The SNP has today highlighted a report by leading charities showing that Westminster’s welfare cuts are putting children in danger.
Today’s Herald reports Barnardo's Scotland and NSPCC Scotland are also warning that the Scottish Government’s early intervention policies are being undermined by the level poverty that people working on the front line are faced with, including dealing with families with children without a toothbrush, pyjamas or sheets on their bed.
The report states that the scale of the problems “has not been seen since Victorian times” and Martin Crew of Barnardo’s Scotland made clear where the problem stemmed from adding: “It often appears as if those putting in place welfare reforms have no concept of how poor people are to start with.”
Research from the Child Poverty Action Group has previously found that up to 100,000 more children will be pushed into poverty as a result of Westmister welfare reforms.
Commenting, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said:
“Up to 100,000 more children in Scotland are being pushed into poverty by a Westminster Tory Government that the people of Scotland did not vote for. Today's reports from Barnardos and NSPCC Scotland give an idea of the shocking impact poverty is having on our young people, with some of them now having to go without basics like toothbrushes and bed sheets. We need a Yes vote to put things right.
“The SNP Scottish Government is committed to building a more equal Scotland but we the strategies and efforts are being undermined by Westminster's cruel and backward cuts agenda.
“We can’t allow Westminster to keep holding back progress on tackling poverty and inequality. Scotland is waking up to the fact that only a Yes vote will enable us to tackle these social ills and take a huge step towards delivering a fairer Scotland.”
Commenting on the news Wall Street banks are drawing up preliminary plans to move some London-based activities to Ireland to address concerns that the UK is drifting apart from the EU, SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:
"Instead of scaremongering about Scotland the No campaign should explain why Wall Street banks are making contingency plans to leave the UK right under their nose.
"The real threat to business in Scotland is the risk of an in-out EU referendum which could take us out of the EU following a No vote.
"An independent Scotland would be able to use tax and other policy to expand and boost our financial sector."
Four leading figures in Scottish farming joined forces today [wed] to declare their support for a YES vote on September 18.
John Ross, Jim Walker, John Kinnaird and John Cameron are all Past Presidents of the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS).
All four are convinced that the safety and security of the Scottish farming industry is better served under an independent Scottish government than by a remote, out-of-touch and unsupportive Westminster.
They gathered at Yes Scotland HQ in Glasgow to urge Scotland’s 65,000 farmers, crofters and growers – as well as the 250,000 others who depend of agriculture for their living - to follow their lead and vote Yes on Referendum Day.
John Ross, a livestock farmer for 50 years and president of NFUS from 1990 to 1996, said: ‘Farming and rural affairs need to be at the forefront of all future Scottish government thinking – and being fully committed members of the European Union is an essential part of that policy.
‘An independent Scotland is the only way that this can be secured. A No vote will mean years of uncertainty about a UK government’s EU membership and commitment and this will have very serious consequences for the future of Scottish farming.’
Dr John Cameron, who became NFUS first long-term president in 1978 at the age of 39, has represented Scottish agriculture – particularly the livestock sector in many parts of the world – said: ‘Having worked in this industry all my life, I have come to the very firm conclusion that the interests of Scottish agriculture and rural Scotland will be best served by having an independent Scottish Parliament and an independent place as of right at the EU Agricultural Council.
‘The recent decision by the British Minister at DEFRA to distribute to the whole of the UK the Convergence Fund from the EU – which was granted to lift the level of Single Farm Payment in Scotland to the UK average – was completely unjustified and against the legitimate expectations of Scottish farmers.
‘My experience is that the development of agriculture policy has been handled with much better understanding between the industry and the Scottish Government and that this position will only be strengthened with independence.'
Jim Walker, who was NFU Scotland president from 1998 to 2003, said: ‘Food is a key strength of the Scottish economy, especially its rural areas, but remaining in the UK is now a very real risk for our food and farming businesses.
‘The EU is important to the food and farming sector. It provides us with markets and is a source of grants and support. If, as seems increasingly likely, the UK leaves the EU after a promised in-out referendum, the funding that currently comes from Brussels will be left with HM Treasury and Scotland will be much more dependent on its decisions. Worryingly, we know from the decisions the Treasury has consistently taken over the last 20 years, irrespective of the party in power, it will prioritise cutting expenditure on food, farming and rural development rather than encouraging investment. That has been the pattern for years and won’t change now.
‘Independence, on the other hand, will allow us to really back our food and farming sector, set our own priorities and sit at the European negotiating table, no longer affected by the UK Treasury indifference. It will also give our food business the kind of export support to guild their businesses that our counterparts in countries with a similar population, like Ireland and New Zealand, take for granted. Like Ireland, we will continue to sell to England but we will also have our own embassies throughout the world giving priority to promoting Scottish products so that we can build and grow new markets.’
John Kinnaird, who farms in East Lothian and was NFUS president from 2003 to 2007, said: ‘I am voting Yes because I believe this is the next logical process after devolution. Lines of communication with government are much quicker and more focussed.
‘The current UK administration and other political parties lack focus, understanding and leadership on many issues, including EU membership.
‘I am deeply concerned of a backlash against Scotland from Westminster if the vote is No. OnSeptember 18 I am not voting for a political party – I’m voting for independence.’
