Tag Archives: snp

Tony Greaves writes … Haggling over more than the haggis?

 

Let’s assume, as I did in previous pieces here and here, that no party will win a majority on May 7th, and that all the post-election pressure will be for a minority government with an arrangement with one or more other parties that falls short of coalition. On current polls the Liberal Democrats will not get enough seats for it to be practicable for us to enter coalition, and the third largest party will be the SNP who have made it clear they will not enter any coalition but will seek a looser agreement with Labour.

None of this may happen but the probability seems high enough to discuss how it might work. I am also assuming that, for reasons I’ve also set out previously here, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act will make it very difficult for anyone to force an early second election. In spite of this (or perhaps with some level of ignorance) both Labour and Conservative MPs seem to favour minority government. All this could mean that a minority government may not only be the short term outcome, but could last for some time – perhaps a full five years.

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The Herald: “All power to the Lib Dems for standing up for our liberties”

Willie Rennie - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsHerald columnist Ian Macwhirter is not known for writing nice things about Liberal Democrats. In fact, I think it actually causes him pain to do so. It is always welcome when someone who is not your biggest fan says nice things about you. He was very complimentary about Willie Rennie the other day. As someone pointed out on my Facebook when I posted this originally, “All Power to…. is not the most civil-liberties friendly headline, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.

As James Baker wrote a few weeks ago, the Scottish Government were trying to sneak in plans for what is effectively a massive ID database capable of even more surveillance than that set up by Labour. Once Willie got to hear about it, he set about questioning it and used a rare Liberal Democrat opposition day debate in Parliament to highlight the issue. He called for the creation of such a database to be the subject of primary legislation. He was never going to win, because, you know, SNP overall majority and all that – and they don’t take kindly to rebellion or even criticism from their parliamentarians – but he inflicted a bloody nose on the Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Macwhirter wrote:

I think now we have an answer to what the LibDems are for: they’re the only major party, Greens aside, that really takes issues of civil liberties seriously, as we saw yesterday with their debate on the Scottish Government’s plans effectively to create a national identity database.Leader Willie Rennie’s motion to stop the measure being rushed through without proper parliamentary scrutiny succeeded by 65 votes to 60 in the Scottish Parliament after an intelligent and thoughtful debate; a rare occasion on which Deputy First Minister John Swinney was sent back to think again

We need parties that keep a vigilant eye on government. Labour has never quite got this privacy thing having been, for most of its existence, a party very much of and for the big state. The Tories are supposed to be the party of the individual but their law’n’order populism, hostility to immigration and preoccupation with state security have made them suckers for any agency – police, spooks, tax authorities and so on – that wants to snoop into our affairs.

The Tories seem to recognise threats to civil liberties when in opposition. Their spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP is opposing the latest plans from the Scottish Government as “identity cards by the back door”.

The SNP are similarly schizophrenic. They opposed the introduction of a national identity database in 2005 when it was proposed by Tony Blair’s Labour government. But once the Nationalists got into government they started succumbing to the same pressures to tighten up all round and, of course, to praise our wonderful police, as Nicola Sturgeon did last week.

That would be the same wonderful police, by the way, whose senior management are, for the second time, being hauled back before a parliamentary committee for failing to deliver what they said they would. On both stop and search and armed police they have not kept their word and their chief constable has not shown an acceptable attitude towards scrutiny.

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What’s the scariest outcome of the General Election?

While the national polls aren’t looking great for the Liberal Democrats, to say the least, in key seats there’s more of an air of, if not confidence, at least hope. Campaign teams are busily getting on with what needs to be done for them to win their seats, buoyed by increasing membership and a never-ending list of jobs to do. Ben Lazarus, who write the Telegraph’s Morning Briefing tried to fathom the other day what he called the “Lib Dems’ curious optimism”:

For a party that, since 2010 has now lost three quarters of their support, the Liberal Democrats seem remarkably calm. There are reasons for this. They know that a hung parliament could give them real power again after May . And, according to YouGov’s Peter Kellner,  despite the abysmal polling, there are two factors that may help them save more of their seats than those headline figures suggest. First, the party usually gains support nationally during election campaigns. The party benefits from TV exposure – although they no longer have the advantage of being a protest party unaffected by the rigours of government, it is likely their exposure by the main broadcasters will still be an aid. Second, Liberal Democrat MPs often have a strong personal following. Where Lib Dems are seeking re-election, their chances are often better than the national polls suggest; the party is deliberately playing to this strength, fighting lots of local campaigns instead of a national one.

