Sunday, 4 September 2016

Tories Can't be Trusted with Rural Scotland's Interests

The SNP has criticised the Tories’ "brass neck", while highlighting why they cannot be trusted to represent Scotland's rural interests, ahead of a summit Ms Leadsom is due to chair on Monday (5 Sept) on the Great British Food campaign.

The Tories have a shameful record in protecting Scotland's rural economy, with damaging actions having been taken across a range of areas that are vital to jobs and growth in Scotland's rural communities. This includes:
  • Failure to guarantee over £350 million of EU funding for farming and fishing, threatening investment and jobs in Scotland’s rural and coastal communities;
  • withdrawal of subsidies for the renewable energy, threatening wind energy projects that would power 1.2 million homes;
  • refusal to pass on £190 million of CAP convergence funds – EU funding Scotland was entitled to receive but which was withheld by Westminster;
  • failure by the UK Government to stop the payment of £1.4 million levy income paid by Scottish livestock producers being spent in England.
Commenting, SNP MP and Environment and Rural Affairs Spokesperson at Westminster, Calum Kerr, said:

"It is blatantly clear that the Tory government has no interest in protecting Scotland's rural communities - their failure to ensure Scotland gets its fair share of EU and other monies shows us exactly that. And their determination to drag Scotland out of the EU against our wishes will only increase the Tory-inflicted damage to our rural communities.

"Their failings are not limited to these areas - with the threats to Fort George and Kinloss, failure to improve grid connections and tackle high transmission charges for Scottish islands, and historic failure to protect Scotland's fishing interests, the list goes on and on.

"Most concerning of all is that one of the most ardent Brexiteers – Andrea Leadsom - has now been appointed as Minister for DEFRA, given her previous desire to remove direct support from farmers.

"In the week when statistics show Scotland’s food and drink sector achieving record growth and success, the Tories have a brass neck putting a Minister in charge of a new Great British Food campaign who only a few short months ago was advocating the replacement of sheep with butterflies on Scotland’s hills.”

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.”
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