Alex Neil, MSP and Former Minister for Health joined us to discuss the NHS and all the challenges it faces now and in the future. The eventing proved to be a fascinating discussion. In his talk, he explored various service management techniques currently employed overseas, and suggested methods of improvement of Scotland’s NHS in the immediate, medium and long term. He also took questions from the audience.
Maryhill and Springburn SNP’s discussion nights continued with Mike Russell, Minister for Brexit on February 26th at Community Central Hall, Maryhill. Thanks to everyone who came along to the discussion with Mike Russell, Minister for Brexit.
Joe Farrell, the branch member for Political Education, chaired the proceedings, which encompassed both Mike’s take on the BrExit proceedings and a question and answer session afterwards. The event was webcast and reported by The National newspaper.
If you didn’t make it then click the link below and see what you missed:
YesDIY: Brexit Minister Mike Russell proves a huge hit at Q&A:
HISTORY IS MADE AS THE FIRST SNP BUDGET IS DELIVERED!
On Thursday 22nd February, the annual Budget Report for Glasgow City Council was delivered by the City Treasurer, Councillor Allan Gow, from Canal Ward. This was the first by an administration that has a fresh approach and has fresh ideas. It will see an acceleration in the changes Glasgow voted for.
You can watch the budget speech by Councillor Allan Gow below, along with all the other responses.
Demanding Scottish Land Reform – urban needs, land tax and community determination.
Our series of Branch Discussion nights continued and this time we were joined by long time SNP activist and former MSP Rob Gibson.
Rob was raised in Dennistoun, and now lives in Evanton. He attended university in Dundee from 1968, and there joined the student SNP club, Scottish CND and the FSN Skye Crofting Scheme. He also sang in a folk group. He started work as a teacher in 1973.
His books include The Promised Land, 1974; Crofter Power in Easter Ross, 1986; Toppling the Duke, 1997; Plaids and Bandanas, 2003: and The Highland Clearances Trail, 2007.
He served as District Councillor for Tulloch Ward, Dingwall from 1988 till 1996. He was elected as Highlands & Islands MSP in 2003, re-elected in 2007, and won the constituency of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross in 2011. Between 2003 and 2011 he sat on the committees for rural affairs and environment, education and culture, transport, infrastructure and climate change and economy, energy and tourism.
At Holyrood he convened the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment committee which oversaw the 2016 Land Reform Bill, and sat on the Referendum Bill and Devolution Further Powers committee which among other things focused on returning all of the Crown Estate powers to Scotland. He is currently writing his personal memoir on land reform in Scotland.
Below is the transcript of Rob’s speech
Demanding Scottish Land Reform – Urban needs, land tax and community determination.
The SNP has been engaged over decades in land reform campaigns, debates, and policy development. In the early 1970s the SNP advocated a statutory Land Commission, like Ireland had till 1990, to diversify access to land. I recall John McAteer, by–election agent in 1967 at Winnie Ewing’s famous victory in Hamilton, who died all too young, he told me he was only interested in independence and no other policies except land reform.
That feeling of land and constitutional rebirth fed off each other through the dark years of Thatcherism to the dawning of a renewed Scots parliament.
Tom Nairn summing up the connection commented in The Scotsman in November 1994 following a conference “To the Nation; who owns Scotland’s Heritage”:
“The reason the land question arouses such deep feelings in the Lowlands as well as in Gaeldom is that it symbolises impotence so perfectly. The largest of Scotland’s private domains, Buccleuch Estates, is four times the size of the European Union’s smallest state, Luxemburg. Now, the blights Scotland suffers from are, of course, not all rural, or connected with land ownership. But they relate to an absent democracy, for which this monstrous scale of land alienation is an appropriate emblem”.
By the time feudalism was abolished in 2000 and a real Land Reform Bill enacted in 2003 we were on the path to land reform by instalments. The Labour/ LibDem Scots Exec had focused purely on rural land reform, no doubt to get quick political hits. On the SNP’s behalf I asked at the time what about urban issues being tackled. Labour acknowledged urban needs but side-lined them.
