Visiting the Marie Curie Cancer Care reception at the Scottish Parliament
29A Eglinton Street, IRVINE KA12 8AS
TELEPHONE NO: 01294 311976
I will be holding constituency surgeries on the last Monday of each month in my office. Just telephone the office to arrange an appointment.
Visiting the Marie Curie Cancer Care reception at the Scottish Parliament
On the 13th Feb George Osborne announced that if Scotland votes for Independence the rest of the UK will not agree to a currency union, this statement was backed by all three of the major Westminster parties and further backed up by evidence from the chief civil servant of the treasury.
Commenting on the statement, Margaret McDougall MSP said; “This statement appears to take the option of a Currency Union off the table, granted there is nothing to stop the SNP using the pound without the rest of the UK’s permission but this would put us in the same position as countries like Panama, we would have no security and no lender of last resort.”
“The SNP and YesScotland are now in disarray over this issue, we are told this is bullying and bluster from the UK Government, but the fact of the matter is if the rest of the UK don’t want a Currency Union it won’t happen. We now need a credible Plan B from the SNP rather than denial and threats to default on the debt. This is bad governance and is making Scotland look like a laughing stock around the world.”
“All Osborne did yesterday was confirm that if Scotland votes for independence, Scotland would get independence, so this reaction from the SNP is frankly bizarre, and it’s clear YesScotland is nothing more than an SNP front given they still defend a currency Union even though people like Jim Sillars, Partick Harvie and Dennis Canavan chairman of YesScotland have always argued against it.”
“The people of Scotland deserve better than this, the SNP need to stop living in their land of fantasy, face the facts and show us a credible Plan B, this is the future of Scotland the stakes are far too high to gamble with it.”
Margaret McDougall MSP has welcomed the SNP’s announcement to commit the full funds required to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax in Scotland.
Speaking about the decision, Labour MSP Margaret McDougall, said: “This u-turn on the bedroom tax is great news for the thousands of social tenants who would have the burden of the bedroom tax removed. While this should have been months ago I now fully welcome this commitment which should effectively rid Scotland of the Bedroom Tax.”
“If these measures are confirmed in parliament on Wednesday we will on balance be able to support the Scottish Government’s budget for next year.”
“Even if the Department of Work and Pensions state that the Discretionary Housing Payment cap will not be lifted, Scottish Labour has provided numerous workable schemes such as the Council Tenant Assistance Fund which is legal and gets round the issue of the Discretionary Housing Payment cap.”
“I would like to pay tribute to all the groups that have been working tirelessly to scrap the bedroom tax, and while a future Labour Government in Westminster would abolish it immediately, this commitment will fully mitigate the effects of the tax in Scotland until that can happen.”
A recent poll from the Law Society of Scotland asked in a poll how well informed people felt about the issues that were being debated ahead of the referendum. The poll found that while 62% of men said they were very well informed or fairly informed, but only 49% of women said the same.
Margaret McDougall MSP, said: “Whether you are voting yes or no, it should worry us all that women across Scotland don’t feel as if the independence debate is engaging with them. This is one of the biggest decisions Scotland will take and it is the duty of both sides to make sure everyone across Scotland feels like they are part of the process.”
“Instead of engaging with women the SNP seem to see us as “political pawns”, promising more childcare, but only if you vote the right way, when they can deliver these changes now. Instead of a vision for changing women’s lives, they are only offering a vision to win your vote. Independence is being placed before our needs and that uncertainty needs to change.”
“The Labour Party have a clear commitment to women and we won’t let the independence referendum get in the way of delivering real change and we will deliver if we win the 2015 General Election. On Equal Pay, if the big companies don’t start to publish how much they really pay women and men, we’ll bring back the legislation we passed before the election, but that the Tories ditched.”
“Secondly we’ll change the law to require employers to take reasonable steps to accommodate new mums returning to work after maternity leave, in order to end the abuses by employers that leave around 5,000 women a year in Scotland with no job to go back to after their maternity leave.”
“In addition to this we will introduce ‘Make Work Pay’ contracts to incentivise firms to pay the living wage. Not just waiting for big companies to take action, but giving them a positive reason to increase pay.”
“These are tangible benefits that will be gained from a no vote in this year’s referendum. I believe we are better and stronger together, and so far all the SNP have offered are empty promises on changes that they could start to roll out now.”
On the 27th of December they Scottish Government released a consultation on “Promoting responsible dog ownership in Scotland: microchipping and other measures”.
