Earlier this month Buzz Magazine asked Napier students their opinions on the issue of Scottish independence. 569 students (3.3% of the student body) were asked the question “If you were to vote on Scottish independence now, how would you vote?” Both the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns refused to comment on the results of the poll, which will be revealed later today.
Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken in Troon at the Conservative Party Conference where he discussed the independence referendum and Scotland’s role in the United Kingdom.
During his speech this morning he has stated that First Minister Alex Salmond is “dithering” over the independence referendum. He said, “So my message to the First Minister is this: we’ve delivered on devolution, stop dithering about an independence referendum, start delivering your manifesto commitment, and fulfil the promise you gave to the Scottish people.”
Mr Cameron was keen to stress the importance of Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom, and that it is “better off in Britain.” He also stressed that the United Kingdom is a successful union and that his government has pledged a referendum with a clear choice for Scottish voters.
The Scottish Conservatives plan to launch a new group called Friends of the Union, whose aim is to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom. The group will be open to anyone, not just party members.
The Prime Minister has also spoken about the impact of the recession, stating that “there are no shortcuts” in fixing the recession. He also said that “we are the only party that understands enterprise” and “the only ones who can fix society.”
He pledged that his party would continue to support the poorest in the country, despite changes to the welfare culture.
Listen to what David Cameron had to say here:
Iain Gray used today’s First Minister’s Questions to corner Alex Salmond over his refusal to name a date for Scotland’s referendum on independence, accusing the First Minister of being “scared of separation”.
In typical First Ministers’ Questions style, Mr Salmond responded in kind by accusing the Labour leader of being “frightened of the concept of independence.”
The Labour leader urged Mr Salmond to “steady the ship and decide a date for the referendum,” after a week of bickering between Holyrood and Westminster, which saw Finance Secretary John Swinney accuse the UK Government of “becoming ever more hysterical” over the issue of independence.
The First Minister confirmed that the referendum would take place in the second half of the SNP’s current term in parliament, as set out during the party’s election campaign earlier this year, but refused to confirm a specific date.
Mr Gray said: “The longer this goes on, the more it looks as if Alex Salmond is trying to rig the referendum to get the results he wants.
“He always puts party before principal and isn’t that why he can’t name a date?”
Mr Salmond responded by saying: “Some people in the Labour party actually recognise that they lost the election and have to accept the mandate of the Scottish people.”
He added: “Westminster should keep out of the referendum and not meddle.
“It would be insulting and contemptuous for the Scottish people for Westminster to get involved.”
The First Minister went on to say that a number of opinion polls are showing increasing and substantial support for an independent Scotland. He reminded the main chamber that the SNP were re-elected with “a massive majority” six months ago on the basis of their promise to hold a referendum.
He went on to express concerns that the UK Treasury was not keeping the Scottish Government properly informed about the impact the euro will have on the Scottish economy. The Chancellor, George Osborne, is yet to respond to John Swinney’s request that economy-boosting measures are included in the Treasury’s autumn statement, including an increase in capital spending.
Today in parliament Alex Salmond praised Scottish teachers,
but refused to bow to impending strike action.
Teachers have responded by accusing the First Minister of ‘serving platitudes’.
Last week members of Scotland’s largest teaching union voted “overwhelmingly” to join other public sector workers in a national day of strike action on the 30th November. Salmond used first ministers questions today to praise the work of teachers. “I bow down to no-one who doesn’t recognise the contribution of Scottish teachers to Scottish Education” he said. But he also claimed that any move toward strike action was ‘premature’
“I’m a supply teacher. Our pay has been slashed already” said Scottish teacher Donna McGlynn, “but this strike is even bigger. It’s about pensions, it’s about the loss of McCrone time, meaning teachers will work more hours for less pay. Alex Salmond should see that we don’t do things like this lightly. It’s just platitudes. He has to see the severity of what’s going on in our profession. All these proposed changes will have a severe impact on our children’s futures, the education of generations. It’s a pebble dropped in a pond, but I fear the ripple effect.”
EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said that the 82% vote in favour of industrial action showed “The patience of teachers and lecturers has been exhausted. Faced with a wide ranging attack on their pensions, on top of a two-year pay freeze, rampant inflation and education budget cuts, our members are signalling that ‘enough is enough’.”
Salmond also accused the Westminster Government of “Poisoning the atmosphere with regard to public sector workers” but vowed that they would get fairer conditions in an independent Scotland.
by Gráinne Byrne
As we approach the last official day for Holyrood MSPs before Parliamentary recess, opposing parties are marking their line in the sand ahead of tomorrow’s final questions session. This final session, before dissolution, sets the tone for a battle between the parties leading to the election on 5 May 2011.
