3 December 2014: The Smith Commission: what Was Said and What Has Happened
There has been, and will be, much debate about Smith following its publication late last month, including further analysis on Ekklesia. It is probably the case that as much as the Westminster parties were ever going to be prepared to concede is in its proposals.
But the idea that this amounts to ‘Home Rule’ or ‘devo max’ (everything other than foreign affairs and defence) is far from true; as is the assertion that this is the maximum that can be achieved.
It is but one package, developed out of conversation – constructive but inevitably compromised – by five of the six parties that played a large part in the September independence referendum campaign.
The other involves EVEL (English votes for English laws). The whole settlement can also be questioned in terms of the lack of balance between new powers and resources to deliver with or from them – something we specifically warned about. Of course there are positives, too. Those have to be built on. But people in Scotland and elsewhere on these islands will be necessarily sanguine about the adequacy of what is on the table.
The Smith Commission process, set in motion by the deliberately vague and highly politicised ‘Vow’ by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders, was from the outset constrained by a timetable which ensures minimum public involvement and consultation.
One of the major planks in Ekklesia’s submission was about this failing. It can be somewhat mitigated as Heads of Agreement are considered, but at present we can have no confidence that it will be.
Nevertheless, as the energy for change continues in Scotland, there remains, throughout all these flawed processes, the hope that the case for more substantial constitutional and political change can be pushed for across these islands – for the benefit of people in Wales and the English regions, too.
That will of necessity involve tackling ‘the London question’ – the impact on the quarter mile City State which now shapes Westminster politics and much else on the British and Irish isles. It will also involve much more thought and response on the implications of Smith. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21100
3 December 2014: The tax solution proposed by Smith is the worst possible for everyone involved, and essentially part of a two-pronged trap set by the UK government.
Richard Murphy is a chartered accountant and economist. He has written widely, and blogs frequently. He has appeared in many radio and television documentaries on taxation issues. He has also presented written and oral evidence to select committee committees of the House of Commons and House of Lords. Richard has been a visiting fellow at Portsmouth University Business School, the Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex and at the Tax Research Institute, University of Nottingham.
His views. There appears to be broad consensus this morning that Scotland will get devolved powers over all income tax on earnings but not savings in the review of its authority to be announced today. Some other taxing rights, which are much less contentious, will also be devolved. I have to say I am very worried about this compromise solution for Scotland. In saying so I stress I was in favour of independence and felt Scotland should have embraced its own currency. little else made sense in September. Two months on a worst possible outcome for everyone now seems to be the option.
The settlement reached appears to be based on the premise that tax’s sole purpose is revenue raising and that Scotland must have taxing powers if it spends. At the core of my concern is my belief that this is wrong. Tax has not less than six purposes:
1) It reclaims the money that a government has spent into an economy
2) It reprices goods and services that the market misprices
3) It redistributes income and wealth
4) It raises representation in democracies as people are motivated to vote by tax
5) It reorganises an economy
6) It regulates money by giving it value in exchange by requiring that tax be paid using the state currency.
You will note that none of these refers to raising revenue and that’s appropriate. We know governments can and do spend money they do not have and we know governments can also spend without ever borrowing: QE has proved that. This is why I refer to tax collection as the reclamation of money the government has already spent into the economy using the power a state has to create money at will.
The trouble is Scotland does not have that power to create money. That will, as the whole referendum debate focussed upon, stay with London. So Scotland ends up with revenue collection rights but no control over money, that’s half a power at best. And it has even been denied the right to reprice necessary parts of the economy to achieve the goal of redistribution which many think absolutely vital to economic recovery because tax rates on savings and rents are going to be taken out of its control meaning it can only redistribute earned income – which is precisely what is probably not needed in Scotland.
What’s the outcome? A mess, is the best answer. The West Lothian question remains on the table and is too uncomfortable to answer. UK fiscal control is reduced, and Scotland has powers too limited to really effect change. Macro economic policy will be hard to deliver. The practicalities of administering two, related, domestic tax systems will be enormously difficult (who will be resident in Scotland, and how will they know?). And Scotland will remain frustrated that some real reforms will remain beyond it for time to come.
If ever we wanted to know that the No vote in September was a very big mistake this is the proof. We will now live as two nations with two tax systems and no macro economic control on some key issues living under one umbrella state with one currency that no-one can be sure they control.
That’s the definition of a macro-economic mess in the making. I am, I think, appropriately worried. There could have been worse outcomes – and they may still come – but this is a potential nightmare in the making.
10 November 2014: Ekklesia – Submissions to the Smith Commission – Expert Observations and Warnings to Scotland of The Trap
Ekklesia is a public policy thinktank, (one of the UK top 5) headquartered in Edinburgh and London, which examines the role of beliefs and values in shaping policy and politics for the furtherance of social and environmental justice. Christian in background and orientation, It works with people across and beyond the spectrum of religious and non religious conviction. It is supported by a charitable trust but is fully independent of both political parties and faith bodies.
The Proper Discharge Of the Commission’s Terms Of Reference:
The Smith Commission is charged with securing recommendations to deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers to strengthen the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom based on wide consultation with political parties, civic society, businesses and individuals across Scotland. It is recognized that this is an extremely challenging and complex task. Our submission will therefore focus on two areas. The need for civic participation and the principles which we believe should rest at Holyrood.
The Commission has advised against a mere ‘shopping list of powers’, and we concur with that. The issues involved in achieving a radically improved devolved settlement for Scotland require a more wholistic approach. We are not convinced that the top-down nature of the Commission’s structure, with two representatives each from the political parties who currently sit in Holyrood, but no solid framework for civic participation, is adequate to this challenge, and we will therefore suggest an addition and amplification.
Adequate Time and Scope For Popular Participation:
The scale and complexity of the Commission’s remit relate directly to chronology. While we recognize the pressure to produce Heads of Agreement by 30 November 2014 on the path to a legislative process by January 2015, we are concerned that this timetable does not allow realistic time for adequate consultation with the people of Scotland. Lord Smith has responded to this concern by arguing that, effectively, consultation expands to fill the time available for it, and that discipline is no bad thing in this respect. While recognizing the weight of this observation we would argue that there is a balance between efficiency, quality, reach and coherent outcome to be achieved which cannot automatically be resolved on the side of brevity.
The 18 September referendum on Scottish independence and the two years of debate that preceded it were an unprecedented ‘democratic moment’in the history of this country and the islands of which it is part. What was particularly significant was the revival of ‘town hall politics’, the extraordinary level of local engagement, and the growth of political and constitutional literacy at a grassroots level in Scotland.
The energy for change and development came not from top-down institutions but from ordinary people and communities. To be consistent with this reality, the form of delivery of the Commission and the framing of its proposals needs to make time for genuine and extensive public discussion of the Heads of Agreement, so that it is the people of Scotland and not simply the representatives of political parties or other vested interests who are consulted and involved in the process of agreeing the instruments for devolving power within and across the nation.
Key Practical Principles and Yardsticks To Be Observed:
Ekklesia is committed to social justice, equality, conflict transformation and non-violence, the localization of power, environmental sustainability and public dialogue as procedures (not just theories) capable of bringing people together from different belief backgrounds and experiences in the creation of common purpose. We would urge attention to the following principles in determining the outcomes of the Commission.
Derived from Christian (especially Catholic) social teaching, but applicable to the kind of mixed belief society that Scotland and the British isles are now becoming, the principle of subsidiarity is that central authority should have a subsidiary (that is, a supporting, rather than subordinate)function in political and constitutional organization, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate regional or local level. In the case of the Smith Commission, therefore, we would wish for outcomes that demonstrably allow and encourage the possibility of further sharing of power from the Scottish Parliament to regions and communities.
Recognition of Nationhood:
We would wish that the Commission recognize Scotland to be a nation (that is, a geographical unit capable of enabling a large group of people to be united in their diversity of language, culture, environment and economic life ) rather than simply a region of a larger state. We make that point not in any ‘essentialist’ way, since Ekklesia is and has been critical of overly determinist notions of nationhood or statehood, but because of the strong desire for self-determination expressed both by those who voted for independence in September 2014, and by many who voted to remain part of the United Kingdom while responding positively to the promises of “substantial powers” and “what would amount to home rule” or (so-called) “devo-max” made by representatives of the largest Westminster parties during the run-up to the referendum. In other words, recognition that Scotland as a national entity provides, on practical grounds and in terms of scale, the genuine possibility of ensuring the kind of political,social, economic and ecological accountability that can make life better for people within its embrace especially those who are currently suffering from levels of poverty and deprivation which is wholly inconsistent with the natural and manufactured resources available to those who live in Scotland, whatever their background or nationality.
A ‘Family Of Nations’:
Both during and after the referendum, Britain has been spoken of as a ‘family of nations’. This complements the point we made in 4.b, above. Our own view is that there are genuine practical, economic, political and legal difficulties to achieving straightforward federalism in a country marked by enormous differences of size (with England housing 85% of the population of the British isles) and financial power (with the City of London, in particular, operating as a virtual city state and therefore strongly shaping, intentionally and otherwise, the political disposition of the largest Westminster political parties). We therefore hope that the proposals emerging from the Smith Commission, while taking a generally federal shape, will remain open to other possibilities in the future, notably that of confederalism an association of states in which each member state retains substantial independent control over internal and external affairs, with sovereignty pooled and shared by agreement. This enables the combining of a high level of autonomy and self-determination with interdependence and conviviality pointed towards a post national way of thinking and acting in a globalized world.
The Embedding Of Devolved Power:
As Canon Kenyon Wright (widely regarded as the father of the Constitutional Convention and the present devolution settlement in Scotland) has observed, devolution has two in principle limitations. First, it is incomplete. The recent debate about the impact of a UK-wide decision which could potentially see the withdrawal of Scotland from the European Union against the will of the majority of its people is illustrative of this. Second, and especially important for the work of the Smith Commission, it is conditional. In other words, devolution is power on loan; power ultimately retained rather than given. It can be withdrawn, as has been seen recently in Scotland’s case in relation to the 2013 Energy Act. This is crucial. For Westminster to retain the permanent power to grant, alter, or rescind powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament would leave Scotland insecure and the United Kingdom as a whole fundamentally unreformed. A core principle for the Commission should therefore be to ensure that devolved powers granted to Scotland are underwritten by a legal framework that ensures their durability and stability.
The Capacity To Disavow the Threat Of Mass Destruction:
While we recognize that it is not within the remit of the Commission to recommend substantial devolution of powers in the area of foreign affairs and defence (security) policy, we regard it as axiomatic that the people of Scotland should not have to have weapons of mass destruction, namely the Trident nuclear submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde, imposed on their territory without, as a minimum, democratic consent of a kind not provided within the current United Kingdom settlement. This should be addressed. Ekklesia will, of its own volition, continue to argue that nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are not only immoral but illegal in international law.
An Equilibrium Between Powers Granted and the Capacity and Resources To Utilize Them For Public Benefit:
It is extremely important that political and constitutional powers granted to the Scottish Parliament and Government under a devolution settlement are matched by the tax-raising, financial and economic powers required to enable them to deliver measurable benefits to people and communities.
The Right Of Civic Engagement, Consultation and Assembly:
We see the institutions of governance and policy invested in the capacity of people and communities to determine their own lives, rather than the other way round. This notion has been developed as a ‘claim of right’, an assertion given moral and theological weight from within our Christian tradition (in association with others in a plural environment) by the Rev Dr Ian Fraser, among others, in recent Scottish history. The principle of establishing processes that are open to shaping by citizen’s assemblies and popular participation is an important one for us, rooted in the notion of ‘radical democracy’ moving beyond merely liberative democracy to the capacity to embrace difference and antagonism in public life/policy in ways that enable dominant power relations to be challenged by those otherwise marginalized by lack of resources, education or status in society. We recognize that this principle is more relevant in terms of the outcomes of the deployment of specific powers (judging them morally and practically in terms of their impact on the poorest and weakest, recasting them to give such people a real stake in determining better outcomes, along lines suggested by Scotland’s Poverty Truth Commission). Nevertheless, it is important to bear it in mind in formulating the settlement of powers within national institutions.
Specific Proposals For Devolved Powers and Their Grounding. The Following Would Be A Good Basis For Establishing the Kind Of Principles Enumerated Above:
* Power over all franchise and electoral law residing in Scotland: This would would allow 16-18 year-olds to vote in the 2016 Holyrood election, allow Scotland to develop and deploy a fairer electoral system, and create conditions for a proper power of public recall.
* Comprehensive economic powers: This would need to include borrowing as well as taxation. The aim would be the capacity to deliver social, environmental and financial security and measures of redistribution.
* Full control over employment law and employment rights, including industrial relations and health and safety legislation.
* The welfare system: This would enable Scotland to create a fabric of social security and comprehensive welfare suitable for a modern society, and appropriate to the needs of disabled and sick people and the most vulnerable.
* Energy powers: This would involve control over industrial emissions standards, the generation of community renewables, energy efficiency and the proper assertion of public purpose over power companies.
* Transport policy: To enable the creation of a community owned and oriented integrated and environmentally sustainable public transport system in Scotland.
* Full powers over human rights and equalities law: This would enable Scotland to retain the Human Rights Act if it was scrapped by the United Kingdom Parliament, and also full consonance with European and international instruments.
* The right to refuse participation in illegally and morally flawed international wars and conflicts, and to refuse the stationing of weapons of mass destruction on Scottish soil.
* The right, as part of family of nations, to retain membership of the European Union if the majority of those voting in a referendum on the topic in Scotland so determine.
27 November 2014: Smith Unveils his devolution package – Events of the day as they unravelled
08.00 Good morning. At 08.30, Lord Smith of Kelvin will unveil a new devolution deal to Scotland that will grant Holyrood powers over income tax and welfare spending. The cross-party commission was set up after the unionist parties promised greater powers for Scotland in the event of a no vote in the independence referendum, in a pledge known as ‘The Vow’. The deal is being hailed as the biggest transfer of powers to Scotland since the Scottish Parliament was set up 15 years ago. It has been drawn up in little over two months. The deal includes:
Full control in Scotland over income tax rates and bands, but not the personal allowance threshold.
More control over welfare, including the rate of Disability Living Allowance ands its successor PIP, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance. Scottish ministers will have the power to top up Universal Credit to effectively abolish the “bedroom tax”.
Control over Scottish Parliament elections will be devolved, allowing SNP ministers to press ahead with plans to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote.
08.10 The devolution of income tax goes beyond what Labour intended. Gordon Brown warned the devolution of income tax would be a “trap” because it would force Scottish MPs to surrender significant voting rights in Westminster over budgets – putting the Union itself at risk. Under the deal, however, we expect Scottish MPs to retain votes over budget votes.
Asked why the reversal in position, Jim Murphy, running to lead Scottish Labour, said this morning: “I’ve changed my mind.” “I listened to the people of Scotland in the referendum, who wanted real change but in the United Kingdom. We changed our mind, and reflected on the wishes of the people of Scotland. “I think this morning very many of those Yes voters who are not dyed-in-the-wool SNP people, they will be pretty satisfied with this deal. “But the second thing is that important parts of pooling and sharing of resources within the UK remain, the Barnett formula will remain, issues about the state pension will remain, and the ability to deal with a downturn in the economy will remain by Universal Credit and things like that remaining part of the UK. “So I think it’s a remarkable deal and a best of both worlds deal: really strong devolution but Scotland remaining part of the UK.”
08.20 Gordon Brown issued a statement, saying: “The Vow to deliver a stronger Scottish Parliament within the UK has been kept, as promised, and the timetable for draft laws to be published in January will now be honoured, as promised.” He said that the Smith Commission has ruled that income tax is a “shared UK tax” and that a reserve power to levy a UK-wide income tax has been retained. “The Commission has rightly REJECTED the Conservative proposal ? from the day after the referendum for excluding Scottish MPs from voting on Budget income tax decisions. It has rightly ? recommended that the whole of the House of Commons, including Scottish representatives, will ? always ? vote on? every aspect of UK Budget tax decisions.”
08.30 Lord Forsyth, John Major’s Scottish Secretary, has attacked the reforms to income tax as “piecemeal” that will be easily avoided, as the wealthy can take their income as dividends. “This is why it’s mad to rely on income tax as your main source of revenue. If the proposals are that dividends in income should be not taxed, they can change to have most of their income in dividends and avoid the Scottish rate of tax. I think we could end up if people think more powers to the Scottish parliament means more money… this has not been thought through,” he told Newsnight last night. “The Labour party’s idea that we should have a constitutional convention for the whole of the United Kingdom, and not do this piecemeal reform as a panic measure to the rise of the nationalists and the result of the referendum.”
08.40 Boris & Co: Now give powers for England. Local government leaders including Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, have called for negotiation similar to that in Scotland to agree a comparable package for English local government. The letter, entitled What is good enough for Scotland, stated: “We leaders and supporters of local government in England of all parties and types of local government congratulate Scotland on the measure of devolution they have worked for and that is now proposed by the Smith Commission.
We call upon central Government and party leaders to recognise that local government should be the vehicle for devolution in England and to now negotiate with us using a similar non-party Commission to agree a comparable package of measures for local government in England which can appear in the Manifestos and be enacted after the General Election.”
09.00 Lord Smith of Kelvin opened the press conference. He praised political leaders for coming together after the “bruising” referendum. The Scottish Parliament will be “stronger” with “more tools to pursue its tools and objectives”, he says, after the biggest transfer of powers since it was created. It will be “more accountable” because more spending will be funded from tax within Scotland. Specific mentions:
New borrowing powers alongside tax raising and the Barnett Formula block grant.
The Parliament will get the first ten per cent of VAT.
Receipt of Air Passenger Duty.
Control over how elections are run.
The number of msp’s to be elected to parliament and how they are to be disqualified.
Power to give 16 and 17 year olds a vote.
Scotland will get power over disability and care benefits.
Control of unemployment programmes, welfare subsidies, cold weather, winter fuel & funeral payments and the maternity grant.
Powers to create new benefits.
The Scottish Government will be given a bigger role in EU negotiations.
Urging the Scottish people to be “patient” for the delivery of the new powers. he said: “Change of this magnitude cannot be rushed through.” He says inter-governmental working “needs to be improved”.
David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon must meet to discuss outcomes soon after after 25 January 2015 and the Speakers of the Commons and the Scottish Parliament should meet to discuss how public understanding of the new settlement can be improved. Some believe the commission has gone too far, others not enough,” he said, “but my work is done – responsibility now passes to the Scottish Government.”
09.15 John Swinney, the Scottish finance minister and Deputy First Minister, said the proposals lacked job creation powers, welfare powers, control over personal allowance or national insurance that will allow Scotland to succeed. “I regret these powers have not been delivered.” He said they recognised the Smith Commission could not grant independence but they hoped it would allow Scotland to succeed economically.
They say this does not happen. “We welcome the new powers – as we support all progress for Scotland – and pledge to use them when they are in place in the best interests of the Scottish people. We also welcome the acknowledgement of the ‘sovereign right’ of the people of Scotland, and our ability to proceed to independence if we so choose. “But the proposals clearly do not reflect the full wishes of the people of Scotland, and also fall far short of the rhetoric from the No campaign during the referendum.
Then, Gordon Brown promised ‘nothing less than a modern form of Scottish Home Rule’ and ‘as close to a federal state’ as the UK can be. That was the context for the “extensive new powers” promised in the Vow. Regrettably, the Westminster parties were not prepared to deliver the powerhouse parliament the people of Scotland were promised – under these proposals, less than 30 per cent of our taxes will be set in Scotland and less than 20 per cent of welfare spending will be devolved to Scotland.
That isn’t Home Rule – it’s continued Westminster rule.” “Most significantly, the proposals do not include the job-creating powers that Scotland so badly needs to get more people into work and grow the economy, or welfare powers to tackle in-work poverty.” That claim is based on these two sentences in the report:
“Reflecting the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, as expressed in the referendum on 18 September 2014, and in the context of Scotland remaining within the UK, an enhanced devolution settlement for Scotland will be durable, responsive and democratic.”
“It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.”
09.30 On Twitter, ‘betrayal’ is now trending in Glasgow, which voted yes. A sample reaction from Yes voters:
09.40 John Redwood, the standard bearer for the Tory right, warns Scottish MPs voting on English income tax will be “unjust”. He wants a new settlement where the Speaker will declare which issues are English only. “I’m here to speak for England, and what we need is the ability to make a decision on behalf of England, just based on the votes of the English MPs at Westminster. Or in some cases we may be doing it with Wales and Northern Ireland if the issues are not devolved there, but not with Scotland, because the issues have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. “Now that Scotland is going to get this mighty power to choose the tax rates and the bands for income tax, [it’s important] that Scottish MPs don’t come to Westminster and then impose an income tax rate or income tax band on England that we don’t want. It would be quite unjust if Scottish MPs were still able to vote on our income tax when they could not vote on their own income tax, and when Scotland had her right to choose her own income tax without us.”
09.50 Nick Clegg says the parties have over-delivered on The Vow. “Call it Vow Max, Vow Plus Plus,” he tells his weekly radio show on LBC. “Because what you have got in the Smith Commission, which I think is truly remarkable, is the devolution over money so that Scotland now will be responsible for the majority of the money that it spends which is a good thing. “This is not asking more of English tax-payers. It is saying that if the Scottish people and the Scottish politicians they elect want to do more things, on welfare for instance, they have got the freedom to raise it for them themselves and they will have, basically, a new welfare system for them to manage themselves in Scotland.
