UK PARLIAMENT

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          KIRSTY BLACKMAN MP                               Aberdeen NORTH Westminster Constituency

Born in the city, Kirsty Blackman (nee West) was elected as the SNP MP for Aberdeen North on 7 May 2015, taking the seat from Labour.  Re-elected on 8 June 2017 and 12 Dec. 2019.  Deputy SNP Group Leader 14 June 2017 -- 1 July 2020.

Kirsty was formerly an Aberdeen City Councillor for the Hilton, Stockethill & Woodside ward, in 2007-15. She was the spokesperson on the House of Lords 2015-17; a member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee 2015-16; and spokesperson on the Economy 2017-19 and the Constitution 2020.  She is married to Luke Blackman and has a son and daughter.

Constituency Office 46 John Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1LL.  Tel.  01224 633285.  Text:  07464 606650    E-mail: kirsty.blackman.mp@parliament.uk

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          STEPHEN FLYNN MP                                    Aberdeen SOUTH Westminster Constituency  

Stephen Flynn was elected as the SNP MP for Aberdeen South on 12 Dec. 2019, taking the seat from the Conservatives.

Formerly a Parliamentary Assistant to Maureen Watt MSP, Angus-born Stephen became an Aberdeen City Councillor after winning the Kincorth, Nigg & Cove seat in a by-election in Jul. 2015, and was elected as the SNP Group Leader in March 2016. He stepped down as a Councillor on 4 March 2020.

Stephen was appointed as the SNP's Shadow Financial Sec. to the Treasury on 7 Jan. 2020. He and his wife live in central Aberdeen and have a baby son.

Tel.  01224 213114  

E-mail:  sflynnsnp@gmail.com   or    stephen.flynn.mp@parliament.uk

 

 

 

 

                                                         

       RICHARD THOMSON MP                                GORDON Westminster Constituency                 

Born in Edinburgh, Richard Thomson was elected as the SNP MP for Gordon on 12 Dec. 2019, taking the seat from the Conservatives.

Richard is a former financial sector worker and journalist. As a councillor for Ellon & District in Aberdeenshire Council, he played a significant role in the area's administration, becoming the SNP Group Leader in May 2017. He stepped down as a Councillor on 24 April 2020.

Richard was appointed as the SNP's Business & Industry spokesman on 7 Jan. 2020. He and his wife live in Foveran and have two daughters.

Constituency Office:  F6, Enterprise Centre, Aberdeen Energy Park, Exploration Drive, Aberdeen, AB23 8GX. 

Tel.  0207 219 3843   E-mail:  richard.thomson.mp@parliament.uk                                                  

 

 

GORDON Constituency comprises:  City of Aberdeen -- BRIDGE OF DON, Danestone, DYCE, Bankhead & Stoneywood.  Aberdeenshire --  Huntly, Forgue, Gartly, Kennethmont, Clatt, Rhynie, Lumsden, Insch, Oyne, Pitcaple, Inverurie, Kintore, Fintray, Newmachar, Daviot, Oldmeldrum, Tarves, Pitmedden, Udny, Ellon, Collieston, Newburgh, Foveran, Balmedie, Belhelvie, Potterton and several other villages.

 

► Election results at foot of this page.

                                                              

Due to Parliamentary rules, an MP can only deal with casework from those living in his/her constituency. To enable queries to be attended to quickly, please include your name, full address and postcode in your initial message.

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KIRSTEN OSWALD is the new Deputy Leader

On July 7, the party's MPs unanimously elected Kirsten Oswald to be Deputy Leader of the SNP Group at Westminster.  

She commented: “I'm delighted to be the new Deputy Leader of the SNP group at Westminster. I look forward to working with Ian Blackford MP and our great group of MPs, who provide the strong voice Scotland needs at a time when the case for independence has never been stronger.”

Kirsten was born in Dundee in 1972 and grew up in Carnoustie. Her mother was Helen Oswald, Provost of Angus Council. She was first elected as the MP for Renfrewshire East in 2015, lost the seat to the Tories in 2017, but was re-elected in the 2019 election, and serves as the SNP's Shadow Northern Ireland & Wales Sec  In Nov. 2018, she became the SNP Business Convener (or Party Chairman), succeeding Derek Mackay. She is married to Davinder Bedi and has two sons.

