Saturday, 30 March 2013


Thousands of people were marching today to protest against yet another weapon being deployed in the Con-Dem war of attrition on the poor- the Bedroom Tax – the tip of a deadly iceberg, the latest in a tsunami of cuts set to devastate families and hit the disabled hardest. This is even before Universal Credit, a tornado of chaos due to hit in October. The only faint hope lies in an announcement sneaked out late on Thursday. The DWP are delaying three out of the four pilot Universal Credit projects due to go live on April Fools Day.  The best case scenario is that IT glitches and the sheer unworkability of this welfare “deform” will see it hit the buffers before the next Westminster election…except…what difference would it make if the Tories are booted out and New Labour come to power again in Westminster ?

It is a truth that has to be universally acknowledged (apologies to Jane Austen) that despite the real and genuine opposition to the bedroom tax and “welfare reform” amongst grassroots Labour and their trade union comrades, their leaders in the Shadow Cabinet and most of their MP’s are in a different head space. Labour MP’s are currently displaying levels of industrial deception (and possibly self-deception, to be kind to some of them) by running around their constituencies collecting signatures on petitions opposing the bedroom tax without any intention of repealing said tax if in a position to do so.

This is the acid test for Labour, and especially Labour in Scotland. Predictably enough there have been howls of outrage at the SNP and other parties in the Yes campaign pointing out that the consensus in Scotland is against punishing the most vulnerable in our society by implementing crude measures such as the bedroom tax. Therefore, a vote for independence in 2014 is the only way to ensure those powers to decide what sort of society we want and what measures we put in place to support those most in need will be in the hands of our local decision makers. Welfare and benefits are not devolved, nor are all the economic levers in place to control the finance required for a socially just Scotland. Apparently, pointing this out is “cynical party political point scoring”.

Surely there is a degree of cynicism in pretending to be against policies that your leadership team have every intention of implementing when/if they come to power? I stand to be corrected, but what with Liam”no money left” Byrne as Shadow Work + Pensions minister and a track record from his colleagues of equivocal statements all round (a YouTube clip of Helen Goodman trending on twitter, Ed Balls still talking about a “tough but fair” approach to welfare reform) , it’s fair to say the Labour Party could be accused of facing both ways at once. Campaigning against the very welfare “reforms” they will sadly, reluctantly have to continue with as unfortunately when we all vote out those nasty Tories, they open up the books and, oh, guess what..there’s still no money left…Well, surely politics is all about the choices we make especially when finances are tight and choosing to dismantle the welfare state is an odd choice for a democratic socialist party..

The Bedroom Tax is the most pernicious piece of legislation since the Poll Tax, and arguably worse.  It is designed to divide the poorest and weakest in our society.

If the official opposition at Westminster continue to show a lack of vision or a real alternative to the current path of austerity, then a No vote in September 2014 is a vote for no change at Westminster.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Making Our Mark

My pitch to be one of the SNP Candidates for the European Election



 Thanks to my colleagues who have supported me, the

Constituencies who nominated me, all of you for to speaking to

 Me and my colleagues who hope to represent Scotland in Europe.

I joined the SNP at 16 years of age,

 My first subs were paid for with my paper round -   in those days

I was paid a penny a paper!

 It was a long paper-round.

What drew me to this party almost 25 years ago is that it best reflects the values of

Internationalism, Social democracy and compassion for those at

home and abroad that we all share.

In submitting my name, I am so conscious of the serious

 Responsibility to deliver for the people of Scotland.

The responsibility to make our mark in Europe and across the


We all know what happens in Europe is crucial to Scotland.

 Why else are our opponents trying using the EU as a scare story

Against Independence

Why else are they trying to create problems when none exist?

Why are they so scared of a strong Scottish voice in Europe?

What matters to Scotland is to build relationships and provide a

 Positive contribution to the EU and beyond.

Our opponents prefer an insular and narrow minded argument

I hope to follow in some pretty big footsteps because over

Centuries scots have made their mark in Europe.

 like the very first President of our party Robert Bontine

Cunninghame Graham, who

Made his mark travelling seeing the potential of a Europe of

Enterprise compassion and democracy

 before becoming a folk hero in South America.

  A former Liberal MP, founder of the Scottish Labour Party, who

Then made his political Journey to found the SNP

 He remains an inspiration to all of us, and dare I say should to the labour party

Here in Scotland

 After all he decided that the snp was the true home for the values

Of fairness and equality……………..

Some years later another great Scot, Winnie Ewing, an inspiration

to us all, gave Scotland a powerful Voice in Europe,

 securing for the Scottish Highlands European Funding.

And now today in the European Parliament our mep’s are

Doing great work to ensure Scotland’s voice is heard.

So what do I want to do?  I spent the first years of my life in

Drumchapel. I have seen communities in poverty. and seen the

desperate need for investment, and neglect from an uncaring


To suit its anti european agenda the UK Continues to fail to apply

for Funding that could transform Scottish Communities.

Whether it is funding for small and medium business, or social

funds to help the long term unemployed, I will fight to get the

best deal for Scotland

I want to represent Scotland to ensure all of our communities get

Access to funds vital in securing recovery

I want Scotland to continue to make its mark by showing our abilities as a nation to make

friends and to ensure that our interests are respected

In looking at the stories of our friends and partners, in Europe, we

can see why Independence is Essential. 

