by Alastair Brian
In the first law of its kind in Europe, the Scottish Parliament voted to introduce a minimum price of 50p per alcohol unit this week.
It will come into force in April next year and aims to cut alcohol consumption to save lives and cut the adverse impact alcohol misuse and over consumption has on health, crime and the economy. Four cans of lager will then cost a minimum of £7.92, a bottle of win will be from £4.69 and a bottle of vodka will retail for at least £13.13
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the move would have ‘a significant and historic impact.’
It was passed by 86 in favour, 1 against and 32 abstentions.
Labour Party MSPs abstained. Their Shadow Public Health Minister and former addictions specialist, Dr Richard Simpson MSP, said: ‘Scottish Labour offered to support the Bill if the SNP Government accepted our positive proposals to recoup the massive £125 million windfall this generates for big supermarkets and invest that money in tackling the root causes of alcohol misuse and dealing with its consequences.’ He went on: ‘By refusing to reverse its opposition to Scottish Labour’s progressive proposal, the SNP Government has thrown away an opportunity for the whole Parliament to be united in support of minimum pricing. Communities that suffer alcohol-related, anti-social behaviour, will be left wondering why – at a time when budgets across the public sector are tight and the alcohol misuse budget is being cut by SNP by over £3 million – the SNP has voted to stuff the pockets of supermarket shareholders with gold, instead of ploughing the £125 million windfall back into our police and health service that are left to deal with the effects of alcohol misuse.’
The one vote against the new law was a mistake by SNP’s Rosanna Cunningham who admitted she pressed the wrong button in a tweet, later.
However, the new law puts question marks against the authority of Scottish Labour Leader, Johann Lamont. It appears that while she and the Scottish Labour Party in Holyrood opposed the Bill despite their amendment, Scottish Labour MPs are expected to support such a minimum price policy at Westminster.
Bob Doris, SNP MSP for Glasgow, commented: ‘The fact that Labour’s Scottish MPs – including their Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar – support the policy as part of the Westminster Labour group, makes a mockery of Johann Lammont’s claim to be leader of all Scottish Labour. She had one last chance to put Labour’s dreadful politicking of the last few years, behind her and back a policy which she knows is in the interests of the people of Scotland.’
The minimum pricing measure is part of the wider strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse set out in’Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action.’ Research shows that since 2000 enough alcohol is sold annually in Scotland to enable every adult aged over 16, to exceed the sensible male weekly guideline of 21 units every week. Scottish per capita alcohol sales are now almost a quarter (23%) higher than in England and Wales. While sales have fallen by around 8% from a 2005 peak in England and Wales, there has been no similar decline in Scotland.
In 2009-10 more than 100 people were discharged from hospital each day following alcohol related illness and injury. These discharge figures have more than quadrupled since the early 1980s.
Mortality figures, based on cases where alcohol use is considered to be the direct cause of death, may significantly underestimate the true scale of the problem. Now it is estimated that 1 in 20 deaths in Scotland is alcohol linked. This is almost twice as many as previously calculated. A quarter of male deaths and a fifth of female deaths in the 35-44 year age group, are thought to be alcohol attributable.
Scotland has one of the fastest growing rates of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the world, leading the Chief Medical Officer to add alcoholic liver disease to the list of ‘big killers’, alongside heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Work has started at Holyrood. MSPs have now sworn on oath, to do what people have elected them to do and uphold and make the laws of the land.
Time will tell how many will apply themselves with vigour to the task. And time will also tell how the political parties re-align themselves in the new balance of power. But first Labour and Lib Dems need to sort themselves out and find a cohesive strategy. Maybe, just maybe, they first have to find themselves and stop blaming the big boy who hit them and ran away.
The successful Constituency and List candidates from last week’s election lost no time in starting work at the Scottish Parliament.
Familiarisation for the newcomers, settling in for the seasoned MSPs and the swearing in ceremony on Wednesday 11 May for everyone. With a new presiding officer selected -Tricia Marwick, the first female to hold this important office – the Team Scotland in all its different hues was ready for action.
The LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW has asked each party what its priorities are now.
Glasgow’s lone Conservative and Unionist Party MSP, Ruth Davidson, said: ‘I’m delighted and honoured to be elected to represent Glasgow in the Scottish Parliament. I pledge to work for everyone regardless of how they voted – especially during the period of the Commonwealth Games when the eyes of half the world will be upon us. I will do everything I can to stand up for Glasgow in the Scottish Parliament.’
In the Green corner, Patrick Harvie retained one of the two seats his party had held previously in the Scottish Parliament, by attracting 5.95% of the Glasgow List vote. He said: ‘It’s great to be back in Holyrood again and thanks to everyone across the city who voted Green last week. Now the SNP have won their historic majority, it will be harder and more necessary for the rest of Parliament to scrutinise them and to hold them to account. But we will also aim to work constructively with them where there are opportunities to do so. I am also committed to being as strong a Green voice as possible for Glasgow and to working with party colleagues towards next year’s crucial local council elections.’
The jubilant SNP, with 69 seats have a majority for the first time in the Scottish Parliament’s history. Now they can easily drive through their legislation. Even reduced by one seat when Tricia Marwick became Presiding Officer, the SNP majority gives their Government real clout.
Labour have 37 seats in the Scottish Parliament and have lost several leading politicians in Glasgow – Frank McAveety, Charlie Gordon, Bill Butler and Pauline McNeill. Conservatives took 15, Lib Dems 5, Greens 2 and one Independent seat to bonnie fechtur, Margo Macdonald.
First Minister Alex Salmond was on the phone to Westminster as soon as he knew the good hand the Scottish electorate had dealt him. His first negotiation was to push to strengthen the Scotland Bill. The demands from Holyrood now press the Westminister government for earlier access to enhanced borrowing powers to support capital investment, responsibility for Corporation Tax and control of the Crown Estate to benefit the renewables programme.
The first SNP MSP to respond to the LOCAL NEWS request for their priorities was James Dornan for Cathcart Constituency. He took the seat from Labour’s Charlie Gordon.
He said: ‘my immediate priority is to put my office in a high-profile, extremely visible location to ensure everyone knows who their MSP is and where they can contact me. I’ll continue the work I started as a Glasgow City Councillor in representing my constituents and do all I can to save Glasgow’s charities from the brutal and heartless decision of the city’s Labour administration, to cease the concessionary rent scheme. This is leaving some of Glasgow’s most crucial charities in real danger of closure.’
Sandra White the Constituency MSP for Kelvin said: ‘One of my many priorities will be to ensure that the grassroots voices of the people of Kelvin will be heard. I also aim to protect our open spaces and the unique character of Kelvin and to promote equality of life for all through housing, jobs and education.’
List MSP Bob Doris of the SNP said: I intend to ensure that sectarianism and anti-Irish racism continues to be tackled long after the latest round of media headlines have faded. We need a consistent, long-term approach and I hope to lead a Members’ Debate on the matter in the Scottish Parliament in the near future. I also want to do all I can to promote jobs and economic recovery in our city and – yes- that does require more powers for Scotland. I am also preparing to consult on a Members’ Bill to change legislation to allow Fatal Accident Inquiries to be held into suspicious or unexplained deaths of Scots overseas. This follows the tragic death of Maryhill woman Julie Love’s son, in the waters of Margarita Island, Venezuela. Add to that my wedding to my fiancee, Janet, in Rhodes in August and it should be a busy few months ahead!’
The first Labour MSP to respond was Paul Martin who said: ‘ It is a privilege to be elected the first MSP for the new Glasgow Provan seat. The next five years will be incredibly challenging given the decrease in public spending that is forecast. I want to spend the next term in Holyrood fighting for health services to stay local by making sure we keep Lightburn Hospital in my constituency open. I also want to make sure that local people are not left stranded with a bus service more worried about profits than the public. The re-regulation of the bus industry is vital and the cowardice from the current Scottish Government cannot continue. However, most importantly for me, I will always make sure that the views of local people and communities are heard. It is an honour to serve the area I was born and brought up in and I will spend the next five years dedicated to its residents.’
