Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi has today highlighted the opportunities and potential of a Yes vote following the publication of The Cities Outlook 2014 report showing Edinburgh is the fastest growing city across the countries of the UK outside of London.
The report highlights the damaging aspect of London’s hyper-growth at the expense of other cities, warning: ‘The UK is one of the most centralised countries in the developed world.’
Commenting, Mr Biagi, Edinburgh Central MSP, said:
"This report highlights what we already know – Edinburgh is a very successful city. Scotland’s capital can do even better with a Yes vote and independence when the powers to make decisions that always put Scotland first can be made all of the time.
"Aberdeen is also in the top 10 cities and Scotland is punching above its weight – thanks largely to the Scottish Government’s drive to create jobs and boost the economy - but the threat from the London-centric policies of the Westminster system remain.
"And problems of deprivation are still prevalent in modern Scotland - we are a wealthy country, in the top ten of OECD countries in economic output per head - yet the wealth of Scotland is not working for the people of Scotland. Only a Yes vote can change that.
"The danger from an over-inflated London has also been raised by economic experts and even by Tory/Lib Dem coalition government ministers.
"UK Business Secretary Vince Cable admitted that London was becoming a ‘giant suction machine sucking the life blood out of the rest of the country’.
“Professor Tony Travers of London School of Economics described London as ‘the dark star of the economy,’ warning it was ‘inexorably sucking in resources, people and energy. Nobody knows how to control it’.
"Under devolution, Scotland only controls 7 per cent of all the revenue raised here - independence means 100 per cent financial control.
"Only a YES vote will deliver the fiscal and economic powers of independence. An independent Scotland can and will take a very different approach from Westminster austerity - and do more to strengthen our economy, boost our exports and create jobs."
The SNP has welcomed figures published today which show the largest ever annual increase in female employment, with 62,000 more women being supported into work in 2013.
As well as the record increase in female employment, the ONS statistics show that Scotland’s unemployment and employment rates are the most positive in the UK, with unemployment continuing to fall and employment continuing to rise.
Commenting, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Maureen Watt said:
“These figures are more good news for the Scottish economy and are a welcome endorsement of the Scottish Government’s efforts to boost the economy and create jobs.
“The record increase in female employment is particularly welcome, but while we are heading in the right direction, there is more that could be done.
“Scotland’s Future set out the Scottish Government’s plans for a truly transformational universal childcare system, which would open the door for even more women to get back into the workplace.
“With the limited powers of devolution, the Scottish Government has managed to mitigate the worst excesses of Westminster’s cuts. With the full powers of independence, we will be able to take action to grow the economy, create more jobs and ensure that more women have the opportunity to take them up.”
The SNP has condemned Iain Duncan Smith for saying it is “too early” to say if rent arrears are increasing because of the Bedroom Tax – despite startling evidence to the contrary.
In a letter to the Welfare Reform Committee, Iain Duncan Smith says: “On the issue of arrears, it is simply too early to say that they are increasing because of the removal of the spare room subsidy.”
This claim is directly contradicted by:
Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, who is also a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, said:
“Iain Duncan Smith has blundered yet again on a topic he should be up to speed on – he was the man who implemented the iniquitous Bedroom Tax in the first place.
“The letter, which highlights the need for a Yes vote this September, shows that he is in denial on the devastating consequences of the Bedroom Tax on vulnerable people across Scotland.
“This comes after the announcement by George Osborne that, on the Treasury’s current forecasts, £12 billion of further welfare cuts will be made by Westminster in the first two years of the next UK Parliament. He suggested housing benefits for under-25s would be cut, affecting 32,000 households across Scotland - and plunging another 20,000 children in Scotland into poverty.
“Why should Scotland continue to have policy decisions made by people like Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne? It is clear we cannot trust the flawed Westminster system with the welfare state.
“With a Yes vote an SNP Government in an independent Scotland will scrap the Bedroom Tax.
"This September Scotland has the opportunity with a YES vote to rid itself of this unfair Westminster system that targets vulnerable people, and create the fairer, wealthier country we all want to live in."
The SNP has called on Labour to set out exactly what it stands for after a shambolic week that saw the party make a series of contradictory statements regarding vital policies for the people of Scotland.
This week Labour's confusion has spiralled out of control as the party's politicians have:
- Voted against the Scottish Governments extension of free school meals and confirmed that Labour would do not support free school meals for P1-P3’s against the support of Child Poverty Action Group, the EIS, and trade unions
Voted against increasing childcare provision in Scotland
- Suggested the Scottish Government should not have matched business rates in the UK at the same time as saying they don't agree with Scotland having higher rates than the rest of the UK.
- Said they would consider cutting the Small Business Bonus Scheme which helps over 92,000 businesses.
- Suggested raising household bills by hiking council tax but then denying they would increase the tax.
Commenting, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said:
"Do Labour have any policies left? We've only been back in parliament for one week and already they've appeared to throw out five policies they once claimed to be for - free school meals, extension of childcare, the council tax freeze, the small business bonus scheme and lower business rates.
