Tag Archives: SNP

Starmer’s shame: are the many Tory u-turns due to fear of being outflanked… by Nicola Sturgeon?

Starmer and Sturgeon: in opposition to Boris Johnson’s Tories, he trails behind her in every way.

Sam Coates makes a good point in his Sky News article:

There is one common denominator which runs through too many of the U-turns to be ignored, and hints at a bigger neuralgia in government: nervousness about being outflanked by Nicola Sturgeon.

The pattern is easy to see. Tuesday’s mask U-turn came after Scotland’s first minister had also announced schools north of the border would require masks at the start of the week.

Ms Sturgeon abandoned the exam algorithm more than a week before Mr Johnson followed suit.

Free school meals were extended for further months by Ms Sturgeon weeks before Tory MPs joined a coalition forcing ministers to change tack in Westminster.

Masks in shops were required by Ms Sturgeon north of the border for less than a month before Mr Johnson copied that too.

Many of these U-turns by Mr Johnson’s government have been reluctant, angry and preceded by repeated denials that they would happen, maddening Tory MPs that defend the government’s initial position but are then left floundering when Number 10 changes its mind.

It seems the fear in Johnson’s camp is that Sturgeon is offering a better alternative to Scotland – independence – than the Tory government is offering to a United Kingdom with Scotland as a part of it.

And Keir Starmer – the leader of the party that is supposed to be the main opposition to Johnson’s Tories – is nowhere to be seen.

Labour has followed Johnson’s lead on these issues, where it has expressed any opinion at all. It certainly hasn’t offered alternatives in the same way as Sturgeon – even in Scotland.

No wonder public opinion of Scottish Labour is at such a low ebb!

This Writer has no doubt that Labour will continue to trail behind the Scottish National Party in its opposition to the Tories, just as long as Keir Starmer remains party leader; his heart simply isn’t in it.

He is an Establishment figure; he supports activities that maintain the status quo.

That’s why he has abandoned the traditionally “Labour” policies of Jeremy Corbyn in favour of “Tory-lite” policies that – at best – water down the worst excesses of Johnson’s Conservatives.

Johnson is the danger but Starmer is the problem.

As long as Starmer is Labour leader, Johnson – or a similarly harmful Conservative – will sit in Downing Street inflicting harm on the rest of us willy-nilly.

Yes, Sturgeon has been able to put a brake on his stupidities. But there is an election due in Scotland next year, when she is likely to win a huge majority in support of her policies – including secession from the United Kingdom.

And what happens if she succeeds, and Scotland wins its independence?

Who will provide checks and balances against Johnson’s excesses then?

It certainly won’t be Keir Starmer.

Source: Why the government’s many U-turns may be down to nervousness about Sturgeon | Politics News | Sky News

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Universal Credit is increasing debt and failing disabled people, says SNP

Protest: This is still the most appropriate image for the way the benefit system attacks people with disabilities. story below [Image: VoidOne.].

The SNP has renewed calls to make Universal Credit advance payments non-repayable grants instead of loans after new research showed the five week-wait and advance payments under Universal Credit are contributing to financial hardship and debt – particularly for disabled claimants.

The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needs to do more to support vulnerable people and others claiming Universal Credit, revealing that disabled claimants and people on low incomes are more likely to claim advances and have other debts to repay.

Claimants and representative organisations told the NAO that the wait for the first payment contributes to financial hardship and debt, despite the availability of advances.

The SNP said the solution is to turn advance payments into non-repayable grants once the claimant has been deemed eligible for Universal Credit.

This would remove the need to reverse the five-week wait, which the DWP has said would be “operationally challenging”, and minimise the risk of fraud – the reason given by the UK government for not implementing grants instead of loans.

The architect of Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith, has admitted that keeping Universal Credit advance payments as loans instead of grants “is a policy decision, not a structural issue, so whatever the Government decides to do it is wholly feasible to do it.”

