7 Mar 2012

Paisley Daily Express - 7 March 2012

Abusive Marriage Slur
Domestic Abuse is abhorrent and unacceptable. Too many women from all walks of life have to contend with abuse in various forms in the home. Last week Alex Salmond’s parliamentary aide compared the United Kingdom to an abusive marriage. Now we know we will have a referendum at some point, but a decision whether or not to separate from the rest of the UK, needs to be based on facts and figures, and not on inflammatory and inaccurate rhetoric. To suggest that Scotland is somehow abused by the rest of the United Kingdom is insulting. It’s also insulting to the thousands of women who suffer from domestic abuse, to trivialise and distort their experience to try to make a cheap political point. Alex Salmond should be ashamed of himself for allowing such nonsense to be published.
Insulin Pumps
Diabetes can affect young and old. Last year a survey claimed there were almost      28,000 people in Scotland living with Type 1 diabetes, which means the pancreas can’t ever make insulin again. Someone who has Type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin through regular injections or an insulin pump, just to stay alive. Scotland has the third highest incidence of Type 1 diabetes in the world, yet we have a very low pump usage in comparison to other countries in the developed world. Access to insulin pumps can transform the life of those with diabetes, yet here in Renfrewshire access to insulin pumps is limited. I have been proud to support the work of local campaigners such as Rosalind Carr who is the parent of an insulin pump user.
I was pleased to hear that we are now going to see a programme to increase the number of people in Scotland who are being given access to insulin pumps. However concerns remain about the number of pumps that will be available to adults. It’s not clear whether children with pumps will have them renewed when they grow into adulthood. So while progress is being made, the fight still has to continue. If you want more information about the Insulin Pump Awareness Group email contact@ipagscotland.org.

McMaster Centre
I was delighted to read in the Paisley Daily Express that Lottery funding has been awarded to refurbish and re-open the McMaster Centre. Renfrewshire Leisure pulled the plug on the centre, but Mark McGee and a team of local Johnstone people have worked hard to bring this valuable asset back into use. Well done to all those local people who will make sure that this will once again become a well used community resource.

Tax Cuts for Rich
Rupert Murdoch has hinted that he might support Scotland separating from the rest of the UK. And just as he and his company are being vilified for phone tapping and intrusion into the lives of thousands of people, our own Alex Salmond has decided now is the time to cosy up to Rupert. Alex Salmond and Rupert Murdoch recently had a cosy meeting. Now it has emerged that they discussed cutting Corporation Tax for big businesses. Someone who has been close to Rupert Murdoch says that Alex Salmond is giving this serious consideration. So is this the deal? If Alex Salmond cuts Corporation Tax, will Rupert Murdoch and his papers support Alex Salmond’s plans to break up the UK? At a time when public services are being cut and unemployment is rising. Alex Salmond’s priority seems to be tax cuts for the rich. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.   

Curriculum for Excellence worries
Teachers and parents from across Scotland have been contacting me to express fears and concerns about the new exam system which is being introduced along with Curriculum for Excellence. Teachers are telling me that schools are not ready for it, and that preparation for new exams is patchy and varies from authority to authority and even school to school.
The teachers unions, the EIS and SSTA have spoken of their concerns. I raised these concerns with Mike Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, and I was told I was being negative. Why am I being negative when all I am doing is raising concerns of parents and teachers? Surely that is my job?
I asked Alex Salmond if Scotland’s teachers are wrong, and he said “That is not the view of stakeholders throughout Scotland”. Despite what teachers are saying, the Scottish Government says that the new qualifications are on track. Both can’t be right. My concern is for the pupils. We can’t afford to gamble with the future of our children. We need guarantees and if they can’t be given, then the Scottish Government needs to explain what it is going to do.