Ellon hustings 17 April 2015

An evening with Justine, Part 2

“So the question was: How do you plan to improve support services?

Clarke’s first up, he says the councils are very hard up because of the council tax freeze and he would like to get rid of it and raise council tax. Is that a vote winner? Braden wants all carers to be paid the living wage, scrap the bedroom tax and pause the roll out of Universal Credit. Fair enough I suppose. Justine wants to devolve funding down to the lowest level, she is against centralisation. She appears to be offering more of the last 5 years but decides now is the time to pull the rabbit from the hat, “I’ll gie ya £800m for your NHS Scotland.” That’s a fat rabbit, but the LibDems voted with the tories for £30bn cuts. Where’s this cash coming from? WeeEck sets aboot defending the council tax freeze, he says abody’s benefited fae the freeze, afore it was frozen cooncil tax had shot up faster than a squib on bonfire nicht. A the auld folks had benefited too and a the cooncils hid been fully funded.

A this chat fae WeeEck fair winds up Justine. She his a go at the tories’ cuts, but yon Malcolm Bruce voted for all of them. The irony is lost on her. Noo she’s wanting to bin cooncil tax a thigethir, but she wid gie us a new local income tax. By this time she’s up tae high doe, ranting aboot the bedroom tax (irony again?). It seemed to me that WeeEck had pressed a button and set Justine off. Braden agrees with WeeEck about bedroom tax. Clark says zero hour contracts are magic, because without them some people wouldn’t have a job. He makes a pre prepared Freudian slip and calls the LibDems the Labour Democrats. It fell pretty flat.

For me I would like to see a local income tax, it would make the councils directly responsible to the electorate. I always thought that council tax was unfair.

Some bloke serves another course: When will we see home rule or devo max?

WeeEck’s got fire in his belly, gies us a stirring speech aboot vows and pledges beein honoured. “Send me tae Westminster an, wi ma pals, we’ll mak sure Scotland gets fit it was promised,” sort ae stuff. That went down well (with me anyway). Justine gies us a history lesson that  must hae been written by her pal @historywoman (get the tag right, all lower case). Then she says she wants Federalism within the UK. Braden gives WeeEck a dressing down about the costs of Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA), he says we would end up with all of the costs of independence but none of the benefits (Wow, a Labour PPC admitting that there would be benefits to independence. He’s gone off message there.) Clark decides to have a go at Justine’s claim, “I’m not a Unionist.” That’s right, Justine claims to not be a unionist, “I’m a federalist,” she says. But I remember her dedication to the Union during the independence campaign. She stood shoulder to shoulder with the tories in defence of the union, but she’s not a Unionist? Come on. She even tried to deny that she had said any such thing, but all of the other panelists told her that they remember her saying it. Oh dear, sometimes it’s best to just stop digging.

ae finish aff this wee spell WeeEck cracks a joke, “The Smith Commission had to go at the speed of the slowest boat in the convoy, and with Conservatives, Labour and LibDems there were lots of slow boats.” It had me laughing. Then he said that Smith doesn’t come close to devo max. I couldn’t agree more, Smith was a giant fudge with every aspect of it reduced to the lowest common denominator. If we allow it, we won’t even get the powers in the Smith recommendations.

I’ll finish this one here, watch out for Part 3 soon.

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