With all the talk about Ukip and the Greens, the Lib Dems are sometimes forgotten.  But don’t rule them out.  They may prove more resilient than many expect, and thus play a pivotal role in the messy events that follow the election.

And it’s about what goes on following the election that I want to think about. I wrote last week that we need to keep our options open and not throw any babies out before the bath has even been run. While I understand the logic that letting the SNP be in charge of the UK would be a bit like letting Farage take charge in Europe, we don’t know what orders the people are going to give us, what hand we are going to be dealt. And, frankly, we will have to find the best future for liberal democrat ideas within that. It might be in government, it might not be.

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Ashcroft polls predict SNP gains – including Bob Smith and Charles Kennedy’s seats – but don’t panic yet

If tonight’s Ashcroft polls are worrying for Liberal Democrats, they will be petrifying for the Labour Party – and not just in Scotland where their new leader Jim Murphy’s seat is on a knife edge. Of the eight Scottish seats polled, six are predicted at this stage to go to the SNP. These include the seats of Liberal Democrats Bob Smith and Charles Kennedy. The loss of these  north east and highland heartlands would be a massive blow to the party.  You can see the figures in this table:

Ashcroft polls 4 March 2015

The race in Charles’ seat is pretty close, with just 5 points between Charles and the SNP with 22% of a squeezable Labour and Tory vote. It is very clear that this is a two horse race. Labour and Tory voters will have to think about who they want in Parliament to represent them. Do they want the independent minded, popular Charles or an SNP MP who will have to sign up to do exactly what his political masters tell them without criticism.

The situation in West Aberdeenshire is, in this poll, more complex with support apparently split between Liberal Democrat and Conservative. However that rather flies in the face of the Conservative retreat from this constituency. You would think that they would have some reason for making that decision. The Tories know that they can’t win. I suspect that Bob Smith will be making sure that everyone knows there is simply no point in voting Tory and he will pick up enough of their vote to hang on.

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We need to be careful about the SNP and coalitions

Labour appear to be saying they would entertain the idea of putting the SNP in charge of Britain in a government and that’s in my book just not going to happen. In the same way I’d never put UKIP in charge of Europe, I’d certainly never put the SNP in charge of a country that they would basically want to rip apart.

This is what Nick Clegg said about the SNP in today’s Call Clegg. It builds on an article written by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie on here last week. Willie said:

We’ll always be asked by the media about various scenarios and outcomes. But the reality is that all of us are campaigning hard for  Liberal Democrat votes. We want to win here.

And just as you would not put UKIP in charge of Europe, it’s right that we make clear you would not put the SNP in charge of Britain.

This doesn’t mean we won’t take a reasonable approach to politics as a party. We have formed coalitions with the SNP on councils and, in the Scottish Parliament, we have worked with them on their budget and on a range of other issues. So have other parties.

But just imagine for only one second what would happen if Alex Salmond became Deputy Prime Minister. The minute you turned your back he’d take the screwdriver out and try to break up the UK.

This is in no way comparing the SNP and UKIP as some have suggested on earlier discussions. There is no direct comparison. Aside from the constitutional issues, there are many policy issues on which we could find agreement with the SNP and we could work with them. We could also temper their lack of respect for civil liberties. I can’t think of anyone in UKIP I’d want to even give the time of day to and our policy divergence is huge.  While I totally get the analogy Nick and Willie are making  I would urge caution about explicitly ruling out dealing with the Nationalists. It would be counter-productive to do so.

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SNP branch encourages its members to take pictures of Labour canvassers and put them on social media

Something very rare happened to me on Sunday afternoon. So rare that it hasn’t happened at all in the almost 15 years I’ve lived in my house. That it happensd at all is indicative of a jitteriness in politics. Yes, a Labour canvasser turned up on my doorstep.

Clearly they are feeling that they have to try after years of just assuming that the votes will pile up in their favour. That is probably a good thing. Mind you, the one who came to us will have to do something about the look of sheer incredulity on his face when I told him I was voting Lib Dem.

He was such a rare sight, and his look was so funny, but it never occurred to me to take his photo and stick it on social media. Because that would be creepy, even if it were to be one of a handful of times I’d ever seen one on my doorstep. It would be quite intimidating as well. As a political activist, I guess I understand what it’s like for a fellow political activist. the massive chunk it takes out of your life. I may not agree with the opposition, but there’s a bit of empathy there.

The SNP in Edinburgh Western have no such qualms, though. According to the Daily Record, they asked their members to ask Labour canvassers 3 questions and take the photos of any who “lied”:

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Willie Rennie MSP writes…You wouldn’t put UKIP in charge of Europe, so you wouldn’t put the SNP in charge of the UK

If you ask me about coalitions and the SNP, I will keep it simple.

