Home Tags Posts tagged with "Fossil Fuel Levy"

Fossil Fuel Levy

libdem1Scottish Liberal Democrats

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Tavish Scott launched the party’s Sports Action Plan after joining Spartans FC for a youth training session in Edinburgh. At the session, Mr Scott also expressed his support for Scottish sport by signing the “Vote for Sport” pledge, an initiative organised by the Scottish Sports Alliance which is encouraging MSPs to act as Scottish Sporting Champions during their time at Holyrood.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced plans for a Scotland-wide school Olympics along with changes that would allow community organisations and co-operatives a greater say in the running of football and other sports.

Want to discuss other issues? Join in the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

Commenting, Mr Scott said: “Sport is more than taking pride in the achievements of Scotland’s elite athletes. Sport should genuinely be for all. Our policies would provide people of all ages with more chances to get involved at both the local and national level. We would support the immense contribution volunteers make towards making sport accessible for as many people of all ages as is possible.

“Sport can bring people together in a way that few other things can and we need to be doing everything we can to ensure that we maximise the benefits it brings to Scotland.

“The training session I participated in this morning was what sport should be all about – people coming together to play their game in the right spirit and enjoy themselves.”

Brian McKelvie, chair of the Scottish Sports Association, said: “The campaign has been received very positively and it’s great to see such a demonstration of support for sport here at the Spartans Football Club with the Liberal Democrats.”

Commenting on Shelter Scotland’s analysis of the parties’ manifestos, Liberal Democrat election chair George Lyon said:

“We recognise the need for serious, long-term investment in Scotland’s housing stock, which is why we”ve identified £250 million for insulation of homes and buildings, cutting household energy bills and creating jobs. We”re pleased that Shelter recognises this substantial investment.

“We will also take steps to bring back into use the 70,000 homes lying empty in Scotland, with grants to homeowners who take this on, provided they allow housing associations to rent them out for 10 years. And we”ll extend programmes to help people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder, afford their first home.

“These are ambitious plans that will make a real difference to people in Scotland. “Providing decent housing is essential if we”re to meet our long-term ambitions for the economy, health and social well-being.”

greens2Scottish Greens

The Greens welcomed an Ipsos MORI poll showing the party on 6 per cent on the second vote, a result which would see a significantly larger group of Green MSPs elected to the Scottish parliament, and noted an additional question which asked Scots who they would like to see the next first minister work with. This second question shows that the Greens are the preferred post-election partners for both SNP and Labour voters.

Patrick Harvie said: “This election will answer two questions: who will be first minister, and who will they have to work with at Holyrood. Today’s poll indicates that both Labour or SNP voters would prefer to see their candidate for first minister working with Greens to deliver a fairer and more sustainable Scotland.

“Perhaps the worst outcome of this election would be a Scottish government dependent on one of the coalition parties driving the cuts agenda from Westminster. That way lies a continued assault on public services and an administration which pours cold water on Scotland’s economy. The only alternative to this bleak scenario is a strong second vote for the Scottish Greens.

“Overall this result shows the Greens as one of only two parties heading upwards in the polls. We’re running a positive campaign to defend public services, to guarantee the funding which can keep tuition free, and to insulate every home in Scotland, and we’re delighted to see this approach getting such a warm response.”

Scottish Greens also announced their plans for a true zero-waste Scotland, pledging to back communities across the regions fighting plans for a generation of mass-burn waste incinerators, and to scale-up support for local reuse and recycling initiatives. The Greens are the only party that consistently opposes these incinerators, and Greens are committed to revising the Scottish government’s waste strategy to bring in a moratorium on new facilities. The party argues that burning waste will significantly undermine recycling efforts by creating a built-in demand for waste.

The party will make the case in the next parliament for a strategy that reduces overall levels of waste at source, conserving valuable resources and creating more jobs in community reuse and repair projects, as well as supporting the local provision of recycling facilities. Greens would also pilot a packaging “deposit and return” scheme, which has resulted in very high recycling rates in countries such as Denmark and has long been pioneered with glass bottles by Barrs in Scotland.

