Real de­bate on coun­cil tax needed

Rutherglen Reformer - - Working For You/Job Spot -

Many peo­ple did a dou­ble take when the SNP an­nounced their U-turn on the coun­cil tax.

Af­ter 10 years of say­ing it was an un­fair tax that they wanted to get rid of, the SNP an­nounced that they were now go­ing to keep it.

The ba­sic is­sue here is how lo­cal coun­cils are funded and what say lo­cal peo­ple have over the spend­ing pri­or­ity.

I took the op­por­tu­nity to chal­lenge SNP com­mu­ni­ties min­is­ter Alex Neil di­rectly in par­lia­ment about the SNP govern­ment’s cuts to education re­sult­ing from the mas­sive cuts in lo­cal govern­ment fund­ing.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment is cut­ting £500mil­lion from coun­cils across Scot­land, and af­ter their U-turn on the coun­cil tax, is putting even more pres­sure on lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to make sav­ings.

Un­for­tu­nately this threat­ens teach­ers, re­sources and pupil sup­port.

It was a pity that when the SNP Scot­tish Govern­ment had the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing about the cuts, they chose in­stead to cut and paste Ge­orge Os­borne’s aus­ter­ity mea­sures.

In the com­ing elec­tion, par­ties will have the op­por­tu­nity to lay out how they will use the new pow­ers of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment to make a dif­fer­ence.

It is time now for the par­lia­ment to grow up and for the par­ties to rise to the de­bate.

The peo­ple of Scot­land de­serve a proper de­bate; let’s hope all the political par­ties can live up to that.

The hypoc­racy of Alex Sal­mond

We know Alex Sal­mond is a busy man, and when the SNP promised that their MP’s/MSP’s wouldn’t have a se­cond job, I’m sure we all re­alised that it shouldn’t ap­ply to him.

It’s only fair that on top of his own MP’s salary, MSP salary, ex First Min­is­ter pen­sion which is now be­ing paid, that he should be able to in­crease his earn­ings.

That’s why he’s earn­ing over £100,000 ex­tra from writ­ing news­pa­per col­umns.

He’s also en­tered into a com­mer­cial con­tract with LBC ra­dio to host a weekly ra­dio show, which un­for­tu­nately for us, is not broad­cast in Scot­land.

And of course it was only fair that the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment al­lowed him to broad­cast his weekly show from Holy­rood be­cause he had to be present in case the SNP lost the bud­get vote (on Labour’s pro­posed 1p tax rise to pro­tect pub­lic ser­vices).

But what is re­ally strange about Alex Sal­mond’s pri­or­i­ties is what he sees as im­por­tant.

He re­cently made time from his busy Lon­don sched­ule to come to Ed­in­burgh to un­veil a por­trait of him­self, but com­mit­ments in Lon­don pre­vented him from vot­ing on a bill in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment to im­prove or­gan do­na­tions in Scot­land.

He said he sup­ports the idea, one which would have saved hun­dreds of lives each year, but he was just too busy to at­tend.

It’s time now for par­lia­ment to grow up and for par­ties to rise to the de­bate

I sup­pose that says it all.

Out and about James Kelly and his Labour team out in Ruther­glen at the week­end

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