Sunday, 28 February 2010

NOTHING BUT EMPTY RHETORIC FROM CAMERON




NOTHING BUT EMPTY RHETORIC FROM CAMERON


TORY CHANGE WILL OFFER NOTHING TO SCOTLAND


Following David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton, SNP MP Pete Wishart has called on voters to reject the traditional westminster politics and phoney war between Labour and Tory as he urged Scotland's voters to elect someone willing to stand up for local communities, not those brawling for the keys to Downing Street.

Commenting, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire Pete Wishart said:

"This is the latest salvo in a phoney war which has nothing to offer Scotland. Cameron waffled his way through his speech with no real change included, just empty rhetoric with sound bite after sound bite. Even the Tory activists do not seemed satisfied by a speech which offered no real policy, no real change.

“Cameron says he wants to change things, but has no idea on how to go about it.

“The Labour/Tory battle is nothing but a phoney war that has no real impact on the people of Scotland. The two are one of the same.

"The swingeing cuts to Scotland's budget and frontline services proposed by both the Tories and Labour cannot be allowed to happen. There is no difference between Tory cuts and Labour cuts - they both mean short change for Scotland.

"The people of Scotland don't need politicians focused on power and privilege, they need local champions who will speak up for their communities. They need local champions who will show them the trust they deserve. They need local champions who will give them a voice and they want SNP champions who will stand firm against Labour or Tory cuts.”

LABOUR’S SPT CRISIS DEEPENS AS POLICE CALLED IN




LABOUR’S SPT CRISIS DEEPENS AS POLICE CALLED IN

SPT CRISIS DERAILING LABOUR IN STRATHCLYDE

Following on from reports in the Sunday Times newspaper that the Police have been called in to investigate claims of false accounting at SPT, SNP MSP Sandra White has called on all involved to be open and work with the Police to assure that faith can be restored in the transport body.

The investigation comes just days after Labour's failed to reform the organisation by rejecting opposition offers of help in leading the organisation.

Commenting, Ms White said:

"I welcome this investigation.

"With all the accusations and claims currently flying around Strathclyde Partnership for Transport this is a necessary step to clear up Labour's mess.

“We need to route those out who have be caught with their hand in the taxpayers pocket to reinstate public confidence in our elected representatives.

" I hope all those involved with the investigation at SPT are fully open with the Police so that we can get to the bottom of this crisis.

“I fully accept that there will be cases when officials and councillors need to travel, but for representatives of a public transport body to run up thousands in mileage claims and with serious questions hanging over a number of fact finding trips the taxpayer deserves to know if these were genuine or simply Labour representatives charging the taxpayer for their jollies abroad.

“The dodgy dealings that have already been exposed has further damaged the Labour Party in Glasgow and soured relations across Strathclyde.

"Purcell and his labour pals must be clear - if any one is found to have misused public money, to have broken the law or to have condoned it they must be held fully responsible for their actions.”

‘KICK IN THE TEETH’ AS LABOUR GOVERNMENT IGNORE SCOTLAND’S YOUTH




‘KICK IN THE TEETH’ AS LABOUR GOVERNMENT IGNORE SCOTLAND’S YOUTH

SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS DISREGARDED BY HOME OFFICE

Commenting on reports by the Sunday Herald newspaper that HNC and HND certificates are being completely ignored by the Labour run Home Office, the SNP’s Home Affairs spokesperson Stewart Hosie has described it as a ‘kick in the teeth’ to Scotland’s youth.

Mr Hosie said:

“This is utter shameful and sums up this Labour Government’s continued approach of ignoring Scotland and taking her for granted.

“Every year thousands of young people in Scotland work tirelessly to better themselves and further their education through HNC and HND courses. For their hard work and dedication to the course to be completed disregarded is nothing but a kick in the teeth.

“The whole reason the point based system was derived in the first instance was to assure that all qualifications would matter and everyone’s hard work would be properly recognised. To completely disregard a whole set of qualification is an insult to Scotland’s education system, to Scotland’s students and to every young person trying to better themselves through further education.

“The Home Office must correct this immediately and apologise for this massive slap in the face to the young people of Scotland.”

POLL TURNING POINT FOR SNP AFTER SUSTAINED ATTACKS




POLL TURNING POINT FOR SNP AFTER SUSTAINED ATTACKS

Commenting on a Yougov Poll for the Scotland on Sunday and an analysis of
their polling conducted over the last week SNP MP Angus Robertson said the
party had withstood the sustained attacks of recent weeks and had reached
a turning point as we look towards the General Election.

Analysis of You Gov polling samples throughout last week shows SNP support
increasing by 6% over the week as Labour fell by 4%.

SNP Westminster leader and Moray MP Angus Robertson said:

“The SNP have stood up to sustained attack of an unprecedented nature, and
detailed poll analysis demonstrates that there was a major turning point
over the course of last week - with SNP support up 6 points by the end of
the week compared to last Sunday.

“Labour’s orchestrated complaints to the Standards Commissioner were
completely dismissed, and Nicola Sturgeon saw off opposition attacks over
her constituency issue with a hugely impressive performance in the
chamber. We have succeeded in stopping the negative issues, regained the
initiative with the publication of the draft Referendum Bill, and are now
on the front foot as we approach the General Election campaign.

“It is a sign of the resilience of SNP support that this poll shows a
swing from Labour to the SNP since the last General Election – with SNP
support up three points and Labour down two – and we plan to improve our
position further in the coming weeks. Almost three years into government,
we remain in a strong position despite the difficulties.

“We have a compelling message for the General Election to champion
Scotland’s interests at Westminster – which this poll shows is endorsed by
most people in Scotland. Just as we are on the front foot on the
constitution, the SNP’s winning message is that Scotland needs real
economic powers to succeed – and needs SNP MPs to be champions for their
constituency and country at Westminster."

