The SNP has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s unanimous passing of Stage One of the Reduction of Voting Age Bill, following the debate at the Scottish Parliament today. The progress in Scotland is in stark comparison to Tory plans to exclude 16 and 17-year-olds and European Union nationals from voting in the EU membership referendum, which have been criticised. Rob Gibson MSP said: “I am delighted that MSPs from across party lines unanimously voted in favour of extending the right to vote in Scottish Parliament and local government elections to include 16 and 17-year-olds. “One of last the greatest achievements of year’s independence referendum wasRead More →

As Harold Wilson is oft quoted, “a week is a long time in politics”. This week will mark the starting gun on Scotland’s next referendum. The third in five years. Remind me who usually complain about a neverendum syndrome? Ah yes, our Unionist countrymen (and women).   Well the Queen’s Speech heralds the legislation for a referendum on whether we are in, out or supposed-to-be shaking it all about. Cameron has started a Tory charm offensive with other European leaders. An oxymoron if ever there was one.   I can imagine he will report back that his first stage Grand Tour of Europe will beRead More →

Many of you may not be aware of the ongoing crisis in the Glasgow Homeless Service. Homelessness is not sexy. It also appears that as 75% of the staff are women there is no need to address this. Time for Glasgow council to provide a fair working space for all their employees Seventy workers in Glasgow City Council’s Homeless Service walked out on indefinate strike action on the 31st March in a dispute over pay grades. The workers are all members of the trade union UNISON and will take the action in a dispute over the application of the council’s job evaluation scheme as appliedRead More →

As part of Scottish Apprenticeship week, Central Scotland SNP MSP Clare Adamson visited Bellshill based Edge Testing Solutions. During the visit Ms Adamson met with the Modern Apprentices and learned about the work they do. The group are Edge Testing’s second intake of Modern Apprentices and they talked about their experiences as apprentices including the six week ‘fast-track’ Edge Academy, which forms part of the overall training programme. The programme comprises classroom and real world hands-on training, together with on-going mentoring over a two year period. The Scottish Government has grown the Modern Apprenticeship programme from 15,000 starts in 2007 to more than 25,000 newRead More →

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech, the SNP has made clear that it will fight the Tories’ plans for £12bn in welfare cuts ‘every step of the way’ – and that promoting an alternative to continued cuts will be the party’s key priority at Westminster. The Tory’s commitment to further welfare cuts comes as new statistics published last week show that around a third of the UK population experienced poverty in at least one year between 2010 and 2013 – higher than the EU average of 25 per cent. During the General Election campaign, the SNP promoted an end to austerity with modest increases in publicRead More →

On the Thursday after the Election I went into the Scottish Parliament for First Minister’s Questions, and the first person I bumped into was Jean Urquhart, Independent MSP for Highland Region.  “How are you feeling today, Jim?” she enquired. After reflecting a moment or two I replied “After 49 years of being patronised by the Westminster parties, this morning I am smiling”.   I have to say, to quote Johnann Lamont’s most repeated phrase at First Minister’s Questions, I have always been wary of opinion polls.  These polls for probably the last six months have been forecasting an SNP win, but I kept repeating toRead More →

Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Announces Retirement Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has announced he will be standing down at the next Scottish election. Dave, an MSP since 2007, firstly as a Regional MSP for the Highlands and Islands from 2007 to 2011 and then as the constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since 2011, has formally notified the SNP’s National Executive Committee of his decision and a candidate will be sought to replace him with nominations open in June. Dave said, “It has been a great privilege to serve as an MSP, firstly as a Regional MSPRead More →

Following the appointment of six senior Tories to the House of Lords the SNP have today criticised David Cameron’s government and called on other parties to back the SNP in condemning the Tories’ Lords appointments. The six peers appointed this week are; Ros Altmann, Minister of State for Pensions, Jim O’Neill – Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Dunlop – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, George Bridges – Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude – Minister of State for Trade and Investment and David Prior – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health. The SNP has long believed the House ofRead More →

My scientific hero, since I read his biography as a teenager, is physicist Richard Feynman.  His cosmological theory, that the world is a weighted sum of alternative histories, states that when particles interact, reality bifurcates into a set of parallel streams, each being a different possible outcome. This has always challenged me (most of physics does). That was until last Thursday, where I am pretty sure that I was transported to a parallel universe, albeit one designed by Carlsberg! For many of us the sheer scale of success on the 7th of May, particularly in a Westminster context, was beyond our wildest dreams.  I rememberRead More →

Scottish Agriculture headlining at European Parliament Alyn Smith MEP has joined Scottish Agriculture expert Brian Pack in calling for reform of the Common Agriculture Policy, focusing less on penalties and providing a more supportive regime. Brian Pack was joined by international experts and raised issues such as; Need for more consistent auditing standards The end of member state “gold – plating” of regulation through additional guidance. The case for more in the interpretation of eligible land for EFA. More time to implement the new rules. A call for tolerance in the application of new penalties while the new system is bedding in.   Welfare ReformRead More →