Margaret McDougall MSP said: “I welcome the Scottish Governments U-turn on microchipping and other measures, because when I first raised questions on the control of dangerous dogs in 2012 the Scottish Government had no plans to introduce the compulsory microchipping of dogs or any additional measures. While they said they would monitor this situation I got the feeling they were content with the status quo.”
“As someone who has been a keen campaigner on these issues, having asked written questions and questions in the chamber, I’d like to thank the Daily Record on raising these issues and starting the Stop the Danger Dogs Campaign. It’s unfortunate though that the Scottish Government were seemingly unwilling to do anything about the situation until Daily Record ran this campaign.”
“I hope that the Scottish Government approach the consultation with an open mind and don’t rule out any option until this is complete. I would urge anyone with an interest in this issue to submit your views to the consultation.”
Link to Consultation:
Margaret McDougall MSP has visited Royal Mail’s Irvine delivery office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to the postmen and women at their busiest time of year.
Ms McDougall was shown round the office by local Delivery Office Manager, Bruce Connell, and was introduced to the postmen and women who are working hard sorting and delivering all cards and parcels in the Irvine area in the run-up to Christmas.
Margaret McDougall MSP said: “It was great to meet the dedicated, hard-working Royal Mail postmen and women at Irvine delivery office and to see first-hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year.
“Postmen and women do such an important job at this time of year. I like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.”
Bruce Connell, Royal Mail Delivery Office Manager at Irvine, said: “Christmas is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail. Our people pull out all the stops throughout the year to ensure mail is delivered quickly, but even more so over the busy festive period. We are grateful that Margaret McDougall MSP came along to see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.”
“Our people do a fantastic job at this time of year to ensure that friends and families stay in touch through their Christmas greetings and gifts. We’d like to remind our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings!”
The recommended last posting dates for mail are:
The recommended International posting dates for 2013 are:
Customers can also help Royal Mail ensure that all their letters, cards and parcels are delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible by taking a few easy steps:
My article on the white paper which appeared in the Irvine Herald on the 11 December 2013.
On the Tuesday the 26th of November the SNP released “Scotland’s Future”, the long awaited white paper which we were promised would answers all our questions on what an Independent Scotland would look like.
Presented as the most comprehensive document ever produced on independence, Joan McAlpine MSP described the American Declaration of Independence as a post-it note in comparison. However, what we were presented with was more “Game of Thrones” than “The Rights of Man”, that is to say, a thrilling fantasy novel full of plot holes.
It is a list of uncosted promises, far from a blueprint it’s a wish-list by a party desperate to do and say anything to get independence. This was the chance for the SNP to outline a vision for the future, a chance to convince people of the benefits of independence. Yet they left us in the dark with the promise of a lightbulb after the 18th of September 2014.
Many crucial questions remain unanswered: on currency, we still have no Plan B, with doubts being cast on a currency union, which if we did enter we would have no say in; on the EU, we still have no legal advice and recently the Spanish Prime Minister stated that Spain would resist Scotland’s attempts to gain entry; on employment rights, one mention on zero-hours contacts, yet no commitments. It’s woollier than a Christmas jumper.
Now more than ever Scotland is on pause till after the referendum. The SNP promised to extend childcare provision if Scotland votes yes, something they could do now. The First Minister has a budget of more than £30 billion and Scottish Labour stand ready to work with him to improve childcare now rather than after the referendum. We are still waiting on the 600 hours they promised in 2007.
Other flagship policies include cutting cooperation tax by 3% and scrapping air passenger duty, while at the same time claiming we could vastly increase public spending. These promises are not honest nor are they credible.
Experts such as Stuart Adam, Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies said about the white paper it “is more specific about tax cuts than about tax rises…an independent Scotland would face an even bigger long-term fiscal challenge than the UK…it might find itself looking for ways to increase, rather than reduce, taxes.”
We are presented with a vision of Nordic style public services with the tax system of Monaco, a dream I’m sure many countries wish to achieve but exactly that, a dream! It is a mixture of an SNP manifesto and fantasy, funded at tax payer expense.
Far from a blueprint or mandate it is a starting point for negotiations with the rest of the United Kingdom, who will wish to defend their interest. We are told that Westminster is unreasonable, that it doesn’t care about Scotland. If this is the case, then why, in the event of a yes vote do the SNP assume that they would suddenly give Scotland everything we ever wanted?
Nothing is assured, its, ifs, buts and maybes. The SNP are asking you to vote for a concept which is not based on reality. None of the tough questions are answered, vote for independence and hope for the best is the theme.