In an extraordinary night which changed the political landscape of Scotland, Glasgow voters rejected long established Labour Party names: Charlie Gordon, Pauline McNeil, Patricia Ferguson and Frank McAveety.
Instead the Scottish National Party (SNP) was able to declare: ‘It’s a stunning night.’
Nicola Sturgeon was returned to the Scottish Parliament for the newly configured Glasgow Southside with 12,306 votes to Labour Stephen Curran’s 7957 votes.
SNP gained Anniesland constituency by seven votes for Bill Kidd who polled 10,329 votes to Labour Bill Butler’s 10,322.
In Cathcart Constituency James Dornan took the seat for SNP with 11,918 compared to Labour Charlie Gordon’s 10,326
Kelvin Constituency was won by Sandra White with 10,640 compared to incumbent Labour’s Pauline McNeill who polled 9,758.
Glasgow Shettleston went to SNP’s John Mason with 10,128 compared to Labour Frank McAveety’s 9,542.
The only seats to stay in Labour Party hands were:
Newly aligned Maryhill and Springburn constituency with Patricia Ferguson polling 9884 compared to SNP’s Bob Doris on 8592.
Glasgow Pollok seat stayed with Labour’s Johann Lamont with 10,875 compared to SNP Chris Stephens’s 10,252.
Paul Martin kept Glasgow Provan with 10,037 in contrast to SNP Anne McLaughlin’s vote of 7,958.
As other wins for SNP were being announced during the Glasgow count, Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘The SNP is now a force to be reckoned with across Scotland. This is a triumph for our Positive campaign. Our job now is to unite Scotland and to lead.’
In a bitter response at the podium her opponent, Labour’s Stephen Curran said: ‘The SNP will never get away with this in Glasgow.’
Sandra White commented later: ‘The SNP has broken the back of Labour in Glasgow with our Positive campaign.’
Labour’s Pat Ferguson said: ‘I’m proud and privileged to have served this constituency. I was the first Labour MSP for the former Maryhill/Springburn constituency and do not take one single vote for granted for one second. I am there to fight for every sector of the community in this new constituency and to make sure they are dealt with fairly.’ Her SNP opponent, Bob Doris, announced his wedding in his speech. ‘Four years ago I didn’t mention Janet my girlfriend in my thank you speech. Today I’m mentioning my fiancee Janet and soon she’ll be Mrs Doris!’ He also said the overall results in Glasgow and Scotland were ‘staggering’ for the SNP. And in an impassioned plea he asked for ‘even more positive results next time.’
John Mason who won and later lost the Westminster seat in the city’s East End, and secured the Shettleston constituency for SNP at Holyrood, first praised the outgoing Frank McAveety who had been the Labour MSP for the area. ‘We must thank him for all the work he’s done in Glasgow’s East End.’ But he went on: ‘The SNP ran a positive campaign – securing the M74 completion work, the Commonwealth Games and the rail link to Edinburgh as well as the council tax freeze. But Labour ran a negative campaign, running down the SNP and running down Scotland. The Labour Party must take a long, hard look at themselves.’ In promising to have a visible presence with a shop in Shettleston and being easily contactable by his constituents he added: ‘It is an incredible privilege to be trusted by the voters to serve this constituency.’
Frank McAveety in his farewell speech said: ‘I’ve served the East End of Glasgow for 22 years – as a teacher, a city councillor and as MSP. I care passionately about my city and its problems.’ Amid shouts and boos from the assembled crowd at the Glasgow constituencies’ count in the city’s SECC, he went on: ‘This country is now polarised. The Commonwealth Games was a Labour led initiative as was the National Indoor Sports arena. We made the largest investment in schools and education and I will work tirelessly to win this seat back for Labour.’
At 4am when it was clear that SNP had made remarkable gains in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I’m thrilled. There are quite stunning results across Scotland.’
