Jim O’Neill says the SNP government needs to stop looking to others for a solution to poverty in Scotland, and start using the powers it has to help.


A few weeks ago, when Richard Leonard raised the issue of workers having to pay to receive their wages from contractors working for the Scottish Government, Nicola Sturgeon said she was unable to do anything since employment law was not devolved to Scotland. “Perhaps Richard Leonard would like to join me in making a case to the Westminster government for those powers to be devolved”.

She repeated the formula a week later when Richard raised similar practices at the refurbishment of Waverley Station for Network Rail, on the grounds that, while the Scottish Government were paying for this, that part of Network Rail had not been devolved. Another way to make an argument for doing nothing.

How many times have we heard this from the SNP? If powers were devolved, Scotland would be turned into a land of milk and honey. And it remains an excuse for dodging taking any action that might create problems for the big companies.

A report last week suggested that a million people in Scotland were living in poverty. That is 20% of the population. If the real figure is anything near that, we should be ashamed and disgraced. We still have too many foodbanks, and here in North Ayrshire, like elsewhere in Scotland, we now provide school dinners in the holidays to many of our children. However, the Scottish Parliament already has the powers to begin to alleviate that poverty.

Some years ago, in the Scotland Act, many social security powers were devolved to Scotland. Such powers can be used better the lives of those in need in Scotland. But last year Jeanne Freeman, the SNP Social Security Minister, asked the UK Government to hang on to a number of these powers for another year to ensure that the new Social Security Agency, to be based in SNP controlled Glasgow and Dundee, could cope with them.

I was astonished recently to read that, with all the fine words about dealing with poverty, the SNP government has asked the UK Government to hang on to these powers for yet another year, while attacking the evil Tory Government for cutting further the benefits available to people. How is this taking action about the disgraceful level of poverty our fellow citizens are enduring?

Meanwhile the North Ayrshire MSP, Kenneth Gibson, raised the Westminster government’s Ayrshire Growth Deal, which local Councils have been fighting for, at First Minister’s Questions. Sturgeon welcomed it with faint praise, on the grounds that no date had been set for its start. However, neither he, nor our other MSP, Ruth Maguire, mentioned the reason given for not awarding the Social Security Agency to North Ayrshire. Ms Freeman said that “they would not be able to recruit suitable staff in North Ayrshire”. This in the face of a report that the local authority would be the one that would most benefit from the jobs. Of course, North Ayrshire has a Labour administration. And, how will a Growth Deal work if there are no suitable workers here?

The reason given is nonsense, since a recent skills audit in North Ayrshire confirmed that there were people with a great range of skills seeking work here. Again, how is this leading an attack on poverty in one of the most impoverished local authorities in Scotland? And where are our MSPs, who we would expect to defend their constituents? Not a peep has been heard from either, forcing the conclusion that they agree with the Social Security Minister’s assessment of their constituents. Emails to Ms Maguire have yet to produce a reply.

All of this brings to mind an old phrase of my granny’s. In their claims on wanting more powers and fighting poverty, the SNP government are all fur coat and nae knickers!

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26 thoughts on “Aw fur coat…