Ms. Oswald took over from Aberdeen North MP, Kirsty Blackman, who relinquished the role on July 1 due to ill-health. SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: "I want to express my thanks and gratitude to Kirsty Blackman for her three years as Deputy Leader. It has been a pleasure to work together. She has been a valued colleague and friend. and has made an important contribution to our work --  standing up for Scotland at Westminster and making the case for independence. I respect her decision to put her constituents and family first, and know she will continue to play a key role in the SNP team as the MP for Aberdeen North."

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     LANDSLIDE for SNP in UK Election !             

                                                                                                

The SNP's overwhelming success in the UK General Election on 12 Dec. 2019 provided a significant boost for a Yes majority in an Independence Referendum.  The party won 48 MPs, with 45.0% of the vote.   

First Minister NICOLA STURGEON had clearly spelt out what was at stake:--

"At this election, Scotland's future is on the line. This one really matters. People are heartily sick of Brexit. And they're fed up of Westminster too. A vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit and Westminster chaos. And a vote for the SNP will demand Scotland's right to choose its own future.

As an independent country in Europe, decisions can be taken by the people who live here -- not by Tory Governments we didn't vote for. Scotland is one of the world's wealthiest countries. We'll be able invest in things like the NHS, lifting kids out of poverty and a fair deal for pensioners -- not on nuclear weapons and a hard Brexit. And we'll be at the top table in Europe in our own right."                                                                                              Cartoon depiction by Wee Skribbles                                                                                                                                                                                     

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  BREXIT "done" --  now we must EXIT the UK                                                                                      

Apparently destined to be the most incompetent -- even comical -- British Prime Minister in history, BORIS JOHNSON has finally succeeded in making Brexit a reality.   

Johnson has been only too willing to "respect the wishes" of those who were persuaded to vote Leave in 2016 --- despite ample evidence that many thousands have changed their minds since then.  The cliff-edge was reached on 31 January 2020, the last in a series of extensions granted by the European Union.

Far from offering any serious opposition to the UK leaving Europe, Labour's prolonged inaction and hesitance actually assisted the Tory Government in its headlong rush to Brexit. Indeed, both of the major unionist parties have shown no apparent desire to prevent the UK heading for an economic abyss. At their 2019 annual conference, Labour delegates backed ex-leader Corbyn's wish to be "neutral" on the question of EU membership "until a later date." As a former Labour MP commented on the night of the December election: "It just goes to show that if you sit in the middle of the road, you will be run over!"

Support for Remain in Scotland stands at around 70-75%, but this hasn't prevented Westminster from completely ignoring the wishes and economic interests of our country. The overwhelming support given to the SNP in the Dec. 2019 election has presented our Government with several options, which will be revealed in the coming weeks. However, the simplest solution would be to have a referendum on Independence at the earliest possible opportunity. A successful outcome would immediately be followed by an application to rejoin the EU. We must turn "Brexit" into "Ex-Brit" !

 

Holyrood rejects UK's WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT Bill

The Bill which will take the UK out of the European Union has again been decisively rejected by the Scottish Parliament.  On January 8, MSPs voted by 92 to 29 to withhold consent to Westminster's legislation. Only the Tories voted against.

The result mirorred the decision of the Parliament taken on 15 May 2018. The motion (see below) was presented by Michael Russell, the SNP Government's Constitutional Relations Secretary, who said: "Last month, Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party suffered a heavy defeat in Scotland. The Tories lost more than half their MPs and now have barely 10% of Scottish Westminster seats." 

"Their Brexit plans were roundly rejected by the people of Scotland. Indeed, around 75% of voters in Scotland supported parties that either want to remain in the EU or support a second EU Referendum. Moreover, that result followed the EU Referendum in 2016, the UK Election in 2017 and the European Election last year, all of which sent the unambiguous message that Scotland wants to remain in the European Union. That message has been relayed time and time again. That message to the Prime Minister is as clear today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Let me put it this way, Prime Minister. We said no to Brexit, and we mean it !"

 

### See also UK's Internal Market Bill on the EUROPEAN UNION page.

 

Running scared of REFERENDUMS                                                                                                                               

BORIS JOHNSON has made no effort to conceal his opposition to Scotland holding another Independence referendum.

