10 Jun 2013

Paisley Daily Express - 10 June 2013

Low Tax Scotland

So it’s official. If the SNP manages to separate Scotland from the rest of the U.K., Scotland will become a tax haven for multi national corporations. Alex Salmond has confirmed that after separation, Corporation Tax will be 3% lower in Scotland than whatever the rate is in England. This no doubt would be warmly welcomed by Amazon, Starbucks, Google and the rest who don’t pay their fair share just now. With Alex Salmond they will pay even less. At the same time, Alex Salmond says we will have Scandinavian levels of public services. So who exactly will pay for these services if Amazon and the rest are paying less? It’s just another example of Alex Salmond and the SNP saying whatever you want to hear, even though it doesn’t stack up. You will be promised heaven on earth if you vote for separation. Unfortunately in the cold light of dawn, it would be ordinary hard working Scots who would have to pay the price.

ScotRail Grants

It was good to read that ScotRail had launched a £100,000 fund to help communities across Scotland. The ScotRail Foundation will distribute grants to groups that support children or young people, and/or improve the environment or general health of communities. Priority will be given to communities that have a local station at the heart of their activities. The grants will be from £250 to £5,000. And that’s good news for Renfrewshire. Apart from the Paisley stations, I have two stations in Johnstone and one each in Barrhead and Neilston. If you know of a group in your area which might benefit, go to www.scotrail.co.uk/betterwaytobe or contact Foundation Scotland on 0141 341 4960.

Enough Food for Everyone IF

Many constituents have contacted me about the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. Tonight 1 in 8 people across the word will go to bed hungry despite there being food in the world for everyone. As the campaign says, it’s unfair, it’s unjust, and it’s totally preventable. I was pleased to pledge my support to the campaign at an event in the Scottish Parliament. Sure we need international action to make a real difference and I want the UK government to push hard on this. But we can also make a difference locally. We do need to educate our children, but my experience in talking to local school children, is that they are way ahead of adults on issues like trade justice and fair trade. Organisations like Rainbow Turtle in Paisley have championed this for years. I’ve spoken to Councillor Mark Macmillan about this and I’m pleased that he backs the campaign. Don’t leave it to others. You can play your part. Go to www.enoughfoodif.org.

Zero hours contracts

It’s a disgrace that some employers are trying hard to erode the gains made for working people by the trade union movement. Some employers demand that workers should agree to be available for work although they have no guaranteed hours. They want to use workers for a few hours when needed and then have no responsibility to pay them for the rest of the week. It’s not part time work because in some weeks the hours can be almost full time, while on other weeks you might have virtually nothing. I remember a story from a couple of years ago when Amazon in Gourock told night shift staff in the middle of the night, there was no work for them and they would not be paid. Those who didn’t have a car or money for a taxi, had to wait for the first bus of the day to get home. The number of 16-24 year old on zero hours contracts has doubled during the recession. And now one of Alex Salmond’s Ministers has told the Scottish Parliament that “some people will choose to undertake zero hours contracts because they want and need that flexibility for their life.” What a disgrace. I don’t know any young person who prefers that uncertainty. SNP Ministers don’t have a zero hours contract, so why should young Scottish workers?