This Week in Scotland: Charles Kennedy MP passes


Death of Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy sadly died on Monday 1st June at the age of 55. Kennedy became the leader of the Liberal Democrats in 1999 having entered Parliament at the age of 23 in 1983. His laidback approach which saw him dubbed, “inaction man”, by the opposition was deceptive as he was one of the brightest political thinkers of his generation. He successfully led his party to its electoral peak and proved to have great foresight being the only UK party leader to warn the British public of the perils they faced when invading Iraq. His death sparked an outpouring of tributes from the political community, where he was aptly described by PM David Cameron to be “the most human of politicians”.

Nicola Sturgeon speaks in Brussels about EU prospects

Nicola Sturgeon took the opportunity to address the forthcoming EU referendum whilst visiting the European Policy Centre in Brussels this week. Sturgeon’s message complimented the ideas set out by PM David Cameron as she claimed she would work with him where there was overlap. Although Sturgeon was outspoken in her support for continued membership of the EU, she outlined a series of reforms that had significant overlap with those being sought by the UK Government, including expanding the single market and tackling EU interference in areas better handled nationally.

Nicola Sturgeon suggested that a second independence referendum would happen if Scotland was “dragged” out of the EU against its wishes and once again demanded that the UK Government amends its EU referendum bill to include a ‘quad-lock’ – where all four components of the UK must vote to leave for the result to be valid.

Ken Macintosh launches Scottish Labour leadership bid

Ken Macintosh has launched his bid to lead the Scottish branch of the party. Macintosh has represented the Eastwood constituency since 1999 and holds the position of Labour’s social justice spokesman at Holyrood. Macintosh has been described as a ‘reformist’ and advocates a change in approach for the party. He claims that having lost “the trust and the faith of the people of Scotland”, it is essential that Labour stops defining itself with respect to the SNP and the Conservatives and playing a blame game.

Macintosh faces significant opposition in candidate Kezia Dugdale, who has secured the backing of former leader Johann Lamont and also currently works as deputy party leader under Jim Murphy, who will resign his position later this month.

Ken Macintosh previously stood for the position in 2011 and has proposed fundamental changes to the labour leadership election processes, calling for a quick contest based on a one member one vote principle. He reflects positively on the General Election claiming, “The perverse opportunity offered by our terrible defeat is that with only one MP in Scotland, we actually have the opportunity to start again”.

Fergus Ewing protests Scotland being frozen out of green energy decisions

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Energy Minister, has written to his UK counterpart, Amber Rudd to ask for clarity on the UK government’s intentions. His concerns arise as it is expected that the UK government will announce plans to stop onshore wind power subsidies shortly. Ewing deems this potential move irrational as on shore wind power is the UK’s most cost-effective form of clean energy.

Ian Marchant of the British Wind partnership commented that energy policy should reflect the views of the electorate. This would support continued investment in renewables as government polls have shown “onshore wind is backed by 65% of the public – more than supported any political party at the election”.

Alistair Carmichael facing leak enquiry

An inquiry into the actions of former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael’s has been announced. The investigation aims to determine whether Carmichael broke the House of Commons Code of Conduct in 3 areas by approving the leaking of an official Whitehall memo involving Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador in advance of the General Election.

Further Austerity

The Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled that unprotected UK departmental budgets (i.e. all bar Health, International Development) will fall by a further £3bn in 2015/16. The cut will result in a £177m cut in public spending in Scotland as the Chancellor seeks to continue to cut the UK deficit. John Swinney has described the cut as “unexpected and unwarranted”. Osborne has retorted by stating that the Scottish Government has the powers to nullify the cuts if it wants to by raising taxes.

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