Kirsten Robb, the Scottish Greens’ top candidate in Central region, announced the policy ahead of a public meeting on incineration organised by Greens in Stonehouse, a Lanarkshire community threatened by proposals for an incinerator.

Kirsten Robb said: “Scottish Greens have been on the side of local communities across Scotland who simply want a better solution when it comes to waste. Whether in Newton Mearns or Dunbar and from here in Stonehouse or Carnbroe right up to Invergordon, Greens support campaigners who are worried about the health of their families and who just want a safe and sustainable system for reducing waste. Incineration is part of the same old thinking, it’s ‘landfill in the sky’ for local authorities who are running out of space and facing millions of pounds in fines for not tackling the root causes of this problem.

“We want a Scotland that starts by reducing waste in the first place, not just burning it or sending it to landfill. There are hundreds of examples out there of community projects leading the way in sharing, repairing and reusing items, often saving people money in the process. We think that most people who shop in a supermarket would also agree that big retailers and manufacturers have got a long way to go to reduce packaging and stop pushing offers that increase food waste. Voters who want a party that is ambitious about a more sustainable and less wasteful Scotland should use their second vote to elect a strong group of Green MSPs to the next parliament.”

The Greens launched a mini-manifesto on issues relating to children, with policies including: the provision of free nursery education for all children aged from three upwards, commitments on universal free school meals and outdoor education, the introduction of a new School Grounds Enhancement Fund, support for the Active Schools and Eco-Schools programmes, support for home learning, and the introduction of child safety legislation with the aim of making Scotland the safest place to grow up in Europe.

Alison Johnstone, the Greens’ education spokesperson and top candidate in the Lothian region, said: “These policies are designed to give Scotland’s children the best start in life that we can possibly give them, by keeping them active, feeding them well, protecting them from harm and ensuring that they live, learn and grow up in a safe and sustainable society. The Scottish Greens recognise that today’s young people are tomorrow’s citizens and leaders, and that early interventions to make them as fit, healthy and happy as possible are important in helping them to become well-rounded and active members of Scottish society.

“Our children must not be wrapped up in cotton wool – we must give them the opportunity to explore and learn, and recognise their rights, as well as teaching them about their own responsibilities, to society and to the environment in which they live. If we get it right at the start, the rest just falls into place – active, healthy, happy children are far more likely to steer clear of crime, and to become happy and fulfilled members of society, so investing in them at an early age brings benefits and savings for the whole of society.”

labour3 Scottish Labour

Scottish Labour has reacted to an analysis of the Scottish Tories’ manifesto costings by NUS Scotland which has unearthed a black hole of between £500m and £1.5billion in their university spending plans.

Scottish Labour’s candidate for Eastwood, Ken Macintosh, said: “This revelation blows apart any plans the Tories had to balance their budget on the backs of students. Not only are the Tory plans to hit students in the pockets deeply unfair, their sums just don’t add up.

“The Tories must come clean on exactly how they are going to pay not only for their higher education polices, but their entire manifesto promises.

“Only yesterday an independent evaluation of the manifesto costings found that Labour’s was the only party that had balanced it budget. Now the Tories are back, Labour will not only balance the books, we ensure no price tag is attached to those who want to go onto university.”

The last thing David Cameron wants in Scotland is a Labour government, Scottish Labour said yesterday.

The comments come following a radio interview in which the prime minister neglected to encourage voters to vote the Tories on the constituency vote, despite the Tories fielding candidates in every constituency in Scotland.

The comments come following a radio interview in which the prime minister neglected to encourage voters to vote the Tories on the constituency vote, despite the Tories fielding candidates in every constituency in Scotland. In the Good Morning Scotland interview, the prime minister said: “…the more that the Conservatives get in terms of votes and seats in parliament the more influence Annabel will be able to bring to bear and because you have got this particular voting system where you’ve got your peach form as it were for the regional vote, I would urge people, whatever they do for the constituency vote to vote Conservative on the list vote because then we’ll get more Conservatives and more common sense in the parliament.”