From the 1970s to the 1990s the SNP was keen to see means to build community confidence as the first essential step to vibrant, citizen participation. In 1997 our own appointed ‘Land Commission’ led by Prof. Allan MacInnes recommended the election of Community Land Councils to enhance the role of weak community councils and so quiz all land holders and developers to debate community needs. Donald Dewar rejected this approach in his 1998 John McEwen Memorial Lecture in favour of what became Community Planning Partnerships – a talking shop at a much wider level. In 1999 newly minted MSPs Roseanna Cunningham and Fergus Ewing commended CLCs to Donald Dewar but in vain.
Jack McConnell as FM tiptoed towards communities of more than 5,000 souls getting access to land reform. It was ten years on and the SNP delivered full urban land reform as a cornerstone of the Community Empowerment Act and the Land Reform Act 2016. It has overwhelming parliamentary support -bar the Tory party.
The 2015 Act now includes improved community planning, CRTB of land deemed abandoned, neglected and land causing harm to the environment, backed by the Scottish Land Fund; participation requests, asset transfer requests from local authorities; encouraging fan owned football clubs; new rules for setting up allotments; and of course defining what kinds of community groups can access these powers. I can discuss these at question time but suffice to say organised communities of place are key.
It’s important at this stage to reflect on the most common priorities expressed for land reform in consultation responses to these proposed Bills.
Transparency of ownership;
Diversity of ownership and control; and
Support for land taxation.
Land taxes have a long history, but LVT, or site value rating, as some Edwardian land taxers called it, are a key to make the ground under our feet the key taxable asset that cannot be dodged.
Andy Wightman defined it in ‘The Poor Had No Lawyers’ thus:
“The philosophy behind LVT is based on the idea that land, in its unimproved state, is a gift of nature and, unlike capital and labour, has no cost of production.” As it is in fixed supply, unlike capital and labour, he went on – “its value is purely a scarcity value reflecting the competing needs of the community for work. Leisure and housing”.
The value of the land owes nothing to the owner as buildings etc on it do. Therefore, the community at large should share in the value of the land.
Take an example like the Borders Rail Line. The value of houses near the stations along its route have risen as they are benefitting from proximity to commuting prospects etc. So, the community should have a means to tap that, not just the individual who sells dearer than he or she bought it to a new resident who also gains from the location.
In summary to calculate LVT we need to know:
A) The effects of scarcity and location affect land supply.
B) Land prices have outpaced any stock market portfolio of the past 25 years.
C) LVT forces purchasers to consider uses of their land.
D) Public projects can benefit from this income stream.
E) One snag in devolved Scotland, we have powers only to apply LVT as a local, not a national tax.
F) But, assessment is simpler than that of buildings. Factors include:
What land uses are permitted thereon?
Who owns the land? and
What is the estimate of highest value achievable for its best use.
G) Knowing who owns Scotland is key to applying assessment for LVT. Political will is apparent from the Greens; Derek MacKay instructed to the Scottish Land Commission we created under the 2016 Act to survey LVT for practical application; and we should welcome a throwaway line from Richard Leonard to support LVT, as well as other wealth taxes.
Community determination has been most evident in recent decades with land buyouts like Assynt 1993, Knoydart and Eigg in 1997 as well as many more recently. Right now the battle to take over Ulva island is today’s headline. Over 500,000 acres of Scotland 2.9% of our land area is under community control.
Urban unrest used to be associated with industrial disputes, or rack-rented housing or its lack. However, in the Noughties we saw guerrilla allotments in Maryhill when land owners left gap sites unkempt and unloved. Pop-up restaurants are another phenomenon.
Community councils invented in the 1970s have few powers, are a minority sport in most cases, but community empowerment has stirred up places such as the Neilston bank building buy out. Another Central Belt example is the Portobello church buy out last year.
Decisions how to organise to often coalesce around an emergency to ‘register an interest’ in a parcel of land or building that’s suddenly come on the market. Earlier organisation is a must.
We need to know who owns Springburn and Maryhill. We need to discuss diversifying powers down from Glasgow City Council so engaging with councillors and officials needs to be open and transparent.
The 2015 Act poses questions for the City Council – how should it interact with localities because community confidence must be built stage by stage. I highlighted these as an MSP and convener of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment committee. Thanks to SNP land reform we do have new tools to step up the pace. Like the 19th century Land League we must assert – The Land Is Before Us! Let’s get down to work!
