Showing posts with label Scottish Parliament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scottish Parliament. Show all posts

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Snouts in the trough

One-third of Scotland’s “double-jobbing” MSPs are continuing to collect salaries from council jobs, four months after being elected to £58,000-a-year posts at Holyrood.

Unions have criticised those still collecting the salaries, which comes at a time of unprecedented redundancies and reductions in workers’ terms and conditions.

Martin Doran, who heads the GMB union in Glasgow, said: “ feeling is that this is an obscenity. If these people had any decency they would stand down.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pigs in the trough

Finance Secretary John Swinney, whose main home is in his North Tayside constituency, bought the four-bedroom apartment on one of the capital’s most desirable streets for £355,000 in December 2003 while SNP leader. At the time, the two-storey terraced property was the most expensive second home ever bought by an MSP. Mr Swinney, who earns £100,000 a year, used parliamentary allowances to pay the interest on his RBS mortgage, ultimately claiming more than £60,000 from the public purse. He also claimed around £10,000 to pay council tax for the Band G property on Morningside’s Hermitage Terrace. (Only former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott used Holyrood expenses to maintain a more expensive second home after buying a £380,000 house in 2005.)

The sales prospectus praised its “magnificent” 23-foot drawing room, private front garden, “delightful leafy outlook” over Blackford Hill to the rear and it was sold for £430,000 was made to Registers of Scotland on August 1. After capital gains tax, Mr Swinney made a profit of around £57,000. Mr Swinney’s gain on the property is one of the largest ever recorded by an MSP.

The largest was made by fellow SNP minister Alex Neil, who made £105,505 before tax when he sold up last year, after billing taxpayers for more than £87,000 for mortgage interest, security, utilities, council tax, factoring and insurance on a two-bedroom flat over a decade. Mr Neil’s ministerial responsibilities at the time included affordable housing and homelessness. He and his wife had stumped up just £4720 for a deposit on the property.

Swinney and Neil’s claims were made under the Scottish Parliament’s discredited Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance, which paid for MSPs to stay overnight in the capital.
Some stayed in hotels or rented flats, but some bought homes, reclaimed mortgage interest, and sold at a profit. Past beneficiaries of EAA who sold for a profit include former LibDem deputy first minister Jim Wallace, who made £69,400 before tax; Tory MSP Alex Johnstone (£60,000); SNP MSP Gil Paterson (£50,000); and former SNP homelessness minister Stewart Maxwell (£34,500). After an outcry over MSPs cashing in, since May they have only been able to claim for rent or hotel costs. The change is prompting some MSPs to sell.

Announcing a Treasury-imposed £1.3 billion cut in public spending in February, the Scottish Cabinet Minister Swinney said “Hard choices must be made.” Now he has made one of those "hard"choices, making a lot of unearned money while he’s currently freezing public-sector salaries and squeezing public services.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

child poverty - again

Shall we see a difference in poverty figures with a new Scottish Parliament government under the SNP ? Only time will tell but we of the Socialist Party very much doubt it , going by the experience of history and what we know of Capitalism .

Barnados have released their latest report on child poverty . One-in-four Scots children is living in poverty - 250,000 youngsters are currently living below the breadline ( that's families it said are living on less than 60% of the average household income , less than £301 for a couple with two children and £223 for a lone parent with two children, after housing costs) .

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo's Scotland, said: "Today in Scotland children are missing out on what most of us would consider essentials. Although the Scottish Executive has taken steps to reduce child poverty, we should be ashamed that one-in-four children is still living in poverty in Scotland today, when the UK is the fifth-richest economy in the world."

Barnados recommend certain reforms . Free school meals for children with parents on the maximum working tax credit , a special commission to be established to identify the policies needed to meet the Scottish and UK governments' targets of halving child poverty by 2010 , an investment of £3.8billion .

We said it in an earlier blog .

"Poverty is an inescapable part of capitalist society. It can be abolished, but only when there is a fundamental change in how we organise society. That is way beyond any policies or even concepts of the Labour Party...Because it relies on the uncertainties of the market system and the use of money, the hope of any Labour government ending child poverty is impossible. Labour and Tory governments having been making the same promise for many years and they have all failed. "

The same will apply to any SNP Executive .

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nats Whae Hae?

Nationalism is anathema to socialists. Wage and salary workers have no country. We have more in common with people like ourselves in other countries than with the privileged owning class of the country where we happen to live and work. The world-wide working class has a common interest, to end its exploitation and solve its problems, to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all, so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit. One world, one people,where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we'll all be citizens of the world.

It is clear, then, why socialists don't take sides in the debate, aired in this month's elections to the Scottish Parliament, about whether it is better for workers there to be ruled from Edinburgh (as the SNP says) or from London with a little help from Edinburgh (as say the British Nationalists of the Labour, Liberal and Tory parties).

The SNP argues that the problems facing workers in Scotland are due to "Westminster rule". If only there was an independent Scotland, they say, separate from the rest of Britain, then there would be full employment, higher wages, job security, better state benefits, a healthy health service and all the other things politicians promise at election times. This view is echoed by the so-called Scottish"Socialist" Party and Tommy Sheridan's Solidarity (-with -Sheridan) party. But it is patently absurd.

This would be a purely political, not to say mere constitutional, change which would leave the basic economic structure of society unchanged. There would still be a privileged class owning and controlling the means of production with the rest having to work for them for a living. Just as now.

Maybe the pillar boxes would be painted tartan but that would be about all.

An independent Scottish government would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries.

In other words, it would still be subject to the same economic pressures as the existing London-based government to promote profits and restrict wages and benefits. And as the government of Ireland,which broke away from the United Kingdom in 1922 and where things have never been any different. Not even the national state-capitalism proposed by the SSP and Sheridan would make any difference. As in Cuba, exports would still have to be competitive and popular consumption restricted to achieve this.

Since it is this class-divided, profit-motivated society that is thecause of the problems workers face in Scotland, as in England and in the rest of the world, so these problems will continue, regardless of whether Scotland separates from or remains part of the United Kingdom.

The SNP is promising a referendum in 2010. What an irrelevant waste of time and energy that would be, but it's their alibi. If they get to form the regional government of Scotland their excuse for not delivering (as capitalism won't let them) will be that their hands were tied and that their promises will only be able to be honoured after separation. Some of their naïve, lower-level members may believe thus, but we don't think too many other workers will be fooled. They will have switched their votes to them, not because they want a breakaway Scotland but as a protest against the Labour Party.

So, the SNP leaders will be the prisoner of their non-separatist voters and will have to settle down to life as regional politicians. Not that that will necessarily displease them if they get to be regional ministers. Which, as professional politicians, is probably their realistic aim anyway.

Our opposition to the SNP should not be interpreted as support for the Union or the Labour, Liberal or Tory parties that support it. We are just as opposed to them.

A plague on both their houses is what we say.

To adapt a slogan ,

Neither London nor Edinburgh, but World Socialism.

From May Socialist Standard