Nerves of steel can save our iconic industries

STEELY determination is the phrase that perhaps defines the fight to save Tata’s plants in Scotland.

Last year, the fate of steel workers at Dalzell and ­Clydebridge hung in the balance. That remains the case for workers elsewhere in the UK.

But in Scotland the SNP Government have stepped in to save this iconic industry – not because it is iconic but because steelmaking underpins any successful industrial policy.

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Iain Duncan Smith's sudden change of heart won't change his toxic legacy of cuts to the disabled

FAREWELL then, IDS. After years of implementing cruel Tory attacks on the disabled, you have resigned over cruel Tory cuts to the disabled. Aye, right.

I don’t believe the hype about his replacement. Stephen Crabb, the new Work and Pensions secretary, supported every welfare cut Iain Duncan Smith made.

 

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Unionist parties have big credibility deficit

SCOTLAND’S Deputy First Minister John Swinney has every right to look cheery.

He is a man without an overdraft, despite Scotland’s budget being cut by a whopping £3.9billion over two terms of Tory Government from London.

But John’s sparkling credit rating has been misrepresented this last week.

He was accused of “running up a deficit” or creating a “massive black hole” in Scotland’s finances.

This is completely false. It is also completely impossible.

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Tories put political gain before children's safety

FRINGE parties get their publicity from jumping on bandwagons.

They don’t much care who’s riding alongside them.

The Tories , despite delusions of grandeur brought on by occasional forays north by David Cameron, are a minor fringe party in Scotland.

This lowly status makes them irresponsible attention seekers.

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Investing in youth is a great bit of business

IT WAS a great sight to see – a crowd of shipyard apprentices lifting their hard hats for the photographer. The young people at Fergusons of Port Glasgow lifted hearts as well.

New owner Jim McColl has recruited 150 apprentices to the revamped yard, which has also secured new ferry contracts from the Scottish Government.

For the first time folk in the area can say the future’s bright without a hint of irony.

I get a bit emotional looking at the picture because my late father worked in the lower Clyde yards, including Fergusons.

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EU and UK, two unions that are worlds apart

WHY do you want to come out of one union to enter another? It’s a question I occasionally get asked on the doorsteps. The answer now is the same as it has always been.

The European Union is a very different beast from the union that is the United Kingdom.

The EU is a partnership of equals. It involves 28 different member states who must negotiate a delicate balance to reach decisions.

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Desperate Labour are left with no tax credit

SCOTTISH Labour’s planned tax hike on workers has got a big thumbs down a fortnight into its life.

Almost two out of three people – 64 per cent – think it’s wrong.

The penny in the pound whizz was supposed to be the party’s big shiny idea for the Scottish election. But it popped like a balloon as soon as it was inspected closely.

This is not because people in Scotland are too mean to pay more tax for public services. They are fair-minded folk. But they expect tax to be fair too – which this one most certainly is not.

It cannot be fair that 500,000 pensioners will be forced to pay tax.

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Trust the Treasury at your peril in the Scotland Bill negotiations

DO you trust the Treasury? If the answer is yes, you haven’t been paying attention.

The Treasury hold the UK purse strings – and all the taxes Scotland sends south. They then decide how the dosh is divvied up.

Now there is an almighty showdown between the Tory Treasury and Holyrood over how much Scotland will get in future.

John Swinney – the Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary, otherwise known as Honest John – is in the tartan corner.

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Nobody works harder than those delivering social care in the community.. so it's important we take care of them

NOBODY works harder than those delivering social care in the community

Home care workers are low paid – but should be highly valued. They help old and frail people. They also help the terminally ill and disabled stay out of hospital and residential accommodation.

Make no mistake, home care workers, and those they look after, are the big winners in the SNP budget John Swinney will present to the Scottish Parliament today.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon brings top record to the table ahead of Scottish Parliament election

NICOLA Sturgeon picked up a ping-pong bat during a school visit this week.

It was a photo opportunity less nimble politicians might balk at.

But it was symbolic. Over the next few months, up until the Scottish Parliament elections in May, we will see lots of political ping-pong.

Despite what will be thrown at the SNP from the united Labour-Tory-Lib Dem opposition, Sturgeon is in fighting form.

