This will be my last column before the Holyrood Elections on 5 May. Recently I have been working hard with Clare Adamson the SNP candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw to highlight the SNP’S achievements in government since 2007. I hope to welcome Clare as the MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw so that we can work together to help the people who live here.
Here in Scotland we have higher employment rates than the rest of the UK; free tuition for further and higher education; and free prescriptions and eye tests. The SNP government has built 30,000 affordable homes and pledged another 50,000; and increased NHS funding to £13 billion – the highest ever!
People in Scotland trust us to stand up for Scotland and its peoples’ interests as we did with the fiscal framework. When the Treasury tried to get an agreement that would have cut Scotland’s budget by £7 billion John Swinney won a better deal for Scotland/
Last week in his Budget George Osborne announced further cuts to disability payments. Since then the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith has resigned. Even he could not stomach further cuts to disabled people whilst the Chancellor was reducing tax rates for the rich. You can rest assured that I will vote against anything which makes the most vulnerable in our society poorer and benefits the rich.
Poverty is something that is far too present in our communities. To get a better understanding of what is happening on the ground to help people I recently set up a forum and invited local organisations to come together to discuss what they are doing. Forum members focus on a variety of issues from getting people back into work, fighting benefit sanctions, supplying food parcels and baby essentials and addressing mental health issues.
I was delighted to be asked by Nicola Sturgeon to be the Pensioner’s Champion for the Holyrood election. I hope to show how the SNP government’s policies improve the lives of older people. The SNP is committed to continuing measures such as free bus passes which enable older people to get out and about and which means that buses run during off peak times.
I have also started an all Party Parliamentary Group on Encouraging Older Women in Public Life. I feel that Parliament should reflect society and older women are an under-represented group who can bring so much experience to public life.