19 Mar 2013

Paisley Daily Express - 18 March 2013

Votes for 16 and 17-year-olds
Last week the SNP Government published its plans to give 16 and 17-year-olds a vote in the referendum about Scotland leaving the United Kingdom. There are many arguments for and against giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote. After all if they are old enough to marry or join the Army, should they not be old enough to vote? On the other hand we don’t allow 16 and 17-yea- olds to buy alcohol or tobacco, so what’s the difference? And from the feedback I am getting some students have mixed feelings about the responsibility they are being given.in the vote for independence because there is no turning back. What I can’t understand is why this is being rushed through for the referendum rather than having a sensible debate and if agreed, applying the change to all elections. What’s worse is that because of the cack handed way the Scottish Government is doing this, not all 16 and 17-yearolds will be registered in time to be entitled to vote. This is a disgrace. But why should I be surprised at the way Alex Salmond is handling this?

More SNP Porkies
Two weeks ago newspapers reported on a confidential paper produced for the Scottish Government. The leaked report showed for the first time what SNP Ministers were discussing in private, and it was completely different from what they were saying in pubic to you and me. For the first time they admitted that if Scotland left the UK, cuts to pensions might be possible. Advice given to the SNP by their own civil servants questions whether a separate Scotland could even afford the state pension. They admitted that there might have to be cuts to public services, and they admitted that their budget plans were based on oil revenues; that these were volatile and that production would eventually decline. The SNP Government rightly took a hammering in the media. Then low and behold, as if by magic, SNP Ministers last week produced a report which said “no problem.” Oil prices would stay high and there is more oil to be had than all the experts predicted. This is desperate stuff and shows the length to which Alex Salmond will go to con people into supporting him in the referendum.

Wear it with pride
Here in Renfrewshire we are blessed with two high quality hospices in St Vincent’s and ACCORD and we are lucky to have them on our doorstep. There are, however, other groups across Scotland that run hospices and provide free end of life care for people with terminal illnesses in their homes. I was pleased to meet and talk to nurses and staff from Marie Curie and learn more about the work carried out by the charity in communities all over the country when they visited the Scottish Parliament. I was happy to wear one of the charity’s pins in support of the annual Great Daffodil Appeal which boosts the vital donations they need to keep helping more people. You too can help by wearing a daffodil pin in March. If you want to speak to a Marie Curie Nurse, just ask your GP or district nurse or for more information visit www.mariecurie.org.uk.

A whole lotta cash
I was delighted to hear that two groups in my Constituency had scooped some cash aid from the Big Lottery Fund and if your organisation is struggling financially it’s worth taking a look at the funding available. You might just qualify and be quids in like the 2nd Johnstone Boys Brigade who won a grant of £1000. They’re going to use the money to organise a residential weekend to get more young people involved in physical activity. Well done to Mr John Young, of  Falcon Road, Johnstone for his successful bid. Kids at Lochwinnoch Playgroup will benefit from a whopping £9950 from the Big Lottery Fund. The money will benefit children who have outgrown the local mothers and toddlers group but are not yet old enough to go to nursery. It will pay for things like playworkers, hall rental, outdoor equipment and toys, garden tools and plants, trips, food and drinks, craft materials, indoor toys and stationery. Congratulations to Dr Daniela Sime, Lochwinnoch who made the application.