After last years successful party and quiz we have decided to do it all over again! The quiz is going to be hotly contested by teams from all over Glasgow so make sure and get your tickets. £5 waged or £3unwaged. Email: email@example.com to reserve yours!
It all starts at 7 pm on the 7th of December at Maryhill Juniors. 18 Lochburn Road, G20 9AQ.
If you would like to donate to the raffle then please email:firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s A Dugs Life….
We were delighted to welcome top blogger Wee Ginger Dug and his human companion Paul Kavanagh to Maryhill and Springburn as we kicked off the first in our series of political discussions. The dug and Paul led a wide and varied discussion on a number of topics, independence being the main one! We will be continuing with more of these discussions so keep checking your emails to see who comes to visit us next!
Maryhill and Springburn were well represented by our delegates and visitors at Annual conference this year and it was with great delight that we saw fellow member Aonghas Mac Leòid re-elected to his role as National Secretary.
Along with Aonghas, we were also very pleased to see Cllr Christina Cannon elected to the National Executive.
It didn’t stop there for us as only a few weeks later we saw Susannah McWhirter elected as Women’s and Equalities officer at the GRA. Congratulations to all of them!
Report from Youth Officer Gordon Gow
As the first Youth Officer for Maryhill and Springburn, I am pleased to be able to share some introductory thoughts on this new role, for me and the branch, and on other topical matters arising. I’ve been a member of the SNP since 2007 and been active in campaigning in Maryhill & Springburn and across Glasgow since the independence referendum in 2014. During this time, I have always felt welcome and very much part of the wider SNP team.
A justifiable claim, especially now that we have nine elected members of our own in the branch! As part of a team of office bearers, I hope to play a role in continuing the good work the branch has been doing already, in terms of contacting voters across constituencies and building up a strong database of support. Working to support elected members (for once not in campaign mode!) and continuing to learn from and contribute to branch meetings with a political education focus.
Principally, the idea of increasing youth participation in the branch is the right one. And I imagine I would share that ambition with most of you. The challenge, therefore, lies in how we begin reaching out and contacting younger members. Offering them a chance to help and take part or even just encouraging a wee visit to a branch meeting. That’s how I started!
Going forward I will be speaking with Gavin Brownlie, organiser, looking at what data currently exists on youth membership, how we can actually identify younger members, and beginning to think of ways to open conversations, getting new faces involved as best we can. I look forward to reporting back on our efforts over the coming months.
Of course, the official youth wing of the party is already running at full tilt! The Young Scots for Independence (YSI) movement has existed for some time and their Glasgow group was officially launched back in March this year. As well as our efforts to get in touch with younger members for the first time, it will also be important to tap into the existing pool of youngsters in Glasgow already active in campaigning, attending meetings and events of their own. A wee thought here: It might even be that if we can build a relationship with the current crop of young activists, this could help encourage new ones to begin participating alongside the YSI as members of Maryhill & Springburn. What do you think?
I, unfortunately, couldn’t make this year’s party conference in September. However, I read with interest that the YSI had proposed and passed a motion to increase the military entrance age to 18. We spoke about this at our pre-conference branch meeting too, where it was highlighted that opponents to the motion were Carol Monaghan MP – Armed Forces Spokeswoman for the SNP – and Stewart McDonald MP – Defence spokesman at Westminster.
In all honesty, it puzzled me slightly that the party would throw such weight behind the opposition of a motion at conference. But reading their arguments and understanding that currently, recruits under the age of 18 do not serve in combat roles and haven’t done for the last 10 years. The motion also seemed inconsistent with young people currently able to vote, get married and have children in Scotland at the age of 16. Unfortunately, I think the message this motion sends is that young people can help make a decision on the future of their country in elections but not on the shape of their own careers.