“The Chancellor’s statement was a missed opportunity to put building a fairer society at the heart of the recovery, with no measures to put cash in the pockets of those who need it most and lift people out of poverty,” said the SNP’s Neil Gray.

“And the Tories are missing another opportunity to address rising debt issues by refusing to make advance payments grants instead of loans.

“Addressing this issue is not an impossible task, as the SNP and leading anti-poverty organisations have repeatedly made clear by proposing a simple solution. The Tory government’s decision to keep advance payments as loans – which are pushing people into, or further into, debt – instead of making them non-repayable grants is a political decision, and nothing to do with operational or fiscal challenges.

“There is overwhelming support for the UK government to implement our proposal, and with unemployment rising and incomes being cut back, it is more critical than ever that the UK government starts taking serious action to address rising poverty and rising debt.”

According to the NAO Report – “Universal Credit: Getting to first payment” – 80 per cent of claims by low-income households, 67 per cent of claims including someone who has limited capability for work because of a disability or health condition, and 70 per cent of claims including a disabled child had a deduction applied to their first payment to cover advances repayments or other debts. This compares with 61 per cent of all claims.

Around 57 per cent of households making a new claim take a Universal Credit advance payment to help them manage during the five-week waiting period until their first payment.

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Coronavirus: if Spain can introduce a Universal Basic Income, why can’t the UK?

Money: The UK economy has plenty but it goes to the wrong places and people fall through gaps in the system. Can Boris Johnson be persuaded to bring in a Universal Basic Income that is simple and cheap?

This is an important question: the UK has a larger economy than Spain, so why can’t the UK have a Universal Basic Income like Spain?

Instead – at the moment – we have a series of scheme for people in different circumstances, that are both complicated and costly.

UBI would be easier and cheaper.

But the Tory government won’t have it.

Why? Well, the logical answer is because Tories don’t want to supply a steady income to poor people, in a system that they won’t be able to remove again without public outcry, after the coronavirus crisis is over.

They have already said they think it discourages people from seeking work, but this is nonsense; it means people don’t have to take jobs for employers who undervalue the work they do.

Underlying this, we have evidence that Tories simply like to persecute people, and a conditional benefit system makes this possible.

But the SNP’s Ian Blackford is right – the current patchwork of schemes is full of gaps – and people are being left behind.

Spain has said the system it is introducing is an emergency measure – but if successful it would become a permanent instrument to tackle poverty.

Now, why would the Tories want to oppose that?

Source: Government urged to introduce ‘universal basic income’ after Spain move – Welfare Weekly

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Here’s why Corbyn is right to say he’d allow Scotland another independence poll

Good politics: If offering Scots the chance to vote for another independence referendum allows this to happen, then by the time they get to vote, Scots may not want it.

Of course Jeremy Corbyn is right to support the words of his shadow chancellor, and to correct the leader of Scottish Labour. If Scotland wants another independence referendum, it should have one.

The principle behind this is very simple: Westminster should rule England and the other countries of the United Kingdom by consent.

Also, of course, if you’re the Labour leader it doesn’t hurt to offer your colleagues in other political parties – like the SNP, for example – something they want when you’re asking for their help with something you want, like support in a vote of “no confidence” against a Tory leader you both want to remove.

Am I right?

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he believes Westminster should not block a second referendum on Scottish independence, but said he opposed the breakup of the UK.

Corbyn implicitly endorsed remarks by his close ally John McDonnell last week where he said a Labour government would not obstruct a fresh independence vote if there was sufficient support for one in the Scottish parliament.

Holyrood cannot hold a referendum without being given the powers to do so by the UK parliament.

Source: Corbyn: Westminster should not block second Scotland poll | Politics | The Guardian

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Poll drubbing for Tories means nobody in the mainstream media will be talking about it

It’s business as usual next week with Theresa May getting on with Brexit and a plan to cap energy bills – and no mention at all of the fact that her party is now trailing Labour by five points.

According to the BMG poll for The Independent, Labour enjoys the support of 42 per cent of voters, while the Tories can only rely on 37 per cent.

