• Disabled people are in the Tories' iron grip but we can't give them a free hand

    2013-03-27_daily_record_thumbnail.jpgTheresa May doesn’t get out much. It’s too risky these days – she might bump into a real person.

    Which is exactly what happened in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, when “Cathy”, a woman with learning disabilities, confronted the imperious PM.

    Cathy’s income was cut when she was moved from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment.

    She is not alone. Hundreds of thousands are being hurt across the UK as a result of Tory cuts to social security. Many are disabled people.

    In Scotland, the Tory UK government will have cut £1billion a year from welfare spend by 2022 – with £0.25billion coming through changes introduced last month alone.

    May had no answer for Cathy. That’s because these cuts to the most vulnerable are indefensible.

  • Anyone planning their retirement should be worried about the Tory government's plans

    Is your pension safe with Theresa May?

    All the evidence suggests OAPs, or anyone planning retirement, should worry about a Tory government.

    Their track record on pensions is terrible – before you even consider the threatened broken promise on the so-called “triple lock”.

    It’s their disgraceful treatment of “WASPI” women born in the 50s.

    It’s the plummeting value of UK pensions under the Tories, compared with other countries.

    It’s the lies the Tories told when promising retirees a superior new “flat-rate” pension.

  • SNP runs public services while Tories run them down in a tale of two governments

    It’s time to revisit the tale of two governments – the Government in London led by Theresa May’s Tories and the Government in Edinburgh led by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

    By any comparison in the tale of two governments, the SNP administration are head and shoulders ahead – despite the Tories cutting Scotland’s budget by almost £3billion over a decade.

    Remember that when the Tories come knocking on your door, attacking the SNP record on health and education.

    Their own is much worse.

  • One trick pony Tories are heading for a fall with their focus on independence

    “I have been inundated today from friends really fed up with letters about independence...” So one candidate for the forthcoming council elections has said.

    His complaint was not aimed at the SNP, who are campaigning purely on local service issues – including our commitment to double the hours of free childcare.

    No. This was aimed at the Conservatives, whose entire council election campaign swings on the constitution.

    The frustrated comment about the Tories’ union obsession was made by one of their own. The councillor in question is Dennis Male, formerly the Tory member for Langholm, Dumfriesshire, in the heart of the ­constituency of David Mundell, Scotland’s only Tory MP.

  • Scotland must seize chance to reject the well-oiled Tory machine in general election or we will pay

    Perpetual Tory Government. Hell on earth. Eternal damnation in a bottomless pit of austerity.

    This is what Theresa May’s announcement means for Scotland... unless, of course, we tell her now is not the time.

    The vicar’s daughter didn’t mention fire and brimstone when she stood outside Downing Street and revealed that she’d been lying all along when she repeatedly said there would be no general election.

    She even made a false confession to the sainted Andrew Marr, for God’s sake. Maybe breaking the ninth commandment about bearing false witness (telling fibs) doesn’t count on telly.

    There was no reference to all those earlier lies in her announcement yesterday. There was no devil in the detail at all. It was just a great yawning, hypocrisy-defining U-turn.

  • The Tories fire insults at Madrid while grovelling to the distant and hateful regime in Saudi Arabia

    “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves, Britons never shall be slaves!”

    This ultra-patriotic ditty was written by an arch Scottish unionist to celebrate a British victory over Spain.

    So it seemed ripe for re-examination, given the rumblings regarding Gibraltar and the escalating lunacy of Tory Brexiteers, of both the born again and fundamentalist variety.

    As tunes go, it’s an oldie – but a baddie. A nasty anthem for Brexit and the brand of aggressive unionism promoted by Theresa May and Ruth Davidson.

    There is a strand of British nationalism that is as hostile to Scotland as it is to Spain, or indeed any country that doesn't bow at the feet of Britannia.

    It is defined by arrogance, a sense of entitlement and a determination to dominate.

  • Scotland should not need PM's permission to hold IndyRef2

    The Scottish Parliament have spoken. The Scottish people should be allowed to speak.

    That is what the democratic tradition of Scotland dictates.

    If Theresa May has an ounce of respect for our Parliament, our people, our traditions and our democracy, she will take heed.

    The vote yesterday in the Scottish Parliament to hold another referendum on our country’s future should make that happen.

    Many readers will wonder why the final say lies elsewhere. Why is it Westminster, where Scottish MPs are outnumbered and repeatedly outvoted by English Tories, who get the final say on whether we have a referendum?

