The Scot Tories are every bit as cruel as their extreme Westminister counterparts and this week confirms that

This week has seen Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour withdraw an amendment he had tabled to the Social Security Bill within which he called for terminally ill patients to have their benefit entitlement reassessed if they survived for over three years. The Lothian MSP has faced significant criticism by politicians across the spectrum including Labour, SNP, Greens and Liberal Democrats who question his judgment in laying the amendment in the first place.

Balfour’s amendment sought to force Scottish ministers to revisit benefit entitlement for those patients who were diagnosed with a condition or disease which doctors believe will claim their lives within a short period of time. The amendment read: “At the end of a period of three years beginning with the day on which the individual applied for such assistance, the individual is still living, the Scottish ministers must review the individual’s entitlement to assistance.”  (Page 24, Point 69 on 1st Marshalled List of Amendments for Stage 2 – https://rebrand.ly/8c25)

Kezia Dugdale the former leader of Scottish Labour branded Balfour’s amendment ‘disgusting’ in a piece she wrote for the Daily Record and called on Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to state if she backs Jeremy Balfour. In the article, Kezia said: “Terminally-ill people deserve support and care – not cruel assessments to check if they are still dying.”

It’ll come as no shock or surprise to anyone that many disabled and chronically ill people (and those who support them) feel worn down and are in a state of perpetual fear and alarm over the many years of unrelenting cruel, degrading and punishing benefit applications, medicals, reassessments and appeals all to secure financial assistance in order to meet the additional expenditure resulting from their condition(s). This is but the latest chapter in the Tory playbook aimed at steadily chipping away at the moral fabric of our communities.

A recent story in the Independent highlighted that the public has made over 300,000 benefit fraud tip-offs over the past two years and over 87% were closed after little or no evidence of fraud was found. In 2016 it was reported by the Guardian that out of a million fraud tips made by the public, over 890,000 (that’s over 85%) were closed by the DWP due to no fraud has taken place. It is clear that the ‘benefit scrounger’ and ‘workshy malingerer’ narratives regurgitated by the Tories are having a negative impact on society. The Tories are pitching communities against each other and empowering and encouraging neighbours to ‘do their bit’ by spying on each other and reporting any anomalies to HQ.

In Scotland, we have a unique opportunity with the planned transfer of powers to Holyrood over PIP, carers allowance and a number of other social security benefits and programmes. We have an opportunity to design a new social security system within a rights-based framework which will put the recipient and their needs at its core. The Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman has been working from the off to include as many agencies, carers and welfare recipients in the design of the new regime as possible. We have all been encouraged to feed-in to the research and work being carried out and I myself have joined one of the experience panels which is concerned with designing this new system to be fit for purpose, fair and transparent and a system which delivers real and measured support to chronically ill and disabled people and those who care for or look after us. You can read more about the work of the experience panels at http://allequal.xyz/socpanels.

Ruth Davidson the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party (to give it its full name) goes to great lengths to try to convince the Scottish electorate that the party she leads is a unique and distinct party which responds to the needs and wants of Scottish society. Despite claims that she is a proud conservative on a mission to reignite conservative values in Scotland, during elections in Scotland her own party campaign materials were markedly light on the use of the words ‘conservative party’. We were told that the new contingent of Scottish Tory MP’s would stand up for Scotland but to date, we’ve seen the exact opposite.

I can say with a great degree of certainty that majority of us would welcome the fact that our terminally ill loved one was able to spend longer with us than initially expected and this type of move by the Tories to strip benefits from people at the very time they are in most need is cruel and dehumanising and has absolutely no place in a modern and vibrant Scotland. I am glad that Balfour has withdrawn his amendment but feel incredibly concerned that he felt it was appropriate to table it in the first place!

What do you think about this amendment and the fact that the Tory spokesperson on Social Security and Disability tabled it in the first place? Share your thoughts below.

Theresa May And The Tories Are Playing A Dangerous Game In Scotland

The major problem with the Scottish Tories is that they are very clearly misreading the political situation in Scotland. 

The Holyrood elections did not see Scotland uncharacteristicly run to embrace Conservatism but rather traditional Scottish Labour voters sought a refuge as their party was in the midst of dying a death. 
Scottish Labour voters saw a party so impotent and so inept that any meaningful vote cast for them would be wasted in the expected sea of yellow. It was with realisation that Scottish Labour voters crossed the floor and voted for a brash pretender with gall and effrontery and a desire to hold the First Minister to account. 