In an attempt to engage with the public, First Minister Alex Salmond and his main opponent, Labour leader Iain Gray, will take part in various debates over the next few weeks. Key issues in the frame include higher education, the economy, the health system and, perhaps most importantly, how they will deal with the financial cuts. [Read more...]
With the announcement that the Royal Wedding has been scheduled for April 29th 2011, it has been received with various issues and questions raised about the date which may cause further controversy for the young couple.
“It is rather unfortunate timing,” said John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University. “You are likely to see the Royal Family getting caught up in political debate.”
A wedding day is a daunting moment in any young couples relationship. Throw in the cynical British public and the verbosity of the British press and you have a party which could get out of hand. The date has been announced as a public holiday in both England and Scotland but the main problem with this inappropriate date is the suspicious political timing.
A lavish wedding of this magnitude leaves the couple vulnerable to scrutiny as politicians have a ready-made soap box next April which will coincide with the May 5th Poll and media coverage. Crucial elections scheduled for the 5th May are also being affected in Northern Ireland and Wales and campaigns are beginning to postpone these elections.
Many politicians feel the Polls will go unaffected and David Cameron has ignored the postponement requests. With the fence split there is no obvious indication of what we are to expect come April but many feel the event should be regarded as history in the making.
The British are fascinated with the history of the country. From tales of Henry VIII to the legacy of Queen Victoria we love our background. Although there is a fatigue with the Royal Family in the modern world, tradition and history should still be considered a constant.
The tax payer will be accountable for the security bill, which is projected at £5m, but if the British public are happy to pay for a foreign religious head to grace our country, a historic Royal Wedding which will depict an iconic moment in the history of the country should be celebrated.
by Keith Hamilton
This morning first minister Alex Salmond addressed business leaders and politicians at the sixth annual Business in the Parliament conference.
Mr Salmond called the current and planned fiscal cut-backs implemented by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster as severe as those forced on the UK in the period just after world war two, implemented by Clement Attlee’s Labour government.
They were said to dwarf those in the seventies under Labour’s James Callaghan, during the winter of discontent or Thatcher’s in the eighties. Yet Salmond felt that society in the forties was better equipped to rebuild and unite through the cuts.
He argued there was a collective spirit which “is not out there now”. Many people, he resigned, blamed the bankers for the financial crisis, creating disharmony whereas the forties generation had solidarity from winning the war.
Solutions to the recession were offered in the address, arguing that capital is available at an all time low in cost terms and it was bemusing that the Westminster government did not take a view of increased capital spending, defined as purchasing anything which has a recognizable, material value, in order to promote recovery: “The lost output of the recession should try to be recaptured because that output brings recovery.”
Scotland’s future, he told his audience, will be greatly benefited by investment in the energy industries and the renewable energy sector. The country is on course to match its government set targets for consumption of energy from renewable sources and could feasibly produce 60 gigawatts a year, enough to power Germany or England.
The first minister was unable to remain at the rest of the convention as he was scheduled to open the new medical building at his old university, St. Andrews.
by Neal Wallace
Proposed spending cuts mean universities and colleges across Scotland may be forced to close or face huge job losses, MSPs were warned yesterday.
Mark Batho, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), which allocates funding to higher education institutions, warned that the higher education sector faces cuts of 16 per cent, around £250m. This means compromises will have to be made in order to save colleges and universities, include ceasing numerous courses or laying off staff.
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said he was “very, very concerned” at the proposed cuts, adding: “That would lead straight to the sort of circumstances of significant job losses, significant loss of provision, significant loss of quality and, frankly, a bizarre situation where Scotland, potentially along with England, would be retreating from investment in higher education.”
The news comes in the wake of last month’s Browne review, which recommended lifting the cap on tuition fees in England. This would give English universities the opportunity to charge up to £9000 a year. The highest charging institutions would then pool their money into a central pot, used to encourage poorer students to attend university.
First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Eduction Secretary Michael Russell have both ruled out bringing in tuition fees for Scottish students. Salmond has reiterated on a number of occasions that they must find a “uniquely Scottish solution” to the funding crisis.
Russell added: “Scotland has its own education system, its own needs, demands and strengths”, and confirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to funding higher education.
A report in the Sunday Times last week suggested that English students looking to escape the fee hike by applying to Scottish universities may be charged the same as they would south of the border. This is seen as an attempt to stop Scottish universities being swamped by English applicants.
Universities Scotland has said the only solution to the funding crisis was to have a graduate contribution from the highest earning alumni, meaning they pay more for their education. The move has not been ruled out by the Scottish Government.
Edinburgh: Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond led a protest march against the replacement of Trident in Edinburgh.
“The Scottish government completely opposes the replacement of the Trident system and the dumping of deadly nuclear weapons in Scotland,” Salmond said at the march.
”Most MSPs and members of the public share this government’s view that Scotland should be nucelar free. Through action, such as the Trident Protest, we can send a strong mesage to the UK Government that we will not stand for the dumping of weapons of mass destruction in Scotland,” he said.