Scottish Labour also pointed to one of its latest leaflets that highlight the fact that David Cameron secretly wants a SNP government.

Scottish Labour’s candidate in Dumfriesshire, Elaine Murray, said: “It is clear the last thing David Cameron wants in Scotland is a strong Labour government standing up to the Tories at Westminster. David Cameron has already arranged for the Tory’s favourite newspaper to back the SNP so it is hardly surprising than he even now even seems to be encouraging people to vote SNP.

“He seems to have given up.

“Now the Tories are back, it is only Labour that can fight Scotland’s corner and focus on the things that really matter like apprenticeships, jobs and getting Scotland back to work again.”

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has slammed the Tory and SNP campaigns as being “out of touch” with the lives of ordinary Scots, after David Cameron tried to play down the cuts that were being made in Scotland.

The prime minister’s comments came on the same morning that Alex Salmond was guest of honour at a breakfast banquet hosted by News International. Labour believe that News International are backing the SNP in Scotland because David Cameron fears a Labour win.

Speaking after campaigning with Gordon Brown in Fife yesterday, Iain Gray said: ”It is absolutely stunning that David Cameron has tried to downplay the impact of his cuts in Scotland. To try to make out that things are fine is just fantasy.

“10,000 Scots joined the dole queue this year, but Alex Salmond and David Cameron have a vested interest in pretending that everything is going fine. They are giving each other an easy ride, but it’s people in Scotland that will suffer as a result.

“The Tories and the SNP are out of touch. On the same morning that David Cameron was playing down the impact of the cuts, Alex Salmond was at a breakfast banquet with top Tory news executives. It’s clear that David Cameron wants the SNP to win in Scotland.

“The Tories and the SNP are out of touch. On the same morning that David Cameron was playing down the impact of the cuts, Alex Salmond was at a breakfast banquet with top Tory news executives. It’s clear that David Cameron wants the SNP to win in Scotland. “Meanwhile, I was in Fife campaigning with Gordon Brown and talking to people about the things that really matter. We were talking to people that were concerned about jobs and we explained how Labour would abolish youth unemployment and create a quarter of a million jobs.

“People in Scotland will be very suspicious of an out of touch SNP that seems to be getting closer and closer to David Cameron’s Tories as each day in this campaign goes by.”

Want to discuss other issues? Join in the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

scotcon2 Scottish Conservatives

A poll in yesterday’s Scotsman has shown that two-thirds of Scots back a graduate contribution of up to £4,000 to the cost of their university education. The poll came on the on the same day that NUS Scotland attacked Scottish Conservative proposals for a graduate contribution towards the cost of their degree.

David McLetchie, Scottish Conservative campaign manager for the Scottish parliament election, said of the poll: “This is more evidence, after last year’s Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, that Scots are fair minded and accept that it is fair for graduates to make a contribution towards the cost of their university education. It is clear that, regardless of which party they support, people are in favour of this.

“In a perfect world everything would be free. But in the real world, voters accept that the costs have to be spread.

“Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics showed that, on average, a university graduate will earn £12,000 a year more than those who have not gone to university. Over a working life, that is a pay boost of half a million pounds.

“Despite all the evidence, Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP refuse to find the money needed to bridge the real funding gap. Scottish Conservative proposals for a graduate contribution, paid from future earning, at an affordable rate will mean that Scotland’s universities can retain their excellence, retain their student numbers and we can also boost bursary support for students from poorer backgrounds by £55 million a year.

“By contrast, the deficit deniers in the other parties threaten our universities’ standing, threaten up to 13,000 student places and are out of tune with public opinion.”

On the statement yesterday by the NUS Scotland, Mr Brownlee said: “This attack from NUS Scotland is just not credible. On this evidence, NUS Scotland appears happy to sit by and see student numbers reduced and Scottish universities enter into a spiral of decline. If we listen to NUS Scotland, then universities will face a black hole in their funding.

“We have made clear that for the lifetime of the parliament, we would cap the graduate contribution at £4,000. NUS Scotland has got so many assumptions wrong in their haste to attack Scottish Conservative plans to safeguard student numbers and increase bursary support, that their claims cannot be taken seriously.

