Scottish Secretary Michael Moore exposed the UK Government’s case against independence today as he admitted he was “speculating” on questions of currency and financial regulation.
After making claims about Europe’s position on financial regulation in an independent Scotland Michael Moore was challenged during Scottish Affairs Committee by Ian Davidson MP who asked “How do you know that?” In response Mr Moore was forced to say “Okay- I’m speculating”.
The comment destroys the position taken by the UK on currency, financial regulation and the financial sector.
SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie MP said:
“Michael Moore has given the No campaign’s game away. He has admitted that the UK Government’s position is nothing more than speculation and assertion. This admission fundamentally undermines the UK’s case.
“And once again UK ministers could not rule out a Sterling area as they know that it is simply common sense.
“Instead of speculating and talking down Scotland’s financial sector the UK Government could agree to the Fiscal Commission’s suggestion and engage in some proper discussions.“
Commenting on other parts of the Scottish Affair’s session Mr Hosie said:
“This was the usual No campaign rhetoric dressed up as a parliamentary inquiry. UK Ministers offered nothing to the debate today, no positive case for the union and no vision for the future.
“The reality is that even Danny Alexander cannot deny that with independence continuing to use sterling and preserving the single UK market for trade and business is in the best interests of people in both Scotland and other parts of the UK.”
The SNP has today [14 May] tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for a change in economic policy to boost growth and jobs. The amendment will say that the programme announced “fails to meet the aspirations of the people of Scotland.”
SNP Treasury Spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP is expected to highlight the reported £11.5 billion extra cuts to be demanded in the forthcoming spending review and say, “The few sensible measures in the Queen’s Speech will be overwhelmed by the further Tory cuts expected to be announced in June.”
Commenting ahead of the House of Commons debate, Stewart Hosie MP said:
“The Prime Minister was wrong when he said this package would, ‘cut the deficit, grow the economy, deliver a better future for our children’ and win the global race’. Instead we have a continuation of the failed UK policy of austerity with little or nothing to stimulate growth.
“Rather than competing and winning, this UK Government has set Scotland on track for a lost decade of austerity under the Westminster system – underlining exactly why we need the powers of an independent Scotland.
“UK policy has seen a flat-lining economy and worse, forecasts of more than one in four children being forced into poverty. Everyone knows policy needs to change. Even the IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard said the UK was, “playing with fire” if it allowed this economic stagnation to continue.
“The package of austerity will never meet the aspirations of the people of Scotland.
“Only with independence, having full powers at Holyrood, will we have the opportunity to do things differently – and better.”
Nil by Mouth teamed up with the Dundee MP to promote its work at a special event at the House of Commons.
NBM was founded by Glasgow teenager Cara Henderson after the brutal sectarian murder of her friend Mark Scott in 1995. Since then it has campaigned tirelessly against sectarianism both on, and off, the terraces. The charity currently offers dedicated sectarian awareness workshops in schools and colleges through its ‘Champions for Change’ scheme and workplaces and youth groups through ‘Beyond Religion and Belief’ projects.
Beyond Religion and Belief, which is delivered, free of charge, has been developed and piloted in partnership the STUC and several public and private sector employers. The package provides organisations with a framework to address sectarianism in the workplace and includes advice on policy and procedure, awareness raising workshops and a Management module.
Speaking at the vent, Stewart Hosie said: “This was an important event as it gave MPs and peers the opportunity to find out how they could become more involved on anti-sectarianism work.
“I was particularly interested to learn about Nil by Mouth’s ’Beyond Religion and Belief’ project and pleased to learn that a number of employers in my constituency have become involved.
“Sectarianism is a serious problem for Scotland but not an insurmountable one and this can be the generation which defeats it once and for all.’
Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott commented: “We are extremely grateful for Stewart’s support for our campaign. Arrests for sectarianism rose by 30% last year and worryingly 60% of those charged were under the age of 30. We must break this cycle of bigotry.
“The Scottish Government is investing record levels in grassroots community projects aimed at helping the silent majority find their voice and everyone has a part to play in ridding Scotland of sectarianism.
“All NBM services are free of charge and we are very keen to deepen our work with groups in the Dundee area.”
Commenting on the publication of the UK’s debt figures this morning, SNP Treasury Spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said that the Chancellor’s credibility was in tatters.
Last year the OBR predicted expected borrowing for 2012/13 to be £92 billion – however today’s publication reveals the true figure to be £120.6bn – meaning Osborne has missed this target by almost £30bn. This is equivalent to almost the entire Scottish Block Grant.
