11 Jan 2012

Paisley Daily Express - 13 December 2011

Misleading Press Releases

In 2007, Alex Salmond and the SNP promised to maintain teachers numbers at the level delivered by Labour. In 2007 there were 55,100 teachers in Scotland’s schools. Today there are 51,441 teachers, a drop of 3,659. I was astonished to see a press release produced by civil servants on behalf of SNP Ministers which said “Target on teacher numbers met”. When Alex Salmond and the SNP realised that they could not deliver the promise which had been made, they cobbled together a new and lower target. Well, what do you know, they have been able to meet this lower target! All thoughts of what they promised the electorate have conveniently been forgotten.

Barrhead Health Centre

Last week I attended the opening of the magnificent new Health Centre in Barrhead. The centre brings together a number of services and will be a real boon to people living in Barrhead and Neilston. Councillor Jim Fletcher the Leader of East Renfrewshire Council reminded those attending of just how long it can take to bring a project to completion. The funding was put in place in 2006 and given the go ahead by the then Labour Health Minister, Andy Kerr. The two local Labour Councillors who guided the project, Danny Collins and Roy Garscadden, both left East Renfrewshire Council in 2007. Barrhead Community Council first promoted the case over six years ago!

I know it has been frustrating for the Council and the local community in having to wait so long. I’m sure that anyone seeing this new Health Centre will agree that it is well worth the wait. Well done to East Renfrewshire Council for pushing the Health Board and Scottish Government to make this a reality.

Knife Crime – not just a Christmas problem

I welcome the proposals from the Crown Office to ensure that anyone arrested and prosecuted for carrying a knife, will be tried before a Sheriff and Jury. This could lead to the maximum sentence rising from one year in prison to four years in prison.

Knife crime still blights too many families in Scotland. The best way to avoid someone being scarred or killed by a knife, is to make sure that the young men who carry knives, stop doing so. Tougher sentencing will send out the message that this will not be tolerated.

So why then, is this welcome new initiative only operating over Christmas and New Year? Knife crime happens in Scotland 52 weeks a year. I hope that the Crown Office will think again. Tackling knife crime should be an all year round effort, not a Christmas “special”.  

Euro or Not?

Alex Salmond is being unusually coy about whether an independent Scotland would have to join the Euro. He won’t publish the legal advice. Catherine Stihler the Labour Member of the European Parliament for Scotland, was refused the information. She has been forced to appeal to the Information Commissioner for help. What is Alex Salmond trying to hide.

Most people are of the view that any new member state would have to join the Euro. In fact the SNP has supported joining the Euro if Scotland became independent. Now Alex Salmond is trying to kid people on that an independent Scotland could still keep the pound sterling. Of course this would mean that Scotland would have no influence at all over a monetary policy designed purely for the rest of the UK. So what’s the point of independence? If Scotland kept the pound sterling, it would have no control over its monetary policy. We need to know if an independent Scotland would have to join the Euro. More than that we need to know if Alex Salmond wants to join the Euro. If not then he should tell us why Scotland’s currency and monetary policy would be controlled by a foreign country after Scotland leaves the UK? Perhaps Alex Salmond intends to create a new currency for Scotland. Perhaps it’s time to dig out your old Scottish groats?