Despite our country being one of the oldest nations on the planet, his Government appears to be continuing to treat us as a virtual English possession, or similar to one of the "dependencies" or protectorates" in colonial times. But the Scottish Government will stand firm, and be adamant that we do not require permission from anyone else to decide our constitutional future. If it becomes necessary, we may have to appeal for support from our friends in Europe and elsewhere.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented:  "The UK Prime Minister is terrified that he would lose another referendum on Scottish independence.  It’s probably the same reason why he doesn’t want another EU referendum. People who are confident in their arguments don’t run away from the verdict of the people. I think people in Scotland are probably getting sick and tired of hearing what the Prime Minister wants. What the Prime Minister wants is not the most important thing here. What Scotland needs is what matters most. Brexit is demonstrating on a daily basis, right now, that Scotland needs the ability to take its own decisions, so that we’re not dragged down the wrong path by Tory ideologues, and we don’t constantly face the prospect of having policies imposed by Westminster Governments that we didn’t vote for. So I do think what Scotland needs is far more important than what the Prime Minister might want for his own narrow political interests.” 

### See also MAJORITY favour independence  on the SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT page.

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Time for our MPs to come HOME?

The SNP now has 48 of the 59 available Scottish seats at Westminster. But in the quest for our national independence, how important is it for the party to continue to have a large squad in what is, basically, England's Parliament?

When the SNP won nearly all of Scotland's Westminster seats in 2015, it proved to be only a consolation prize for losing the previous Referendum. Largely due to many of its complacement supporters staying at home, the party's MPs were reduced to 35 two years later. But lethargy and apathy were certainly not in evidence on 12 December 2019, when the SNP enjoyed yet another electoral landslide. Alas, the last four years have revealed that our elected representatives are definitely not welcomed, and barely tolerated, in the House of Commons. If that wasn't enough, some of our country's most gifted politicians have had to give their time and energy to discussion of British issues, rather than with the core aim of our party. 

In the SNP's earlier years, gaining seats at Westminster was the only available option for advancing the cause of home-rule. It was thought that if the party was to win a simple majority (37 or more) of Scotland's 72 Westminster seats, it would constitute a clear mandate to instigate negotiations on our nation's independence. The SNP has now won an even clearer majority in the London Parliament, which must be regarded as a rock-solid mandate to take our constitutional battle to the next stage. For some reason, the SNP's winning of three successive Scottish Parliamentary elections have not been accepted as "mandates" by the unionists.

There is no doubt that another overwhelming success in a Westminster election has provided the SNP and Scotland with a significant boost for an Independence Referendum in the next few months. But even if the SNP had won all 59 seats, no British Government, of any hue, could be relied upon to immediately enter into independence negotiations. This will be because our apparent enthusiasm for participation in Westminster elections will be wrongly construed as a continuing endorsement and acceptance of London rule. At this advanced stage in our journey, we must "keep our eyes on the prize." Our primary focus MUST be the referendum. 

Even if we didn't conclude this before, our experience over the last four years should have told us that the English Parliament is merely an impediment and a sideshow as far as our country is concerned. Most people now realise that it is the continuing popularity and effectiveness of the SNP Scottish Government that should determine the timing of the next referendum. From now on, the number of SNP MPs in London should not be regarded as some kind of crucial and essential yardstick for the measurement of our nation's progress to independence. Remember that the SNP primarily exists to have NO Scottish MPs at Westminster -- and as soon as possible!.

###  Your questions answered on Scottish self-government -- go to the INDEPENDENCE page.

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STATISTICALLY speaking . . . 

Scots are now fairly used to being fed various "statistics", which help to perpetuate the unionist claim that their country is an economic basket-case, which has to heavily rely on subsidies from the UK Government in order for it to function, or even survive.

Not only is this a myth -- it is the complete reverse in reality! True, we have our own devolved Government, but we do not yet possess the necessary levers and powers required to control the Scottish economy. Westminster still holds all the financial cards and pulls the purse-strings. Put bluntly: Over the years, the bulk of Scotland's resources and taxes have been requisitioned to progressively bolster the ever-increasing wealth of London and the south-east of England. Despite this, unionist politicians, of whatever party, are identical in their anxiety to perpetuate the myth. All sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to their claim that Scotland gets more than its fair share of "pocket money" from the London Treasury. They are always keen to talk up Westminster's "generosity" to the Scots, but very reluctant to admit just how much Scotland actually overpays for the "privilege" of being run from London.  