  1. There are a few things I would like to say
    North Ayrshire Council are the first local authority in Scotland to exempt young people who have been in care from Council tax .
    Last October NAC became the first Scottish Council to look at how to do it
    They have now identified and registered all 185 care registered young people who are eligible for Council Tax Exemption
    Well done Labour Councillor Robert Foster Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care and his team for doing the Day Job
    The Scottish Government for me have not been doing the day job toward the people of North Ayrshire this month.
    The people of North Ayrshire did not even get the chance to apply for 1500 jobs .
    It appears the Scottish Government decided it would be to difficult to recruit staff .
    Is someone in SNP land having a laugh .
    Who decided this .
    It appears no one even contacted North Ayrshire Councils Employability Team who would have bent over backwards to get even some of the jobs .
    Or how about the job club who meet in my local library.
    They update their CVS and look for work . Or contact the jobcentres was that done People would have jumped at the chance of work .
    In the 1980s under the Tories and Maggie I joined the Labour Party to fight against Maggies lack of benefit policies and lack of jobs.
    Families devastated Factories closed Industrial estates destroyed .
    Ask the Proclaimers they sang about it .I cried
    2am one morning a security team and our manager arrived to tell us we were redundant and out the door .
    3 wks before x mass I man was still sitting on the floor sobbing how was he going to tell his wife and kids .
    when I left.
    I walked along the road home no buses at that time in the morning.
    I was in tears to how was I going to tell my mum and dad this had happened again.
    Oh how I hated Maggie .
    Here we are in April 2018 people worrying about Their benefits and as I write this another company out of business according to STV and BBC News .
    Me I have an ill health retirement but I know what it means to be out of work .Because
    I was in the 80s a member of the job club that met in the jobcentre .
    When a job came up everything was thrown into preparation .
    CVS perfected job centre staff conducted mock interviews . Other club members tried to build up your confidence
    I applied for that many jobs .
    The postman chapped the door to say he had been asked to check if I was running a business from home .
    Because the post office ran special rates for that .
    The letters were sorry no vacancies .
    So I know the effort that would have gone into trying to even get an interview
    But the Scottish Government did not even give North Ayrshire a chance apparently to difficult to recruit staff .
    Maybe at the next election then it will be to difficult to get votes

  2. There is nothing in this article of any merit what-so-ever. Its all innuendo, smear and accusation with no attempt to justify the claims beyond stating the SNP form the Scottish Govt and time has passed.

    Take the Network Rail issue for instance. Leonard wanted the Scottish Govt to do something about it. Sturgeon correctly informs him (for he so often needs informed about devolution and how it works – odd for the current leader of the third largest Party in Holyrood) that the Scottish Govt has no powers to act in this matter. Mr O’Neil then opines that this is just an excuse. However, he does not offer any solution that the Scottish Govt might apply to the situation. He just leaves us hanging. This is because he cannot offer a solution as no such solution exists. It is just another empty pop at the SNP in the hope nobody actually questions it. Standard O’Neil fare. Does he want the Scottish Govt to act beyond its powers and attempt to force Network Rail to mend its ways? Will he support them when the inevitable court case is brought against them for having acted beyond their powers? Or would he join in the political/media frenzy of SNPbad that would ensue? I think we all know the answer to that one.

    Similarly with the poverty stat. We are to believe that 20% child poverty in Scotland is somehow a uniquely SNP problem with the unvoiced implication it would not be so bad if Labour were in power. However, under the last Labour administration in Holyrood the figure was 33%. So 20%, though nothing to be proud of, is at least a significant improvement on the situation under Labour. Add to this the facts the economic and the great majority of Social Security powers still lie at Westminster and you might wonder why Mr O’Neil doesn’t praise the SNP for improving the stat in the face of these obstacles instead of attacking them? But, as before, he does not want people to delve beyond the surface of his jibes. It is hoped we simply take them at face value and vote Labour …. just because.

    I realise Mr O’Neil is dedicated to his Party, and seeks to put a bit of light hearted comedy into his articles, but there is a price to pay for that. It means they wont be taken that seriously and rightly so.

