CAT | Campaigns
Angus North and Mearns Liberal Democrats launched a local campaign to Save Our Police this week-end across the constituency.
Reacting to plans by all three other major parties to centralise the police to a single force, Sanjay Samani, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Angus North and Mearns, commented:
“In my view the fight against crime in Scotland is now under threat from plans by the SNP and the other parties to centralise our police. Under their plans local police forces would be disbanded and every police officer would be allocated according to national directions not local policing need.”
“I am particularly concerned that by creating a national police force, the chief constable will come under the political control of a government minister and will lose their links with local communities.
“In addition, the cost of centralisation, building a new HQ and new IT systems will costs a fortune and will cost police jobs. The SNP has refused to answer repeated questions about how much their plans will cost, fuelling fears that police officers will lose their jobs to pay for the changes. Some chief constables have estimated it could cost the jobs of 4,000 police officers.”
Angus and Mearns Liberal Democrats want to keep policing local, help the local police to work with the local community and to keep the number of officers high.
“In the course of the next few weeks we will be distributing thousands of leaflets about our campaign across the constituency,” Sanjay continued, “and I would urge residents to sign and return our petition by Freepost, so their voice can be heard.”
“You can also support the campaign on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SaveOurPolice.”
Commenting on the proposals to centralise police decision making, by Holyrood, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott said:
“This is a slippery slope to one police force. For 150 years people in this democracy have worried about the government gaining political operational control over policing. The First Minister refuses to see that a National Police Board, appointed without debate in this Parliament – and with no basis in law – moves us down that dangerous road.”
“We need a police service that is responsive to local needs not subject to central diktat and centrally imposed targets.”
Over the last few weeks, I have been disappointed to hear fellow Liberal Democrats repeat the accusations of our opposition, and in particular certain portions of the national media who have been desperately trying to portray Lib Dems in a negative light. There is a continuing misconception that the Liberal Democrats sacrificed too much to the Conservatives during coalition negotiations. Here’s the real story of what we have achieved in Government.
This document is already 3 months old, so the list has grown since then, but it is a good starting point.
After the first TV debate during the General Election campaign, our opponents recognised that Nick Clegg was our strongest asset. Since the morning of the second debate, there has been a sustained attack on him personally and on the reputation of the party as a whole. Even Ed Milliband has resorted to personal attacks on Nick Clegg. It is disgraceful, gutter politics. Unfortunately, if you throw enough mud, it will eventually stick.
Nick Clegg is the antithesis of Teflon Tony Blair. His record, as demonstrated above, is one to be proud of. I for one, do not think I could cope with excrement posted through my door, my effigy being burnt, being called a traitor and receiving death threats and still come out fighting the way that Nick Clegg did at the Sheffield Lib Dem Conference.
I cannot agree with those in the party that take the attitude that they are in politics to fight Conservatism as a result of Thatcher’s legacy. Saying that we would only go into a coalition with a discredited, illiberal, economically incompetent Labour Party would doom our party into subservience.
I came into politics and joined the Lib dems to make a difference on issue that I cared about, whether it was the environment, children’s welfare or civil liberties. I believe in the values of the party, that local people know best about their area, that solutions should last and that everyone deserves a fair chance.
Those values, issues and policies are now being successfully implemented in Government, and it is a record that we should all be proud of.
A new local party for the Liberal Democrats has been created. The first committee meeting of the Angus and Mearns Liberal Democrats was held last week. The new local party covers the two new Scottish Parliament constituencies of Angus South and Angus North and Mearns.
The new local party boasts 6 Councillors and a brand new Executive, determined and energised to build up campaigns on local issues. From Moniefieth to Stonehaven and from Lintrathen to Arbroath, local Lib Dems will be campaigning all year round in the interests of residents, businesses and farms.
There is also a new Facebook page for the local party, to make it easier for everyone in the area to get in touch with the local party.
During the 2010 General Election, I campaigned to scrap unfair, ‘lifetime’ bonuses within NHS Tayside. I welcome the widening of the campaign to end the bonus culture within the NHS.
The Merit and Distinction awards are only available to the highest paid NHS staff, consultants, as part of their standard contract. Shockingly, these are not one-off bonuses, but are added to consultants’ salaries, year after year, until they retire. The NHS even increases their pension contributions accordingly.
It is expected that between 1/3 and 1/2 consultants will receive one of these bonuses during their career, worth up to £70,000 per year on top of their normal salary. No such bonuses are available to other vital NHS staff such and nurses, junior doctors, cleaners or porters. This is completely unfair and unjustified.
I am therefore delighted that the campaign is gaining wider support and the pressure continues to be applied.
Tavish Scott MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, recently called for an end to consultant bonuses, saying:
“The [Scottish] Health Secretary is responsible for awarding £30 million of bonuses to the most highly paid personnel in the NHS – consultants.
“The payment of these bonuses is a totally devolved issue. There should be no payouts next year. People will find it an odd priority for the SNP to pay out £30 million in bonuses to those who are already the highest paid, while nurses are losing their jobs.”