Ruth et al need to stop proclaiming that they’ve somehow turned Scotland blue; it is absolutely untrue and is being used to muddy the waters surrounding talks of a mandate and support for Conservatism and Unionism in Scotland. This, by extension, is being used to somehow paint the Prime Minister as some demigod who’s broken through in Scotland. 

She hasn’t and she’ll come to learn that Conservatism is not suddenly being embraced the length and breadth of Scotland. Labour died and the Tories picked up opposition votes from those determined to make a SNP government answer to a strong opposition.  

What do you think? Are the Tories playing a dangerous game?

Wullie Rennie And The Policing Bill That Never Was

In late 2014 The Daily Record, the Morning Star and the Herald all reported that the Liberal Democrats owed Police Scotland £800,000 for providing policing at its 2013 conference. This unpaid bill was (and still is) regularly banded around on social media but it simply isn’t true.

While Police Scotland does provide policing at large-scale public events in order to maintain public order and prevent breaches of the peace, there was no £800,000 policing bill sent to the Lib Dems and no request for them to pay any such amount was made.

Police Scotland confirmed this in a Freedom of Information request via the WhatDoTheyKnow website and the original reply can be viewed online at –https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/236796/response/588113/attach/3/2014%202277%20final%20response.pdf – I share this as I have seen a few people I know sharing this and when we are debating about Scotland’s future, it is important that we are accurate.

Lord howard

Tory Peer And Former Party Leader, Lord Howard Says May Would Go To War Over Gibraltar

The world is watching Theresa May and her Government stagger from one Brexit related disaster to another and yesterday was no exception. Former Thatcher and Major cabinet minister and Tory party leader Michael Howard was interviewed by Sky News and stated that Theresa May would lead Britain into war to protect the sovereignty of Gibraltar against claims by Spain. The intervention came days after draft EU negotiating plans spelled out the bloc’s position that Spain could be given a veto over post-Brexit deals applying to Gibraltar.

Rather than flatly condemning Howard’s comments, Number 10 said:

“All that Lord Howard was trying to establish, was the resolve that we have to protect the rights of Gibraltar and its sovereignty as I have set out.

“We’ve been very clear that we will support fully Gibraltar’s right to its sovereignty.”

We are only days into the triggering of Article 50 and we have growing tensions over Gibraltar’s future and an unelected Tory peer raised a hue and cry and put Spain on notice, all the while being defended by the Prime Minister.

Watch the Michael Howard and Sky News interview below

 

RESULTS: Should Theresa May Block A New Scottish Independence Referendum?

10,897 of you voted in the poll and 63% of you said that Theresa May should not block a new Scottish referendum on Independence and should instead transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament as soon as possible. This poll ran from 24/03/2017 to 28/03/2017 and was hosted here.

 

Should Theresa May block a new Scottish Independence Referendum-
Should Theresa May block a new Scottish Independence Referendum? – The results are in

The Home Secretary Goes After Whatsapp End-to-end Encryption

Only a matter of days from Wednesday’s terrorist attack, Amber Rudd MP the UK’s Home Secretary gave an interview on the The Andrew Marr Show during which she said Whatsapp end-to-end encryption is ‘completely unacceptable’ and that the Government need to make sure that organisations like Whatsapp don’t create ‘a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other’.

The Home Secretary goes on to say that the intelligence services should be able to ‘get into’ encrypted whatsapp messages.

This is an evolution and application of the mantra, ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ which has been used to justify ever increasing surveillance by perpetuating the myth that Governments are not watching you and I but the malignant wrongdoers in society. The picture being constantly painted is that Islamist terrorism could be all but eradicated if it wasn’t for Whatsapp and other encrypted messaging providers enabling faceless, unknown terrorists-in-the-making to secretly synchronise, plan and communicate with their extended networks. This argument is nonsense.

As demonstrated when Kahlid Masood was named as the person behind Wednesday’s terror attack, attacks are rarely committed by those with no history of involvement with the authorities. Masood had a number of previous convictions for violence and was investigated previously by MI5. According to research conducted by the Henry Jackson Society, three-quarters of Islamist-related offences are committed by those previously known to the authorities with 48% of offenders already known to the security services.

The government should be looking at the role UK prisons play in radicalisation and exploring ways to reach young males vulnerable to the messages sent out by the terrorist group Daesh, rather than embarking on a dangerous project of weakening encryption. If tech companies are forced to engineer backdoors and permit the security services to exploit them, we could never be confident in the security of our data regarding the most sensitive and private parts of our lives.

What do you think? Should tech companies be forced to allow security services access to messages? Have your say below.