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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Whiteford Says UK Government Failing NE Fishermen

Monday, 24 June 2013

The UK Government has been accused of failing to address problems facing fishermen in the North-east and across Scotland. Following a statement on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Richard Benyon, SNP MP for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford says there are other challenges facing Scots fishermen than the CFP and the UK Government is failing to act.

The local MP also says that while Scottish Fisheries Secretary and Moray MSP Richard Lochhead treats fishing as an industry of critical importance in European talks the ultimate say still lies with UK Ministers who continue to use fishing as a bargaining chip.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Whilst the agreement in Brussels is welcome, the fishing industry still faces problems such as the cost of quota and fuel and the market conditions have continued to be poor in recent months.

“Fishing related industry is one of the mainstays of the economy of the North-east and if the UK Government backed the Scottish Government’s position on fisheries in its European negotiations they could get our coastal communities a far better deal and help ensure a positive future for the sector.

“The UK Minister, Mr Benyon, instead decided to attack independence for Scotland, claiming there was only a deal due to being part of the UK, despite the UK selling Scots fishermen down the river for 30 years. It was also an act of sheer hypocrisy given that he represents a party most of whom want to take the UK out of the EU.

“Ignoring the issues is an unacceptable position from the UK Government and there is a continuous failure by successive UK Governments to recognise the economic importance of fishing to Scotland. Too often fishing continues to be a bargaining chip to the detriment of our fishermen and fishing communities.

“Ireland is just about to conclude its term of the EU Presidency proving the importance of small nations within the EU. With independence, Scotland would have its own seat at the top table, reflecting the importance of fishing to Scotland and building alliances with member states in the interests of a true, regionally based sustainable fishery.”

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Portsoy Boat Festival Success Praised by Whiteford

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has praised the organisers of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival on yet another highly successful event.

The MP paid a visit to the event on Sunday and met with Chairman Roger Goodyear. New North-east MSP Christian Allard attended on the Saturday, his first visit as an MSP.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

"The organisers deserve our praise for delivering another spectacular Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in this, their twentieth year.

"The weather on Sunday unfortunately wasn’t the best we’ve ever had at the Festival but it didn’t dampen the tremendous atmosphere and there was a real buzz, not only around the event but also the whole town.

“Portsoy can be rightly proud that it has a visitor attraction of national importance which draws visitors from not only the length and breadth of the country but also internationally."

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Westminster Offers Only More Austerity and More Cuts

As the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition prepares to outline its latest round of massive public spending cuts on Wednesday in the Comprehensive Spending Review and lays out the next ten years of Westminster austerity and cuts - which Labour now support – Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford commented:

"The Comprehensive Spending Review will be the perfect opportunity for this downgraded Chancellor to get some desperately needed growth back into the economy. But we know that will not happen. George Osborne has staked the entire reputation of the UK Government on aggressive deficit reduction - regardless of the dreadful economic and social cost but he has categorically failed - and on some measures borrowing is actually rising. He refuses to listen to the IMF amongst others about easing off on Westminster's aggressive cuts programme.

"In Scotland, we have lower unemployment than the UK, higher employment, and we now have one of the lowest youth unemployment rates anywhere in the EU. The Scottish government is now taking decisions that are creating real opportunities , including major infrastructure projects at colleges in Glasgow, Inverness and Kilmarnock - the new South Glasgow Hospital development and of course the new Forth Crossing . Meanwhile George Osborne talks about shovel ready projects but fails to deliver.

"If the Chancellor and his government spent his time looking at what is happening in Scotland rather than lecturing and scaremongering, perhaps the rest of the UK might see some improvements too. On Wednesday Mr Osborne will continue down his chosen road of cuts, cuts and more cuts with a lost decade of austerity facing us all, and depressingly Labour's Ed Balls has signed up to the Osborne vision by vowing to keep the Tory cuts and add to them in the unlikely event Labour are ever re-elected. Labour's Cuts Commission want to remove the bus pass for over-60s and free personal care.

"The Scottish Government is delivering important measures right now within their limited powers which are helping, but the way to get Scottish businesses moving again and get real growth back into the economy is to have the economic and financial powers of an independent Scotland - which is why a Yes vote in the autumn 2014 referendum is so important."

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Whiteford Stands up for Green Jobs in Narrowly Lost Vote on Clean Power Law

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has voted to support renewable energy and jobs across the North-east by backing a move to clean up UK power and tackle climate change.

Dr Whiteford voted for an amendment to the Energy Bill, currently in Parliament, that would set the Government a legal target to remove carbon emissions from the UK’s power supply almost entirely by 2030.