For the Conservative Party, a mid-30s poll rating is the kiss of death – but commentators are predicting that the fall is far from over.

Theresa May’s own problems are, if anything, even worse – she trails Jeremy Corbyn, the man most people had written off as any credible candidate to be prime minister before this year’s general election, by two points.

By the way, in Scotland the situation is even worse for the Tories.

According to YouGov, Labour has leapfrogged the Tories with a five point gain to take second place behind the SNP.

Mr Corbyn has managed to gain exactly the number of popularity points that Mrs May has dropped – 62. He now has a massive 69-point lead on her, north of the border.

Left-wing commentators are already saying if left-wing candidate Richard Leonard wins the Scottish Labour leadership election, the SNP’s days at the top will be numbered … and the number isn’t very high.

So there won’t be any discussion of Scottish polls in the mainstream media either – despite the fact that Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and the SNP’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh were on Robert Peston’s show today (October 8).

Theresa May’s crisis has deepened today with a new poll showing Labour surging ahead of the Conservatives, while the public now also has a clear preference for Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.

The exclusive survey for The Independent by BMG Research now has Labour five points ahead of the Tories, who are still reeling from a coup launched by ex-ministers to overthrow Ms May.

Mr Corbyn, fresh from a conference at which he cemented his position, has a two point lead over Ms May in terms of who the public would prefer to be running the country.

The under-fire PM also faces pressure from the European Union where leaders in France and Germany signalled they would not allow Brexit talks to progress on to trade.

The study by BMG Research gives Labour a four point increase to 42 per cent, while the Conservatives fell two to 37 per cent.

In a separate question on who would make the better Prime Minister, Theresa May fell two points to 30 per cent, while Jeremy Corbyn rose four points to 32 per cent.

Source: Labour pull clear of Tories as new poll shows voters prefer Corbyn over May as PM


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Tories lose six seats on local councils while Labour is resurgent in Scotland

It seems the Tory propaganda machine is grinding to a halt as more and more people turn away from the party.

And the SNP’s strength in Scotland seems to be weakening as Labour regains popularity north of the border:

The Conservatives lost six council seats last night as Labour made major gains in elections across the country.

On a night of misery for Theresa May, her party saw its vote collapse as the public delivered a damning verdict on the performance of her government.

Unusually, no fewer than 14 council seats were up for grabs on a night dubbed ‘Super Thursday’ by political observers.

The Tories have seen the number they held drop from nine to three, while Labour’s total jumped from four to seven.

Remarkably, the Greens also gained two seats – both from the Conservatives. The other Tory seat fell to an independent candidate after their vote collapsed in Golden Valley South, in Herefordshire.

The only piece of good news for the Tories came when they gained a seat from the Lib Dems in Colchester.

There was also good news for Labour in Scotland, where the party gained one council seat from the Conservatives and comfortably held another. In both contests, the SNP’s vote share went down.

Source: Misery for Theresa May as Conservatives lose six seats in local council meltdown | PoliticsHome.com


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Why should Scotland get preferential treatment over the Single Market, compared with the rest of the UK?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale, the liability leading Scottish Labour. No wonder he’s got that look on his face. [Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images].

We should all be wary about news reports featuring Jeremy Corbyn, after The Guardian was caught out peddling fake news about a mythical three-line whip on Article 50.

But this seems authentic. The EU referendum was UK-wide and, while the SNP may consider Scotland to be a separate nation, it isn’t. The decision affects it as much as Cumbria or Cornwall.

What’s really interesting is the thin-skinned response by Nicola Sturgeon to Mr Corbyn’s scathing remarks about the SNP.

“I know that many Scots believe that the best pathway to redress the current situation is via independence. Perhaps this isn’t surprising when problems of unemployment, industrial decline, and exploitation seem so persistent,” he said.