Even worse for the Chancellor, by some measures borrowing is actually rising. The Office for National Statistics say that – when they exclude the impact of factors such as the transfers of the Royal Mail Pension Plan and the Asset Purchase Facility, as well as removing the effect of the reclassification of Northern Rock Asset Management Ltd and Bradford and Bingley PLC to the central government sector – “on this measure Public Sector Net Borrowing (PSNB ex) for the year to date is £0.4 billion higher than for the same period last year.”
Mr Hosie said:
“George Osborne’s credibility is in tatters, yet he lectures us on the Scottish Government’s economic policies – which by any standard are far more successful than his.
“The Chancellor has staked the entire reputation of the UK Government on aggressive deficit reduction – regardless of the dreadful economic and social cost. But today’s figures show that he has categorically failed – and on some measures borrowing is actually rising.
“In Scotland, we have lower unemployment than the UK, higher employment, and the Scottish economy continues to grow while the UK as a whole continues to shrink.
“If the Chancellor spent his time in Scotland listening rather than lecturing, perhaps his visit might have been a bit more productive.
“A discredited Tory Chancellor trying to lay down the law to Scotland is playing into the hands of the Yes campaign.
“On Sunday, the No campaign chairman Alistair Darling rightly said that George Osborne hasn’t got much credibility left – yet today Mr Darling is parroting Mr Osborne almost word for word, laying bare the confusion and contradiction at the heart of the No campaign.
“A far better contribution today comes from James Scott, formerly Executive Director of Scottish Financial Enterprise, who says that the Treasury’s bogus assertion about Scotland ‘should be treated with the contempt it deserves’.”
George Osborne has faced yet another blow as Fitch cuts the UK’s credit rating down one notch to AA+ as a ‘weaker economic and fiscal outlook continues to push up the country’s debt’.
The move comes 2 months after Moody’s downgraded UK debt from AAA to Aa1 on its expectation that growth will “remain sluggish over the next few years”.
Commenting, SNP Treasury Spokesperson Stewart Hosie said:
“The Chancellor’s day has gone from bad to worse. This morning he suffered embarrassment following comments from the next Bank of England boss who gave little expectation of UK recovery, and now Fitch has cut the UK’s credit rating.
“And in the same week the IMF recommends he re-thinks his austerity agenda as it cuts it’s UK growth forecast. Osborne’s credibility is in crisis.
“For all his boasting and bragging about taking the UK economy “out of the danger zone” he has now failed on his own measures and in the eyes of the international community.”
George Osborne has suffered another embarrassing blow this week as the Bank of England’s next governor- who has been appointed by the Chancellor- has downplayed hopes of a boost to growth and warned that he would be moving to a “crisis” economy when he takes his position in the UK later this year.
Mark Carney, the successor to Mervyn King said there were three classes of countries in the global economy; crisis economies, those emerging from crisis, and those growing strongly.
The comments follow calls from the International Monetary Fund earlier this week for George Osborne to reconsider the UK government’s austerity agenda. The IMF has slashed its forecasts for UK growth –more than any other major economy.
Commenting, SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:
“Mark Carney’s comments are a hammer blow to the Chancellor.
“We know with every day that passes that George Osborne and Danny Alexander’s plans are completely backfiring. The UK’s stagnant performance also shows a fall in industrial output of 2.1% in the last quarter of last year.
“The Chancellor’s remaining credibility went with the loss of triple A credit rating, a timid and unimaginative budget and a failed economic policy that has produced nothing but austerity and misery for many.
“The Scottish Government is using the levers available to it to produce better outcomes – with lower unemployment including youth unemployment than the rest of the UK – and a focus on capital investment. The economic failure of the Westminster system shows why the economic levers should be in the hands of Scotland with independence – not George Osborne and Westminster.”
Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie today commented on a new report showing that Dundee will be the third worst hit in Scotland by the UK Government’s reforms – and that the city stands to lose £58 million per year, equivalent to nearly £600 per working age adult per year.
Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie said: “These new figures, compiled for the Scottish Government by a team from Sheffield Hallam University, are extremely concerning.
“The figures are higher than previously estimated and show that the real victims of the UK welfare reforms will be those affected by the changes in child benefit and those in receipt of incapacity benefits and Disability Living Allowances.
“The effects on these people will be much greater in total than the impact of the Bedroom Tax on people in social housing.
“And yet, while these cuts are set to bite hard, new analysis published today by the Scottish Government shows that pensions and welfare costs in an independent Scotland would not only be more affordable than in the rest of the UK, but that Scotland would be in a better position than the majority of EU15 countries.
“Spending on welfare, pensions and social services is more affordable as a share of Scotland’s economy than it is across the UK, and proportionately lower than in the majority of EU15 countries.