The march, organised by Scotland’s for Peace, began outside the Scottish Parliament and ended with a rally at the Grassmarket.
Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory!
Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name.
Sae famed in martial story!
Robert Burns was rightly worried when he wrote ‘such a parcel of rogues in a nation’ in 1791. The poem was about the act of union in 1707, but even at the time of writing Scotland was going through an identity crisis, having only preserved the Kirk and law in terms of administrative identity, Scotland lacked any kind of national substance and Burns was well aware of this.
217 years later Scotland finds itself pressed with similar questions of identity and history. Alex Salmond’s relentless pursuit of independence, many believe, could be the last chance for a generation to secure self rule and truly pursue a completely independent Scottish identity.
My view of the SNP before 2007 was that they were a party thinly veiled in fake ambition and misplaced patriotism, lead by a man who, ironically, confirmed our title as “The sick man of Europe”. They lacked backbone when it came to making political decisions and setting political agendas, but if being Scottish has taught me anything it has got to be our incredible will to succeed and survive, unless of course we’re talking football.
Sweeping changes by the SNP to Education, Health and Tax have left people understandingly happy and shown that they do have political clout even amongst the big hitting Labour and Conservative parties who rule from Westminster. However, as we mount ambitious attempts to break away from the UK are we leaving much of our Scottish history, Culture and identity in the past?
In Victorian and Edwardian Scotland, public culture was an object for struggle, often class struggle, in which much of our hard working image was created. We were world famous for ship building, being exceptionally hard working labourers and keeping the wallets shut. We were proud of our clan heritage, military past and distinct dress sense. These stereotypes have evolved over the years, the ship yards have decreased considerably, new business sectors have been created in the central belt, our farms are becoming redundant, credit cards and loans are available from every bank, we are now an integrated society with typically Asian or European names and only where the kilt on special occasions. So, despite claiming back much of our own political identity from Westminster we have seen the traditional Scottish identity all but disappear in favour of importing the common western culture.
The Scottish National Party isn’t to blame for this creeping western imperialism, but they can do something about it.
We need only look at the sharp decrease in Gaelic speakers between the 1991 and 2001 Censuses as an indicator to sneaking cultural suicide. According to a Holyrood report from the 2001 Census the Gaelic language should be completely extinct by 2050. The example set by the Irish and Welsh, who have re-introduced their national language back into primary schools, High Schools, the workplace and even in the streets is exemplary. The Maori population in New Zealand made such an impact with the rejuvenation of their language that most white people speak the basics and all public service writing is bi-lingual. As a figurehead of identity and culture, language could go a long way to realising Alex Salmond’s dream of independence or could we really be saying goodbye to the Scottish name?
There is still support for an independent Scotland according to a poll undertaken by the Dunedin Napier News website.
In the poll conducted during October 2008, 57% of respondents said that they supported independence for Scotland, whilst 43% said they were against the idea.
This result echoes previous poll results published before the SNP won the 2007 Scottish elections, showing that the recent economic crisis has not affected Alex Salmond’s dream of an autonomous state.
There has recently been much speculation over whether support for an independent state is dwindling since the Westminster government bailed out both RBS and HBOS at a cost of £37billion to the taxpayer.
Gordon Brown used the financial crisis to attack the SNP in the lead-up to the Glenrothes by-elections by highlighting that an independent Scotland could not have afforded to bail out the two major banks (which are based in Edinburgh) because Scotland’s annual budget only comes to around £30billion.
However, Alex Salmond hit back during the SNP conference in Perth: “I would have thought that the condition of the economy, the fears of our people, the state of the financial sector, are a staggering condemnation of the state of the United Kingdom.”
“During the period of financial chaos over the last few weeks we willingly responded to the call to put political differences aside in a national emergency. We did so because we thought it was the right thing to do.
“And how did the Prime Minister respond? At his very first opportunity last Tuesday he launched an attack on independence and the SNP.”
Economists have criticised Salmond’s “arc of prosperity” since Iceland and Ireland – both countries used as examples of the possibilities for Scotland’s future – have both succumbed to the global crisis. However Salmond was quick to attack claims that Scotland would have gone the same way had it been independent.
In his closing speech, Salmond pointed out that the other countries in his “arc of prosperity” Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are “amoung the few countries in Europe forecast to escape recession.”
However some respondents to the Dunedin Napier News poll remained sceptical over the question of independence. One commenting “Independence? Who owns our oil? Who owns our gas?” and another saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Helen Matthews, an Edinburgh resident said: “The result of this poll just shows that we are as uncertain as ever about going independent. Fair enough it is a majority – but I doubt if it came down to a referendum that the Scottish people would take the risk. We won’t really know what people think until we have a referendum.”