Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP 27th May 2010
Educating and Enterprising
This week has been a busy old week with a
visits to Edinburgh council to continue our evidence gathering for
the Education Lifelong Learning and Culture committee's inquiry into
Local Government education spend. It was a morning of looking at
budgets and talking about the challenges that lie ahead because of
the Labour recession. It is interesting how my colleagues in the
Labour party have suddenly been struck down with political amnesia.
They have forgotten that they are responsible for getting the
country into such a state and they abdicate all responsibility like
it never happened and they had no part to play in it. The Labour
shadow front bench has not covered itself in glory in opposition.
In their determination to attack the SNP Government, senior
spokespeople have repeatedly blundered making statements designed
to undermine the SNP that have no basis in reality.
Spokespeople such as Richard Baker and Andy Kerr regularly use wrong
figures or make statements that blatantly contradict their own
actions. Some of the criticisms even refer to decisions taken
by Labour when they were in power suggesting Scottish Labour is
now so negative they are attacking their own record.
Below is a selection of Labours Shadow
Cabinet biggest gaffes.
Emergency Workers Act
The SNP made a manifesto commitment to extend the Emergency Workers
legislation to cover all NHS staff. They have now been in power for
three years, but have done nothing. (23.5.10)
In 2008 the SNP Government delivered on our manifesto commitment to
extend the Emergency Workers Act to give legal protection to the
health service staff excluded by Labour and the Lib Dems when they
were in office.
Richard Baker described drug misuse figures as simply shocking and
accused the SNP of not taking action against drug abuse.
The reports, Estimating the National and Local Prevalence of
Problem Drug Misuse in Scotland and Assessing the Scale and
Impact of Illicit Drug Markets in Scotland both provided
figures for 2006 when the Labour/LibDem Executive was in power.
Supporting Tory cuts
In the Daily Mail, Kerr criticises the Finance Secretary John
Swinney's "decision to postpone reductions" in spending this year.
Taking £300m out of the economy now would threaten the fragile
economic recovery and jeopardise 5000 jobs. During the UK
election, Labour argued against immediate spending cuts, but Andy
Kerr has now put Labour firmly on the side of the Tories and Lib
Dems in arguing for faster and deeper cuts.
Scottish Futures Trust
Iain Gray attacks the SFT at FMQs: It
has not raised a penny; it has not laid a brick. We are paying that
Futures Trust £28 million to have meetings about selling off
Scottish Water, while building firms are paying off Scottish
workers. Will the First Minister just admit that time is up for his
Futures Trust? (28.01.10)
As Gray was slamming SFT, official papers
revealed that his Labour colleagues in Glasgow City Council were
seeking its advice to help increase jobs and investment in the City
Also, while Labour was attacking the SFT
nationally, Labour-led East Renfrewshire council offered to pilot
the SFT as a replacement for PPP style projects.
Sarah Boyack criticises Homecoming claiming it could have been
more successful with more investment in the early days of the
The Homecoming initiative began when
Labour were in power. It was
launched in 2005, so the initial investment was a decision of the
Labour led executive.
Local Government funding
Andy Kerr accuses the SNP Government of
squeezing Scottish councils until the pips squeak
following the publication of tables by the Scottish Parliament
Information Centre showing the local government share of the overall
Scottish budget. (24.9.09)
In his calculations, the first year Andy Kerr allocates to the SNP
was 2007-08. This last when Local Government saw a reduction
in their share of spending and the last set by the previous
Labour-Liberal Democrat Executive.
Andy Kerr consistently claimed that the Scottish budget was
increasing while Labour were in power in Westminster.
Scotlands budget is going up by £700 million next year (The
The Scottish Parliaments Finance Committee report, signed up to by
Labour members, acknowledges a 1% real terms cut in the money
available to Scotland next year. (9.6.09)
As Scottish Secretary, David Cairns claimed that 40% of electricity
used in Scotland came from nuclear power. (Good Morning
Scotland, 10th January 2008)
The most recent figures, from the UK Department for Business,
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform show that Nuclear energy accounted
for only 26% of energy generated in Scotland over 2005-6.
Free bus travel
Former PM Gordon Brown got in on the act by
claiming in election leaflets that Labour will fight against SNP
cuts to the free bus passes.
Following a statutory review of the free bus travel scheme, the SNP
Govt not only committed to its continuation for all the over-60s and
disabled people who are currently entitled to it, but also to
extending concessionary travel to severely disabled armed forces
veterans from next year.