“Only yesterday, the independent CPPR (Centre for Public Policy for Regions) report from Glasgow University said that alone of the parties only the Scottish Conservatives were looking at plans to secure the necessary support for higher and further education without ‘accepting a slow, gradual, decline in the standard of Scottish post school education and research’.”

snp1 SNP

First minister and Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond attacked David Cameron over Scotland’s near-£200 million fossil fuel levy, in an article in the Courier during his visit north of the border, where he said that the UK government are giving Scotland £250 million of resources for the Green Investment Bank.

Mr Salmond pointed out that the UK government are refusing to hand over the Fossil Fuel Fund without deducting the same amount from the Scottish budget, and that Scotland would be due far more than £250 million from the Green Investment Bank given the advanced nature of our renewables industry in Scotland.

Mr Salmond said: “It is typically Tory to try to short-change Scotland with our own money.

“The Con/Dem coalition are refusing to hand over Scotland’s fossil fuel levy – worth nearly £200 million – without clawing the cash back from the Scottish budget. This money could and should be used to power forward the renewable energy sector in Scotland, helping to reindustrialise the nation, including developing ports around Scotland such as Dundee.

“Pro-rata, Scotland has ten times the renewable energy capacity as England, and we are due far more than £250 million from the Green Investment Bank – regardless of the fossil fuel levy, which should be wholly additional to the Scottish budget.

“The SNP will fight for Scotland’s resources – Labour failed to deliver the fossil fuel levy, the Con/Dems are also pauchling the money, and a re-elected SNP government would have a mandate to get it handed over at long last.”

The Scottish National Party welcomed an Ipsos MORI poll in the Times and the Scottish Sun which puts the SNP ahead on 45 per cent in the constituency vote to 34 per cent for Labour, and shows 42 per cent of Scots backing Alex Salmond for first minister on the list vote with only 32 per cent backing Labour.

The poll shows a 5 per cent swing to the SNP since the last Mori poll in February, and gives the SNP its highest poll rating in this campaign, whilst Labour’s rating is at its lowest since May 2010 (31 per cent, YouGov 3-4 May).

Commenting on the poll, SNP campaign director Angus Robertson said: “This is an excellent poll, and confirms that more and more people are considering voting SNP – many for the first time – because they want to re-elect the SNP government and Alex Salmond for first minister.

“We are taking nothing for granted, and will contest the remaining two weeks of the campaign as a close two-horse race. We will continue working hard to earn the trust and support of the people for the SNP’s record, team and vision for Scotland.”

The poll result comes as Tommy Brennan, one of Scotland’s trade union leaders, has endorsed Alex Salmond’s re-election as first minister – citing Mr Salmond’s “inspiring goal” to re-industrialise Scotland by leading the world in renewable energy technology.

Mr Brennan was works convener of the Ravenscraig shop stewards, and the man who led the fight to save the Scottish steel industry in the 1980s and 1990s. He worked at the Lanarkshire steel plant for 31 years until 1991.

Mr Brennan said: “Alex Salmond’s vision for Scotland is one all Scots should support. I’m delighted to endorse him for a second term as first minister.

“I remember only too well the pain caused by the de-industrialisation of Scotland under the Tories in the 1980s and 1990s, and believe that Alex Salmond’s ambition to re-industrialise Scotland by leading the renewables energy revolution is an insipring goal for young Scots and for jobs and industry in the 21st century.”

Want to discuss other issues? Join in the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

snp1First Minister Alex Salmond has launched a £50m fund to invest in green transport technology. The Future Transport Fund is part of the Scottish Futures Fund, and will invest in projects which improve connectivity whilst reducing CO2 emissions.

Mr Salmond launched the fund on a visit to the University of Dundee Centre for Renewable Energy. DUCRE is engaged in a range of diverse renewable energy and environmental research including electrical vehicles.

