2015 General Election

Austerity Measures-Child Benefit to be Frozen by a Labour Government

Austerity Measures-Child Benefit to be Frozen by a Labour Government
Under austerity measures introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government, child benefit has been frozen from 2010 to this year. Tory Chancellor George Osborne has already said it should increase by 1 per cent in 2015-16. But Mr Balls said the restraint should continue for another year. With inflation running at around 2 per cent, it means the value of child benefit is falling further in real terms.

Mr Balls said, “I want to see child benefit rising again in line with inflation in the next parliament. “But we will not spend money we cannot afford. So for the first two years of the next parliament we will cap the rise in child benefit at 1 per cent”. “It will save £400 million in the next parliament. And all the savings will go towards reducing the deficit.”

The Children’s Society, Chief Executive Matthew Reed said, “Labour’s announcement on plans to cap child benefit rises comes after repeated squeezes on this bedrock of the family budget. “It represents a major real-terms cut to 13 million children. “Policy is about making choices and the shadow chancellor has made a choice, to look for savings by cutting help for children.

“Child benefit has already been frozen from 2010, and then increased by just 1% this year, falling well below rising prices. “Now this proposal will compound that loss, seeing average families facing a £400 cut in child benefit per year by 2017. “We urge the shadow chancellor to reconsider so that children and their already struggling families do not suffer even more unnecessary hardship.”
Families charity Gingerbread, (President J K Rowling) commented, “Child benefit helps to pay for essentials like food and clothes. For many parents, single parents especially, it can be a lifeline.” “Freezing child benefit will raise relatively little in terms of government savings, but means cutting vital support at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet and the number of children living in poverty is projected to rise rapidly over the next few years.” “This proposal would only make it harder for families to pay the bills.”

An independent Scotland would not have taken around £400 each year from families with children. A matter not given a deal of attention to by the President of Gingerbread. A bit late now.

2015 General Election

2015 General Election and it’s aftermath – What next for the UK?

2015 General Election and it’s aftermath – What next for the UK?

Mythical new powers for Scotland have yet to be brought forward, for discussion between political parties in Scotland and any, “relevant groups or individuals within Scotland”. The UK Government appointed Lord Smith is Heading a Commission aiming to get agreement between the SNP, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Greens on the way forward by 30 November 2014. Each of the 5 main political parties is to be asked to nominate two representatives to take part in cross-party talks.

The mission of the Commission is to produce, by 31 October 2014, an agreed, “Command Paper”, setting out the issues and proposals for change. The Paper will then be sent to Westminster for review, discussion, change where considered necessary and production of a, White Paper” by 25 January 2014. Mechanisms for change, (Acts of Parliament) reflecting agreed outcomes are to be prepared, ready for implementation, in the period February to April.

Implementation of proposed, “new” legislation is to be deferred to a newly elected parliament, at Westminster. It is anticipated readings in the Commons and the Second Chamber coupled with a binding vote in Parliament will be complete before the end of Jun 2015.

There is the caveat that an incoming, “new” government cannot be held to account in regard to proposals for change agreed but not implemented before it’s term of office. So it is possible the entire discussion period could well be an exercise in futility. We will not know until next July, at the earliest and the political scene in the UK and the World will be much changed by that time. There is a saying apt for this situation, “Delay is the most invidious type of Denial”. Is Scotland to be denied?
What Needs to be done in Scotland in the next few weeks

The Labour Party in Scotland has been wounded through it’s support of the Tory Party and the, “Better Together” campaign. The damage might well be temporary in nature, previous history indicates a number of Labour voters, particularly in the West of Scotland are tribal in their approach to politics and might well choose to be guided in their voting, as previously by church and community ,(Labour) activists.

Membership of the of the proposed, “Commission” is designed to, “divide and Rule”. Those in favour of substantial meaningful new powers are outnumbered 6 to 4.

There is also the matter of the members of the many, “Yes for Independence” groups that spontaneously formed and worked tirelessly throughout the campaign. Who is to speak for them? The SNP & Green Party should take up the mantle, without undue delay convening early meetings seeking the views of the foregoing important persons.

Then there is the May 2015 General Election which is just around the corner. Johaan Lamont is under pressure to stand down in favour of a stronger leader experienced in the hustle & bustle of UK politics. Jim Murphy has been muted in the press and despite protestations from some members of the party it is entirely likely he will take up the reins of power of a yet to be formally created, “Westminster Group” of the party in Scotland assisted by a deputy, probably Anas Sarwar. The role of the Scottish labour Party activists and MSP’s would be to take direction from and provide support to the Westminster Group as directed by Jim Murphy. I fully expect there will be speedy movement in the Labour Party to get things under way so that early attention can be given to healing the wounds created by the Referendum campaign.

Back to the, “Yes” campaigners. Are they up for the new battle for the hearts and minds of the Scottish Electorate? I think not. From my observation of many contributions to a number of, “blogs” the vast majority are still morosely, “licking their wounds” and in some cases insisting on fighting on hoping to overturn the result of the Referendum, which is not going to happen.

The, “Yes” campaign needs to rapidly re-group basing it’s broad strategy and forward thinking on that of the SNP, which in turn should broaden it’s base, for the period of a Westminster government, (2015-2020) forming a political group, “The SNP Alliance” encompassing any of the various smaller political parties, in Scotland that are prepared, (for the better future of Scotland) to place their political ideologies on the back burner agreeing to be bound by the rules of the, “Alliance” for the period of the next Westminster parliament.

This would allow the, “Alliance” to nominate a single candidate for election to each constituency in Scotland maximizing representation in Westminster at a crucial period in the history of Scotland.
Back to Westminster in May 2015

Should the Tory Party be re-elected with a small majority, (reliant on a number of smaller parties for support) it will bring forward New Scottish legislation, linking it with measures resolving the, “West Lothian” question. The Labour Party and possibly some other MP’s would vote against the package since it would effectively ensure it would never again take up the reins of government. A substantial group of Scottish , “Alliance” members would be in position enabled to get the package through.

A Labour Party government, with a small majority, (dependent upon it’s Scottish MP’s) would be honour bound to submit the, “package for change” to Parliament without recommendation, allowing a free vote, hoping that proposals pertaining to the, Lothian Question are rejected but allowing changes for Scotland to be implemented. A strong, “Scottish Alliance” presence
would be enough to ensure the defeat of the labour government bringing in the new legislation for England.

Much to do. little time to do it. Leadership is crucial at this time. I would offer Alex Salmond is best placed to bring about the creation of the Scottish Alliance allowing Nicola Sturgeon to get on with her new role as leader of the SNP