In Cathcart were Labour’s sitting MSP Charlie Gordon lost the seat to SNP’s James Dornan, James Dornan said: ‘Charlie conducted his campaign in a gentlemanly fashion.’ In an emotional speech he went on to say: ‘I will represent everyone in this constituency. It is the area I was brought up in. I raised my kids here. We have worked hard day and night for the past three months and I thank all those who worked like Trojans to secure this positive result for the constituency.’
A sombre Charlie Gordon responded: ‘I’ve been a Labour Party activist for 42 years. I leave this stage tonight a wealthy man. Wealthy because I have my health and a wonderful family.’
Paul Martin who retained Glasgow Provan for Labour ranted about the SNP cuts. When his SNP opponent, Anne McLaughlin took the podium, a re-count was in process for the Anniesland Constituency where initially one vote appeared to be the difference between the lead candidates. She forecast: ‘These successes in Glasgow and across Scotland are not a one-off for the SNP. By electing SNP in force in Glasgow, the city has broken the link of people’s dependency on Labour for ever. If Labour continue their scurrulous attacks on Scotland, their lies will be found out and the people of Scotland will stop listening to them.’
In Glasgow Kelvin where SNP’s Sandra White took the seat from Labour’s Pauline McNeill, Sandra paid tribute to Pauline’s hard work in that community and said: ‘The SNP have aspirations for the people of Scotland. We believe every person deserves to have aspirations.’
In her turn, Pauline McNeill said: ‘I represented the area for 12 years. I did my best for everyone and I’ll miss them. I’m proud of what we achieved and hope that whatever happens with the government of Scotland that everyone will unite on the issues in the Scottish Parliament that will take the country forward. The UK coalition is wrecking our lives.’
As the night wore on a two party state emerged in Glasgow’s voting between SNP and Labour.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat’s highest vote was in Glasgow Kelvin where Natalie McKee got 1900 votes. In Anniesland, Lib Deb Paul McGarry got 1000 votes. In Cathcart, Eileen Baxendale got 1118 votes. In Maryhill and Springburh, the Lib Dem candidate, Sophie Bridger, got 833 votes. In Pollok, Isabel Nelson got 490 votes. In Provan, Michael O’Donnell got 413 votes and in the Southside constituency, Lib Dem’s Kenneth Elder got 612 votes.
Conservative Ruth Davidson became an MSP on the List vote. She said: ‘I’m pleased the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will continue to have a presence in Glasgow. It’s needed with the SNP being rampant! ‘
The last vote to be announced around 6am in Glasgow was the Anniesland constituency where a recount had taken place because of the narrow margin. The final result was: Bill Kidd, SNP, took the seat with 10,329. Bill Butler, Labour was close behind on 10,322. Next was Matthew Smith of the Conservatives who polled 2,011 and Lib Dem’s Paul McGarry received 1000 votes with the Communist party of Britain’s candidate, Marc Livingstone taking 259 votes.
In a victory speech, Anniesland constituency winner by seven votes, Bill Kidd said: ‘My opponents behaved in an exemplary fashion and the outgoing Bill Butler has done fantastic work in the constituency. I and the SNP will work hard for the next four years to ensure carers are treated in the manner becoming to a civil society and that our country is not despoiled by Trident – British weapons of mass destruction.’
In his turn, Bill Butler thanked his team ‘We fought hard and I don’t think we let the party down. This is not my farewell to politics where I’ve been for ten and a half years. I will continue to campaign for social justice – socialism as I know it – I will renew my opposition to the new Trident and will be on any platform with those who do that too.’ He singled out his mother, Patricia Ferguson who retained the Maryhill and Sprinburn seat, for special thanks for her support.
The only other candidates in Glasgow’s eight constituencies were Tom Muirhead an independent in Kelvin where he polled 405 votes and John McKee, an Independent in Cathcart where he polled 450 votes.