The Scottish National Party published an analysis of the Scottish samples
of YouGov voting intentions for the General Election over the course of
the last week, which shows a strong recovery in the SNP vote of 6 points:

CHANGES IN VOTING INTENTIONS OVER THE WEEK

SNP: increased by 6 points from 18% to 24%
Labour: decreased by 4 points from 45% to 41%
Tory: decreased by 6 points from 22% to 16%
Lib Dem: increased by 4 points from 11% to 15%

Poll in Sunday Times, 22 February, sampled 18/19 February, Scottish sample
139
SNP: 18%
Lab: 45%
Con: 22%
Lib Dem: 11%

Poll in Sun, 23 February, sampled 21/22 February, Scottish sample 149
SNP: 20%
Lab: 39%
Con: 17%
Lib Dem: 18%

Poll in Sun, 24 February, sampled 22/23 February, Scottish sample 132
SNP: 22%
Lab: 44%
Con: 17%
Lib Dem: 12%

Poll in Sun, 25 February, sampled 23/24 February, Scottish sample 118
SNP: 20%
Lab: 43%
Con: 19%
Lib Dem: 15%

Poll in Sun, 26 February, sampled 24/25 February, Scottish sample 195
SNP: 24%
Lab: 41%
Con: 16%
Lib Dem: 15%

SNP POLLING ANALYSIS




SNP POLLING ANALYSIS

6 POINTS BOOST OVER THE WEEK SHOWS SNP ON FRONT FOOT

The Scottish National Party published an analysis of the Scottish samples
of YouGov voting intentions for the General Election over the course of
the last week, which shows a strong recovery in the SNP vote of 6 points:

Poll in Sunday Times, 22 February, sampled 18/19 February, Scottish sample
139
SNP: 18%
Lab: 45%
Con: 22%
Lib Dem: 11%

Poll in Sun, 23 February, sampled 21/22 February, Scottish sample 149
SNP: 20%
Lab: 39%
Con: 17%
Lib Dem: 18%

Poll in Sun, 24 February, sampled 22/23 February, Scottish sample 132
SNP: 22%
Lab: 44%
Con: 17%
Lib Dem: 12%

Poll in Sun, 25 February, sampled 23/24 February, Scottish sample 118
SNP: 20%
Lab: 43%
Con: 19%
Lib Dem: 15%

Poll in Sun, 26 February, sampled 24/25 February, Scottish sample 195
SNP: 24%
Lab: 41%
Con: 16%
Lib Dem: 15%

CHANGES IN VOTING INTENTIONS OVER THE WEEK

SNP: increased by 6 points from 18% to 24%
Labour: decreased by 4 points from 45% to 41%
Tory: decreased by 6 points from 22% to 16%
Lib Dem: increased by 4 points from 11% to 15%

An SNP spokesperson said:

“Given the events that took place, we have very closely analysed the
polling figures over the course of the last week, and the political
temperature has clearly changed in our favour.

“Labour obviously hoped to tie us down for months in negative headlines
with their orchestrated complaints to the Standards Commissioner – a
campaign which totally flopped with Commissioner completely dismissing the
complaints before they got to first base. And Nicola Sturgeon resolved
the opposition attacks over her constituency issue with a hugely
impressive performance.

“We regained the initiative over the course of the week with the
publication of the draft Referendum Bill, and SNP support increased
strongly by 6 points.

“We have disposed of the negative issues, accentuated the positive with
the draft Referendum Bill launch, and are now clearly on the front foot as
we approach the General Election campaign.”

PHONEY WAR HAS NOTHING TO OFFER SCOTLAND




PHONEY WAR HAS NOTHING TO OFFER SCOTLAND

TORY REAL CHANGE IS SCOTTISH SHORT CHANGE

As the Conservative Party Conference gets underway, SNP MP, Pete Wishart, has said the only change either the Tories or Labour plan to make in Scotland would be to cut the Scottish budget even further and threaten frontline services.

Commenting, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire Pete Wishart said:

"This is the latest salvo in a phoney war which has nothing to offer Scotland.

"While the London parties bicker about health budgets south of the border, they both agree on swingeing cuts to Scotland's budget and frontline services.

"The Tories are backing massive cuts to Scotland's budget next year - the first real terms cut since devolution, they want to go further and faster in the years thereafter, and David Cameron has already let it slip that he plans a new spending formula that will further reduce Scottish cash.

"The Tories so-called real change means short change for Scotland.

"The people of Scotland don't need sound and fury from Brighton, they need local champions who will speak up for their communities and the best interests of Scotland.

"In stark contrast to our opponents, SNP MPs are not battling it out for the keys to Number 10. We're only concerned with fighting for Scotland and our constituents."

Friday, 26 February 2010

LABOUR’S SECOND CLASS TICKET FOR SCOTLAND




LABOUR’S SECOND CLASS TICKET FOR SCOTLAND

REPLACEMENT OF AGEING TRAIN FLEET CANCELLED

SNP MP, Mike Weir, has hit out at news Labour is postponing the replacement of ageing trains on the East Coast main line.

In a statement today (Friday) Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, blamed the UK’s debt levels and the coming General Election for the delay. The project should have seen the fleet of 30-year-old trains replaced on the main East Coast line to Scotland and on the Great Western route.

Commenting, Mr Weir said:

“Delaying this renewal will leave Scotland with a second class ticket for travel.

“This is an arterial route, vital for the economy and vital for ease of travel across the border and onto London. It should be an absolute priority to upgrade this service to make travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK as quick and simple as possible.

“Rather than cancelling key investment during troubling financial times, the UK needs to move ahead with capital investment. Shovel ready projects like this are exactly what we need to help the economy back on track.

