Following conflicting statements from the Minister for Health Alex Neil and major drug manufacturer Merck, Scottish Labour’s shadow health spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“Merck now say that is untrue. Indeed they say this drug is effective for bowel cancer sufferers who have had chemotherapy and is widely used in England.
“Alex Neil either doesn’t know the truth about cancer treatment in the NHS he runs, or he is deliberately misleading cancer sufferers and the people of Scotland.
“Alex Neil either doesn’t know the truth or he is hiding the truth. He is either incompetent or incapable of being straight. Continue reading
After two days during which the SNP have suggested slashing the rate of corporation tax and SNP MEPs voted against measures to tackle tax avoidance, the SNP must come clean on their approach to tax.
Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, Margaret Curran MP said:
“It’s wrong that businesses avoid paying tax and now it seems that Alex Salmond and the SNP want to make it easier for them to avoid paying their fair share too. Earlier this week, the SNP’s economic case for independence suggested slashing corporation tax more than our neighbours and on the same day SNP’s MEPs refused to support proposals, supported by Labour, which called for action against tax avoidance.
“The SNP think the best way to grow our economy is to cut business taxes more than our neighbours. But this is just a dangerous strategy which will lead to a race to the bottom. We need policies to bring jobs to Scotland – not to create another tax haven.
Responding to Audit Scotland’s report ‘Managing early departures from the Scottish public sector’ Scottish Labour’s Finance spokesman Ken Macintosh, said:
“Earlier this year Labour uncovered the hundreds of millions that were being spent on public sector severance schemes including compulsory redundancies despite promises from the SNP that they would not be used here. Our research found that more than 1,200 people were forced out of their job at a cost of £7.5m.
“This report from Audit Scotland reveals that the picture is even worse.
“We know that the Tories have a plan to reduce the public sector workforce by half a million and this is further evidence that the SNP will say anything but do nothing to protect the public sector workforce in Scotland.”
Follow Ken on Twitter: @KenMacintoshMSP
The week before the County Council elections on 2nd May, I was staying with members of my family in the Crofton Ward of Fareham, near to where I grew up. The relative success of UKIP in those elections on has drawn considerable – even sometimes exaggerated – attention. However, the conclusions drawn since then have in many cases been misplaced, and in fact say a great deal about both the commentators and how UKIP has succeeded.
Worst of all, those conclusions have probably missed the serious threat which UKIP poses to the public debate, that of increased and unreconstructed xenophobia.
The main mistake made by other politicians has of course been to dismiss UKIP as ‘fruitcakes’, ‘nutters,’ or ‘clowns’. This reflects exactly the way in which the political mainstream has trivialised and therefore under-estimated the populist appeal of UKIP – and with it, the popular and sometimes distasteful concerns of the electorate. The political elite and media commentators show how out of touch they are to dismiss UKIP so blithely – in fact, these unpalatable concerns are widespread and deeply held. Continue reading
The SNP has seized on the insurgent performance of UKIP in the Eastleigh by-election to peddle its case of Scottish exceptionalism, which fits its narrative of the inherent social and political superiority of the Salmonellans over the denizens of Poundland.
SNP Deputy Leader tells us that “Eastleigh shows how far the politics of Westminster has diverged from Scotland…”- or in other words, ‘we do not have their sort up here.’
Ms Sturgeon has considerable form as a rather poor political commentator, famously having tweeted to the whole world on Council election day 2012 that Labour in Glasgow were “in meltdown”, while in fact Labour was on course to a stunning overall majority in the city.
However, let us take her seriously for a minute, and examine the idea that there are no UKIP types north of border. Continue reading
I grew up in the West Midlands of England. The nearest city to my home was Coventry – a 1960′s boom town that was famously dubbed ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials at the height of Thatcher’s economic destruction.
Along with ‘all the clubs being shut down’ the skylines were dominated by former busy factories that had previously employed thousands, now roofless to avoid having to pay business rates. These building were a cypher for the emptiness and hopelessness that pervaded the city at that time.