For example, since 1980-81, the UK Government has eagerly taken more than £300billion in tax receipts from the oil and gas fields in the Scottish sector of the North Sea. That works out at around £48,400 for every person in Scotland.  The money has been squandered on things like the horrendously expensive and unnecessary Trident missile system, futile military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and various ultra-costly developments or events in London or the "home counties" of England. Although the BBC and unionist press seemed to take inexplicable pleasure in the previous downturn in oil prices, they almost never mentioned that something like 24billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas, worth up to £1.5trillion, are still to be tapped in the Scottish sector of the North Sea and Atlantic.

### The UK National Debt now stands at £2.17 TRILLION, and grows at £5,170 per second !

The truth however is much worse. Factoring in all liabilities, including state and public sector pensions, the real national debt is closer to £4.8trillion -- some £78,000 for every person in the UK.      Note: 1 trillion =  1,000,000,000,000 or one million million.

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  The SCOTLAND OFFICE -- what is it for ?                                                                                    

We have had our own Government since 1999. So why is there still a need for a "Scotland Office"?

Devolution could be said to have begun in 1885, with the creation of the Scottish Office and the post of Secretary for Scotland, together with the opening of its HQ in Dover House (pictured) in London's Whitehall. From 1892, the Secretary for Scotland was given a seat in the Westminster cabinet. In 1926, the post was upgraded to Secretary of State for Scotland, followed by the opening of St. Andrew's House, in Edinburgh in 1939. The restoration of our Parliament in 1999 resulted in most of its work being transferred to the new "Scottish Executive" -- renamed the Scottish Government in 2007.

So why do we still need a "Secretary of State for Scotland", backed up with an expensive office in London?  With some vague intention of reflecting its changed role, the Scottish Office was rebranded as the Scotland Office in 1999.  Then, in order to make the office sound "more British", it took to calling itself the UK Government for Scotland in October 2015. This was shortened to UK Government Scotland, in May 2018 A spokesman explained: “We are keen to emphasise that Scotland has two governments." Meanwhile, the main Scotland Office website makes an attempt to define its present function -- in terms which would not be out of place in an infant school:--

"The Scotland Office ensures the smooth working of the devolution settlement in Scotland. We represent Scottish interests within the UK Government, and we represent the UK Government in Scotland. The Scotland Office ensures that when it comes to reserved matters (the issues that the UK Government deals with in Scotland), the people of Scotland’s voice is heard at the highest level in UK Government."Objectives: Strengthening and sustaining the union. To act as a custodian of the devolution settlement. Scotland’s voice in Whitehall: To represent Scottish interests within Government and support the rest of Government on UK matters. Championing the UK Government in Scotland: To represent and advocate for the UK Government’s policies and achievements in Scotland."

Given its new role, wouldn't it have been more accurate for the establishment to be renamed as the British Office?  By its own admission, it has assumed the role of an expensive and totally unnecessary propaganda unit for the UK Government. It now exists to 'sustain the Union', advocate Westminster's policies and sing the praises of its 'achievements' north of the border. Dover House used to employ two 'communications staff' -- or press officers -- at a cost of £108,439. During the 2014 independence referendum campaign these were increased to nine. Two years later, it was revealed that the cost of "media relations" had risen to £686,166, and in 2017-18 this had risen to £710,337. In 2015-16, the department lashed out £8,987 on "hospitality." But in 2016-17 that had skyrocketed to £61,641. 

The staff has risen to 71, with their total salary bill now approaching £9million. It is reasonable to ask how this huge increase can be justified, given that the specific responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland have decreasedA Scotland Office spokesman said: “The UK Government has a duty to inform the public about its policy and work. These modest year-on-year increases bring the office into line with similar (sic) UK departments. It also adds new functions such as digital communications, ensuring key information reaches as many people in Scotland as possible.”

