Tag Archives: Labour party

Greens back tartan tax

Patrick Harvie MSP

By Andy Mackie

The Scottish Green party are the first political party in Scotland to propose using the Scottish parliament’s tax raising powers.

A motion was passed at the party’s annual conference, held in Edinburgh at the weekend, to oppose cuts to services and to look at taxation as a tool to achieve this. Explaining this stance in the run up to next years Holyrood elections Patrick Harvie MSP said:  “We don’t want the electorate to be faced with five political parties proposing five different flavours of cuts. In doing this we have to acknowledge that, unfortunately, other ways of raising revenue have to be explored.”

Continue reading Greens back tartan tax

Minimum wage rises

The new wage is £5.93

By Michael Heggie

National minimum wage rates are to rise in October, with the minimum rate for workers aged 21 and over reaching £5.93 an hour and a minimum for apprentices set for the first time.

The rise in each category is around 2%, and as previously promised the threshold for adults has been reduced from 22 to 21 years old.

The government also accepted a recommendation from the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to introduce an apprentice minimum wage of £2.50 per hour, which will apply to apprentices under 19 years old.

LPC chairman David Norgrove said: “We are pleased that the government has again accepted the Commission’s recommendations. The introduction of an apprentice rate marks an important extension to minimum wage protection across the UK.”

The new rules also mean that the rate is increasing for 18 to 20-year-olds from £4.83 to £4.92 an hour.

However, the British Retail Consortium Director General (NRC), have suggested that the best way to protect wages is by preserving jobs and keeping people in work.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: “There’s a delicate compromise between higher wages and more jobs, but the best protection for wages is preserving jobs to keep people working.

“But consumer confidence is fragile, while the impact of the government cuts and nervousness about the housing market are creating a lot of uncertainty.

“Trading conditions are tough. Higher costs such as next April’s National Insurance increase will pile on even more pressure. Even a small increase in 2011’s minimum wage could choke off retailers’ vital potential to create new jobs.”

Today’s increase in the minimum wage comes after Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray announced plans to boost public sector workers’ pay to more than £7 an hour.

Gray will try to introduce the new minimum wage level, if the party is elected in next year’s Scottish election. 

Despite tough spending cuts on the horizon, he told his party’s UK conference that the lowest paid workers must be protected: “I want to see excessive salaries and bonuses at the very top end of the Scottish public sector scaled back.

“But those at the bottom of the pay scales must be protected. That is why I will introduce a Scottish Living wage, of over £7 per hour.

“In a 21st century Scotland no one who does a fair day’s work should receive less than a fair days pay. In a Labour Scotland we will make sure that no one does.”

These local residents told Edinburgh Napier News what they think about the Minimum Wage.

Robert Duncan, 22 – “The minimum wage should definitely be above £6.”

Susie Wilson, 57 – “£5.93 seems about right. We have to keep the economy in mind when talking about the minimum wage. There are some dodgy ways of looking at inflation nowadays, so the economy should be our focus when considering how much it should go up.”

Alistair Gibb, 43 – “It isn’t an issue I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I would find that hard to live on. At least £6 makes sense to me.”

Gordon Brown looks to sell assets

Courtesy of Telegraph

By Matthew Robertson

Gordon Brown, has proposed several solutions to reducing the rising budget deficit by raising £16bn from the sale of assets.

Brown’s intention  is the auction and sale of a “portfolio of non-financial assets”  held by Whitehall and local authorities over two years.

During his speech on the economy, the prime minister outlined sales which may raise £3bn, including the Tote, Dartford crossing and the student loan book. And his opposition MP’s have been quick to criticise his plans as they suggest that he will have to do much more if he hopes to be successful in his attempt to cut public spending and turn things around during this economic slump.

According to Downing Street, the sale marks the beginning of a radical assessment of what other non-core government business activities can best be done by, or in partnership with, the private sector.

Aides added that although these actions are important, a crucial force for the reduction in debt will be the restoration of strong, sustainable growth within the economy.

In April, Chancellor Alistair Darling forecast that public borrowing would reach a record £175bn over the next two years.

The funds raised will help finance new capital investment and pay down debt, Mr Brown said.

The initial offering will also include the Channel Tunnel rail link.

The government’s 33% stake in Urenco, a European consortium which supplies equipment to enrich uranium for the nuclear industry, will be offered but the PM will insist there will be no threat to national security.