They will have to fund it but they will be allowed to take responsibility for it. “That is basically Home Rule and that is something that Liberals down the ages have argued for over a long period of time. We also need Home Rule for Sheffield for Liverpool for Newcastle… we need devolution, decentralisation across the country.”
– Scotland can set the rates and thresholds of income tax, but the personal allowance will remain set in Westminster. All the revenue will stay in Scotland. It will be administered by HMRC, with any extra costs footed in Scotland.
– Scotland will take the first 10 percentage points (i.e. half) of VAT receipts.
– Scotland will have have the power to borrow on the international markets, within a “prudential borrowing regime consistent with a sustainable overall UK framework.”
– Scotland will have control on air passenger duty from Scottish airports, and can scrap it.
– Power over the running of Scottish Parliament elections, including spending and the age of the franchise and the number of MSPs.
– Consultation with Scottish ministers on negotiations with the European Union, and allowing Scottish Government ministers to speak on behalf of all of the UK at the Council of Ministers in Europe.
– The Crown Estate i.e. Government land will transfer to the Scottish Parliament. This includes the seabed, rural estates, stretches of coast line and mineral and fishing rights.
But it will not cover “critical national infrastructure” covering defence, oil and gas.
– The Scottish Government will have a role in reviewing the BBC’s charter and the BBC – vilified in the referendum campaign by nationalists – will have to answer to the Scottish Parliament’s committees.
– Scotland will have a greater say over running the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Northern Lighthouse Board, Ofcom and Ofgem.
– the ability to top-up benefits payments to cancel out the so-called Bedroom Tax.
– Benefits for carers, the disabled and the ill; cold weather, funeral payments, maternity grants and winter fuel payments.
– The right to create new benefit payments.
– The running of back-to-work schemes for the unemployed.
– The report calls for “serious consideration” to devolving control over abortion and call for immediate consideration.
– It calls for a discussion around the devolution of medical rules on embryology, surrogates and medicines.
– Tribunals will transfer to Scotland, except the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission.
– Transport will be devolved, including the power to set speed limits, and allowing the state to bid for rail franchises.
– The level of so-called Green Levies on fuel bills will remain in Westminster, but how they are raised will be devolved.
– Scotland will take control of onshore oil and gas licencing, but off-shore will remain a UK-wide issue.
– Scottish ministers can request competition authorities investigate issue in Scotland.
– Scotland takes control of consumer advocacy, and will have the power to prevent the spread of payday loan shops and fixed odds betting terminals.
Powers explicitly staying with Westminster are:
– The Barnett Formula, setting the block grant from Westminster, will remain.
– The state pension, including the pension age.
– National Insurance, Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Corporation tax, fuel duty, oil and gas receipts remain controlled by Westminster.
– Universal Credit, the new DWP system for delivering working age benefits, including the rates and sanctions regime
– The Equality Act will remain UK wide, but Scotland will be able to set new rules such as gender quotas.
– The Treasury retains overall responsibility to manage risks and shocks to the economy, including a power to levy UK-wide taxes if required.
10.50 David Cameron welcomed the Smith Commission, and says the case for English votes for English laws is now “unanswerable”. He will unveil proposals before Christmas. “I’m delighted with what’s been announced. We are keeping our promises and we’re keeping our United Kingdom together. I always said that a ‘no’ vote didn’t mean no change. Indeed, we made a vow of further devolution to Scotland. And today we show how we’re keeping that vow and we’ll continue to keep that promise.
“The Scottish Parliament is going to have much more responsibility in terms of spending money. But it will also have to be accountable for how it raises taxes to fund that spending. And I think that’s a good thing. “I think the report today also makes the case for English votes for English laws unanswerable and we’ll be taking action on that shortly. And I think, taken together, this extra devolution for Scotland and dealing with the all the issues in our United Kingdom will make our United Kingdom stronger. So it’s a good day for the UK.”
10.58 On Twitter, the Smith Commission becomes #smithscommission;
11.04 Jim Murphy, the Labour leadership front runner, says the deal means the SNP will no longer be able to blame London for failing to deliver. “The Vow made during the referendum campaign has not only been delivered – it has been exceeded. “This huge package of new powers is a good deal for Scotland. More decisions about Scotland will be taken here in Scotland, without losing the financial security that comes with the Barnett formula. “The days of political parties in Scotland promising the earth but blaming someoneelse for their failure to deliver are well and truly over. There will be no hiding place for those parties which preach social justice but duck for cover when called to act.”
11.15 In the Commons, MPS discuss the Smith Commission;
Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, says the measures “will be implemented without hesitation, without reservation and without equivocation”. He says “work starts today” to turn recommendations into draft legislation by Burns Night in January 2015. “For the first time over 50 percent of the money spent by the Scottish Government will be raised by the Scottish Government,” he said.
Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor, said devolution must do nothing “that undermines the integrity of the United Kingdom.”
Stewart Hosie, the SNP Deputy Leader, said the SNP “won’t stand in the way” of the package but says it has not turned the Scottish Parliament into a “powerhouse”, and says the Scottish voters have been let down.
Carmichael chided Stewart Hosie’s tone and said he had failed to welcome the deal. “He predictably and depressingly seeks to claim this is not the fulfilled.” He waved a copy of today’s Record, which declared: “The Vow Delivered”. He demanded the SNP respected the outcome of the referendum for a generation. He went on to say, “Britain needs federalism,” but held back from saying that’s what the report achieved.
Redwood demanded English MPs have control over English taxes. Carmichael dodged the question a little, and said that the Smith Commission ruled that income tax is a UK-wide tax. MPs shouted “Rubbish!”.
Carmichael is asked if the UK Treasury will have to undewrite Scotland’s extra borrowing. He responded; “Scotland will be liable for any debts it incurs under its new borrowing powers”. (How that works in theory and practice is not clear since the UK retains responsiblity for overall fiscal framework.)
Carmichael is asked whether Scottish control of income tax could trigger a low-tax race between England and Scotland. “That is indeed one of the possible consequences,” he responded.
Pete Wishart (SNP, Perth) said the package is disappointing.
Carmichael said Wishart just wanted independence. “He lost. It’s about time he and his party came to terms with that loss. For him and his party to try and get independence by the back door does not respect the views of the Scottish people as expressed in the referendum. He has a duty to speak for the 60.91 per cent of his own constituents who rejected independence.”
Philip Davies asks “how those people who wanted the status quo should have voted in the independence referendum.” Carmichael said it was clear that a “vote for no was not a vote for no change”.
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle, asked about air passenger duty and the competition from Scottish airports v northern English airports. Carmichael said it was for her and her city to propose the new powers they wanted.
Asked about English votes for English laws, he said: “I am confident that England will get what England wants, when England decides what it is it wants.”
12.20 Elsewhere in the world, the price of Brent Crude has fallen to the lowest level in four years as Opec meets. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30223721 The Yes campaign’s finances were built on assumptions of oil at $113 a barrel. It’s now $75.75. Under the Smith Commission, oil revenues will not be devolved – to SNP chagrin.
12.40 A number of aspects outstanding will be clarified in time by Westminster:
What English votes for English laws really mean – and whether MPs from north of the border will be barred from voting on income tax bands and rates in the rest of the UK. Details are due to be set out by Mr Cameron before Christmas but the PM’s official spokesman said that the principle would be that the differentiation would apply to “all financial matters”. Some elements of income tax would remain UK-wide, he pointed out, such as the allowance thresholds and how income was defined – and there would “continue to be a UK Budget”.
Asked specifically if MPs from north of the border would be excluded from voting, for example, on a change to income tax bands or rates in the rest of the UK, he declined to give detail of specific plans. But he added: “Where you see significant areas of devolution, there is an important principle there in terms of English votes for English laws. The Prime Minister was pretty clear when he was in front of the select committee that he thinks he is going to bring forward proposals which are going to reflect that because that is the fair thing to do.”
Ed Miliband insisted the settlement meant Scottish MPs WILL vote on English budgets. “The system of tax reliefs remains at a UK level, other aspects of the income tax system remain at the UK level. “I think it’s part of the integrity of the UK that it continues to be the place that Scottish MPs vote on the budget. The Smith Commission itself recognises that in their report.
13.30 Labour are concerned about regional airports in the north of England, and tax competition from lower levels of air passenger duty in Scotland.Is a tax race brewing? Balls and Umunna wrote to their Tory counterparts. “All of our parties support the Smith Commission conclusions and its principle that implementation should not cause detriment to the UK as a whole nor to any of its constituent parts. And cause neither the UK Government nor the Scottish Government to gain or lose financially simply as a consequence of devolving a specific power.
It is important that, in implementing the Smith recommendations in relation to Air Passenger Duty, this principle is upheld. This means ensuring that English Regional Airports are not disadvantaged. English Regional airports cannot be faced with continuing uncertainty and risk through not knowing whether they will be significantly disadvantaged should a future Scottish Government introduce changes to Air Passenger Duty. It is therefore imperative that the UK Treasury leads work across Government – and working with the Scottish Government – on a mechanism to ensure that English airports, particularly in the North of England, are not disadvantaged.”
27 November 2014: The last-minute pledge by Unionists in the independence referendum debate on more powers to be sent to the Scottish Parliament is broken.
The Record also claims, (breathless with excitement) that “Scotland will be allocated £5 billion of VAT receipts, 50 per cent of the VAT take in the country”. But the Smith report makes abundantly plain that this too will NOT result in any extra money for the Scottish Government’s budget. Quote: “The receipts raised in Scotland by the first 10 percentage points of the standard rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) will be assigned to the Scottish Government’s budget. These receipts should be calculated on a verified basis, to be agreed between the UK and Scottish Governments, with a corresponding adjustment to the block grant received from the UK Government in line with the principles set out in paragraph 95.” Paragraph 95 is the section which explicitly says that any changes should not result in an increase or decrease to the Scottish Government budget.
What that means is that any “extra” money assigned in VAT will be immediately clawed back from the block grant – in other words, the amount of money in Holyrood’s budget will be exactly the same, but some of it will be labelled differently. Westminster, to all practical intents and purposes, will hand Scotland a tenner with one hand and take back two fivers with the other hand.
Worrying facts about the Smith Commission causes concern.The following is what was said: “Agreed plans to give Holyrood new powers over abortion law, lotteries and health and safety at work were dropped from the Smith Commission at the 11th hour leaked drafts have revealed. The documents show that a range of major powers were set to be devolved to Scotland as part of the Unionist “ vow” made during the independence referendum but were axed in the final days of negotiations. They include full devolution of abortion law and creation of a separate Scottish Health and Safety Executive. Both were downgraded to the status of “additional issues for consideration “and may or may not be devolved in the future.” http://wingsoverscotland.com/and-now-for-the-truth/
Plans to give the Scottish Government more control over the treatment of asylum seekers and a greater say in the governance of the BBC were removed at the instigation of the Unionist parties. A draft dated November 21st included proposals to devolve income tax personal allowance, employers’ National Insurance contributions, Inheritance Tax, and the power to create new taxes without Treasury approval. However these were never adopted into the agreed text.
1 October 2014: More than 106,000 Scots have backed an online petition to ensure the three amigo’s deliver their vow of “extensive” new powers for Scotland.
As the independence referendum campaign came to a head, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg vowed to devolve extensive new powers to Holyrood in the event of a No vote on September 18. Now, more than 100,000 Scots have backed an online petition, made on the political activism website 38 Degrees, calling on the party leaders to fulfil their solemn promises.
Last night, former First Minister Gordon Brown pledged to hand the petition to the Commons demanding extra powers for Scotland during a debate on October 16. Brown said: “The issue is not whether we have change or not. Change is guaranteed. But the question is whether it comes with strings attached. “The petition is a call for unity around the original undiluted programme of strengthening the Scottish Parliament and I urge more people in Scotland to sign.”
It reads: “The Westminster party leaders promised the Scottish people new democratic powers on a clear timetable. “But since the referendum, David Cameron has said he wants to link democratic powers for Scotland to other changes like banning Scots MPs from voting on some issues in the UK parliament. This could mean the promise gets delayed or broken. That’s unacceptable. “Let’s tell all the party leaders – a promise is a promise. You can’t add extra conditions now.” Gordon Brown, Nicola Sturgeon and Johann Lamont all gave the petition their backing yesterday. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/sign-up-over-106000-scots-4359935
10 October 2014: Nicola Sturgeon calls for Holyrood to be handed maximum home rule as Scottish Government proposals for change are lodged with Lord Smith of Kelvin’s commission.
Unveiling plans for a radical transfer of power submission to the Smith Commission it is effectively independence lite. It calls for almost everything to be passed to Holyrood except key UK-wide issues such as currency policy, foreign affairs and defence. Nicola Sturgeon said she still chases her dream of independence but insisted her revised plan will not break up the UK by the back door. She also claimed the unionist parties risk failing to live up to their promise if they do not improve their proposals for Lord Smith, also lodged yesterday. Outlining her plans in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon said: “I firmly believe that Scotland should be an independent country. However, I accept the result of the referendum and acknowledge independence will not be the result of the Smith commission process.”
The SNP said their proposals amount to maximum self-government. They include transfer of all tax revenue to Scotland, including income tax, national insurance, corporation tax and fuel duty. All domestic spending decisions, such as welfare, should be made in Holyrood. And they want control of rail policy, employment policy, energy and broadcasting.
Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems largely sent in initial proposals published months before the referendum, which Nicola Sturgeon criticised. She said: “I’m sitting here very openly saying this process isn’t going to deliver what I want for Scotland, which is independence. I think the quid pro quo for the other parties is to recognise that those proposals do not amount to what people now expect to be delivered.”
24 October 2014: Treasury’s RBS email leak came from Westminster ‘referendum dirty tricks’ department
The UK Treasury has been accused of running a, “political dirty tricks department” spinning against Scottish independence after it emerged sensitive information about Royal Bank of Scotland plans to leave the country in the event of a Yes vote was leaked by a civil servant in charge of, “referendum communications” within the department. The email, sent to journalists the week before the referendum, stated RBS had plans to move its base to London in the event of independence, triggering headlines viewed as a blow to the Yes campaign.
It was issued while the RBS board was meeting to discuss the matter, and before the bank had made a statement to the financial markets – a breach of trading rules. First Minister Alex Salmond demanded a criminal investigation into the matter, while Edinburgh financier and Independent Midlothian councillor Peter de Vink, an RBS shareholder, also asked the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and police to investigate.
The Sunday Herald has now obtained a copy of the email, which shows it was sent by a civil servant who is head of Scottish Referendum Communications at the Treasury. City of London Police are also now probing the complaint by de Vink and are in the process of contacting, “relevant individuals and organizations”. SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie MP yesterday said the fact the email had been sent by the head of Scottish Referendum Communications was an, “extraordinary revelation”. He said: “The previous claims by the Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] that the Treasury was, “promoting financial stability” in revealing RBS plans has been totally blown apart by the revelation that it was actually a pro-active email from an official in a so-called, “Scottish referendum unit” and released while the RBS board was actually in session.
“It seems that the London Treasury had a political dirty tricks department operating throughout the referendum campaign. However, the huge problem they now face is the increasing likelihood that this particular trick was not just dirty but illegal.” Hosie added: “I will now table a series of Parliamentary questions on this issue to add to the proper and comprehensive investigations which must now take place.”
The Treasury email was sent to journalists at 10.16pm on September 10, around 25 minutes before the RBS board meeting on the issue had finished. It contained a response to a statement issued by Lloyds Banking Group which stated it had contingency plans to establish “new legal entities” in England in the event of a Yes vote. But it also gave a quote from a “Treasury source” which said: “As you would expect, RBS have also been in touch with us and have similar plans to base themselves in London.”
The following day, RBS issued a statement to the markets which confirmed its intention to, “redomicile” in the event of a Yes vote, but added it would intend to retain a, “significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland”.
RBS chief Ross McEwan also issued a letter to staff in the morning saying the business was based in Scotland because of the, “skills and knowledge of our people, and the sound business environment”. It added, “So far, I see no reason why this would change should we implement our contingency plans … I know many of you will have already heard about this first in the media. My apologies for that, on this occasion this was unavoidable.”
Heywood, head of the civil service, subsequently rejected demands by Salmond that the matter be investigated. He stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source as stating that the bank would follow Lloyds in its plans to move its registered HQ out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.
In a response to Salmond, he claimed it was, “simply a confirmation of the Treasury’s understanding of RBS’ contingency planning”. He added, “The Treasury judged that it was important to set this out – at a time when the UK financial markets were closed – given their overarching responsibility for maintaining financial stability in the UK.”
Salmond subsequently wrote to the head of the FCA, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, and the Commissioner of Police for the City of London urging action over the alleged leaking of market-sensitive information. He stated the grounds for his belief a criminal offence may have been committed, including: that decisions of such a substantial nature should be a matter for the bank to report “openly and transparently” to markets; and that there had been improper disclosure of market-sensitive information, which is “tantamount to insider dealing”. He also raised concerns the action by the Treasury would have potentially created uncertainty if its information had differed from the position taken by the RBS board when its meeting had concluded.
De Vink, who filed complaints on the potential leaking of market sensitive information two days after the Treasury email was sent, said he has now been contacted by City of London Police and invited to attend an interview next month. He said: “They have asked would you come in and talk to us, which is what I am going to do in November. “I told them while it is a political issue, that doesn’t take away that what happened was absolutely unacceptable.” De Vink also criticised the FCA for a lack of response, describing its attitude as “lackadaisical”. “I find it incredible that these things are allowed to happen,” he added, “If anyone else would have done that they would have had the book thrown at them and quite understandably.”
The Sunday Herald asked the FCA if the complaints were being investigated. A spokeswoman said it was unable to comment on individual complaints. A spokesman for City of London Police confirmed it had received the letter from de Vink and added: “We are now speaking to the relevant individuals and organisations.” The Treasury claimed the person who sent the email was a “junior civil servant”, despite his position as head of Scottish Referendum Communications.
In a previous role he was press officer to former financial secretary to the Treasury, Greg Clark. The Treasury also refused to give any details of who approved the email being sent out. Last night, a spokesman for the Treasury said: “As is a matter of public record, the Cabinet Secretary has written to the former [sic] First Minister on this matter, and rejected any suggestion of improper actions by civil servants.”
Jim McKay commented. Heywood stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source. He must have reference for that report? Newspaper, date and edition. And what RBS source? Smoke and mirrors. He’s lying.
15 September 2014: Westminster’s three main party leaders sign up to a historic joint statement that was demanded by the Daily Record on behalf of the people of Scotland.
The three main party leaders today promised that a No vote will mean a stronger Scottish Parliament and total protection for the NHS. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have signed up to a historic joint statement. In their own words, they pledge to work together to transfer more powers to Holyrood if Scots reject independence on Thursday. The Prime Minister, his Lib Dem deputy and the Labour leader also promise to ensure that no one other than the Scottish Parliament can cut vital public services such as the NHS.
The agreement was brokered by former prime minister Gordon Brown and Scottish Labour. It will give Scots who remain unsure about separation complete confidence that, if there is a No vote, Scotland will still be given much more control over its future. Brown has already outlined a fast-tracked timetable for transferring more powers from Westminster to Holyrood if Scots vote No. This new pledge means that all the parties with a chance of forming the next UK government have guaranteed the “extensive” new powers will be put on the statute book next year. The joint statement also rubbishes claims from the SNP that the Barnett Formula for calculating Scotland’s budget could be changed to leave us less money for public services. It pledges “Because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue, we can state categorically that the final say on how much is spent on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.”
Last night, Brown said more powers for Scotland are now “locked in” to a No vote on Thursday. And he said the agreement for a timetable for change that will reshape Scotland’s role in the Union is now backed up by a public pledge to deliver. Brown added “In the past few days, I have been travelling the country, speaking at more than 30 rallies and town hall meetings. I want to sum up what I have heard. People want change. Whether it is because global economic forces are making their jobs less secure, of inferior status, lower paid and restricting the opportunities for their children, or whether it is in response to concerns about the bedroom tax, food banks and the future of public services, it is absolutely clear that people want change.
But while change through the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1997 was the “settled will” of the Scottish people, it is clear that the nationalists’ proposal for change through independence is not. Not even the most ardent and optimistic nationalist would claim that there is an overwhelming majority for separation, as there was for devolution. I believe that there is, however, a programme of change that can bring the people of Scotland together. I sense that people want change that can unite Scotland, rather than divide Scotland. They want to know that a No vote does not mean no change and instead seek guarantees of change, locked in and clear assurances that from September 19, the pace of change will not stall but speed up. But they want a promise of change they can trust – without the risks and uncertainties of an irreversible separation.
I believe they are saying to us, Give us the guarantees of change and with these guarantees, we can vote for a strong Scottish Parliament within the UK. We have heard important statements in Glasgow on Friday by Ed Miliband and Scottish Labour Party leader Johann Lamont and in Aberdeen by the Prime Minister. I believe that tonight, having listened to what the pro-devolution parties are saying, we can give these guarantees, that lock in change that is better, faster, fairer and safer than anything the SNP can offer through independence. So let us lock in three guarantees that will deliver the best deal for a stronger Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. The guarantees that we now have pave the way to the future – a great Scotland as a driving, successful and vibrant nation playing its full part in Great Britain. I believe what I am saying locks in a period of constitutional improvement and progress in preference to the risk-laden and dangerous change offered from an irreversible separation from which there is no going back.”
