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.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has written to the Scottish Government’s transport minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, following her latest meeting with the local transport activists behind the campaign to Dual the A75.
The MSP sent the letter to share her constituents’ transport priorities ahead of updates to important policy.
Ms McAlpine commented:
“I wrote to the transport minister because I wanted to highlight local ambitions for the A75 in the current context of the Regional Transport Strategy update by SWestrans, the National Transport Strategy, and Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR).
A new home has been found for the Queen Street planters, following the intervention of MSP Joan McAlpine.
Lack of community engagement over the placing of the planters prompted a backlash from Queen Street residents last month and the MSP successfully lobbied the Council for their removal.
Hearing of the row, Ivor Gott from Sandside Community Garden project contacted the MSP to offer their garden as a suitable home for the planters.
After a few phone-calls between the MSP’s office, the Council and Sustrans it was agreed and the planters have been delivered and taken pride of place in the garden.
McAlpine highlights detrimental effect of UK Government VAT on town centre as Scottish minister confirms Dumfries visit
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine took to the parliamentary chamber last week to ask the Scottish Government about the impact of UK Government VAT on town centre regeneration.
Ms McAlpine was highlighting the issue ahead of next week’s visit to Dumfries by the Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart MSP.
In her question, Ms McAlpine asked “Does the government agree with me that the UK Government’s insistence on charging full VAT for the restoration of buildings while new builds are zero-rates is having a detrimental impact on efforts to regenerate town centres?”
Responding, Mr Stewart agreed it was “a logical conclusion” that the regeneration of older properties, such as those which dominate in Dumfries town centre, would benefit from zero VAT.
South Scotland SNP MSP Ms McAlpine has praised the Muckle Toon’s rail campaign following Monday’s meeting in Langholm.
Ms McAlpine attended the meeting alongside Sylvia Moffat, the SNP’s candidate for Annandale East and Eskdale in May’s local council elections.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“There was a great turnout for the meeting.
“Langholm folk have achieved a great deal for the community in recent years, but they aren’t for resting on their laurels.
“Everyone at the meeting was really enthusiastic about the potential of a rail connection. From the start the campaigners have worked really professionally and positively to progress their vision for Getting Langholm Back on Track.”
Theresa May is undemocratic in forcing a hard Brexit on Scotland and denying its people a choice on their future MSP Joan McAlpine has said.
The MSP was commenting as the Tory Prime Minister rejected calls for a second independence referendum prior to Britain’s exit from the EU.
Earlier in the week Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she would seek parliamentary approval to begin discussions with the UK government on an independence vote.
The First Minister said that the Westminster government has been guilty of “sheer intransigence” in the face of Scottish Government attempts to find a compromise that recognised Scotland’s 62% vote to remain in the EU
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.
MSP Joan McAlpine met with campaigners pushing to re-open Thornhill station.
The station closed in 1965, and the Thornhill Station Action Group think re-opening it boost local employment prospects, stop the ‘brain-drain’ from the town and have a positive impact on the environment.
At the meeting, Ms McAlpine advised the group to put a submission in to the Scottish Government’s consultation on refreshing the National Transport Strategy.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today (Wednesday) met with senior managers from retailer Next in the Scottish Parliament to discuss their plans for Dumfries.
The meeting was arranged by Ms McAlpine after she wrote to Next to raise concerns around their proposed relocation from the Loreburne Centre to an out of town retail park.
Commenting following the meeting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I made the case for staying in the town centre and explained the exciting local plans to encourage more people to live and work in Dumfries town centre through community-led housing projects.
“I asked Next if they would reconsider their decision to relocate if there was more flexibility in their lease. As things stand, Next need to make a lease decision for the next ten years - and due to the sales decline they’re experiencing they say simply cannot do that.”
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on constituents across Dumfries and Galloway to claim the benefits that they are entitled to, following the launch of a Scottish Government awareness campaign.
Throughout Scotland, it was estimated that there were over 500,000 cases of individuals or families not claiming the tax credits and other main income-related benefits they were entitled to in 2014-15 – and the campaign seeks to correct this by raising awareness through a week of radio and press adverts.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“It is vitally important that families and individuals get the support that they are entitled to and the support that they need – and I encourage everyone across Dumfries and Galloway to check what support that can receive through the social security system.
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.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the latest figures from the Scottish Government showing an increase in the number of Dumfries and Galloway school leavers going on to “positive destinations”.
In 2015-16, 94.6% of Dumfries and Galloway’s school leavers went on to “positive destinations” such as education or employment – an increase of 1.5% in the past year, and up 6.7% since 2011-12.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine said:
“The SNP Government has made education its number one priority in this parliament and is committed to improving education standards in our schools and giving our young people the best opportunities in life.
“Schools across Dumfries and Galloway are benefitting from this commitment and are making excellent progress in helping our young people have the best chances in life. Additional spending in the budget and the funding to close the attainment gap will go further still to helping more young people from Dumfries and Galloway find positive destinations after leaving school.
“I’m delighted to see 94.6% of school leavers in Dumfries and Galloway now going to positive destinations such as employment, training, university or college after leaving school. This shows the continued progress the SNP Scottish Government is making to give young people across Dumfries and Galloway the best start in life.”
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed new figures which show the SNP has supported 7000 Modern Apprenticeships in Dumfries and Galloway in ten years of Government.
Commenting ahead of this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the MSP highlighted a 58.4% increase in Modern Apprenticeships in Dumfries and Galloway compared to 2007.
Ms McAlpine also welcomed an announcement by the First Minister that businesses in Dumfries and Galloway who want to take on an apprentice will be eligible to apply for a Rural Supplement.
MSP Joan McAlpine has secured a meeting with Next bosses.
The SNP MSP wrote to the retailer last month after rumours arose that a move to an out of town unit was being considered.
Ms McAlpine will meet with the Regional and Area Managers this Wednesday (8th March) in Holyrood.