  3. Well Bungo your usual Labour bad stuff . But maybe someone will explain why North Ayrshire were not even considered for the 1600 jobs it would have been to difficult to recruit staff for .
    I have made repeated attempts to get in touch with my MSP . Ruth Maguire finally by phone I got the only member of her staff working today who could not understand why I did not get at least an automatic reply last Thursday .
    Ruth and the rest of her staff are still on holiday .Will reply when she gets back . I had sent e mails.
    All Scottish News bulletins were running this story tonight BBC red button last night and todays National p14
    The accounts commission issued a report all councils are balancing a real term funding cut over the last 8 years of 9.6 percent with increasing demand from a growing older population it does say that some councils have managed to maintain or improve their performance in several areas
    Budget cuts are having a negative impact public satisfaction is falling in several areas such as refuse collection street cleaning and libraries . Social services are not keeping up with demand older people facing long waits for an assessment of their needs and a further wait for their care package
    The report said some services have borne the brunt of funding reductions .
    Planning department staff numbers have been cut by a fifth in the last decade and environmental staff by 8 per cent between 2016 and 2017
    Some councils could under the current funding formula receive less government funding as their total population falls but the number of old people and associated demand for services increases
    The commission says that decisive leadership innovative thinking around service delivery and robust planning based on community engagement is now more important than ever to ensure council services stay sustainable.
    Their is a lot more can I say 1 thing does anyone still think the council tax freeze was a good idea.
    Remember the former First Minister Alec Salmond the man the SNP don’t mention now and said SNP MSPS should not appear on his RT show . Well they must have forgotten to tell SNP MSP Alec Neil because he was the latest SNP politician to appear today.
    I only found out he had a show on RT when the senior SNP leadership condemned it.
    Alec Neil was hugely interesting for me he spoke of his reasons for leaving labour he said the party they formed was heavily infiltrated by the International Marxist Movement . He nearly left politics before joining the SNP.
    He Spoke of the successes and failures of the SNP
    Said the last general election result should be a reality check for the SNP .
    One thing came out Alec Salmond asked him to clear up how he voted in the EU Ref.
    He said at the first Political Cabinet meeting after Nicola was elected leader they discussed what would happen if
    Britain left the EU
    He said he told Cabinet Britain leaving the EU would not see a surge in voting intentions for Scottish independence .He said he has been proved correct .
    He did not play any part in the campaign as he did not want to go against the Cabinet he had just left
    He voted no.

    1. I didn’t mention the North Ayrshire thing because I didn’t need to in order to make my point and it is such a random accusation anyway. Why should North Ayrshire be specifically singled out? Why not North Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire, Argyll or Fife? The Dept has to go somewhere and, as far as I remember, Dundee was chosen because it was Scotland’s 4th largest community, it was in decline, was in sore need of investment and had missed out on the oil boom, devolution and govt investment … unlike Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. You may argue for your own area (as opposed to, literally, any other area in Scotland) but what makes it such such a special case that it can take away what was promised to Dundee years ago?

  4. PS meant to say pensioners in Greenock were on tv news complaining that due to funding cuts the council is no longer providing free swimming facilities for the over 60s

    1. David, the Scottish Govt budget has been cut by around 10% in real terms over the last 10 years so it is hardly surprising that budgets of other bodies dependent on that money have similarly suffered. As to the Council Tax freeze. Labour whined long and loud about it for years and then, when it was lifted, Labour councils up and down the land chose to maintain the freeze instead of raising extra revenue. Labour wish to be judged on their fine words whilst wanting their repeated failure to act on those words ignored.

  5. Welcome back Mr Pony. Have you never heard of the power of persuasion. The Scottish Government are not exceeding their powers if they raise these issues with Network Rail, or the Westminster Government, But the SNP Government won’t even do that. Further, the last labour Government, both at Westminster and at Holyrood did more to reduce child poverty than any Government before or since. I am not sure where your 33% figure comes from. I can’t find it anywhere. By the way, what has happened to your colleagues? Have they abandoned you?

    1. Hello Mr O’Neill. The “power of persuasion”?????? So you admit the Scottish Govt has no actual, real, political power to intervene here. Thank you for that admission.

      As to the 33% figure, I suggest you Google it. I did and got the figure in seconds. According to the paper “Poverty in Scotland 2011 – Towards a More Equal Scotland”, table 5.1 puts Relative Child Poverty in Scotland at 33% in 1997 when Labour took power at Westminster (Absolute Child Poverty was as high as 36% under pre-devolutionary Westminster control). Five years later, with a Labour administration in the newly formed Scottish Govt, it was 31%. A further five years on, when the SNP took control of the Scottish Govt, it was 25%. Now, according to you and despite a decade of austerity and cuts to the Scottish budget, it is down at 20%. I would say that was a feather in the cap of the SNP administration that they have continued to oversee a drop in Child Poverty despite adverse conditions the Labour administration (which saw massive budget increases) did not have to face.