IF you are holding a hustings meeting and want to publicise it through this website, please email the information to: email@example.com
NOTE: You can email your QUESTION for the SUNNYGOVAN hustings to the email below……
Friday 15 April at 7.30pm: West End Hustings in St Mary’s Cathedral, Great Western Road. Candidates from the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party and Scottish Green Party expected. A representative from Christian Aid Scotland will also be on the panel. All the Holyrood candidates are standing for the Glasgow Regional list so what they have to say will be relevant to voters across the city.
Tuesday 26 April at 7pm: Southside Community Hustings in Kinning Park Church. Nicola Sturgeon, Stephen Curran, David Meikle and Kenneth Elder have agreed to attend. Hosted by Sunny Govan Radio, the event will be chaired by Jim Boyle of Oxfam. If you have questions you’d like to ask this panel please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0141 445 3741
Sunday 1 May at 7pm: Langside Church if the builders have completed work on the new building, or in the David Cargill Centre, 166 Ledard Road, Glasgow G42 9EU, if not. Candidates for Glasgow Cathcart on a Question Time type of panel: Eileen Baxendale, Scottish Liberal Democrats: James Dornan, Scottish National Party: Charlie Gordon, Scottish Labour Party: John McKee Independent: Richard Sullivan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
One of the first donations to Govanhill Baths Community Trust’s new charity Emporium in Victoria Road, was a Chinese dinner set from MSP Patrick Harvie. He had lodged a motion of support for the Trust’s efforts to re-open the Baths in Calder Street as a Health and Wellbeing Centre.
A strong supporter of the Trust’s work, he said their offices are about to move into the Baths building to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the closure of the public facility by Glasgow City Council. Said the Green MSP: “The move of offices will be a landmark moment in this hard-fought campaign.”
His motion at Holyrood commended the: “impressive hard work and energy of the Trust’s committed volunteers over the last decade.”He added: “I believe the baths will benefit hugely the citizens of Govanhill and the surrounding area.”
Raising funds towards the £12m needed to re-open the Baths, the Emporium was described by Patrick Harvie as: “a really great example of how creative, positive and passionate people can be when it comes to investing and supporting their communities. I wish the Govanhill Baths Community Trust success and look forward to being invited to the opening of the baths as well as the wellbeing centre!”
The next major fund raising venture will be an auction of art works from Thursday 17 March to Saturday 19 March. See www.bathsauction .com
Emporium manager, Inga Zaiceva is delighted with her job in Victoria Road as it gives around five times more space to display goods for sale, than the previous shop in Calder Street. She said: “The Baths and Wellbeing centre are badly needed. There are people in this area without showers. The community health problems of overweight and lonelieness need to be addressed. The re-opening of the Baths would help a lot to improve things.”
MPs in Westminster and Holyrood are fighting for human rights in the Gambia. The tiny West African country is known for the sunshine holidays it offers UK citizens
. But it has recently activated the death penalty and is the subject of a report from Amnesty International which says abuses include arbitrary arrests, torture, incommunicado detention, unfair trials, rape, disappearance and extra-judicial executions.
In the House of Commons, Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar’s Early Day Motion has attracted at least 24 cross-party signators. It calls on the coalition Government to place international pressure on the Gambian government to uphold fundamental human rights.
The motion applauds members of the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia for continuing to raise awareness of the issue. Said Labour MP Sarwar, who sits on the Commons International Development Select Committee: ‘I was pleased to facilitate a meeting with the Foreign Office, the all -Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights and representatives of the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia.
‘That Campaign is doing great work to draw attention to a government that rules by intimidation, torture and killing. It is crucial that the Coalition Government does everything it can to place international pressure on the Gambian government. I have asked questions about challenges facing Gambian citizens in their country and abroad and I will continue to press the coalition government.’
In Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament passed a motion condemning the catalogue of human rights abuses in Gambia. Proposed by Green Party MSP, Patrick Harvie and supported by more than a dozen others from all parties, it highlighted the case of missing journalist Ebrima Manneh who disappeared after allegedly attempting to publish an article criticising the Gambian Government for violations of human rights.