Businesses argue the move would reassure companies looking to make long-term investments in the green economy that could bring new jobs to Scotland. It would end the country’s heavy reliance on gas and would also stop rising gas prices from driving up fuel bills.

267 MPs voted for the proposal, including the Labour Party, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the DUP, the Green Party, and 16 Liberal Democrat and 8 Conservative backbenchers who defied the UK Government. The vote was lost by just 23 votes: the biggest MP rebellion on a whipped vote since tuition fees in 2010.

Lord Alan Sugar, from TV’s The Apprentice and a member of the House of Lords, warned that unless the UK Government commits to clean power the UK risks busting its climate change targets and losing business and jobs abroad. Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, Campaign Ambassador for Friends of the Earth’s Clean British Energy campaign, said that it was a fantastic opportunity to revive UK manufacturing and boost green growth.

A clean power target is expected to be a key issue when the Bill is debated in the House of Lords later this month.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Green is working – the green economy supports almost a million jobs already and it is helping to stop dangerous climate change.

“But green companies and their supply chains will only make long-term investments in the North-east if there’s a clear pathway for renewable energy in the future.

“That’s why I voted for a target to cut the carbon from our electricity by 2030 – it would help stabilise the climate and provide much needed jobs, as well as keeping bills as low as possible in the long-term.”

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“Eilidh Whiteford MP should be applauded for standing up for action to tackle climate change and create new jobs in Scotland.

“George Osborne’s reckless dash for gas power would send fuel bills rocketing and jobs overseas, and punch a gaping hole in our climate targets.

“With so many MPs rebelling and voting for clean power, the issue will not go away – the battle will now go to the House of Lords, where the Government’s slim victory has a real chance of being overturned.”

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MP Opens Cruden Bay Gala

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford officially opened Cruden Bay Gala on Saturday. The event was organised by Cruden Bay Community Association and was making a welcome return to the village after an absence of a number of years.

Eilidh Whiteford MP with Gala Prince and Princess Josh and Emma
escorted into Mill Park by the Cruden Bay Coastguard.
Speaking at the event at Mill Park in the village, Eilidh said:

“It’s an honour and a pleasure to be able to declare Cruden Bay Gala officially open.

“The organisers have put a huge amount of work into arranging the event and are to be congratulated on their efforts to bring the gala back to the village. Judging by the support shown by local people on Saturday, their efforts have been greatly appreciated and the day was a tremendous success.”

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Westminster Threat to Scots Pensions Shows Why Yes Vote is Essential

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

LABOUR PROPOSING LOWER PENSIONS IN SCOTLAND THAN LONDON

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP has pointed to Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls’ interview in which he could not rule out including pensions in his new regional welfare cap - which would mean different levels in different parts of the UK and Liam Byrne’s interview where he refused to rule out cuts to pensioners TV licences – as being a real threat to pensioners’ standard of living unless there is a Yes vote in next year’s referendum.

Commenting, the local MP said:

"This has been a dreadful period for Labour as they abandon their long held commitment to the principle of universality, and propose having lower welfare benefits in Scotland and the regions of England than London. Now Ed Balls quite strikingly refuses to rule out including pensions in his new cap proposals - meaning lower pensions in Scotland than London, despite the fact the Scotland more than pays its way in the UK.

"Nothing better illustrates the need for a Yes vote than this threat from Westminster to pensions in Scotland. The reality is that spending on pensions and welfare takes up a lower share of Scotland’s economy than it does across the whole of the UK, which means that they are more affordable for Scotland.

“Already a majority of people in Scotland believe that welfare and pensions policy, and taxation, should be decided by Holyrood not Westminster - and this Labour-Tory alliance on welfare cuts shows why it is essential.

“Labour have now joined with the Tories in supporting cuts and abandoning the principle of universality – it is no surprise that Alistair Darling got a rousing ovation at a Tory conference this weekend. The only way to safeguard the welfare state in Scotland is to vote Yes next September."

YouGov/SNP Poll (Fieldwork: 20th-22nd March 2013)

Which government do you think would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland?

The UK Government: 34%
The Scottish Government: 53%
Don't know: 13%
Sample size: 1105 Scottish adults

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Housing Policy 'Should be Devolved to Scottish Parliament'

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

All housing issues should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and the Department of Work and Pensions is interfering on housing in Scotland, according to Dr Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. Dr Taylor was speaking as an expert at the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).

The Committee was discussing the impact of the Bedroom Tax and other changes to housing benefit in Scotland. The Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland asserted that the Scottish administration has only limited powers to mitigate the impact of the welfare changes, and these powers were being used effectively by the Scottish Government.