Cameron backed the timetable for more powers in an emotional speech in Aberdeen yesterday. He told more than 800 party members and activists that the UK is not a “perfect country” and pledged to change it. The PM added: “The question is, how do you get that change? “For me it’s simple. You don’t get the change you want by ripping your country apart. You don’t get change by undermining your economy and damaging your businesses and diminishing your place in the world.” Cameron said the plans outlined by the pro-UK parties amounted to “real, concrete” change. He added: “The status quo is gone. This campaign has swept it away. There is no going back to the way things were. A vote for No means real change. We have spelled that change out in practical terms, with a plan and a process.
If we get a No vote, that will trigger a major, unprecedented programme of devolution, with additional powers for the Scottish Parliament – major new powers over tax, spending and welfare services. We have agreed a timetable for that stronger Scottish Parliament – a timetable to bring in the new powers that will go ahead if there is a No vote. A White Paper by November, put into draft legislation by January. This is a timetable that is now agreed by all the main political parties and set in stone and I am prepared to work with all the main parties to deliver this during 2015. So a No vote means faster, fairer, safer and better change.”
Cameron seemed close to tears as he made a direct appeal to Scots to vote No. He admitted that many people might be tempted by a Yes vote just to get rid of his Government. But he warned Scots not to “mix up the temporary and the permanent”. With his voice breaking, Cameron added: “Don’t think, I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back”. If you don’t like me, I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this Government, it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever. The different parts of the UK don’t always see eye-to-eye. Yes, we need change and we will deliver it. But to get that change, to get a brighter future, we don’t need to tear our country apart.” He asked Scots to consider what would provide the best future for them and their family when they cast their vote. Cameron said: “As you stand in thestillness of the polling booth, I hope you will ask yourself this – will my family and I truly be better off by going it alone? Will we really be more safe and secure? Do I really want to turn my back on the rest of Britain and why is it that so many people across the world are asking, ‘Why would Scotland want to do that? Why?’ And if you don’t know the answer to these questions – then vote No.” The Promises:
* New powers for the Scottish Parliament.
* Holyrood will be strengthened with extensive new powers, on a timetable beginning on September 19, with legislation in 2015.
* The Scottish Parliament will be a permanent and irreversible part of the British constitution.
* The guarantee of fairness to Scotland.
* The guarantee that the modern purpose of the Union is to ensure opportunity and security by pooling and sharing our resources equitably for our defence, prosperity and the social and economic welfare of every citizen, including through UK pensions and UK funding of healthcare.
* The power to spend more on the NHS if that is Scottish people’s will.
* The guarantee that with the continued Barnett allocation, based on need and with the power to raise its own funds, the final decisions on spending on public services in Scotland, including on the NHS, will be made by the Scottish Parliament.
* The Scottish Parliament will have the last word on how much is spent on health. It will have the power to keep the NHS in public hands and the capacity to protect it.
15 September 2014: David Cameron makes emotional plea to Scotland as independence vote looms
In an emotional speech on his last visit to Scotland before Thursday’s independence referendum, the prime minister warned that a yes vote would end the UK “for good, for ever” and would deprive the Scottish people of a shared currency and pooled pension arrangements. He also asked people not to mix up the temporary and the permanent, saying neither he nor the government would “be here forever”.
A Guardian/ICM poll shows that 63% of voters in England and Wales objected to the post-independence currency union sought by Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister. Most people in Scotland, previous polls have shown, want a deal on sterling. Cameron, whose voice was close to breaking, spelled out what he believed would be the costs of independence. “It is my duty to be clear about the likely consequences of a yes vote. Independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce,” he said. He said he would be “utterly heartbroken” by a yes vote and listed the benefits of UK membership that the people of Scotland would lose, including a shared currency, armed forces built up over centuries and pension funds that would be sliced up “at some cost”. Independence would mean Scotland’s border with England – and the sea routes to Northern Ireland – would become international frontiers, Cameron said, and that more than half of Scottish mortgages would suddenly be provided by banks in a foreign country.
“We want you to stay,” he said. “Head and heart and soul, we want you to stay. Please don’t mix up the temporary and the permanent. Please don’t think: ‘I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back.’ “If you don’t like me – I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this government – it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever,” he said.
In the short term, Cameron has to decide whether to recall parliament in the event of a yes vote, as early as the weekend or next Monday, a move that would disrupt Labour’s annual conference in Manchester. Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, said Cameron’s speech “was the same litany of empty threats and empty promises we have come to expect from the no campaign – and he is the prime minister who has been orchestrating the campaign of ridiculous scaremongering being directed against Scotland. A yes vote would give Scotland its “one opportunity” to ensure it had job creation powers and end government by parties that Scottish voters did not elect, which presided over a vast increase in food banks and new nuclear weapons systems its politicians had rejected. Instead of believing the word of a Tory prime minister on a very few more powers, the people of Scotland can get all the powers we need to build a better, fairer country by believing in ourselves and voting yes,” he said.
Cameron’s comments came as Ed Miliband prepared for a return visit to central Scotland on Tuesday when the Labour leader is expected to try to woo back disillusioned Labour voters who have largely driven a late surge in support for independence. Taking the opposite tack to Cameron, his ally in the Better Together campaign, Miliband said he believed the yes campaign had delivered a clear message to UK parties that change was needed. He insisted Labour would be the best vehicle for unseating the Tories in 2015 and delivering more progressive policies. “The will of the people of Scotland for economic and political change has been heard and we will deliver,” he is expected to tell a rally. Contrasting his offer with “a future of separation and risk” offered by an irreversible yes vote, Miliband added: “I ask the people of Scotland to lead that change of our whole British constitution.”
That message risked being undermined by a Guardian ICM poll which showed Labour’s support has dipped by three points to 35% across the UK, bringing the Tories to within two points at 33%. The findings are likely to increase voter anxieties in Scotland that Labour could fail to beat the Tories next May. Miliband’s offers of further significant tax and welfare powers for Holyrood were challenged by one of Scotland’s leading campaigners for greater devolution. Writing for the Guardian, Ben Thomson, founder of campaign group Devo Plus, said he was close to voting yes to independence because he was so disappointed by the failure of the UK parties to make an ambitious, concrete offer for greater tax powers, beyond a promise to agree new powers next year.
In a further push by the no campaign, all three UK leaders – Cameron, Miliband and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader – signed a front page pledge in the Daily Record newspaper entitled “the vow”. It promised they would give the Scottish parliament a legal guarantee of its independence from Westminster and to protect the Treasury’s funding system, known as the Barnett formula. Along with a “categoric” statement that Holyrood had the final say on Scottish health service spending, both are major new commitments, pushed for by the paper after it accused the three leaders last week of making weak promises on devolution.
Giving Holyrood its own legal standing instead of having its power gifted to it and controlled by Westminster under Labour’s original devolution settlement in 1998 was a key demand of Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, earlier this year. The Scottish National party has repeatedly claimed that English and Welsh politicians would force Scotland to accept cuts or the loss of the Barnett formula if there was a no vote, accusing Westminster parties of being fickle.
Miliband is due to spend the rest of the week in Scotland, making a series of speeches in central Scotland and campaigning into polling day on Thursday, as Labour attempts to persuade its core vote to back the UK and to vote heavily in the referendum. Brown sought to bolster that offensive by insisting that his party’s plans to increase the tax powers and legal status of the Scottish parliament were “locked-in by a triple guarantee”. Brown said the three guarantees were that Holyrood would be given legal protection from meddling by Westminster, as well as extra powers; there would be a “clear statement of purpose for the UK guaranteeing fairness”; and a guarantee that Holyrood had the freedom to spend more on the NHS, using its new powers to set income tax rates.
On Monday the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international thinktank, warned that a yes vote was a potential risk to the global economy, the eurozone and emerging markets. Arguing that the UK was an important member of the group of rich countries, its secretary general, Angel Gurria, said: “We clearly believe that better together is perhaps the way to go.”
Property website Zoopla said a flood of homes being put up for sale in the event of a yes vote could lead to a repeat of a 17.5% fall in Scottish house prices, which took place during the financial crisis of 2008.
Albert Edwards, strategist at French bank Société Générale, questioned whether a yes vote could have wider implications across Europe. “The obvious market conclusion is for a weaker sterling – but a proper old fashioned crisis is plausible. But maybe that is too parochial a vision. The sequence of events which might flow from a yes vote may be as unpredictable and as uncontrollable as those of the late 1980s in eastern Europe, which led to the ultimate demise of the USSR,” said Edwards.
The White House reaffirmed on Monday its belief that it would be better for Scotland to stay in the UK. Press spokesman, Josh Earnest, repeated what President Obama said in Brussels earlier this year. “The president said that from the outside the US has a deep interest in ensuring that one of the closest allies that we’ll ever have remains strong, robust and united and an effective partner with the US. This is a decision for the people of Scotland to make; we certainly respect the right of the individual Scots to make a decision along these lines, but as the president said, we have an interest [pause] in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united,” Earnest said.http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/15/david-cameron-emotional-plea-scotland-independence
18 September 2014: Experts say the “No” vote has resulted in political stability in the UK. “The union is like a damaged marriage” stated an anonymous Conservative MP
Despite Civil Service orchestrated baseless threats from companies like The Royal Bank of Scotland, to move operations to England in the event of a “Yes” vote, many Scots dismissed such threats as scaremongering. Furthermore, the Canadian example also suggests that the narrow “No” vote will prolong constitutional uncertainty, causing problems for businesses and jobs in Scotland.
Although Westminster promised to extend “home rule powers” to Edinburgh, the narrow majority of “No” votes will not end the discussion over Scottish independence and pro-independence voters will most likely seek a fresh mandate for a new referendum in a few years’ time, the so-called ‘never-endum’ scenario.
18 September 2014: The British state is an imperial behemoth that can only look on in panic as Scots scramble for the lifeboats
In Scottish city centres right now, you’re rarely out of sight of a yes badge. The vibe was summed up by an Edinburgh cabbie: “We’re being invited to run our country. It’s very exciting. Maybe we can show how things can be done differently”. It’s not just him. Polls have shown the yes vote surging. It’s worth noting how remarkable this is. The only UK party supporting independence is the Greens. Of all of the local Scottish and British papers, only the Sunday Herald backs yes. The official story has long been that it’s only a few angry men in kilts who care about this.
But in the internet age, officials don’t get to write the stories any more. There were always people who had little time for flags, tartanry and shortbread, but who wanted to escape a political system that has made Britain one of Europe’s most unequal counties. And it is these people – a better organised and vastly more powerful version of the occupy movement – that the Westminster parties and their media partners failed to consider.
It’s this movement that has mobilised thousands to come together at meetings and online to imagine and plan out a better country; which has spurred them into activism, often for the first time in their lives; which has laughed together at the arrogance of disconnected rulers; and which has learned together as it has gone along. It’s this movement that attracted my cabbie to the first, then second, then third political meetings of his life – all in the past month.
These people created their own media and founded their own organisations. They are young, energetic, enthusiastic, funny. They looked the British state straight in the eye and saw through its illusions. The hierarchies of a steeply unequal country reward loyalty and elite connections while punishing independence of mind. No wonder kids from “the regions” are running rings around the “gurus” of a floundering establishment.
It isn’t just about activist groups. Visiting one of Edinburgh’s gurdwaras with Scots Asians for Yes, the people I met were typical. Some were undecided; some were no. Most were yes. And what distinguished the yeses was this: they were discussing how to persuade relatives and friends. They collected data-filled booklets to talk through with their families. They had become Google and Twitter aficionados, digging out and sharing information that debunks the horror stories our politicians use to frighten us away from anynotion that another world is possible. With social media, Paul Mason once wrote, “truth moves faster than lies, and propaganda becomes flammable”.
It’s against this self-organised network that the British state is flagging. Research from Edinburgh University shows that the more information people have, the more likely they are to vote yes. In the face of mass peer-to-peer education, the puffed-up power of elites melts away: polls show most Scots no longer believe what Westminster MPs say. As David Cameron and George Osborne and Ed Miliband huff and puff and woo and cajole the people of Scotland, more and more simply look these politicians up and down, shrug, and say: “You have no power over us any more.”
It’s their own fault. Westminster’s parties have made conventional politics so bland that people barely pay attention. To win elections they have got used to flashing simplistic messages in front of our eyes – we don’t notice or care that we’re being patronised. And because they destroyed their pesky grassroots, they failed to spot that the referendum isn’t an election. People are paying attention, are thirsty for information, and don’t take kindly to their leaders treating them like idiots or trying to bully them.
Yet as the polls narrow, they offer a timetable to nowhere and fly from Downing Street a blue and white symbol of their utter failure to understand what’s happening. In a sense, this gets to the core of what the referendum is about. Because the vote on independence isn’t just about escaping Westminster’s supercharged neoliberalism – though it offers that chance too. There’s also a different story of the modern age here: the network v the hierarchy. Do Scots want to huddle behind the clumsy, centralised British bureaucracy, or join the network of nations? Now the age of empires is over, do we want to stay on a Titanic, which once brutally ruled the waves? Or is it time to join Europe’s flotilla of more human-sized countries, more responsive to each of our needs, but capable of huddling together in a storm?
The British state was built for a previous era, to run a vast and violent empire built at a time when centralisation brought power. In the roaring flames of the second world war it was softened enough to be bent a little towards justice. But that was a blip. Those days are gone.
The rebellion in Scotland right now is against a rapidly centralising state in an age when information is diffuse and people have the capacity to organise themselves more than ever. It’s against an elitist structure in an age of mass education. It’s against a system built to keep us out. And there’s a simple way to tell, whatever the result, that yes voters have history on their side: look at the pathetic campaign mustered by the British state to defend itself. Watch Westminster’s wide-eyed panic as a widely predicted surge in the polls emerges. And ask yourself – would a functional state have failed to see this coming? http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/scotland-yes-campaign-voting-british-state
19 September 2014: Conservatives Praise Role of Former Labour Prime Minister Brown in Independence Campaign
Former Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been praised for his contribution to the Scottish independence campaign by Conservative Minister for State for Scotland David Mundell. He said,”Gordon Brown played a very significant role as have a large number of other people. I listened to Gordon’s speech and it was very, very impressive. http://sputniknews.com/world/20140919/193075895.html
19 September 2014: Scottish Referendum: David Cameron and the Queen seek to ease tensions
David Cameron and the Queen will hope to calm tensions after the heated Scottish referendum campaign when they make conciliatory statements on Friday after the formal declaration of the result. The prime minister is planning to make an early appearance in Downing Street to outline a package of constitutional reforms, amid increasing confidence in No 10 during the early hours of Friday that the pro-UK side would prevail. Cameron is expected to use the occasion to show that the coalition is committed to delivering the pledge, outlined by the leaders of the three main UK parties in the final days of the campaign, to deepen Scotland’s devolution settlement.
But Michael Gove, the Scottish-born Tory chief whip, made clear early this morning that the prime minister would present a balanced package to ensure that voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not feel they have lost out. Gove even suggested that Scottish MPs may be banned from voting on English-only matters at Westminster as government sources said that the Barnett formula, which guarantees extra public spending in Scotland, would be part of the changes.
The Queen, who is understood to have watched the referendum debate with close interest, is planning to issue a written statement in the afternoon. It is understood that the monarch, who was praised by both sides during the campaign, believes that it is important to send a message of reconciliation after the heated debates. In a rare intervention on the political stage the Queen said last weekend that she hoped voters would think “very carefully” before voting. Her remarks, delivered outside Crathie Kirk near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire after the Sunday morning service, were interpreted by the no camp as a helpful intervention.
The prime minister wants to move quickly to show he will stand by his word as he confirms the timetable to devolve greater powers, over taxation and welfare, to the Scottish parliament. Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg issued a joint pledge after Gordon Brown warned the main UK party leaders that they needed to make a dramatic intervention to fight a late surge to the SNP.
Cameron is facing calls from Tory MPs to balance the powers for Holyrood by denying Scottish MPs the right to vote on English-only matters at Westminster and to reform the favourable funding arrangements for Scotland in the Barnett formula. Claire Perry, the rail minister, became the first Conservative frontbencher to speak out when she warned against “promises of financial party bags”.
Gove, who has been canvassing opinion among Tory MPs, indicated that the prime minister is heeding the concerns of Perry and scores of backbenches. The chief whip told the BBC: “If, as seems likely, there is a no vote then the prime minister will be saying more not just about the need to make sure that the interests of Scotland are protected but how we bring the whole UK together and what the means for Northern Ireland, Wales and England. The critical thing is there needs to be change in order to ensure that Westminster works better for the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
Gove ruled out the idea of an English parliament. But he suggested that the West Lothian question, which asks why Scottish MPs are entitled to vote on education and health in England while English MPs are unable to influence such matters in Scotland. He indicated that this could involve denying Scottish MPs to ability to vote on such areas.
The indication from Gove that No 10 is prepared to restrict the voting rights of Scottish MPs may spark a coalition row after Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, ruled out the proposal on Wednesday. Labour, which holds 41 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster, will be opposed to tinkering with the Barnett formula.
It is understood that the prime minister will move to reassure Tory MPs who are alarmed at the favourable funding arrangements for Scotland enshrined in the Barnett formula which ensures that an extra £1,200 per head of public money is spent per head in Scotland. Many Tory MPs were alarmed when the joint guarantee by Cameron and the other UK leaders appeared to guarantee the Barnett Formula. But the commitment was carefully worded to guarantee “the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources”.
It is understood that this means that devolving greater tax raising powers to the Scottish parliament will lead to a claw back in the Scottish block grant which is underpinned by the Barnett Formula.
A command paper setting out the reforms will be published within the next few months. This will be followed by draft clauses on a proposed bill in the new year that will be formally introduced to parliament after the UK general election next May. Conservative backbenchers lined up to demand separate powers for English MPs shortly after the polls closed, underlining the pressure on Cameron to act. Many are angry at what they see as their leader’s complacency that forced him to offer “bribes” to the Scots to stay in the last day of the campaign. Led by former cabinet minister John Redwood, up to 100 MPs could be prepared to veto the Scottish devolution package if England is not given what they consider to be an equal deal.
Their core demands are that Cameron must address the West Lothian question – why Scottish MPs are allowed to vote on English-only issues – and the Barnett formula – the Treasury mechanism that divides up funding between the four nations of the union. They are unlikely to be placated if the prime minister simply says he will implement the McKay Commission, which recommended a greater say for English MPs on English issues without banning Scottish MPs from voting on any legislation.
One of the new voices to pile pressure on Cameron was Boris Johnson, the London mayor and candidate for Uxbridge, who said Scottish MPs should no longer have a say on legislation that just affects England. He told Sky News: “Let’s not give any more sauce to the goose until we’ve given some sauce to the gander.”
Liam Fox, a former Tory defence minister, also said the West Lothian question and the funding settlement between all UK nations would become “unavoidable” .
Others to raise concerns included transport minister Claire Perry, Conor Burns, Andrew Percy, and Michael Fabricant. From Labour, Diane Abbott, a former shadow minister, and John Denham, a close adviser to Miliband, said it would have to be considered.
19 September 2014: Scotland votes no: the union has survived, but the questions for the left are profound
Like the battle of Waterloo, the battle for Scotland was a damn close-run thing. The effects of Thursday’s no vote are enormous – though not as massive as the consequences of a yes would have been. The vote against independence means, above all, that the 307-year Union survives. It therefore means that the UK remains a G7 economic power and a member of the UN security council. It means Scotland will get more devolution. It means David Cameron will not be forced out. It means any Ed Miliband-led government elected next May has the chance to serve a full term, not find itself without a majority in 2016, when the Scots would have left. It means the pollsters got it right, Madrid will sleep a little more easily, and it means the banks will open on Friday morning as usual.
But the battlefield is still full of resonant lessons. The win, though close, was decisive. It looks like a 54%-46% or thereabouts. That’s not as good as it looked like being a couple of months ago. But it’s a lot more decisive than the recent polls had hinted. Second, it was women who saved the union. In the polls, men were decisively in favour of yes. The yes campaign was in some sense a guy thing. Men wanted to make a break with the Scotland they inhabit. Women didn’t. Third, this was to a significant degree a class vote too. Richer Scotland stuck with the union — so no did very well in a lot of traditonal SNP areas. Poorer Scotland, Labour Scotland, slipped towards yes, handing Glasgow, Dundee and North Lanarkshire to the independence camp. Gordon Brown stopped the slippage from becoming a rout, perhaps, but the questions for Labour — and for left politics more broadly — are profound.
For Scots, the no vote means relief for some, despair for others, both on the grand scale. For those who dreamed that a yes vote would take Scots on a journey to a land of milk, oil and honey, the mood this morning will be grim. Something that thousands of Scots wanted to be wonderful or merely just to witness has disappeared. The anticlimax will be cruel and crushing. For others, the majority, there will be thankfulness above all but uneasiness too. Thursday’s vote exposed a Scotland divided down the middle and against itself. Healing that hurt will not be easy or quick. It’s time to put away all flags.
The immediate political question now suddenly moves to London. Gordon Brown promised last week that work will start on Friday on drawing up the terms of a new devolution settlement. That may be a promise too far after the red-eyed adrenalin-pumping exhaustion of the past few days. But the deal needs to be on the table by the end of next month. It will not be easy to reconcile all the interests – Scots, English, Welsh, Northern Irish and local. But it is an epochal opportunity. The plan, like the banks, is too big to fail.
