New Scottish Tory MEP Ian Duncan has been widely criticised following his claims that Scotland's Fishing industry should not receive vital European funding - even though Scotland accounts for over 80% of all fish landings - but only receives 40% of the UK share of the European Fisheries Fund. Mr Duncan said - 'The funds should go to those places which are struggling - the Scottish industry is not struggling.'
Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP for Banff and Buchan commented:
"This is a quite extraordinary claim. Not content with negotiating a poor deal in Europe the Tories' new MEP now wants other countries to get the funds which should come to Scotland. Mr Duncan says Scottish fishing communities are not struggling - which suggests incredible complacency. Only a YES vote in September will ensure that Scotland's fishing communities get a fairer deal."
Commenting on the local election results in England today, SNP Business Convener Derek MacKay MSP said:
"What we are seeing south of the border is the Lib Dems disappearing from the political picture in many places - reflecting their experience in Scotland in 2011 - and Labour failing to make the breakthrough. The Tory-led government and entire Westminster system are paying the price of pandering to the UKIP agenda.
"We are now seeing more people in the Tory party calling for an electoral pact with UKIP, and more people in Labour demanding a commitment to an in/out EU referendum.
"We now also have the ridiculous spectacle of Lib Dem Treasury Minister Danny Alexander preparing to lecture people in Scotland about our economic viability as an independent country - when his party has been stripped of any electoral credibility both north and south of the border. The Lib Dems pretend to be guarantors on the constitution in Scotland, but they are in no position to guarantee anything given the terrible drubbing they have experienced in England."
The SNP has today published its priorities for energy in Europe, promising to campaign for better support for marine renewables, to push for reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme and to work towards a nuclear energy free future for Europe.
With the EU playing a particularly important role when it comes to the direction of energy policy and the development of a Europe wide energy market, SNP MEPs have set out the key areas of energy policy on which they will campaign for progress.
During a visit to Scotland last year, Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said that “Scotland is an energy powerhouse in Europe. And Europe can help Scotland harness that potential, through its policies to promote renewables, to build the required North Sea networks, to develop an integrated internal energy market that provides a level playing field to market those resources.”
Commenting, SNP candidate Stephen Gethins said:
“The vast energy resources that Scotland enjoys are all too often taken for granted – but provides us with economic opportunities that are the envy of other countries.
“As Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger recently said, Scotland is an energy powerhouse in Europe. We account for 60% of Europe's oil production, 25% of Europe's offshore wind and tidal energy potential and 10% of Europe's wave energy potential.
“Our abundant energy resources have given us a fantastic opportunity to lead the way on renewable energy, which is why the SNP has set the ambitious target of generating the equivalent of 100% of electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
“That is a challenging goal, but one we are determined to meet – and if we are to truly make the most of our energy resources then we also need to see the right kind of action at a European level to support Scotland’s ambitions.
“Working in partnership with our European neighbours, we can use our energy resources to bring jobs and investment to Scotland and lead the way when it comes to Europe’s energy agenda.
“That is something I am enormously excited about and a vote for the SNP on Thursday will be a vote to secure more progress in Europe on energy matters and to make Scotland’s mark in Europe.”
Ahead of Chancellor George Osborne’s scheduled appearance before the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster today (Wednesday), the SNP are demanding that he agrees to publish the publicly-funded polling research they commissioned from Ipsos/MORI on the independence referendum.
This comes as the No campaign falls into more disarray with reports that its leader Alistair Darling has been sidelined just four months from polling day - with Douglas Alexander effectively replacing Mr Darling. This move comes despite growing criticism and alarm within Labour about Douglas Alexander’s role in their struggling 2015 Westminster election campaign, as opinion polls now put the Tories ahead with a year to go to the election.
Stewart Hosie MP, SNP Westminster Treasury spokesperson commented :
"George Osborne must agree to publish this secret poll - which has been paid for by the taxpayer. We know the coalition have spent an eye watering £46,500 of public money on voting intentions in the referendum, and have now locked it up in a vault in Whitehall. Yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister refused to answer our demand to publish – today it is the Chancellor’s opportunity to come clean. The poll findings may have added to the panic in the No campaign, which is turning into a shambles as Alistair Darling is sidelined because the Tories in charge of the campaign think he is ‘lacklustre’.
“This secret poll was funded by public money and the Chancellor keeps preaching about the need for fiscal responsibility and austerity. Most people in Scotland will want to hear how this public expense can be justified – and why it is being kept secret. Does the research suggest what we all know – that the constant stream of negativity and scaremongering by No is turning the people of Scotland off and boosting the Yes vote - and that sending a succession of increasingly bewildered Tory ministers on day trips north of the Border to tell Scots what we can’t do is backfiring?
“The Chancellor has an opportunity at the Scottish Affairs Committee to give a clear pledge that this secret research will be published in full. It is unacceptable to try to keep it buried because of bad news for the faltering and now rudderless No campaign.”
The Scottish National Party has condemned UK government plans to sanction jobseekers if they fail to agree to controversial contracts.
A letter from Tory minister Esther McVey has revealed that under the new universal credit system, unemployed people face losing their benefits for three months or more if they refuse to take zero hour contract roles, despite fears that such contracts are increasingly tying workers into insecure and low paid employment.
The Scottish Government has previously called on the UK Government to crack down on inappropriate zero hours contracts – for example by ensuring workers on zero hours are given compensation if their shifts are cancelled at short notice.
Commenting, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“This apparent shift in policy from the Coalition is cause for concern.
“Zero-hours contracts are not always appropriate and present many people on benefits with real challenges in managing their income. The UK government will be forcing people into uncertain employment and restricting the ability of claimants to seek training or more stable and sustainable employment.
“While zero hours contracts can be beneficial for some jobseekers- students, for example- these contracts are more likely to be offered to women, young people and people over 65.
“In the UK, the number of contacts that do not guarantee minimum hours of work or pay but require workers to be on standby has reached 1.4 million, and the number of employers using such contracts is now one in ten, and the figure rises to almost half of all employers in the tourism, catering and food sector.
“While the UK government is encouraging the use of zero hours contracts, the Scottish Government has been looking at options available to tackle the issue of zero hours contracts within its limited powers. As employment policy is reserved to Westminster, this is yet another example of how we can do things differently, and better, with independence.”