Commenting on the launch of the fund, Mr Salmond said:

“In our first term, the SNP Government led the world with the most ambitious climate change targets ever introduced – legislating to reduce harmful emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 with our Climate Change Act. A re-elected SNP Government is committed to investing in the technology to make this ambition a reality.

“Transport is a major source of CO2 gases and accounts for a quarter of Scotland’s total emissions. Through the Scottish Futures Fund, the SNP will invest £50m in improving connectivity and innovation in transport.

“The fund will deliver economic as well as environmental benefits by encouraging Scottish firms specializing in low carbon transport technologies.

“The low carbon economy offers us a huge chance to reindustrialise Scotland with the development of innovative projects from our universities to our industries. Low carbon transport firms like Axeon here in Dundee are part of that opportunity for the future.”

Mr Salmond also commented on the Foreign Office statement that former Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa has left the UK for Qatar, saying:

“Mr Moussa Koussa was interviewed by Scottish police last Thursday as a potential witness in the Lockerbie investigation. He has not been under Scottish jurisdiction, and therefore the Crown Office has no power over his movements.

“However, we have every reason to believe that the Scottish authorities will be able to interview him again if required.”

Want to discuss other issues? Join in the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

Also, as Labour leader Iain Gray attacked First Minister Alex Salmond in the Times yesterday, SNP Business Convener Bruce Crawford said:

“Iain Gray’s remarks are laughable – if he can’t even speak to Glaswegians protesting against Tory cuts, he is clearly incapable of standing up to the Tories.

“Labour’s record of standing up for Scotland is pitiful. The SNP led the protest against the Tory Budget’s smash and grab raid on Scotland’s North Sea revenues – and when it came to the vote in the House of Commons, Labour MPs betrayed Scotland and sat on their hands.

“And Iain Gray’s examples are ludicrous – the last Labour Government failed to hand over Scotland’s near £200 million Fossil Fuel Levy, while the SNP have consistently pressed the issue and led the debate to build a Holyrood majority demanding Scotland’s money.

“And if it had been left to Labour’s Andy Kerr, Scotland would have lost the £1.5 billion that he left tied up in the UK Treasury’s End Year Flexibility.

“The SNP Government agreed a Joint Declaration with the Welsh and Northern Irish administrations protesting against the UK Government’s unilateral decision to write off EYF stocks. And thanks to John Swinney’s financial acumen, we got Scotland’s money out before the Treasury closed the bank, leaving only £23 million – far less than the £150 million each that the Welsh and Northern Irish lost.

“John Swinney is the most effective Finance Minister that Scotland has had – all that Iain Gray has demonstrated is that he has no knowledge or understanding of these issues.”

Meanwhile, Stuart McMillan, the SNP’s candidate for Greenock and Inverclyde, welcomed the decision of three Court of Session judges to reject an appeal by the insurance industry to overturn a law brought in by the SNP Government which gives victims of an asbestos-related illness the right to claim damages.

Welcoming yesterday’s decision Mr McMillan said:

“The SNP Government and Kenny MacAskill acted swiftly to address the injustice faced by pleural plaque sufferers. The decision of the House of Lords was outrageous and I am pleased that action was taken by the Justice Secretary to ensure that the ruling has no affect in Scotland.

“Those who are suffering from work related illnesses, particularly those caused by asbestos, should have the right to seek compensation and it is quite right they can still do so in Scotland.”

<em>Picture: außerirdische sind gesund</em>

Picture: außerirdische sind gesund

Welcome to the new surreal realities. A Tory Westminster government, with its Lib Dem partners, is considering giving Scotland back £180 million of her own money that the previous Labour administration had kept locked up in a bank vault.

And, as that curiously interesting coalition government struggles to hold together the British arc of prosperity with Greece, Portugal and Italy, it emerges that only John Lewis can save the economy. More on that later.

In Scotland, meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party positions itself as the party of the easily duped proletariat (this morning’s first debate was on Protection for Workers) and continues to adopt with a straight face a policy of blaming Westminster cuts on the Nats.

Labour leader Elmer Fudd, alter-ego of the superhero known as Iain Gray, reckons he scored such a success with this latter ruse last week (“Nat cuts” was the parroted theme on several front pages of the Unionist press) that he picked up his boomerang again and, never one to learn, waited for it to return and clatter him on the coupon.