Alex Salmond and the SNP are not going anywhere. They will still govern Scotland until 2016. There will be speculation about Salmond’s position, and the SNP will need to decide whether to run in 2016 on a second referendum pledge. More immediately, the SNP will have to decide whether to go all-out win to more Westminster seats in the 2015 general election, in order to hold the next government’s feet to the fire over the promised devo-max settlement. Independence campaigners will feel gutted this morning. But they came within a whisker of ending the United Kingdom on Thursday. One day, perhaps soon, they will surely be back.
20 September 2014: Gordon Brown said draft legislation on the Scotland Bill will be ready in January as he warned the UK’s main party leaders the eyes of the world are on them
after their vow to deliver extra powers to Scotland. The former prime minister, who has spearheaded an accelerated timetable for Holyrood to get more powers, said he would ensure the commitment given by the leaders of the three main Westminster parties is adhered to. Nationalists have already raised concerns that the schedule Mr Brown set out for further devolution will not be met. But speaking just two days after the referendum, in which 45 per cent of Scots voted for independence, with 55 per cent wanting to remain in the UK, Mr Brown said: “The promises that were made last week about change, about the delivery of further devolution, must be, and I believe, and will ensure, will be delivered. These are men who had been promise makers, and they will not be promise breakers, and I will ensure that that these promises that have been made are upheld.”
Mr Brown, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said a resolution had been issued which would be placed in the House of Commons on Monday, which had been signed by him, the Prime Minister, Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg. This calls on the Government to lay down a command paper taking in the devolution proposals from the three different parties by the end of next month, and for draft clauses of a new Scotland Bill to be ready by the end of January. Mr Brown told an audience at Dalgety Bay Primary School in Fife: “I can ensure to you that this promise that people were doubting on the airwaves and on the Twittersphere last night, the civil service are already working on the proposals. Decision day was Thursday, delivery day started on Friday. They are working on the timetable but also on the detailed plans so that the publication will indeed be the end of October.”
He added: “To ensure that they are locked in and ensure that there is proper scrutiny, so everybody knows this deadline will be adhered to, I have called, with the permission of the Speaker of the House of Commons, a debate in the House of Commons which will take place in the first week back at Westminster on Thursday October 16. In that debate I will want to ensure that the instructions to deliver have become a plan to deliver and not just a timetable to deliver but a certainty that we will deliver. I am utterly convinced that whatever else happens, I am absolutely sure that unconditionally the timetable that I set out, that will be delivered.” The Parliamentary motion:
That this House…
• welcomes the result of the Scottish independence referendum and the decision of the people of Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
• recognises that people across Scotland voted? for a Union based on the pooling and sharing of resources and for the? continuation of devolution inside the United Kingdom.
• notes the statement by the prime minister, deputy prime minister and leader of the opposition regarding the guarantee of and timetable for further devolution to Scotland.
• calls on the government to lay before Parliament a Command Paper including the proposals of all three UK political parties by 30th October and to consult widely with the
Scottish people, civic Scotland and the Scottish Parliament on these proposals.
* further calls on the government to publish heads of agreement by the end of November and draft clauses for the new Scotland Bill by the end of January 2015.
Gordon Brown said he hoped in the coming weeks Scotland could now “build a new constitution within a new union”. He said the new powers coming to Scotland would mean that in the future there “could be no bedroom tax imposed on Scotland ever again, there could be no poll tax imposed on Scotland again”.While he said there was now a “deep desire” for change, he added “The change that is going to happen in my view can meet the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of the Scottish people.”He said this, together with previous legislation, would mean Holyrood has “powers over health, over housing, over transport along with powers over the environment and land use, powers over jobs, the economy and job creation”.
He also stressed the need for the governments in Edinburgh and London to work together, not just on devolution, but on the major issues facing Scotland. “There is no way forward other than co-operation between the Scottish and UK Government to deal with the problems of jobs, young people’s skills, opportunities for the future and economic change. Instead of this stand-off, instead of them talking to themselves but not each other, instead of this war of attrition between a Scottish Government and a UK Government, let them both get together, let them address the economic challenges of Scotland together.”
He went on “I hope we can move beyond the old, that we can start a new chapter now. I hope the government of Scotland and the government of the United Kingdom will come together, not just to deliver the devolution we have been promised but to deal with basic social and economic challenges that we can only address if we do them together and not apart.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/gordon-brown-sets-out-proposals-4291765
23 September 2014: The peer tasked with building a consensus around new powers for Scotland has advised his work will not be easy and he cannot force an agreement between the political parties.
Robert Smith, Lord Smith of Kelvin, urged Scotland’s political parties, which have separate devolution proposals, to show “courage and compromise” in reaching an agreement. He set out details of his Scotland Devolution Commission and started talks with Scotland’s political parties during a visit to the Scottish Parliament today. He said: “Following the referendum we have a willingness, shared by all five of Scotland’s main political parties, to strengthen the powers of the Scottish Parliament. “My message today to the political parties is a simple one – Scotland expects you to now come together, work together and agree the detail of what those powers should be. “Time is tight but this is not an exercisein thinking about what we could do; that has been done. It is about agreeing on what we will do. “My job is to create a process through which agreement is reached, but I cannot force an agreement. It will not be easy; it will require positive intent, courage and compromise from all parties. But I have confidence that our political leaders will rise to the challenge and I look forward to working with them.”
The commission will hold cross-party talks and civic engagement to produce recommendations for further devolution by November 30. This will be informed by a UK Government command paper, to be published by October 31, and will result in the publication of draft clauses by January 25. The recommendations will deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers to the Scottish Parliament. A set of proposals – the heads of agreement – will be published by the commission, independent of both the UK and Scottish governments, based on the views of the five political parties and with input from the wider engagement programme.
Over the course of today, Lord Smith will meet with the Presiding Officer and representatives of the Scottish Conservative Party, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party. He will invite each party to nominate two representatives, at least one of which should be a member of the Scottish Parliament, to take part in the cross-party talks.
He will also ask each party to prepare a written submission on their views on strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. The names of the party representatives will be published by September 26. Later this week, Lord Smith will write to Scottish civic institutions and business groups, seeking their views on strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. Next week, he will announce plans for how individual Scots can share their views on the issue. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/reaching-agreement-further-powers-scotland-4308584
23 September 2014: First Minister Alex Salmond promised the SNP party would play a full part in strengthening the Scottish Parliament, with Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories pledging to do the same.
Scotland’s party leaders vowed yesterday to bury the referendum hatchet and work together for more powers for Holyrood. On a landmark day at the Scottish Parliament, the leaders pledged to move on from the frenzied Yes or No debate – for the good of the country. And the outgoing First Minister and SNP leader promised his party would play a full part in strengthening the Scottish Parliament, with Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories pledging to do the same. The mood changed as Lord Smith of Kelvin, the man charged with building cross party agreement for more powers, called for courage and compromise from politicians.
Salmond said: “The Scottish Government will contribute fully to a process to empower the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people. We will bring forward constructive proposals for doing this.” He said Scotland can emerge the “winner” after years of energising, and sometimes bitter, debate on the constitution. And he added: “Wherever we’re travelling together, we’re a better nation today than we were at the start of this process. We are more informed, more enabled and more empowered. As a result of that, our great national debate in my estimation will help us make a fairer, more prosperous and more democratic country. And in all of that, all of Scotland will emerge as the winner.”
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont congratulated old rival Salmond for giving Scots the chance to have their say. She said it was now clear that staying in the UK was “the settled will of the Scottish people. But she added: “No one believes Scottish politics can go to business as usual.” Lamont said she enjoyed shouting at people as much as anyone, but that could no longer be the way to do politics. She pledged to work with the SNP on child care, protecting the NHS and other big issues including land reform. And she pleaded: “Let us not lapse into the debates of the past and be found wanting.” Davidson and Rennie echoed Lamont’s plea for politicians to move on and focus on Scotland’s needs. And Harvie said the massive involvement of young people in the referendum debate had brought a “generational change” to politics.
The Holyrood debate came eight days after UK party leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg made a front-page vow in the Daily Record that Scots would get more power over tax and welfare if we voted to stay in the Union. They also promised that the Barnett Formula, which determines how public funding is divided across the UK, would not be scrapped despite demands from Tory backbenchers. Salmond said Scotland now has “a responsibility to hold Westminster’s feet to the fire to ensure the pledges are met”. He said: “That’s not just a job for the Scottish Government, it is one for all parties in the Parliament. Indeed, we might well argue there is a special obligation on the unionist parties. They promised further devolution. It is essential they deliver.”
Lord Smith, fresh from successfully guiding the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, watched the speech from the public gallery. He said earlier: “My job is to create a process through which agreement is reached, but I cannot force an agreement. It will not be easy. It will require positive intent, courage and compromise from all parties. But I have confidence our political leaders will rise to the challenge.” Over the day, he met Holyrood’s presiding office and politicians from all parties. The names of two people from each party to work with him will be published by the end of the week, and he will seek the views of civic groups, business and the public. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/scotlands-party-leaders-vow-bury-4313734
25 September 2014: Cameron to Apologise to Queen for gaffe
David Cameron is to make an unprecedented apology in person to the Queen, after being caught privately describing her as “purring” in pleasure at the result of the Scottish referendum result. A chastened Prime Minister admitted he was “very embarrassed” and “extremely sorry” over the gaffe, which came as he chatted with billionaire media tycoon Michael Bloomberg in New York. Downing Street has already contacted Buckingham Palace to offer the PM’s apologies and it is understood that Mr Cameron will say sorry in person when he next meets Her Majesty for one of his regular audiences.
The Prime Minister came under fire after being picked up by a TV microphone on Tuesday telling former New York mayor Bloomberg of the relief he felt at not having to inform the Queen that Scotland had left the United Kingdom. As the pair arrived for a press photo-opportunity, the PM smiled broadly as he recalled how he was able to tell her it was “all right” after the referendum resulted in a victory for the No camp. “The definition of relief, if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s okay’,” he said. “That was something. She purred down the line.”
The comments were condemned as “crass and incompetent” by SNP MSP Dennis Robertson, though Buckingham Palace declined to comment. Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr Cameron was asked whether he regretted the comment and whether he would apologise. He replied: “Yes and yes.” And he added: “Look, I’m very embarrassed by this. I’m extremely sorry about it. “It was a private conversation, but clearly a private conversation that I shouldn’t have had and won’t have again. “My office has already been in touch with the Palace to make that clear and I will do so as well.” http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/pm-to-apologise-for-queen-gaffe-1.593841
28 September 2014: Cameron red-faced over Purrgate
David Cameron today vowed “never again” to discuss his conversations with the Queen after being challenged whether he was ashamed to have been overheard saying she had “purred” when told the result of the Scottish independence referendum. The Prime Minister told the BBC One Andrew Marr programme he regretted the exchange between himself and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, which was overheard by TV cameras at the United Nations this week. Mr Cameron said: “(It is) one of those moments when you look back and kick yourself very hard. “It was not a conversation I should have had, I am extremely sorry and very embarrassed about it. “I have made my apologies and I think I’ll probably be making some more.” Asked if he felt ashamed, the Prime Minister added: ” I’m very sorry about it… I’m not going to ever discuss my conversations with the Palace ever again.”
Downing Street has already contacted Buckingham Palace to offer the Prime Minister’s apologies and it is understood that Mr Cameron will say sorry in person when he next meets Her Majesty for one of his regular audiences. As the Prime Minister and Mr Bloomberg arrived for a press photo-opportunity, Mr Cameron smiled broadly as he recalled how he was able to tell the Queen it was “all right” after the referendum resulted in a victory for the No camp. “The definition of relief, if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s okay’,” Mr Cameron said. “That was something. She purred down the line.” http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/pm-reveals-fresh-talk-with-queen-1.603248
30 September 2014: Cameron ‘reveals fresh talk with Queen’
David Cameron has reportedly breached royal protocol once again by sharing another private conversation he had with the Queen on a visit to Chequers. It has been claimed he told Tory MPs gathered at his country retreat last week to discuss English devolution about a time the monarch had to be corrected by his curator. She apparently said the original of the Anthony van Dyck painting they were viewing – described as A Family Group – was in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The awkward moment – when she was informed her version was a copy – was said to have unfolded during a tour of the stately home with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in February, their first visit in almost two decades.
The faux-pas, revealed in the Evening Standard, could see Mr Cameron forced to make a second apology in a week after he was recorded saying the Queen had “purred” down the phone to him when he called with the Scottish independence result. And to add to his embarrassment, an art historian has since claimed the Queen was in fact right. Bendor Grosvenor, who writes the blog Art History News, says he has consulted the index of a catalogue of van Dyck works which indicates the Prime Minister’s residence only has copies of the group pictures that match the description of the piece apparently discussed.
He went on: “The Queen – who knows her art – was absolutely right. The two group portraits by van Dyck that would match the description given here of A Family Group are the so-called ‘Great Piece’ of Charles I and Henrietta Maria with Charles II and Princess Mary, and The Five Eldest Children of Charles I. “Both are in the Royal Collection. Chequers has a copy of part of the former – with just Henrietta Maria and Princess Mary – and a full-scale copy of the latter. “These are both listed in the 2004 Van Dyck catalogue raisonne as copies.
“If the curator at Chequers really did not know that van Dyck’s original was indeed in the Royal Collection, they should be sent to the Tower. Equally, if the PM was making the story up as a good yarn, he should be sent to the Tower too. “There are two genuine van Dycks at Chequers, small head and shoulders portraits of Charles I and Henrietta Maria.” Asked what advice he had for Mr Cameron, Mr Grosvenor quipped: “Perhaps he needs a new curator.”
Ukip leader Nigel Farage told the newspaper: “I’m pleased the Tower of London moat is being filled with ceramic poppies at the moment to commemorate First World War soldiers. “But if the prime minister makes any more comments like this we should start to think about using the inside of the Tower as well.” On Sunday, the Prime Minister told The Andrew Marr Show that he regretted being recorded telling former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the Queen had “purred” down the line to him. He has indicated he will say sorry in person when he next meets the Queen for one of his regular audiences. Downing Street refused to comment on the latest matter, saying it was a “private conversation”.
Mr Cameron made the first gaffe during a private conversation with US media tycoon Michael Bloomberg during a visit to New York last week, which was overheard by television cameras. Asked whether he had given his apologies to the Queen about that incident yet, Mr Cameron told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain: “My office has already registered that very strongly with the Palace and I will do so in person when we next have our audience. “But I think I have probably said enough about those audiences, so I won’t say any more.” In an interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Cameron was asked whether his description of the Queen “purring” was demeaning to women in general and the monarch in particular. He replied: “I deeply regret that entire conversation. It was a private conversation but nonetheless it’s a conversation I shouldn’t have had. “I’ve said what I’m going to say about that. I regret it, I’m sorry about it, it won’t happen again.” http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/pm-reveals-fresh-talk-with-queen-1.603248
13 January 13, 2002: The NHS can be saved, health minister Malcolm Chisholm tells Douglas Fraser, but it requires patience and honesty
The new year has started as the last one ended for new health minister Malcolm Chisholm – in crisis. The hepatitis C compensation row will be followed next week by two tricky announcements about long- term care of the elderly, in which it seems certain the Executive will admit to a (pounds) 23 million hole in its budget and not enough care home beds to deliver on its promises. And don’t bet on good statistics on bed-blocking, or delayed discharge as the minister prefers it to be known. But speaking to the Sunday Herald seven weeks after he was promoted to what looks like the least agreeable job in Scottish politics, Chisholm remains remarkably laid-back. It is the whole future of the National Health Service he wants to address, hitting back at claims he is shifting it over to private provision.http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9987041.html
25 January 2002: Hospital trust ‘is unmanageable’; Staff grievances come to a head at North Glasgow in a devastating letter to the NHS board
Next week the Glasgow area will face the most far-reaching decisions about its health services since the formation of the NHS. The new shape of acute hospital services throughout the city, probably involving some closures, certainly involving some new buildings, will be determined at a day-long meeting on Tuesday of the Greater Glasgow NHS Board. However, the past three months have already ensured that life at Scotland’s biggest hospital trust – North Glasgow – will never be the same again. Hard on the heels of the crisis at the Beatson Cancer Centre, which led to its management being wrested from the hands of the trust, comes a devastating critique of the management style exercised by Maggie Boyle, the chief executive, and her senior colleagues. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23493581.html