Next is responsible for much of the footfall in the town centre and Ms McAlpine hopes that a recent rates revaluation, which has slashed the store’s business rates, will encourage them to commit to the town centre.
Joan McAlpine is calling on people across the region to sign up and help shape Scotland’s new social security system – with the Scottish Government seeking to learn from the experiences of those currently using the service
At least 2,000 people with experience of the current social security system are being recruited to help shape Scotland’s new system – allowing the Scottish Government to learn from mistakes made in the past. The panels will work with the expert advisory group on disability and carers’ benefits.
The SNP MSP said it marks an important step on the Scottish Government’s plans to build a social security system based on dignity and respect.
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.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has hit back over Oliver Mundell’s “shameless posturing” following his speech on the Scottish budget.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“Oliver Mundell wants to tax less and spend more – and the sums simply don’t add up.
“And while the Tories are demanding income tax cuts for the wealthiest, if they were in power they would impose stealth taxes such as prescription charges and forcing students to pay fees and of course the bedroom tax. The Tories have also raised VAT. Is this helping “the most vulnerable in our society”?”
MSP Joan McAlpine has hit out at the Labour administration’s ‘rank hypocrisy’ by criticising Council Tax rises after campaigning for years against the SNP's freeze.
The charge comes on the back of a press release where Leader Ronnie Nicholson says rate rises in higher band properties are ‘not their doing’ and they are only following Scottish Government orders.
Labour nationally wanted larger increases in Council Tax than the SNP and even argued for a domestic property revaluation along the lines of the one currently affecting business rates. This was rejected by the SNP.
Labour’s Council Tax plans would have seen a rise across the board – and was firmly rejected by voters last May.
The SNP government changes mean rates paid by those in Bands E, F, G and H will be adjusted, raising an extra £100 million. This will stay with the Councils where it is raised.
MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging constituents to voice their opinions about the current common good set up.
Last week, the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee launched a call for written evidence as part of its scrutiny of common good property and funds in Scotland.
Ms McAlpine wants people across the region to let them know their views on whether common good property and funds are managed well and in the interests of local people.
Commenting, the SNP MSP said:
“Common good lands and funds are an important part of the community in many places across the region.
“But there has been poor management and record keeping by Councils over the years, and an outdated legal framework has not helped.
“The Scottish Government have made progress over the past few years to try and modernise the framework and get the system back up to scratch and working for the benefit of locals.
Joan McAlpine visited Applegarth Primary last Friday to speak about her role as an MSP.
The pupils from Applegarth and Hutton Primary Schools have been learning about democracy, the Scottish Parliament and how it affects their lives.
The MSP explained the different aspects of her job in Parliament and in the constituency and enjoyed answering a range of questions from the children - from her favourite food, to the best part of her job.
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.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has challenged local Labour and Tory politicians to back the SNP Scottish Government’s support for jobs, wages and public services in Dumfries and Galloway, in Stage 3 of the budget debate this week.
Even under extreme budgetary pressure from Westminster – the Scottish Government’s budget will benefit Dumfries and Galloway with £5.1 million in funding for local services.
Joan McAlpine MSP has condemned Labour and the Tories for choosing to oppose investment in communities throughout Dumfries and Galloway.
MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Next urging them to reconsider a move to an out of town retail park.
The SNP MSP has also asked for a meeting with bosses.
Ms McAlpine hopes that a recent rates revaluation, which has slashed the store’s business rates, will encourage the store to commit to the town centre.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“The store is so important to Dumfries town centre and the council's planning policy is supposed to promote the town centre first.
“I am asking for a meeting with Next to urge them to reconsider. The substantial reduction in business rates due to the revaluation should encourage them to reconsider such a move. But I also want to see what else they require in order to stay.
"There has been a lot of buzz about regenerating the town centre in recent years, with organisations such as the Stove putting forward bold plans for housing, recent rebranding of the Loreburne Centre and measures in place from the Scottish Government to encourage investment.
“There has been such hard work going into regenerating the town centre in recent years, and this would be a huge blow.
“I hope that we can find a way forward.”
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is calling on Dumfries and Galloway Council to apply for a share of the Scottish Government’s £11m fund to deliver energy efficiency improvements to homes, businesses and public buildings and community projects.
The second wave of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) pilot fund will help local authorities test new and innovative energy-saving approaches which can then be taken forward when SEEP is rolled out fully in 2018, once the Scotland Bill brings further devolution of energy efficiency powers.
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.
An MSP has written to the Council and Sustrans to request the removal of planters which recently appeared on Queen Street.
Joan McAlpine also raised concerns about the lack of community engagement on the issue.
The MSP was approached by constituents who are very unhappy with the large planters that have been installed.
The SNP member has been very supportive of the efforts to improve the amenity of the area, however, expressed concern that the community had not been consulted in this instance.
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.
MSP Joan McAlpine joined local stakeholders as the SNP Scottish Government hosted a jobs summit in Langholm on Friday.
The summit was called after Ms McAlpine contacted Ministers about the recent spate of job losses in the town.
Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse stressed the need for economic development agencies to be clearer about what help was available for small businesses - and that the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will play a vital role in helping Langholm going forward.
The Minister called on local stakeholders to outline what help they felt the town needed and said solutions must be community led with local businesses playing their part.
MSP Joan McAlpine received a ‘prickly’ welcome during a visit to the South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital last week.
But the MSP was not phased - as the offender was little Harvey the hedgehog. Harvey is just one of many hedgehogs who need a little extra help from the staff at the animal hospital over the winter months.
The MSP was there to find out about the great work that the staff do for all the animals that come through their doors.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said communities across Dumfries and Galloway are set to benefit from an additional £5.114 million in funding for local services as a result of the Scottish Government’s budget passing Stage 1 this evening (Thursday).
Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems meanwhile failed to support the additional investment – including local Labour councillor and MSP Colin Smyth who voted against the budget, even though it will result in extra funding for his own council.
Ms McAlpine has condemned the approach taken by the three parties, providing opposition for opposition’s sake rather than supporting investment in Dumfries and Galloway.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is asking constituents to let her know their views on Dumfries and Galloway Council’s second Local Development Plan (LDP2).
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I am asking my constituents to share their views on the council’s new Local Development Plan. The plan is important because it sets out how and where land and property will be used in Dumfries and Galloway over the next twenty years, namely where development should and should not take place. In practical terms, the plan takes in everything from strategic decisions about access to public transport, the location of wind farms, expansion of retail parks, development of housing in Dumfries town centre or attracting business to the former Chapelcross site.
“The council has produced a Main Issues Report (MIR) focussing on key changes since the last plan and highlighting ideas for future development. This report is going out to consultation - meaning everyone has an opportunity to tell the council how they want our communities to grow and develop in future.
“I intend to make my a submission to the consultation - but I want to hear my constituents’ views first. Your feedback will help inform my response and ensure it accurately reflects the aspirations of my constituents.”
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that schools in Dumfries and Galloway will benefit from a funding boost of £2,881,200 as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to improve standards in schools.
The share each school is due to receive from the Scottish Government’s new £120 million Pupil Equity Fund has been revealed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
Ninety-two primaries and sixteen secondaries across Dumfries and Galloway are set to receive additional support worth thousands of pounds. It will be up to teachers and school leaders to decide the best way of using the funding to close the poverty related attainment gap in their schools.
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.
An MSP has been praised by local plastics recycling firm BPI after her intervention forced a re-think on environmental policy - securing jobs in the region against competition from Ireland.
The SNP’s Joan McAlpine was approached for help by Mike Baxter, Director of External Affairs at BPI Dumfries, who was pressing SEPA to strengthen the enforcement of regulations banning farmers from burning plastics.
Mike said: “I have been trying since 2012 to persuade SEPA to ensure Scottish farmers ‘do the right thing’ and recycle their waste. It is only since Joan’s intervention last year that we are at last making progress.”
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.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has condemned the UK Government for withholding details of a serious malfunction in a Trident test launch last June – just weeks before the vote to renew Trident to the tune of £205bn.
It has been widely reported that during a test launch, an unarmed Trident missile had fired in the wrong direction towards the US coastline.
The major failure was not shared publicly ahead of the vote on Trident renewal.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“It is deeply worrying that just weeks before the House of Commons voted to renew Trident, the UK government chose to withhold vital information about a serious Trident missile malfunction that raises doubts about the safety of the technology.
“It’s worth pointing out that Dumfries and Galloway would be inside the “kill zone” if there was an accident involving Trident at Faslane or Coulport.
By Joan McAlpine
What Scotland Thinks should be read by all decision makers.
A total of 150 organisations and individuals took the trouble to submit their views, some technical and exhaustively researched, others speaking from the heart or from direct experience, to the Scottish Parliament's Committee for Culture Tourism, Europe and External Relations. They were responding to a call for evidence in our enquiry into The EU Referendum and its Implications for Scotland. Parliamentary Committees do not regularly publish a comprehensive synopsis of evidence such as this. But when people take the trouble to engage with politicians, they deserve to have their voices heard. The Scottish Parliament's committee system was established to enhance political engagement and to allow citizens the best possible access to their elected representatives. Brexit: What Scotland Thinks demonstrates how enthusiastic the public, business and civic society is to engage with MSPs on an issue with far reaching implications for Scotland and the people who live and work here.
The overwhelming majority of the submissions expressed concern at the uncertainty caused by the referendum result. By and large, Scotland thinks Brexit is bad for the economy and investment, bad for business and workers' rights, bad for the environment, education and health. It is also bad for people. There was considerable anxiety expressed about the future of EU nationals living in Scotland - for their personal security and the contribution them make to our economy and society.
Labour’s learning support crisis under spotlight as Cabinet Secretary restates council responsibilities
Dumfries and Galloway Labour Council must meet its responsibilities to additional classroom support for children who need it, Scotland’s education boss has told parliament.
John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, was commenting on the decision of the Labour council to further reduce the number of classroom assistants in the region’s schools despite a reported 60% increase in children who need additional support.
He was responding to a question from South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine who has expressed her deep concern at the crisis of additional support across the region.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed an announcement by the Scottish Government announcement that Dumfries and Galloway is set to receive ten additional teachers or graduates as part of an additional £1.5 million investment for more nursery teachers and graduates.
The new staff in Dumfries and Galloway, part of 435 nationwide, is part of the wider strategy of tackling the attainment gap and giving every child an equal start in life. The provision of these high qualified childcare professionals will ensure that the region’s children benefit from the highest quality care and early years education.
The Scottish Government is taking decisive action to improve early years learning and childcare, including expanding guaranteed free provision to 1140 hours by 2020 – which will have a positive impact for families across Dumfries and Galloway.
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has said the Prime Minister’s speech made it clear the UK is heading for an economically disastrous hard Brexit.
Ms McAlpine pointed out that nearly seven months since the referendum the Scottish Government is still the only administration to publish a detailed plan on how to deal with the economic and social risks associated with Brexit.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“Scotland voted overwhelming to remain in the EU and the Scottish Government is doing all it can to make sure the Tories cannot ignore and act against Scotland’s interests.
“Theresa May yesterday confirmed that she plans to take the UK towards an economically dangerous hard Brexit. The Prime Minister has chosen to pander to the obsessions of the hard-right of her Tory party, rather than act in the best interests of the country.
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.
MSP Joan McAlpine has re-affirmed her support for Gracefield Arts Centre in a survey aimed at determining future arts provision in Dumfries.
The SNP member completed the survey after a guided tour of the facility last week.