Des McNulty claimed that ferry fares on the Clyde routes would
increase by 20%. (April 2008)
CalMac state that Labour's figures "bear no relation to anything in
CalMac's books" and were "unrecognisable".
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Boiler scrappage scheme
Labour campaigned FOR a boiler scrappage scheme, and had a page on
their website with many prominent members demanding such a scheme
including: Andy Kerr; David Whitton; Wendy Alexander;
Sarah Boyack; Cathy Jamieson; George Foulkes and Jim Murphy.
In the 2010/11 Budget, the entire Labour group voted to oppose £2
million funding to support a boiler scrappage scheme to tackle fuel
Central Heating Scheme
Mary Mulligan claims that only around 1 in 10 applications to the
SNP Govts Energy Assistance scheme result in an installation of a
new free central heating system. (13.3.10)
fact is that phoning the Energy Assistance Package helpline is not
the same as applying for a free central heating system. The PQ they
base this erroneous claim on simply asks "how many enquiries there
were to the Energy Assistance Package" - it did not ask how many
callers enquired about the possibility of getting a free heating
system. The EAP offers other services, such as free energy saving
advice to benefits check-ups
Richard Simpson attacked the SNPs 2% efficiency saving targets for
Health Boards, saying they are effectively a £500m cut.
"I am deeply concerned that the SNP are putting
pressure on services by demanding further efficiency savings with
Health Boards across Scotland being forced to reduce staff numbers,
review frontline services such as cancer care and put off
maintenance to buildings. (4.12.08)
Labour planned to introduce 3% efficiencies in health board budgets
50% more than the SNP's 2%. However, while the SNP will
reinvest these savings back into NHS services, Labour's policy is
that the money would have been removed from the health budget and
gone to education which would mean a real cut of £771 million for
Scotland's health service.
Johann Lamont claims the SNP is "cutting" the affordable housing
budget by £140 million in the 2010/11 budget (15.3.10)
This was not a cut at all - The affordable housing budget was
below the previous years because £120 million for 2010/11 was
accelerated into 2009/10 to stave off an even worse recession by
providing vital work for the construction sector. This could only be
done with the permission of the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer
and was supported by Johann Lamont.
Ken Macintosh claims the SNP have failed to build or commission one
single school. (April 2008)
In fact, at the time of the comments, 44 school building projects
had been signed off by the SNP Government and an extra £40 million
in capital made available.
Wendy Alexander claims Labour built in excess of 300 new schools and
Andy Kerr says Labour built a new school every week. (October 2007)
A FoI revealed that only 173 schools had been built between 1999 and
Claire Baker, Shadow Minister for Higher Education, attacked the SNP
over figures showing a fall in the number of student in Higher
Education in Scotland between 2006-07 and 2007-08:
"Fiona Hyslop really needs to wake up and not
only make sure that those with the talent to go into higher
education get there, but that students wanting to stay in the system
are not forced out.
These figures are Labours record. The deadline for the vast
majority of applications to university is in the second week of
January of each year so the overwhelming majority of these students
applied for university in the January before the SNP Government was
The SNPs record is one of increasing UCAS
acceptances up 11% in our first year (from 36,475 in 2007/8 to
40,618 in 2008/9) and up another 10% so far this year.
Leader Iain Gray claims that a new Ellon Academy would have been
built under the previous Labour led administration. He stated:
a new school would have been built under the
plans of the previous Labour-led Executive.
He went on to say: A plan to refurbish
Ellon academy was made under the previous Executive.
Both statements are untrue. Ellon Academy never appeared on any
Scottish Executive school building programme during the 8 years of
the previous Labour/LibDem administration.
It is only under the SNP Government
that the school has featured on Aberdeenshire Councils Capital Plan
allocating £3.3m to site acquisition and preparatory work.
Then PM Gordon Brown launched an attack on the SNP Government, who
he said had "failed to deliver the apprenticeships which Scotland
Scotland is actually ahead of England in terms of apprentices.
Proportionately, Scotland has more apprentices than England - which
has around 250,000 apprentices, while Scotland has 38,000.
Also, the latest completion rates in Scotland are 68% compared to
Continuing the policy of attacking the SNP on anything and
everything, Iain Gray claimed that the SNPGovt had changed rules to
stop bakeries applying for European training grants.
