Remember the Scottish Devolution Referendum held in 1997? I don’t due to age but that’s not important. What is important is that the decision made by the people of Scotland nearly 21 years ago which led to the Establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Scotland Act 1998 was trampled by the UK Government in just 19 minutes.
19 years of Devolution undermined in just 19 minutes.
What is not expressly Reserved to Westminster is Devolved. Yet under the European Union Withdrawal Bill areas that matter to the lives of the people of Scotland are under threat by a Tory Government under the illusion that it has “crushed the opposition.”
These areas include: fishing, farming, food standards, fracking and even who delivers public services. Some of the areas have been devolved to Holyrood since 1999 meaning they have been the responsibility of Scotland for my entire life. And where Westminster and the Tories try to keep Scotland back the SNP have used the powers of the Scottish Parliament to deliver progressive change for you and me.
They’ve built up a country where our social security system is built on dignity and respect. University Students no longer have to fork out thousands of pounds to pay for Tuition Fee’s. Families no longer have to pay the Tories Bedroom Tax (although if your Ross Thomson apparently there is no such thing!) We’ve used our powers to ban Fracking and introduce world leading climate change legislation. We’ve banned GM Crops.
So why am I listening these achievements? Because the Tory Power Grab puts at risk the progress Scotland has made thanks to Devolution. Under the EU Withdrawal Bill, UK ministers not Parliament and certainly not the Scottish Parliament can decide to change laws to suit their own interests. Tell me, in party whose members have friends in the fracking industry or who will do anything possible to have “special partnership” with Trumps America what powers under the Devolution Settlement or indeed Acts passed by the Scottish Parliament are safe? Answer: none.
We expected the Tories to one day try and tear up the Devolution Settlement after all they were against it in 1997 and for a party with members still in the Victorian Era like Jacob Rees Mogg or babbling Balloons like Boris Johnston who believes a pound spent in Croydon is better than a pound spent in Strathclyde we might be waiting passed my lifetime for them to respect the decision made by Scotland in 1997. By the way that’s if you take out Tories like Murdo Fraser and the throne loving Ross Thomson (my deepest condolences to the people of Aberdeen South).
But what we didn’t expect was the Labour Party who credit where credit is due are the founders of Devolution to abstain. I do recall Richard Leonard saying his MP’s would vote against the power stripping amendments in the Bill. So, Richard what happened? Why the change in heart? Or did your MP’s go against your leadership? I mean I know you want to deliver real change but even I wasn’t aware real change was handing powers back to the Tories.
And we won’t even mention the Lib Dem Jo Swinson who abstained and then blame Wales. If someone could explain the thinking behind that could they please inform the people of Scotland because I’m sure I’m not the only one lost. Answers on the back of a postcard please!
Anyway, if you think what I’m writing about sounds like a great big shamble. It was. Although it was actually worse than this post makes out. But what is clear from yesterday is that the Westminster parties cannot be trusted to deliver a better Scotland and when it comes to protecting devolution, the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland from the Devasting Policies of the UK Government only the SNP has Scotland’s interests, your interests at heart. However, there is a way to make sure the people of Scotland are respected. A way of ensuring a shambles like this can never happen again and that decisions made by Scotland cannot be overturned by another Government and that is Independence
Callum Reid, 19 - President of UWSSNA
Ahead of the upcoming SNP National Conference set to take place June 8th – 9th in Aberdeen, the SNP Students have announced their support for ‘Resolution 2 – Scottish National Infrastructure Company: A Public Alternative’. They believe that after the failures of private companies with public contracts and the flaws of the current system, a SNIC working with the Scottish Government and local authorities would be beneficial to the Scottish people.
Scott Blair, the SNP Students National Communications Officer, notes that, “This is a great opportunity for Scotland and its citizens. A SNIC creates public accountability and is value for money compared to the current system.”
Paul Anderson, an SNP Students member from the University of St Andrews, highlights how, "Creating a Scottish National Infrastructure Company would enable our government to undertake ambitious but much needed projects to improve our national infrastructure in a way that promotes the public interest. The SNIC would create growth, create jobs, and create a future that delivers for Scotland’s people, communities and businesses."