In the survey the MSP said she would particularly like to see better promotion of the facility, classes and exhibitions, more emphasis on Gracefield as a tourist offering and better display of the permanent collection of Scottish Art.
MSP calls for honesty in local government after Labour's ‘gross exaggeration’ of Dumfries and Galloway job losses
Joan McAlpine MSP has called for honesty in local government after a freedom of information (FOI) request showed that Labour's claims of job losses in the Council were grossly exaggerated.
SNP member Ms McAlpine submitted the FOIs in response to claims made by Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson that more than 400 jobs were at risk after last year’s local government budget was agreed.
The figures obtained show that between January and November 2016 the Council actually increased its staff by 472.
The MSP said the figures – which showed 189 workers had taken voluntary redundancy, but 661 workers had been recruited – ‘fly in the face’ of claims by the Council leader that budget cuts would result in significant job losses.
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.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that the number of people working in tourism in Dumfries and Galloway increased by 16% in one year – with Scotland as a whole seeing an increase of 11 per cent.
The new statistics produced by Visit Scotland show that tourism supports 6,500 jobs in Dumfries and Galloway, 11% of total jobs in the area.
Between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed in the sector across Scotland grew to 217,000 – with the 11 per cent increase in Scotland above the 4 per cent rise in Great Britain as a whole.
MSP Joan McAlpine is to meet the Economy Secretary to discuss plans for a new skills body for the South of Scotland.
Earlier this year Ms McAlpine welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement it would launch and economic and skills vehicle for the South of Scotland - something the MSP has been calling for over a number of years.
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has backed the Scottish Government’s proposals to keep Scotland in the European Single Market and stop the “national disaster” of a hard Brexit.
The paper – “Scotland’s Place in Europe” – was published on Tuesday and outlined the SNP’s determination for Scotland to remain in the European single market.
The paper also outlined substantial new powers that should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament as a result of Brexit.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said she was “delighted” to sign up to the “Dumfries Pledge” at The Stove last week. Ms McAlpine has been a long-term supporter of The Stove’s vision for engaging the local community and sung their praises in a letter to the housing minister which has resulted in him planning a visit to Dumfries.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I was delighted to sign up to The Stove’s “Dumfries Pledge” to bring social and economic activity back to the town centre by developing what is being called the “Midsteeple Quarter”. The project is at an early stage, but The Stove has already begun consulting with the public. If the project attracts the necessary support and investment, the vision arising from this stage of engagement will be piloted in an initial overhaul of The Bakers Oven building which the community is looking to acquire via asset transfer.”
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has urged local people to “keep up the momentum” by responding to a survey on Scotland’s National Transport Strategy announced by minister Humza Yousaf in Dumfries earlier this year.
The early engagement survey will gather the views of individuals, organisations and communities to shape the key policy themes for Scotland’s future transport links.
Ms McAlpine said the Dumfries and Galloway Transport Summit and follow up this year meant the region already had a “head start” and it was important to maintain this lead.
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.”
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on the local Labour administration to explain their failure to consult local people with disabilities on drastic increases to care charges.
Ms McAlpine’s comments came in support of a letter sent to the social work department by Alistair Livingston, whose disabled son Callum’s contribution to care costs will rise by over 500% per week.
Alistair Livingston points out in his letter that there is a 2015 Impact Assessment to the Social Work Services Committee which states ‘This policy was developed through consultation between relevant council departments and services.’ There is, however, no mention of consultation with “service users” i.e people with disabilities. The report later notes ‘Action is required to promote service user understanding of the policy and its wider impact and by consulting with those who may be impacted upon in this way,’ with a timescale of March/April 2015.
Ms McAlpine said:
“I fully back my constituents’ calls for answers on the failure by the council to consult on these drastic increases to care charging.
“What we don’t know is whether any people with disabilities were ever consulted. Certainly none of my constituents have participated in any consultation – the increase to their charges has come completely out of the blue.”
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.
SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma harper have become ‘dementia friends’ after training from retired nurse Gladys Haining.
Gladys is a part time worker for Dumfries and Galloway Dementia Friendly Community Project. She delivers training aimed at making work places ‘Dementia Friendly.”
SNP MSPs are pushing to ensure Dumfries and Galloway gets its share of £3 billion pledged by the Scottish Government for affordable homes.
Following the announcement that the region would receive £6.8 million, Joan McAlpine MSP and Emma Harper MSP last week met with the Housing Minister to discuss future delivery.
Providing good quality affordable homes is a key priority of the Scottish Government, which has committed to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.
A local MSP drew cheers from the public gallery of the Scottish Parliament when she spoke out against care charge increases for disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway.
Disabled groups and carers from across Scotland broke with convention and applauded Joan McAlpine when she pointed out that Dumfries and Galloway were raising charges for disabled people while at the same time wasting money on a raft of new bureaucrat posts. Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani intervened and told the public that is was against the rules for them to clap – but they were permitted do so at the end of the debate.
Ms McAlpine told other MSPs that disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway faced massive care charge rises after the council reduced the threshold at which the start paying charges from £177 a week to £132.
She said constituents faced real hardship, and described the plight of local man Alistair Livingston, who has a son with profound physical and learning disabilities whose payments have risen from zero two years ago to £31.30 a week.
Tories don't want to see or hear Scotland on Europe ... as Chancellor's surly Scottish Parliament visit proves
I was brought up to believe that guests should be gracious to their hosts.
But Mr Hammond needs to learn some manners.
He failed to display any during his visit to the Scottish Parliament last week.
One member of our staff was told to vacate a lift in parliament so Hammond could use it.
Security was the excuse given. But all workers in the parliament are security cleared.
It seems that Tory ministers like Hammond come with a clutch of flunkies who think their bosses are way too grand to share confined airspace with mere workers.