At the same time that unemployment rose, so did racism. The National Front under the leadership of John Tyndall and Martin Webster which transformed into The British National Party was a regular spectre in the City. The BNP stood candidates but thankfully failed to get over one percent of the vote in the 1983 General Election in Coventry South West. They employed the politics of thuggery and for many black and asian friends of mine it was a frightening and dangerous time. Continue reading
Responding to the announcement that the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee in the House of Commons is to conduct an inquiry which will look at the implications of Scottish independence on business, higher education and research and postal services, Shadow Business Minister and MP for Edinburgh South, Ian Murray, said:
“I very much welcome today’s announcement by the influential and well respected BIS Select Committee, which will give us the opportunity to explore issues of critical importance to the referendum debate.
“The SNP have singularly failed to answer questions on a wide range of business areas crucial to Scotland’s success and the confidence in our economy. From corporate governance and company law, to the rights of people at work and the enforcement of the National Minimum Wage, the SNP have been silent. From research and development in our world-leading universities, to how the postal service would survive and how much a stamp would cost, the SNP haven’t addressed the issues to which the people of Scotland deserve answers.
Following his question to the Deputy Prime Minister on Royal Mail privatisation, Ian Murray, Shadow Minister for Postal Affairs and MP for Edinburgh South, said:
“The Deputy Prime Minister’s response confirmed what the public knew all along – he’s worse than Thatcher, who, even as the most zealous of privatisation proponents, could not bring herself to ‘privatise the Queen’s head’. This follows concerns expressed by the oldest Tory think-tank in the UK, the Bow Group, who this week said that privatisation will be ‘deeply unpopular with the British public, prices will rise at a time we can least afford it, [and] an amenity that many communities consider crucial will be removed.’ Ministers should sit up and take heed from their think-tank colleagues.
“The Government’s plans are ill-thought through and are a blatant attempt to spare the blushes of the Chancellor and Prime Minister and their failing economic plan that will borrow £245bn more than anticipated.
“Privatisation should be halted, not because it might cost rural Tory MPs their seats, but for the sake of consumers and small businesses in Scotland and across the rest of UK who rely on the postal service and who are at risk of paying the price for this ideologically-driven and rushed fire sale.”
Follow Ian on Twitter: @IanMurrayMP
“Alex Salmond has previously told us that he had legal advice when he didn’t. The only way Scots will believe what we’ve been told is for the legal advice to be published.
“I’m also keen to know when permission was granted by the Lord Advocate for the existence of the legal advice to be publicly acknowledged. The SNP Government needs to come clean and publish the legal advice it claims to have received. Given the track record of the SNP, until they do, we won’t be able to trust a word they say on this matter.”
Now that would be a debate worth having. In all the discussion that has taken place on the forthcoming Independence Referendum, a great deal has been said about Scotland’s potential status in the world (European Union; NATO; UN), but very little has been said about Scotland’s contribution to the world. The debate needs to focus much more on the practical and political implications and impact of independence. Some very useful work has been done in this respect on both the implications for defence and for foreign policy. However, virtually nothing has been said so far about the possible impact on International Development.
The Scottish Government has begun to treat its small but very effective Scottish International Development Fund as if it were an embryonic DFID. It only exists because of a provision in the Scotland Act which allows for the Scottish Government to ‘assist Ministers of the Crown’ in this reserved area. However the SNP Government has used this and the post of Minister for External Affairs and International Development to create a kind provisional Scottish Foreign Office.
The Minister for External Affairs. Humza Yasouf, is on record as saying earlier this year that an independent Scotland will increase its International Development Fund from around £9m at present to hundreds of millions and that Scotland’s aspiration would be to surpass a target of 0.7% of national income and aim for 1%.
This leap over logic completely ignores the fact that Scotland already contributes nearly £1billion to the UK overseas development total of £10.7billion (which includes the Scottish Government’s £9m fund). Scots do this through their 9.6% contribution to the UK tax take. Continue reading