“This Labour announcement comes hot on the heels of Tory backtracking over the high speed rail link. This service would revolutionise travel between Scotland and England, bringing considerable benefits to the Scottish economy and having a real environmental impact by cutting the number of short haul flights.

“It appears that both Labour and the Tories are absolutely sidelining Scotland in their race number 10. To shirk responsibility and blame an impending election is proof that Labour cares more about votes than about improving services for Scottish people.”

DISAPPOINTMENT WITH SPT APPROACH




DISAPPOINTMENT WITH SPT APPROACH

SNP Councillors and MSPs have expressed their disappointment with the
business as usual approach from Labour councillors on SPT.

Despite calls from opposition councils and the Scottish Government for SPT
to adopt a balanced political leadership today's meeting of the board saw
Labour members annoint a new Labour party leadership to the troubled
transport body.

Questions have been raised over Labour's management of SPT since
allegations emerged over the use of expenses by the Chair, Vice Chair and
Chief Executive - all of whom have now resigned.

The First Minister this week urged SPT to reform itself and the Transport
Minister urged the board to accept a balanced leadership.

Commenting on the vote to endorse a new round of Labour councillors as
Chair and Vice Chair SNP Councillor Graeme Hendry said:

"This business as usual approach from Labour will not bring the change SPT
needs.

"It is deeply disappointing that Labour refused to see sense over the
appointment of either the chair or vice chair and any prospect for
immediate reform at SPT is now in question.

"That the new chair was part of the now notorious trip to the UEFA cup in
Manchester which saw the downfall of his predecessor only makes this
decision even more backward.

SNP MSP Sandra White who raised the issue at First Ministers Question said:

"The First Minister was clear that if SPT do not reform themselves they
may find someone else does it for them.

"A balanced board would be the way forward and it is disappointing that at
a time when SPT needs to rebuild its reputation and its services Labour
have failed to see that.

"SPT will be being watched very closely not just by councillors but by the
people of Strathclyde who deserve far better than it has given them in the
past."

Thursday, 25 February 2010

CALL FOR PROTECTION OF SCOTLAND'S HISTORICAL FISHING RIGHTS





CALL FOR PROTECTION OF SCOTLAND'S HISTORICAL FISHING RIGHTS

PARLIAMENT VOTE MUST NOT JEOPORDISE SCOTTISH WATERS

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has today (Thursday) called for Scotland's
coastal communities to unite in an effort to protect their historical
fishing rights. The call came after a vote in the European Parliament
opened the way for a review of the principle whereby fishing access is
allocated to countries on the basis of their traditional practices.

The vote came as part of the European Parliament's response to the
European Commission's review of the Common Fisheries Policy. It is
anticipated that a new European policy on fisheries management will come
into force in 2013.

The SNP is campaigning for the protection of historical rights and a
return of fisheries powers to Europe's fishing nations.

Speaking after the vote in Brussels, Mr Hudghton commented:

"There seems to be a consensus emerging across Europe that the CFP has
failed and that the over-centralised system must be abandoned.
Nevertheless, serious concerns must remain as to what will be put in its
place.

"It is clear that rule by diktat from Brussels has not worked and that
powers must be returned to Europe's fishing nations, co-operating with
each other on a regional basis. This effectively entails enshrining each
countries existing historical rights - and allowing decisions to be taken
closer to where it matters.

"The European Parliament voted today however to end the principle of
access rights based on historical practices. This is a dangerous move
which may well threaten livelihoods around Scotland.

"The UK government has already this week lobbied MEPs urging them to
abandon those historical rights. Unfortunately enough seem to have
followed that call.

"It is absolutely vital that Scotland's waters are not opened up for a
free-for-all. The CFP must not be replaced by a system where those
remaining traditional rights are scrapped forever.

"Scotland's coastal communities must be alert to this danger. The SNP
will work tirelessly with them in the coming months and years to ensure
that we secure a strong and vibrant future for our fishing industry."

REFERENDUM – LABOUR POLICY IS BACK TO “BRING IT ON”




REFERENDUM – LABOUR POLICY IS BACK TO “BRING IT ON”
PARTY’S CONSTITUTIONAL SPOKESPERSON SAYS “NAME THE DAY”
AND TORIES WANT TO BRING IT ON IN WALES BUT NOT SCOTLAND
Welcoming the remarks made by Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Culture and the Constitution, Pauline McNeill, at today’s First Minister’s Questions where she called on the Scottish Government to “name the day” for a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future, SNP MSP Dr Alasdair Allan said Labour were back to their 2008 confusion caused by Wendy Alexander’s “Bring it on” statement – when Labour changed their position three times in three months between opposing, then supporting, and then opposing a referendum again.
Commenting, Dr Allan said:
“By reviving Wendy Alexander’s call for a referendum on Scotland’s future, Pauline McNeill – their Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Constitution – has backed the Labour Party into a constitutional corner again.
"She has left Labour with the position that they should now back the Scottish Government's Referendum Bill.
"With Labour supporting constitutional referendums for Wales on more powers and for the UK on electoral reform, the position of Labour in Scotland not only looks untenable but, on the basis of Pauline McNeill’s comments, utterly confused.”
Dr Allan also commented on the lack of consistency from the Tories who are opposing a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional position but saying Labour should stop “dithering” and just get on with one in Wales. Dr Allan said:
“The Tories want to ‘bring it on’ to have a referendum on more powers for Wales, but oppose the right of the people of Scotland to have a say on their future. The Tory position looks just as confused and ridiculous as Labour’s new stance.
“And the Liberal Democrats are split in Scotland, with Tavish Scott saying on his first day in post as Lib Dem leader in Scotland they he is not opposed in principle to a constitutional referendum.
“The London parties are at sixes and sevens about the right of the people of Scotland to have a say on their future – no wonder none of their Holyrood leaders dared raise the issue at First Minister’s Questions.”