Cabinet Secretary “disappointed” by Dumfries and Galloway Council as McAlpine gets answers on care charging
Scotland’s Health Secretary has told parliament she was disappointed with Dumfries and Galloway Council’s decision to hike up care charges for disabled people.
Speaking in response to concerns raised in parliament by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, Shona Robison also confirmed that Dumfries and Galloway, like other councils, had received Scottish Government money to reduce charges on disabled people.
She also demolished Dumfries and Galloway Labour’s defence that they were following guidance from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities pointing out that the COSLA figures were not binding and only intended as a minimum.
Responding to Ms McAlpine, Ms Robison told Parliament:
“I am disappointed that Dumfries and Galloway has chosen to reduce the threshold for social care charges. The COSLA charging guidance gives the threshold as a minimum, not a maximum, and other local authorities have higher thresholds.
The people are mightier than a Lord.
That was the ringing slogan of the Highland Land League, formed in the 19th century to put right the injustices of the clearances.
But hundreds of years later, the people can still be crushed by a Lord.
The very sad story of the Paterson brothers, two young tenant farmers evicted on Arran, is a case in point.
They are being forced out by Charles Fforde, a descendent of the Dukes of Hamilton.
Fforde was one of the most vocal opponents ofthe Scottish Parliament’sabolition of feudalism in 2000.
Fforde made full use of his medieval feudal superiority, once charging the Brodick Church £800 when they extended their hall.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has written to the leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council urging him to act over the looming jobs crisis in Langholm. The MSP was responding to reports that Edinburgh Woollen Mill is planning to relocate its headquarters from Langholm to Carlisle.
Ms McAlpine, who praised the resilience of the Langholm community in her letter to Ronnie Nicholson, commented:
“The Muckle Toon is home to a very active community and has historically hosted many thriving industries. Of course the profile of local employment will change over the years, but what we’re now seeing happening in Langholm is being blamed by local people on council neglect.
“Dumfries and Galloway Council is responsible for local economic development, so the council must do more to save jobs in Langholm.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is backing Disability Agenda Scotland’s (DAS) call to raise awareness about the positive contributions of disabled people and help to end the stigma and discrimination which they still experience.
Ms McAlpine, who is deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group (CPG) on Learning Disability, met with representatives from DAS during an event in the Scottish Parliament.
DAS is an alliance of Scotland’s six major disability charities Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Capability Scotland, ENABLE Scotland, RNIB Scotland, SAMH and Sense Scotland.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has condemned the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – which drove home the fact that Brexit and continuing austerity will hit Dumfriesshire’s poorest families hardest.
Philip Hammond revealed the staggering level of borrowing needed to fill the Brexit blackhole in government finances and failed to halt the Tories’ austerity onslaught – policies that have proven so damaging to families and communities throughout the South of Scotland.
The Chancellor announced a rise in insurance premiums which will mean rising costs for hard pressed families. The Autumn Statement came alongside forecasts predicting consumers will be squeezed by the rising cost of exports due to a weak pound caused by Brexit – which will hit family budgets in supermarkets and shops across Dumfriesshire.
The retailer, Mothercare, and former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King have both warned this week of expected price rises of around 5% in children’s clothes and groceries due to Brexit.
MSP Joan McAlpine has said moving the Edinburgh Woollen Mill headquarters to Carlisle would be the ‘ultimate betrayal’ of the people of Langholm.
The firm - whose chief executive Philip Day is a Tory donor – was founded in Langholm in 1946 and its headquarters has been based there ever since.
But this week it emerged that EWM is poised to make Carlisle its headquarters - and the fate of Langholm is unclear.
Disabled people have their human rights violated every day in this country.
That’s the verdict of an influential United Nation’s Committee investigating the effects of the UK Government’s welfare cuts.
A motion in the Scottish Parliament from MSP Christina McKelvie draws attention to the UN bombshell and asks the UK to assess its “reforms” and find out the detrimental impact they have on people with disabilities.
Can we fix it though? Powers over social security are coming to Scotland and how we use them will say a lot about us as a nation.
The SNP have vowed the Scottish system will be based on dignity and respect and parliament will debate the matter today.
IT is no surprise that UKIP’s Nigel Farage was the first UK politician to ride in Trump’s gaudy gold elevator. They have so much in common.
They are authoritarian, xenophobic and insular. America First, Britain First, Migrants Out. They claim to be on the side of the working man.
But their tax cutting, small state agenda can only benefit the rich elites to whom they both belong. Trump wants to abolish Obamacare, removing affordable health insurance from millions of families in a country where becoming sick can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
UKIP have advocated wide scale privatisation of the NHS here.
What is less often commented on is the overlap with parties which are to all intents and purposes fascist, such as the French National Front.
Trump’s new head of strategy Steve Bannon once told French journalists “We think that France is a place where we need to be, with its young entrepreneurs and the women of the Le Pen family.”
Bannon is considered by many to be closer ideologically to the Klu Klux Klan than mainstream Republicanism. Whether or not that is proven, he will ensure the divisive, angry offensive aspects of Trump’s campaign echo loudly around the West Wing.
Read the rest of my column here.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has blasted the local Labour council after it emerged that Dumfries and Galloway was the worst area in Scotland for sharp rises in charges for disabled people.
The MSP has written to the council leader Ronnie Nicholson asking him what happened to the £182,000 the Scottish Government gave Dumfries and Galloway to help reduce care charges in the region.
She has also pleaded with him to revise the policy which has resulted in deep distress to vulnerable constituents facing additional charges of up to £35 a week for services.
Ms McAlpine said:
“The Scottish Government gave Dumfries and Galloway Council around £182,000 this year to ease the burden of charges on disabled people. Yet the council has not used this money for that purpose. Instead they’ve decided to charge disabled people even more for their care by cutting the level at which they begin charging to the minimum recommended by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, as well as increasing the rate of charges. This means vulnerable people are hit with new or increased bills.