      As to “what has happened to my colleagues”, I have no idea. Perhaps they have moved on, are being blocked or been abducted by aliens. If you want to know the answer to that you’ll have to find it out for yourself. Though I’d suggest you do a more thorough job than you did for the search for the 33% Child Poverty figure.

      1. By the way, it is worth noting that these figures are considerably higher than all our small, independent neighbours who only have a fraction of Scotland’s natural advantages. What do they have that Scotland under the Union does not? Oh yes, the full power to act in their own best interests in all spheres of Govt. Independence in other words.

  6. Thanks for your comments Bungo
    The North Ayrshire thing is a report saying the Scottish Government could not recruit here because it would have been to difficult to recruit staff here.
    I believe Nac are right to ask questions ..
    I spent to long looking for work in the Maggie years to stay quiet .
    I sent an email about this to my MSP about this on 28 3 2018 when I did not even get an automatic reply I emailed again on 31 3 2018 as a reminder . Yesterday I got on the phone a member of her staff who apologized said he was the only member of staff in the office and he was having to deal with everything himself .
    He told me all other staff members plus Ruth were on holiday for the recess he did send me an email apologizing acknowledging receipt of my emails Ruth would reply after recess . That was fine I know they have to prioritize
    and I only wanted to make sure they had received my email.
    Then on Thursday Night I saw on Scotland Tonight Ruth had taken time out to appear in a studio debate about no ball game signs. In case anyone thinks this is a Labour hit job on the SNP its not I am in the Labour Party I did not tell them I had taken this up .
    Spent to long looking for work not to say something whoever is in power .
    I read the National I am thinking because of brexit of voting for Independence if the FM ever gets round to going for it I will want her to lay out her plans in the event of independence what the plan is to retain the huge market just over the border .I as I said read the national the e mail pages are littered with phrases like Yoons Brit Nat Squatters in our Scottish Parliament occupied Country by a foreign power England .
    And if you criticise or put forward an alternative view be prepared for the pay the price in abuse .
    Then there is a believe that the so called uinionist parties and press are out to get them especially the BBC .
    So what will happen if Nicola does not ask for a referendum .
    Pete Wishart has gone public to say that Nicolas push for a second independence referendum caused SNP voters to switch to the Tories .and he believes there is little appetite for a new vote .
    Andrew Tickell has used his column in Todays National to back him and go further .saying the FM has made such a mess of this she gave Ruth Davidson a stick to beat the SNP with in the General Election with .
    I wander are some people in SNP Land beginning to plan and plot for life after Nicola

  7. Did not have long to wait 1 emailer has told Pete Wishart instead of relying on what his constituants told him
    should have gone to Troon or Glasgow
    Andrew Tickell got told where to go as well

    1. You paint an accurate picture of the internet and the expression of political opinion by those motivated enough to get involved. Pro Indy supporters, studies have shown us, are up to three times more likely to be the recipient of abuse than their unionist counterparts. A fact unionist commentators like to ignore and keep hidden. The sooner commentators on both sides accept the internet is the way that it is, and neither side is lacking in robust elements (remember the unionist George Square riot), the sooner we can concentrate on the real issues.

      And, by the way, you have still to explain why the Social Security Dept should specifically go to North Ayrshire and be denied to Dundee.