SPT REFORM BACKED IN PARLIAMENT




SPT REFORM BACKED IN PARLIAMENT

GOVERNMENT WILL CHANGE LEGISLATION IF NECESSARY

Demands for real reform of SPT and public transport services in Strathclyde has been backed in Parliament.

Responding to SNP Glasgow MSP Sandra White who raised the issue at First Minister's Questions Alex Salmond indicated that if SPT does not reform itself the Government will consider changing the legislation which governs it's membership and the appointment of it's Chair and senior figures.

The First Minister called on the Labour party whose Councillors dominate the partnership to accept a broad cross party base to allow the organisation to go forward.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson also added his voice to calls from parties and local authorities across the region for political balance at the top of SPT and an end to Labour's domination of all senior positions saying in answer to an earlier question from Ms White that "a greater sense of balance at SPT" would be of benefit to SPT and to people across Strathclyde.

Glasgow MSP Sandra White said:

"SPT and Labour Councillors across Strathclyde must take this opportunity to end their block on reform at SPT.

"SPT cannot continue as a Labour fiefdom it must start working in the interests of people and public transport across Strathclyde.

"The Government's willingness to legislate is welcome and I hope this will spur Labour into real action rather that continuing delay.

"SPT has been exposed in recent weeks as unfit for purpose with resignations of it's Chair, Vice Chair and Chief Executive and investigations into expenses allegations.

"It is some time since SPT provided the transport services Strathclyde needs and deserves.

"I welcome the support from the Government and hope SPT will take action."

MOD ANSWERS EXPOSE PRESTWICK CONFUSION




MOD ANSWERS EXPOSE PRESTWICK CONFUSION

CALLOUS DISREGARD FOR JOBS AND LIFE SAVING SERVICES

There is chaos and confusion in the Ministry of Defence over its decision
to privatise search and rescue services.

Two parliamentary answers received at the same time from two different UK
Defence Ministers give completely contradictory statements as to whether
jobs will be lost through the decision to end Search and Rescue services
at Prestwick.

The SNP have today called for absolute clarity for the workers affected by
the UK Government’s ludicrous decision.

In one answer Minister Kevan Jones states: “It is not anticipated that the
decision to move future Search and Rescue operations from HMS Gannet at
Prestwick to Glasgow airport will result in any job losses”

In the second Defence Minister Quentin Davies says: “With the
introduction of new, modern, more reliable helicopters there is likely to
be a reduction in personnel at the two locations where they take over from
the MOD Sea Kings (RAF Lossiemouth and RNAS Prestwick).”

Both answers were given on February 22nd.

SNP MSP for South of Scotland Adam Ingram said:

“Privatising search and rescue services and taking the service away from
Prestwick despite promises to the contrary is a disgraceful decision.

“To do so with no idea whether jobs will be lost – or no honesty over
whether jobs will be lost - is appalling.

“The MoD must answer the question and answer it straight: how many jobs
are they planning on cutting from Prestwick and how many of those who
spend their time working to save others lives are now faced with having to
save their jobs?”

SNP Defence Spokesman and Westminster Leader Angus Robertson, who asked
the questions said:

“This is ridiculous. People who are regularly risking their lives to save
others deserve better treatment from the MoD.

"This shows Labour's callous disregard for people's jobs and for the lives
that could be put at risk through these cuts.

"The MoD is clearly in disarray and real questions are arising over the
ridiculous decision to privatise life saving services."

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

UK GOVERNMENT PREPARES TO ABANDON SCOTLAND'S HISTORICAL FISHING RIGHTS




UK GOVERNMENT PREPARES TO ABANDON SCOTLAND'S HISTORICAL FISHING RIGHTS

"FINAL ACT OF BETRAYAL"

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has today (Wednesday) reacted with outrage
as it became clear that the UK Government is preparing to abandon the
principle whereby fishing rights are allocated to countries on the basis
of historical precedent.

In a UK government briefing sent to all MEPs it is claimed that allocating
traditional rights to fishing communities "stifles innovative business and
the ability to adapt to climate change". The briefing was sent out ahead
of a key vote in the European Parliament tomorrow on reform of the Common
Fisheries Policy.

Fishing opportunities are currently allocated under the principle of
"relative stability" whereby there is a clear link between individual
fishing nations and the waters and stocks they are allowed to fish.

Mr Hudghton said:

"The ongoing review of European fisheries policy gives us the opportunity
to finally get management issues right. A move away from the centralised
structures of the CFP is long overdue and powers should be returned to
Europe's fishing nations.

"The UK Government however seem intent on abandoning Scotland's
traditional rights. After decades of sell-out by successive London
governments, this is one final act of betrayal towards our coastal
communities.

"London Labour claim that respect for historic rights 'stifles innovation'
- at a time when the Scottish fleet is at the forefront of promoting
sustainable practices. They claim that it harms the ability to adapt to
climate change - when the Scottish government has taken active steps to
promote fuel efficiency.

"The debate should be about returning powers to Scotland - not giving
rights away. It is utterly shameful that Gordon Brown's government are
actively campaigning against Scotland's fishermen".

STANDARDS COMMISSIONER DISMISSES LUNCH COMPLAINTS




STANDARDS COMMISSIONER DISMISSES LUNCH COMPLAINTS

The Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner has written to Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon today about the three complaints he received under the MSP Code of Conduct on the auctioning of lunches, in which he says that the complaints: “are not relevant and that there is no evidence of sufficient substance warranting further investigation. I have, therefore, dismissed the complaints”.

