The SNP have called on Willie Rennie and Ruth Davidson to sort out the ‘unacceptable embarrassment’ of the Lib Dems and Tories being placed on Police Scotland’s ‘bad debtors’ list for refusing to pay nearly £1 million of conference policing costs.
Commenting on a report on Sunday Herald, revealing that Police Scotland services will not be made available to either party until the Lib Dems pay Police Scotland £800,000 and the Tories pay their £22,000 debt, Sandra White MSP said:
“The Lib Dems being placed on Police Scotland’s bad debtor list highlights the fact that they are a complete shambles of a political party - it is hugely embarrassing for Danny Alexander as Treasury Chief Secretary that the Lib Dems have defaulted on their debt.
“Danny Alexander and Willie Rennie at Lib Dem conference claimed to know nothing about this bill at their party conference – trying to pass the buck to 'the organisers'.
“If the conference had taken place in Berwick on Tweed or Carlisle the UK Government’s Home Office would have paid most of the policing bill – with the local force picking up the difference. Yet the Home Office – part of the Government the Lib Dems are part of – have refused to do the same for Glasgow. To make matters worse the party themselves have also refused to pay.
"It is high time Willie Rennie as the leader of the Lib Dems faced facts. He must ensure his party pay the bill to Scotland’s police immediately. Failure to do so is a failure to support our police men and women in carrying out the excellent and important job they do.
"And Ruth Davidson needs to sort this out immediately too - the officers of Police Scotland do a great job of protecting our streets and communities, and for the Tory Party also to be defaulting on their debts is totally unacceptable."
New analysis reported today showing that the vast majority of constituencies in Scotland back staying in the EU whilst the majority in England back an exit shows that Scotland rejects the Euro-hostile consensus building at Westminster – and needs its own voice in Europe.
A study carried out by Durham University and the University of East Anglia finds that while voters in the majority of constituencies in England would vote to leave the EU only four seats in Scotland would back an EU exit.
The study also finds that some of the UK constituencies least supportive of an EU exit are in Scotland – and no Scottish seat is in the 150 most supportive of an exit.
Dr Chris Hanretty of the University of East Anglia said “What this analysis shows is that Scottish views on the European Union are distinct from English views. Even looking at constituencies just north of the border – areas that are by no means bedrocks of SNP support – you find a more favourable opinion of the EU than you do in the north of England.”
Commenting, SNP MSP James Dornan said:
“This is yet further evidence of the fact that Scotland rejects the Euro-hostile consensus that is building at Westminster – and wants to work in partnership with our allies in the EU, rather than risking isolation and irrelevance like David Cameron, who is more concerned about Nigel Farage and UKIP than about representing Scotland’s interests.
“As an independent report published by EY ITEM Club just this week made clear uncertainty over the UK’s position in the EU is jeopardising investment and could see a slowdown in growth – putting Scottish jobs at risk.
“This is exactly why the 'extensive new powers' promised to Scotland in the Vow should allow us to speak with a stronger and clearer voice on the European stage, rather than being represented by a Westminster establishment dancing to UKIP’s tune.”
The SNP has welcomed a new poll showing "superb" trust ratings for the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon on more powers – as Labour’s woes in Scotland continue with only one per cent of people trusting Ed Miliband most to deliver extensive new powers.
The TNS poll published today shows the SNP is the most trusted party to deliver new powers for Scotland by 37 per cent of respondents – more than double Labour’s figure of just 15 per cent. Of senior party figures, Ed Miliband is trusted most by only one per cent of voters – compared to 24 per cent for Nicola Sturgeon, who tops the poll.
These figures will only increase the pressure on the embattled Labour leader Johann Lamont – as the whispering campaign against her “deeply unimpressive” leadership continued this week.
Today’s poll also confirms the positive impact of the referendum – with 55 per cent of people under 35 saying the referendum has made them more likely to vote in the future, and almost a third of people are likely to get involved in public debates on local or national issues.
Commenting, SNP Business Convener Derek Mackay said:
"This poll is more significant evidence of the positive role the referendum has played in re-energising democracy in Scotland - with people more likely to vote and get involved in politics in future.
"That more than double the number of people trust the SNP than Labour to deliver the powers Scotland needs - and only one per cent trust Ed Miliband - is a demonstration of how weak Labour's position in Scotland now is. These are superb trust ratings for the SNP, and particularly Nicola Sturgeon.
"People in traditional Labour heartlands such as Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire simply cannot forget Ed Miliband's and Johann Lamont's toxic alliance with the Tories in the No campaign - and are switching to the SNP in huge numbers.
"With the incredible surge in SNP membership and the new spirit of democratic participation unleashed by the referendum, we are now in an incredibly strong position to hold Westminster to account on the extensive new powers Scotland was promised.
"The big increase in political awareness and participation this poll shows should serve as a stark warning to the Westminster parties that they must keep their vow on substantial new powers to enable us to build a fairer society and more prosperous economy - otherwise they will pay a very heavy price at the ballot box."
