The No campaign has faced criticism today after senior Westminster figures publicly boasted of running a ‘Dambusters strategy’ to undermine business confidence in Scotland.
Today’s Herald reports that a UK Government source made reference to George Osborne’s recent Sermon on the Pound being the first move in this strategy, through which Westminster will seek to ramp up its bullying attitude towards Scotland.
Additionally, today’s Financial Times carries comments from Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, boasting that Westminster’s bullying on a currency union could lead to business uncertainty – while a Better Together source told the newspaper that Osborne’s scaremongering on the pound was the beginning of a pre-meditated long-term plan to undermine confidence.
Just last night, former Tory Defence Secretary Michael Portillo described the tactics being used by the UK Government in the referendum debate as being used to “scare people rigid”.
Commenting, Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford said:
“These comments are a shocking example of the No campaign’s attitude towards Scotland. Political strategy is one thing - but for the UK Government to happily admit that it is actively trying to undermine confidence in the Scottish economy is totally reprehensible.
“However, the fact that the UK Government has admitted that George Osborne’s Sermon on the Pound was simply the opening salvo in a pre-meditated campaign strategy shows the Chancellor’s intervention for what it was – campaign rhetoric designed to bully people in Scotland into voting No and not a realistic description of what will happen after a YES vote.
“The barely concealed joy that the Westminster establishment is taking in attempting to create threats to Scottish jobs is completely outrageous – and Danny Alexander and the No campaign should be ashamed for their part in it.”
Colin Signs Up For Men United
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has become the latest big name signing for Men United.
The local politician has backed Prostate Cancer UK’s ‘Men United v Prostate Cancer’ campaign, which uses the language of sport to engage men in the battle against the disease. Colin signed up over a game of table football with staff and volunteers at a Prostate Cancer UK conference exhibition stand (photos attached).
Colin said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and is predicted to be the most common cancer overall by 2030. Despite this we know that the quality of care and support men with the condition receive varies throughout Scotland. To address this I have previously called on NHS Boards to implement Prostate Cancer UK’s excellent Quality Checklist, and reiterate that call today. Furthermore I am delighted to sign for Men United v Prostate Cancer. It’s a big ask but, working together, I know we can win this.”
Joining Colin Beattie MSP in backing Men United v Prostate Cancer is Scottish football legend Denis Law, chat-show king Sir Michael Parkinson and comic icon Bill Bailey. Prostate Cancer UK charity partner Scotmid Co-operative, which recently smashed its £150,000 annual fundraising target for the charity within just 6 months, is also backing the campaign via a series of events at its stores throughout Scotland.
Drew Lindon, Head of Policy & Campaigns at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Prostate cancer survival rates are below the European average, research into the disease lags a decade behind that of other cancers, and quality of care and support varies depending on where you live. Men United is a powerful way for men, and the women in their lives, to mobilise against the common enemy of prostate cancer. By signing up, Colin has a place and a voice in a growing movement that’s taking action for men’s health. We are extremely grateful for his ongoing support, and would encourage people throughout Scotland to join Men United to help boot prostate cancer into row Z.”
Men United v Prostate Cancer is an integrated television, print and digital campaign which runs until the end of March 2014. Men - and women - are encouraged to go online to search ‘Men United’ to get involved by testing their knowledge of the disease with a simple quiz, and signing for the team. They can also pledge their allegiance by proudly wearing the charity’s ‘Man of Men’ pin badge.
To sign for Men United visit: www.prostatecanceruk.org/menunited
A Call To End Universal Credit
Scottish National Party Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has called on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to end the UK government’s Universal Credit scheme “sooner rather than later” following reports from senior Whitehall sources that the controversial flagship welfare reform risks being drastically scaled back or abandoned due to failings.
Iain Duncan Smith has previously rejected claims that his flagship welfare policy was a "debacle" after Dr Whiteford raised the issue in the House of Commons. A Parliament report had stated that the Universal Credit scheme has been so badly managed it was about to write-off up to £425 million - £36 million of which reflects Scotland’s pro-rata share.
Under the government's plans, six key means-tested benefits - jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, income support and child tax credit - are to be combined into a single payment. It has been delayed following a number of pilots earlier this year.
The Scottish Government have stated in its White Paper that Universal Credit will be halted with independence. It will be for future Scottish governments to develop reforms to a Scottish welfare system.
Commenting, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“Iain Duncan Smith needs to end Universal Credit sooner rather than later, before more money is wasted.
“The implementation of Universal Credit has been a complete fiasco right from the start. A committee report has highlighted many problems with the project including officials being unable to explain the reasoning behind their timescales or their feasibility, inept computer systems, and no real management. We already knew the Tory- Lib Dem government’s welfare reforms were discriminatory, but we can also see the extent of how badly managed this project is.