    Why do we need their “permission”?

  • Why GERS figures may not be all they seem - and who we should listen to

    Next time someone tells you Scotland has a £15billion deficit, throw three words at them: Professor Richard Murphy.

    The influential professor of ­practice in international political economy at City University of London made his name exposing the way big companies avoid paying tax – and the ineffectiveness of governments in collecting tax.

    He is a chartered accountant who has succeeded in sexing up his subject with his book The Joy of Tax.

    This month he turned his ­attention to Scotland and in ­particular claims that the country has a £15billion deficit and is too poor to be an independent country.

    The claim was absurd even before Professor Murphy challenged it this month. This is why:

    1. The Scottish Government balance the books each year because the Government do not borrow – so it is entirely “notional” or paper-based, a guesstimate.

  • Why Westminster does not work for Scotland

    Westminster does not work for Scotland.

    That is something we must all remember as we make ready for another vote on our people’s future.

    This is not about Europe. The EU referendum was just the trigger.

    It is about democracy and the complete and utter failure of the current UK state to treat Scotland as an equal partner.

    In a “successful union” or even a “precious union”, one partner does not ride roughshod over the other partner’s wishes.

    There’s supposed to be give and take. There’s been no give by Theresa May since 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain in Europe.

  • Farcical Brexiteers attempting to relive the days of the Raj are ludicrous

    Carry On up the Khyber was a silly spoof of the British Empire.

    It seemed hopelessly dated – till this week when it emerged the deluded Tories want to revive the glory days when one in five of the world’s people bowed to Britannia.

    In the 1969 film, Queen Victoria’s Indian governor Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond (Sid James) and the 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment (The Devils in Skirts) enter a farcical battle with the Khasi of Khalabar (Kenneth Williams).

    What the Devils wore beneath their kilts is a key theme of the, ahem, “plot”.

    But at least this nonsense parodied the Raj. The Tories Brexit process is turning into one long Carry On Film.

    The UK have a cunning new plan called “Empire 2.0”. It comes on the back of the ludicrous idea of rebuilding the Royal Yacht Britannia to help negotiate trade deals – presumably so that Boris Johnson can abseil down the main brace.

  • Labour councils proved that tax freeze was a great policy by rejecting chance to get rid of it

    Duplicity, effrontery... utter desperation. There are many ways to describe the backward roll Labour has performed on the council tax freeze. None are particularly complimentary.

    A year ago some Labour councils threatened to take the Scottish government to court to end the freeze, claiming it imposed a nuclear winter on the land hurt local services.

    This year they had the option to sweep it away, but a clutch of councils have chosen to continue it.

    Worse, these councils, such as South Lanarkshire, Aberdeen and Inverclyde have shouted the loudest against the freeze and complain most loudly about their budget allocation from the Scottish Government.

    The SNP council tax freeze was one of the most popular policies ever pursued by a government, so it was par for the course that Labour politicians hated it. No surprise there.

    They haven’t exactly had their finger on the pulse of popular opinion in recent times. Under previous Labour governments in Scotland the council tax rose by up to 60 per cent, plunging many households into crisis.

  • Scots feel betrayed after Brexit lies

    Are you a Scot who voted leave in the EU referendum? That puts you in a minority north of the border. But take heart, because you have never been more in demand – at least with the Tories.

    None of them can make a speech these days without mentioning you.

    Likely you are embarrassed by all the attention, I don’t blame you. The reasons you voted leave are beginning to fall apart.

    Let’s revisit them.

  • The last thing the Act of Union needs is a reboot

    The Act of Union never had a great rep in Scotland. So why on earth is Kezia Dugdale demanding another one?

    When it was signed, abolishing the Scottish Parliament in 1707, there were riots in the streets 
    of Edinburgh and other Scottish towns.

    The pro-union writer Daniel Defoe, who was working as an English spy in Scotland, admitted that for every person who supported the union “99 were against it”.

    It later transpired that even those who had backed it only did so because they were bribed.

    Robert Burns dismissed them as a “Parcel of Rogues in a nation” who were “bought and sold for English gold”.

    The parcel of rogues insult was later thrown at Scottish Labour when they campaigned beside the Tories in the independence referendum of 2014. The insult stuck.

    Labour’s vote subsequently melted like snow aff a dyke. Now Kezia is charged with the unenviable task of making the party relevant again in Scotland. This, surely, isn’t the way.

