13th September 2009
Honest and fair

The opening shots were fired this week in what promises to be a momentous few months at the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Government’s announced this week its legislative programme, which was notably light in substance.

There were bills in there though to end the double jeopardy rule, protect people from forced marriages and legislate against rogue landlords but the main talking point is the budget and the hard decisions that have to be made.

Disappointingly, the Scottish Government framed its argument to deal with the job threat with talk of tax-raising powers, fiscal autonomy and independence.

But people know that tax-raising powers didn’t help Iceland, Greece and Ireland through the global recession and its terrible consequences were felt by the ordinary people in these countries.

The people of Inverclyde are prepared for the worst, they have seen the Scottish Government’s cuts to teacher and nurses and have been well warned about the cuts about to be imposed by the Con-Dem coalition at Westminster.

Sadly, that message is all too familiar for a community like ours that is still recovering from the Thatcher years.

Inevitably it seems, even the lowest paid face pay freezes and job losses, bringing a negative impact on people, families and communities.

Indiscriminate cuts across the boards will hit hardest in areas like ours, which already has a high level of unemployment, low pay and a reliance on the public sector for jobs.

I made this point to the Finance Secretary John Swinney and he claimed he would address this in his budget process.

It is my job to make sure he does that and ensure we are protected from the worst that it is to come.

It is not honest to claim that tax-raising powers or independence would save us from the cuts and its certainly not fair that the poorest should pay the highest price.