So-called 'key information', primarily aimed at boosting support for the unionist parties, was mass-produced for the May 2015 General Election. In March of that year, the Scotland Office splashed out £936,560 on a glossy leaflet called Scotland’s Changing. It listed the 'new powers' set to be coming to the Scottish Parliament, and was sent to every household in the country.  An SNP spokesman commented:  “As the Tory Government implements massive cuts to spending on public services and slashes the incomes of the poorest through welfare cuts, people will be shocked that it is spending 430% more on press officers for David Mundell." The party called for the office's abolition on 16 March 2019.

 

The UK's new "HUB" in Edinburgh                                                                                                     

The Government Property Agency (GPA) was set up in April 2018, with the aim of creating around 20 major multi-departmental UK Government regional "hubs", designed to provide "cutting-edge, innovative working environments across all four nations of the UK."

Queen Elizabeth House (pictured), in Ednburgh, is located in the Canongate at New Street. Constructed by a Northern Ireland company, the building was opened on 13 June 2019. It will be the UK Government’s "flagship hub" in Scotland, functioning as the base for several bodies. 

The building will contain offices of the the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Advocate General for Scotland, HM Revenue & Customs, the Competition & Markets Authority, the Office for Statistics Regulation, the UK Government Actuary’s Department and HM Treasury. Staff from the Health & Safety Executive and the Information Commissioner’s Office will also be based there. It is due to officially open in March 2020, and will house around 2,900 civil servants. There is even a purpose-built Cabinet Room for the use of the UK Government –- the first to be created outside London. Another "hub" will be opened in Glasgow. This job advertisement is obviously for a propaganda officer, in everything but name:--

 

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Scrap the HOUSE OF LORDS                                                                                                                 

The SNP has renewed its call for a wholly-elected chamber to replace the anachronistic and grossly undemocratic House of Lords. 

This followed a report that, on any day, the 826 unelected peers can pocket £300 -- just by being in the building for an hour. They neither have to contribute or vote on any matters to receive the funds, and can even have a snooze (picture). As the cash is paid as an allowance rather than a salary, it is not even subject to taxation.

The SNP's spokesperson on the Lords is the MP for Aberdeen North, Kirsty Blackman. In December 2015, she commented: "People may be astonished to learn that this money – which can amount to tens of thousands of pounds a year – is not subject to income tax. This is particularly galling, as the first act of some of the newly ennobled Tory peers  was to vote to end tax credits for the low-paid, and deprive working families on low incomes of this essential benefit."

“Following pressure from the SNP in the House of Commons, the Tories had to perform a humiliating U-turn on tax credits. However, the gross juxtaposition of the most privileged and pampered in the land gleefully hitting out at hard working people, will not be lost on voters. The SNP has never taken seats in the House of Lords. It is now no more than a chamber of cronies -- filled with hangers-on and people with big cheque books who pay their political bosses to get a seat guaranteed for life. They face no democratic accountability, and never have to bother with the trouble of an election."

"The House of Lords is nothing more than an affront to democracy. It shines a light on the utter failure of Westminster’s creaking not-fit-for-purpose ‘democracy’, and yet it grows and grows in numbers. Even the Tories want to clip its wings by reducing its role even further. This Christmas, as the peers ponder how to spend their lavish tax free allowances, the message is simple. Don’t reduce its powers and make it even more of a useless relic. Get rid of it – close it down for good in 2016 – and replace it with something that remotely resembles a democratic chamber."

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TAX OFFICES face closure 

HM Revenue & Customs is set to close its 17 offices in Scotland by 2021, with the net loss of over 2,000 jobs. The UK Government plans to replace them with two large "regional centres" in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The Aberdeen office -- at Ruby House, near Golden Square -- will close by 2021, with 120 losing their jobs. The Inverness centre will also go by 2018, with the loss of about 50 positions. Apparently, staff in those offices will not automatically move to one of the new regional centres. On November 12, Callum McCaig, the SNP MP for Aberdeen South, said he would be seeking answers as to whether this will prompt wholesale compulsory redundancies.

Mr. McCaig commented: "HMRC can dress up this announcement any way they like. The fact of the matter is they are closing offices without making employment provisions for the people who currently work there. They have also not clearly outlined what this decision will means for the immediate and short-term future of their employees in Aberdeen. Like many other MPs, I received a letter which claimed the closure plans would make the tax authority 'more fit for the future'. Well, I don’t think it is fit to make mass changes without providing the necessary information for people whose jobs look set to be affected."