A spokesperson for Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon said:

“Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon have been comprehensively cleared on all counts before the Standards Commissioner. This is a humiliation for the Labour Party and the disreputable campaign which they orchestrated. They didn’t even get to first base with their spurious arguments. The Commissioner’s decision is hugely welcome, a devastating dismissal of Labour’s put up job, and a victory for common sense.”

DARLING DISCLOSURE REVEALS DYSFUNCTION IN DOWNING STREET




DARLING DISCLOSURE REVEALS DYSFUNCTION IN DOWNING STREET

PRIME MINISTER MUST PUT HIS HOUSE IN ORDER

BROWN URGED TO CALL ELECTION AND LET PEOPLE DECIDE

SNP MP and Westminster campaign co-ordinator, Stewart Hosie, said continuing revelations over strained relations within Downing Street were symptomatic of the dysfunction at the heart of the Labour Government.

Amid continuing allegations of bullying and suggestions at the weekend that Jack Straw – one of the most senior figures in Brown’s Government – plotted against him, Chancellor Alistair Darling has now claimed that “the forces of hell” were unleashed against him over his assessment of the recession by Gordon Brown’s advisors.

Commenting, Mr Hosie said:

“These revelations are symptomatic of dysfunction at the very heart of the UK Government.

“While they should have been fighting for the UK economy, the highest levels of the Labour Party were fighting each other.

“It is inconceivable that Gordon Brown did not know what was going on. The Prime Minister needs to put his house in order and investigate the Chancellor’s claims without delay.

“If he doesn’t already know, he should find out exactly what his advisors were saying – and who told them to say it.

“With a Prime Minister living on borrowed time, and with Cabinet Members speaking out against him, this Government has lost its last shred of credibility.

“It is time for the public to have its say. Gordon Brown must get on with it, call the election and allow voters to decide whether they want a Government obsessed with itself or SNP MPs committed to working hard for local communities.”

SCOTTISH OIL RESERVES HIGHER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT




SCOTTISH OIL RESERVES HIGHER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT

SCOTTISH JOBS POTENTIAL FROM OIL WILL BE ELECTION ISSUE

LONDON POLITICIANS MUST WAKE UP TO IMPORTANCE OF SCOTTISH OIL FUND

Commenting on the survey by the offshore industry association, Oil and Gas UK, which finds that North Sea oil and gas reserves are higher than previously thought, SNP MP and Energy Spokesperson Mike Weir said that future revenues from oil should be invested for Scotland's future.

Mr Weir warned that the lessons of the 1970's, when London politicians claimed the reserves would not last long, must be remembered and made the case for the establishment of an oil fund to secure the benefits of oil revenues for future generations.

Commenting Mr Weir said:

"Scotland's oil and gas industry is the only thing keeping the London Treasury afloat - over the next six years, £50 billion worth of North Sea revenues will flow to the London exchequer.

"That alone represents over £20,000 for every household in Scotland.

"The London politicians must not think it they can fool the people of Scotland again.

"This survey underlines how there is a strong economic future for Scotland's oil industry and the jobs associated with it.

"There is a real sense of déjà vu. We have London Labour politicians at the Scotland Office claiming that oil revenues would not help an independent Scotland despite the fact that even their own dodgy figures show Scotland in a better financial position.

"There is as much oil left in the North Sea as has been taken out of it - and much more than half of the revenues. Scotland's oil industry has a positive future. With the UK making billions in revenue from North Sea oil over the last 30 years, it is now time to ensure that future revenues are invested properly for Scotland's future.

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

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

"Scotland needs more SNP MPs at Westminster to champion Scotland's interests and fight for Scotland's oil wealth to benefit local communities - not prop up the London Treasury. Only SNP MPs will fight for a fairer share of Scotland's oil revenues."

SNP COMMENT ON AFGHANISTAN POLL FINDINGS




SNP COMMENT ON AFGHANISTAN POLL FINDINGS

A ComRes poll conducted for Tuesday's BBC Newsnight programme has found that 69% of people believe the UK Labour government has not done all it can to support UK forces fighting in Afghanistan while 64% believe the war in the region is unwinnable.

The poll of 1,004 people in England, Scotland and Wales was conducted between the 19th and 21st February 2010.

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

"There is enormous public support for the troops on the ground, but little confidence in the strategy the UK Government is pursuing.

"The Taliban has regrouped, the heroin trade is flourishing and we are backing a government with corruption problems. Meanwhile, too many ordinary Afghans are seeing precious little reconstruction and development.

“Last month, we had warm words at an international conference but what our service personnel serving on the frontline really need is a full, overarching review of UK strategy which considers all of the options including the possibility of withdrawal.”

ENDS

Monday, 22 February 2010

COMMONS COMMITTEE CALLS FOR REVIEW OF TRANSMISSION CHARGING




COMMONS COMMITTEE CALLS FOR REVIEW OF TRANSMISSION CHARGING

SNP Energy Spokesman and Member of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, Mike Weir MP, has welcomed a recommendation by the Committee for an independent review of the transmission charging regime which is currently disadvantaging Scotland’s renewable energy producers.

Commenting, Mr Weir said:

“The Committee’s acknowledgement of the unfair impact of the current regime on Scottish renewable generators is very welcome. I hope the UK Government will act without delay on the recommendation for an independent report on transmission charging.

“The current regime was designed for a different energy mix and leads to energy generators remote parts of Scotland paying considerably higher charges than those closer to population centres.

“Realising Scotland’s renewable potential is vital if we are to meet the ambitious climate change targets we have set and we must get the transmission charging regime right if we are to realise our renewables ambitions.

"The Scottish Government has set the benchmark in championing a low carbon economy - by backing investment in green, renewable energy sources and leading the way with tough emissions targets.

“The UK Government must now follow this lead and act on the Committee’s recommendations immediately."