  8. Thanks for your comment Bungo On NAC my point was that we were told it would be to difficult to recruit here .
    Internet and Social Media there is nothing Social about it Nicola Ruth Kezia have all been subject to terrible abuse . I don’t accept it and I want political parties to stop using Facebook .
    I have found it to difficult to get of Facebook so I just don’t use it now.
    The George Square riot one of my former workmates and his wife were at Buchanan Street Bus Station that night
    He texted me to say that a crowd were on the rampage threw the bus station .
    It was frightening I think the official excuse was they thought there was to be a yes sit in at George Square .
    You are right it was organized at very quick notice .
    And I think everyone decided to keep it quiet.
    The other commenters are now e mailing the National
    I recognize the names
    The abuse that I said Pete Wishart and Andrew Tickell got was in the National e mail pages
    Pete Wishart has gone public in most of todays papers he is warning of legitimate views being silenced following the extraordinary abuse he received over his proposed rethink on the timing of another vote to Quit the UK.
    He has told the press he has been called a poster boy for Scotland in Union his commitment to Scottish Independence has been questioned his lifestyle has been questioned he has been told he is settling down in Westminster . And he has been called an Etonian Boot Licker
    He said none of it has come from political opponents its from people who claim to support Scottish Independence .
    He is claiming that’s part of the reason he pulled out of the SNP deputy leader contest as he wanted to avoid the debate descending into such a row .
    He is saying its to easy to say its just Twitter he says he knows that environment reasonably well and he has concluded there is a problem with the movement
    He said if Shouting people down name calling and misrepresenting peoples views continues people with legitimate views wont come forward with their own views and that wont help anyone .
    Just look at the emails in the National Brit Nat Squatters in our Scottish Parliament Yoons Loyalists occupying power BritNat traitors Unionist Parties that’s just the insults I can remember .
    I have emailed the National repeatedly on this .
    I have pointed out that English people living here at the 2014 election felt intimidated at the 2014 Ref i told them if you are living here its your country to . And i have seen the abuse that EU nationals get over here doing our jobs
    Something else to our shame that is being ignored .And the National has yet to print my e mails on that .
    BTW hope Nicola is enjoying China because she is coming back to possible strikes at Prestwick Airport and Aberdeen First Bus haha l

    1. Don’t know what your point is here David. Differences of opinion exist and people use intemperate language online ….. it’s not news to me or anyone else. Though you do appear to be trying to affirm the hoary old unionist myth that Indies are the sole perpetrators of this. I’m a trifle disappointed.

      As I am in your apparent glee at the proposed industrial action. Strike action is not taken lightly and is not a matter I would expect a Labour supporter to see as merely a chance to have a laugh at the FM’s expense. And again, the Scottish Govt has no power to act in disputes within a private company like First Bus. Is this the new Labour tactic? To mislead people into believing that things outside of the Scottish Govts control are their fault and they need to fix it?

  9. Just to be helpful I would like to point out that Tuesdays National is carrying a report that Jim Sillars on Monday tweeted that Wisharts Independence credentials earned when the going seemed impossible are unimpeachable .
    The National then reports that MR Sillars writing in the I paper said that these are frustrating times for yes people and turning in on ourselves is a natural political phenomenon that requires some sensible thinking and handling before it before it becomes damaging he told angry independence supporters to lay off the man .
    For anyone to believe Pete Wishart would sell the jerseys now does their mental condition a disfavour .
    MR Sillars a brexit supporter also said in the I according to the National that there should be no Indy 2 ref until support hits 60 per cent he said that is not a sellout its the reality.
    Then Michael Fry a columnist in the National used his column to argue for a Capitalist Plan For Indy Scotland.
    Then Alec Neil said on news channels on Monday night that Scotlands health boards should be reduced to 3 did not say which 3 .
    While the Queens away the boys are coming out to play.
    Billy Connolly has also pointed out that he dislikes people that write England off because they are Scottish
    For me that anti English sentiment in Scotland is a problem
    During the 2014 Indy Ref English people living here told me some Nationalist supporters and it was them were making them very uncomfortable
    I told them if you live here its your country to .
    As I am telling EU Citizens now Some day maybe someone will hold an enquiry into this.

    1. Yea, some people have said some stuff. It doesn’t make it Scottish Govt policy or anything remotely like it. Its just their individual opinion which they are entitled to express. Labour politicians are prone to saying some off message stuff too. So what?

      PS Michael Fry is not a member of the SNP and neither is Jim Sillars. Both are free to express what-ever opinions they like without government interference …. unlike the situation in Spain ….. but perhaps that is what unionists want ultimately. Certainly quite a few have expressed their support for the Spanish Govt’s shameful treatment of Catalan indie supporters.