Just as you wouldn’t put UKIP in charge of Europe, you would not put the SNP in charge of Britain. It’s not going to happen. Anyway, the SNP leader at Westminster told an interviewer from the New Statesman last week that he wasn’t interested. So, it’s definitely not going to happen.

I know from long years in politics that parlour style discussions about hypotheticals and coalitions don’t translate onto the doorsteps.

We’re in the Liberal Democrats because we want to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, …

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Opinion: What might happen after May 7th

This article appeared earlier as a comment on our “Electoral fruit machine” post and is reproduced here with permission from the author.

(After May 7th) I believe the Lib Dems will have more than 20 seats and less than 40, with many polls and commentators going for somewhere around the 30 mark, at the moment. From all the qualitative data I’ve seen so far that seems a fair estimate in political science. Anything less than 20 would be a shock, as Lord Ashcroft’s polling indicates that this is not going to happen.

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Campaigners flock to Gordon to help Christine Jardine

Christine Jardine canvassing selfieI wasn’t surprised to see Alex Salmond ahead in the Ashcroft poll on Gordon. After all, he’s been everywhere at the moment. He has even, entirely coincidentally, of course, started a regular column in one of the local papers.

The thing is, Christine Jardine and her campaign team have always known that they faced a challenge. She doesn’t have the benefit of incumbency, apart from anything else. That’s why they have been working so hard in the year since she was selected to fight the seat. What the Ashcroft poll put beyond doubt was that she has firmly established herself as the clear challenger to Salmond and the SNP. If you are an undecided voter in Gordon who doesn’t want Salmond or the SNP to win, the poll makes it clear that you need to vote for Christine.

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Craig Murray rejected by SNP as parliamentary candidate for saying he would defy whip to vote against Bedroom Tax

Craig Murray has always been a free spirit. As an ambassador, he favoured human rights over the war on terror. He was always happy to criticise the Liberal Democrats when he was a member, as are many of us. He left us in 2011 and joined the SNP to campaign for Scottish independence and was a shoo-in for the seat of Falkirk which the SNP hope to win. Unfortunately, he came up against the SNP’s approval process and lost.

Here’s what he had to say on his own blog:

Upset and depressed after being barred from the SNP candidates’ register by the hierarchy for “lack of commitment to group discipline”.

I was asked at assessment whether, as part of a Westminster deal with another party, I would agree to vote for the bedroom tax if instructed by the Party. I replied “No.” End of SNP political career. Problem is, I really believed we were building a different kind of politics in Scotland. I also knew that a simple lie would get me in, but I couldn’t bring myself to utter it.

I had very, very strong support from ordinary members to be the candidate in Falkirk or in Airdrie, and had 17 requests to stand from other constituencies, several from branch meetings. I wonder what the SNP new membership will think of this?

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++BREAKING NEWS: Judy Murray’s Strictly success is due to a Scot Nats plot

I have a confession to make. I buy the Daily Express nearly everyday. There. I said it. Believe it or not, I get it to do a nine letter puzzle on page 43 in the presence of a nonagenarian relative who has done the same quiz each day for decades. Nonetheless, it gives me a forced insight into the right-wing press. So, here’s a summary of what they normally say:

DAILY EXPRESS

EAT A TOMATO AND TAKE AN ASPIRIN EVERYDAY AND YOU WILL LIVE TO BE A HUNDRED
(If your stomach survives the aspirin onslaught).

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Opinion: How to tell the SNP?

No yes scotland photo by kyoshi masamuneHow do we point out to SNP supporters that they should vote No next Thursday to save their party, without alarming No voters?

The survival of the SNP depends on a No vote.  The party exists to campaign, lobby and bully for independence achieved through a Yes vote in the referendum.  It has no other purpose.  If it wins the referendum, even by a single vote, it will have achieved its purpose and have no further reason to exist.

The SNP is not a liberation movement like the ANC or SWAPO, whose victory founded democracy in states where the previous oppression and authoritarianism meant there were no alternative democratic political parties and the liberation movements have continued while politics develops.

Scotland is a vibrant democracy.  Scottish Parliament elections change Scottish governments.  The Liberal Democrats – and Labour and the Conservatives and the Greens – have purposes related to improving people’s lives and pursue policies related to doing that in changing circumstances.