ELECTORAL WATCHDOG SLAMS LABOUR OVER POSTAL VOTE BREACH




ELECTORAL WATCHDOG SLAMS LABOUR OVER POSTAL VOTE BREACH

DELAY MUST NOT BE REPEATED

In a damning report into the Glasgow North East by-election, the Electoral
Commission has confirmed that Labour broke election rules by hording
postal vote applications for nearly four weeks longer than allowed.

The report:
- confirms that Labour horded some postal vote applications for nearly
four weeks after the two days allowed
- condemns Labour's decision not to call the by-election for 116 days
- confirms one in twenty postal ballots were rejected.

The Commission report states:

“An established political party did not comply with the agreed code of
conduct for handling postal vote applications, which could have had a
detrimental impact on some voters.”

The report also confirms that Strathclyde Police are still investigating a
case of personation, where people allegedly tried to vote in the names of
persons who were marked as already having voted on the electoral register.

The SNP will be writing to all Returning Officers to ensure strict
attention is paid to postal vote applications in the upcoming General
Election.

SNP MP and Campaign Co-ordinator Stewart Hosie said:

“This is a damning report for Labour. It is almost beyond belief that a
major political party would so blatantly breach the code of conduct on
postal voting. Labour needs to explain why they held on to postal vote
applications beyond the two working days allowed. Indeed, why they did not
submit some of them for almost a month.

"It is deeply troubling that so many postal ballots were rejected because
signatures and dates of birth did not match the applications.

“In fact the approach Labour took to the whole by-election is in question
following this report.

“The people of Glasgow North East were left without an MP for an
astonishing 142 days because of the shocking arrogance of the Labour Party
who put their electoral convenience ahead of the needs of the local
community.

“Any future Government must heed this warning.

“The SNP will continue to push for timely elections so this situation is
never replicated.”

FALKLAND ISLANDS WOULD BENEFIT FROM OWN OIL REVENUES




FALKLAND ISLANDS WOULD BENEFIT FROM OWN OIL REVENUES

ONLY SCOTTISH COMMUNITIES DENIED ACCESS TO OIL WEALTH

Research undertaken by the SNP has revealed that if oil was discovered in the Falkland Islands, the Falkland Islands Government has negotiated a deal which would see the local community receive 9% of royalties on every barrel, and between 21-26% of all profits, depending upon the amount made. Similar deals were negotiated by the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.

Commenting, SNP Treasury Spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said this made Scotland unique in not benefiting from its own oil wealth.

Mr Hosie said:

“Unique amongst the oil producing nations of the world, Scotland does not benefit from her own oil wealth.

“Scotland won the energy lottery with the discovery of North Sea Oil but – as part of the United Kingdom – Scotland’s communities have been denied the benefit. Indeed, Scottish oil has been propping up the UK’s ailing finances.

“The GERS report demonstrates that Scotland recorded a current budget surplus over the three years to 2007/08 of £2.3 billion, while the UK ran up a deficit of £24 billion over the same period.

“Scotland’s oil and gas industry is the only thing keeping the London Treasury afloat – over the next six years, £50 billion worth of North Sea revenues will flow to the London exchequer. That alone represents over £20,000 for every household in Scotland.

“Scotland needs more SNP MPs at Westminster to champion Scotland’s interests and fight for Scotland’s oil wealth to benefit local communities - not prop up the London Treasury. Only SNP MPs will fight for a fairer share of Scotland’s oil revenues.”

CAMERON'S LABOUR LIST SHOWS UP FURTHER PHONEY ELECTION RHETORIC




CAMERON'S LABOUR LIST SHOWS UP FURTHER PHONEY ELECTION RHETORIC

SNP CONTINUES EXPOSING "PHONEY WAR BETWEEN TYPICAL LONDON POLITICIANS"

Keeping up the SNP assault on the phoney pre-election debate between London Labour and the Tory politicians, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson published a 10-point list highlighting how the Tories actions and statements differ little from Labour's.

Describing it as 'David Cameron's Labour List', Mr Robertson said:

"All the phoney slogans in the world can't hide how David Cameron's Tory politicians differ little from London Labour politicians.

"There is no difference between them. Their current election arguments are phoney and irrelevant to Scotland.

"David Cameron's Labour List reveals how the rhetoric of Tory politicians doesn't meet the reality.

"London Labour and Tory politicians have near identical positions on the economy. Their only difference is the Tories lunatic proposal to start a process of further cuts this coming year.

"After that, the Tories and Labour are not just in the same economic book but on the same page.

"Both Labour and Tory indeed to splurge a near £100 billion lifetime spend on a Trident missile system while placing public services on a starvation diet.

"This pre-election economic debate between the typical London politicians is the phoney war.

"It is the SNP which is offering the people of Scotland a fresh start with local champions to replace the tired old London politicians."

BROWN'S TORY TOP TEN EXPOSES PHONEY RHETORIC




BROWN'S TORY TOP TEN EXPOSES PHONEY RHETORIC

SNP STEPS UP ASSAULT ON "PHONEY WAR BETWEEN TYPICAL LONDON POLITICIANS"

SNP COMMENT ON LATEST BROWN REVELATIONS

Continuing the SNP assault on the phoney pre-election debate between
London Labour and the Tory politicians, SNP Westminster leader Angus
Robertson published a 10-point list highlighting how Labour's policies
in government over the past 10 years have been almost identical to the
Tories.

Describing it as "Gordon Brown's Tory Top Ten', Mr Robertson said:

"All the phoney slogans in the world can't hide how London Labour
politicians have just aped Tory politicians over the past 13 years.

"And no re-writing of history can cover up the fact that the banking
crisis took place under Gordon Brown's 'limited' regulation regime.

"There is no difference between them. Their current arguments are phoney.

"Gordom Brown's Tory Top Ten just exposes how the rhetoric of Labour
politicians doesn't meet the reality.