 Scots are being ground down by a cold, ideological cuts agenda

 That few recognise or support.

If we are in a worldwide crisis why are other countries taking a

different route?

 Take America, where President Obama recognises investment in

people and jobs is the most Effective recession busting strategy….

Can they see that at Westminster?  No they can’t!

 On my first day in Brussels I will fight against the tory

Threat to abandon the social chapter, an agreement that

has improved the lives of millions of working people including

here in Scotland

   We know that Independence will protect the rights of working people

 Westminster repeatedly fails to do so,

I support our MEP’s in seeking changes to Procurement

regulations, which are currently complex and problematic

So that decisions affecting Scottish workers and their families are

taken here in Scotland. so we can strengthen the

Rights of workers, so we can boost their wages, so we can create thriving communities,

I am ready to play my part in that transformation

Those who of you who know me are aware, in my Trade

 Union Activism, my experience of negotiation, and the issues I hold dear. 

 In Europe I will work tirelessly on issues that matter and impact

 on the lives of scots every single


 standing up for our fishing communities

  And our farming and rural communities

Standing up for the Cities where lack of investment has left

Deprivation that shame a country prevented from doing so much

More for its people

I will stand up for Every Scottish community abandoned by every

Westminster party

 Selection for the list is a very great honour, as is the opportunity

 To serve our nation.

 I realise you have a difficult decision to make.

 I know how I will cast my vote, but

Everyone submitting their name is an asset to our party.

 I hope you support my nomination and

I look forward to campaigning alongside all of you for the

European election to come and as we deliver independence

For Scotland

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Dark Day for Labour

A dark day for Labour and even worse for the vulnerable.............

This was the statement made to me earlier today on Twitter from Lynn Henderson, Scottish Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union. (and best wishes to civil service workers on strike tomorrow).

Todays vote in the House of Commons which saw the Labour Front Bench abstain from the Workfare vote was yet another dull thud on the bruised body of the wider labour movement. A timely reminder that the shiny shiny New Labour bureaucrats still have their clammy hands on the tiller to make sure that their managerial agenda for servicing business first, working people second, isn't too compromised in opposition by such tricky things as principled positions.

To stand back whilst the Tory Government unilaterally and retrospectively change the law to ensure the continuation of unpaid labour, and see workers wages undercut by Workfare is a dereliction of duty and against the very principles of the Labour Movement and the historic aims of the Labour Party.

Todays events remind me of Jimmy Reid when he said "I didnt leave the Labour Party, the Labour Party left me", I am sure that there are many who feel like that today. Co-inciding with the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War , it's an unfortunate reminder for many who've stuck with the party despite everything - it's not that there ever was a golden age and the battles between left and right in the party are legendary, but the rights of working people were one of the key principles that the 20th century Labour movement held dear and fought hard for. The Labour party in the 21st century is a different construct and no amount of singing the Red Flag and celebrating its history can hide that, waving banners and turning out to parade on May Day is a faint echo of past struggle rather than a proud celebration of current principles. (With some exceptions that prove the rule).

The Labour Party has a great history, but surely now for many - the party is over


Blogging has been lighter than I would have liked with the touring of Constituencies around the country, which I have found enjoyable, and the good camaraderie with the other Candidates.

It is to my complete astonishment that I read this week, that the Labour Front Bench abstained on a vote to remove from 2500 PCS members, the right to strike in Customs and Immigration.

The honourable John McDonnell probably puts it best when he says

"This is the first time in the Labour Movement - the first time ever in the history of the Labour Party - that his party has supported in Parliament the removal of trade union rights for trade unionists"

Had it not been for John McDonnell's intervention the Labour Front Bench would have supported the measure!

News also reaches me that the Labour front bench are likely to abstain in tomorrow's vote on Workfare.

What on earth is going on?

Have we really reached a point for no return where the Labour Party at Westminster now see the rights of workers and Trade Unions as expendable? Are they so cautious and sensitive to accusations of "Red Ed" being held hostage by the unions that they are prepared to sit back and let those self same members who actively support the Labour party (by choice and opt-in)  through the trade union levy go to the wall ?
This is the enduring mystery at the heart of the Labour party - significant sums of money and resource support the party and individual MP's, MSP's, councillors and constituency parties - cheques written from political funds established though the political levy from the wages of many low paid workers. And what exactly do they get in return for all this support - other than warm words ("Comrades .. as a democratic socialist of course I support you..But...) and cool distance when councils set budgets, and parliamentarians cast their vote.

This ideological right wing Coalition Government must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Who do working people support now.

Westminster has failed working people.  If the Government and the main opposition cannot protect workers, then surely only Independence can.

Only the SNP support the removal of anti-TU laws, with the rights of workers to begin on day one of their employment.

Surely now, only Independence can protect workers in Scotland through the European Social Chapter, which the Tories are desperate to ditch.

I would encourage everyone to sign up to Trade Unions for YES - facebook page up and running.

Westminster has repeatedly failed in the protection of working people in Scotland.