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'Modernisation' of the Post Office is a byword for the heart and soul being ripped out of small communities

SOME words should carry a health warning.

Modernisation is one. At first glance it means shiny, new and clean. But modern can also be ­minimalist – stripped down, de-humanised and cut price.

The modernisation of our Post Offices definitely falls into the latter category. Under the “modernising” network transformation programme”, thousands of Post Offices which were once the heart of communities are being stripped down, with long-serving post masters thrown on the scrapheap.

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In the grey 70s David Bowie was a splash of colour

DAVID Bowie may have passed from this world but he is, of course, immortal.

My best friend from school texted me when she heard, with a memory.

Two schoolgirls in mid-70s Scotland, huddled beside a twin bar electric fire in her bedroom, playing her older sister’s copy of Diamond Dogs over and over again on a mono record player.

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The universal truth about Scots Labour's demise leads back to Johann Lamont's disastrous speech in 2012

IT IS fashionable these days to talk about the “tipping point”, when an idea or movement gains so much momentum it becomes unstoppable.

When discussing the dismal fate of Scottish Labour it is more ­appropriate to talk about the ­“tripping point”, when their fall into the abyss began.

It is often supposed that Scottish Labour’s “tripping point” came on September 19, 2014 when disappointed Yes voters turned their backs on the party that campaigned beside the Tories in Better Together.

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We cannot allow the bells to toll for our Great Generation

WE SAY goodbye to the great people we have lost at the close of every year.

It’s always poignant, remembering the household names who have gone forever, be they star, statesman or scribe.

For me the greatest loss of 2015 was not a famous person, but my father Jim McAlpine, who died in June.

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Police must tackle cover-up culture

FEW who read the sad story of Emma Caldwell could fail to be moved.

A happy, pretty child, she never got over the death of her beloved sister from cancer and sank into a spiral of heroin addiction .

She became a street prostitute to feed her drug habit and was brutally killed and dumped like garbage in a Lanarkshire wood 10 years ago.

Strathclyde Police investigation targeted Turkish suspects in Glasgow . But the flawed case collapsed before it even went to trial.

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Restore dignity and respect in the benefits system.. or what chance have we got?

DIGNITY and respect. It’s what every human being deserves and should be able to take for granted – unless you are a sick, disabled or workless person forced to claim benefits.

Then, you can be “treated like dirt”, according to one witness who spoke to theScottish Parliament’s welfare reform committee’s inquiry into the future of social security in Scotland.

The report was published this week and I was proud to put my name to it as an SNP member of the committee.

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Why David Cameron and Tony Blair are brothers in arms

IT’S often said that David Cameron models himself on Tony Blair .

The Tory PM admires the former Labour PM’s communications skills and success with Middle England voters.

Cameron described himself as the “heir to Blair” very early on. And someone even coined a term for their strange morphing – Blameronism.

A “spot the difference” analysis of Cameron’s speech to the Tory Party conference this year found key promises on immigration and housing were uncannily similar to the Labour PM’s 10 years before.

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Scots deserve an apology over oil, not to be mocked by both Tories and Labour

IT WAS a sickening sight.

Triumphant Tories guffawed on the Westminster green benches as George Osborne made cheap jibes about the falling oil price and its effect on Scotland.

Aberdonians watching the speech asked what was so funny. Economic activity in the city is down and folk are fearful for their future.

But Tory MPs saw only saw a chance to attack the SNP and mock Scotland.

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Time to turn off terror tap by taking Saudis to task for funding fundamentalism

LAST week in this column I said bombing Syria wouldn’t defeat Isis.

So what will?

Bomb a terrorist and 10 more spring from the bloody remains.

So a different tactic is required.

We must end the West’s ­relationship with those who fund Isis, now considered the world’s richest terrorist organisation and valued at £1.3billion.

Some of that money comes from crime – and the illegal sales of oil.

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Dropping bombs is not the way to stop ISIS or prevent terrorists from striking again

WE are all quite rightly appalled at the mass murder in Paris.

But we should not be surprised.

It is just over 10 years since the London bombings killed 52 and injured 700 ordinary commuters going to work. We said then: “How can it happen here?”.

But it did and it’s happening again in France.

A year before London, a planned attack on the Madrid train system killed 191 people and injured more than 1800

 

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