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: ‘The decision by four of Scotland's most respected farming leaders to declare for a Yes vote is highly significant and sends a powerful message to not only rural Scotland but the whole nation.
‘These four former NFU presidents are big hitters with a wealth of experience in dealing with UK Governments and Ministers including Prime Ministers in recent decades. They care deeply about the future of their industry and the fact they have reached the conclusion that our key agriculture and food sectors will be better safeguarded and promoted with independence is a momentous moment in the referendum campaign.
‘These men know the industry inside out, and know that Westminster has failed Scottish farming time and again. With the powers of independence Scotland, farming and food will always be a priority with a direct voice in the crucial farming talks in Europe to help secure a far better deal for our food producers and rural communities.’
John Ross CBE, from Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway, has been a livestock farmer for more than half a century. He was NFU Scotland President between 1990 and 1996 and chairman of the Scotch Quality Beef and Lamb Association from 1997 to 2000. Between 2002 and 2012, he was chairman of Mordeun Animal Diseases Research Institute and Foundation.
Dr John Cameron CBE, who farms at Balbuthie, near Elie, Fife, became NFU Scotland’s first long-term president in 1978. During his term, the union was able to take an active long-term role in the affairs of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). He was a member of the agricultural praesidium in Brussels for five years and was first chairman of the EEC Sheepmeat Committee. He is a past chairman of the QMS Standard Setting Committee for cattle and sheep and in 2015 he was made a Fellow of the Scottish Agricultural College.
Jim Walker, who graduated in accountancy from Edinburgh University, took over the family farm in the 1980s and now rears beef cattle and sheep on 3,500 acres at Drumbuie and Tower Farms in the Nith Valley near Sanquhar. He was Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland from 2003 until 2005 following five years as President of NFU Scotland. He acted as a consultant to Robert Wiseman Dairies the East Kilbride based liquid milk processor from 2003 until 2008. He joined Argent Energy in 2003 as Vice-Chairman, becoming Operations Director in 2005 and Managing Director in 2008.
John Kinnaird was Vice President of NFU Scotland from 2000 until 2003 and president from 2003 until 2007. He chaired the Scottish Government Review of Veterinary Surveillance, is a director of the Morden Research Institute and a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies. He is a partner in a 600 acre farm in East Lothian.
Westminster’s currency bluff has faced a further blow today – after new polling revealed that people in Scotland back the Scottish Government’s common-sense plans to keep the pound and simply don’t believe the bluff and bluster from the No campaign.
A Survation poll published today shows 57 per cent support for Scotland keeping the pound after a Yes vote – with 50% of respondents backing plans for a currency union with the rest of the UK.
Today’s poll also shows that more people believe that Westminster is “bluffing” on the pound than don’t – following on from yesterday’s admission by Ed Miliband that any attempts by Westminster to block a currency union would cost businesses in England “hundreds of millions” of pounds or that they would willingly take on £120bn of extra UK debt, worth £1000 per Scottish household.
Commenting, SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie said:
“A currency union would be in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK – and today’s poll shows that people in Scotland agree with this common-sense position.
“Despite a new onslaught of scaremongering from the No camp parties, it is clear that people in Scotland still aren’t buying Westminster’s currency bluff.
“When even Ed Miliband admits that businesses in England would face costs of hundreds of millions of pounds if Westminster blocked a currency union it is clear that the anti-independence position is nothing more than a campaign tactic.
As leading economist Anton Muscatelli stated it would be “economic vandalism” for any UK government to turn down a currency union and volunteer to take on an extra £120bn of debt leaving Scotland without any obligations.
“Taxpayers in the rest of the UK will simply not accept making £5bn of extra debt payments each year, when Scotland could be paying those debts as part of a currency union. This is a ridiculous position for the anti-independence parties to take.
“But more than anything these poll results show that people in Scotland know that the pound belongs to us just as much as it belongs to anyone else – it’s our pound and we are keeping it.”
The SNP has welcomed the intervention of former RBS Chief Executive and Chairman Sir George Mathewson today – after he branded the No camp’s claims on banking and currency as “nonsense.”
Writing in today’s Financial Times, Sir George Mathewson makes clear the benefits of a currency union after a Yes vote for both Scotland and the rest of the UK, and condemns scaremongering on Scotland’s financial sector – saying that the No camp’s claims on these issues should “be taken with a bucket of salt”.
Sir George also points out that a Yes vote offers Scotland the opportunity to “support and expand the financial services sector using the powers of independence to attract new business and new entrants to the market” – and says that Scotland’s financial services sector is currently “neglected by the Westminster government and its London-centric policy”.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said:
“Since the launch of the No campaign two years ago, Alistair Darling and his Tory allies have tried relentlessly to spread fear about Scotland’s financial sector – but this expert intervention from Sir George Mathewson disproves the tired old scaremongering once and for all.
“Sir George is absolutely right to say that the No camp’s claims need to be taken with a bucket of salt – people in Scotland just don’t believe their predictions of doom and gloom any more.
“As Sir George makes clear, with a Yes vote we can use the economic powers of independence to further grow our financial sector and attract new business to Scotland – and to have an economic policy tailored to Scotland’s needs, rather than London and the south-east.
“With the No camp’s scaremongering claims unravelling in the face of the evidence, Alistair Darling will need to write a new script ahead of tomorrow’s TV debate – the same old Project Fear negativity simply won’t cut it.”