"At a time where thousands are being detrimentally affected by radical changes to their own personal tax credits, the loss of their local office will damage the confidence people have in receiving adequate support and help from the HMRC. It is very disappointing that such a major announcement has come without further details and information. This decision appears to be a short-sighted one, and I hope HMRC can provide me, and the people I represent, with the answers we need to determine how this 'modernisation programme' will impact on the people of Aberdeen."

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  KIRSTY'S OFFICE

Kirsty Blackman opened her new office, at 46 John Street, Aberdeen, on 6 November 2015.

              

Kirsty says all constituents and others are welcome to drop in anytime.

 

The office also accepts donations for local foodbanks

 

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Blackman slams EVEL plans                                                                                         

In anticipation of the Tory Government's highly controversial policy of "English Votes for English Laws" (EVEL)  being implemented, new computer software is being  introduced  into the House of Commons.

MPs currently vote by funnelling down ‘Aye’ or ‘Nay’ lobbies, with their votes being counted manually. In a belated  bid to modernise the procedure, the House spent £5,000 last year on developing software which would enable votes to be counted electronically. A further £9,900 was spent on tablet devices, and £4,900 for i-Pads. The UK Parliament is obviously lagging far behind Holyrood, where MSPs have been using individual electronic key-pads on their desks to vote since the Scottish Parliament was restored in 1999. 

Taxpayers' money has already been spent on other measures, to ensure that Scottish MPs will in future be locked out of some House of Commons votes. In anticipation of the Tory proposals for "English Votes for English Laws",  a further £1,700 was spent on adapting the original software to record "double majorities." This would  ensure that the votes of Scottish MPs’ are not recorded for English-only divisions --  despite the proposals not gaining initial support from the Parliament, and forcing the Tory Government into a humiliating climb-down.

The information was unearthed in response to a Parliamentary Question by Kirsty Blackman, the SNP MP for Aberdeen North. On 25 July 2015, she commented:  “The Tories’ EVEL proposals are in complete disarray, as can be seen from the UK Government’s humiliating backtrack when challenged by MPs. It must now be asked why an extra £1,700 of taxpayers’ money has now been splashed out,  in addition to the £5,000 spent on adapting software last year -- all to ensure Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs are locked out of certain votes.

“If the Tories’ EVEL proposals are passed, Scottish MPs will be demoted to a second-class status. Whilst it is not the largest sum of money to be wasted by the Westminster establishment, it speaks volumes about their attitude towards Scotland and the rights of our democratically elected representatives. This waste of cash really hits home when you consider the Tories’ just passed a budget – supported by Labour inaction – that is attacking working families and the most vulnerable in our society. It is clear for all to see that the priorities of the Westminster establishment are more focused on protecting its own interests than serving the people they are meant to represent.”

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  WELFARE slashed again -- with Labour support

The UK Government's draconian WELFARE REFORM & WORK BILL aims to slash tax credits for those in work, and cap the level of social security families can receive. Around 346,000 families and nearly 200,000 children in Scotland are expected to be the worst hit by the new measures. 

MPs voted on the Bill's Second Reading on 20 July 2015, and -- thanks to the Labour Party -- passed it on to its next stage. Only 48 Labour members followed the SNP into the No lobby. Had Corbyn's party all joined with the SNP and other parties, the Bill would have been defeated. However, for some reason known only to themselves, 184 Labour MPs -- including their only Scottish member, Ian Murray -- abstained in the crucial final vote.

Their apparent lack of concern resulted in the Bill being passed by 308 to 124, a majority of 184. Coincidence, or was it Labour's intention to support the Tory austerity plan -- without being seen to do so?  After the vote, Pete Wishart MP asked the Speaker if the seating in the House of Commons could be rearranged to show that the SNP was now the official Opposition. The Tory-Labour Welfare Bill was enacted on 16 March 2016. It will result in cuts to Employment & Support Allowance and Housing Benefit for young people. Also the abolition of child poverty targets and cuts to Child Tax Credits.

Labour's failure to oppose the Tory war on the needy was condemned by Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, who sits on the Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee. He commented:  "The Tories have already severely slashed the welfare budget, and these new measures will again target the most vulnerable in our society. Over the last few years, through both my work in Aberdeen and on the Welfare Reform Committee, I've seen the human cost of Iain Duncan Smith's ruthless cuts."

