Wednesday, 31 August 2016

UK Labour Leadership Contender Tells Scottish Leader: Westminster Trumps Scotland


"Car Crash Interview" Shows Labour Out of Touch with Scotland

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith has insisted that the Westminster party should ignore Scottish Labour on Trident renewal – while claiming that promises made prior to the independence referendum were “contingent on Labour being in power”.

In a car-crash interview on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Smith also described income-tax rates as “non-devolved”, despite them being devolved under the Scotland Act.

Just days after former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the Scotland Act was now out of date and that Scotland should receive full Home Rule, Mr Smith said that the “nature of devolution” was that Scottish Labour’s positions would be trumped by Westminster.

Mr Smith also said that it was for the Scottish people to determine whether there should be a second independence referendum – in direct contradiction of Scottish Labour’s manifesto commitment to oppose a new referendum.

Commenting, SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald said:

“This car crash interview shows just how out of touch Labour is with Scotland – with a potential party leader seemingly unaware of Scottish Labour policy and ignorant of what is and isn’t devolved.

“Owen Smith is completely at odds with Scottish Labour on a second referendum and on Trident – and this is the candidate backed by Kezia Dugdale – but we welcome a Labour voice acknowledging that it is ultimately for the Scottish people to decide on a second referendum.

“But what’s most galling is that Mr Smith brushed off the promises made to the people of Scotland on EU membership and on shipbuilding during the independence referendum campaign saying that these were ‘contingent’ on Labour being in power.

“Such a dismissive attitude to these broken promises only reminds people in Scotland that Labour campaigned shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories during the referendum – a fact that has haunted Labour ever since and which will continue to do so.”

Thursday, 11 August 2016

SNP Depute Leadership Campaign Kicks-Off in Buchan

Buchan hosted the first hustings of the SNP’s depute leadership campaign on Wednesday (yesterday), at an event attended by three of the contest’s challengers.

Angus Robertson MP, Tommy Shepherd MP and Cllr Chris McEleny were greeted by an audience of nearly a hundred local SNP members, who asked questions directly to the candidates. The fourth candidate, Alyn Smith MEP, was unable to attend due to prior commitments, however he did send a statement of intent to be read.
The event at Longhaven Hall was chaired by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin, and represented the opening debate in what is set to be a keenly contested campaign.

Speaking after the event, Gillian Martin said:

“It was fantastic to meet the challengers, and to quiz them on their ideas for taking the party forward. There were great performances all round, and the event was deeply informative for members.”

Constituency MP for Banff and Buchan, Eilidh Whiteford, added:

“I was very proud to note that the very first hustings of the campaign was held in the North-east, and the event was an opportunity for the challengers to hear for themselves the opinions of local members and the challenges faced in Banff & Buchan.

“The debate was vigorous, open and frank, and the candidates present rose to the occasion admirably.”

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Tory Civil War Sees Scotland's Energy Interests Sidelined

Tory in-fighting over the EU is putting energy cooperation with our North Sea neighbours at risk, despite Scotland having arguably the greatest offshore energy resource of any European country.

Committing to a political declaration and action-plan this week, nine countries in the North Sea region have pledged to work together to create good conditions for the development of offshore wind energy and create a sustainable, secure and affordable supply for the future.

But despite a commitment from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, the UK has failed to sign up to any deal – squandering potential opportunities for the renewables sector, economic growth and action on tackling climate change.

The SNP has slammed Tory infighting over the EU in leaving Scotland’s interests sidelined in this key EU-led partnership while UK government energy ministers are at loggerheads on opposing sides of the referendum debate. UK energy secretary Amber Rudd will go head to head with her own deputy Andrea Leadsom in tonight’s ITV debate on the EU referendum.

Commenting, Fiona Hyslop said:

“We’re fortunate in Scotland to have a huge amount of offshore energy potential – and we should be looking to collaborate in shared, mutual interest with our North Sea neighbours.

“But while key powers over energy strategy and cooperation remain at Westminster, we rely on UK ministers acting in Scotland’s best interests. This week we see a prime example of those interests being sidelined while Tory ministers in the same department fight among themselves over Europe.

“While nine North Sea nations are looking outwards seeking common cause over shared opportunities, discord within the Tory ranks is holding Scotland back.

“One of the huge advantages of the European Union as the world’s largest single market is in creating jobs and investment in Scotland and addressing shared challenges on energy and tackling climate change – and serious questions have to be asked of the UK government in putting opportunities at risk for the sake of internal squabbling within the Tory party.”

SNP energy spokesperson at Westminster Callum McCaig added:

“Successive UK governments since the 1970s have mishandled and squandered the huge income generated from the North Sea. At a difficult time for the energy sector it is imperative that this government takes the urgent action needed to secure its future. The Tories are stifling the kind of co-operation which is so badly needed.”

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Davidson Under Pressure to Abandon Unfair Tory Approach to Social Security


Tories Must Join Mainstream of Scottish Politics

Ruth Davidson is under pressure to prove that her party is within the mainstream of Scottish politics by abandoning her defence of the UK Government’s welfare cuts – and to put the interests of people in Scotland ahead of the interests of David Cameron and George Osborne.

Ahead of a debate on social security and disability benefits in the Scottish Parliament next week, the Tory leader has been challenged to back a new approach to social security from the Scottish Government, which puts dignity and respect for individuals at its heart, and to make clear that her group of MSPs does not support the approach of the DWP on issues like the Bedroom Tax, sanctions and disability cuts.

Commenting, SNP MSP Clare Adamson said:

“Ruth Davidson faces a very clear choice in the Scottish Parliament next week. She can back a new and better approach to social security with respect and dignity for individuals at its heart – or she can continue to back the flawed and deeply unfair approach favoured by her party south of the border.

“Tory welfare cuts have caused misery for vulnerable people in communities across Scotland – which is why the SNP in government will take a different approach with the powers which are being transferred to Scotland.

“While too many welfare powers will still remain in the UK Government’s hands, this is a real opportunity to improve our social security system – and the Tories need to get on board and join the mainstream of Scottish politics.

“This is a very clear test for Ruth Davidson just weeks into the new Parliament – will she stand up for people in Scotland who need help, or will she continue to side with David Cameron and George Osborne, regardless of the consequences of their regressive policies.”
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