"The pressure is on Johann Lamont to explain exactly what - if anything - Labour stand for in the new year.
"They say they support free school meals and the extension of childcare provision. But actions speak louder than words and by voting against these policies this week it's clear they cannot possibly support the measures.
"The people of Scotland deserve to know the truth - the mixed messages on business rates, the small business bonus scheme and council tax bills are unacceptable.
“Whilst arguing against free school meals goes against what many individual Labour members – including individual MSPs believe is right.
"It's time for Johann Lamont to show her leadership and set out exactly what Labour's position on these things are.
"Labour's ducking and dodging on these issues underline how we cannot trust a word they say."
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, today welcomed East Lothian Council’s decision to publish a report into the potential risk of flooding in the Musselburgh area. The report, which was commissioned and received by East Lothian Council in August 2012, was subject to a Freedom of Information request by Colin earlier this year.
The report is a detailed assessment of the flood risk in Musselburgh and was carried out by Jacob’s Engineering Group Ltd. One of the most recent studies prior to this was from 1993, and this study was only preliminary in nature. The report by Jacob’s is now available from East Lothian Council at;
It concludes that the current modelling indicates extensive areas are likely to be at significant risk of flooding, and that further assessment is required to consider the viability of flood mitigation measures.
Colin Beattie said, “I welcome East Lothian Council’s decision to publish this report. Transparency is fundamental in these issues. The people of Musselburgh have a right to know whether the chances of flooding, and the considerable damage that can be caused, are likely to increase significantly in the future.
“Over the festive period we have seen flooding affect many parts of the country, including isolated incidents in Musselburgh itself. Being on the River Esk, Musselburgh has not been immune to flooding in the past and, according to the report, will not be immune to it in future. We have to be able to prepare ourselves for any eventuality.
“My thanks go to East Lothian Council for working with the Scottish Information Commissioner. I encourage all Musselburgh residents to read the report to see how they may be affected. I have written to the leader of East Lothian Council asking for details of what action the Council has taken to follow through on recommendations made in this report. I have also sought a meeting with Mr Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, to alert him to the report and to discuss my concerns.”
The Scottish National Party published opinion poll results commissioned by the SNP from Panelbase - which finds overwhelming support among people across the UK for an independence referendum debate between Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond.
The polling was conducted from 13th to 20th December, among a representative sample of 1,012 people in Scotland, and 1,011 people in the rest of the UK. Panelbase is a member of the British Polling Council.
The details are:
"Do you think that there should be a televised referendum debate between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond to argue the case for an independent Scotland, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron to argue the case for the UK?"
FINDINGS AMONG PEOPLE IN SCOTLAND
Don't Know: 11%
Among people who voted Labour in the Scottish Parliament constituency vote in 2011, 57% want a Salmond/Cameron debate with 27% against; 50% of Lib Dem voters want such a debate with 38% against; 79% of SNP voters want a debate with 15% against; and 35% of Tory voters back a debate with 54% against.
FINDINGS AMONG PEOPLE IN REST OF UK
Don't Know: 19%
Among people in the rest of the UK who voted Tory in the 2010 Westminster General Election, 57% want a Salmond/Cameron debate with 34% against; 65% of Labour voters want such a debate with 18% against; and 65% of Lib Dem voters back a debate with 22% against.
Welcoming the figures, the Deputy First Minister and SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon said:
"These figures demonstrate that there are decisive majorities in Scotland, and among people in the rest of the UK, for a televised referendum debate between Alex Salmond and David Cameron. In Scotland, most Labour, SNP and Lib Dem voters want a debate between the First Minster and Prime Minister; and in the rest of the UK they are joined by a clear majority of David Cameron's own Tory voters, as well as Labour and Lib Dem supporters.
"Yet while David Cameron is happy to pull the strings of the No campaign from 10 Downing Street, he is scared to debate Alex Salmond face-to-face. As the leading politician seeking a No vote, Mr Cameron has to find his courage in referendum year.
"David Cameron's government has boasted that 'Whitehall's full intellectual might' is engaged in trying to achieve a No vote in the referendum, with the Treasury spearheading a 'co-ordinated push' - resulting in 13 reports being produced across UK government departments to support the No campaign.
"It is abundantly clear that the No campaign is Tory-led and Westminster-led - a fact further underlined by the Prime Minister's New Year message.
"Therefore, as the principal signatories of the Edinburgh Agreement, the natural progression in these circumstances is a televised, head-to-head debate between Mr Cameron and Alex Salmond - a democratic position supported by a substantial majority of people north and south of the border.
"It is not possible, with any degree of consistency or credibility, for the Prime Minister to involve himself and his government so centrally in the referendum process, and then refuse to publicly debate these very issues.
"David Cameron's government has changed its mind on many matters since coming to office - this New Year is the time for him to change his mind on facing Alex Salmond in a TV debate."