all poised for the publication of the Government White Paper. On Tuesday
26 November, we will be able to see the nuts and bolts of just how an
independent Scotland might be structured.
he announced the publication date last month, First Minister Alex
Salmond, MSP, explained the purpose of the document:
“Firstly, it will spell out the foundation that we will establish
between the referendum next year and the first elections for an
independent Scottish Parliament in the spring of 2016.
“Secondly, it will set out clearly and unmistakably that independence is
about a Scottish Government that the people choose – an independent
Government. And it will set out our vision of Scotland – the ‘why of
independence’ – the Scotland that we seek.”
media, politicians, and the voters, are all going to be talking about
it. There will be wall-to-wall coverage, comment, news reporting,
analysis and discussion about every fine detail packed into what must be
a pretty hefty document!
will be able to read it all online after publication on the Scottish
is the document that will give the electorate the information they need
to make the most historic decision of their lives – and indeed since
1707 when the union first came into place – about whether we ought to be
an independent nation again.
reminded of those words from the Declaration of Arbroath, written back
in 1320 and delivered to the then Pope John seeking his dispassionate
intervention in the struggle with England. It bore the seals of eight
earls and 48 barons. Below, is the most familiar extract and you can
read the entire document online here:
www.constitution.org/scot/arbroath.htm with commentary by the
eminent author on Scottish history, John Prebble:
as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any
conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory,
nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that
alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
The Declaration of
Scotland has waited a very long time for this opportunity to spread its
wings and break free from rule by restrictive Westminster governments we
did not elect. With independence, we can change our benefits system for
the vulnerable, how we tax companies and build our economy. We can get
rid of abhorrent nuclear missiles beside our biggest population centre
and we can move away from Westminster’s promises of more and greater
austerity, a privatised health service, withdrawal of free personal care
for the elderly and free university tuition.
not ‘too wee, too stupid or too poor’ to make it work for us. Even the
UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, admits that reality. Already, 73 per
cent of us agree that decisions about Scotland are best made in Scotland
by the elected representatives we actually vote for. That there is an
SNP-led government is not some sort of accident. It is an expression of
the will of the people. Now, that is democracy.
was a vote in Westminster on the hated Bedroom Tax, initiated by the
Labour opposition. Labour has already said that it does not support the
imposition of additional rent payments for those in social housing who
have a spare bedroom.
seems the Labour party is in a shambles. The vote to scrap the bedroom
tax was lost by 26 because a total of 47 Labour MPs, including10 from
Scotland, didn’t bother to attend or vote in their own debate.
will take a Yes vote next year to get rid of this piece of
discrimination against the most needy in our society.
Westminster leader, Ed Miliband, said on 20 September that his party
would scrap the bedroom tax if it wins power in the 2015 elections. It
took him six months to respond to its introduction.
Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour leader, refused to commit her party to
its abolition on TV only to be contradicted by her colleague, Anas
Sarwar, who was stating on a different channel that indeed his party
would scrap it! Not what you’d call a coordinated approach.
written a number of times and spoken in the Chamber on the shocking
business of companies who blacklist workers, keep the names secret, and
refuse to even admit they exist.
unions and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has been fighting
hard against companies participating in this behaviour and I have been
working alongside them to get it outlawed.
am delighted to hear the Scottish Government announcement that
blacklisting firms face a ban on public sector contract work.
announcement will ensure that companies bidding for public sector
contracts must reveal whether they have been involved in the practice of
blacklisting and if a company is found to have done so, it will be
required to show it has taken appropriate remedial action. The contracts
will include a clause allowing them to be brought to an end if a
supplier is found to have breached relevant legislation.
Blacklisting has blighted the lives and livelihoods of all too many
people in Scotland and is a practice that has absolutely no
seen people’s rights trampled simply for being part of a trade union – a
situation that is completely unacceptable.
Regular readers will know how much I hate this exorbitant and greedy way
of exploiting people who are already struggling to make ends meet. With
Christmas coming around, I fear more people will be using these ‘money
shops’ of which Hamilton now has three.
rates of interest are often in the region of 1000 per cent and if
someone has trouble making a payment, the situation rapidly deteriorates
into a financial commitment the borrower is completely unable to meet.
was delighted to give my backing to the ’12 Days of Debtmass’ radio and
online campaign. It seeks to remind people in difficulty that there is
an alternative to high interest payday loans.
350,000 people across Scotland are members of credit unions;
co-operatives that are owned and managed by the people who use them.
Members are encouraged to save monthly, even if it is only small sums.
They can borrow at competitively priced rates and sometimes over a short
Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, recently announced plans to protect
consumers pledging payday lenders would be subject to tougher regulation
in an independent Scotland.
Borrowing short term can get you into serious problems if you go to a
Unions offer an excellent and fair alternative. The Citizens Advice
Scotland (CAS) is only too aware of the dangers of payday loans and is
constantly trying to help people get back on track.
Chief Executive put it at the campaign launch: “Payday loans are one of
the main issues that we see today. Across Scotland our advisers are
currently seeing over 100 cases every week of people who are having
problems with a payday loan. That’s an increase of a third in such cases
since this time last year.”
kind of usury needs to be eliminated and responsible lending through
credit unions is one very effective way of helping us towards a position
where people don’t have to pay these absurd amounts to borrow.