26 January 2002: Squalor and filth patients must face on a daily basis in flagship infirmary.
An inspection team has discovered these shocking scenes of squalor at Scotland’s largest hospital. At Glasgow Royal Infirmary, bloody surgical scrubs are dumped in a cockroach-infested lift used to carry patients’ meals. Infectious waste lies mixed with other linen. Piles of waste in tunnels below the Victorian era hospital have created firetraps. Staff have to wash in a stinking bathroom with piles of filth on the floor and damaged brickwork that could harbour germs. The images have been released after the joint management and union team found filthy conditions throughout the infirmary, the mainstay of health bosses’ plans for a £550m shake-up of hospital services. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-82295683.html
19 April 2002: No Mercy If NHS Spending Fails
Severe political embarrassment could be the eventual outcome of First Minister Jack McConnell’s spending spree on health. Yesterday he announced that every penny of Scotland’s bonus from the Budget would be spent on the National Health Service. That is a considerable hostage to fortune. The Government is promoting the claim that higher taxation is a moral imperative to fund the NHS. That notion is based on the presumption that all that is wrong with our health service is lack of money. Most informed observers believe that the underlying problem is the inflexible structure of this ailing State monopoly. It is neither callous nor socially irresponsible to suggest that part of Scotland’s Budget nest-egg should have been devoted to other vital services, such as education, transport and law enforcement. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-84988438.html
22 June 2002: Chisholm Vow to Halve NHS Waiting Times Is Attacked as ‘Unrealistic’
Patients will wait no longer than six months for hospital treatment by 2005, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said yesterday. This would halve the present 12-month period which the NHS sets down as the longest a patient should wait between seeing a consultant and receiving treatment. The move follows last week’s announcement that ministers have bought the HCI private hospital in Clydebank, near Glasgow, which Mr Chisholm claims will remove 5,000 patients a year from the waiting list. But last night critics dismissed yesterday’s targets as unrealistic and warned the muchtrumpeted purchase of HCI alone could not solve Scotland’s health service woes. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-87931325.html
18 July 2002: Unhappy history of executive who drank from the poisoned chalice; Problems of North Glasgow Hospitals Trust led to chief’s departure
IT was widely suspected to be a poisoned chalice, but, for Maggie Boyle, there was little reason to believe she could not handle the job. She had risen swiftly through the health service ranks from the job of auxiliary nurse, and in 1998, after 23 years in the NHS, was ready to take on her biggest challenge yet – the chief executive’s post at the new North Glasgow Acute Hospitals Trust. She was acting chief executive of West Glasgow Hospitals University Trust at the time, and her decision to take up the post added the Royal Infirmary, Stobhill Trusts, and the Glasgow Dental Hospital to what was already a heavy responsibility. The decision to amalgamate the hospitals under one trust and place Miss Boyle in charge also made her one of the most powerful women in the Scottish health service, on a huge six figure salary. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23508248.html
22 August 2002: Health minister calls for end to spin as colleague bids hasty exit from key meeting on Glasgow hospital closures; Row as Chisholm cuts waiting lists
The executive yesterday tried to draw the sting from one of the opposition’s most potent issues by abolishing the highly controversial deferred hospital waiting lists. Malcolm Chisholm, health minister, claimed the move, which will result in a single type of waiting list for hospital treatment, was being done in the interests of openness and transparency. He made a candid statement about the need to end government spin, saying: “If problems are more obvious, it is better to face up to that. The public are sick fed-up with the traditional point of view, which is just to put the best gloss on things. “Let the truth out and deal with things as they actually exist. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23512118.html
28 August 2002: Minister’s U-Turn Adds 25,000 to the NHS Waiting List
The controversial deferred waiting list for NHS patients is to be scrapped amid claims that it was masking the number waiting for operations. Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said all patients would now be put on a single list with a guarantee of treatment in 12 months, falling to six months by 2005. Critics had alleged that the deferred list, which contains patients whose planned hospital treatment has been postponed, kept thousands of off the main list, allowing the Scottish Executive to falsely claim improvements in waiting times. The move effectively adds 25,270 people from the deferred list to the main NHS waiting list in Scotland. Between 1993 and 2002 the main list fell from 84,521 to 71,965 – a drop of 12,556 – but during the same period the deferred list grew by 11,819 from 13,451 to 25,270.http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-91005734.html
27 September 2002: NHS board crisis team
Troubleshooters have been sent in to sort out the struggling NHS board in Argyll and Clyde. Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm wants them to solve “long-standing managerial problems”. No details of the difficulties were given but they are thought to involve clashes between senior staff and budget problems. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-92118081.html
8 October 2002: We Were So Naive to Be Taken in by New Labour’s Chicanery … All of Their Attempts to Save the NHS Have Proved Disastrous; A Retired GP and Former Labour Supporter on Why She Will Stand against the Party over Its Health Policy
When Labour won power in 1997, there was a tremendous sense of optimism among members of the medical profession in Scotland. We genuinely felt, on that glorious summer day five years ago when Tony Blair became Prime Minister, that things would change. After so many years of Tory rule, everyone agreed there was an overwhelming need for reform in the Health Service and that it was a time for universal celebration. Similarly, when devolution became a reality, its supporters – and I was among them – saw the Scottish parliament as a symbol of the country’s great potential. Now, in 2002, two years after I retired as a GP, I feel stupid – and deeply embarrassed – that we were all so naive and that my colleagues and I were effectively taken in by New Labour’s chicanery. I feel ashamed of my support for Labour and for devolution because all the attempts to save the NHS and turn around its fortunes have proved utterly disastrous. For many the ‘reorganisation’ of Glasgow’s hospital services has come to symbolise Labour’s intense arrogance. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-92703925.html
12 November 2002: Hospitals remain in grip of strike action
The wildcat strikes that have taken hold at hospitals across Glasgow showed no sign of abating yesterday, leading to fears that operations could be cancelled by the end of the week. Nearly 400 administration staff at six sites controlled by North Glasgow University NHS Hospitals Trust failed to show up for work yesterday while the trust held an emergency meeting to plan for the weeks ahead. Health managers say they will be able to continue all routine and emergency work at the hospitals this week, but fear some elective operations will have to be cancelled after Friday if the dispute goes on. A spokeswoman said: “The staff who have walked out deal with patients records and these have already been prepared for clinics and all operations for the next week.http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-13006463.html
17 December 2002: NHS board cash crisis
Watchdogs have slammed a health board which faces a budget shortfall of pounds £30m. In a bombshell report, troubled Argyll and Clyde NHS Board was criticised for poor management which has created a “dire” financial crisis. The contents were so damning that four top-level health managers resigned before publication. Investigators hit out at the “dysfunctional and inappropriate management culture” for creating “financial instability” within the Board. Up to 100 angry NHS staff and patients packed an extraordinary board meeting to discuss the report’s findings at Dykebar Hospital in Paisley last night. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-95508928.html
30 January 2003: Hepatitis Patients to Get £15m but Only If Westminster Agrees; Chisholm Admits Scottish Parliament Could Be Overruled
Patients in Scotland who contracted hepatitis C during NHS treatment could share a £15m compensation package, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said yesterday. But the move can only go ahead if the Westminster Government agrees the Scottish parliament has the power to implement the deal. Mr Chisholm yesterday unveiled his proposals for a long-awaited compensation scheme for around 570 patients who caught the deadly liver virus through blood transfusions or other treatment during the 1970s and 1980s. He said all patients who caught hepatitis C from infected blood should receive £20,000 and those who went on to develop life-threatening complications would be awarded an extra £25,000. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-97257743.html
5 March 2003: NHS reform in Scotland hinges on nurse numbers: new White Paper will fail to improve care unless shortages are tackled, warns RCN
Proposals to reform the NHS in Scotland will fail to deliver their objective of improving patient care unless nurse shortages are tackled, the RCN has warned. A White Paper, Partnership for Care, was launched at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary last week by health minister Malcolm Chisholm. It promises nurses that the NHS in Scotland will become an `exemplary employer’ with a culture of lifelong learning. Staff will be entitled to receive continuing professional development, appraisals and personal development plans, the White Paper says. It also reveals plans to invest in a network of one-stop occupational health centres at NHS workplaces that will provide a fast-track rehabilitation service for staff. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-99983713.html
17 June 2003: Executives face wrath of patients over A&E closure; GPs also express opposition in letter of no confidence
Executives of Argyll and Clyde NHS Board will face the wrath of GPs and their patients from north of the Clyde tonight at a public meeting over the planned closure of accident and emergency services at Vale of Leven Hospital. However, the public’s view was already clear last night after a grassroots meeting in Dumbarton, attended by about 300 people, at which the decision was roundly attacked amid calls for a steering committee to be set up to take the campaign against the closure further. Every GP practice in Dumbarton, Alexandria, and Helensburgh signed a letter published in The Herald today expressing no confidence in the NHS board, which lost four executives last year in a purge by the Scottish Executive. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23538543.html
30 August 2004: Hospital Staff Secretly Took Body Parts-Organs Removed from Corpses without Relatives Consent
Staff at three Scottish hospitals were paid £1 a time to remove glands from the brains of corpses without the permission of relatives. The payments were made by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which used the pituitary glands to manufacture human growth hormones for treating children with growth disorders. Now organ retention campaigners have demanded an inquiry into the unauthorised procedure during post-mortem examinations at the Western Infirmary, the Royal Infirmary and Stobhill hospital in Glasgow. An inquiry in 2001 found that the hospitals, along with Gartnavel General, had a store of almost 4,500 organs – the second biggest in Britain behind Alder Hey in Liverpool. Organs were routinely removed from dead patients without relatives’ permission but the inquiry was never told that technicians at the hospitals received payment until the mid-1980s for removing the organs. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-121547126.html
7 September 2004: Labour MSPs turn up the heat on Chisholm over hospital reforms
Pressure was mounting on Malcolm Chisholm, the health minister, from inside his own party last night to step in and halt plans to centralise hospital services across Scotland. He was given a torrid time by Labour MSPs at a private group meeting last week over moves by health boards to rationalise services and close key departments at local hospitals. Many MSPs, particularly those in the west of Scotland, have been inundated with letters of protest from constituents unhappy with their health board’s plans to reorganise services in their area. They have passed on these concerns to Mr Chisholm in an increasingly vocal manner, letting the minister know that the protests will get worse unless he is seen to intervene against the health boards. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-13051165.html
9 September 2004: Time to act on NHS cutbacks; Call for ‘clear national strategy’ in health service
Jack McConnell suffered a backlash over the crisis in the health service last night after he refused to halt hospital cutbacks. Health boards across Scotland have had to cut frontline services as they struggle with mounting costs of wages and drugs. The closures and cuts come despite record levels of investment in the health service, with the annual budget climbing to £8billion. Health campaigners descended on Holyrood yesterday, demanding action to stop the decline of hospital services after the Scottish Executive rejected calls to get involved. They cheered from the public gallery as SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon gave an impressive performance, forcing Mr McConnell on to the defensive over hospital closures to cheers from the public gallery and her party’s benches. Labour MSPs sat in silence. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23574987.html
10 September 2004: Health in crisis: Nervous MSPs demand freeze on hospital cuts; Chisholm called south to Labour meeting
Labour MSPs yesterday demanded a moratorium on hospital re- organisation across Scotland, in the face of mounting public anger at the plans. The call coincided with their party colleagues at Westminster summoning Malcolm Chisholm, the health minister, to attend what will be a stormy meeting of party colleagues at the House of Commons on Tuesday. Labour MPs want him to explain the risks the health plans pose to their re-election campaigns. At Holyrood, there is growing unrest among previously loyal supporters of the Scottish Executive. They backed a moratorium on change until an expert group on NHS re-organisation reports next March. Labour MSPs joined other parties on the health committee in warning that a national strategy must be in place before more major changes are approved. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23575111.html
10 September 2004: Labour Revolt over Health Service Cuts
The First Minister was facing open rebellion from his party last night as the crisis in the health service escalated. Jack McConnell and Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm came under huge pressure to prevent a string of hospital closures and cuts to frontline services. Labour MSPs on the Scottish parliament’s health committee joined opposition politicians in demanding an immediate halt to any cutbacks, at least until next March when a national review of NHS services is completed. Local health boards are being forced to slash vital services due to rising staff costs, despite the fact the Scottish Executive is pouring £8billion into the NHS. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-122040488.html
22 September 2004: Chisholm Warned on Cuts
Pregnant women and babies could ‘die in ambulances in snowdrifts’ this winter because of hospital cutbacks, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm has been warned. Mr Chisholm was attacked by MSPs of all parties, including Labour, yesterday as he appeared before Holyrood’s health committee. He faced a grilling over cutbacks which have provoked a national protest campaign. Jamie Stone, Lib Dem MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, warned that lives were being put at serious risk because Mr Chisholm was ‘wrecking’ the health service. He reacted angrily to Mr Chisholm’s assurances that no cuts would be allowed if they jeopardised ‘clinical safety’. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-122552284.html
4 October 2004: Chisholm sweats it out as McConnell ponders reshuffle
Speculation was mounting last night over the future of Malcolm Chisholm, the embattled health minister, who could lose his job if Jack McConnell decides to carry out a reshuffle. It is believed that Mr Chisholm has been called to a meeting with the First Minister at 9am today to discuss his position, following a wave of protests across Scotland over hospital cuts. Tom McCabe, the deputy health minister, who has impressed in recent months with his efficient handling of the nationwide consultation on a smoking ban, is expected to meet the First Minister shortly afterwards. The meetings have fuelled speculation that Mr Chisholm will be asked to step aside, possibly into the post of social justice minister, with Mr McCabe taking over at health. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-13054192.html
Malcolm Chisholm Steps Down from Health Service Job
15 April 2005: Labour catch a cold over health gaffe North-south divide on waiting times laid bare
Labour’s Scottish manifesto launch backfired yesterday by reminding voters that NHS waiting times can be twice as long in Scotland as in England. The gaffe allowed the SNP and Tories to make the health service the dominant issue of yesterday’s campaign, as they highlighted what has become Labour’s Achilles’ heel in Scotland in spite of record investment. After the launch, both parties pursued Jack McConnell over the differences at first minister’s questions, accusing him of letting down Scottish patients. Labour had intended to use the launch of the 118-page booklet to focus attention on the “harmony” between the party’s ministers in Holyrood and Westminster, a relationship they said would suffer if the Tories were elected on May 5. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23594061.html
3 December 2019: Police Watchdog chief Susan Deacon quits SPA claiming the system is “fundamentally flawed”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon rejected opposition claims and said, “The police are not in crisis and I think it does a disservice to police officers around our country who are working so hard to keep us safe to say so. The SPA will continue with the improvements which were being made to governance and accountability”.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said there had been “significant improvement across many facets of the police service in Scotland.
Adding, “As Ms Deacon, herself acknowledges, our police service is in a much stronger place now than prior to her appointment”.
She certainly knows just when to raise her profile gaining maximum right-wing media coverage but the words of the vice-chairman of the CPA hold more potency. But a dig into her past is revealing since it exposes the incompetence of the Labour Party and herself at the time they held power over Scots.
11 January 2000: The NHS is coping with the crisis, says Health Minister Susan Deacon.
Really? That is not how things will look to the vast majority of the public.
The health service of the fifth largest economy on the planet should be able to deal with an outbreak of winter flu, no matter how virulent, without hospitals having to go on red alert, cancel hundreds of non-emergency operations or trawl around the country in search of intensive care beds.
This is not a picture of a service ‘coping’, but of one seemingly on the point of collapse.
The Minister’s insistence that hospitals and GPs are handling the enormous strain of the epidemic is at odds with the anecdotal evidence from medical staff around the country.
17 May 2000: Heart hospital abandons surgeon search Heart surgeon crisis ‘will last a year
Glasgow Royal Infirmary has moved to end the crisis in Scotland’s heart transplant service by trying to train a home-grown team of surgeons.
The development comes after failing to recruit experts from elsewhere, a senior cardiologist revealed last night.
However, it will take up to a year to have a trained team in place.
The hospital is in discussions with three city surgeons with previous experience of performing heart transplants, in the aim of resuming the life-saving operations, suspended this month, at the start of next year.
The move to train its own team reflects the GRI’s continuing failure to recruit transplant surgeons from elsewhere in the UK or around the world.
6 July 2000: Lanarkshire mafia in the frame as Susan Deacon takes the rap for poor Health Service Delivery
She looked, said one Labour MSP yesterday, “completely hyper”.
Another added a particularly Glaswegian twist to descriptions of the health minister’s demeanour during that fractious meeting of the Scottish parliamentary Labour group – “She had a face like fizz”.
If Susan Deacon was annoyed by the dressing down delivered to ministers in front of her colleagues, it is not hard to see why.
There was some delight taken in her discomfort, but still, the impression exists that Deacon is yet another victim of the party’s Old Labour-style “Lanarkshire mafia”.
That is the loose term given to the group of male ministers which employs the tactics of the old party machine to stop those they regard as too radical or a threat.
30 August 2000: Hospital waiting lists rise by 5% – Health Minister Susan Deacon warns poorly-performing NHS Trusts they can expect a visit from hit squads
Hospital waiting lists have grown by 5% in the space of three months, according to figures published yesterday by the Scottish Executive.
They show that in-patient and day-case waiting lists totalled 86,549 at the end of June, 4215 up from the end of March.
The number of patients waiting more than 12 months grew by 81 to 553 at the end of June.
NHS Trusts which have contributed to the increase can expect a visit soon from the Executive Health Department’s hit squads, or performance management teams said Health Minister Susan Deacon.
But she pointed out that more patients were being treated more quickly, with eight out of 10 Scots now receiving treatment within three months of joining a waiting list, and hospitals across the country increasing their activity.
7 November 2000: Labour Party Rob NHS – Outcry as Money Is Transferred to Pay off Council House Debts
A massive £44m has been transferred from the Scottish health budget to pay council house debts.
The move has embroiled Health Minister Susan Deacon in a new row over NHS spending.
It will also shock hard-pressed hospitals – Tayside alone has a £12m.
Most of the £44m will be spent reducing the £1b council housing debt in Glasgow.
The money had been left over as a result of changes, made by the Labour Government in 1998, to the way hospital trusts were run.
It is being transferred despite a Labour Party manifesto pledge at the 1997 election that any savings from abolishing the Tory system of running the NHS would be spent on direct patient care.
Last night a health department spokesman defended the decision, saying it was ‘old money’ generated before devolution and held by the Treasury in London.
The only way it could have been accessed, he said, was by paying off debts.
He insisted it would have been lost to Scotland altogether if it had not been switched to the housing budget.
8 November 2000: The Truth about Health Service’s Missing Millions
The truth behind £44m of NHS money transferred out of the health budget was exposed last night after officials admitted it could instead have been invested back in hospitals.
On Monday they insisted the cash had to be spent on reducing council housing debt in Glasgow or it would be lost altogether because of strict Treasury rules.
But 24 hours later, after persistent questioning from the Scottish Daily Mail, health department officials agreed that, despite the complex financial procedures, the money could all have been spent on health.
The admission placed fresh pressure on Health Minister Susan Deacon to fight to have all the money returned to her budget.
18 November 2000: Waiting Lists Scandal; Health Minister under Attack as NHS Queues Increase by 15 Per Cent
The Scottish Executive faced criticism last night after it emerged that hospital waiting lists have risen by 15 per cent in the past 12 months.
Official figures show that there are now more people waiting for operations than there were when Labour came to power in 1997.
The number of people on waiting lists has risen over the course of the past year by 11,187, or 14.8 per cent, and there are now 86,540 people on waiting lists, way above the Government’s target of 75,000.
23 November 2000: ‘Clueless’ Health Minister Is in the Dark over Waiting Lists
Health Minister Susan Deacon came under attack yesterday after making an embarrassing blunder.
On a visit to Tayside, she was forced to admit that she did not know the hospital waiting list figures for the area.
Her admission was in spite of a massive 47 per cent increase in the list in the past year.
Miss Deacon was being interviewed on a local radio station during a visit to Dundee to meet new Tayside Health Board chairman Peter Barnes, and Jim McGoldrick, the new chairman of the Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Asked to comment on the increases in local waiting lists, she said: ‘I don’t know the figures for here’.
She then tried to divert the question to Paul White, chief executive of the Tayside NHS trust.
15 December 2000: Deacon’s Shot in the Arm for NHS; as the Health Minister Unveils Her Blueprint for a Major Overhaul of the Health Service, Labour Is Again Snared in a Row about Rising Waiting Times
Health Minister Susan Deacon promised a shake-up of the Scottish health service yesterday to speed up treatment and give patients a better service.
Miss Deacon published the Executive’s National Health Plan, which set out a series of targets and deadlines for treatment and revealed plans to streamline the management of local health boards and trusts.
The plans were given a cautious welcome by many health professionals, but some medical experts warned the proposals were too general and did not contain enough detail to bring about real change.
Experts drew up the plan in response to widespread dissatisfaction with the way the Executive was running the health service.
The results of a poll conducted for the Executive and disclosed exclusively in the Scottish Daily Mail, showed eight out of ten Scots believed Labour had failed to make any improvements to the health service.
Miss Deacon admitted patients were concerned about the care they received. She said:
“There were many concerns. Too many delays, too much fragmentation and too much waiting. Too little information and poor communication came up time and again. People felt that too often the NHS did things to them, rather than with them. They wanted to be cared for as well as cured”.
The plan also includes a series of new targets for waiting times, proposals to involve patients in decision-making and a determination to streamline the structure of health boards and health trusts.
Miss Deacon said no patient would have to wait more than nine months for hospital treatment – three months less than current waiting times.
The Health Minister said reducing waiting times was a priority for the Scottish Executive, and said she also wanted to ensure a patient’s journey from GP to the hospital to home was better and faster.
Miss Deacon also announced a shake-up of the structure of the NHS with trusts and boards to be replaced by a single board held accountable for the whole of the local health system.
She also plans to end the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ of treatment, which means some drugs and treatments are available in different parts of the country, depending on local decisions made by boards and trusts.
Miss Deacon said:
“We will work to end the postcode lottery of care which grew up under the Tory internal market”.
Glasgow NHS hospitals faced disarray last night when medical secretaries began a three-day strike over pay.
As hundreds of secretaries marched from Glasgow’s George Square to the City Halls, hospital bosses conceded that waiting lists and non-emergency operations could be affected.
Nearly 300 secretaries at ten hospitals voted 91.3 per cent in favour of strike action after talks broke down between health workers union Unison, and North Glasgow NHS Trust after 14 months.
Staff in the north of Glasgow rejected a national offer that would see many staff awarded a 30 per cent pay increase over four years and voted to continue their own dispute.
They felt the deal would not apply to every member of staff and failed to recognise their skills.
2 November 2001: Medical secretaries walkout over pay
More than 300 medical secretaries walked out yesterday after claiming health chiefs had reneged on a deal to improve pay and conditions.
The secretaries, who work for North Glasgow NHS Trust, opted to strike indefinitely after negotiations to settle the dispute collapsed. Unison, the health service union, accused trust officials of going back on a promise to grade medical secretaries on the same scale as hospital managerial staff.
Unison claimed they had changed the timescale when secretaries would receive pay rises.
The trust confirmed that it would not upgrade secretaries until April.
Carolyn Leckie, branch secretary of Unison, said yesterday:
“The trust has failed to honour an agreement and that is why we have taken this stance.”
21 Feb 2017: Malpractice’ claim at Glasgow City Council
Police have met senior figures at Glasgow City Council amid allegations of malpractice, it has emerged. It follows claims of cronyism within the land and environmental services department. A long-running internal investigation has been looking at a number of issues, including alleged procurement irregularities. The department’s executive director resigned last November.
Police Scotland said their inquiries were at an early stage but it is understood officers have taken an interest in issues that arose through Glasgow City Council’s internal investigation and that the local authority would be willing to co-operate with police. It is also confirmed that a meeting took place recently between the council and police and that some of the issues spoken about involved people outside the council.
The land and services department looks after services such as cleansing, bin collection, park, roads to environmental health and trading standards. The department has about 4,000 employees and a revenue budget of £190m. In November 2016 its executive director Brian Devlin – whose salary was about £120,000 – resigned after five years in the role.
It is understood that Mr Devlin was spoken to during the internal investigation. The others interviewed by the internal investigators included two members of staff with close personal links to housing repair company Mears Scotland, which had also been at the centre of a local controversy over council contracts in neighbouring North Lanarkshire.
One is the son of its managing director who is married to Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty. The other is the partner of an executive with Mears who is now working in a different role at the council. Mears currently has no major contracts with Glasgow City Council and the company has denied wrongdoing.
A spokesman for Labour-run Glasgow City Council said it would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing internal investigation but the broader issue of openness and transparency within Glasgow City Council is set to be a key theme in the campaign ahead of May’s local elections.
Supporters of the Labour administration may argue that the internal investigation demonstrates that they take such matters seriously. But, the SNP believe that, in general, the council could do more to ensure it is transparent and seen to be so.
The leader of the SNP group on the council, Susan Aitken, stressed she did not wish to comment on this specific investigation or any of the individuals concerned. She said: “Glasgow SNP have already expressed serious concerns about public trust in the council in the light of a number of incidents over the years and have committed to appoint an independent expert to conduct a root and branch review of governance if elected.”
Councils are expected to follow tight procurement rules and statutory procedures to ensure an open and transparent process is followed for any contract being awarded – major contracts also have to comply with EU law.
They should never be awarded on the basis of personal connections and no company tendering for a contract should be given an unfair advantage or disadvantage. It would be seen as bad practice – and possibly a breach of rules – for anyone with a close personal connection to a company to be involved with decisions on whether or not they are awarded a contract. Any allegation a council employee was able to give one company bidding for work an unfair advantage, through for instance sharing information, would also be taken very seriously.
Recommendations on who to award significant contracts to are made by council officials, although the actual decisions are taken by committees of councillors. It is unusual for these committees to go against the officials’ recommendations. Police Scotland said: “A matter has been raised with the police and inquiries are at an early stage to assess this information.” (BBC Scotland news)
16 Jan 2016: Glasgow Labour split over ‘missed opportunity’ to appoint a woman as City Treasurer
A split has opened up in Glasgow City Council’s ruling Labour group over the elevation of Philip Bratt to City Treasurer.