As a branch, we’ve been unfortunate over the last couple of years not to have submitted a motion or two of our own. I’m sure we can agree there was some other campaigning to be done during that time which rightfully took precedence, despite our good political discussions as a branch. With Brexit last year and then the council elections and a snap general election within two months of each other, it’s been a busy but engaging time for the branch. The ability to make a difference at local level during these last number of months has been hugely rewarding, especially since we won! All of them! Now, as the dust settles from the hard work of the last year, I’m looking forward to continuing our political discussions each month and hopefully beginning to help shape our own ideas for the conference next year.
If you are interested in getting involved then please fill in the form below the equalities day post and I’ll get back to you.
SNP Conference 2017: Equalities Day
The conference can seem a daunting event for someone with a disability but it shouldn’t have to be. Recently there has been a concerted effort by the SNP to be more inclusive from Tasmina Ahmed- Sheikh hosting an Equalities Day which was held the day prior to the main Autumn conference, to the parties efforts to encourage people with disabilities to become more involved in politics, it is an encouraging time. Fiona Robertson, SNP Disabled Members Group delivered an impassioned and emotional speech about this governments treatment of disabled people and the damning UN findings. There was much to be applauded and encouraged at this conference.
The Equalities day covered a whole range of issues from women’s equalities to B.A.M.E. and L.G.B.T. issues. It did make time to include a whole afternoon devoted to discussions around disabled rights and equality. Whilst this is very much welcomed, (the SNP are the only party who host such an event), there is a long way to go to bring disability rights up to the standard generally accepted for able-bodied people.
There are many small things that can be done to make the attending of the conference a more enjoyable, stress-free experience, the devil is in the detail after all. Fortunately, the SNP Disabled Members Group are a determined bunch, and with a new executive, are determined to push these issues to the fore, and not let the party slip backwards in moves to listen and include disabled people. I would encourage any branch members to become involved in making the SNP a truly inclusive party.
If you are interested in getting involved then please fill in the form below and I’ll get back to you.
Get Campaigning! Get In Touch!
Our Equalities Officer, Youth Officer and Organiser want to hear from you! If you want to get more involved then please fill in the form below and they will get back to you.
Report From Cllr Graham Campbell
Just click the links below to read all about what some of our elected members have been doing across the constituency.
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has delivered another Tory austerity budget that cuts funding for public services but protects the super-rich. Read more about what it means for you by clicking here.
Alyn Smith MEP launches book at SNP conference in Glasgow
Alyn Smith’s diligent and enthusiastic work as an MEP since 2004 is distilled in this seminal piece ‘Scotland IN Europe – Why EU Membership is best for Scotland.’ To download a copy then please click here.
There is also an excellent interview with Alyn in Cable magazine read it by clicking here.
The Glasgow City Council election campaign is starting to take off in earnest this week. We have a number of candidates nominated to stand for the SNP in the wards in your area. Nominations have not closed just quite yet, but we’ll formally know the names of candidates very soon.
We are starting to finalise our candidates for the City Council Elections, and behind the scenes, we’re getting ready to prepare our letters, leaflets and posters. However we’ve already made a good start, and we continue to go round door-to-door. Here’s how you can get involved this week:-
Schools in Maryhill and Springburn will benefit from a £3m funding boost as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to improve standards in schools, it has been revealed.
The share each school is due to receive from the Scottish Government’s new £120 million Pupil Equity Fund has been revealed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
Following his announcement Education Secretary, John Swinney said: “I want every child in Scotland to have the best possible start in life, and it is unacceptable for children from the poorest backgrounds to have their chances limited by circumstances outside their control.”
Cllr John Letford said:
“I welcome this extra funding from the SNP Scottish Government for our local schools. Nearly £1 in £5 of this money will come to Glasgow, with nearly £1 million coming to Maryhill/Kelvin schools alone.
I’ll continue to work with our teachers, parents and pupils to close the attainment gap and these funds will help achieve that.”
Cllr Franny Scally was delighted to hear the news, he said:
“This money is a tremendous boost for not only Maryhill but all our schools across the city. I have been working closely with the schools in our community and I know this money will be welcomed by every parent and child in the area.
However, there is much more work to be done.
In 2009, two local schools were closed in the teeth of vocal opposition and demonstrations. The SNP opposed the closures. Cllr Letford and I have been campaigning for a new school ever since.
Maryhill can have a new school in the right area by voting SNP in the forthcoming council elections.”
