Scot­land is suf­fer­ing from harsh Tory cuts

Rutherglen Reformer - - News from the Pews -

It’s hard to be­lieve a year has passed since the In­de­pen­dence Ref­er­en­dum.

In many com­mu­ni­ties across Ruther­glen, Cam­bus­lang and Blan­tyre there were ma­jori­ties for ‘ Yes’. How­ever, a ma­jor­ity in our coun­try were not per­suaded or ready for In­de­pen­dence.

A lot has hap­pened in that year. We all re­mem­ber the now in­fa­mous ‘vow’ made to Scot­tish vot­ers by the anti-in­de­pen­dence cam­paign. They of­fered as close to home rule and fed­er­al­ism within the UK as pos­si­ble. It is es­ti­mated that around 25 per cent of those that voted ‘no’ did so be­cause of that of­fer. To­day only nine per cent of Scots be­lieve the ‘vow’ has been de­liv­ered, and many ‘no’ vot­ers be­lieve they were cheated.

What has Scot­land had from the UK Gov­ern­ment in­stead? Sav­age cuts to our bud­gets and an on­go­ing as­sault on our most vul­ner­a­ble con­stituents. Un­fair sanc­tion­ing of those on ben­e­fits to meet aus­ter­ity tar­gets, and re­form­ing the hous­ing ben­e­fit and tax credit sys­tems to tar­get and pe­nalise young adults and fam­i­lies. Or even un­der­min­ing our trade union move­ment by leg­is­lat­ing to erode work­ers’ rights, rights hard fought over gen­er­a­tions. The story of the last year has been one of at­tacks on our com­mu­ni­ties by an out of touch and dis­tant UK Gov­ern­ment.

How­ever the re­sponse from the SNP and the Yes move­ment has been in­spi­ra­tional. Far from hav­ing a ‘we told you’ men­tal­ity, there’s a real de­ter­mi­na­tion to stand up for our com­mu­ni­ties across Scot­land. The 56 SNP MPs, in­clud­ing our very own lo­cal MP Mar­garet Ferrier, is tes­ta­ment to that de­ter­mi­na­tion. I work closely with Mar­garet rep­re­sent­ing con­stituents in my ca­pac­ity as an SNP MSP for Glas­gow Re­gion and am well aware of the pain that UK aus­ter­ity is caus­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties. I see too many ex­am­ples in my ad­vice surg­eries in Cam­bus­lang and Ruther­glen.

Our MPs are not only mak­ing Scot­land’s voice heard, but are also seek­ing to make com­mon cause with any pro­gres­sive voices that ex­ist in Eng­land. We want to help not just our com­mu­ni­ties, but oth­ers right across the UK.

Mak­ing our voice heard is vi­tal in rep­re­sent­ing com­mu­ni­ties ef­fec­tively. Yet lis­ten­ing to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties is some­thing that South La­nark­shire Coun­cil seem to be sin­gu­larly in­ca­pable of. Their de­ci­sion to axe free school travel – al­beit in April next year – is the latest part of Labour’s chaotic han­dling of the mat­ter. The coun­cil will now re­in­state school travel for some – those on free school meals for in­stance – but not for oth­ers. This will lead to some chil­dren walk­ing un­safe routes to school and oth­ers be­ing able to take a bus. Many par­ents who ex­pe­ri­ence in­work poverty will not be able to pay com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors to take their kids to school. The tac­tic seems to be one of di­vide and rule.

The coun­cil have also got it spec­tac­u­larly wrong with the ex­ten­sion of the Cathkin Re­lief Road, which re­ceived plan­ning per­mis­sion re­cently. It’s un­needed, un­wanted and will im­pact dread­fully on the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. My view is it’s a com­plete waste of money and se­ri­ously calls into ques­tion the pri­or­i­ties of South La­nark­shire Coun­cil.

On a brighter note, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has just an­nounced our Pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment which sets out a range of mea­sures to take for­ward the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to mak­ing Scot­land a fairer, more equal na­tion. Some ex­am­ples in­clude plac­ing a duty on public author­i­ties to re­port on the gen­der pay gap, con­sult­ing on a So­cial Se­cu­rity Bill for a new, and far fairer, sys­tem of so­cial se­cu­rity in Scot­land, and en­sur­ing that kin­ship car­ers are equipped with the same level of sup­port as foster car­ers.

I am par­tic­u­larly proud of our kin­ship carer com­mit­ment and I have worked with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment since 2007 to get to this point. I promised kin­ship car­ers when I was elected that this is a cause I would cham­pion. I’m de­lighted we have now de­liv­ered for kin­ship car­ers.

Stand­ing up Bob Doris MSP

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