Concerns were raised at a recent meeting of Labour councillors that the leadership was failing to honour a commitment to gender equality. The Labour group recently passed a motion in support of the Women 50/50 campaign which calls for legislative quotas for women on public boards, in the Scottish Parliament and in local councils. The drive for equality was launched in September 2014 by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and has since been backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as well as dozens of MSPs and councillors.
Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety has increased the number of female Labour councillors on the executive committee from one to three, with the Labour group also contributing seven men. But it has been claimed that recommending Philip Bratt to replace Paul Rooney as City Treasurer was a “missed opportunity” to increase women’s representation at the top of the local authority. It is understood several councillors criticised the leadership when the Labour group was told at a private meeting last Monday that Mr McAveety would put forward Mr Bratt.
One Labour councillor, who asked not to be named, said: “It flared up because of the appointment of Philip Braat. Some of the group members argued it should be a woman because of the motion. During the discussion Frank (McAveety) asked Archie (Graham, Labour’s equalities spokesman and deputy leader of the group) to try defend the line on woman not needing to be appointed.”
Councillor Judith Fisher, who spoke out at the meeting, said: “It’s a matter of public record that the Labour group unanimously agreed to support the Women 50/50 campaign and the realisation of gender balance of Labour appointments at all levels of the council. The progress of moving from one woman executive member to three should be appreciated. However, I will continue to press for full gender balance to become a reality. A council that reflects the city it represents leads to better decision making.” (The Evening Times)
7 Feb 2016: Glasgow Council leader Frank McAveety makes threat of legal action after complaint about leadership
Glasgow council leader Frank McAveety has taken legal advice after a complaint about his administration was sent to Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.
An individual claiming to be a party councillor made a number of claims about his leadership and said morale in the city chambers was at “an all-time low”. However, a spokesperson for McAveety described the claims are “completely untrue” and raised the prospect of legal action.
McAveety became council leader for the second time after succeeding Gordon Matheson in the post. However, his spell in charge has been marked by tensions in his group and damaging leaks.
The Sunday Herald revealed McAveety’s allies had been critical of council chief executive Anne-marie O’Donnell over a perceived lack of detail on budget cuts and McAveety, a Labour MSP between 1999 and 2011, declined to offer his full support for her when asked.
The new leader also faced questions from his colleagues over the appointment of councillor Phil Bratt as city treasurer. Bratt is perceived to be one of a number of McAveety allies handed key posts and some councillors believe the leadership has failed to give enough top jobs to women.
It can now be revealed that an anonymous letter, written on local authority headed notepaper and signed by a “concerned Labour councillor”, was sent to Dugdale directly at Holyrood. The author provided unflattering commentary of McAveety’s leadership and made a number of claims about the mood inside the council. The individual wrote: “Morale is at an all-time low amongst elected members and council officers.” A party source said the letter was received and passed to Labour headquarters in Glasgow’s Bath Street. (The Glasgow Herald)
17 Feb 2016: Glasgow City Council in open warfare as under-fire Labour boss McAveety removes spin chief
The deepening rift ripping through Scotland’s largest council has erupted as its leader removes one of his senior officers in the clearest sign yet of a civil war tearing through the Labour-run authority. Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council, has forced his director of communications Colin Edgar out the door and into one of the authority’s arms-length organisations.
McAveety has had a long-standing distrust of his media chief, linking with with both the previous regime at the council under Gordon Matheson and connected to senior figures in the Labour Party hierarchy the leader and his inner circle claim actively oppose them. Edgar, who has held the post for almost a decade and was a former communications boss of Scottish Labour, will take on a similar role at Glasgow Life, the council-owned arts and leisure trust.
Part of his remit will be taken on by McAveety’s special advisor, the former BBC journalist and media chief at quango Strathclyde Partnership for Transport Bob Wylie. Councillors and fellow officers are being told today that Edgar’s new post is to improve the communications operation within Glasgow Life, as it prepares to merge with the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and bid for international events.But it has been an open secret that there had been a communication breakdown between McAveety and Mr Wylie and their communications chief.
One senior Labour figure said: “Colin is a highly respected professional, who has been in the fire with two council leaders before Frank, so why he would need to do this is not entirely clear. He knows how to speak to the press, has their trust and has a subtle professionalism which is invaluable to his senior officers as it should be to the political leadership.” Another said: “Several people in the administration have made no secret of their views on senior officers. Who’s next then? Is this how they want to run their administration?”
Susan Aitken, leader of the council’s SNP group, said: “Cllr McAveety’s hapless administration just seems to be lurching from one calamity to another. “Not only is the Labour group itself rife with infighting, it now also seems that the leader of the council is unable to maintain decent working relationships with highly experienced senior council officers. “Cllr McAveety’s mind is quite clearly not on his day job and that shows in the complete lack of constructive ideas coming out of his administration to address the real problems in service delivery that many Glaswegians are experiencing.”
(The Glasgow Herald)
13 Mar 2016: Problems Mount for Frank McAveety at Glasgow City Council
Frank McAveety’s leadership of Glasgow council has suffered another blow after one of his top officials was signed off sick. Brian Devlin will be recuperating away from the city chambers amid claims morale amongst senior officers is low.
McAveety replaced Gordon Matheson as local authority leader last year, but his Labour administration has lurched from one controversy to another. The former MSP’s internal party critics believe he lacks vision and has appointed male loyalists to key posts. However, there has also been tension with the council’s top officials, who are key to pushing through the leader’s policies.
As revealed by the Sunday Herald, McAveety’s political allies criticised the council chief executive Anne-marie O’Donnell at a Labour group meeting in December over a perceived lack of detail on budget cuts. McAveety refused to give the official full backing.
The leader then removed Colin Edgar from his post as head of communication and service development after a breakdown in their working relationship. McAveety reportedly had a “long-standing distrust” of Edgar, a respected PR professional who has been given a similar job at the council-owned Glasgow Life.
It has now emerged that Devlin, the executive director of Land and Environmental Services, was signed off sick last week. Devlin is in charge of a huge council department including cleansing, parks, roads, environment and sustainability and other related services. The remit spans the management and maintenance of the road transport network and the array of parks and open spaces under the local authority’s control.
A spokesman for the council refused to say whether Devlin had signed off with stress, or whether he had complained about any Labour councillor. He said: “We have a duty of care to all of our employees. Mr Devlin is absent from work on sick leave and we cannot comment further on personal matters.” A council source said relations between the McAveety camp and top officials was “very poor”.
A spokesperson for the SNP Group on the city council said. “There is chaos at the heart of Glasgow Labour and until they are removed the city will be continue to be plagued by poor leadership and score settling. The people of Glasgow are the losers here.” (The Glasgow Herald)
15 Apr 2016: Glasgow City Council “shoring up” public relations operation as ex-BBC journalist bids for contract
Cash-strapped Glasgow City Council could be about to bolster its public relations operation by handing a lucrative contract to an ex-BBC journalist. Former political correspondent John Morrison is among the consultants contending for the chance to provide “independent analysis” of the local authority’s digital presence.
Last year council leader Frank McAveety handed a well paid senior special adviser job to another ex-BBC reporter, Bob Wylie, who was previously in charge of public relations at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) during an expenses scandal.
It emerged in 2010 that officials had clawed back more than £100,000 and gone on foreign fact-finding trips. Mr Wylie later handed back expenses racked up during a junket to Manchester on the day Rangers played in the 2008 UEFA Cup final.
Sources claim the council’s public relations programme has been “floundering” recently and Mr McAveety is thought to be keen to “shore up” the operation. A council spokesman confirmed that the local authority is “conducting a review of council communications, with special reference to developing digital communications”.
Mr Morrison, who runs a Glasgow-based public relations company, said: “They’ve spoken to me but there is nothing agreed.” He later issued a statement which said: “Morrison Media Strategies is a communications and media training company. We have discussions with companies and organisations every day. We don’t talk about them.” ( The Barrhead news)
22 May 2016: City Council’s perfect storm as senior boss suspended and prominent politician quits Labour administration
Scotland’s largest council has faced a day of trauma following the suspension of one of its senior officers and a political resignation which leaves the ruling Labour administration’s majority teetering on the brink.
Glasgow City Council announced it had suspended its £120,000-a-year-plus head of land and environmental services Brian Devlin pending an internal investigation, understood to focus on the award of contracts. Mr Devlin had recently returned to work following a period of ill health amid claims of low morale and deep divisions between senior members of the administration and top officers. It is understood Mr Devlin’s lap top has been retained by the council as part of the probe.
The announcement followed the unrelated resignation of former chief whip and chair of the Labour group, Aileen Colleran, who will continue as an independent until next year’s local elections.
Ms Colleran, who is married to SNP MP Chris Stephens, cited disillusion with the party nationally and personal circumstances, including claims she has been treated with “suspicion and mistrust”. Her resignation, combined with a number of suspensions and by-election defeats, has brought the Labour administration within a seat or so of losing its overall majority on the council.
A coup or vote of no-confidence in council leader Frank McAveety is unlikely, whoever it is certain to add a burden to what is expected to be a tumultuous year for the authority in the run up to next year’s council poll. (The Glasgow Herald)
4 Jun 2016: Investigation into allegations of council corruption intensifies
The assistant to a key Glasgow City Council official has been suspended amid ongoing internal investigations into procurement irregularities. Joan Parr was sent home on the same day as her superior, the £120,000-a-year director of land and environmental services, Brian Devlin, last month.
Sources said internal auditors have seized computers from the pair as they look in to a series of concerns insiders say include the “award of contracts”.
Ms Parr is the partner of Steve Kelly, an executive with housing repair giant Mears Scotland, whose friendship with the leader of North Lanarkshire Council, Jim McCabe, helped sparked a civil war in Labour last year.
Her suspension comes as councils across west central Scotland apply intense scrutiny to public procurement contracts after North Lanarkshire Council announced an investigation into sweeping allegations of corruption.
A council spokesman said: “A member of staff has been suspended on a precautionary basis, pending an internal investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment further while that is ongoing.”
Mr Devlin picked Ms Parr, an existing council employee, to work as his assistant when he was hired by Glasgow to head his department, which deals with everything from roads maintenance to rat catching, in 2011.
He was suspended shortly after returning to work following a period of ill health amid grumbling about low morale in his department and talk of divisions between officials and the new council leadership of Frank McAveety.
A source said Mr Devlin was under scrutiny “both on performance and integrity”. The executive, who is originally from North Lanarkshire but lives in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, came to the council from engineering firm Amey after a career in local government.
At the time of his appointment, he said: “I’ve been responsible for very similar services in previous jobs, but I’m well aware that what sets Glasgow apart is not only the scale of the operation, but also the expectation that we will be bold and take a lead in meeting the many challenges public services face, while delivering better for communities.”
He hit the headlines shortly after taking up his post when it emerged he had helped to hire the now late former Labour cabinet minister Tom McCabe – no relation to Jim McCabe – as a £50,000-a-year policy adviser.
His department then hit the headlines again in 2013 when it emerged it had failed to renew planning permission for its only landfill, Cathkin Braes, which lies just outside Glasgow’s boundaries in South Lanarkshire. (The Glasgow Herald)
16 Jun 2016 Half of Labour’s female councillors in Glasgow to quit over “macho” council
A Major exodus from Glasgow’s ruling Labour administration is set to deepen rifts within the authority, with almost half the party’s female councillors expected to quit politics.
It is understood that six female politicians, including Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, have signalled they will not to seek re-election amid claims of a “macho culture” within the council.
Mrs Docherty is the only one of those standing down next year to have served more than one term of office, the others having only entered front-line politics in 2012. ( The Herald Scotland)
All about Frank McAveety from 1997 to 2015 -Enough to make your hair curl
Frank McAveety – The Silver Fox- His Rise, fall and Resurrection
A young New Labour supporter came to prominence in Glasgow City Council in the late 1990’s. His promise to the electorate was to eliminate corruption and modernise the Administration which had been in power for many a year. With the backing of Tony Blair and Gordon Dewar Frank proceeded to exercise a night of the long knives getting rid of the Lord Provost Pat Lally and his supporters.
The saga caused immense damage within the Labour party in Glasgow and lasted for around 2 years. Frank and his supporters emerged victorious and full of confidence in his ability he undertook his new job with great gusto to the chagrin of many Glaswegians.
Blair & Dewar
13 Oct 1997: Frank McAveety Elected as New Glasgow City Leader
6 Feb 1998: Put labour Party before Lally says McAveeny
Glasgow council chief Frank McAveety last night pleaded “Put loyalty to Labour before loyalty to Lally.” McAveety said his council comrades must ditch veteran Lord Provost Pat Lally to let Glasgow flourish again. And the 36-year-old council leader used the language of a Mafia don when he said: “When there’s a disagreement in the family it’s always painful. But the head of the family has to make the right decision. And that’s what I’m going to do.”
McAveety is now locked in a power tussle with Lally, who at 73 is 37 years his senior. Labour’s highest disciplinary court handed Lally an 18-month suspension from party office last week after a sleaze busting probe. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-61464316.html
6 Feb 1998: Dewar thought to be orchestrating Labour moves to oust Glasgow leader; Lord Provost Lally is hanging by a thread
The future of Patrick Lally as Lord Provost of Glasgow appeared to be in even greater jeopardy last night after strong indications that Labour Party moves to oust him are being driven by Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar. Sources in London disclosed yesterday that Mr Dewar has been detailed to oversee the civic crisis in Glasgow and support a modernising strategy aimed at restoring the city’s tarnished image.
The disclosure emerged as the new council leadership team of Councillors Frank McAveety and Charles Gordon were today expecting a letter from the Scottish Labour Party. The letter will detail the conclusions of a National Constitutional Committee inquiry last weekend, which applied an 18-month ban on the Lord Provost attending Labour Group meetings along with an 18-month ban on holding Labour Party office. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23675303.html
17 Feb 1998: McAveety to take first steps to unseat Lally
Glasgow Council leader Frank McAveety is expected to win his spurs with the Labour Party hierarchy today by taking steps to unseat the man whose support helped him into the post. Lord Provost Pat Lally and his depute, Baillie Alex Mosson, face removal from office after being found guilty by a disciplinary hearing of breaching Labour Party rules.
The party’s National Constitutional Committee banned them from the Labour Group for 18 months and suspended then from holding party office for a similar period. Although the NCC has not specified in what way the two civic leaders have offended.
The new leadership team of Mr McAveety and Councillor Charles Gordon seem to be following the the party line nationally that if they are not fit to be members of the Labour Group, then they are not fit to be Lord Provost and Deputy Lord Provost. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23679150.html
4 July 1998: Lally Sues Labour over Sleaze Crisis
The Labour leadership received another blow last night when Pat Lally revealed he is to sue them for damages over his suspension from the party following sleaze allegations. His action will outrage party leaders still smarting at the embarrassment of being forced to drop their action against Mr Lally, Lord Provost of Glasgow.
Mr Lally’s decision also dashed any hopes Labour had of drawing a line under the issue, and raised fears that if the legal action drags on it could damage the party as it begins campaigning for next year’s elections to the Scottish parliament. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-110680813.html
19 Feb 1999: The Lord Provost who took on his party and won makes a dramatic exit from local government; Lazarus decides to walk
He is a man who divided a city and a local Labour Party. LAZARUS has finally decided on an exit from his colourful career in local government. It is a decision of his own making and not imposed by his enemies, primarily his bitter opponents in the city council Labour group and their sponsors in the Scottish Labour Party.
Lord Provost Patrick Lally will go down in Glasgow folklore as the man with more resurrections than his Biblical comparator, and also the man who took on the Labour Party and won. His detractors will hail the departure of a politician who set up “a system” – some say presidential – that many had to struggle against for years. Http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23727872.html
9 Apr 2000: How the Party I Once Loved Let the Flag of Justice Fall
As Lord Provost of Glasgow, Pat Lally – known as Lazarus because of his many political comebacks – faced his toughest battle in 1997 when Labour launched an inquiry into alleged sleaze within the local authority. Council leader Bob Gould publicly claimed that members had been willing to trade their support for overseas trips.
The accusations were never fully investigated. But caught in the political fallout, Lally found himself accused of bringing the party into disrepute by abusing his position. They were widely held to be trumped-up charges.
In the second and concluding extract from Lally’s autobiography, Lazarus Only Done It Once, the veteran politician reveals how he stood up to the might of the party machine and ultimately forced it into a humiliating climbdown.
The hearing into the sleaze allegations that had been brought against me took place in a ground floor committee room of Scottish Labour Party headquarters in Glasgow on a cold but bright day in January 1998. But, given the circumstances, it might just as easily have been the April of George Orwell’s novel, 1984. The party’s National Constitutional Committee, with national officer Mike Penn playing the equivalent role of ‘procurator fiscal’, had gathered to ‘try’ me.
But from the tone of the committee’s introductions, it was apparent they wished proceedings to be conducted in an informal manner. Their mood seemed light-hearted, almost chummy. While I regarded 48 years of membership of the Labour Party something of great value, I felt that these people did not see it that way. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-109691360.html
Frank McAveety was a strong willed character whose time in office as Leader of Glasgow City Council was likened by some to 1930’s Chicago. He courted personal publicity and media attention.
There were some who earmarked him for high office in the wider labour Party. His star was in the ascendency. But the public and City employees did not always agree with his chosen method of operation which to many was over much dictatorial. Consensus was not his strongest quality.
13 Mar 1998: McAveety makes surprise switch in home rule race
The leader of Scotland’s largest local authority plans to desert his post to seek a seat in the new devolved parliament. Frank McAveety, who was installed as head of Glasgow City Council by Labour chiefs last year, wants to be one of the first intake of MSPs.
His decision will surprise many in Labour circles, who expected him to see through reform of the council, which has suffered from a litany of sleaze allegations. Mr McAveety joins some of the most senior Labour councillors in Scotland in applying to be a Labour candidate. Party leaders will be acutely aware of the problem posed by selecting too many candidates from local government backgrounds. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-109825411.html
23 Apr 1998: You can’t vote me out, says McAveety
The Labour leader of Glasgow City Council has agreed every one of his colleagues can be challenged for their posts – except for himself and his deputy. Frank McAveety was attacked by opposition politicians for agreeing impending elections which exempt any challenge for his job. He was accused of Stalinism by Conservatives, who urged him to open his position to the vote. As well as across-the-board elections at the Labour group meeting, the council’s standing orders will be changed to make it easier to oust senior figures.
Mr McAveety has been in touch with national Labour Party officials to agree the holding of an annual general meeting. But Mr McAveety and his deputy, Charlie Gordon, will not accept challenges to their own positions at the meeting, which they hope to hold next month. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-18653663.html
Jack the Lad
5 Aug 1998: Strikers say McAveety to blame for care protest
Striking social workers yesterday accused Frank McAveety, the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council, of engineering the circumstances that led to their protest.
A mass meeting of more than 1,000 home carers voted to continue the unofficial strike that began when three colleagues were suspended for following union advice and opposing new working practices. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-18663604.html
26 Aug 1998: McAveety backs council tax crackdown
The Labour leader of Glasgow City Council gave his personal backing yesterday to an investigation into staff who have not paid their council tax. Frank McAveety, who was elected on a mandate to root out corruption, is understood to have been deeply embarrassed by the disclosure that 7,700 employees, including some in the finance department – responsible for collecting council and poll tax – had arrears of £4m.
Mr McAveety said “We have identified staff members who are in arrears and asked them to make the payments of their debts. We have issued them all with a letter and we now expect them to pay. If they don’t, then under the finance regulations the council will be able to collect the money at source by arresting wages”. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-18669901.html
Tony (me me) Blair
19 November 1998: Price of 800 jobs for zero council tax rise
Glasgow’s Labour administration warned yesterday of a further 800 redundancies to prevent a council tax rise, provoking union and opposition anger. Labour leader Councillor Frank McAveety infuriated council workers by stating: “Our purpose on the council is to deliver services to the people of Glasgow.
We’re not an employment agency. But we’ll have to work with the unions to ensure minimal impact on jobs.” With the possibility that many of the redundancies might be compulsory.
Unison’s Glasgow branch secretary Angela Lynes accused Labour of sacrificing workers to enhance its election prospects in May. “The tone of Councillor McAveety’s statement is disgusting,” she said. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23713537.html
SScots in the square
30 Mar 1999: Sign or lose your jobs, city librarians warned
Glasgow’s Labour leadership took striking librarians head-on yesterday by demanding they sign a new contract of employment or lose their jobs, writes John MacCalman, Municipal Correspondent. The contract offers pay enhancements to librarians in exchange for more “flexible” working practices. Labour leader, Councillor Frank McAveety, said: “It’s quite clear what the new contract is indicating. The contract is enhancing the core payment. “It’s addressing the concerns about loss of allowances and it is making the libraries provision central to change in Glasgow.
Those staff who believe in that agenda will have no difficulty in accepting this contract.” He refused to state what would happen to staff who refused to sign but the implication was quite clear – they would be regarded as having dismissed themselves. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23730935.html
17 Feb 1998: Glasgow Council Apologises For Ripping Up George Square
Council chiefs last night apologised to the people of Glasgow after bulldozers ripped the heart out of George Square. City council leader Frank McAveety admitted the Policy and Resources Committee had decided on the pounds 200,000 facelift without the public being told.
Work started last Thursday when the square’s famous Swedish white beam trees where chopped down by workmen with chainsaws. Council bosses said the 75-year-old trees were felled because they had Dutch elm disease.