Welcoming the announcement, SNP MSP Bob Doris said:
“This funding comes as great news for every single primary and secondary school within my constituency. Maryhill and Springburn will be receiving over £3m new cash and I welcome the Scottish Government’s initiative as it will undoubtedly support many vulnerable youngsters in our communities.
“The SNP in government has made closing the poverty-related attainment gap a number one priority, and the new £120 million Pupil Equity Fund is aimed at doing just that. Every school in my area will benefit.
“This new announcement will let parents, teachers and school heads in Maryhill and Springburn can decide how to use this funding to drive up standards and tackle the inter-generational cycle of deprivation in their school.”
*17 primaries and 5 secondaries across Maryhill and Springburn are set to receive additional support worth thousands of pounds. It will be up to teachers and school leaders to decide the best way of using the funding to close the poverty-related attainment gap in their schools.
Ruth Davidson has been challenged to put her constituents first after the Edinburgh MSP’s embarrassing silence on jobcentre closures.
In a letter to SNP MSP Ash Denham, Ruth Davidson this week said she was “sympathetic” to the DWP’s aim of reducing costs through closures, offering only a mealy-mouthed promise to “engage closely” with the DWP on the potential impact on claimants.
“In a recent debate I brought to this parliament there was strong cross-party support to save my local Jobcentre in Maryhill and others right across Glasgow. The Conservatives, however, refused to, and I quote, ‘condone’ or ‘condemn’ the 8 closures.
“Given there are now 23 closures nationwide – with one of them in Ruth Davidson’s own Edinburgh constituency – does the First Minister agree with me that it’s now time for all MSPs, including Ruth Davidson, to put their constituents first on such a serious matter?”
The First Minister responded:
“It is unfortunate that Tory MSPs are declining to stand up and be counted on this issue, an issue that is so important to Glasgow and for other parts of Scotland.
“It’s equally unfortunate that Ruth Davidson herself has declined to stand up for vulnerable people in her own constituency who might be affected by these closures.
“I think it’s time for all of us across this chamber to say to the UK government, these closures are wrong, they will harm vulnerable people, and these proposals must be urgently reconsidered.”
Watch the video below:
If you think these plans are as outrageous as we do then please sign the petition. Just click here
The Westminster government has announced morally outrageous plans to close half of all Job Centres in Glasgow. They are: Norman House, Parkhead; Muslin Street, Bridgeton; Easterhouse; Castlemilk Arcade; Battlefield Road, Langside; Herschell Street, Anniesland; Main Street, Cambuslang; and Maryhill Road, Maryhill.
So let’s focus on one of those for the moment. Maryhill.
Job seekers will now be required to either get the bus to Springburn Job Centre or walk. Taking the bus would mean an extra cost and an extra 30 minutes being added onto any existing journey time, that’s if the bus is running to time.
Failing that they could walk to their appointments which would mean a walk of over an hour, that is if they are fit and healthy.
So there is a good chance people could be late for appointments or indeed be unable to make the journey.
Given the UK government’s brutal sanctions regime – where people can lose part of their benefit payments for not meeting a number of strict conditions – it is likely this will lead to even more sanctions.
2.So what are the Department for work and pensions saying about it?
“The DWP told the PCS union that forcing vulnerable constituents with mobility issues to travel longer distances, will be an incentive into work.”
3.Did the Scottish Government know about this?
In a word….NO! In parliament, Bob Doris MSP asked Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn about these appalling plans.
Jamie Hepburn responded that the Scottish Government “had no prior notification, no meeting, no letter, no call, no email on this matter”
Whilst the Smith Commission called for increased joint-management from the Scottish Government over Job Centre Plus it seems that this has been ignored.Both Jamie Hepburn and Angela Constance, the Social Security Secretary, will meet with the UK government in January and will discuss the closures.
4.What are my MPs doing about it?
The MP for Glasgow North, Patrick Grady raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions (7th December 2016), he asked how closing Maryhill Job Centre, in one of the most deprived parts of Glasgow, will help any of his constituents who want to find a job, and why this government continues to target the poorest & most vulnerable in our society.
watch it here:
MPs – who were only informed of the plans by the DWP after reports appeared in the press – requested an urgent meeting with senior Department for Work and Pensions officials to convey their fears over the impact the plans will have on more than 74,000 recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.