“The Labour-run council claim they were previously over generous in their treatment of disabled people and have now equalised their treatment with other parts of Scotland. But they were under no obligation to do that – particularly when they were given additional money to REDUCE the charges. Have they simply pocketed this extra cash?
MSP Joan McAlpine visited the Barony campus last week (Friday) to seek assurances over the future of the site from the new principal.
Professor Wayne Powell - who was appointed Chief Executive and Principal of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) earlier this year – assured the MSP that his priority is to provide certainty and that he views the campus as an opportunity rather than a problem.
Ms McAlpine has been campaigning to keep the Barony open since concerns over potential closure were raised with her last year by students and staff at the campus.
MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging local groups across the region to apply to the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund to renovate their local war memorials.
The Fund, launched by Former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2013, has already given grants to fund the restoration of memorials in Moffat and Dunscore.
The £1 million fund aims to help communities repair and restore local war memorials to their former glory and forms a central part of the Scottish Government’s commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.
SNP MSP’s Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper have welcomed an announcement that farmers have received £246 million from the CAP loan scheme.
Ms McAlpine used Parliamentary questions to ask the Scottish Government what progress was being made on the implementation of the scheme.
The Scottish Government established the scheme to tide over those farmers yet to receive Common Agricultural Policy subsidies because of IT issues caused by moves to a new system. Most farmers received the majority of their entitlement by April, but earlier this year Mr Ewing apologised for the delays farmers faced and assured members that the Scottish Government was doing everything in its power to sort it.
MSP Joan McAlpine last weekend visited the Whitesands Project demonstration to seek assurances from the consultants over concerns raised by local people.
The SNP member has been listening to worried constituents since the project was given the go ahead by the Council last December.
In particular Ms McAlpine raised concerns about the heritage of the ancient Devorgilla Bridge and sought reassurances that the impact of the project would be assessed in advance of further rounds of public consultation.
Local MSPs Emma Harper and Joan McAlpine have welcomed the news that families across Dumfries and Galloway are set to benefit from £237,500 of additional Scottish Government funding to keep their homes warm this winter.
Housing associations and the local Council in the region will be given their share of a £9 million national fund to help improve the housing of those most in need, and help to ensure that social housing meets energy efficiency standards – making it easier for tenants to heat their homes.
MSP Joan McAlpine used a speech in Holyrood yesterday (Wednesday) to slam the ‘Victorian values’ at the heart of the Tory benefit system.
The SNP MSP was speaking during a debate focussed on the findings of the recent ‘welfare conditionality’ study, which found universally-negative experiences of the Tory sanction regime that was introduced in 2012. The study said the system caused “widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment” with some describing the system as “intimidating and dehumanising.”
Ms McAlpine has expressed concern over the effect the system has had on vulnerable constituents across the region, many of whom have approached her for help.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that EU structural funds, fisheries and farming projects agreed before the UK proposes to leave the EU will be paid in full.
Dumfries and Galloway has benefited from millions of EU regional development funding for everything from infrastructure to college courses, with one in in three farmers depending on EU support.
KEZIA Dugdale was ribbed a bit for heading to America to campaign for Hillary Clinton for a few days.
I don’t always agree with Kezia but I back her on this one. Those who criticise Scottish politicians for international engagement are promoting the classic cringe approach, ie “don’t get above your station”.
Kezia’s presence is not going to swing it in the US. But I can well understand why anyone with the means and the time would want to stop Trump.
I was pleased to hear that several SNP staffers are already in the States, campaigning for the Democrats.
Hillary is far from perfect. But a Trump victory would be catastrophic. Trump’s campaign chief apologised this week for one of their supporters shouting “Jew-SA” at reporters. The chairman of the American Nazi Party Rocky Suhayda has praised Trump.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has praised the Scottish Parliament for its commitment to accessibility following a successful work placement by Annan school student Lewis Shaw, who is registered blind.
Lewis spent time with Joan’s constituency staff in Dumfries and later travelled to Edinburgh for a day in the parliament.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“It was a pleasure to host Lewis in my offices in Dumfries and Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament has always impressed on accessibility, but we were delighted to receive an up-to-date Braille resources for Lewis to read during his placement.
“During his visit to the parliament, Lewis met the Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald MSP.
“Mark was impressed by Lewis’ ideas – Lewis is clearly a politician in the making!”
MSP Joan McAlpine is celebrating Living Wage Week – by becoming a ‘Living Wage MSP.’
The South Scotland MSP recently became an accredited Living Wage employer, and hopes that by setting an example, those organisations across Dumfries and Galloway who can afford to pay the Living Wage will be encouraged to do so.
The SNP member also welcomed the announcement today by the First Minister that the Living Wage will increase by 20p, to £8.45 an hour.
The rise of 20 pence will benefit thousands of employees at Living Wage-accredited organisations in Scotland.
Local MSP Joan McAlpine is calling for significant investment to develop faster road and rail links to the central belt, as well as improvements to the A75.
The call comes as part of her submission to the Dumfries and Galloway Transport Summit consultation, launched on the back of the regional summit in August.
The SNP MSP, whose election campaign led to the summit, said that linking Dumfries better to the central belt, by both road and rail, would have ‘the most significant economic benefit to the whole region.’
This consultation will help inform the Scottish Government’s refreshed National Transport Strategy – a document that will dictate transport priorities across the country.
Ms McAlpine said: “Dumfries and Galloway needs better transport links to boost economic activity and enhance the quality of life for people who live here. In particular it needs faster, safer, connections with Scotland's central belt.
“Sadly the region has been let down by successive Westminster governments back when money for capital investments was plentiful - leading to decades of underinvestment in the region’s infrastructure. Fixing this will not be done overnight.
“Nevertheless, I am calling for investment in three major areas in the long term - connecting Dumfries with faster rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh - connecting Dumfries with faster road links to the motorway and further improvements to the A75 with a view to dualling where viable.”