“Yet these are exactly the issues of the north of England, the Midlands and other English regions.” And he said supporting independence “ignores the reality” of political and business power being controlled by “the establishment” in both England and Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon’s reply ignored the substance of his argument and concentrated on an ad hominem attack that had nothing to do with the issue at hand:

Oh, is that right? Or is it just an attempt at distraction from the issues of unemployment, industrial decline and exploitation? I think the latter.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has delivered a blow to Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to keep Scotland in the European single market when the rest of the UK leaves by saying that exiting the market must be “a UK-wide decision”.

Scotland’s first minister has threatened to hold another independence referendum should the UK government ignore her plea to find a way to retain Scotland’s membership of the European trading bloc.

However, at a Scottish Labour event in Glasgow on Friday morning, Corbyn said he will not support a special Scottish deal when it comes to single market membership and will instead argue for “market access” for the whole of the UK.

Source: Corbyn Says Scotland Will Leave The Single Market With The Rest Of The UK – BuzzFeed News

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The SNP government is drifting towards authoritarianism

Stronger for Scotland: The SNP government is heading in an ever more authoritarian direction [Image: politics.co.uk].

I’m publishing quite a long extract from this politics.co.uk article, in anticipation of a knee-jerk backlash from supporters of the SNP.

Nationalist parties tend to be authoritarian, so many of these developments may be no surprise to informed commentators.

But is this really what the people of Scotland thought they were getting when the SNP promised to fight for freedom from the United Kingdom?

It may seem inappropriate to compare the SNP with right-wing nationalist governments in Poland or Hungary. Unfortunately as the Scottish government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, heads in an ever more authoritarian direction, such comparisons are increasingly justified.

Examples of this tendency range from the trivial to the far more serious. Most recently, Donald Trump’s comments about Muslim immigrants, led to calls from the SNP for him to be banned from entering the country as a “hate preacher”. While many may agree with this, the former SNP leader Alex Salmond went one step further. He not only endorsed a ban, but said Scotland should be banning ‘all Donald Trumps’. It reminds me of a nightclub bouncer compiling a list of undesirables who aren’t allowed entry on a Saturday night. It would be interesting to see Salmond’s list of who should and shouldn’t be allowed into the country.

It’s not just differing views which the SNP are uncomfortable with, but differing lifestyles. The Scottish government are currently seeking to ban the sale of cheap alcohol in an attempt to control the behaviour of Scottish drinkers. Unlike the English or Welsh who have resisted such moves, the SNP believe we Scots can’t be trusted with cheap alcohol. The only reason it’s not in force is because the EU court raised concerns about restrictions on free trade.

A more sinister development is the SNP plan for a named person or ‘state guardian’ for every child. This will grant the state unprecedented powers over families. Proponents of the law advocate that it provides a point of contact for families. But the status quo already has various routes for families needing support. The real change is the Scottish Government having arbitrary and intrusive powers into every family in Scotland. Former chairman of Scotland’s Children Panel Advisory Group Joe Knight described it as “an erosion of parental rights and responsibilities.”

The disturbing point is not just that every child will have a named person intervening in their lives, but the SNP presumption that every child needs such a person. On this issue as on many others of personal responsibility, the SNP government is convinced it knows best.

The SNP’s super ID database is even more troubling. It’s not exactly clear how our private information would be monitored under the scheme, but filling in an innocuous form at your local NHS dentist could result in the information being circulated to 120 public bodies, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Privacy campaigners have called on the Scottish government to ditch the scheme, as it will allow widespread data mining and profiling. Tellingly, the proposals are not being treated as primary legislations and are being forced through without parliamentary debate. On this issue as well, the SNP are allowing little dissent.

Arguably, the most authoritarian development of all is the SNP’s passing of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act. Under this law, fans’ behaviour must be monitored in order to see whether it merits an arrest. Yet so broad is the legislation that fans can be questioned and even arrested simply for the clothes they’re wearing, or the songs they’re singing.

The SNP’s approach to Donald Trump and football fans is remarkably similar. Rather than enlighten, persuade or educate, they opt for the lazy illiberal option of simply banning them.