"The fact is that even now Labour and Tory politicians have near
identical positions on the economy and cutting Scotland's budget.

"No wonder Gordon Brown rightly wants people to take a long look at
the Tories. It's because he doesn't want anyone to look at his twin
Tory record.

"This pre-election economic debate between the typical London
politicians is the phoney war.

"It is the SNP which is offering the people of Scotland a fresh start
with local champions to replace the tired old London politicians."

Mr Robertson also commented on revelations from Andrew Rawnsley's book
that Jack Straw had plotted to remove Gordon Brown as Prime Minister
and told colleagues that Brown "had to go".

Mr Robertson said:

"These revelations betray the seething atmosphere of splits and plots
that have been a hallmark of Gordon Brown's career as a politician.

"Not only is his election rhetoric phoney but so is any claim that he
leads a united and confident party."

BANKER BONUSES EXPOSE LABOUR'S PHONEY FAIRNESS




BANKER BONUSES EXPOSE LABOUR'S PHONEY FAIRNESS

LABOUR POLITICIANS PROMISED ACTION OVER A YEAR AGO

Commenting on reports that the biggest nationalised banks in the UK
could be preparing to pay billions in bonuses amid multi-billion-pound
losses, SNP MSP Rob Gibson - a member of the Scottish Parliament'
Economy Committee - said it was an embarrassment for Labour
politicians as it exposed how phoney their election slogan was.

Mr Gibson also highlighted how London Labour politicians had been
promising action against bonuses by the nationalised banks over a year
ago but had failed to bring forward any proposals in time to avert the
current situation.

Commenting Mr Gibson said:

"Yet again Labour politicians' phoney words aren't matching reality.
This is looking like a future free-for-all for bankers. Where is the
fairness for the ordinary taxpayer here?

"It is embarrassing for Labour politicians and exposes the hollowness
of their election slogan.

"For well over a year they have been talking tough about bankers'
bonuses but this raises suspicions that they have little intention of
taking substantial action in time to forestall these bonuses.

"It just exposes Gordon Brown's attempts to present a phoney front on
fairness, and must raise questions about how serious he and the
Chancellor are about implementing their latest proposals.

"If an election is called before these proposals can be implemented
then it will finally confirm how phoney Labour's rhetoric on bankers'
bonuses really are."

SPT LEADERSHIP MUST HAVE CROSS-PARTY NOT LABOUR PARTY CONTROL




SPT LEADERSHIP MUST HAVE CROSS-PARTY NOT LABOUR PARTY CONTROL

SNP MOVES TO REFORM SPT WITH SHARED LEADERSHIP ROLES

In light of the ongoing revelations and resignations by leading Labour
figures of Strathclyde Public Transport, local SNP representatives
from across the area have written to the Scottish Transport Minister
Stewart Stevenson seeking his support for the top two positions to be
wrested from the control of the Labour party.

The SNP representatives believe the current ructions are an
opportunity for reform and improvement of the management of SPT which
would see leadership of its board shared with the positions of Chair
and Vice Chair held by members of different parties as happens within
COSLA.

Commenting on the letter SNP Glasgow Councillor Graeme Hendry, who
worked to expose some of the problems within SPT, said:

“It is important that we now see real reform of SPT and that starts at
the top which Labour appears to believe is their right to fully
control.

“It's time for real openness and accountability at the top of SPT with
a chair and vice chairs from different parties and different
authorities.

"That is a system that works in COSLA, and there is no reason why SPT
cannot do the same.

"Labour's days of absolute control of institutions across Scotland are
over but the situation at SPT is a reminder of how they haven't given
up retaining that control.

“It is a Labour leadership which has presided over the current mess SPT is in.

“The SPT board does not meet until next week but Labour have already
anointed a chairman and are no doubt currently picking their chosen
deputy. That is the same old style Labour politics that got SPT into
this mess.

"It is time for real reform, a clear out of SPT and some democratic
cross-party balance."

Also commenting on today's revelations in the Sunday Times that the
police have been contacted in connection with the expenses claims
Councillor Graeme Hendry said:

"It would be galling to find out taxpayers money has been used to
allow anyone from SPT to live it up while at Manchester or on any
other trip.

"If it does turn out that claims such as the lunch at San Carlo are
not related to work, they must be repaid and questions need to be
asked about why they were claimed in the first place."

STOPPING CORPORATE CRIME IN SCOTLAND




STOPPING CORPORATE CRIME IN SCOTLAND

SNP MSP Dr Bill Wilson MSP will this week introduce his proposal for a
Criminal Sentencing (Equity Fines) (Scotland) Bill which he hopes will go
some way to reducing deaths, injuries and environmental damage caused by
corporate criminal action and negligence and giving judges more power to
seek redress from firms.

The final proposal for the Bill, aimed at deterring corporate crime, will be
lodged in the Scottish Parliament on Monday.

The bill has two primary aims

1) To give courts the power to order independent investigations of
the financial position of companies found guilty of criminal offences

2) To allow courts to order public companies convicted of corporate
crimes such as corporate manslaughter to issue new shares with the proceeds
being awarded to the court as a monetary fine.

Discussing his proposal Dr Wilson said:

“I have been appalled by the fact that companies were fined less than
£12,500 in half the cases where they were found criminally responsible for
deaths.

“With such low fines for major crimes some unscrupulous firms have no
incentive to invest in health and safety.

“Companies that act in an ethical and responsible way would have nothing to
fear from this Bill. Indeed, they should benefit, as it would remove
unethical competition from those that cut corners.

“The first part of my bill would give courts the power to order independent
enquiries into the financial position of companies found guilty of criminal
offences. As the law stands, companies can present their own version of
their books and plead poverty putting judges in the difficult position of
imposing high fines or fearing putting employees out of work.