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine this week hosted a parliamentary reception for the locally-based charity The Halo Trust.
The Halo Trust, whose global headquarters are in Thornhill, is one of the world’s largest landmine clearance organisations.
Ms McAlpine opened the event before key note speeches from chief executive of The Halo Trust James Cowan and Stan Brown, a Director in the US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. The Scottish military historian Professor Sir Hew Strachan then opened up the event to a question and answer session.
Ms McAlpine said she was “honoured” to host the event in the Scottish Parliament.
SO it’s not Britain which holds the fate of Europe on a taut string. It’s the tiny region of Wallonia, which I bet few of you had heard of until this week.
The 3.5 million strong corner of Belgium has as its national symbol a red cockerel on a yellow background. Boy has it been strutting its stuff - and making itself heard.
Wallonia has sunk, for now at least, the free trade agreement between Canada and Europe called CETA that took seven years to negotiate.
So who says only Brussels, or indeed national governments, call all the shots in Europe? The Walloons are not actually a nation like Scotland. They don’t have the global recognition of our brand - tartan, bagpipes, whisky and Andy Murray. They didn’t invent penicillin, television or create the world’s first cloned sheep.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will establish a South of Scotland enterprise and skills body.
Ms McAlpine has repeatedly highlighted the need for such a regional body during her time in parliament. Today’s announcement forms part of the Scottish Government’s Enterprise & Skills Review. In her submission to the consultation Ms McAlpine argued for a different focus for the south of Scotland.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said: “I welcome this news as it’s something I’ve been calling for over a number of years - both when I was a member of the Economy Energy and Tourism Committee during the last parliament and in my own submission to the Scottish Governments’ review on enterprise and skills agencies.
“During the last parliament I campaigned for the South of Scotland to receive more focus from Scottish Enterprise, and spoke directly to ministers and executives of Scottish Enterprise. While many enterprise functions have been devolved to local councils by the SNP government, I still believe that the enterprise agency in the South of Scotland should be more focussed on supporting smaller companies, and helping to achieve community development as well as growth. I’m delighted that the SNP Scottish Government has taken these points on board.
SNP MSPs have called on the UK Government to match any attempts to keep the City of London in the European single market with a deal for workers and businesses in Dumfries and Galloway. Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper have written to Scottish Secretary, and MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, David Mundell to demand he put pressure on Westminster colleagues.
The UK Government is reportedly seeking a deal to keep access to the single market for London’s financial institutions – which could mean a post-Brexit Britain paying billions towards the EU’s budget.
The First Minister has confirmed that the Scottish Government will bring forward specific demands to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe, which will include proposals to keep Scotland in the single market.
So the starting gun has fired on a second independence referendum. Or perhaps not …
Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP conference that a draft Bill on a second referendum would be published this week.
It will be put out to consultation – like every other piece of legislation.
But that doesn’t mean it will definitely happen.
The SNP have a mandate to hold another referendum if Scotland is pulled out of the EU against its will.
Robert De Niro said it best.
Donald Trump is blatantly stupid: “A mutt who doesn’t know what he is talking about. Doesn’t do his homework, doesn’t care.”
It was the actor’s exasperation as much as his anger, however, which struck a chord.
De Niro added: “He’s a national disaster. It makes me so angry that this country has gotten to this point that this fool, this bozo has wound up where he has.”
He is right. How could a country which elected the measured and thoughtful Barack Obama even be considering this buffoon?
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine joined Employability and Training Minister Jamie Hepburn on a visit to Dumfries and Galloway College today (Monday).
The Minister was visiting the region to learn more about training provision in rural areas.
Mr Hepburn spoke with learners on the Wind Turbine Technician course, as well as meeting with the Brian Richardson, Chair of the local Chamber, which is leading on the 'Developing the Young Workforce’ programme.
MSP Joan McAlpine today (Thursday) asked local Tories to support the SNP’s move to outlaw a controversial gas blast technique which had threatened communities and the environment on the Solway.
The SNP questioned the energy minister Paul Wheelhouse in parliament after he announced that the SNP government would use its planning powers to oppose the controversial Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) method.
Ms McAlpine, who campaigned against the proposed UCG extraction near Gretna, welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement but expressed concern that licences for the Solway are controlled by the Conservative UK government.
Mr Wheelhouse revealed that the Solway licences were due to expire this year – but he had written to UK Tory ministers asking for reassurances that these would not be renewed. The company which planned to drill under the firth, Five Quarter, is now defunct and has abandoned its plans. Its major shareholders included Buccleuch Estates.
Leaving the EU’s Single Market could have a significant effect on Dumfries and Galloway’s meat producers, the Scottish Government warned today.
Joan McAlpine MSP used Parliamentary questions to raise concerns over the effect losing access to the EU Single Market could have on Scotland’s red meat exports.
WHEN Theresa May came to Edinburgh in that famous first “foreign trip” after becoming Prime Minister her message could be summarised in one word.
She told journalists after speaking to Nicola Sturgeon in July: “I won’t be triggering Article 50 until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations - I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger Article 50.”
So, she lied. It wouldn’t be the first time a Tory Prime minister broke promises to Scotland. But it still hurts.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has slammed the Labour administration’s budget cut plans saying that they need to get their ‘house in order’ before they cut local services.
She said: “Instead of asking members of the public what services the Council can stop providing, they should be getting their house in order and asking themselves the more important question of how to reduce waste and get on top of their budget.”
Over the past few years Dumfries and Galloway Council has been the subject of numerous spending controversies, including DG One, the roll-out of kerbside recycling and inordinate consultancy fees.
MSP Joan McAlpine is urging the Council and transport body SWestrans to ensure fully costed plans are ready to be submitted to the Scottish Government’s refreshed National Transport Strategy (NTS).