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Trouble in paradise…SNP MEP says leadership should admit they made a mistake over independent Scotland’s EU membership

DSC_0044So we’ve had the first real sign of jitters within the SNP ranks tonight. Up until now, they’ve been as tight as anything, united against everyone else as they pursue their lifelong goals. In fact, I suspect there might have been a few times Nick Clegg has looked at the loyalty of SNP members and elected members and maybe felt a wee pang of envy. Even when two SNP MSPs resigned the whip over the party’s abandoning of its anti NATO stance, it was all done more in sorrow than anger. …

photo by: theSNP
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Is the SNP’s latest European Election Broadcast even legal?

imageLast week, the SNP’s first broadcast for the European Elections was broadcast. It bore a remarkable similarity to the broadcasts that they have been putting out since the end of last year which were all aimed at persuading people to vote Yes in the independence referendum. It interspersed colourful footage of children talking about how wonderful and independent Scotland with black and white starkness portraying a vision of hellish Westminster rule.

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Opinion: The Scottish independence referendum – a lack of wisdom in the pro-UK camp?

September 14th "Welcome to Scotland"In September 2014, the Scottish public will vote on independence from the rest of the UK. As of mid-April 2014, the opinion polls suggest that the pro-UK camp is ahead, but over the past few weeks the pro-independence camp has been fast catching up. Why?

One reason seems to be the spat between the London-based UK administration and the Scottish National Party (SNP) over the role of Britain’s sterling currency. All three main UK national parties stepped in behind a sudden policy of non-cooperation with an independent Scotland …

photo by: amandabhslater
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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Let’s be grateful for the EU

Former Special Adviser and current Scottish Euro candidate Christine Jardine writes in the Scotsman about what Europe means to her and how she first became aware of what it meant as a child:

For me, joining what was then the EEC was the beginning of a very different, more positive and much less life-threatening relationship with the Continent than the previous generations of my family had experienced.

In 1973 Europe was all about new money, counting everything in tens and hundreds and new equipment to learn with at school.

Yard sticks were out and metre sticks were in. No more inches. It was

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Willie Rennie calls for international relations review after Humza’s howler

The Scottish Government has a Minister for External Affairs, whose job it is to represent the Scottish Government on the international stage. This role is currently undertaken by SNP rising star Humza Yousaf.

Humza has spent this week in Doha at the International Forum there. This is an event which discusses key international issues as they affect the Middle East. He has been caught on video telling this international audience of academics, political leaders and intergovernmental organisations that the UK Government wants to leave the European Union. Unfortunately for him, he was caught on video doing it. Have a look at …

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LibLink…Christine Jardine: Referendum drowns out more pressing issues

Former Downing Street insider Christine Jardine, now back in Scotland and selected as a Liberal Democrat Euro-candidate, highlights in the Scotsman how more urgent problems are being forgotten as Scotland gears up for the Independence Referendum.

While all the attention is on 18th September 2014, Christine reminds us that there is some serious stuff going on now:

Traditionally, conferences, like the SNP’s recent gathering in Inverness, are where policy announcements are made, government plans set out and ministers take the opportunity to highlight their successes in the full glare of the media spotlight. But not this time. This time I waited in

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Michael Moore MP: “We can’t have the Scottish Government fast forwarding through the difficult bits”

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore told an audience in Edinburgh today that the SNP must stop talking about the process, must stop trying to get the UK Government to negotiate the terms under which Scotland could separate from the UK and get on with setting out their case.

We cannot have the Scottish Government fast forwarding through all the difficult bits to their longed for ending where they clinch a  referendum victory.

People want to know what independence would mean for them, their families, and their communities.

Planning the summits and designing the constitutional apparatus is like framing and

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Just when you thought the SNP’s scomnishambles was over…

Scotland’s SNP Government is having a bit of a torrid time at the moment.

There’s been allegations of ministerial bullying, then the First Minister gets caught out not only misleading Parliament, but doing so in smug and gloaty style, and then the Education Secretary has to make a grovelling apology for an earlier transgression. Not very edifying at all.

So it must have been really gratifying for Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil to get a tweet from someone called @SirIanBlair saying how well the SNP were doing …

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LibLink: Tavish Scott says college row marks a turning point for the SNP

Tavish Scott has written a column for the Scotsman criticising the SNP Government for abuse of power and neutering the Holyrood Parliament. His comments come in the wake of a row about the Education Secretary Mike Russell effectively engineered the resignation of the Chairman of Stow College in Glasgow. Kirk Ramsay had been a vociferous critic of Russell’s cuts in the sector.

