In response to the previous day’s ‘A Future That Works’ protest by the STUC, the SNP Conference in Perth called Westminster treatment of former Remploy workers, who led the protest, ‘shambolic’.
Remploy employees are currently under threat due to a UK government decision to withdraw funding. Remploy works with disabled citizens to encourage equality and inclusion in the workplace. It believes work is important for having a fulfilling life and aims to provide sustainable employment opportunities for those who may face barriers due to their disabilities.
The SNP conference condemned to proposed cuts to Remploy funding, accusing Westminster of treating employees unfairly. These cuts come alongside other austerity measures which plan to reduce welfare benefits.
Glasgow SNP MSP Bob Doris believes the UK government should be prioritising terms and conditions of Remploy employment above austerity cuts. He said:- “The top priority of the Westminster Government when it comes to the workers at Remploy should have been ensuring that they remain in employment, with their terms and conditions fully protected.
“My experience with the factory in Springburn convinces me that they have failed to look after the workers in both of these respects, through their own utter incompetence.
“The treatment of Remploy workers has been shambolic and comes at the same time that the UK Government is carrying out a widespread attack on the welfare provision available to disabled people more generally.
“It’s no wonder that confidence in this process – and in the Westminster Government more generally – is at rock bottom.”
After the last Remploy closures in 2009, only 26% of those made redundant found new employment, a survey by the GMB said. Remploy have estimated that in 2010/11, it found jobs in mainstream employment for 20,000 disabled people.
At the Conservative party conference in Birmingham this week, the Leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, Ruth Davidson MSP, announced that just one in eight people in Scotland contributed to society, angering SNP MSPs.
SNP MSP, Kenneth Gibson, has called on the Tory party to apologise for such comments, calling it Ms Davidson’s “Mitt Romney moment”. Mr Gibson has said that anti-independence parties such as the Tories are fast losing favour with the Scottish people, and it is therefore time to split from them.
He said:- ““At least Mitt Romney only insulted around half of Americans though, while Ruth Davidson believes almost 90 per cent of Scots do not ‘contribute’ to society. It is an outrageous slur, and Davidson should apologise to the people of Scotland.”
Ruth Davidson, in her speech, said:- “Only 12% are responsible for generating Scotland’s wealth. There are people with household incomes of £50,000 who are paying thousands – indeed – tens of thousands of pounds in taxation, and even that doesn’t cover the amount of money government spends in their name.
“This isn’t about their contribution not being enough – their contribution is huge. It’s about the state spending too much and the SNP Government refusing to have an honest debate about where that money goes.”
Mr Gibson believes the upcoming independence referendum means a vote between keeping the benefits of devolution, such as free university education and free prescriptions, or voting for Tory/Labour orchestrated cuts. He further criticised the Conservative party and said:- “It is becoming clearer by the day that the Tories and other anti-independence parties have nothing to offer Scotland, and Ruth Davidson’s comments suggest they are running scared of the momentum which is building for a Yes vote for an independent Scotland.”
Ms Davidson not only criticised the current SNP government for the constant need for “government approval and anyone who dares challenge the status quo is deemed an enemy of the state”, but also local Labour-led councils, such as in Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn. She said:- “So many Scottish communities are living with the effects of our opponents’ ideologically-driven vandalism which stretches back decades.”
As yet, no apology has been released by Ms Davidson for what is claimed to be the “slurs” in her speech, despite pressure building around the issue for her to do so.
You can view Ruth Davidson’s full speech here.
Local government elections take place on 3 May 2012 and there is already a bitter contest hotting up at The City Chambers.
The SNP have said that online comments made by the man behind Labour’s biggest election campaign in Glasgow are a ‘body blow’ to their campaign. Dominic Dowling, who is the election agent for all of Labour’s 45 Glasgow Council candidates, has used the Labour Hame website to praise the leadership of Alex Salmond and also deride his own party’s inability to connect to voters since devolution.
The comments – made last summer and reported in today’s Sunday Herald – also warn that the result the council election ‘could be devastating’ unless Labour got its message out through grassroots campaigning.
Mr Dowling also describes Alex Salmond as ‘a politician of genuine caliber [sic.]’ and said he has “connected with the electorate in a way that none of Labour’s post-devolution Scottish leaders has done.”
Since these comments were made, the Glasgow Labour council group has been plunged into internal chaos and infighting, with a third of sitting councillors deselected, and a spate of resignations that has seen Gordon Matheson’s comfortable council majority evaporate.
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, commented:
“Mr Dowling has a key role in Labour’s election campaign, and his assessment of the state of the party is devastating. This is a body blow to Labour’s crisis-hit campaign in Glasgow, and beyond.
“His warning that the results of the council elections ‘could be devastating’ unless Labour got its message out has not been heeded. Labour have instead reverted to type, with a relentless stream of negativity filling in for their complete lack of ideas.
“By contrast, SNP candidates on the doorstep are able to put forward a positive platform to build for recovery, and help families with the council tax freeze and our commitment to extend the Living Wage to all council employees.”
