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Eilidh Whiteford is MP for Banff & Buchan

New Post Office Van a Welcome Service for Rural Communities

Friday, 29 August 2014

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the addition of a brand new post van to the Post Office’s rural fleet, after officially opening the service on Thursday.

Dr Whiteford met with Subpostmaster Moira Raeburn at the ceremony in Rothienorman’s Public Car Park. The new van, operates out of Turriff, and stops at Rothienorman, Cuminestown and Udny Station. The new vans have been designed specifically to welcome disabled customers, and replace the previous LDV vehicles, which have travelled around three million miles over the past six years.

Cutting the ribbon, Dr Whiteford said:

“The new van is a welcome upgrade to the Post Office fleet, and I am pleased to officially launch the new service today. Outreach services are vital to rural communities across Banff and Buchan, and the improved accessibility will benefit villagers in Rothie and Cuminestown."

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UK Government Slammed as Health Experts Issue Malnutrition Warning

Sunday, 24 August 2014


"YES VOTE NEEDED TO USE SCOTLAND’S WEALTH"

The Scottish National Party has slammed the UK government for their cuts to welfare following a warning on an increase of malnutrition from health experts.

The Faculty of Public Health have said conditions such as rickets are becoming more apparent because people cannot afford quality food in their diet. It comes after health figures recently revealed a 19% increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with malnutrition over the past year.

Earlier this year, figures from the Trussell Trust revealed that use of their foodbanks had increased by 400% in the last year alone as Westminster’s welfare cuts continue to bite.

Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz said this week that Scotland would have more success in tackling inequality than the rest of the UK – highlighting that Scotland takes a “different view from say the Cameron Conservative policies...”.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“It’s almost unbelievable that rickets and other symptoms of malnutrition are on the increase in Scotland in 2014. It’s completely unacceptable.

“Westminster’s welfare cuts have had a devastating effect on the most disadvantaged people in Scotland and new cuts could push 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty.

“As Professor Joseph Stiglitz said this week, Scotland has the political will to truly tackle inequality and make our country a fairer place.

“A Yes vote next month is our one opportunity to rid ourselves of the Westminster establishment and its obsession with austerity – creating a welfare state that is a springboard to a better life, not one that leads people to a life of malnourishment and rickets.”

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Whiteford: YES Vote is One Opportunity to Secure NHS for the Future

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has urged undecided voters to take the opportunity of independence to secure the future of the NHS as a free and open health service – and to consider the implications a No vote would have for Scotland’s future funding.

Picking up on comments from the unionist parties over recent months, Dr Whiteford claimed Scotland stands to face significant cuts through the scrapping of the Barnett Formula.

Scrapping the Barnett Formula was one of the recommendations of the LibDem’s commission on further powers. Senior Labour figures including Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones[1], Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls[2] and Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith[3] have all recently called for it to be scrapped. Prime Minister David Cameron stated in 2010 that “the Barnett Formula is coming to the end of its life”, and in 2013 refused to guarantee its future.[4]

Dr Whiteford said:

“All the evidence points to the fact that the unionist parties are agreed on cutting the Barnett Formula in the event of a 'no' vote. If the Barnett Formula is cut, it would mean £4 billion a year less coming to Scotland.

“Barnett represents a pretty poor deal at the best of times – Scotland already contributes far more revenue to the UK than it receives back. However, ending Barnett will ensure that what we receive back is even less. To put those numbers into perspective, a £4 billion cut represents a third of Scotland’s current NHS budget. That’s the equivalent to five times NHS Grampian’s annual budget of £777 million. It is difficult to overstate the sort of damage such a cut to the Scottish Government’s grant would do.

“In tandem with the direct threat to the current funding arrangements is the prospect that privatisation of NHS services in England will have an impact on the budget allocation for Scotland. The English NHS is in chaos because of the UK Coalition Government’s privatisation policies – and any cuts to the English NHS budget will have a direct impact on funding for services in Scotland.

“Everyone should know that a No vote isn’t a vote for no change – it’s a vote for Scotland’s budget to be tied to Westminster’s austerity policies, and for electors in Scotland to place their services at the mercy of the Tory-led Government in London. Devolution allows us to improve our services – but it gives us no control whatsoever over the size of the funding pot.

“There’s a better way forward – and that’s for the Scottish Parliament to have full responsibility for its budget, with a Yes vote in September.”