Commenting on former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's latest intervention in the debate about Westminster devolving more powers to the Scottish parliament as promised in the 'vow' by the three current Westminster leaders in the lead up the referendum – and as the focus moves this week to the debates scheduled in the House of Commons,Pete Wishart SNP MP said:
"Gordon Brown’s contributions to the debate on Scotland’s future are becoming increasingly surreal and are full of inconsistencies and contradictions . Before the referendum Gordon Brown posed a guarantor of the 'vow' - the promise to deliver wide ranging new powers to Holyrood – but then resorted to asking people to sign a petition to ensure its delivery . He is now calling on other Westminster parties to do more – but his own party's proposals for more powers are even weaker than the Tories or the Liberal Democrats.
“Mr Brown attacks plans to give Scotland all control of income tax, even suggesting they are a ‘Trojan horse’ to deliver full fiscal autonomy – but if he was in any way consistent with the pre-referendum ‘vow’ to the people of Scotland he would be throwing all his weight behind full fiscal autonomy for Holyrood.
"He hasn't even been able to persuade the current Labour leadership to go as far in delivering new powers as he says he wants, as they are outbid by the Lib Dems and even the Tories. He also says he wants more power over rail to be devolved – but again his colleagues in Scottish Labour failed to use their submission to the Smith Commission to suggest that public sector bidders should be allowed to compete for rail franchise agreements.
“Gordon Brown was in government for 10 years – three of them as Prime Minister. He could have delivered on any of his ideas then but failed to do so, and was in fact bitterly opposed even to the devolution of Air Passenger Duty. As a Labour backbencher and self proclaimed ex-politician Gordon Brown speaks with no real authority or ability to deliver anything at all – and that is his problem.
“People across Scotland are waiting on the Westminster parties to deliver on their pre-referendum ‘vow’ of ‘home rule’, as promised by Mr Brown – and they will not easily forgive or forget if that promise is broken."
I met with with Friends Of The Earth's Mr Frackhead today outside Parliament.
I am appalled at Westminster's decision to remove the right of ordinary members of the public to object to fracking underneath their own homes. Unrestricted fracking is dangerous.
As he returns to Glasgow for his party's UK conference, Nick Clegg must sort out his party’s unpaid policing bills for last year’s Liberal Democrat UK conference in Glasgow and not default on the bill – according to SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson.
The call comes as the Sunday Herald reveals that both the party and the UK Government have refused to pay £800,000 of policing costs for last year’s event. This is despite the UK Home Office picking up 85% of the costs for UK party political conferences which are held in England and Wales – with the local force picking up the difference.
Mr Robertson said that given Nick Clegg is both party leader and Deputy Prime Minister of the Government responsible for the Home Office, he must sort out the mess and not leave Scottish policing hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket.
This year the Liberal Democrats have increased their own security provision, according to their spokesperson quoted in the Sunday Herald.
Commenting Angus Robertson said:
"The Liberal Democrats made great play of standing up for local policing but now we know the reality is that they are responsible for a £800,000 hole in the Scottish police budget – and expect Scottish taxpayers to pick up the tab for their costs.
“If last year’s Lib Dem conference had taken place in Berwick on Tweed or Carlisle the UK Government’s Home Office would have paid most of the policing bill – with the local force picking up the difference. Yet the Home Office – part of the Government the Lib Dems are part of – have refused to do the same for Glasgow. To make matters worse the party themselves have also refused to pay.
“Nick Clegg, as both party leader and Deputy Prime Minister, needs to get a grip of this issue and either instruct the Home Office to play fair, or get his party Treasurer to pay up.
“We now know that the Liberal Democrats have increased their own security provision at this year’s conference – although we don’t know if it’s the Home Office or the Lib Dems who are paying. It does raise the questions of who is paying for that security provision – the Home Office or the Lib Dems – and the question as to why could this approach not have been taken last year.
"Either way the Lib Dems must not default on their bill to Scotland and should at last pay last year’s bill and thus support our police men and women in carrying out the excellent and important job they do."
SNP membership has soared to over 75,000 today – as almost 50,000 new members joined the party in less than two weeks.
The SNP is an incredibly strong position as by far the third largest party in the UK as a whole – overtaking the Lib Dems – and picking up more and more support from traditional Labour heartlands.
The incredible surge in SNP membership follows a Survation poll showing support for the SNP standing at 49 per cent – up on even the 2011 landslide levels – while support for Labour languishes at 33 per cent.
Commenting, SNP Business Convener Derek Mackay MSP said:
“The astonishing influx of new members joining the SNP shows no signs of stopping – with membership tripling in less than two weeks – now standing at more than 75,000.
“The strong position of the SNP – standing at 49 per cent in the polls – contrasts starkly with the Westminster parties. We’ve now well overtaken the Lib Dems at UK level - whose membership is 44,000 - and the Tories and Labour are tearing each other apart as their vow to the people of Scotland gets caught up in the infighting between Westminster factions.
“With this extraordinary growth in membership, it is clear that it is the SNP that the people of Scotland trust to hold the Westminster establishment to account on their vow of substantial more powers for Scotland.
“This new democratic movement in Scotland simply won’t accept the same old politics as usual from the No parties – Westminster now simply must deliver the real powers we need to make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous country for everyone who lives here. Failure to do so would be completely unacceptable.”