"This latest money-saving exercise is utterly callous. It appears to have been thought up with no knowledge or regard for the struggles many people face. Tax credits are one of the few ways that the UK Government is helping working families keep their heads above water, but that support is now being snatched away too. It is a travesty that half a million children in Scotland will be at risk of falling into poverty -- and Labour is doing nothing to stop it.   This Bill has to be defeated before it can become law, and be allowed to condemn a generation to Dickensian levels of poverty and inequality.”

Kirsty Blackman, the SNP MP for Aberdeen North, was equally incensed. She added: "There was an opportunity to stop this cold-hearted Bill in its tracks. The SNP was joined by every other party in opposition except Labour. Had their MPs not abstained there would have been enough votes to defeat the Tories. Thousands of families now face being worse off because of Labour MPs failing to vote. Perhaps Labour should consider replacing their red rose with a shirking violet. A bit closer to blue, with an inability to oppose the Tories or stand up for the many who will suffer under this legislation.”

### See also  Protection from UK AUSTERITY on the ABERDEEN CENTRAL page.

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SCOTLAND BILL faces amendments in Lords

The UK Government's Scotland Bill -- already watered-down from the Smith Commission's modest proposals --  will also face amendments in the House of Lords.

This prompted an incredulous response from Kirsty Blackman MP, who is the SNP spokesperson on the House of Lords. On 5 July 2015, she commented: "That this out-of-touch, unelected group looks set to have more influence on amending the Scotland Bill than Scotland’s elected MPs is completely ridiculous. Just last week, 58 of our 59 MPs voted for amendments to the Bill, but were overruled by the Tories, who only have one Scottish MP. To add insult to injury, the Tory Government now looks set to take on board amendments from the unelected Lords. David Mundell and David Cameron need to understand that they can't just simply bypass the democratic will of Scotland's people.  They should recognise the unprecedented mandate given to the SNP at the General Election, and deliver the powers that were voted for –- rather than demonstrating arrogance in ignoring Scotland’s voice, while listening to the undemocratic absurdity of the House of Lords.”

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Moratorium on FRACKING

In a House of Commons debate on the UK Government's Infrastructure Bill, SNP MPS backed a moratorium on the highly controversial practice of "fracking" for shale oil and gas. 

Hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- is being suggested for the recovery of deposits of gas and oil from shale rock in Scotland and Northern England. It involves drilling deep into the earth, sometimes close to urban areas. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the basic rock at high pressure, which allows gas to flow up to the wellhead. In addition to the highly toxic chemicals used in drilling, other natural but dangerous chemical and radioactive substances, released from the coal and shale,  can lead to contamination of ground-water and soil, and leak into the atmosphere.

The SNP regards fracking as potentially dangerous to both people and the environment. Although all of its MPs voted for an 18- to 30-month ban on the process, their motion failed because most Labour's MPs abstained. On 27 January 2015, Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, blasted Scottish Labour MPs -- including its two in Aberdeen -- for failing to back the ban. Mr Stewart said: “Scottish Labour have shown themselves to be a complete sham on fracking. After a weekend of posturing, Jim Murphy and his colleagues failed to back a moratorium in practice."

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing subsequently announced the Scottish Government's own moratorium on planning consents for 'unconventional' onshore oil and gas wells, including those employing  hydraulic fracturing.  A full public consultation will be held to ensure that the voices of communities throughout Scotland are heard on the issue. Mr. Ewing has also requested the UK Government not to issue any further 'fracking' licences in Scotland.

As part of the UK Infrastructure Bill, a separate vote on full implementation of the Wood Review on the oil and gas industry was passed. This was despite a Labour and Liberal Democrat move to water down its full recommendations --  in order to maximise oil and gas revenues contributing towards a realisation of the much-heralded UK "economic recovery". Mr. Stewart said the bid to undermine Sir Ian Wood's recommendations "merely served to betray hard-pressed oil workers in Aberdeen."  The Oil & Gas UK industry body has also strongly criticised attempts to derail full implementation of the review.

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WINNING FOR SCOTLAND!