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

“The committee experts today recognised the dire effects Westminster’s welfare reform is having on Scotland’s most disadvantaged people- and the Scottish Government’s inability to act, due to housing issues being reserved to London, rather than devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

“The Bedroom Tax is an inherently unfair policy. People on the lowest incomes are paying the price for structural problems affecting the supply of affordable housing in London. The Bedroom Tax is also unworkable - instead of addressing the underlying problems, it undermines the ability of social landlords to invest in the kind of affordable housing that is so badly needed.

“The Tory/Lib Dem coalition are hitting the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society with their austerity measures, while the richest receive a cut in taxes.

“The Bedroom Tax will be imposed on Scotland despite over 90 per cent of Scottish MPs voted against it.

“In Scotland we have an opportunity to change, so that we make our own democratic decisions. To vote No in next year’s referendum would mean leaving Scotland at the mercy of the Westminster system, which on any measure is failing. With independence we have the opportunity to do things differently and better - and we will scrap the Bedroom Tax in an independent Scotland."

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MP Hails Fraserburgh 'Super Saturday' Event

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has hailed yesterday’s Fraserburgh ‘Super Saturday’ event as a great success for the town.

The local MP attended the event during the morning and toured the street stalls before calling in at some of the local shops and visiting the Fraserburgh Lifeboat, which was open to visitors. She was accompanied by local councillors Hamish Partridge (Troup) who was also one of the organisers of the days events and was acting as a steward, and Charles Buchan (Fraserburgh & District).

Commenting on the event, Eilidh said:

“This was a tremendous event for Fraserburgh and I congratulate the organisers and all those involved with it.

“Luckily, the rain subsided and didn’t put too much of a damper on things. There seemed to be a good large crowd of people when I was there and I hope that both stall-holders and local businesses have had a good day.

“I think this idea has got the potential to be really good for the town centre and for bringing in new people and customers to Fraserburgh. I wish it every success for the future.”


Troup councillor and one of the co-organisers of the event Hamish Partridge said:

“I was delighted to have the support of the local MP for the first Fraserburgh ‘Super Saturday’. It meant a lot to the organisers to have her support.

“I’m very pleased with how the day went. We had a terrific range of stalls ranging from crafts and plants, to jams and seafood, along with street entertainment. The weather wasn’t too kind to us in the morning but that didn’t seem to deter the large crowd of people who contributed to making today’s event such a success.”


Broch councillor Charles Buchan added:

“There was a real buzz about the Broch today. I think this was a fantastic initiative and add my congratulations to all involved in the hard work setting it up.

“I hope that this can become a regular event aimed at attracting people back into the town centre.

"I'm very pleased that the event was such a success. The crowds enjoyed the various musical events, and the other entertainments. Sales were very good, with some of the stall-holders selling out completely.

“Thanks are due to the organisers, and the many participants, including the Business Association, Fraserburgh Development Trust, Aberdeenshire Council, and Ann Bell, as well as the fishing industry contributions, the Lifeboat Service, and all the musicians, and the many people who contributed their time, and equipment, and who allowed the use of their property on the day.

“I look forward to the next set of Super Saturdays, and hope that even larger crowds turn out."

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Westminster Threat to Scots Pensions Shows Yes Vote Essential

LABOUR PROPOSING LOWER PENSIONS IN SCOTLAND THAN LONDON

Commenting on Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls’ interview on the BBC Sunday Politics programme in which he could not rule out including pensions in his new regional welfare cap - which would mean different levels in different parts of the UK and Liam Byrne’s interview where he refused to rule out cuts to pensioners TV licences Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP Works and Pensions spokesperson at Westminster, said:

“This has been a dreadful period for Labour as they abandon their long held commitment to the principle of universality, and propose having lower welfare benefits in Scotland and the regions of England than London. Now Ed Balls quite strikingly refuses to rule out including pensions in his new cap proposals - meaning lower pensions in Scotland than London, despite the fact the Scotland more than pays its way in the UK.

“Nothing better illustrates the need for a Yes vote than this threat from Westminster to pensions in Scotland. The reality is that spending on pensions and welfare takes up a lower share of Scotland’s economy than it does across the whole of the UK, which means that they are more affordable for Scotland.

“Already a majority of people in Scotland believe that welfare and pensions policy, and taxation, should be decided by Holyrood not Westminster - and this Labour-Tory alliance on welfare cuts shows why it is essential.

“Labour have now joined with the Tories in supporting cuts and abandoning the principle of universality – it is no surprise that Alistair Darling got a rousing ovation at a Tory conference this weekend. The only way to safeguard the welfare state in Scotland is to vote Yes next September."

