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I supported having an election not just because of the Brexit bind we find ourselves in but so we can bring an end to the intolerable levels of rising poverty, especially child poverty, resulting in deepening inequality and widening divisions in our country. However, I am not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of a...
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Don’t believe the hype and don’t, please don’t, give up. With no resolution in sight, endless debate in parliament and endless coverage on TV, people are understandably weary of Brexit. It would test the patience of a saint. But Boris Johnson’s no daft, as we say, and he’s capitalising on it, pouring fuel on the...
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This week the Tory Party faithful, or at least what’s left of them amid the Brexit chaos, descended on the city of Manchester for their annual conference. Despite the fact that Parliament voted against Boris Johnson’s proposal that the House of Commons should close while the conference took place, the conference went ahead and the...
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‘Take back control’ was the mantra of the Brexiteers during the 2016 referendum. Ensuring the UK parliament was sovereign above all others, and who can forget the famous £350m on the side of the bus?   What better way to take back control than a Tory ruse to prorogue parliament and limit the time left...
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Universal Credit has already shown just how cruel the Tories can be, but even more pain could be heading our way. The Centre of Social Justice (CSJ) think tank proposed recently to move the pension age to 75 by the year 2035. The same think tank which, while chaired by Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith,...
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As the circus masquerading as the Tory Leadership campaign continues to wind its way across the country, I am regularly reminded of the phrase that a week is a long time in politics, and that now every week brings yet another drama, writes Lesley Laird. Reflecting on everything that has happened since 2016, it really...
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Planning. The clue’s in the name. It’s a word which suggests rigour, methodology, decisions based on reliable data. Or so you might think. In Scotland our planning process is descending into a shambles, and we don’t need to look far to see a prime example of why that’s the case. The recent approval of Cala...
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Both the UK and Scottish governments have put climate change at the top of their agenda. Yet, despite the newfound enthusiasm for all things green, there is an irony in the fact that this golden opportunity to be a world leader in the market may simply pass Scotland by. BiFab, nestled on the coast of...
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The flames have subsided but public sentiment towards Mossmorran after its latest flaring episode has definitely not. While nearly a year had passed since the previous incident, the volume of smoke emitted for two hours on the first day and the intensity of the flaring over the week was highly unusual. It was hardly surprising,...
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This week’s events in the House of Commons remind us of two things: some things are more important than Brexit, and, unlike Brexit, some things we can all agree on – we are undoubtedly facing a climate emergency. Labour’s 2017 manifesto was alive to the magnitude of the challenge facing us. We committed to ensuring...
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There are many negatives aspects of the Tories’ handling of Brexit. Perhaps the most damaging is the sheer amount of parliamentary time Brexit continues to soak up. I came into politics to try and help reshape society for the better, to bring about a Labour government that invests in public services, from hospitals to schools,...
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Everywhere I go people ask me “What’s going to happen on Brexit?” Everyone has their pitch on what should happen next. Everyone is frustrated with a process dominating the news feed 24 hours a day. But the danger is everyone is also sick of it. And while the proverb of choice for some right now...
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Everywhere I go people ask me “What’s going to happen on Brexit?” Everyone has their pitch on what should happen next. Everyone is frustrated with a process dominating the news feed 24 hours a day. But the danger is everyone is also sick of it. And while the proverb of choice for some right now...
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No matter where I go people have been saying to me, what is going on? Along with a few other words that aren’t suitable to print. One thing is now certain – if there was any doubt about the Tory rank incompetence, then the last two weeks have shown it in all in its full-unadulterated...
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So, the deal is done. Just not one that anyone wants. After two years of wrangling that’s one thing we can all agree on. But don’t judge this book by its cover. This deal bears no resemblance to the easy promises of the Brexiteers. No resemblance to taking back control of our laws and our...
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The art of the resignation. You’ve either got it, or you haven’t. Whether on a point of principle, Machiavellian manoeuvring to depose a wounded leader, or even a bit of both, Tory ministers have been putting a lot of practice in these past few weeks. But for others, the real art is in the “unresignation”. And the undisputed masters...
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Fife’s charities are at the frontline dealing with the impact of poverty in our communities – and pressure on their services has increased following the roll-out of Universal Credit. That impact is especially cruel at Christmas which is why the Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy launched a festive appeal back in 2011 to ensure families...
