Tag Archives: Westminster

Swinson hopes to return to Westminster

Jo Swinson, who represented East Dunbartonshire in Parliament for ten years, will stand for election in the upcoming general election in June. She lost out last time in 2015 to John Nicolson by a margin of 2,167 votes despite having been a high flier in the coalition government before that.

Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie along with Jo Swinson and Mike Crockart at the manifesto launch in April 2015

At the time of the election in 2015 she campaigned along with the Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and was a high profile casualty of the SNP onslaught along with Mike Crockart who lost his seat in Edinburgh West.

Jo Swinson said : “This next Parliament will be pivotal for our country, both for Scotland’s place in the UK, and the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe.

“I’m standing in the general election because I’m passionate about keeping Scotland in the UK, and averting the disaster of the Tories’ hard Brexit.  Most people in East Dunbartonshire agree – 61% voted to stay in the UK and 71% voted to remain in the EU. They deserve a pro-UK, pro-EU MP.

“East Dunbartonshire is the SNP’s second most marginal seat, with a majority of just 2,167 over the Liberal Democrats.  The result last time makes it absolutely clear: this is a fight between the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, and one I fully intend to win.”

2015 result in East Dunbartonshire

SNP (John Nicolson) – 22,093 (40.3%)

Liberal Democrats (Jo Swinson) – 19.926 (36.3%)

Labour – 6,754 (12.3%)

Conservative – 4,727 (8.6%)

Green – 804 (1.5%)

UKIP – 567 (1%)

Darling launches Academics Together

Alistair Darling

Alistair Darling will launch Academics Together in Glasgow this evening which brings together experts from across the education, science and technology sectors who believe that we bring out the best of Scotland by working together across the UK.  The group will provide an expert voice in the referendum debate.


To highlight the benefits to Scotland of being part of the UK – and in advance of the formal launch of the Academics Together group, Alistair Darling visited the British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Centre at the University of Glasgow this afternoon. The BHF invests £14 million in its centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which is 23% of its total UK cardiovascular research funding.


Speaking in advance of the launch of Academics Together, Alistair Darling MP said:-“Scotland as part of the UK is a world-leader in science, research and innovation. From penicillin to Dolly the sheep and the Higgs boson particle, we have been at the forefront of major discoveries that have changed our world for the better. We punch well above our weight with five universities in the world’s top 200.


“Scotland’s achievements have happened as part of the UK, not in spite of it. We have the best of both worlds today – a strong Scottish Parliament taking decisions about our schools, colleges and universities, with the benefit of being part of larger UK funding opportunities. Why would we want to gamble with this?


“Research facilities and universities in Scotland get a disproportionately high share of UK research funding. We make up around 8% of the UK population but get over 13% of UK research funding in return. That is a clear, positive benefit of being part of the UK.


“The only thing putting Scotland’s world leading research reputation at risk is Alex Salmond’s obsession with independence.


“The nationalists claim that nothing will change if we go it alone, but can’t back it up with any evidence.


“If Alex Salmond’s White Paper later this month is to have any credibility it must face up to the consequences of separation for research in Scotland.”


Professor Hugh Pennington CBE, who is emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen and will be speaking at the launch of Academics Together said:-“Scotland has a world-leading reputation in science and research. Our universities are amongst the best in the world and lead the way in pioneering research and new discoveries. Research in Scotland is thriving as part of the UK. I don’t want to see that put at risk.

“Devolution is delivering for Scotland’s universities. Right now we can have the best of both worlds: a strong and successful Scottish Parliament with powers over education policy, together with the strength of being part of a larger, thriving UK research community.

“After 50 years in the worlds of academia and medical research, 46 of them in Scotland, I have seen at first hand the benefits of being part of a larger, highly integrated, internationally renowned UK research base.

“I would hate I’d hate to see our world-leading reputation for innovation and discovery put at risk. I hate to see the next big breakthrough jeopardised or see a young researchers chances curtailed.

“The absence of barriers allows not just funding and people, but ideas and innovation, to flow freely across borders.

“I don’t to put the success of Scotland’s world-leading research at risk. I believe that the best way to build on that success is to continue working together as part of the UK. That is why I have joined Academics Together – to make the strong positive case for Scotland remaining in the UK.”

Scottish Energy Secretary warns about threat to renewables

Minister raises grave concerns in letter to Ed Davey.

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has warned that the UK Government’s Electricity Market Reform proposals could undermine Scotland’s renewables sector and supply chain, while threatening security of supply across the UK, and further price increases on consumers bills as a result.

In a letter to Secretary of State Ed Davey, Mr Ewing has highlighted the threat which the current proposals pose to Scotland and the UK’s shared renewables ambitions. This warning extends to concerns – also raised by Ofgem and the National Grid – about the ever tightening gap between maximum generating capacity and peak electricity demand across the UK, and the need to preserve thermal generation in Scotland to help keep the UK’s lights on.

Mr Ewing has also challenged Mr Davey to explain a last minute amendment to the UK Energy Bill that will remove the Scottish Government’s existing powers and discretion over support for renewable technologies across Scotland. The UK Government’s amendment is to be debated by the House of Lords on Monday November 4, 2013.

Mr Ewing said:

“We have examined the UK Government’s proposals carefully, discussing them in detail with the industry and other stakeholders. I believe beyond doubt that the current proposals risk failing Scotland and the UK in a number of vital areas, and present a huge risk to UK security of supply as well as to investor confidence and our low carbon ambitions.

“The Scottish Government will not support an outcome which sacrifices our renewable ambitions in preference to discredited, expensive and imported nuclear technology.

“Nor should thermal generation in Scotland – vital to maintaining grid stability here, and to providing security of supply across the UK – be placed at risk through a failure to take Scottish issues properly into account.

“Both Ofgem and National Grid have expressed deep concern regarding the risks that the UK faces both this winter and in the years ahead due to tightening capacity margins. It would be extremely unwise to ignore the vital and combined contribution of Scotland’s renewable and thermal generation to keeping the lights on across the UK.

“Unless serious and considered steps are taken to address these matters, and which supports investment in thermal generation across the whole of the UK, then the threat of blackouts will crystallise rapidly. The failure to secure a proper margin of capacity over peak demand will inevitably see further price rises on energy bills – resultant from UK energy policy failure over the past decade, as a result of the laws of supply and demand.

“We now know that the UK Government has also proposed a last ditch amendment to the Energy Bill, which will allow UK ministers to close the Renewables Obligation in Scotland. I find it extraordinary that the UK Government has chosen to act in this way, and to strip Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament of their powers and discretion in an area of such vital importance.

“The UK Government has produced this amendment with no consultation or explanation. We are deeply concerned about this summary removal of the Scottish Government’s discretion in an area of such vital importance to our people and economy.

“As a matter of urgency the UK Government must provide a detailed justification for its action.”

SNP Conference Condemns ‘Shambolic’ Remploy Worker Treatment

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.

Holyrood to examine The Scotland Bill

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.