In my last column I said that the next few months would be hectic, but exciting, and it has certainly proved to be that… and more.
On the positive side, our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Minister John Swinney hammered out a deal with Westminster which meant that we get the devolved tax powers we were promised before the referendum without a £7billion price tag the Tories wanted to charge us.
The Scottish Government stood their ground and insisted that Scotland should not be a penny worse off by gaining these vital powers which means that we can decide how to vary them in line with our progressive tax policy which will help us create a fairer, more equal society.
Make no mistake, this was a momentous achievement in our nation’s history and would not have been happened without our Government leaders’ standing up for Scotland so that we would not lose out.
The new council tax banding is also a huge step forward in creating a fairer society. Only 25 per cent of people in larger properties will be affected and there are many exemptions depending on personal circumstances. It will generate £100million for local authorities to use on education which is at the top of the Scottish Government agenda.
The Scottish Cabinet ministers came to Clydebank last month on a whirlwind tour of businesses and industries in the town, culminating in a fantastic public meeting in the Town Hall where people of all political persuasion and none put their questions to the panel of Ministers who answered fairly and honestly.
The good-natured and positive atmosphere was in marked contrast, however, to the petulant display by Labour councillors and activists chanting outside the Hall as the Cabinet arrived and during the meeting.
Their childish jeering and chanting was an embarrassment to our town and I think they should ask themselves why they are protesting about local government cuts when they voted with the Tories on their austerity budget last year.
Now they blame the SNP Government and want to charge everyone an austerity tax of 1p. This tax would affect 2.5 million taxpayers in Scotland, including the lowest paid and almost half a million pensioners. Labour are shifting the burden of Tory austerity, which they voted for, on to ordinary working people. You couldn’t make it up.
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Clydebank Blitz and I will be taking part in the Commemoration Services here and at Westminster in London. This is by no means a glorification of war, but a chance to remember all the brave families who suffered terrible losses during this black period in our history. I will be proud to take part and pay tribute to them.
The dissolution of Parliament for the Holyrood election on May 5 begins on March 24. Before then, I have a surgery on March 18 in Parkhall, 5pm-6pm, so please call in.