Expressing support of Gambians who are resident in Scotland but who might feel unable to speak out about the situation in their country for fear of the consequences, the motion urges the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure that international pressure is put on the Gambian Government in defence of human rights. For further information check website: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/business/motions/Default.aspx?motionid=20216
Kinship Carers, who take in relatives rather than put them into foster care, have been campaigning in recent months for benefits toward their care to equal the amount given to foster care, in relative terms. In October, the group campaigned ouside the Glasgow City Chambers and the Scottish Parliament.
On Thursday 16 December, a debate in Holyrood highlighted the work these kinship careers do, and the money they save the Government by unburdening the foster care system.
Glasgow MSPs involved in the debate included SNP’s Sandra White and Labour’s Johann Lamont, who chaired the debate. Said Sandra: ‘The Kinship Careres I have met are truly remarkable people and their sacrifice should be properley recognised in our benefits system.
‘The Scottish Parliament needs full control over benefits to fully recognise the contribution of all careers but bringing payments into line with foster carers would go a long way to allievieating the worst problems. Children should not be ending up in care because their own extended family can’t afford to look after them. I challenge all local authorities to finally to finally fulfil their obligations to kinship carers in the months ahead.’
by Lynsay Keough
With the regional ballots for the 2011 Holyrood elections continuing until mid September, the SNP have selected their candidates for several of their Glasgow constituencies:
Glasgow Anniesland – Bill Kidd
Glasgow Cathcart – James Dornan
Glasgow Kelvin – Sandra White
Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn – Bob Doris
Glasgow Pollok – Chris Stephens
Glasgow Provan – Anne McLaughlin
Glasgow Rutherglen – Jim McGuigan
Glasgow Shettleston – John Mason
Glasgow Southside – Sturgeon
The Lib Dems hope to be able to reveal their candidates by their autumn conference in October and the Scottish Green Party are preparing to post a list by the middle of September.
The Scottish Conservatives have so far confirmed four candidates, with the recent selection of their Southside candidate. They are:
Glasgow Anniesland – Malcolm MacAskill
Glasgow Cathcart – Richard Sullivan
Glasgow Kelvin - Hamira Khan
Glasgow Southside – David Meikle
The Scottish Labour Party have so far confirmed that Steve Curran will be their candidate for Glasgow Southside and his campaign launched this week.
Can this rush to confirm candidates for Glasgow Southside be a reflection of the high profile issues of housing, crime and anti-social behaviour, red-flagged in the area at present or could it have more to do with trying to oust the sitting incumbent, Nicola Sturgeon?
The Scottish Parliament voted against Scottish Green Party calls for a £7-per-hour living wage across Scotland.
The SNP, Conservative and Lib Dem MSPs instead voted for a Lib Dem amendment which was less committal to the £7 level.
The £7 per-hour rate is the figure recommended by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and backed by the Poverty Alliance, who point out that one in five Scots working in the public sector do not receive this rate.
In this city there already exists a minimum wage – all be it a non-compulsory one. The Glasgow Living Wage was launched by Glasgow City Council in March 2009. It set a new guaranteed minimum standard of income for all council workers, set at £7 an hour.
A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: ‘The introduction of the living wage increased the basic salary of the lowest paid council workers by up to £1100 a year.
‘As well as the clear financial benefits for employees, research has shown that the introduction of a living wage in other parts of the UK has provided employees with more job satisfaction.
‘It is clear that improving rates of pay for low-paid workers can have a significant impact on the city’s efforts to tackle poverty and worklessness.’
Scottish Green Party Leader Patrick Harvie accused the politicians who voted against the motion at Holyrood of hypocrisy.
He said: ‘All the other parties at Holyrood spoke out today against inequality, but then SNP, Tory and Lib Dem MSPs voted against the Green call for a £7 an hour national minimum wage.
‘Far too many Scots still have to get by on wages below this basic level, including one in five of all public sector staff in Scotland, and it’s just not good enough.’