  10. Thanks for your comment Bungo
    I was not blaiming any group for online abuse But we seem to be accepting its ok to do it . I don’t I am off facebook I want them regulated and hit hard just look at Zuckerburgs performance tonight .The strikes disappointed you used the word unionist its kind of stuff that needs to stop and I do try to use humour that’s why I
    used the Nicola bit
    Industrial action is no laughing matter for anyone ask the people who survived the 80s
    Then we have the Scottish Government telling the people of North Ayrshire its to difficult to recruit here.
    What kind of signal does that send to potential employers looking at North Ayrshire .
    Maybe my SNP will get round to answering that when she gets back from holiday .
    This is not going away

    1. It seems your MSP has said some stuff too. Perhaps just to fend off a nonsensical question. You are right though, it wont go away. If only because it has never actually arisen as an issue of note in the first place.

  11. Thanks for your comment Bungo
    Only thing I will say is I met a retired SNP MSP today who was a cabinet minister .
    After Jim Sillars appearance in the press and tv and 3 SNP people then taking part in a studio debate to say he is talking rubbish in his 60 per cent Indy support for 6 months before another poll .
    And our Barry Gardiner caught on tape regarding brexit yesterday .
    We agreed best ignore them all .
    So a Labour SNP bus stop alliance Ha Ha

  12. Thanks for your comment Bungo
    Not sure but I think you commented previously you are a Motherwell supporter.
    Its just STV News Thursday Night said Motherwell a touch on the physical side .
    I am a Rangers supporter we would not stoop to such tacticts
    Watched Alec Salmond show today fascinating talk with the Welsh Nationalist Leader from the late 70s and 80s
    Reading the paper emails printed showing a fear of war with Russia .
    And 2 fearing access to a free Internet might end .
    I watched some of Zuckerman being interviewed Analysts thought he got of lightly some of it because the American politicians were not computer savvy and Face book is Zuckermans baby he invented it .
    2 points I did pick up he chose that meeting to say Face book is at war with Russian Hackers who he says are trying to get into Face book Systems and are getting better at it .
    Then he said some part of Facebook will always be free .
    Methinks that means they are looking charging for most services .
    I also think Facebook Twitter and YouTube need a lot more regulation

  13. The reason most people are ignoreing this blog is it is just the same old, same old, same old labour crap.

    Your new leader is an absolute joke during FM’s question time, you have nothing to offer Scotland policy wise and still you continue to give us articles that are nothing but an excuse to say. SNP bad.

    Scotland knows what labour is, and it’s nought.

    A bittie like this article.

  14. Pinneys Fish Factory at least 450 jobs to go Jaguar 1 thousand temporary jobs gone. Toys r us Maplin have gone New Look and Mother Care closures along with other high street chains .
    They are blaming it on Online Shopping and higher overheads .
    RBS have blamed their bank closures on online banking .
    A BBC afternoon reporter interviewing live was asked do you shop or go online answer both .
    I know online is easy but I would ask don’t do it . Its costing jobs
    Banks shops jobs all going and they wont be back.
    I did not know that Jaguar the UKS biggest car maker is owned by Tata Motors of India .
    They have blamed their decision on Brexit uncertainty and changes to taxes on diesel .
    In the 80s I and many others had temporary jobs Sometimes I did not know the jobs were temporary .
    So I know how the people who have lost their jobs feel . I don’t know how many places I was in that closed .
    I have felt this for a while Closures job losses fears about benefits and even today war worries whats changed are we back in the 80s

  15. A little question for everyone been reading a book called Fatal Rivalry by George Goodwin .
    In it he says James 1v in order to keep his wife Margaret Tudor happy and the king of England even happier he gave her a morrowing gift .
    The burgh of Kilmarnock so I am wandering did we ever officially get Kilmarnock back
    Or will our FM have to go to the queen and PM and say can we have Kilmarnock back please haha

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