Notes:
  1. http://yoursenedd.com/debates/2014-03-25-questions-to-the-first-minster#150401
  2. Speaking to Insider (06-Dec-2011) before addressing a CBI Wales dinner, he said:
    "It [the Barnett Formula] was never intended to be long term. We are getting to the point where it needs to be looked at again … I have read the Holtham report [on funding] and I understand the arguments."
  3. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110118/halltext/110118h0001.htm
  4. http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-economy/8484-p4bn-cut-to-scottish-budget-looms-as-cameron-letter-fails-to-curb-barnett-fears

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Local MP Welcomes Support for YES Vote from Leading Farming Figures

Friday, 15 August 2014

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the support for a Yes vote from four past Presidents of the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS).

John Ross, Jim Walker, John Kinnaird and John Cameron have declared their support for a Yes vote on September 18. All four are convinced that the safety and security of the Scottish farming industry is better served under an independent Scottish Government than by a remote, out-of-touch and unsupportive Westminster.

They gathered at Yes Scotland HQ in Glasgow to urge Scotland’s 65,000 farmers, crofters and growers – as well as the 250,000 others who depend on agriculture for their living - to follow their lead and vote Yes on Referendum Day.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

‘These gentlemen have between them many years of experience of leading the NFUS and seeing close-up how UK Governments of all political colours fail to promote the interests of Scottish farming and our rural communities.

‘Their backing for a Yes vote is extremely significant and demonstrates quite clearly that rural Scotland and Scottish agriculture will be best served by an independent Scottish Parliament which is focussed on the interests of our rural communities.’

John Ross, a livestock farmer for 50 years and president of NFUS from 1990 to 1996, said:

‘Farming and rural affairs need to be at the forefront of all future Scottish government thinking – and being fully committed members of the European Union is an essential part of that policy.

‘An independent Scotland is the only way that this can be secured. A No vote will mean years of uncertainty about a UK government’s EU membership and commitment and this will have very serious consequences for the future of Scottish farming.’

Dr John Cameron, who became NFUS first long-term president in 1978 at the age of 39, has represented Scottish agriculture – particularly the livestock sector in many parts of the world – said:

‘Having worked in this industry all my life, I have come to the very firm conclusion that the interests of Scottish agriculture and rural Scotland will be best served by having an independent Scottish Parliament and an independent place as of right at the EU Agricultural Council.

‘The recent decision by the British Minister at DEFRA to distribute to the whole of the UK the Convergence Fund from the EU – which was granted to lift the level of Single Farm Payment in Scotland to the UK average – was completely unjustified and against the legitimate expectations of Scottish farmers.

‘My experience is that the development of agriculture policy has been handled with much better understanding between the industry and the Scottish Government and that this position will only be strengthened with independence.'

Jim Walker, who was NFU Scotland president from 1998 to 2003, said:

‘Food is a key strength of the Scottish economy, especially its rural areas, but remaining in the UK is now a very real risk for our food and farming businesses.

‘The EU is important to the food and farming sector. It provides us with markets and is a source of grants and support. If, as seems increasingly likely, the UK leaves the EU after a promised in-out referendum, the funding that currently comes from Brussels will be left with HM Treasury and Scotland will be much more dependent on its decisions. Worryingly, we know from the decisions the Treasury has consistently taken over the last 20 years, irrespective of the party in power, it will prioritise cutting expenditure on food, farming and rural development rather than encouraging investment. That has been the pattern for years and won’t change now.

‘Independence, on the other hand, will allow us to really back our food and farming sector, set our own priorities and sit at the European negotiating table, no longer affected by the UK Treasury indifference. It will also give our food business the kind of export support to guild their businesses that our counterparts in countries with a similar population, like Ireland and New Zealand, take for granted. Like Ireland, we will continue to sell to England but we will also have our own embassies throughout the world giving priority to promoting Scottish products so that we can build and grow new markets.’

John Kinnaird, who farms in East Lothian and was NFUS president from 2003 to 2007, said:

‘I am voting Yes because I believe this is the next logical process after devolution. Lines of communication with government are much quicker and more focussed.

‘The current UK administration and other political parties lack focus, understanding and leadership on many issues, including EU membership.

‘I am deeply concerned of a backlash against Scotland from Westminster if the vote is No. On September 18 I am not voting for a political party – I’m voting for independence.’

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

‘The decision by four of Scotland's most respected farming leaders to declare for a Yes vote is highly significant and sends a powerful message to not only rural Scotland but the whole nation.

‘These four former NFU presidents are big hitters with a wealth of experience in dealing with UK Governments and Ministers including Prime Ministers in recent decades. They care deeply about the future of their industry and the fact they have reached the conclusion that our key agriculture and food sectors will be better safeguarded and promoted with independence is a momentous moment in the referendum campaign.

‘These men know the industry inside out, and know that Westminster has failed Scottish farming time and again. With the powers of independence Scotland, farming and food will always be a priority with a direct voice in the crucial farming talks in Europe to help secure a far better deal for our food producers and rural communities.’

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