Source: The SNP government is drifting towards authoritarianism

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Tory ‘Bedroom Tax Two’ attacked by Scottish government and opposition parties*

Scottish Communities Minister Angela Constance.

Well, the Tories said they wouldn’t make any more cuts to sickness and disability benefits – they’re going to take the money from housing benefit instead.

The decision will hit not only tenants but landlords and the Scottish Government itself, which may be unable to build 50,000 new social housing units as a result, and will have to pay the costs associated with the expected increase in homelessness.

We have already seen the effect of cuts to Housing Benefit in areas where the failed-before-it-started Universal Credit has been trialled, like Great Yarmouth.

The Conservatives don’t care, of course.

Their only interest is in shrinking the state and handing huge tax rebates to their rich friends who don’t need the money.

Scotland’s government and opposition parties have attacked Whitehall plans for fresh welfare cuts dubbed ‘Bedroom Tax Two’ with one prominent figure the proposals “must be stopped”.

Scottish Government ministers expressed grave concerns over the impact of introducing for the first time caps on help for social housing costs, stating it was already spending £100million annually mitigating against welfare cuts.

Communities minister Angela Constance said plans to cut assistance to those aged under 35 and renting from council and housing association by up to one quarter would “only risk making matters worse for social tenants”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley added: “The Department of Work and Pension proposals must be stopped and we need all parties in the Scottish Parliament to unite to make sure they do not go ahead as planned in 2019.”

Meanwhile, Scotland’s councils have warned the new cap on social housing benefits would have a major adverse effect on their finances amid predictions of spiralling arrears.

From early 2019, the DWP will only pay social tenants the so-called Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

But single tenants under 35 with no children will see their benefits limited to the ‘shared accommodation rate’ (SAR) which is much lower than the average for one-bedroom properties.

It means that a younger tenant in Glasgow who would normally be entitled to £92.06 under the current system, will receive £68.28 in housing benefit.

Source: SNP and Labour unite against Westminster ‘Bedroom Tax Two’ welfare cuts (From HeraldScotland)

*This has been reported as the SNP and Labour uniting to fight the new cut. In fact, it seems they have voiced their opposition separately. The effect is the same but it is important to make the distinction as Labour and the SNP are unlikely to work together on anything.

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SNP MP at centre of missing donations claim withdraws from party whip


Natalie McGarry has become the second SNP member of Parliament to resign the party whip amid allegations of corruption.

Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson withdrew from the party whip in September when it emerged that Police Scotland was investigating 13 property deals to which she was linked. Thomson has denied any wrongdoing.

Critics of the party have been quick to point this out.

Here’s a tweet from Owain Gardner: “At this rate we’ll be back at Salmond being the only SNP member by 2020.”

Pro-UK Scottish blogger Effie Deans took a darker tone: “We now have two SNP MPs who have resigned the whip because of alleged corruption, but in today’s Scotland we must keep silent about it.”

Now, why would that be?

The SNP MP at the centre of allegations that tens of thousands of pounds in donations may be missing from the pro-independence campaign group she helped to set up has withdrawn from the party whip but insists she is determined to clear her name.

Natalie McGarry said that she had taken the step in the best interests of the party and the constituents of Glasgow East who voted for her. According to the party’s constitution, it will lead to automatic suspension from the SNP.

In a statement issued on her behalf on Tuesday evening, McGarry’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “She maintains she has done nothing wrong but is conscious that the events of the last 48 hours are distracting from the job she was elected to do on behalf of the SNP. She has a proud record as a principled activist and states she is determined to clear her name.”

Questions have been raised about the role played by McGarry after Women for Independence (WFI) contacted the police on Sunday night because they believed substantial amounts were missing from the group’s donation income.

The Guardian understands it has been alleged that McGarry was the only person with access to the PayPal account used by WFI to collect the donations and from which it is believed the alleged discrepancies have arisen.

Source: SNP MP at centre of missing donations claim withdraws from party whip | Politics | The Guardian

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