"Allowing courts to get an independent assessment of companies financial
health won the near universal support of respondents to my consultation and
as well as introducing the bill I would hope this can be brought in more
quickly as an amendment to the ongoing Criminal Justice and Licensing bill.

“The second proposal would provide a new way for companies to pay fines and
for people to obtain real compensation. I want to see the courts have the
powers to order convicted public companies to issue new shares with the
proceeds from selling these shares turned over to the court as a monetary
fine would be or paying compensation to relatives.

“As the value of shares held by existing shareholders would be significantly
affected, this could focus minds on ethical and responsible behaviour, and
it would be much harder to pass the cost of penalties on to employees, as
can happen with monetary fines.

“I think the potential benefits to Scotland of leading the world in such
progressive legislation would be considerable. For this reason I am formally
proposing that courts be allowed to impose equity fines on public companies
found guilty of criminal offences.

“I already have more than half the eighteen signatures I need for the Bill
to be introduced. I am hopeful of obtaining the rest within the requisite
month.

"Scotland should welcome the former and send a clear message to the latter
that it will not tolerate profits being made from killing and injuring its
people and destroying its environment.”

Saturday, 20 February 2010

SALMOND SLAMS "PHONEY WAR BETWEEN TYPICAL LONDON POLITICIANS




SALMOND SLAMS "PHONEY WAR BETWEEN TYPICAL LONDON POLITICIANS

First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond has described the
pre-election debate between both Labour and the Tories as a "phoney
war between politicians with the same depressing economic prospectus".

Commenting Mr Salmond said:

"London Labour and Tory politicians have near identical positions on
the economy. The only disagreement is the Tories lunatic proposal to
start a process of further cuts this coming year.

“After that, Tory and Labour politicians are not just in the same
economic book but on the same page. The Prime Minister rightly wants
people to take a long look at the Tories. His trouble is that a second
look at Labour confirms the worst.

“Gordon Brown claims to be aiming to secure the recovery, but the
reality is that the UK is the only developed economy with no
discretionary fiscal boost planned for next year. Far from securing
recovery, he is risking a double-dip recession. He talks the soft
language of recovery but the hard reality is the refusal to accelerate
capital spending to promote growth.

“Gordon Brown claims to secure frontline services but they are already
feeling the squeeze this year, with the threat of much bigger cuts to
come. Meanwhile, both Labour and Tory intend to splurge a near £100
billion lifetime spend on a Trident missile system while placing
public services on a starvation diet.

"This pre-election economic debate between the London parties is the
phoney war. It's the SNP whose local candidates will champion the
communities of Scotland."

SCOTTISH LABOUR WHIP TO STAND DOWN FROM PARLIAMENT




SCOTTISH LABOUR WHIP TO STAND DOWN FROM PARLIAMENT

GROWING OPPORTUNITY FOR SCOTTISH CONSTITUENCIES TO CHOOSE LOCAL CHAMPIONS

Commenting on the announcement that Labour MP Tommy McAvoy is to stand
down at the General Election, Central Scotland SNP MSP Christina
McKelvie said:

"As a Labour Whip, Tommy MacAvoy was one of Gordon Brown's most loyal
lieutenants - but even he is abandoning his leader as Labour limp
towards the Election.

"He adds his name to the list of embattled Labour MPs who would rather
take their resettlement packages rather than face an angry electorate.
No doubt some people will be asking why?

"With a quarter of sitting Scottish Labour MPs choosing to jump, such
an exodus opens up a great opportunity for ordinary people across
Scotland to choose local champions to represent them rather than the
same old politicians from the discredited London parties.

"In Graeme Horne the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have an
excellent choice for a local champion."

NOTHING FAIR ABOUT LABOUR'S CUTS OR LABOUR'S RECORD




NOTHING FAIR ABOUT LABOUR'S CUTS OR LABOUR'S RECORD

CAN'T TRUST A WORD LABOUR POLITICIANS SAY

Commenting on the launch of Labour's election slogans SNP Campaign
Co-ordinator Stewart Hosie MP said:

"There is nothing fair about the £814 million cuts Labour plans for
Scotland nor their record in government which has witnessed a widening
between rich and poor and the debacle that was Iraq.

"This is just the same old empty rhetoric from Labour politicians that
turns voters of politics. As the Chilcot inquiry shows how can anyone
trust a word Labour says.

“This election is about choosing Scottish MPs to represent Scottish
constituencies.

“Voters in Scotland have a unique opportunity not to elect a
politician but to elect a local champion who will represent their
concerns at home and in Westminster.

“While the London party politicians engage in a phoney war and bombard
the people of Scotland with slogans and spin the SNP will work hard to
show Scotland’s voters that our candidates can be those local
champions, listening to their interests and putting their needs first
not following a party line from London."

MacASKILL TO SLAM BIGOTRY AT ANTI-RACISM MARCH




MacASKILL TO SLAM BIGOTRY AT ANTI-RACISM MARCH

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will join speakers from across all parties at a march and rally in Edinburgh today (Saturday) by Scotland United. The event has been organised to highlight the strength of feeling against the bigotry expressed by a Scottish Defence League march which will also be held in Edinburgh today.

Commenting before today's march and rally, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh MSP Mr MacAskill said:

“This capital has a proud record of being open to all, and racism has no place here or in modern society. The vast majority of people in Scotland embrace equality, diversity and the idea of a one Scotland, many cultures.

"Scotland is not only a nation of immigrants but also a nation of emigrants. Wherever we went in the world we were almost uniformly treated with dignity, compassion and respect. As a nation we should extend those same values to all who make Scotland their home.

"Today is about making a stand against those who would seek to divide and saying to them that their views are not welcome, as well as showing to the world that Scotland will not tolerate such views."