UK GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS  12 Dec. 2019:--

                                                                      
ABERDEEN NORTH                                                                     ABERDEEN SOUTH

Kirsty Blackman            SNP           20,205                                    Stephen Flynn              SNP            20,388

Ryan Houghton             Con.             7,535                                    Douglas Lumsden        Con.           16,398

Nurul Ali                         Lab.             4,939                                    Ian Yuill                         Lib.              5,018

Isobel Davidson             Lib.              2,846                                    Shona Simpson            Lab.             3,834

Seb Leslie                     Brexit            1,008                                    SNP GAIN FROM CON.     Maj. 3,990       Turnout 69.4% 

Guy Ingerson               Green               880                                

SNP HOLD.          Maj. 12,670         Turnout 59.9%

 

GORDON

Richard Thomson            SNP            23,885

Colin Clark                       Con.            23,066

James Oates                    Lib.               5,913

Heather Herbert             Lab.               3,052

SNP GAIN FROM CON.    Maj. 819     Turnout 70.2%

 

NICOLA STURGEON meets with SNP MPs on 12 June 2017.

 

UK General Election 2019

59 candidates (45.0%) and 48 MPs:--

Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North), Stephen Flynn< (Aberdeen South), Neil Gray (Airdrie & Shotts), Dave Doogan< (Angus), Brendan O’Hara (Argyll & Bute), Allan Dorans< (Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock),  Philippa Whitford (Ayrshire Central), Patricia Gibson (Ayrshire North & Arran), Steven Bonnar* (Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill), Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East), Amy Callaghan+ (Dunbartonshire East),  Martin Docherty-Hughes (Dunbartonshire West), Stewart Hosie (Dundee East), Chris Law (Dundee West), Douglas Chapman (Dunfermline & Fife West), Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow), Kenny MacAskill* (East Lothian), Tommy Sheppard  (Edinburgh East), Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North & Leith), Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West), John McNally (Falkirk), Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central), David Linden (Glasgow East), Patrick Grady (Glasgow North), Anne McLaughlin* (Glasgow North East), Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West), Stewart M. McDonald (Glasgow South), Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West), Peter Grant (Glenrothes), Richard Thomson< (Gordon), Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde), Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey), Alan Brown (Kilmarnock & Loudoun), Neale Hanvey* (Kirkcaldy  & Cowdenbeath), Angela Crawley (Lanark & Hamilton East), Martyn Day  (Linlithgow & Falkirk East), Hannah Bardell (Livingston), Owen Thompson* (Midlothian),  Marion Fellows (Motherwell & Wishaw), Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), John Nicolson< (Ochil & Perthshire South), Gavin Newlands (Paisley & Renfrewshire North), Mhairi Black (Paisley & Renfrewshire South), Pete Wishart (Perth & Perthshire North), Kirsten Oswald<  (Renfrewshire East), Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye & Lochaber), Margaret Ferrier* (Rutherglen & Hamilton West), Alyn Smith< (Stirling). 

*=gains from Labour.        <=gains from Conservatives.      +=gain from Liberal Democrats. 
 

Front Bench team  (appointed on 7 Jan. 2020) :--

Group Leader -- Ian Blackford;  Deputy Leader* and Shadow Northern Ireland & Wales Sec. -- Kirsten Oswald; Shadow Foreign Sec. -- Alyn Smith; Shadow Chancellor -- Alison ThewlissShadow Home Sec. & Justice Sec. -- Joanna CherryShadow Defence Sec. -- Stewart M. McDonaldShadow Sec. of State for Exiting the EU -- Philippa Whitford Shadow Attorney-General and Min. for Immigration -- Stuart C. McDonaldShadow Sec. of State for Scotland -- Mhairi BlackShadow Leader of the House of Commons -- Tommy Sheppard;  Shadow Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster & Min. for the Cabinet Office -- Pete Wishart;  Women & Equalities -- Anne McLaughlin;   Culture, Media & Sport -- John NicolsonHousing, Communities & Local Government -- David Linden;  International Trade -- Stewart HosieBusiness, Energy & Industrial Strategy -- Drew Hendry;  Work & Pensions -- Neil GrayTransport -- Gavin NewlandsEducation, Military Personnel & Veterans --  Carol Monaghan;  International Development -- Chris LawEnvironment, Food & Rural Affairs --  Deidre Brock.                * from 7 Jul. 2020.