  • Scotland needs a bespoke immigration system to bolster our dwindling population

    Remember the millennium – an era of apocalyptic warnings?

    Some were overblown – such as the millennium computer bug that didn’t bite. But some were real.

    In Scotland, there was talk of a “demographic timebomb”. Too few babies were being born to replace people who died or left.

    Our population was predicted to fall below the totemic five million figure. Worse still, the number of working-age people was set to plummet – threatening our economy.

    The problem was so acute Jack McConnell, the former Labour first minister, set up a scheme to attract more migrants. It was called Fresh Talent.


  • Sickening sex attack on Tracie Aldridge shows we need to change attitude to consent

    Tracie Aldridge is a brave young woman.

    She gave up her anonymity after being sexuality assaulted.

    Worse, the attack was filmed. Like many people reading yesterday’s Daily Record account of her ordeal, I felt totally sickened.

    Tracie was sexually assaulted, as she slept, by Jordan Binnie, who had a history of violence. He got a 12-month sentence. The attack was filmed by Fraser Anderson who then posted it on the internet.

    He was convicted of a breach of the peace charge and, unlike Binnie, will not be placed on the sex offenders register.

    The Record reported that Tracie felt so humiliated she had to give up her job. I could well understand if it affected her health.

  • Don't play us for fools Theresa May... Scotland has a big red X on our back because of Trident

    Whoops! Apocalypse was ­probably one of the most surreal pieces of TV ever made.

    Shown in the early 1980s at the height of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union, it ­imagined a world where a nuclear holocaust happens by accident.

    Missiles are triggered by ­malfunctioning Space Invaders machines and the next thing you know, the end of the world is nigh.

    There is a number of sub-plots, including an intellectually ­challenged American president whose advisers believe they have a direct line to God… so maybe it wasn’t that far from reality after all.

    Whoops! Apocalyse did not end well. But more than three decades and several technological ­revolutions later, its absurdist nightmare doesn’t look quite so absurd any more.

    This week we learned that a Trident missile “misfired” during a test and careered towards the coast of America before being forced to self destruct at sea.

  • Confused Theresa May casts Britain adrift ... straight into a crisis

    Theresa May got one thing right in her speech.

    “More trade means more jobs” she said towards the end. But she had just made clear that Britain was leaving the single market, and ­probably the customs union too.

    That means less trade and less jobs. The single market eliminates ALL barriers to trade.

    It ensures member countries follow the same rules to prevent undercutting – something enforced by the European Court of Justice, which May ­will ditch.

    The Fraser of Allander Institute have already said the loss of trade from leaving the single market will cost the UK 80,000 jobs and reduce the value of wages by £2000 if there is a “hard Brexit.”

    The speech made clear the Tories are headed that way – into a wall. Don’t be fooled by data suggesting the economy is doing better than feared. Brexit hasn’t happened yet.

  • Don't cut lifeline to the world's poorest and keep giving overseas aid

    Charity begins at home is the most over-used – and abused – cliche of all time.

    Its original meaning – be kind to your family – is spot on.

    But too often, it’s used to attack spending on overseas aid by right-wing politicians.

    Fortunately, it’s not something we see a lot of in Scotland.

    Today, the Scottish Parliament debates a refreshed international development strategy.

    I hope the plan gets the cross-party support it has enjoyed in the past.

  • Westminster must grant Scotland the powers to remain in the European Union

    FRAMED by the elegant backdrop of Bute House, before the world’s media, the First Minister yesterday made a cogent, impassioned plea for the next best option.

    We all know her first choice for Scotland is independence. But yesterday she set her own feelings aside to protect Scotland’s economic prospects in the face of Brexit.

    She argued for a compromise with fiery conviction.

    As another European leader, the 19th century German chancellor Otto Von Bismark, said: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.”

  • Public are too smart to fall for Tory deception and Labour incompetence on Scotland's budget

    Derek Mackay has enjoyed a sparkling career at Holyrood. Elected in 2011 aged just 34, he quickly became a minister.

    Now he holds the nation’s purse strings as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, presenting his first budget this week.

    He’s popular, capable and thoroughly deserves his success. But I wouldn’t want his job for the world.

    Derek holds the strings to a purse that has shrunk.

    This isn’t a mere debating point. A recent report by Strathclyde University’s economics research unit, The Fraser of Allander Institute, said Scotland’s budget is now five per cent lower “in real terms” than 2010.

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