Not only that, but after last week’s bizarre performance by leading hysteric Karen Whitefield, he positioned her directly behind him, while behind Karen in turn lolled the drooling jaw of Helen Eadie, one of the leading political figures in the whole Dunfermline East area. Dumb and Dumber sprang to mind.

As Elmer repeated his smoke and mirrors act, First Minister Ecksworth Salmond, alter-ego of caped crusader Curryman, reprised the line that there were 10,000 more people working in the NHS in Scotland than under the previous Lib-Lab administration. And there’d be no compulsory redundancies.

Fudd listed horrendous sounding redundancies (planned by the NHS boards, of course; despite the impression Mr Fudd tries to give, they’re not acting on orders from on high) and asked whether these employees were necessary or not. If not, then “what on earth are they doing?”. Fair point. For someone to answer.

Eck dutifully ignored the question and quoted a BBC report which suggested a £2 billion pot had been set aside under Labour for NHS cuts and redundancies in England. Any mention of England always sets the Labour benches off. To them, England is Mecca. To them, when praying, we should get on our knees and face south.

Fudd did his own about-face, changing tack from his previous accusation that Eck didn’t know what was going on and now claiming he was masterminding the entire operation. Apparently, Eck had been sitting since 30 April with a list, saying: “Yes, he’s got to go. She’s no use. Who’s that fat nurse? Get her out. Sack them all. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a maniacal laugh to perform. Ah-ha-ha-ha! Ah-ha-ha-ha!”

Fudd’s fantasy continued: “How many NHS jobs is he planning to cut? He knows. Will he tell us now?” Eck came back with another report, to the effect that the NHS in Englandshire was planning to shed 137,000 jobs – one tenth of the workforce.

Again, he said, this was a Labour idea, and Eck wondered if we were all supposed to engage in “collective amnesia” about it. Labour remembered to shout abuse, prompting Alex “Hercules” Fergusson, the Parliament’s admirable presiding orifice, to sound genuinely annoyed in his calls for order. Fudd, meanwhile, ululated that the SNP’s election slogan should have been “More cuts, less nurses”, and added: “Yes, we know that the Con-Dem cuts are coming. They’re coming in June. But the Con Man cuts are coming now.”

Suddenly, the alleged Con Man under advisement made a move that sent a shudder through the chamber. A bolt of lightning crackled overhead. Schoolchildren hid under their seats. Security guards spoke urgently into walkie-talkies. Yes, Mr Eck brandished a copy of the Daily Mail. What had we done to deserve this?

This is the paper that hates Scotland so much it won’t accept the title “Scottish Government”, and still tries to keep the country in its place by referring to the “Scottish Executive”. What was Eck thinking of? He explained: “I don’t normally quote the Daily Mail.” Praise be. “It’s not my required reading of a morning.” Thank God for that. As the Daily Mash (brilliant website) t-shirt slogan has it: “The Daily Mail – like spending 20 minutes in a mental hospital.”

The First Eck continued nevertheless to confess fascination on reading a report in which Labour finance spokesman Andy Kerr had attacked the SNP for not cutting public spending this year.

Eck described this as “extraordinary”. Fudd looked stumped, and the FM advised him to reach agreement with his finance spokesman. “Then perhaps he can toddle along to this chamber with a semblance of credibility.” That wasn’t fair. Elmer doesn’t toddle. He lopes diffidently. There’s a difference, you know (and one I’m happy to point out, as he’s apparently sensitive about his controversial walking style).

Top Tory totty Annabel Goldie ambled in merrily, bringing sunshine from suburbia with her, so chuffed was she at how things were panning out at Mother Westminster. She pointed oot that, while former Prime Minister Broon had never visited Holyrood in three years, current PM Dave Cameron was here within three days.

She listed stuff planned by Dave, while noting: “We all know that this SNP minority government has run out of ideas.” Correct. “And it’s the UK Government now setting the agenda.” No need to sound so pleased, hen. “That, Mr Ecksworth, is real progressive politics,” she added.