The government will also look to sell surplus real estate which is part of the £220bn owned by its departments and agencies, as another way to generate income in their attempt to re-coop capital.

From the Conservative’s viewpoint the sale is “probably necessary” but “no substitute for a long-term plan”.

Leader David Cameron said: “Obviously we do need to do this, but we must make sure – as every family knows – if you sell something it can help you in the short-term, but it doesn’t actually help you live within your means in the long-term.

“So, we’ve still got to get to grips with public spending, get to grips with the deficit – and we must make sure we get good value for money”.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable felt that there was a fundamental flaw within the policy and that the government would struggle to raise the required  funds as they would be dealing in depressed markets which wouldn’t be entirely prosperous.

He said: “What worries me about the government proposal is that they’re proposing to sell off in very depressed markets, under very depressed markets for land and for shares.”

With the economy struggling, it appears that the government, lead by a defiant Gordon Brown, will leave no stone unturned in their attempts to raise the necessary, and crucial funds to get this country back to the way it was.

News in Brief


by Margaret Kearns and Alexandre Tregre

Scottish hospitals to fight MRSA with “fresh air machines”

Scottish hospitals are to trial the use of Air Disinfection machines aimed at combatting the spread of the superbug MRSA. The clean air machines, devised by Mid-States Technology, have already proved successful in Sunderland Royal Hospital and are destined for Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway.

Obama team to meet Bush today for transition talks

Obama takes his first steps into the Oval office today to meet with Bush at the White House for a discussion on the transition of power. Head of Obama’s team John Podesta indicated yesterday a strong urgency to make reversals on many of Bush’s executive decisions on oil and gas drilling and stem cell research, amongst others.

Government advice to women: stop taking the pill

The Scottish government are to commence a new strategy urging women to forsake the contraceptive pill in favour of longer lasting methods of birth control such as implants or injections. The move is set to combat the rising abortion rate in Scotland with £270,000 a year earmarked for spending on the initiative.

First Lockerbie payouts made to families in U.S.

$500m has been paid to the U.S. families who lost loved ones in 1988’s Lockerbie bombing. The compensation money came from a $1.5bn Libyan Government payout issued to the U.S. in August which also incorporates the victims of bomb attacks in Germany in 1986. The Libyan government denies responsibility in the attacks but has taken the step in order improve its diplomatic relationship with the U.S.

Sat Nav for the blind developed by Glasgwegian

A blind man has invented Loadstone, an innovative new satellite navigation system for the blind. Monty Lilburn, 33 developed the mapping software which can be downloaded to a mobile phone and delivers useful directions and information on bustops, road crossings, cash machines, journey times and train stations.

Scottish man clubbed to death in Barcelona

Lanarkshire man Derek Cowan was found, having been clubbed to death at his business partner’s Barcelona home. British police have revealed Cowan may have been involved in illegal share dealing. Spanish police investigating the murder have refused to comment on the link and are continuing the search for Navy officer William Madley who is was to have met with the victim on the day of his death.

Russian sub accident claims 20 lives, 21 more critically injured

The trail run of a new Russian submarine has ended in tragedy in the Sea of Japan after a fire safety system malfunctioned by emitting freon gas, killing 17 civilians and 3 seamen amongst the 208 on board. A further 21 people are critically injured in hospital. President Medvedev has called for a thorough investigation of the accident.

New Labour party leader attacks Salmond

After winning his new position as Labour party leader, Ian Gray launched a verbal attack on SNP First Minister Alex Salmond. Mr. Gray became the fifth Scottish Labour leader since the devolution began. Following his victory he gave a speech that projected unfortunate feelings toward
Salmond claiming that, “we don’t need a First Minister who takes pride in putting people down.”

Doctors’ mistakes kill thousands

According to updated research it is suggested that doctors mistakes’ kill tens of thousands of patients at a cost of £300m a year in the United Kingdom. In Scotland alone such mistakes affect up to 50,000 patients. Unfortunately, up to 90% of medical errors are not accounted for. Such errors can include misdiagnoses and prescribing incorrect medications.

Weekend carnage on the roads as little boy dies in car smash

Four people have died on Scotland’s roads this past weekend including a seven year old boy from Peebles. Benjamin Paton and his dad Allan were involved in a road collision on the A9 near Perth which resulted in the death of the boy whose father was also seriously injured in the two car smash. The lives of three other men were also lost when a car left the road and two cars collided in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire respectively.