Meanwhile, the issue is also creating waves in England, with a BBC investigation finding that a loophole means the bonuses continue to be paid, even when the consultants perform poorly:
Professor Alan Maynard, an expert in health policy at York University, was chairman of a local NHS trust for 12 years during which time he sat on the committee that handed out the awards. He said:
“They never get stopped, once they have them they have them for their lifetime. The system needs completely changing.
“The applicants provide very little information, but you can’t spend the money on anything else as it is earmarked for these awards. I would have preferred to spend it on providing more care.”
He said the evidence for performance-related pay was questionable anyway, but if there was to be an incentives scheme it should be much tougher.
Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, agreed, saying:
“I think they are out of step with how the NHS should be paying staff. They should be abolished.”
Liberal Democrats in Angus and Mearns have always called for cross party support for Jill Campbell’s Laurencekirk Flyover Campaign. So it is welcome that SNP MSP Nigel Don has finally decided to lend his support. However, there are some serious questions about whether he fully understands the issues at hand.
Why has he TWICE suggested that Jill’s petition be closed whilst sitting on the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee? Sitting with Jill Campbell and fellow campaigner Julie Watson in the public gallery at October’s Petitions Committee, we were all staggered to hear Nigel Don repeat this suggestion.
He claimed that the flyover will “eventually be built” at the Petitions Committee. How does he justify this when the SNP Government have categorically said that it will not be built, and have not included it in their Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR)?
Nigel Don has said that, “he treated it very seriously as a road safety campaign”, but then went on to link the flyover to the building of new homes in the area. Those of us who have been involved with the campaign for a long time, know that the flyover needs to be built for road safety, irrespective of any proposed housing developments.
Nigel Don has been an MSP for the region for 3 and 1/2 years, why has he only now lent his support to the campaign?
Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles MSP has been holding the SNP Government to account, to ensure that they provide evidence of why other flyovers have been approved, but the one at Laurencekirk has not. Nigel Don should be doing the same.
It is clear that Nigel Don does not fully appreciate what is at stake – the lives of drivers in the region. Rather than trying to close down the petition and confusing the issue with house building, he should perhaps take the time to meet Laurencekirk Campaigners Jill Campbell and Julie Watson, Mike Rumbles MSP and myself. That way we can provide consistent, cross party support for the campaign.
The SNP Governement have overlooked the region and SNP representatives need to be doing much more to stand up for the people of Angus and Mearns.
Nigel Don needs to demonstrate that he understands the issues thoroughly and that he is willing to join in with the cross party campaign for a flyover.
I have been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Angus North and Mearns for the Scottish elections next May. I have also been selected as one of the Liberal Democrat Regional Candidates for the North East.
I am very grateful to the Liberal Democrat members in Angus and the Mearns for their support and their decision to select me as their candidate. I am looking forward to continuing the campaigns that we have been running in the area.
The SNP have said they will fight the next election on just the issue of independence. Most people are concerned about their jobs, rising prices and the economy. This shows how out of touch the SNP really are. They have been completely unprepared for the economic crisis, created by the Labour government.
In just five months, the Liberal Democrats in coalition have put in place plans to take 900,000 low earners out of income tax, restore a fair pension and to provide £2bn extra in child tax credits for poorer families. In stark contrast, in over four years, the SNP have failed to deliver on their hollow promises of more police, smaller class sizes and maintaining teacher numbers. The Liberal Democrats can do more for Scotland and for Angus and the Mearns.
Stonehaven Liberal Democrat Councillor, Peter Bellarby, said, “I am very pleased that Sanjay has been selected. Mike Rumbles has served Stonehaven and the Mearns well and I am sure that Sanjay will continue to listen and respond to the concerns people have in this area, just as Mike has done. In the revised constituencies, Mike Rumbles will be the candidate for Aberdeenshire West and I am sure that Mike and Sanjay will form an excellent partnership for this area.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr David May from Montrose, commented “I am delighted that Sanjay has ben selected. He has an excellent record on campaigning on local issues. He has called for the SNP government to reinstate funding to prevent coastal erosion and flooding, to provide relief to small businesses who received huge rises in their business rates and for a full time service at Forfar fire station. And he has been a strong supporter of Jill Campbell’s campaign for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk Junction.”
David continued, “Angus North and Mearns is a new constituency for the Scottish Parliament. In the Mearns, residents have elected four Lib Dem councillors, Sir Robert Smith MP and an outstanding Liberal Democrat MSP, Mike Rumbles who has stood up for their needs at Holyrood. Unfortunately, SNP representatives have let down Angus residents. Now, Angus and Mearns residents will get a straight choice between an SNP candidate and a Liberal Democrat who will continue to fight for local people.”
Below: Sanjay campaigning for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk, along with Laurencekikrk Flyover campaigners Jlll Campbell and Julie Watson, with Tavish Scott MSP, leader of Scottish Lib Dems, Mike Rumbles MSP, Sir Robert Smith MP and Montrose Cllr David May