Eck said that, when he’d proposed a “progressive coalition”, it was to keep the Tories oot of Scotland. “And we all know that Labour ran away from that responsibility,” he added.

Now, he expected the whole parliament to work in the national interest – ha, the hopeless idealist! – and lobby for Scotia to have access to her own money, such as the £180 million fossil fuel levy that had “lain unused in a London bank for the last six years”. That, he said, would be a “Good Thing”. It would also be a “Good Thing” if Scotia had the borrowing powers of a normal country, and a “Really Good Thing” if we could get consequentials from the Olympics.

Annabel knows a Good Thing when she sees it, and I wondered if that included the cut-glass decanter of sherry that doubtless sits on her immaculately waxed sideboard. She sounded like she’d been inhaling from it heavily when, quite unaccountably, she lurched into an exegesis about working with her beloved UK Government to stem binge-drinking.

Eck said it was surprising how much Tories south of the Border were in tune with good ideas on this subject, unlike their counterparts in Holyrood. Perhaps Annabel should try to reach consensus with them and, more importantly, with him on getting powers to expand the Scottish economy instead of just trying to mitigate Westminster cuts.

Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott claimed the coalition in Londonshire could help the Scottish economy, adding that, under the Nationalist Government, unemployment in Scotland was higher than in the rest of the UK. Could Eck explain that?

No offence, Tavish mate, but follow me closely here: are-you-thick? You can’t control unemployment if you don’t control the economy. It’s simples. No amount of repeating cack-filled canards can change that.

Eck pointed out dutifully that unemployment had been higher under the Libbery-Labbery administration, but what’s the point of bothering? He did add, though, that John Lewis was creating 400 jobs in Hamilton. Good old John Lewis. Even their slogan could be adapted to address the subsidy junkie myth: Scotland, always knowingly undersold.

<em>Picture: Open Democracy </em>

Picture: Open Democracy

Residents in any area of the UK will be able to instigate referendums on any issue, according to the coalition deal between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives published today.

The partnership agreement states: “We will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any issue.”

So does this mean the green light for a referendum on Scottish independence?

No. That is the last thing the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats want. But, by including this provision in the coalition agreement, they have certainly handed ammunition to the SNP.

What the Tory-Lib government wants to do is promote more local democracy and local referendums are part of this package.

The idea obviously sounded great in principle when it was discussed by the party managers. They envisaged residents getting together to oppose a new road or back a new roundabout or change the catchment areas of schools.

What they did not envisage was a referendum on the break-up of the UK. However, that is how this will be portrayed by the Nationalists. By giving their backing to the principle of referendums on any issue, the new UK Government cannot now oppose a referendum on independence in principle.

Up until now, the Conservative position has been straightforward: “no referendum on independence, not now, not ever”.

The Liberal Democrats have been more ambivalent, saying “not now – but maybe in the future”.

Now, though, by agreeing to referendums in principle, the Tories seem to have lost the moral authority they used to have in rejecting an independence referendum out of hand.

For instance, it will be very difficult for any Conservative politician to argue that a referendum is irrelevant in Scotland when a Conservative Government backs the idea for any community, however small, on any issue.

There are a number of other, interesting, aspects of the coalition agreement for Scotland.

It sets out plans to establish a commission into the West Lothian Question, which may end up depriving Scots MPs of the right to vote on English domestic issues and it promises to implement the proposals of the Calman Commission – there are, though, no details about whether these will be implemented in full or part.

The agreement suggests that the £185 million of Scotland’s Fossil Fuel Levy (which has been in a Treasury account for years and which the Scottish Government cannot access without losing the equivalent off its block grant) may be given to Scotland.

But, crucially, it also seems to suggest that there will be no review of the Barnett Formula which allocates a share of funding increases to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, until the UK finances have recovered.

Given the scale of the deficit, it is likely to take five to ten years, at least, before the UK finances are back in a stable condition again so there is unlikely to be any change to Scotland’s funding formula before that time.