And yesterday, bulldozers moved into the square to tear up the colourful flower beds and the grass. The move sparked angry protests from green pressure groups Friends of the Earth and the Scottish Tree Trust. But Mr McAveety said: “The work will leave the square as green as ever. “The work can only enhance what is a most important public space. “We have apologised. We can’t deny that the public were not told about the work. “We regret the inconvenience the work has caused but the surface of the square needed upgrading.”
18 Feb 1998: Council leader Frank McAveety – the man who turned the heart of Glasgow into a huge building site
Daring to enter George Square, even though citizens want his head on a plate he posed proudly beside diggers ripping it up. Voters are furious at him for ordering workmen to fell 75-year-old trees and rip up flower beds. But braving the wrath of voters, he beamed widely as he told of his plans for a new, improved city centre. As Glasgow gears up to become the City of Architecture and Design next year, the George Square development has become the 16th in the city centre.
From the Broomielaw to Sauchiehall Street, clanking machines are tearing it apart. McAveety insisted that just as we have New Labour, Glasgow would have New George Square. But the council have come under attack for letting work begin without telling the public. Bidding to save face, he posed smiling beside the eyesore. Yes, McAveety conceded, the pounds £200,000 project had come as a surprise to businesses but insisted it’s for everyone’s good.
People were sickened to see the scenes of devastation. McAveety said: “We’ll have an upgraded surface and permanent entertainment space. We will replace the trees which have Dutch Elm Disease. This is a reasonable upgrading, but any substantial change to the square would involve all the citizens of Glasgow.” But some are unconvinced. One, Graeme Robertson, said: “This is a disgrace – we’re supposed to be attracting tourists and the politicians have ripped the place apart.” Sheila McIntyre added: “The square looked fine as it was.” Environmental groups have also expressed dismay at the devastation. McAveety said: “I understand the concerns, but would ask people to wait.”
Other projects which have turned the city into a massive building site are causing chaos. On Buchanan Street, pavements are littered with debris from a huge shopping centre. Pedestrians have to dodge scaffolding on West George Street outside a new hotel. Work is under way on a bar, restaurant and flats in Renfield Street and housing in Sauchiehall Street. Renovation at Central Station, the refurbishment of an office block and another conversion have created “chicanes” on busy Hope Street. And contractors are working on a restaurant and pub on North Frederick Street, a tax office on Montrose Street and refurbishment in George Street. ( The Free Library)
George Square (winning design)
14 Years later: 12 Jul 2012: George Square redevelopment: We ask the councillors
It’s been dubbed ‘red square’ by those who are scathing of the choice of bright floor colour. For some it is just an embarrassment but for others who are more cynical, the crimson carpet which smothers George Square was nothing more than a gleeful snub to the opposition from a triumphant Labour in the post 1997 era. Regardless of its heritage, the red asphalt which covers the area at the heart of the city could be soon set to disappear in yet another multi million pound development.
In a plea to residents, Baillie Matheson is appealing for ideas and opinions from local people on what should be done in the form of a consultation which will take place online and in focus groups. He wants to hear everyone’s views and has pledged to listen to any ideas put forward. “Glaswegians regard George Square as the very heart of the city, so whatever goes on there is very important to the people. But at the moment, George Square looks tired. We deserve to have a square of international significance. I want the people of Glasgow to get a public square they deserve.” he said. (STV News)
13 Apr 2013: Glasgow City Council leader defiant over George Square allegations
Embattled leader Gordon Matheson of Glasgow City Council believes he will lead the city beyond the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He made the prediction as he stands accused of multiple breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct centering on the controversial design competition to revamp George Square.
In an interview with STV’s Bernard Ponsonby on Tuesday, Mr Matheson was defiant over his conduct and stated that he believed his position was safe beyond the Games that are being hosted in Glasgow next year. The Public Standards Commissioner for Scotland is looking into the allegations he acted improperly during the redesign process, which collapsed amid public outcry.
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland submitted a complaint about Mr Matheson, alleging that the Labour leader compromised the legal nature of the process and showed improper bias towards a particular design. Kerr Robertson, the former lead architect and projects director with the local authority, has also submitted evidence to the commissioner, saying he was told by council staff “Gordon Matheson would be allowed to choose the winning design”. STV understands that at least one other council official is ready to corroborate Mr Robertson’s claims regarding Mr Matheson. (STV News)
Devolution In 1999 the newly formed Scottish parliament presented Frank with the opportunity to progress his career. He stood down from the position of Leader of Glasgow District Council and gained a seat in the newly formed Scottish Government.
He was promoted to the role of Deputy Minister of Local Government. His future seemed assured. In the period 2000 – 2004 Frank proved to be a controversial character who maintained a high public profile. But progress he did .
10 Mar 1999: McAveety accused of transfer conflict
The controversy over Glasgow’s housing stock transfer reached new depths of bitterness yesterday when leader Councillor Frank McAveety found himself being reported to the council’s Standards Committee for an alleged conflict of interest.
The complaint has been made by Scottish Socialist councillor, Tommy Sheridan who feels his Labour opponent should not have been “proposing and pushing forward” the stock transfer after having been appointed Labour’s housing spokesman for the new Scottish Parliament.
Councillor Sheridan said: “That is a severe conflict of interest which deserves to be investigated by the Standards Committee and I will be calling on the chief executive to call an emergency meeting of the committee in order that this can be raised. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23729400.html
25 Jun 1999: Are You Trying to Take the Michael Portillo – Frank? McAveety Is Dyeing to Look like Tory Ladies’ Heart-Throb
He’s so vain he probably thinks this item is about him – and he’s right. Deputy Minister for Local Government Frank McAveety is the softer face of socialism.
There have been quips about his smart appearance and even suggestions he is slightly vain. Female admirers have even said he rivals Tommy “Sunbed” Sheridan for the post of First Minister Of Good Looks. And yesterday the 36-year-old gave his critics more ammunition when he admitted that he had dyed his hair brown to get rid of traces of grey beginning to show through. To make matters worse, with a swept-back new style, he now bears a startling resemblance to former Conservative minister Michael Portillo – darling of the Tory blue rinse tendency.http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-60417912.html
17 Aug 1999: Not again, Minister; McAveety told by Labour not to dumb down but it was a photo call too good to miss
It seemed like the perfect opportunity for a politician who likes to get in front of the camera. Slip on a pair of trendy sunglasses and join an aspiring teenage rap band for photo call. But Frank McAveety, the newly-appointed Deputy Minister for Local Government, been officially instructed to stop participating with the more outlandish requests of photographers.
Labour spin doctors believe the trendy politician’s behaviour is out of step with position as a serious Scottish statesman and they have informed the New Labour devotee to be more ‘conservative’ in his approach and acquire some gravitas. Even then Mr McAveety just had to get in on the act and adopted a hip-hop stance for the young band. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-109790501.html
22 Sep 2000: The Scottish Labour Lib/Dem Government and the New Scottish Parliament
It took nearly 300 years to get a Scottish parliament back up and running, but only one year to make people wonder if it was worth the struggle. “All right, heads up and pay attention” the Scotsman said welcoming the legislators back this month for their second try at proving whether Scots can govern themselves. “The silly season is officially over. Time now for the totally absurd season to begin.”
If the political news from the tumultuous first session was bad, the headlines the same day in, The Record suggested that the summer off had not made things any better “Exam Chaos Spreads. Waiting Lists Soar. Beleaguered Ministers’ Careers Take Turn for the Worse. Union Chiefs Threaten Autumn of Discontent.”
The new Parliament — the first in Scotland since 1707 — the fruit of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s program known as devolution, which aimed to decentralize power in the United Kingdom and give more self-determination to Britons who live here, in Wales, in Northern Ireland and eventually in the regions of England.
While the new Parliament can weigh in with decisions on issues like agriculture, education and health and housing, Scotland retains ties to the British Parliament, which continues to regulate strategic areas like defence and social security. For that reason, 16 Scots are Peers in the House of Lords and 45 are members of the House of Commons.
When it first opened, the Scottish Parliament set itself up for a bruising first round, awarding members commemorative medals before they had done anything more substantive than working out their salaries, bonuses, parking spaces and vacation grants.
Then it laid out plans for a grand new home in an inaccessible part of Edinburgh that was to cost $75 million by first estimate and $300 million by current ones. All of this was gleefully chronicled by Scotland’s 21 robustly competitive papers, which turned from a passionate commitment to the idea of devolution to ferocious resentment of the real thing.
“There is a real schizophrenia in this country, said Frank McAveety, the Deputy Minister for local government. The Scottish press lobbied harder than anyone for a parliament, but now that they’ve got it, they’re queuing up to give it a good kicking.”
The lawmakers found themselves heckled in the streets and sneered at in the newspapers. Billy Connolly, the Scottish comic actor and playwright, dismissed them as ”a wee pretendy parliament.”
A seemingly innocuous motion to remove a regulation that limits teachers’ freedom to discuss homosexuality with students seeking counsel provoked a multimillion-dollar campaign of loudspeaker trucks, pickets and billboards accusing the lawmakers of condoning sexual perversion.
When a scandal erupted in the spring over a badly flawed new system of college entrance exams, the Parliament was blamed for letting it happen.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers were seen to be neglecting the real problems affecting Scotland — a feudal landowning system, decrepit housing, an urban drug epidemic, homelessness, an underperforming tourist agency, and inadequate health services for people who live in Britain’s harshest climate and are known for eating too much fried fatty food and indulging in too little exercise to work it off.
Frank McAveety, the gravel-voiced Glaswegian deputy Minister for local government, was perhaps just a little too gallus for his own good. Famous for his quick wit and terrible jokes, he was known to be a supporter of Jack McConnell in the run-up to the leadership election.
Mr McAveety let it be known he would be switching his support to Mr McLeish, a move widely condemned as brazen opportunism, even by his own colleagues, who were preparing to support Mr McLeish themselves.
Mr McAveety presumably thought this would save his skin, just when the huge Glasgow housing stock transfer was making progress, with the potential to save his home city up to £1bn of desperately needed money. McConnell won’t forget. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23824810.html
In 2004 Frank’s fortunes started to look less rosy due to a number of adverse events which exposed his lack of effective political judgement.
6 Mar 2004: Scottish Opera lovers express concern over future direction in letter to culture minister
The Friends of Scottish Opera has launched a campaign asking Frank McAveety, the culture minister, to preserve the future of “an essential part of the fabric of Scotland’s musical life”. The group sent a letter to Mr McAveety, demanding Scottish Opera remains able to produce major performances in the main Scottish theatres.
Several hundred people have already signed the letter, and 150 others have written directly to their MSPs. There are about 1,700 Friends of Scottish Opera, paying £28 to £70 to support opera in Scotland and receive early news of tours and concerts. The group’s manager, Anne Higgins, said she was driven by concern over a letter from Scottish Opera’s chief executive, Christopher Barron, to supporters last month. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-13041347.html
24 Apr 2004: five months of deliberations on a cultural strategy for Scotland, arts minister Frank McAveety announced yet more deliberations
Being Scotland’s arts minister can apparently feel “like a whale swimming in some vast ocean, hoping that someone, somewhere will get the message”. The real effects, says Frank McAveety, begin to emerge 10 to 15 years down the road.
As a youngish politician, McAveety has time on his side, yet he was in a rush on Thursday morning. The marine reference was not his, but that of playwright David Greig, read on the train through from his native Glasgow to his Edinburgh workplace and hastily added to the final version of his long-awaited and much-heralded statement on the arts, to set its course for a generation.
That amendment was why opposition MSPs got the statement only 10 minutes before it was made, which they gave by way of an excuse for lamely producing a series of desultory questions which failed to grasp the significance of the moment. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-10002057.html
14 Jun 2004: Scottish Opera’s Armstrong Describes Executive’s Behaviour as “Brutal and Shameful”
Sir Richard Armstrong, Artistic Director of Scottish Opera, speaking out for the first time about the emergency funding plan which will reduce the company to half of its current staff and will result in a “dark season” in 2005-06, described the Scottish Executive’s behaviour as “brutal and shameful,” and claimed that the executive had an “agenda to reduce the size of the company,” writes Phil Miller.
Miller writes that Armstrong claimed the Executive “had deliberately targeted the opera’s main scale work because it believed it was watched only by a select and elitist audience. I listened the other day to Radio Scotland and caught an interview with Frank McAveety,” Armstrong is quoted as saying. “My jaw dropped in disbelief when the question of the dark season came up and he said ‘Well, Scottish Ballet went dark for two years’. “The ballet went dark because the company was on its last legs . . . the opera is there, delivering what is considered to be the best work of its kind in the UK. Shut it down – why? These constant calls for ‘excellence’ (from the executive): it is there, standing right in front of them, and all they want to do is destroy it. I just don’t get it. It’s a desperate situation for Scotland, not just for Scottish Opera. Where are they going next – who are they going to target next?” (Opera News Scotland)
16 Jun 2004: Sheriff Ridicules Minister’s Fear
A sheriff ridiculed the Tourism Minister Frank McAveety as he cleared two anti-war protestors of terrorising him in the street. Mr McAveety said he had felt the “worst intimidation in his life” while canvassing on Glasgow’s south-side. Sheriff Graeme Warner said the Labour MSP “must live a very sheltered life”.
School teacher Nicola Fisher, 32, was found not guilty and John Harper, 33, not proven of causing a breach of the peace and harassing Mr McAveety. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the incident took place in the Govanhill area of the city last April. Sheriff Warner said the Labour MSP had “completely blown his credibility” by claiming intimidation. (BBC News Scotland)
18 Jun 2004: Frank McAveety’s uncharacteristic reticence
As a former member of the Scottish Opera Chorus in the Alexander Gibson, Arthur Oldham, Peter Hemmings era, I am deeply saddened at the proposals for the company’s future. If the Scottish Executive, the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Opera board implement the planned nine-month “shutdown” and make the full-time chorus redundant it will be a national disgrace.
Much has been written in The Herald and other newspapers throughout the United Kingdom (and further afield) – by and large condemning the proposals – but what concerns me is that, in spite of the anger which has been generated, the culture minister, Frank McAveety, has been uncharacteristically reticent. Surely we are due another sparkling performance on the BBC’s Newsnight programme at least? http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23570280.html
19 Jun 2004: McAveety has the dreaded ‘full support’ of first minister – McConnell backs arts minister amid Scottish Opera fiasco
Frank McAveety, the beleaguered arts minister, last night received what many football managers have long regarded as an effective death sentence – a vote of full confidence from his boss. The statement from Jack McConnell’s official spokes-woman – “The first minister has full confidence in his minister for culture” – was possibly not what he wanted to hear after a week in which Mr McAveety was condemned by a sheriff, and the Scottish Opera crisis came to a head with the sacking of the chorus. Some observers believe the cumulative damage is now too great to save Mr McAveety, the man who once led Glasgow City Council, but is almost as famous for his record collection and love of Celtic FC. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-23570388.html
24 Jun 2004: Out to lunch’ minister’s apology
Tourism Minister Frank McAveety has been forced to apologise unreservedly for misleading parliament after turning up late for question time. Mr McAveety told MSPs he was detained on ministerial business, but was actually having lunch in the canteen.
Presiding Officer George Reid accepted the minister’s apology over what has already been dubbed “porky pie-gate”. First Minister Jack McConnell told Mr McAveety that his behaviour fell below the standard expected of a minister. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: “The first minister and Mr McAveety have spoken.
“The first minister has accepted his apology for, and his explanation of, the events at question time today. The first minister has made it clear to the minister that he feels his behaviour today falls below the standards he expects of his ministers and must not happen again.” Mr McAveety, whose portfolio also includes culture and sport, was due to have answered the very first question of the hour-long question time session. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3837403.stm
29 Aug 2004: The political interview: Culture Minister Frank McAveety entertains
Frank McAveety thinks Scotland has a real story to tell about its culture. He gets passionate about involving people, especially children. And he isn’t eating humble pie about the Scottish Executive’s much-pilloried invention of “cultural entitlements’.
If rumour is right, though, Scotland’s minister for tourism, culture and sport may not be eating much pie at all in the new parliament canteen. He has had a troubled year: in early June he trespassed on the territory of the theoretically arms-length body, the Scottish Arts Council (SAC), to announce a £7m “rescue” package for Scottish Opera. Rescue actually meant redundancy – of the entire chorus. Only recently has the company announced that 20 chorus contracts will be temporarily extended, with 54 jobs to go from other fields. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-10004780.html
6 Sep 2004: McAveety charges jacket to taxpayers
Culture Minister Frank McAveety has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money after he bought a £280 jacket on expenses. The Glasgow MSP charged the public for the dress kilt jacket, using regulations that allow ministers to claim the cost of clothes for official duties. Mr McAveety wore the jacket at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
Tory finance spokesman Brian Monteith said: ‘I think it is outrageous. The trews I wear at official functions I have paid for myself and I don’t think ministers should expect the taxpayer to pay for theirs.’ The row is the latest of a series to hit Mr McAveety in recent months. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-121732974.html
Frank had been returned to his MSP post in the 2003 and 2007 and gave impression he was content with his lot taking on chairmanship of some committees. But true to form he could not avoid the attention of the media for long.
19 Jul 2009: Labour MSP Frank McAveety-People in Glass Houses!!!
Labour MSP Frank McAveety has attacked the SNP’s record on physical education in schools, calling on Ministers to ‘get serious on sport’. Former Sports Minister McAveety is a fine one to talk. Not only did he once miss a vote because he was busy eating pies, but his Labour five-a-side football team played so poorly in a recent Holyrood tournament that they were relegated to the consolation cup.
15 Jun 2010: Top Scots politician quits committee chair post after lecherous comments about ‘dark, dusky’ girl, 15, in public gallery are picked up on parliament microphones
The girl lusted over as ‘dark and dusky’ by a senior Labour politician is just 15 years old. Frank McAveety was caught on camera ogling a girl he spied in a public gallery of the Scottish parliament. He last night quit as convener of Holyrood’s petitions committee after lurid comments he made about the girl, who was on a work placement with another MSP, were inadvertently picked up on TV.
The married former Scottish culture minister was seen ogling the dark-haired girl in the viewing gallery while speaking to his committee clerk. He was then heard to say: ‘There’s a very attractive girl in the second row. Dark and dusky. ‘We’ll maybe put a wee word out for her. She’s very attractive, very nice, very slim. ‘The heat’s getting to me. She’s got that Filipino look – the kind you’d see in a Gauguin painting.’ The girl at the centre of the comments was on a work placement with the Green Party.
Yesterday the gaffe-prone MSP – who has two children – handed in his resignation as committee convener to Labour leader Iain Gray, apologising for any offence his actions may have caused. But opposition parties last night questioned why Mr McAveety had not been sacked when his comments were first revealed.
Nationalist backbencher Sandra White said the Glasgow Shettleston MSP’s departure called Mr Gray’s leadership into question. She said: ‘Frank McAveety’s comments were utterly inappropriate and he has done the right thing by resigning – it’s just a shame his party leader does not seem to know what that is.
‘Iain Gray should have taken action yesterday as soon as this matter came to light.’ As well as falling foul of Labour bosses, 47-year-old McAveety is likely to be in hot water with his wife Anita.
Mrs McAveety, a blonde and fair-skinned primary school teacher, was at home yesterday afternoon. Speaking from the door of the family’s modern semi-detached house in North Glasgow, the mother-of-two seemed upset. But, when asked about her husband’s comments, she said: ‘I have nothing to say.’
SNP petitions committee member John Wilson, MSP, said: ‘It was clearly an unguarded comment and he has been caught out. Every politician has to be on their guard when they are in front of a microphone or camera.’
Labour last night replaced Mr McAveety as convener of the petitions committee with Midlothian MSP Rhona Brankin. His other role as the party’s sports spokesman will be taken over by Glasgow Anniesland MSP Bill Butler.
Tendering his resignation yesterday, Glasgow Shettleston MSP Mr McAveety said: ‘I would not want the incident to detract in any way from the work of the committee.’ (The Daily Mail)
20 Jun 2010: George Square – Let’s Party
Oh look! There are big tents up in Glasgow’s George Square. Oh, goody! Something exciting must be happening. Maybe it’s a summer version of that sweet little skating thing that happens at Christmas. It’s great. We all look forward to that. So this is bound to be great too, since this is the start of our tourist season, and the council will doubtless be acutely aware it’s important that visitors think well of us, in our progressive, modern, world-class country. Let’s go closer and see what the city fathers and mothers have arranged for us. It’s a competition. Bottom-of-the-barrel “celebrities” will stare at a succession of young women in tight swimwear and decide which one has the biggest breasts, the longest legs, the whitest teeth and the shiniest hair. We’re back in the Dark Ages … the proof is Frank McAveety. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-25221532.html
25 Aug 2010: Frank McAveety under fire for hiring ‘coffin dodger’ remark candidate
The disgraced Labour MSP has come under fire after it emerged that he had hired a former Labour election candidate who had been sacked after making derogatory remarks about old people and ethnic minorities.
An SNP MSP has reacted angrily to the news that Stuart McLennan had been employed by Frank McAveety to work in the Labour MSP’s constituency office in Glasgow. MacLennan was sacked as Labour’s candidate for Moray during the general election campaign when it emerged that he had labelled old people “coffin dodgers”. He also made offensive references to ethnic minorities and alluded to sectarian football songs.
Mr MacLennan is not the first person suspended by the Labour party to have been controversially re-employed. In July, developers Allan Stewart and Stephen McKenna, both Labour party donors, announced they had given disgraced former Labour boss Steven Purcell a post with their charitable foundation.