LAMONT’S CONSTITUENCY “CENTRE OF LABOUR MELTDOWN”
LABOUR LEADER LOSES GRIP ON HOME TURF
The scale of the problems within the Labour Party in Glasgow continues to grow. The constituency of the leader of the party in Scotland, Johann Lamont, is at the centre of Labour’s meltdown.
It has now emerged that four of the six rebel Labour councillors represent wards in Johann Lamont’s Glasgow Pollok constituency.
Four of them – representing all three Glasgow Pollok wards – voted against Labour’s Budget; Ruth Black – Craigton, Stephen Dornan – Govan, Tommy Morrison – Greater Pollok and Willie O’Rourke – Greater Pollok.
Humza Yousaf, Glasgow SNP MSP, said: “How can Johann Lamont hope to run the opposition when she can’t even stop the civil war in her own constituency party?
“Ms Lamont’s own constituency is the centre of Labour’s meltdown. No wonder under Ms Lamont’s leadership Labour in Scotland have sunk to an all-time low of 23 per cent.
“Ms Lamont has been the MSP since 1999, and was deputy leader of the party for three years – she has to accept personal responsibility for Labour’s shambles in Glasgow.
“What an embarrassing mess the Labour Party have become – Glasgow deserves so much better.
“Pollok is formerly a Labour heartland but there is now no such thing, anywhere across Glasgow.
“Labour has taken this city for granted for too long, and the people will have their say at the local authority elections in May – when I trust they will put their faith in the SNP, who have a first class team of councillors working night and day to move Glasgow forward.”
SNP MSP Humza Yousaf is urging Glasgow City Council to ban a Scottish Defence League march in the city on the grounds of public safety.
The Glasgow MSP is calling on GCC to follow in the footsteps of The City of Edinburgh Council when it banned a SDL march last year.
Mr Yousaf said:
“I am a firm believer in free speech – regardless of how obscene and toxic it is.
“But it is imperative freedom of speech is not at the expense of public safety.
“I have witnessed the effects of the violent clashes down south when the English arm of the SDL was involved and wouldn’t want that replicated in Glasgow.
“Glasgow is a city which has a long history of fighting fascism.
“The SDL are entitled to meet and should do so in an enclosed area but the streets of Glasgow are – and rightly so – for the decent citizens of our city.
“Glasgow should follow in Edinburgh’s lead by banning these kinds of marches as they threaten public safety.”
Political journalist and author, David Torrance, is on the hunt…. for the greatest speeches by Scots, ever.
The reporter on STV’s Politics Now – who also freelances for, among others, The Times – has most recently published an unauthorised biography of the First Minister, Alex Salmond.
And now he is turning his attention to either speeches delivered in Scotland or by Scots throughout the world.
Among the contenders are speeches by the late Jimmy Reid, Margaret Thatcher, J. M. Barrie and James Maxton. Torrance is particularly keen to locate more examples of oratory by non-politicians.
Any suggestions should be emailed to email@example.com
The Scottish Government has moved quickly to enable scrutiny of the Scotland Bill by the Scottish Parliament.
In a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament, External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop announced that a legislative consent memorandum has been lodged today, giving Parliament the maximum amount of time to consider the Bill.
Detailed work will be undertaken by a Parliamentary Committee, but the whole Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the changes proposed.
The memorandum sets out the Scottish Government’s analysis and position on the Bill and its recommendations for making improvements.
Ms Hyslop said:-”The Bill requires consent of the Scottish Parliament, so we have moved quickly to enable full scrutiny to commence without delay.
“As we have made clear, we welcome many aspects of the Scotland Bill and the further devolution of powers it provides. However, overall, this is a missed opportunity that does not meet the ambitions this Government – nor indeed the majority of the people of Scotland – have for this country.
“The key test for this Bill should be whether it delivers the priorities of the people of Scotland – to grow the economy, to protect jobs and to ensure proper investment in public services. We do not believe the Bill as it stands will deliver on those priorities, and indeed may hinder them. Careful scrutiny is vital to achieve the improvements that we believe should be made.
“We are particularly concerned about the unanswered questions on the financial proposals which would reduce the resources available for public services in Scotland. Unfortunately, the UK Government has so far failed to give the information that will allow proper consideration of this vital element of the Bill.
“The UK Government expects the Scottish Parliament to foot the bill for implementation of the measures in the Bill. The UK Government’s partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, published today, confirmed that Holyrood will be expected to pay these costs, but provides only indicative costs of £45 million to set up HMRC systems and another £4.2 million per year to operate the flawed income tax proposals. The people of Scotland already pay for the costs of running HMRC through their taxes levied by the Treasury, now the UK Government wants them to pay a second time through the money provided in the Scottish Budget for vital public services.
“We urge the Scottish Parliament to consider the proposals very carefully and to ensure the final Bill is one which everyone can say with confidence will be better for Scotland. We will support the Parliament’s process fully and work to ensure the Scotland Bill evolves into a package of measures that delivers for Scotland.”
In the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (January 2010), 69 per cent of respondents favoured significantly more powers for the Scottish Parliament. On tax (59 per cent) and welfare benefits (60 per cent), a majority want the Scottish Parliament to make the decisions for Scotland.