Ms McAlpine said she was disappointed that she had so far not received a response to her letter back in August urging the Chief Executive to take advantage of the ‘head-start’ from the region’s Transport Summit.
She said: “The Council and SWestrans really must show leadership and ensure that they set out their priorities for transport across the region, with fully costed plans to improve rail and road infrastructure.
Guest blog post by work experience student Erin Mwembo: My Time in Parliament
I knew work experience was going to be exciting once I had confirmed my place with Joan McAlpine. My interest in politics and keen work ethic were driving factors of my placement choice, and I am really glad I choose Joan and her office to shadow.
My first day was a flurry of nervousness and enthusiasm. It was odd seeing all of the MSPs going about their business and chatting in the canteen. It was like a directioner meeting Harry styles or a Swifty meeting Taylor herself (Yet I was meeting Gail Ross, Fiona Hyslop and Bill Kidd) MSP bingo was a fun sort of thing, whispering the MSPs name in elation and trying to remain composed while I walked past them.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today joined campaigners from Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
The rally received cross-party support – apart from the Tories who were the only party not to attend.
Ms McAlpine has been a constant supporter of WASPI in their campaign against the “pension injustice” created by the Westminster Government’s change to the pension age for women born in the 1950s.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“It was a pleasure to join the WASPI ladies at their rally today.
“They are right to be angry. The Westminster Government hiked up their retirement age with very little warning.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has been selected as the deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group (CPG) on Learning Disability.
Ms McAlpine was nominated to the post because of her experience of the subject.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I was delighted to be chosen for this role.
“Improving opportunities for people with learning disabilities is vital - which is why I support organisations like The Usual Place who do great work with young people in Dumfriesshire.
“I very much look forward to working with my colleagues across the CPG.”
South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine yesterday met with representatives from Age Scotland to support their campaign "Let's get moving".
Age Scotland is working to raise awareness about the important of physical exercise. The campaign focuses on the health benefits which include preventing health problems such as type2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as the mental health benefits such as improving your confidence and overall quality of life.
Kezia Dugdale caused voting stooshie in Holyrood but it's her backing for Owen Smith that's the real issue
KEZIA Dugdale got into a kerfuffle when she apparently failed to vote last week in Parliament.
Who knows whether she actually pressed the electronic voting button?
She insists she did but as with all touch screen devices, it’s best to double check.
The politically neutral Parliament authorities, who in my experience are sticklers for correct procedure, insist she didn’t.
Kezia’s inadvertent abstention resulted in Labour losing a vote they expected to win by allying with the Tories.
“Somebody’s for it tonight,” SNP MSPs jokingly taunted as we filed out of the chamber, laughing at our opponents instead of licking our wounds.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has renewed her call on Labour councillors to abandon their policy of charging school pupils for music tuition – after the Scottish Government confirmed such tuition should be free.
Responding to a question from an MSP earlier this month, the Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed that “music tuition in schools that takes place during the course of the school day… should be provided free of charge”.
But Ms McAlpine has been contacted by constituents angry that schools in Dumfries and Galloway are still charging pupils £200 if they want to study music at school.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine yesterday met with staff from the Dogs Trust to discuss their campaign against “aversive training devices”.
The Dogs Trust are calling for a full ban on the sale of electronic training devices which use pain or fear to train a dog. These devices include electric shock collars which are worn around a dog’s neck and deliver electric shocks to “correct” undesirable behaviour.
Unionists need to get tough with the trolls - it's not ok to abuse anyone who doesn't share their UK views
IT WAS a happy, innocent picture.
Three kids, in blue T-shirts each emblazoned with a single letter that spelled out the word YES.
I knew their parents and granny, whose idea it was to make the T-shirts two years ago.
The mums jokingly called them yeslings – they were very cute. So when invited into a photograph with them at the weekend, I didn’t think twice. Selfies and politics go together like tea and toast these days.
I posted the picture on the social networking site Twitter. Then came the outpouring of bile.
“This is like Hitler Youth” screamed trolls, working themselves into a frenzy of hate. My timeline was sullied with image after image of Nazis and swastikas. “Where is your brown shirt?” said one.
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging her constituents to respond to a new Scottish Government report on transport in the region.
The draft report is based on the proceedings of last month’s Dumfries and Galloway Transport Summit, which Joan McAlpine MSP secured for the region.
The summit, held by the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and Deputy First Minister John Swinney, put the transport priorities of Dumfries and Galloway centre stage.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I am delighted to see the publication of this report in line with the Transport Minister’s invitation to the public to comment on transport issues in Dumfries and Galloway.
“During the summit, improvements to the A75 and better links between Dumfries and the M74 were identified as priorities. Mr Yousaf told us that the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), which identifies priorities up until 2032, was being refreshed and the summit offered an opportunity for the region to have more influence.
“It is vital that we now build on this initial report with further contributions from the local community.
“The Scottish Government is listening - I would strongly encourage my constituents to make their voices heard.”
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has praised local business Solway Recycling Ltd. after a visit to their premises near Shawhead.
Ms McAlpine said:
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Solway Recycling and see first-hand how they turn waste farm plastics into useful farm and garden products.
“I was particularly impressed by the customised picnic benches and smart hen houses – perfect for anyone seeking “the good life”!”
Solway Recycling was established in 1992 and is one of the longest established waste farm plastic recyclers in the world.
Many of the products manufactured by Solway Recycling end up back on the same farms from which waste products have been collected, creating what the company describe as an ecological “closed loop”.
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine is urging people across the region to join her and ‘wear it pink’ on the 21st of October to support women affected by breast cancer.
The SNP member joined fellow parliamentarians in Holyrood to encourage people across Scotland to get involved in Breast Cancer Now’s efforts to ensure that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer lives.
This ambition is shared by the Scottish Government and all party leaders in Scotland.
The ‘Wear it Pink’ campaign is back for its 15th year – raising close to £2 million each year for world-class research into breast cancer.