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The impact of Universal Credit has led to soaring debts. Rent arrears owed by Fife Council tenants have now reached £120,000 a month – money which should be used to build new homes and repair existing council properties. In August a report which went before town councillors confirmed that two thirds of 3060 council tenants in Fife...
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We’ve witnessed a dramatic rise in use of food banks across Fife over the past year – and a change in the demographics accessing them. Volunteers report more and more pensioners are coming forward seeking help, because for many elderly residents they face a stark choice between eating and heating over winter. According to the...
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“When we opened our doors in 2013 we thought we would run for a couple of years until things got better. We thought something would happen … but it hasn’t happened.” Those were the exact words spoken by Joanna Tait, treasurer of Kirkcaldy foodbank, as she made a plea to the local community recently to...
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Today (Monday) marks the beginning of Poverty Week – a chance for us all to raise awareness of the impact of poverty in our own communities. I’ve written a series of blogs on various aspects of poverty which I’ll be posting up every day this week. It seems appropriate to start with Universal Credit; the...
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Performance coaches in elite sport look for marginal gains, the tiny improvement which will give them the edge over rivals. But in the race for power, the Conservatives have abandoned all pretence about aiming higher. This is about holding on at all costs. For them it’s no longer about marginal gains, but instead about gaining...
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It’s easy to be blindsided by events in politics. The best-laid schemes for the average week at Westminster are normally in tatters by Monday lunchtime. But amid the hurly-burly, I’ve watched the slow-motion car crash of the Tories’ failure to tackle the challenge to devolution posed by Brexit with a mixture of frustration and anger....
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In the run up to recess we continue to watch what has become the biggest soap opera in history unfold – Brexit.  This week it was the turn of the Trade Bill. While the name on the legislation might change, the issues are exactly the same.  Not least of which is a Tory party who...
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I know, from speaking to constituents affected by Universal Credit, just how acutely this policy damages people’s lives but a report issued last week laid bare the reality of its widespread impact for all to see. Despite being designed to streamline benefits – and cut administrative costs in the process – the National Audit Office...
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MOSSMORRAN Long-suffering communities secured a breakthrough last week with the news that Mossmorran will be subject to a joint investigation following recent episodes of unplanned flaring. The announcement was made during the Mossmorran Communities Work Group meeting on Friday and will mean that the plant will be investigated by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)...
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Westminster is a strange place. Some weeks, little of any great importance seems to happen and other weeks fly by as the Government lurches from one catastrophe to the next. This week, it was the latter. Theresa May’s government’s handling of the Windrush Generation scandal has dominated both the headlines and parliamentary business. David Lammy...
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Westminster We start back at Parliament this week with reflections on the bombing of Syria. The eight-year war and its atrocities should have demanded wider international efforts before now. The previous episode of an alleged chemical attack on Syrian people was responded to by the US in similar fashion.  It clearly did not act as...
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Education and skills are the foundations to a high performing economy and well paid skilled jobs, yet here in Fife we are being short changed not just in our high schools but also our college. Questions must be asked as to why the Scottish Government is showing no appetite to resolve the long-standing funding issues...
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This year the usual blaze of colour at the BAFTA film awards was replaced by a parade of black-clad film stars posing amid the flashing light bulbs on a red carpet. It was a dramatic and sobering statement; of glamour heavily cloaked with political intent. The winning speech of actor Frances McDormand even more so, as she...
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Recent events have brought to mind the old adage “the more it changes, the more it stays the same” and when it comes to the upper echelons of politics that certainly still seems to be the case. Sex scandals, harassment and bullying might make for good headlines and sell news but they don’t make for...
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From the newspaper front pages to the phone-in radio shows, Twitterstorms and countless websites, the one story which seemed to get everyone talking in the last few days has been the revelation that BBC bosses pay their male “stars” far more than their female counterparts. But were any of us really surprised by this divulgence...
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Every year, around the beginning of November, Equal Pay Day comes around – highlighting the discrepancies between men’s and women’s salaries and to be blunt, how many days women effectively work for free because of the scale of the gender pay gap. Last year it was only one day later than the previous year, proving...
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