Patrick Grady MP, who organised the meeting, said: “The response from senior Job Centre staff to our concerns was deeply disappointing and they were unable to explain why the public, the Scottish Government, elected representatives, and interested organisations had to find out about the plans from the press before being formally notified.
“We still have no idea what criteria was used to decide whether to close one Job Centre over another and it seems a local Equality Impact Assessment will only take place after the consultation period.
“The so-called public consultation has already started but little effort has been made to raise awareness, and the consultation will finish in January – leaving only a few weeks over the busy Christmas period for responses to be submitted.
“It was even revealed that staff had only used Google maps to calculate the additional travel time to the next Job Centre – which hardly inspires confidence that these proposals have been properly thought through with due consideration given to the thousands of individuals that will be affected.
“The DWP must allow a full and public consultation on all the closures planned for Glasgow and the SNP will continue to fight these morally unjust cuts tooth and nail.”
5.The Glasgow SNP Council Group?
An emergency motion was lodged in the Chambers on the 8th of December.
Council utterly condemns the United Kingdom Government’s proposals to close half of Glasgow’s Job Centres. Job Centres are a vital component in the network of agencies and organisations assisting people into work. This proposal will marginalise tens of thousands of Glasgow’s most vulnerable citizens.
This Council does not accept that property divestment is a suitable justification for the Department of Work and Pensions to close eight Job Centres at Anniesland, Bridgeton, Cambuslang, Castlemilk, Easterhouse, Langside, Maryhill and Parkhead. Despite improvements in employment rates in Glasgow, there is still a significant need for Job Centres, especially in these locations.
Council, therefore, instructs the Chief Executive to write to Damien Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to urgently discuss this matter and find a solution that does not undermine the efforts of thousands of Glaswegians who are trying to find work.
Along with all of this January has been a busy time for our elected representatives and branch members as there was a public meeting regarding the closures at the Maryhill Community Education Centre.
6.So what is Maryhill and Springburn Branch doing?
Quite a lot and this is where you can have your say!
We have already had a fair few days of action outside the Maryhill Job Centre and Springburn shopping centre handing out leaflets and getting people to sign a petition.
We would be grateful if you could sign it. Just click here.
Also, we want to hear from you if you are going to be directly affected by this. Don’t worry all your information will be kept confidential.Just fill in the form below.
A SCHOOL FOR MARYHILL UPDATE
In 2009, two local schools were closed in the teeth of vocal opposition and demonstrations. The SNP opposed the closures. Cllrs’ Scally and Letford have been campaigning for a new school ever since.
Glasgow City Council acknowledged that by 2020 there would be a shortage of spaces in schools in Maryhill if the current projections are accurate. It has been reported that over the next four years there will be around 800 more children living in the north-west who cannot be currently accommodated.
The council started their own consultation, however in September SNP councillors for the Maryhill/Kelvin ward, John Letford and Franny Scally, started their own survey, which was to ensure locals’ views were taken into consideration.
The survey is now closed and the SNP have had over 300 respondents.
They found the majority wanted a joint campus with both denominational and non-denominational provision.
They also found that 95% of those asked said they wanted a school to be between Queen Margaret Drive and Gairbraid Avenue.
96% said they would like the campus to be available for community use in the evenings and weekends.
Speaking to the Evening Times Cllr Letford said: “There was only one type of provision in one location offered in the council’s consultation, and we did no think this was suitable.
“We sought to assist in the consultation by asking questions in relation to the location. We have had more than 300 responses.
“Hopefully the council will utilise these responses to ensure the best local school provision for Maryhill’s children.”
Keep up to date with all the SNP council group are doing by clicking here.
MARYHILL AND SPRINGBURN WELCOMES SHONA ROBISON
January saw the official opening of the Maryhill Health Centre and it was with great pleasure that Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, came along to do the honours.
CHOOSE YOUR COUNCIL CANDIDATE!
Nomination meeting for all wards within the Maryhill and Springburn constituency will be held on the 4th Feb in the Women’s Centre.1pm-3pm.