Carers, Brexit and Labour

Tuesday February 26th 2019

Christine Grahame

Christine Grahame MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

Borders Care Voice

I did a Carers Question time for MSPs recently. We do get some of the questions in advance as they are pretty detailed.

Many related to reserved issues such as Universal Credit and PIPs (Personal Independence Payment). In due course (that is in a couple of years) the Scottish Government will be responsible for PIP assessments and not before time.

However taking Universal Credit first, international commentators, not just yours truly, have identified that the dreadful rules and processes of UC has led to an increase in Foodbank referrals. As for PIPs I have had cases of folk who had debilitating and incurable conditions with mobility cars for years, after a so-called assessment threatened with their removal.

Some were even told to “just appeal”. Well when they came to me they did and successfully.

Did you know that 70% of appeals were successful? Tells you it’s not about being fair and compassionate but about cutting costs no matter what the cost to the individual.

As for the Bedroom Tax, Michelle Ballantyne has said it “doesn’t exist” She also believe that no-one on UC should have support for more than two children. Doesn’t matter if you have the bad luck to fall on hard times through illness or redundancy. According to her you should have planned for that.

I remind you she is the spokesperson for the Conservatives in the Scottish parliament on welfare. Says it all really. By the way the Scottish Government has paid out £47 million to mitigate the Bedroom Tax for 70,000 and £10.9 million to mitigate other Tory polices such as that benefit cap. But of course it is impossible and indeed is it right that we have to use this money to mitigate?

Brexit

Now this is becoming tedious as well as worrisome.

Tories have obviously been issued with a script from temporary Tory HQ (10 Downing Street) having a go at the SNP group at Westminster for not backing wir Teresa’s deal, blaming them for seeking failure to accelerate Independence.

Now I have campaigned for Independence nigh on 50 years but these claims are, well. Tosh.

Let’s rewind. Scotland and Midlothian voted Remain 62%. Every council area in Scotland voted Remain. Yet from the start the SNP said that it would accept the UK vote but that there must be a Customs Union and we must remain the in the Single Market.

In the meantime, Tory MPs defect, members of the Cabinet threatened to exit and by the time you read this maybe more will have gone.

No we have played the hand we were dealt, with maturity and professionalism. We may end up in a Customs Union and Single market though no doubt it will be rebadged by Mrs May. Yet in 2014 we were told if we voted for Scotland’s Independence we would be thrown out of Europe. Now we are and against our will. There’s several lessons in that.

Labour

Well it seems churlish to intrude on the woes of Labour but it seems obvious to a casual observer even without the recent defections that it is at least now two parties and as such is too busy fighting itself to fight the Tories.

Disunited and dysfunctional so the Tories get away with chaos and callous policies. Time to consider cutting our losses and make our own decisions as a free and Independent nation?

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