Alex Neil MSP
The late Norman Buchan once told me always to study what your political foes say.
Understanding their narrative, he said, is key to defeating their argument.
With Norman’s advice ringing in my ears I read Pamela Nash’s column in last week’s Wishaw Press.
In it she said: “Throughout Scotland people are suffering the consequences of the harsh economic climate, with thousands out of work.
“Cameron and Osborne’s economic plan for the UK is simply not working.
“It’s all pain and no gain as sweeping cuts drastically impact our quality of life, yet the deficit remains high and national debt is rising.”
She also pointed out that we have working people and those falling through the gaps of the welfare system relying on food banks to survive in the UK.
For once Pamela was correct. Despite being the sixth largest economy in the world about a quarter of the people in the UK are living in dire poverty, a figure which will rise dramatically as the full impact of the welfare benefit cuts are felt.
Why in Scotland do we have to put up with this?
Why do we have to suffer from Tory policies we never voted for? And what can we do to change it?
These are the questions Pamela didn’t ask, let alone answer.
Because she knows that the UK cannot deliver for the people of Scotland.
To tackle poverty and reduce unemployment we need progressive policies to create a fairer country.
We need to prioritise universal benefits, to reduce poverty.
We also need to make job creation our top priority, to get people off welfare and into real, well-paid work, paying at least the living wage.
There is no chance of these policies being adopted in London.
If Labour promised to deliver such a radical agenda, they wouldn’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of getting elected in England.
So they won’t.
Instead they’ll just pursue Tory policies under another name.
Fortunately we have another option in Scotland.
With independence we would run all our own affairs and always get the government we elect, not the one England elects.
The Scottish Parliament has shown over the past 14 years that we deliver for the people of Scotland in those areas for which we have responsibility.
That’s why we have free personal care for the elderly and England doesn’t; it’s why we have free prescriptions and England doesn’t. It’s why our Health Service is being kept in the public sector and not privatised, like England’s is.
We need now to take responsibility for all the other areas of policy in Scotland, such as the economy and welfare, which are still the preserve of Westminster.
Once we get all those powers can we then and only then implement the progressive policies our people want and need.