The story so far:

Ramsay records Russell’s on-the-record remarks at a meeting with about 80 people present at which the Cabinet Secretary was discussing his plans for the Further Education sector. He did so because he suffers from Tinnitus and …

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The SNP’s guide to appropriate behaviour

Handing out Union Jacks is “inappropriate behaviour”

Even when it happens at a rally to honour our Olympic athletes.

So said Glasgow SNP Councillor Mhairi Hunter to me in a tweet on Saturday.

 


I was a bit fearful as I clicked on the link, worried that it was going to be a sorry tale of some anti independence idiots beating up a nationalist. No, it was to this Facebook page from the No to Scottish Independence and Protect the Union where they said they handed out 1000 union jacks …

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SNP MP’s Twitter tirade against Moore and Swinson

One of the problems faced by the SNP is the army of so called cybernats who spew nasty, insulting bile across the internet at anyone who dares to question SNP policy or independence – which, of course, are one and the same thing. Alan Cochrane from the Telegraph wrote earlier this year about these toxic, often anonymous individuals.

Those who cannot take part in this great debate without questioning the patriotism, and often the parentage, of those who don’t agree with them are much more accurately described as Cyberscum. As such they are, of course, a legitimate target for those

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The SNP, equal marriage and a large dose of red herring

Equality campaigners across Scotland were quietly confident on Tuesday. It had been widely expected that the SNP Government would at least allow equality in civil marriage if not religious. After all, the measure had already secured the support of a majority of MSPs and the Equality and Human Rights Commission report suggest sthat it has the support of over 60% of Scots. The Government’s plans have, however, attracted vocal opposition from some religious organisations.

However, the Government announced that it was delaying the decision and setting up a Cabinet Committee to “further examine some particular issues of detail”. A …

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Complaint upheld against SNP MSP caught using public funds to promote SNP candidates

Just a quick update on a story I brought to you last month about SNP MSP Rob Gibson. He used adverts, funded by the Scottish Parliament, for his surgeries which included some heavy duty promotion of his staff who at the time were standing as candidates for Highland Council. Both were subsequently elected.

 

At the time, Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott complained to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body. The minutes of their most recent meeting have been published and show that:

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Opinion: Releasing Megrahi was the right thing to do

The release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the Lockerbie Bombing in which 270 people died,  on compassionate grounds is almost always described in the media as a controversial decision but I think it was the right one.

I accept the cynical case that his release was convenient to the Scottish government in many ways: it prevented his “martyrdom” in a Scottish prison; it may have helped the lucrative business of trading with Libya; it was helpful to the SNP government’s wider aims to
remind everyone about ways in which Scottish and English law (and, by extension, Scotland and England) …

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Willie Rennie’s first year as Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader

Tomorrow  it’s a year since Willie Rennie became Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader. What have been the highlights of that first year?

Well, on his first day, I interviewed him for Liberal Democrat Voice and you can still listen to that here.  He said that his priorities for his first hundred days were to work out what our message was, to sort out our organisation and to get out there and meet people, members and ordinary people on their doorsteps. So how has he done with these things and more?

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Lynne Featherstone’s honeycomb surprise

MPs’ offices get stacks and stacks of mail. Every day all manner of things arrive, from invitations, to big glossy brochures from various organisations, to letters from constituents, to replies from letters written to various Government bodies on behalf of local residents, to thank you cards when problems have been resolved.

Today, Lynne Featherstone’s constituency office received a special surprise in the post. Ben and Jerry’s, in conjunction with Stonewall, had produced a specially designed ice cream tub, complete with the Equality Minister’s photograph and the title Lynne Honeycomb, to show the company’s support for Equal Marriage. Sadly for her office …

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SNP caught using public funds to promote Council candidates

It’s not been an easy few weeks for the SNP. Even before yesterday’s revelations from Leveson, Alex Salmond was squirming when Willie Rennie confronted him over his close ties to Rupert Murdoch which led to him playing down the phone hacking controversy when writing for the Scottish Sun on Sunday.

They’ve also had to expel one of their MSPs, Bill Walker, who was accused of domestic violence against 3 former wives. Worse, last week’s Sunday Herald reports that Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon’s office, although not Ms Sturgeon directly, had been told of the allegations a full three years …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes – Scotland better off in Union

Every week, Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for local newspapers in his constituency. These are the highlights of the last two editions. 

Afghanistan

 The loss of six young soldiers in Afghanistan last week shocked and saddened the whole country and was a grave reminder of the huge sacrifice made by our armed forces in one of the most dangerous places in the world. The work of our men and women in Afghanistan is absolutely vital for the security of the UK and the freedom of the Afghan people and the deaths of these young men remind us …

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