“What makes this all the more galling is that 82% of Scottish MPs opposed this, and Scottish tax-payer’s money is being wasted in the process.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Scotland has already made its opposition to welfare cuts absolutely clear, and a majority of Scots believe that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare policy for Scotland. A YES vote in September will make this a reality.”
Ofgem has launched a short animated video to explain simple terms how the energy market is changing. It highlights what you can do to get a better energy deal. I would recommend that anyone concerned about their energy bills should both watch it and share it with others.
New figures have been published showing the Scottish Government is having to spend hundreds of millions of pounds from the devolved Scottish budget to mop up Westminster’s mess on welfare policy.
The figures, compiled by SPICe, reveal that between 2013 and 2015, the Scottish Government will be spending £258.85 million on mitigating Westminster’s welfare cuts – money that could have been spent on other parts of the budget if the welfare cuts were not taking place.
Scotland’s Future makes clear that an independent Scotland would undo damage being inflicted by Westminster by halting the further rollout of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments and by completely abolishing the Bedroom Tax.
Meanwhile, opinion surveys have consistently shown that people in Scotland want the Scottish Parliament to be able to make decisions on welfare, with the most recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey finding that 57% of people in Scotland want decisions on welfare and benefits made in Scotland.
Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:
“These new figures make it clear just how much the Scottish Government has had to do to mitigate the disastrous welfare cuts that are being inflicted on Scotland by Westminster.
“More than £250 million has had to be found from other parts of the Scottish budget to mop up the mess left by Westminster’s unfair welfare reforms, and protect people in Scotland from the worst of what the Tory-Lib Dem Government is doing.
“Providing that funding is the right thing to do - but there can be no doubt that it has caused pressures that only exist because of Westminster’s actions.
“With the powers of an independent Scotland we will be able to set a tax and welfare policy in Scotland that reflects the values of people in Scotland – something polling has consistently shown people in Scotland want.
“Only a YES vote this year will secure that right for Scotland, and ensure that Scotland is no longer left to mop up the mess left by poor decisions at Westminster.”
The passage of the SNP Government’s budget in the Scottish Parliament today will boost Scotland’s economy, help with the cost of living and deliver vital action to mitigate Westminster’s disastrous Bedroom Tax.
With a majority of parliament endorsing additional funds to help combat the Bedroom Tax SNP MSP Colin Beattie said it showed Scotland should have the powers to scrap the Bedroom Tax.
Alongside targeting Westminster welfare cuts the budget will continue the small business bonus, protect free education, entitle primary one to three pupils to free school meals saving at least £330 per eligible child; extend childcare provision to 600 hours for three and four year olds and for vulnerable two year olds, saving around £700 a year; and continue the Council Tax freeze that will have saved households £1,200 on average by the end of this parliament.
Investment in infrastructure in Scotland will be supported to the tune of over £8 billion over the next two years, creating over 50,000 full time equivalent jobs.
Commenting, Colin said:
“Today’s budget is a budget to boost our economy and support households with the rising cost of living.
“Delivering free school meals, extending childcare and protecting the Council Tax freeze will save hundreds of pounds for households across Scotland.
“That is vital action to help people during difficult times and will be warmly welcomed by people across Scotland. What is also particularly welcome is that even more action is being taken to help people affected by Westminster’s Bedroom Tax.
“The money has been put in place to mitigate the Bedroom Tax and the only thing standing in the way of immediate action is Westminster.
“Of course far better than attempting to mitigate the deeply unfair Bedroom Tax would simply be to abolish it altogether.
“Only a YES vote in September will give the Scottish Parliament that right and ensure that Scotland’s welfare system reflects the priorities of people in Scotland rather than the Westminster Treasury.”
Colin Beattie MSP from Midlothian North & Musselburgh is supporting British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland by calling on his constituents to Ramp up the Red on 7 February to help fight heart disease.
Did you know that coronary heart disease is Scotland’s single biggest killer? It kills more than 7,500 people each year. And there are currently around 235,000 people in Scotland living with coronary heart disease. On Friday 7 February, BHF Scotland is asking people across the nation to Ramp up the Red and raise funds to continue the fight for every heartbeat.
Colin said: “I am pleased to help raise awareness of heart disease by supporting Ramp up the Red. I encourage everyone in the constituency to get involved on Friday 7 February, joining the fight and helping to beat a devastating disease that can affect anyone, from babies to grandparents.”
Marjory Burns, BHF Scotland Director, said “We’re very grateful to Colin for supporting Ramp up the Red in his community and we hope that many local people will join us. Everyone who organises a fundraising event in February is helping to raise much-needed funds to fight heart disease. All money raised will help us truly fight for every heartbeat.”
For more information about Ramp up the Red, to sign up or to donate, visit:
www.bhf.org.uk/red or call 0800 0316 316.