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Westminster Parties "Joined at the Hip" on Welfare Cuts

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


LABOUR TO KEEP TORY POLICIES THEY PREVIOUSLY SAID WERE “OUT OF TOUCH”

The Scottish National Party has said Labour are uniting with the Tories as it has been revealed that a future Labour government would keep child benefit cuts made by the coalition government.

Despite attacking the move in 2010 as unfair and ‘out of touch with hard-working families’, party leader Ed Miliband reportedly will tomorrow (Thursday) say he supports capping the amount the next government will spend on welfare. The news follows an announcement from Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls earlier this week that the party would cap winter fuel payments for pensioners and parts of the country with lower housing costs could face lower welfare caps, confirming the only way to safeguard the welfare state in Scotland is by voting Yes next September.

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

“We already know that Labour and the Tories are cosy in the No campaign. Alistair Darling is launching an anti-independence event in London tonight with Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander and Tory peer Lord Strathclyde, in support of Westminster deciding economic and welfare policy for Scotland - the same Mr Darling who says the Tory/Lib Dem coalition's policies are causing 'immeasurable damage'. And he is also expected to attend the Tory party conference in Stirling this weekend.

“And now Labour are adopting Tory policies hand-over-fist on austerity and welfare cuts. Continued Westminster government means continued austerity, and cuts and more cuts - a Yes vote next September is the only alternative.

“Just this week the Institute of Fiscal studies announced middle-income families will see their spending power cut by an average of £34 a week, or nearly £1,800 a year due to changes to benefits, with lowest earning families to be hardest hit over the next three years - and with Scotland the worst affected part of the UK.

“Already, a majority of people in Scotland believe that welfare and pensions policy should be decided by Holyrood not Westminster - and Labour converging on Tory ground at Westminster shows why having control in Scotland is essential. The only way to improve Scotland’s economy and protect the welfare state is with a Yes vote for independence next September.”

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Labour Plans More Austerity - and More Cuts - at Westminster

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

ED BALLS SPEECH MAKES IT CLEAR -- LABOUR ADOPT THE TORY MANTRA CUTS CUTS AND MORE CUTS

Following reports of the speech by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in which he said that parts of the country with lower housing costs could face lower welfare caps under a Labour government at Westminster, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, commented:

"This is an extraordinary step for Labour to take - and confirms that the only way to safeguard the welfare state in Scotland is by voting Yes next September. Already, a majority of people in Scotland believe that welfare and pensions policy should be decided by Holyrood not Westminster - and developments like this show why having control in Scotland is essential.

"Scotland has paid more tax per head than the UK average in every one of the last 30 years - and the official figures show that Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK, not the other way round - yet Labour are now talking about having lower welfare payments in Scotland than the south of England. Johann Lamont and the Labour MPs at Westminster she is nominally in charge of have a great deal of explaining to do.

“Ed Balls has now made it clear that if Labour was ever re-elected at Westminster they would adopt the Tory mantra of cuts, cuts and more cuts. His language could not be clearer and his attack on the universality of pensions by cutting winter fuel payments shows us that a Westminster government of whatever hue really does mean sticking with Tory cuts. The only way to escape this Westminster austerity is with a Yes vote in 2014."

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Inequality in the UK - Poorest Suffer While Number of Millionaires Increases by 24%

Sunday, 2 June 2013

New figures show the number of millionaire households in the UK has increased by almost a quarter as increasing amounts of wealth are concentrated in the south of England.

Research published by the Boston Consulting Group on global wealth shows the UK has 509,000 millionaire households, compared to 411,000 last year, which is more than any other European country.

The Office for National Statistics have published a report on Regional Distribution of Wealth across the UK which clearly shows a concentration of wealth in the south of England, with Scotland having the lowest percentage share of the wealthiest households.

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

“Scotland generates massive wealth - yet the Westminster system means we do not reap the rewards, and instead our most disadvantaged people are facing the brunt of government cuts through unfair measures such as the bedroom tax.

“The Scottish Government’s Fiscal Commission found that, since 1975, income inequality among working age people increased more quickly in the UK than any other OECD country, and that ‘without access to relevant policy levers - particularly taxation and welfare policy - there is little that the Scottish Government can do to address these trends.’

“Scotland brings in wealth through our incredibly successful offshore oil and gas industry, food and drink, engineering, life sciences, the creative sector, renewable energy and tourism - but as a result of economic policies imposed by the UK Government, the majority of wealth is concentrated in the south of England. Increasingly, Westminster’s policies are designed for the millionaires- not the many.

“This means that ordinary people have lower incomes than they should, higher levels of debt and smaller pensions.

“In September 2014, Scotland will have the opportunity to take a different path. With independence, Scotland would become a fairer nation.”

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