heading back towards winter and all its certainties - Hallowe’en,
Christmas, Burns suppers, frost and weather warnings.
more exciting certainty was the SNP Annual Conference in the delightful
city of Perth. With around 1200 members, activists and observers at the
three-day event, we were all in fine fettle. The First Minister gave as
a truly rousing speech
Salmond announced that the White Paper is coming out on 26 November.
That’s the document that will give everyone the chance to see just what
an Independent Scotland could look like. There’ll be a lot of
information in there! Make sure you ask the Scottish Parliament for a
spoke of another £7 million, on top of the £10 million already
committed, to helping local communities bring sports facilities across
Scotland. He explained about our proposed approach to defence – with no
nuclear missiles – and he highlighted the hypocrisy of the Labour Party
– including No leader Alistair Darling – who voted for the Iraq war.
First Minister, Alex
Salmond, and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, received a standing
ovation at the SNP Annual Conference
First Minister declared all the positives already put in place in
Scotland by this Government, like better health care that won’t be
privatised, youth unemployment reduced by a third, and that guarantee
that “the rocks will melt in the sun before we allow Tory or Labour to
take away the right to free education in Scotland.”
you will have read my thoughts on the ubiquitous bedroom tax, again
highlighted by the FM:
“With each passing day it becomes clearer
that the Westminster system is not fit for any purpose – it is further
away than ever from Scotland’s values, and past its time.
“The iniquitous Bedroom Tax is the latest
example – in a House of Commons debate led by the SNP and Plaid Cymru,
over 90 per cent of Scottish MPs voted against it.
“We know from Scottish Government research
that the extra costs the Bedroom Tax impose on the Scottish economy will
outweigh any savings the UK Government makes – even before we factor in
the wider social costs and the distress and disruption it will cause.
“But still it is imposed on Scotland. And
to add insult to injury, the architect of this shambles – Iain Duncan
Smith – has to be dragged kicking and screaming to deign to defend his
policy to a committee of the Scottish Parliament.
“Friends this is an iniquitous, unfair,
anti-family imposition conceived because of runaway rent levels in the
“But please do read through the whole speech
yourself and get a sense of why it is so vital to vote Yes next
Grangemouth Refinery and Petro-Chemical
We had a huge drama at Grangemouth, the oil
refinery in Fife which processes 80 per cent of Scotland and Northern
England’s crude oil. The exact scenario is difficult to pin down but the
owners, Ineos, decided to close down that part of the plant with the
loss of 800 jobs.
The Grangemouth Refinery and Petro-Chemical
plant in Fife.
With his customary panache and skill, our
First Minister managed to save the day. The Plant has reopened, all of
the jobs are saved and investment in the future is now assured.
There was, as you can imagine, huge relief
not only amongst the immediate workforce but on everything from burger
bars to hotels who ride on the back of the 1500 total workforce in the
Ineos accused the trade union, Unite, of
being difficult but that’s not the story I’m hearing. In fact, the
General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Graham
"I think they've been
placed in a very difficult position by an employer who in my experience
very uniquely walked away from its responsibilities that it had with the
trade union, tried to impose its will on the workforce with a take it or
leave it ultimatum."
Down home in South Lanarkshire, I was
delighted to be able to give my support to the ‘Be Inspired by Time’
community volunteering campaign encouraging all of us to find an hour a
week to help relive the isolation of an older person by supporting them
to get out and about. Or you might spend an hour helping to lift the
litter in your local area, perhaps by just providing some company for
someone who is lonely.
Parliament, we were delighted to have a visit from the Epilepsy
Consortium. I know folk who have this condition and around 700 across
the constituency live with it.
31 MSPs, including me, signed a pledge for equal access to care in
Scotland. Our Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Neil, MSP,
signed up too, another statement of the Scottish Government’s commitment
to health in all our communities.
again, with dreary predictability, the energy companies are ramping up
their prices. Npower, for instance, has just announced it is increasing
its bills by an eye-popping 10.4 per cent.
SNP has just revealed a plan that will make a real and lasting
difference. At the moment, energy efficiency schemes are added to
energy bills. With independence, the Scottish Government will pick up
will save consumers about £70 a year. And not just for 20 months,
either. That saving will stay so long as an SNP government is in charge.
Yes vote next year, we’ll be able to build a new Scotland and take other
measures to help people with the cost of living.
obscene that a country with the greatest energy resource in Europe -
oil, gas, wind, wave and tidal potential exist in abundance - should see
our vulnerable families and old folk shivering and even dying in the
more very sound reasons why, on 18 September 2014, the only way is Yes.