Time for immediate devolution of job creating powers

Ian MurrayIan Murray MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Trade & Investment, sets out why he has today published the Job Creation (Scotland) Bill in the House of Commons.

 

As MP for Edinburgh South I deal with a wide range of issues in my constituency, but the most common concerns people raise with me involve unemployment, skills and benefits. The combination of changes in benefit provision with the ever increasing numbers of people employed on zero-hour contracts has contributed to a cost of living crisis which faces people in Scotland and across the UK.

While any fall in unemployment is welcome, the reality is that too many young people can’t take their first step into the jobs market.

It’s becoming increasingly hard for our young people leaving school, college or university to find permanent and secure work. And we cannot afford to write off a generation of talented young people as happened in the 1980s.

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Murphy: Stop fracking in Scotland now

Jim-Murphy_3093121bScottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has written to Nicola Sturgeon urging her to back his call to use existing powers to halt fracking in Scotland.

 

Dear Nicola,

I am glad that you have backed Scottish Labour by cancelling plans for a female mega-prison in Inverclyde. I would urge you to now also back my calls for you to use your existing powers to halt fracking in Scotland.

I want Scotland to go further than elsewhere in the UK on fracking. Ultimately the Scottish Government has the final say over any fracking that takes place in Scotland, through the planning process. Scottish Government ministers already have the power to stop fracking now.

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Prison isn’t always the answer, for women or for men

Michael YammerGlasgow Labour activist Michael Shanks welcomes the change of heart on Cornton Vale’s replacement, but says we need to look at the wider picture of imprisonment in Scotland.

 

Yesterday morning’s news was full of talk of a ‘u-turn’, that cardinal sin in politics of changing your mind. This particular u-turn was absolutely right — to reverse a plan to build a £75m replacement for Cornton Vale Prison.

The narrative surrounding the decision, however, seems to be based on the premise that female offenders are fundamentally different to all other offenders. There are differences — just as there are differences between young offenders and adult offenders, or between those on short term and long-term sentences — but fundamentally if the Scottish Government now accepts the argument that locking people up in centralised prisons doesn’t work, then that logic must be extrapolated to the entire prison population.

There is an opportunity for Scottish Labour to take the Justice Secretary’s first step as a starter for ten in developing a forward-thinking, progressive approach to prison.

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100 days to end Tory rule

Jim-Murphy_3093121bScottish Labour leader Jim Murphy MP marks 100 days until the general election.

 

In 100 days Scotland can help end Tory rule across the UK. The opinion polls show that this general election is neck and neck between Labour and the Tories. It looks like the closest election for decades and Scotland can decide whether David Cameron stays or goes.

Scotland is changing, and Scottish Labour is changing with it. It’s a fresh start for Scottish Labour and the path to a better nation runs through May 7th and getting the Tories out.

Only the biggest party after the general election can form a government. In the referendum whether you were Yes or whether you were No, most Scots know it’s time for the Tories to go.

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Ethical finance in Scotland

AngusADr Angus Armstrong, running for selection for Labour in Edinburgh South West, says Edinburgh can have a bright future by rebuilding its reputation for socially useful, ethical financial services.

 

Ask anyone in Edinburgh, and the chances are they know someone who works in financial services. Standard Life, Scottish Widows, RBS – major employers that run through the city like a stick of rock.

Nearly 200,000 people in Scotland work in or for financial services. It’s centred on Edinburgh, but official figures show the sector is in decline.

The reputation of financial services couldn’t be lower. It’s hard to argue for a sector where some players have repeatedly abused their privileged position. But Edinburgh needs powerful voices to drive real change and speak up for the future of this city.

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Syriza’s win reboots European social democracy

davidgowDavid Gow, Editor of Social Europe and former European Business Editor of The Guardian, says democracy is reasserting itself in Europe.

 

The “vicious circle of austerity is over,” said Alexis Tsipras, Syriza leader and Greece’s likely new premier, after his party won a stunning victory in yesterday’s general election. It would be replaced, he added, by “a politics of hope, solidarity and co-operation.” He and his senior colleagues say this is true for the EU as a whole.

As Sunday evening unfolded it was clear the Syriza victory was less comprehensive than that of early exit polls suggesting a 12% lead over New Democracy, the outgoing ruling centre-right party of Antonis Samaras. In the end it was 8.5%, with Tsipras, armed with some 149 seats, just shy of an absolute majority of 151, gladly forced to rely on coalition partners.

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Scottish Labour MPs will vote to block fracking

Tom-GreatrexTom Greatrex MP, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, says shale gas extraction must be stopped until key protections are in place.

 

Labour have tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill that will stop shale gas extraction. It will mean that it cannot go ahead until the right protections for the public and environment are in place.

The Tories seem prepared to accept shale gas at any cost, rather than listen to genuine and legitimate environmental concerns.

In Scotland, SNP ministers can already block any shale gas exploration or extraction if they want to. Scottish Labour have also already forced the UK government to stop changes to underground drilling permission applying to Scotland, meaning any changes can now only be made by Holyrood – so it is effectively devolved.

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