This decision was made by the previous Labour led administration,
yet another example of Labour attacking their own record.
10p tax rate
A spokesperson for the Labour Party is quoted in the Sunday Herald
saying that "The 10p rate was introduced by the UK government to
help tackle poverty and make work pay. It will benefit 16 million
households across the UK, with the biggest gains going to the
poorest 30% of people in our society." (20.4.08).
This statement came after
the Labour UK Govt. abolished the 10p tax rate, which adversely
affected over half a million Scottish households and was later named
by Gordon Brown as his biggest mistake in office
I suggest that Ian Gray and Labour go back to
school and learn to do their homework in future only then will they
be able to come to parliament with any semblance of credibility.
Maybe the teachers described below are the
very people to give labour the lesson they sorely need ..
Teachers who have used their skills to
promote Enterprise in Education were being recognised by the General
Teaching Council for Scotland at the Scottish Parliament, an event I
was delighted to host in the last night
Scotlands professional teaching regulator
teamed up with Determined to Succeed, the Scottish Governments
strategy for enterprise in education, to host the event which saw
twenty three teachers awarded Professional Recognition status.
GTC Scotland Chief Executive Anthony Finn
believes that Professional Recognition allows teachers to focus
their Continuous Professional Development in particular areas of
interest and to gain recognition for enhancing and sharing their
knowledge and experience.
To be successful in gaining professional
recognition, teachers need to develop their own skills and knowledge
and also to apply them very successfully in their school with a
clear impact on the learning of their pupils. Encouraging enterprise
in education is clearly crucial to the future development of the
Scottish economy; it can help develop the business talent of
We are pleased to be awarding Professional
Recognition status to another 20 teachers. This brings the total
number of teachers in Scotland with this award to over 500, covering
areas as diverse as literacy, sustainable development, global
education, health promotion and support for probationer teachers.
This commendable development of teachers skills can only be of
benefit to pupils.
Determined to Succeed is helping to build an
enterprise ethos in Scotlands schools. It is hoped that this will
give young people a better chance of realising their full potential
and, in turn, provide the Scottish economy with the skills,
attitudes and entrepreneurs needed for growth. Minister for Skills
and Lifelong Learning, Keith Brown will award the teachers with
their certificates. He said:
Our new approach through Curriculum for
Excellence is all about giving our young people the skills they need
for life in the 21st century. And teachers have a critical role in
helping pupils develop the practical skills they need for the
Thats why Im delighted that the GTC
Scotland, in partnership with Determined to Succeed, is giving
recognition to this group of teachers who are so dedicated to making
a real difference in the lives of young people through enterprise
The teachers attending the event, had the
opportunity to discuss their work in Enterprise in Education with
other colleagues from the education and business sectors and MSPs.
Some of this work includes:
- Liaising with a wide range of local and
national employers to promote the four capacities of Curriculum for
Excellence and how these relate to employability skills and
- Working with local authors, theatre and
dance companies to bring the curriculum to life
Establishing Young Enterprise companies in
schools - Various charity events
including pink days to support breast cancer awareness, comic
relief and fundraising for Marys Meals.
- Encouraging global learning by E-twinning
with schools in Shanghai, New Mexico, New York and Italy.
- Working with local island emergency services
and businesses to design door numbers for the homes of the islanders
and then designing a phone directory for the island.
Teachers receiving Professional Recognition
awards at this event are from all over Scotland including:
· Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute,
Clackmannanshire, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh,
Highland, Stirling and West Lothian
Well I was having a wee spot of dinner with my
friend Roseanna when she reminded me that it had been 15 years since
she had won the Perth and Kinross by-election so of course we did
have a wee toast just to celebrate the fact that the Tories said at
the time "it was just a midterm protest vote". Some protest!!!
So here's a wee treat for you to just relive the protest.
Well done Roseanna for not only winning the by-election but holding
it ever since.
Also some more excellent news and I hope you
all join with me in congratulating John Swinney and his lovely wife
Elizabeth Quigley on the news that they are expecting a baby. I
remember Winnie Ewing saying as a joke of course, if we cant vote
them out we could possibly breed them out!!! I think that all the
baby Nats who have been born over that last few years have us well
on our way to that goal. Ah but when do your kids ever do what their
parents tell them.
Right I'm off home to spend some time with my
little darlings. Have a great weekend .
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