The businessmen are behind several housing projects in and around Glasgow. In 2007, shortly after the Labour controlled Glasgow council agreed to pay them £1.7 million for a plot of land, one of their firms gave £5000 to Scottish Labour. In 2006 Mr Stewart gave £4100 to his local Labour party in East Kilbride. (Newsnet Scotland)
6. Frank lost his seat at Holyrood in the 2011 SNP landslide victory. Cast out to the ranks of the unemployed he beavered away in Glasgow local politics with the purpose of rehabilitating his career within local government, where he had enjoyed great success before hanging on the coat-tails of the Labour Party.
But first there were issues from his time in Holyrood that had surfaced and needed to be resolved. The “McAveety Bus” issue rumbled on for months, (he bought the bus using his parliamentary allowance allegedly for use within his constituency. There were also alleged abuses of the expenses allowances levelled against him by a previous colleague. All a bit messy.
16 Jun 2011: Labour Naive, says McAveety
The Scottish Labour Party failed to win the 2011 Holyrood election because it was naive, failed to give people a reason to support it and did not distinguish between ruling parties in Scotland and Westminster. The claim is made in an article in The Herald today by former Glasgow Shettleston MSP Frank McAveety who lost the party’s third- safest seat in Scotland.
As Labour starts a review into its collapse, Mr McAveety said those leading the review – Eastwood MP Jim Murphy and Sarah Boyack, who lost her Edinburgh Central seat and is only back at Holyrood because of the list system – said the party “failed to give people a reason to vote Labour and more worryingly we failed to understand that it is about who runs the Scottish Parliament, not who is in power at Westminster”. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-28922387.html
7 Sep 2011: Labour councillor cull continues as more big names face the axe
The Herald reports that so far 17 of Labour’s 47 councillors in Glasgow have been deselected for the elections next year. Not quite clear if there will be more to deselections to emerge but given that there will also some standing down voluntarily it is clear that most of the current Labour Group will not be Labour candidates next time.
Certainly councillors, of any party, should not take being reselected for granted. But it is by no means clear that the deselections in Glasgow have been carried out for the right reasons. Apparently someone from London called Ken Clark has been carrying out the interviews and has been “brutal.”
The report adds: It is understood candidates are quizzed on their political guile, local activities and asked to describe “the Nolan Principles”, which govern standards in public life. It comes as Labour faces the biggest challenge to its grip on the council in over 30 years on the back of the SNP’s buoyant performance in May’s national election.
But names are also emerging of potential replacements, including former MSPs Frank McAveety and Bill Butler, ex-councillor Chris Kelly, James Adams, an RNIB campaigns manager who works with Anas Sarwar, Soryia Siddique, a lecturer at Cardonald College, and Aileen McKenzie, another ally of the Sarwar dynasty.
A Labour spokesman said: “We have had huge interest from party members in Glasgow, with over 100 applying to stand for the council for Labour, so competition is tougher than in previous years. “Labour will be fielding Glasgow’s finest in May but we are taking nothing for granted.”
Political guile is all very well but there is a case for having a mix of strengths in a group of councillors. There might well be those with experience in residents associations or through their jobs (businessmen, teachers would be examples) which might well be practical beneficial to them as being effective councillors. But they might be less strong on making speeches or writing press releases. Should they be ditched? Not if there are others who can cope with the political cut and thrust.
Also if you are deselecting someone it should be done diplomatically and sensitively. Labour are the nasty party in trying to make it as unpleasant as possible. This ritual humiliation of asking councillors what the Nolan principles are is pointless. (Incidentally for any Labour councillors reading this who are yet to have their selection interview the principles are Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership.)
Talking of selflessness the councillor allowances in Glasgow and the other Scottish councils (imposed by Holyrood) are quite excessive. The basic allowance in Glasgow is £16,234. Furthermore 59 of the 79 councillors are paid an extra allowance of one kind or another. At the moment Labour have 49 councillors. In this context for them to have “over 100” people offering to be Labour candidates does not strike me as particularly impressive. (conservativehome)
17 Sep 2011: Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do to You
As a former English teacher, Frank McAveety should have been aware of this quotation from John Dryden “Be nice to people on your way up because you might meet ’em on your way down.” When McAveety first cut the hours of one of his constituency staff and then sacked him because “he was not fulfilling the duties expected of him”, he might have felt that Cllr Andy Muir was dispensable.
In fact he did, because McAveety was then allegedly part of the Labour cabal that decided that Andy Muir was also useless as a councillor and had him deselected (leaving an opening for the same downward travelling Frank McAveety to stand for Glasgow Council next May).
Employers are not always transparent in their reasons for dismissal of their employees, and there is an alternative reason for cutting McAveety’s staff. The MSP Expenses Scheme gives an allowance for Members’ Support Allowances split into two categories – Office Cost Provision and Staff Cost Provision.
Most MSPs reasonably transfer money from office cost to staff. It has always been unusual to transfer money the other way round. However McAveety was one of the rare examples of an MSP cutting his staffing costs, to fund his office costs – including his mobile surgery (the infamous “McAveety’s bus”).
Mr Muir may either have been disgruntled, or found a core of moral fibre not previously apparent. Whichever, Muir has just gone off to Strathclyde Police to allege that information in his possession, relating to Mr McAveety’s allowance claims as an MSP, suggests that the claims may have not been as pure as snow.
At least Muir was fulfilling an election pledge. Back in 2008 his campaign literature said “Andy Muir will work hard to direct our share of extra police where local people feel they are needed”. Strathclyde Police are probably very well aware that disgruntled employees will be bearing grudges, but can also give very useful information on activities that need investigation.
Since Muir is a member of the Strathclyde Police Authority, and sits on the Complaints and Professional Standards Committee, his complaint could hardly be summarily dismissed.
Newsnet Scotland has an interest in this story too, because on 8 March this year, they published an article on “McAveety’s bus”. Unlike Mr Muir, they never alleged that McAveety did anything illegal but noted that his response to their suggestion that his use of public monies had been inappropriate was to say that “the costs have been approved by the Parliamentary authorities and are within the overall cost envelope for office costs.”
The implication, of course, in that statement is claims have been subjected to forensic enquiry before approval. This is wholly misleading. The job of the staff at the SPCB is to ensure that there is an appropriate invoice for the claim and that it fits in with the appropriate head of expenditure, and that there is sufficient balance left to meet the claim.
The total responsibility is on the MSP to certify that the claim is appropriate in terms of “value for money “ and “efficiency and effectiveness” in line with para 1.1.2 of the Members’ Expenses Scheme.
Although Mr McAveety suggested that there were “significant inaccuracies” in their report, he failed to respond to their request that he specify these so that they could be corrected prior to publication. Should the polis come knocking on his door, he will be required to give answers to them. (Newsnet Scotland)
19 Sep 2011: Cash probe for former minister McAveety
Former Labour MSP Frank McAveety is facing a police probe into overtime and bonus payments claimed on his Holyrood expenses. The ex-culture minister is facing allegations of ‘financial irregularities’ at his former constituency office in Glasgow.
Andy Muir, a former parliamentary assistant to Mr McAveety and a Glasgow councillor, has given a statement to police about events during his employment in the office between 2008 and 2010.
It is understood the allegations centre on payments running into several thousands of pounds paid to Mr Muir, who was sacked last year. Reports yesterday suggested the police probe was looking into the trail the money took after it was paid into Mr Muir’s bank account.
18 September 2011: Pressure grows over McAveety cash probe
Labour was under pressure last night to suspend former Culture Minister Frank McAveety as police launched an investigation into bonus and overtime payments claimed through his parliamentary allowances. Strathclyde Police confirmed on Friday it was investigating a complaint about alleged financial irregularities at McAveety’s former constituency office in Glasgow Shettleston. Andy Muir, a serving Glasgow Labour councillor, volunteered a statement to CID officers this week about events during his employment in the office between 2008 and 2010. ( The Herald Scotland)
24 September 2011: McAveety is held off Labour list amid probe
Ex Minister and MSP Frank McAveety has been kept off Labour’s approved list of candidates for next year’s municipal election amid a police probe into financial irregularities. Labour’s Glasgow branch has ruled Mr McAveety will have to be re- interviewed following the news last week that a city councillor and former aide of the ex-MSP for Shettleston had contacted police about the use of public money at his constituency office. Mr McAveety said he was “happy” to be re-interviewed, a move which he described as “procedural”. However, Labour sources said the re-interview plans “did not look good” for the former culture and sport minister. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-29712270.html
15 January 2012: The poverty campaigner who walked away with £500k of poor kids’ cash
The head of a charity set up to tackle poverty in one of the poorest parts of Scotland has been given a golden goodbye worth £500,000 by Labour councillors.
Ronnie Saez landed a package worth around six times his salary after being made redundant from his post as chief executive of Glasgow East Regeneration Agency (GERA). His exit deal comprised a “severance payment” of £42,000 and a £470,000 boost to his pension, which included a discretionary £208,000. According to an internal report leaked to the Sunday Herald, the pension top-up was paid using reserves earmarked for the redevelopment of a school in Dalmarnock, a deprivation black-spot.
Three of the five GERA directors who approved the Saez deal were Labour councillors in Glasgow. The GERA chair was James Coleman, a former deputy council leader; the vice-chair was Councillor Catherine McMaster; and the third councillor was George Redmond, who signed off the accounts last month. Since leaving GERA, Saez has set himself up as a consultant, briefly going into business with Frank McAveety, the former Labour MSP.
15 May 2012: From Holyrood to George Square – the return of Frank McAveety
Returning to Glasgow City Council – the place where it all began 24 years ago for the former English teacher – he’s just been through a week of induction and is setting up home in his new office. Twelve months after the shock loss of his Scottish parliamentary seat in the east end of Glasgow, Frank McAveety is once again representing the people of Shettleston. Some might say he is a glutton for punishment. He last entered the city chambers as a councillor 13 years ago, and there have been many changes in the administration of local government since then.
For the last year, McAveety has worked as a consultant helping to get young people into jobs and then for sports outfit Sidekix as an education coordinator. He says the experiences more than prepared him for the slog of the Labour doorstep campaign – where candidates were ordered by party chiefs to chap hundreds of doors and meet constituents every week. Despite numerous boundary changes, McAveety represented the east end of the city for 23 years, first as a councillor, then as an MSP. As an MSP, he was a government minister on three occasions, so surely it might seem like a bit of a step down to return to local politics after the prestige of ministerial positions? “With local government and Scottish Parliament you’ve got two very different roles,” he says.
I don’t think one is any more important than the other. I think the role of being an effective local councillor and delivering services that are effective and make a difference to the citizens of Glasgow is a noble role. I’ve got a lot of commitment. I was brought up to believe you should put something back. The local Labour party wanted a strong group of candidates to stand. On assessment they certainly believe I still have a lot to offer.” http://news.stv.tv/west-central/99809-from-holyrood-to-george-squarefrank-mcaveety-returns-to-politics/
4 Jul 2012: Glasgow East End Derelict Primary School Arson Attack leads to asbestos Scare
Councillor Frank McAveety met with members of the Shettleston community on Tuesday to discuss the recent asbestos scare in the area. The public meeting saw discussion around the possibility of asbestos exposure after a derelict school building was set alight in May, scattering asbestos fibres into the air. St Mark’s Primary School on Muiryfauld Drive, Shettleston was closed in late 2010 and lay derelict until it was torched by vandals in May this year. Now the community may be at risk after Glasgow City Council confirmed that asbestos fibres had been identified in the gutters of houses in the surrounding area. Asbestos exposure has been linked to the development of diseases like malignant mesothelioma, a rare and untreatable form of lung cancer. The community meeting prompted worried residents to vent their frustration about potential asbestos exposure and the perceived lack of care shown by the local authority.
“This was a disaster waiting to happen” said one of the first residents to arrive at the St. Mark’s Church Hall for the community discussion. “The school was sitting there, empty, for ages and we knew it would be targeted by bored kids in the neighbourhood. What we didn’t know was that it was full of asbestos” the worried resident continued. “It was a sunny day and most people in the area were outside when the fire broke out. No-one told us about toxic dust or anything, and we all carried on regardless.” “I’m furious that me and my kids have been put in danger.”
Frank McAveety, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting, said “It was great to have everyone under one roof at a time when concerns are running high. The worrying accounts of local residents who didn’t receive accurate information on the incident demonstrate a real need for the Council to be more proactive in reassuring the public. There are other buildings in the East End that are equally vulnerable. Lessons must be learned from this. Now is the time for action, and I’m working with the people of Shettleston to get answers to key questions that arose last week. (BBC Scotland News)
St Marks School on Fire
20 Aug 2012: Councillor Frank McAveety has been given the job of making cycling the most popular activity in the city.
The former sports minister said he was determined to see biking overtake walking, football, swimming and dancing as the city’s favourite sport. Following the Olympic success of Sir Chris Hoy and the prospect of top-level track cycling at the eponymous velodrome and mountain biking course at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the campaign hopes to encourage all forms of cycling.
As reported in the Evening Times, Bradley Wiggins’ recent victory in the Tour De France resulted in a rise of interest in the sport. Mr McAveety said: “We are looking for ways we can drive forward radical changes for cycling in the city. (The Evening Times)
31 Mar 2013: Thousands March From Glasgow Green to City Chambers – To say ‘Axe the bedroom tax.’
Labour MP Ann McKechin, MSP Frank McAveety and Glasgow City Councillor George Redmond were among the group who marched. Arriving in George Square, Westminster MP Ann McKechin said ‘I’m not surprised at this turnout. People are shocked by the scale of this unfair and unjust tax. The Westminster government doesn’t understand the full impact it will have.’
But Labour politicians were castigated by different speakers. Said one: ‘They might have marched near the front but it is inconsistent with what they are doing to the families they are victimising in the learning disability community in Glasgow. Glasgow City Council has these families on its hit list by closing three of the seven day centres they use.’
Campaigners against the closure of Glasgow’s day centres were out in force. Another speaker put it more bluntly: ‘Glasgow City Council should be ashamed of themselves. They have influence and power. They should tell all Housing Associations in Glasgow and Glasgow Housing Association that there must be NO EVICTIONS in the city. We need to know who’s side they are on.’
The same speaker highlighted the £100 billion cost of the Trident refit and warheads for Faslane nuclear base. She urged people to support a March on Easter Monday from Glasgow to Faslane which they intended to shut down for the day. ‘All these things are connected. They say there is no money, so attack the poor. But they can spend billions on weapons which can wipe out half of humanity. If we stand together we have the power, strength and determination to stop evictions and end this bedroom tax policy.’ http://www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk/tag/msp-frank-mcaveety/
Frank is reportedly readying himself for the post of leader of Glasgow District Council, if Gordon Matheson is elected to the post of Deputy leader of the Labour party in Scotland. Lazarus rising indeed!!!!!!
28 Jun 2015: Pressure builds on Matheson as coup plotters push on
Gordon Matheson is under growing pressure to quit as Glasgow City Council leader after it emerged his Labour colleagues had drafted a letter designed to topple him within weeks ( The Herald Scotland)
5 Jul 2015: Labour rebels dig in after disciplinary threat over Matheson
Rebel Labour councillors in Glasgow last night said they would defy a “heavy-handed” attempt to stop them discussing the future of city leader Gordon Matheson. Around half the ruling Labour group have so far signed a motion demanding an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on August 10 in order to oust Matheson. ( The Herald Scotland)
10 Sep 2015: Glasgow Labour elect a not so new council leader to take the administration towards the 2017 Scottish local elections.
Frank McAveety, a former Scottish Government minister who led the council from 1997-99, won the support of his councillor colleagues by 24 votes to 19 over competitor Malcolm Cunning. McAveety’s election marks a transfer of power after Gordon Matheson left the role following his failure to be selected at deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, McAveety said: “I’m delighted for the opportunity to lead my home city for the second occasion. Ultimately, yesterday [his election meeting] was a conversation about how we want to move the city even further forward. “Obviously Labour face a major challenge in Scotland and we need to rebuild. One of the ways to rebuild is by good and effective local government.”
McAveety also gave his explanation for why a majority of Glaswegians had backed Scottish independence: “In the later few weeks of the referendum campaign there was a desire for a fairer Scotland and a fairer Glasgow, and also a sense of protecting public institutions like the health service. “Those are core Labour values…it’s not a surprise that there were people persuaded by the Yes Campaign that [independence] was the best way to do that.”
McAveety lost his seat in the Scottish parliament at the 2011 election, but was then returned as a Glasgow councillor the following year. He has been involved with culture and local government policy over the past 20 years, including serving on the board of The Arches (which is now being shut down).
McAveety previously resigned from the Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee after inappropriate comments about a 15-year-old audience member.
He was also forced to apologise for “misleading parliament” after failing to show for ministerial questions due to eating a plate of mince pie and beans. The incident was termed ‘Piegate’. In the same year McAveety took anti-war protestors to court for alleged harassment, but had his claims dismissed by sheriff Graeme Warner. Warned said McAveety “over-egged the pudding” in his evidence. An SNP activist in Glasgow said McAveety had too much “baggage” to stop an SNP victory. https://commonspace.scot/articles/2389/frank-mcaveety-faces-snp-challenge-as-new-leader-of-glasgow-city-council
24 Sep 2015: Glasgow is not a nationalist city says Frank McAveety
In his first in-depth interview since taking the biggest job in Scottish local government, Frank McAveety said he had inherited a pro-independence city because voters wanted a different style of politics. Describing himself as a “believer in making big shifts”, he questioned whether First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had delivered for constituents in Glasgow, accusing her of a “selfie” approach to politics.
Questioning the impact the SNP has had in its eight years in power, the Glasgow City Council leader accused it of taking “a showbiz variety of what it is to be a Government”, adding that it created an illusion of change but shied away from major decisions.
The former Scottish Executive minister and MSP took the reigns at Glasgow a fortnight ago following the decision by predecessor Gordon Matheson to stand down after his failed bid to become Scottish Labour’s deputy boss.
Since then he has been taking stock of the scale of his challenge in both running the country’s largest city in the context of dwindling financial resources and being the figurehead for Labour at a time when it looks like losing control of Glasgow for the first time in four decades.
Speaking ahead of his first council official business as leader, Mr McAveety said he had “clear ambitions” which would materialise in the coming months over what the council under his leadership would do. He said local government had caught itself in a “Gordian knot” with the Scottish Government over finances and was seeking a meeting with Ms Sturgeon to discuss areas of mutual interest.
He said, “I’m a product of a city that gave opportunity because of the values of the Labour Party. And I don’t believe its a city defined by nationalism. The Yes vote that was narrowly returned was because people wanted politics to be different and they also wanted people committed to “how do we build fairness and opportunity”.
Glasgow’s SNP group leader Susan Aitken said: “Frank McAveety’s astonishing arrogance is all-too-typical from Labour in Scotland. Mr McAveety may be content to stick his fingers in his ears and attempt to ignore reality but he simply won’t be able to avoid his own party’s legacy of failure in our city, compared to the SNP’s record of delivery in government.” ( The Herald Scotland)
Anne Marie O’Donnell
13 Dec 2015: Glasgow Council leader Frank McAveety declines to offer full support for chief executive Anne Marie O’Donnell
Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety has refused to give full backing to the local authority’s first female chief executive. McAveety’s allies criticised Anne Marie O’Donnell at a private Labour meeting last week over a perceived lack of detail on budget cuts.
Asked if he had “full confidence” in her, the leader told the Sunday Herald: “Given the scale of the unprecedented budget cuts we are facing, everyone in the council leadership – councillors and senior officials – is working together to meet these challenges and protect vital services in Glasgow.”
Glasgow City Council, which has had to make huge spending cuts in recent years, is expecting further bad news this week when Finance Secretary John Swinney announces his budget. Local authority leaders are privately expecting a five per cent cut that will severely impact on front-line services. McAveety, who is enjoying his second stint as leader after succeeding Gordon Matheson, is said to be worried about the political impact of the cuts in the run-up to the next council elections.
A council insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, said three of McAveety’s allies criticised the chief executive at a recent Labour group meeting. The frustration was borne out of a belief that O’Donnell had not come with good enough ideas on how to redesign services and make up the looming budget shortfall.
It is understood her presentations to Labour councillors have not gone down well. Another council source said O’Donnell was appointed when Matheson was leader and was perceived to be closer to him than McAveety. O’Donnell secured the post last year after the retirement of long-standing chief executive George Black.
She was the council’s executive director of corporate services from 2011, with responsibility for legal services, elections, human resources, procurement, city resilience, customer and business support, and corporate governance.
A solicitor, she joined Glasgow District Council in 1991 and, following local government reorganisation, was promoted to chief solicitor in 1996. She has also been assistant head of legal and administrative services and had a two-year secondment as depute director of social work services.
O’Donnell said last year after being unveiled as chief executive: “I am delighted and humbled to have been appointed. This is a really exciting time for Glasgow. “There is no doubt the next few years will be challenging for everyone in local government, but I believe we have the energy, the ideas and, crucially, the best people to meet those challenges.”
Susan Aitken, the SNP group leader on the council, said: “It’s a sure sign that an administration has run out of ideas when they start attacking council staff. Glasgow Labour are in a mess – riddled with in-fighting and patently lacking in strategy, vision or effective leadership. “Frank McAveety should take responsibility, do the job he’s paid to do, sort out the disaster area that is his own group, and stop trying to dump the blame for his mess on council officers.”