Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Calman welcome but still a lot of work to do to improve devolution!

The Calman Commission report makes many recommendations that will ensure devolution works better for the people of Scotland.

For example, it was terrific to see the Commission take forward David Cameron's suggestion that Ministers from Westminster should appear before the Scottish Parliament and, in particular, that the Scottish Secretary should appear before a Scottish Parliament committee immediately after the Queen's Speech in order to explain the impact Westminster's legislative programme will have on Scotland.

It is also good to see the Conservative Party committing itself to taking a long hard look at implementation of the Calman Commission's recommendations, including those relating to tax raising powers, through involvement on a cross party steering group.

Moves to make the Scottish Parliament accountable for the money it spends, by making it responsible for taxes that directly contribute to at least a proportion of its budget, will go some way to addressing allegations of subsidy from England and will ensure MSPs are held to account for their decisions at the ballot box. Implementation of devolution of tax raising powers must, however, mean the Scottish Parliament is forced to take the element of fiscal responsibility devolved to it by compelling it to use such powers. After all it has had powers over taxation for the past 10 years and has failed to use its ability to vary income tax up or down 3%.

A large number of questions about how devolved tax powers can be implemented remain to be addressed and that is why it is right for the Conservative Party to be involved in a cross party steering group to see which of the Calman Commission's proposals can practically be adopted.

The Calman Commission has been a very worthwhile review of devolution after 10 years. I believe we should make devolution work for the people of Scotland in the way they clearly believed it would when they voted for it back in 1998.

If devolution is not to prove to have been a series of stepping stones on the way to an Independent Scotland the application of recommendations put forward by this Commission must be carefully thought through and some may have to be discounted to protect and maintain the United Kingdom as a social and economic union through which we benefit no matter where we live. I am proud to be British and want to see devolution work properly for future generations.

Monday, 8 June 2009


What a great feeling.

Conservatives won East Renfrewshire at the European elections count last night, with Labour trailing in a despondent third. Not that any elected member of the Labour Party was there to see it preferring instead to stay at home and enter into a state of collective denial about the electorates desertion of their party as a result of their dismal failure to stand up for local people.

People are clearly realising that the only way to get rid of this tired and failing Labour Government at Westminster is to vote for David Cameron and his resurgent Conservative team. East Renfrewshire is crucial to achieving that aim and for the voters of East Renfrewshire to come out in such numbers and give the Conservatives their approval is a huge boost to the party.

Clearly the Conservative Party is the only party that can mount a realistic challenge to Labour. A vote for any other party may well allow Labour to win the seat by the back door. The SNP did well to come second and to deny Labour any comfort from the result of this election. Indeed, to find the last time Labour finished third in East Renfrewshire you have to go back to SDP days and 1987.

David Cameron has promised change at Westminster and is providing the leadership that Gordon Brown is so clearly unable to do. We need a General Election as soon as possible so that voters can have their say. We need a strong Government, not a divided one, to lead the country out of Labour’s recession.

Thank you for your support. My campaign team and I will continue to work hard to earn your trust and to ensure that East Renfrewshire becomes a Conservative seat again.

European Election Result for East Renfrewshire:
Conservative - 6872 (28.5%)
SNP - 5475 (22.70%)
Labour - 5000 (20.73%)
Lib Dem - 2136 (8.86%)
Green - 1565 (6.49%)
UKIP - 1201 (4.98%)
BNP - 441 (1.83%)
Christian - 404 (1.68%)
Socialist Labour - 301 (1.25%)
Duncan Robertson - 243 (1.01%)
Jury Team - 140 (0.58%)
No 2 EU - 131 (0.54%)
Scottish Socialist - 121 (0.50%)

Friday, 5 June 2009

Britian Deserves Better - Let The People Decide

We are just 24 hours on from European and County Council elections that have reduced the Labour Party to an electoral laughing stock and what is the Prime Ministers response? A Cabinet reshuffle, of the very people who have already failed to provide leadership, followed by holding a press conference in which he told members of the press his late father had taught him never to tell lies before denying he had wanted to sack his Chancellor when everyone knows he did.

