Yesterday in Parliament I quizzed the Cabinet Secretary for Finance on the SNP’s latest plans for an independent Scotland.
With plans to get Scotland’s deficit below 3% from the current 8.3% it is clear that under the SNP an independent Scotland would face at least a decade of austerity max. This is not a Growth Commission but rather a Cuts Commission.
Scotland cannot afford another decade of austerity. With over a quarter of a million children living in poverty and pensioner poverty having increase by 33% since 2010 we need action now.
That is why a Labour Government would invest to grow our economy, including £70 billion in Scotland over the next decade.
Only Labour is proposing the real and radical change that Scotland needs.
I was happy this week to show my support for MS Society Scotland’s Awareness week which runs between 23-29 April to raise awareness of the important role research plays in the lives of people affected by MS.
I know that research into improving treatments for MS sufferers is vital for improving daily life for those living with the illness.
MS Society Scotland’s ‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’ campaign encourages people to give up their guilty pleasure this May to raise money for research and you can get involved by visiting their website.
Last week I was pleased to host a Faith Leaders and Climate Change event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, with SCIAF, Christian Aid, Tearfund Scotland and Islamic Relief.
The event launched a strong statement from Faith Leaders from across Scotland who have joined forces to urge the Scottish Parliament to strengthen its Climate Change Act.
The statement calls for Parliament to pass a “strong and ambitious Climate Change Act; one which reflects Scotland’s fair share of global efforts and one which puts Scotland firmly on the path towards an inclusive, low-carbon future in which we can all flourish.”
Following the news that Fife Health and Social Care Partnership have closed three out-of-hours services in the Kingdom, I have written to both Michael Kellet, the Director of the Partnership, and Shona Robison, the Health Secretary, to call for immediate support to reopen the services and for action to address the GP and staffing shortages in Fife.
It was announced earlier this month that Glenrothes Community Hospital, Queen Margaret Community Hospital in Dunfermline and St Andrews Community Hospital will be closed for three months between midnight and 8am.
This decision is causing great concern with patients worried about how they will travel to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy when they need to see a doctor, concerned about the cost of taxis and the distance to travel and what this suspension really means for the future of the services.
This situation is particularly worrying for frail or vulnerable people in our communities, and they do not feel reassured by the contingency plan.
That is why I am requesting an urgent meeting with Michael Kellet of the Health and Social Care Partnership. Continue reading →
I am backing Asbestos Actions’ calls to improve care for asbestos sufferers across the country. That is why I joined the group at Holyrood to launch their new support booklet for those affected by the conditions.
Asbestos related conditions claim around 3,000 lives in the UK every year. To put that in context, that is more than are killed on the roads throughout the country.
Asbestos-related diseases occur when people breathe in asbestos fibre which can lead to benign conditions like pleural plaques where the lining of the lungs or ribcage calcify or terminal cancers like mesothelioma which can prove fatal just weeks after diagnosis. Continue reading →
Yesterday in Parliament I held a cross party meeting at the Scottish Parliament to discuss the future of Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab). The meeting saw trade union representatives and workers from the yard lobby and answer questions with a number of MSPs from Scottish Labour, the SNP, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.
With the company coming to the end of its Beatrice Contract there are concerns that a gap in the order book could see reductions to full time staff with the possibility of two of the three yards having to close their gates.
I am pleased that workers had the opportunity to lobby MSPs directly just as they successfully did in 2015. I’d also like to thank all the MSPs that turned up to listen to their concerns, the turnout shows that BiFab workers have the clear support of the Scottish Parliament.
We must use that political will to try and secure the long term future of the yard. We must now put pressure on the UK Government and engage with the consortiums tendering their contracts for the year ahead. Continue reading →
Recently I met with BiFab workers and trade union representatives at their yard in Methil to discuss their future and concerns as we near the end of their current Beatrice contract.
I also raised the issue directly with the First Minister during FMQs where I called for continued Government support to ensure we can protect jobs and the company can survive any gap in their order book.
That is why I am hosting a meeting in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to allow trade union members to meet and lobby MSPs from all parties as we work to secure the future of the yards.
I previously held a similar lobby in 2015, which led to cross party pressure on the UK Government ahead of the awarding of the current Beatrice contract. Continue reading →
On December the 6th I joined colleagues in attending the Day of Action Against Blacklisting lobby outside the Scottish Parliament. The day was part of a long running campaign from Unite the Union into blacklisting within the construction industry.
Cases of blacklisting within construction companies is unacceptable. These workers give their time and skill to their employers and should be rewarded for their duty, not punished.
As part of the campaign, Unite is calling for a full public enquiry into blacklisting, for the process to be considered a criminal offence, and for companies found blacklisting to be barred from bidding for public sector contracts.
I am disappointed at the lack of clarity on the Scottish Government’s stance on this issue, with the reluctance to launch an inquiry into blacklisting. Our workers deserve full justice and to have their voices heard. Continue reading →
Today I questioned the Energy Minister as he announced that the current moratorium on fracking will be extended indefinitely.
As a long time campaigner against fracking in my region welcome this move, however it still stops short of an outright ban. I’ve been campaigning against fracking and UCG locally since 2012 and I will continue to support any efforts to introduce a full legislative ban.
I do not believe that the potential risks to public health and the environment have been addressed and I believe that the exploitation of another fossil fuel will hamper our climate change priorities. Continue reading →
I can reveal that the number of jury trials in Kirkcaldy have almost doubled in the past 5 years and that is why I have reiterated my calls for a new, state of the art, Justice Centre in the town.
Statistics released to me have revealed the strain been felt by the current court. In the past 5 years, the total number of trails called has increased from 1,196 to 2,060, amongst those the number of jury trails called have increased by almost 100%.
At the same time, there has been a 55% increase in the number of trails adjourned, a quarter of which were adjourned due to a lack of court time in the past year. This is despite an increase in the number of days the court has sat.
In 2012 a consultation document from the Scottish Court Services that led to the closure of local courts across Scotland highlighted the need for change in Kirkcaldy. Continue reading →