STATUS


ARBROATH ABBEY ON ‘TENTATIVE LIST’ FOR WORLD HERITAGE STATUS

Angus MP Mike Weir has welcomed the inclusion of Arbroath Abbey on the
tentative list of sites which may be submitted to UNESCO as a
potential World Heritage Site.

Mr Weir had previously raised the matter in Parliament amid concerns
that new procedures for the consideration of new sites would lead to
the exclusion of sites such as Arbroath Abbey.

Mr Weir said:

“I am very pleased that the pressure has paid off and the government
adopted a system that allowed the inclusion of sites such as Arbroath
Abbey.

“It is a great testament to the tenacity and work of the heritage
campaign that the Abbey has made it to the tentative list. This does
not mean, however, that it will eventually be submitted and pressure
needs to be maintained to show support for the inclusion of the Abbey.

“Arbroath Abbey is not only a fantastic building in its own right but
its place in history as the location of the signing of the Declaration
of Scottish Independence gives it a unique place both in Scotland’s
history and the history of the development of democratic thought.

“It is undoubtedly worthy of a place on the UNESCO register of World
Heritage Sites and I would urge everyone to give it their support

WEIR PURSUES BETTER DEAL FOR RURAL FUEL POOR


WEIR PURSUES BETTER DEAL FOR RURAL FUEL POOR

MINISTER AGREES TO LOOK FURTHER AT SUGGESTED SOLUTION

SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir MP has called on the UK
Government to take more action to help those in fuel poverty,
especially those not connected to the gas grid. Mr Weir was encouraged
that the energy department minister Gregory Barker promised to look at
his proposed solution.

Speaking in a debate on Fuel Poverty in rural Britain, Mr Weir said
that those off the gas grid “slipped through the cracks” and did not
receive the benefit of social tariffs. He called upon the UK
government to adopt a scheme he put forward during the debates on last
years Energy Act to spread the cost of social tariffs amongst all fuel
providers.

Speaking during the debate Mr Weir said:

“The Act allows the Secretary of State to introduce a reconciliation
mechanism that means that, should one company have more fuel-poor
customers than others it would not be particularly badly hit: the
burden would be spread among all the companies so that each would
meet, as far as possible, an equitable amount of the cost of meeting
the obligations under the social tariff. That principle is a good one,
and it could be extended further to bring in all fuel suppliers, to
allow a general sharing of the burden of the cost of meeting
obligations to help the fuel poor.

“A general reconciliation mechanism that brought those suppliers
within the ambit of the scheme, but which allowed the overall cost to
be shared between all the energy suppliers, would enable us to make
progress and extend the social tariff concept to that very
disadvantaged group.

“The main purpose of my amendment is simply to bring such consumers
into that more general reconciliation fund to bring about more
fairness and to tackle fuel poverty. In deciding to press ahead with
such a scheme, the Secretary of State should bring in all the
suppliers of all forms of energy and allow all their customers to
benefit from the scheme. As well as ensuring that no energy company
was disproportionately hit by having too many fuel-poor customers, it
would make it possible to share out the benefits more widely, and
would ensure that all energy suppliers could operate the equivalent
social tariff for their customers, whether they were in receipt of
electricity, gas or other forms of fuel. Ministers might be attracted
by the fact that it would be a revenue-neutral approach for the
Treasury; it would not impose a greater burden on it.”

Responding to the debate the energy department minister stated he was
prepared to look at the idea.

Commenting afterwards Mr Weir said he was encouraged that the Minister
was at least prepared to give his idea some consideration.

“For far too long the difficulties of bringing help to those off the
gas grid has been rejected as simply too difficult. Radical solutions
are needed to ensure that all those who are living in fuel poverty get
help.”

UK TROOPS DESERVE GREATER CLARITY


UK  TROOPS DESERVE GREATER CLARITY



Commenting on the announcement by Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox, that British troops are to relocate from the Sangin area of Afghanistan, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence Spokesman, Angus Robertson MP said:



“British troops serving on the frontline deserve greater certainty than the UK Government is currently offering.



“While moves to reduce troop numbers are welcome, this must be done as part of a clear plan for withdrawal.



“President Obama has already stated his intention to start bringing American troops home by July next year – why is the Tory Liberal coalition fobbing our service personnel off with vague 5 year commitments?”

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

WELCOME FOR RENDITION AND TORTURE CLAIM INQUIRY


WELCOME FOR RENDITION AND TORTURE CLAIM INQUIRY

The SNP has welcomed today’s announcement by the Prime Minister of an
inquiry into allegations that the British security services were
complicit in rendition and torture.

Responding to the Prime Ministers statement, SNP Home Affairs
spokesperson Pete Wishart MP said he hoped former Ministers would be
called to give evidence.

Mr Wishart said:

“An inquiry into these allegations is the only way to restore
confidence in the actions of our security services abroad.

“Allegations about the UK’s involvement in rendition, and claims that
some detainees were mistreated, have overshadowed the reputation of
our services and we have to find answers to these questions. If
necessary Ministers from the last government must co-operate and give
evidence to the inquiry.

“Our defence and security services do an excellent job and rather than
work under a cloud of suspicion the allegations of illegal activity,
rendition and torture over recent years should be properly
investigated and an inquiry held.”

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY SOLUTION TO BARNETT


FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY SOLUTION TO BARNETT

Commenting on the publication of the Holtham Commission Report on Welsh funding, which restates the case for scrapping the Barnett formula, SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said the only acceptable alternative was full fiscal responsibility for Scotland - allowing the country to raise all the money it spends.

Mr Hosie said:
“The only acceptable alternative to Barnett is full fiscal responsibility for Scotland, allowing the country to raise the money it spends. That is the best and simplest solution – anything less would be messy and unsustainable, and could well leave Scotland worse off.

“All parties recognise that the Barnett formula is no longer sustainable and should be replaced – but it must be replaced with a system of financial responsibility giving Scotland the powers over taxation, including oil and gas, and spending that are needed to effectively manage the Scottish economy.

“And the case for financial independence is reinforced by the most recent GERS report [Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland] which demonstrate beyond doubt that Scotland has built up a surplus of 3.5 billion over a four year period, while the UK as a whole racked up a deficit of £72.3 billion.

“The bottom line is that we must not have another Westminster fix imposed which could leave Scotland worse off than at present – that is why independence and equality represent the best future for Scotland, and why the SNP are the leading party in Scotland.”