This is the biggest decision Scotland will ever make. My argument isn’t that Scotland is too wee or too poor to go it alone, we could, but we would be left without many benefits, we would lose representation at many top tables, we’d be placed in a weaker position.
Consider this; devolution gives us the best of both worlds in the bad times and the good. In 2011/12, £1,197 more was spent per head in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, while Scotland generated £56.9 billion in revenue but received £64.5 billion in spending. The UK is our biggest trading partner, accounting for over two thirds of exports and being part of it protects us against additional risk from our shared poll of resources, such as the financial crash.
These are real reasons to stay part of the UK community; we are not asking you to hope for the best but presenting a positive case, it’s not enough to argue that because the Tories are in now we are better off alone, governments come and go, independence is final, there’s no turning back.
Scottish Labour is the party of devolution, we offer an alternative, to work within the UK framework to strengthen and promote devolution. A strong Scottish Parliament, within a strong UK, delivers the best possible outcomes for the people of Scotland. Our devolution commission is having the discussion about where power should best lie amongst multiple levels of government to ensure that decisions which affect people are made at the most appropriate level. It’s about empowering people and I look forward to the final recommendations.
I for one will be using the independence referendum as an opportunity to democratically vote to reaffirm Scotland’s place within the Union, we are stronger and better together.
Last week, Scottish Labour had an opposition debate on housing and called on the Scottish Government to “produce a comprehensive, ambitious and inclusive national housing action plan.”
Speaking in the debate, Margaret McDougall MSP, said: “Margaret Burgess, has failed to lead a single parliamentary debate on the matter, which shows housing is not a priority for the SNP.”
“At a time when Scotland is facing its biggest housing crisis since the Second World, this Government the capital housing budget has fallen by a massive twenty nine per cent and by 2035 we could face a 160,000 homes short fall.”
“It’s time for this Government to come forward with a plan for investment, a plan which encourages growth within the housing sector and makes sure housing is built that is adequate and affordable to meets the needs of Scotland’s population. They promised that we would build our way out of the rescission, Scotland is still waiting.”
“It’s further concerning that the budget for Energy Efficiency Schemes and retrofitting has had a 10 million pound underspend. We are struggling to meet the 2016 statutory target to eradicate Fuel Poverty and yet this Government is failing to use the full resources available.”
“With almost 1 million households in Scotland in fuel poverty is clear that we need to do more to tackle the rising costs of energy. That is why Labour is proposing reform and a price freeze that will return £500m to Scottish businesses and families.”
“We need to get Scotland off pause, we can’t wait till after the independence referendum to start tackling these issues. This Government needs to up its game to meet its own targets, in building new homes and eradicating fuel poverty by 2016.”
Commenting on the release of the Scottish Independence: Referendum White Paper, Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall said:
“The SNP promised us all the answers to our questions in this white paper, instead all we got was a fantasy wish list of uncosted promises by a Party desperate to do anything and say anything to get independence. This was the chance for the SNP to outline a vision but many crucial questions remain unanswered: on currency, we still have no Plan B; on the EU, we still have no legal advice.”
“Now more than ever Scotland is on pause till after the referendum. This was demonstrated at yesterday’s press conference, where they promised to extend childcare provision if Scotland votes yes, yet this is something that they could do now with powers that they already have. Other flagship policies include cutting cooperation tax by 3% and scrapping air passenger duty, while at the same time claiming we could vastly increase public spending. These promises are not honest nor are they credible.”
“This document is not a mandate it is a starting point for a negotiation with the rest of the United Kingdom, who will obviously wish to defend their interest. Nothing in the document is assured it is all if, buts and maybes. The SNP are asking you to vote for something that is nothing more than a concept and idea that is not based in reality.”
“The best that can be said about this white paper is that it is nothing more than an SNP manifesto, funded and promoted at tax-payers expenses. None of the tough questions have been answered. It is 649 pages of the SNP asking you to vote for independence and hope for the best.”
“In 2011/12, £1,197 more was spent per head in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, while Scotland generated £56.9 billion in revenue but received £64.5 billion in spending. The UK is also our biggest trading partner and being part of it protects us against additional risk from our shared poll of resources. These are real reason to stay part of the UK community; we are not asking you to hope for the best but presenting a positive case”
“This is a biggest decision Scotland will ever make, we need a lot more than just a wish-list and keep your fingers crossed, I for one will be using the independence referendum as an opportunity to democratically vote to reaffirm Scotland’s place within the Union, we are stronger and better together.”