Leadership is about many things and one of them is knowing when to give in. With five members of his Cabinet having resigned and Caroline Flint having launched a furious tirade against the Prime Minister in her resignation letter, (accusing him of operating a "two-tier Government" and of using women ministers as "female window dressing"), in standing down as Europe Minister it is plain for all to see that the Labour Party in complete and utter disarray at the very time when the country needs unified leadership.

And it is not only his own Party and members of opposition parties who believe the Labour Party is no longer in control. The people who voted in yesterday's elections passed a damning verdict on Labour having relieved them of control of every single County Council in England for the first time ever and pushing them into third place in terms of their share of the popular vote. On Sunday night a more complete picture of attitudes across the United Kingdom will become apparent following European election results. If predictions are to be believed it may well be that the governing party of the UK fall into third, or potentially even fourth, place - a position which does not afford legitimacy.

So, in light of recent event, because his Party is split at a time when our country needs united leadership most and to restore the public's faith in British democracy it is time for a General Election so that the British people can elect the people they feel are best placed to see us through the deepest recession in living memory. That's why I am backing David Cameron's "Sign For Change" campaign - demanding a General Election so that the public can pass judgement on every politician.

A lot of hard work make European Elections worthwhile!

Polls have closed and we must now all wait to see how the electorate in East Renfrewshire voted in the European Elections.

An early start for the whole Conservative team, under slightly gray skies, was followed by a lot of hard work manning polling stations, knocking Text Colourout pledge voters and providing lifts to polls. Ultimately this all proved very worthwhile - with positive feedback from those we met and a great deal of encouragement from the statistics we gleaned from ballot box voting numbers.

And today provided so many people in East Renfrewshire with a golden opportunity to pass judgement on the attitude and failures of a Labour MP, MSP and Council administration who are completely out of touch with the mood and attitudes of their electorate. In Clarkston, Carolside parents were able to protest about Labour increasing class sizes. In Giffnock, Woodfarm and Thornliebank residents vented their fury at a Labour Party prepared to continue to propose selling off parks for residential house building in the Local Plan. In Eaglesham & Waterfoot we found continued opposition amongst voters to the Council proposed Eaglesham Hub. While in Netherlee there was a massive increase in voting between 6pm and 10pm, during which time in some cases the number of votes cast doubled, as local people were motivated to get out and vote.

From our own figures it is clear that, excluding postal votes, Netherlee won the prize for the area with the largest turnout while Neilston surprised us with the lowest turnout after a very promising start.

Whatever Sunday evenings result holds in store the one thing that won today was the democratic process of the UK. I have a number of concerns about the way the election was conducted today but in the end it is not about those of us in political parties it is about the people we entrust to use their vote wisely. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote and let's hope that the six MEP's we return from Scotland do us proud no matter which political party they represent!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Goldie Direct a hit in East Renfrewshire

Annabel Goldie MSP held a public meeting last night, at Giffnock Primary School, under the banner "Goldie Direct".

And "direct" she was!

No matter the question asked by members of the audience they got a straight and honest answer, sometimes even answers it was clear they were not going to be happy with. In doing so Annabel demonstrated to members of the public the sort of politics and politician our country needs at a time when our entire political establishment is in a state of complete and utter disarray.

Questions included how to restore faith in politics, what voting system ensures politicians are accountable to their electorate and on a more local theme are East Renfrewshire Council right to be increasing primary school class sizes. There was also questions on reform of the Children's Panel system and how would Conservatives get more police onto local streets to counteract increasing levels of youth disorder.

On every question Annabel was able to give clear and concise policy direction to everyone present and from the feedback received after the meeting finished it is clear people were convinced Annabel and the Conservative Party offer something new and refreshing to politics.

Bringing politics back to the grass routes through public meetings is undoubtedly a good way to engage with people otherwise dissolutioned with politics and something that must be encouraged to ensure our democracy prospers.