“This analysis shows that so many of those other supposedly ‘too wee, too poor’ countries such as Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Austria all spend proportionately more on social protection – yet we are still told that Scotland cannot afford our welfare system.
“A majority of Scots believe that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland – which is not surprising, given the way successive Westminster governments have steadily dismantled the welfare state.
“Most recently, over 90% of Scots MPs voted against the Bedroom Tax, but it is being imposed on Scotland nonetheless.
“It is high time that supporters of the anti-independence parties explained why they believe that control over Scotland’s more affordable welfare and pensions policy should be left in the hands of Westminster rather than in the control of an independent Scotland.”
Dundee’s three senior SNP politicians have today signed up to show their support for ‘We Dundee’ the grassroots campaign supporting Dundee’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2017 organised by the local cultural organisation, Fleet Collective.
The three politicians added personal statements to the online ‘wall’ at We Dundee and called for everyone in the city to join in and promote the ‘surprising’ qualities of Dundee. The campaign is seeking thousands of statements from people about the qualities of the city that surprise, excite and astonish them.
Stewart Hosie said: “I’m often astonished by extraordinary architecture in our city centre streets, especially if you look upwards at the rooflines. Dundee has some magnificent buildings evoking earlier periods in our city’s long and famous history.”
Shona Robison said: “The sheer number of creative, enterprising people now living here, many of whom have come from across the world to be passionate about Dundee’s future – is always a surprise. Dundee is vibrant!”
Joe FitzPatrick said: “Dundee’s thriving cultural scene, for far too long, Scotland’s best-kept secret, is now bursting out all over! Dundee is pulsating with creative ideas and regeneration!”
The No campaign has been left red-faced again after continuing to hand out leaflets as recently as yesterday with misleading information about the UK’s credit rating – five weeks after the Moody’s downgrading.
One of the anti-independence campaign’s cores arguments not to vote Yes in 2014 was the UK’s triple-A rating, which was shown up as misleading scaremongering – yet the No camp is continuing to peddle this false information.
SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said:
“The incompetence and incoherence of the anti-independence campaign knows no bounds. Originally they claimed this was an old leaflet – so why are they continuing to hand it out over five weeks after the UK’s triple-A rating was downgraded?
“Deliberately misleading the people of Scotland has left the No campaign’s credibility in tatters. People will not only be asking if any of the other claims on their leaflets can be believed, but also why they are continuing to spread misleading information when they know it’s false.
“The anti-independence campaign were urged to pulp this fiction over five weeks ago when the claim was shown to be misleading. We again urge them to do this.
“The people of Scotland deserve an honest and open debate in the run up to the referendum debate but so far the No camp has failed to deliver.
“The truth is that almost two-thirds of the countries that now hold triple-A status have populations of less than ten million – including Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
“Scotland has stronger public finances than the rest of the UK, with the most recent GERS figures showing that Scotland contributes 9.9 per cent of public revenues but receives 9.3% of public spending – demonstrating Scotland is financially stronger than the UK as a whole to the tune of £4.4 billion, or £824 per person.
“The record of our neighbours shows that small, well managed independent countries can have every expectation of enjoying the highest credit rating, and more importantly favourable bond yields.
“Scotland is in better financial shape than the UK as a whole, and a Yes vote on September 18th 2014 will enable us to build a strong economy and fair society with the powers of an independent Scotland.”
Commenting today [ 29 March] on news that North Lanarkshire Council has become the latest Labour local authority to refuse to back the SNP on a non-eviction policy for those affected by the Bedroom Tax, Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie said: “What we have seen over the past few days is an attempt by Labour to put up a smokescreen to hide their own embarrassment.
“Tory/Labour Councils in Aberdeen and Falkirk have refused to follow SNP controlled Dundee City Council in adopting a non-evictions policy for people affected by the Bedroom Tax who are doing all they reasonably can to avoid falling into arrears. Now we have North Lanarkshire refusing to rule out evictions.
“Here in Dundee, Labour Councillors voted against the non-eviction policy introduced by the SNP on Dundee City Council and while the nine SNP led councils in Scotland have pledged not to evict where tenants are making efforts to pay, Labour have failed to persuade their councillors and councils to follow suit.
“In North Lanarkshire yesterday, the SNP group on the council moved an amendment to a report on welfare reforms backing a no eviction policy at yesterday’s full council meeting, but were voted down by Labour politicians.
“At Westminster, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister Helen Goodman has said Labour will keep the Bedroom Tax and has failed to give any commitment to scrap it.
“If SNP-led councils have been able to stand up and say they will not evict tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax who are doing their best to pay their bills, why are Labour local authorities incapable of following suit?”