By Steven Paterson, Former MP for Stirling
The minority Tory Government at Westminster has survived another week, but the sense of utter shambles and paralysis at the heart of Whitehall has only been reinforced.
The week started with the news strategically leaked to the media that the Government was prepared to up its divorce offer to the EU to €50 billion. This vast sum is to cover existing financial commitments entered into by the UK as a current member of the EU, a pre-requisite for the EU 27 before any detailed trade negotiations can take place.
By leaking it (and therefore having plausible deniability), the Government was subsequently able to dispute the veracity of the story in order to allow it to better manage some of the more rabid and frothing anti-EU MPs marauding the Tory backbenches who think that walking over the abyss with no deal makes any kind of sense. It says it all about this ludicrous process that the Government is intent on paying out this colossal sum to leave the world’s largest trading bloc in order then to be able to negotiate terms to retain maximum access to the very same trading bloc at significantly inferior terms.
By former Stirling MP, Steven Paterson
Police have issued the description of a man they want to speak to in connection with the brazen theft of £140 million from Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
He is white, around 6”2 in height, aged in his early sixties with grey hair, and is sometimes seen posing for photographs in the vicinity of Westminster with a red briefcase. Police have warned the public not to approach this individual, as he is extremely dangerous to household budgets.
The Tory climb down on VAT charged to Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Philip Hammond, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that the deliberate and discriminate imposition of VAT on these emergency services is to end next April – but why was this unwarranted tax ever imposed by the UK Government in the first place?
At present, Scotland’s police and fire brigades are uniquely targeted for liability for this tax because they are funded directly by central government. Police forces and fire and rescue services in England and Wales are exempted on the grounds that they are funded through local authorities, although these local authorities themselves are funded primarily from central government. This is, then, a fairly obvious and deliberate bureaucratic mechanism being applied perniciously by the Tory UK Government as a method of imposing an unfair tax on Scottish emergency services, simply because they can.
By former Stirling MP, Steven Paterson
The metaphor “death by a thousand cuts” probably has its origin in the tortuous and brutal form of execution known as Ling Chi, which was used in medieval China for heinous crimes such as treason.
The phrase which is now commonplace in English means a slow, painful, incremental and inevitable demise. Such a certain death can hardly be more accurately applied than to the slow collapse of the present UK Tory Government.
We have had Tory Governments imposed on us here in Scotland for the majority of my lifetime, and democracy for Scotland is at the heart of my politics. In the most basic of terms, Scotland should always get the government Scotland votes for.
Unfortunately, the cherished Union means that in governance terms, “we get what we’re telt”. Or to put it more bluntly, “shut up, Scotland, and eat your cereal”. However, even comparing the present incarnation of the Tory regime with its predecessors, Theresa May’s class of 2017 is as weak as dishwater to a degree unprecedented.
by former Stirling MP Steven Paterson
The world of politics is never far away from the next scandal.
In 2009, I recall how surprised I was that most people in the country seemed not to know that some Members of Parliament were abusing the system of financial support meant to allow them to do their jobs and represent their constituents, in what would come to be known as the Expenses Scandal.
I’d worked in politics for a few years by then, and been elected to local government as a Stirling councillor two years previously, and I was regularly hearing stories about some of the brazen antics of certain Scottish Labour politicians at the time. As if I needed a reason to be cynical of a secretive Westminster club that operated with little, if any, serious scrutiny or accountability.
The past two weeks have seen heated debates in the House of Commons and beyond on the subject of Universal Credit, because as opposition parties at Westminster have rightly argued, there are serious flaws in the way this is being rolled out.
Here in the Stirling area, where Universal Credit was implemented over the summer, we have witnessed all too clearly the shortcomings of the policy in its current form, and ample evidence for why the rollout should be halted until the serious deficiencies can be addressed.
Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford has responded to the news that Jamie Harron – from Cambusbarron – has been released by Dubai authorities after being sentenced to 3-months in prison.
Mr Crawford previously wrote to the Foreign Secretary on a number of occasions, calling for all diplomatic channels to be explored in supporting Mr Harron whilst he was awaiting trial. In addition, Mr Crawford made his concerns over this case known to the Dubai Tourism Board and remained in communication with Detained in Dubai, an organisation that acts on behalf of people who are being pursued by UAE authorities.
Steven Paterson “My successor as Member of Parliament for the Stirling Constituency, Tory Stephen Kerr, distinguished himself in Parliament this week, but not in the way he intended.”
Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford has commented on the devastating impact that Universal Credit is having on individuals and families who have applied to it.
The Tory UK Government was defeated in a Commons vote by 299 – 0 on halting the rollout of Universal Credit.
SNP MP Tommy Sheppard took part in a Westminster Hall debate this week (Tuesday) on Devolution in Scotland.
The Edinburgh MP – who is the SNP Spokesperson on the Cabinet Office, Scotland Office, and House of Lords – took part in the debate and highlighted how the Stirling Constituency had specifically benefitted from Scottish Government policies what did not exist in the rest of the UK.
Stirling SNP has called on Stirling’s Tory MP, Stephen Kerr, to support its calls to abandon the current UK Government policy of reducing the number of MPs that Scotland elects to Westminster.