For more information or press enquiries, contact us.
We would like to congratulate the people of Ireland on their groundbreaking decision to vote Yes in their recent referendum on repealing the 8th amendment and allowing women access to abortion care!
This is such a momentous, progressive occasion for Ireland, allowing women access to the important healthcare that they need in Ireland instead of forcing them into other nations for support.
We wish the Republic of Ireland all the best in this important day in their history!
A European Arrest Warrant was issued on Friday for Clara Ponsati, a Professor at the University of St Andrews. As a student at this institution, I am horrified that one of our professors is being persecuted for her political affiliations.
Professor Ponsati and other Catalan ministers face charges in Spain including rebellion and sedition for their role in holding an independence referendum in Catalonia in October 2017, and subsequently declaring independence. These charges are politically motivated and are an attack on freedom and democracy by the Spanish government.
Clara Ponsati was Education Minister in the Catalan government at the time of the referendum when they declared independence from Spain. Following this, she and five other ministers, including Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, fled Spain for Belgium. Many others who stayed behind were imprisoned.
It is shocking and disheartening that there are political prisoners in an EU country in the present day. If the UK extradites Prof. Ponsati, and Germany extradites President Puigdemont, they will be denying the Catalan people the right to express themselves and determine their own fate. The right to hold a referendum is one we have taken for granted in Scotland – in Catalonia, people are being prosecuted for this same action.
The Catalan government was elected with a mandate to hold a referendum on independence. These democratically elected ministers, acting on this mandate, are now facing up to 30 years imprisonment for acting on their political beliefs while representing the people of Catalonia.
The treatment of supporters of Catalan independence by Spain has been horrific and not what is expected from a democratic country. From police brutality on the streets, to the arrest of members of the democratically elected Catalan government, the treatment of the Catalan people has been completely unacceptable.
The independence of the Spanish judiciary on this matter cannot be assured, and if extradited, Prof. Ponsati and the others face inhumane treatment in violation of their human rights. Due to this, the UK judiciary are within legal grounds to reject the extradition request. I sincerely hope this happens.
It is for these reasons that other students at the University of St Andrews and I are organising a demo in support of Professor Ponsati on Monday 2nd April. If you would like to get involved, please like our Facebook page to stay updated on ways to support our professor!
Written by Stephanie Melnick, St Andrews University
We, the Federation of Student Nationalists (Commonly known as the SNP Students), strongly condemn the actions of the Spanish government regarding its jailing of Catalan politicians and independence activists, its brutal attacks on democracy, and its failure to comply with international norms and laws which guarantee the rights of all peoples to seek self-determination.
The actions of the Spanish state since President Puigdemont called for a referendum on Catalan independence in October 2016 have been nothing short of shameful. As a liberal democracy which is a member of the United Nations and the European Union, as well as a signatory to the Charter of the United Nations, Universal Declaration on Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, the Spanish state has undermined and trampled on the rights of the Catalan people. All of the above allow for the right of self-determination of peoples and/or the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
The Spanish government has repeatedly failed to engage in constructive dialogue with the Catalan parliament. When threats failed, it engaged in excessive and unnecessary force on the 1st October 2017 injuring hundreds of civilians for exercising their human rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Since then, the Spanish state imposed direct rule from Madrid, arrested several high-profile individuals who have campaigned for Catalan independence, and has issued several arrest warrants for numerous politicians, including Professor Clara Ponsatí, director of the Economics and Finance department at St Andrews University.
We urge the British and European governments, as well as members of the United Nations, to take actions to support the right of Catalans to choose their future and to urge the Spanish government to comply with the statutes of international law which as a member of the United Nations and the European Union it is duty-bound to respect. The blatant disregard for democracy and human rights is not only an attack on the people of Catalonia but an attack on our liberal values of liberty, equality and human rights.
We fully support President Puigdemont, Professor Ponsatí and other individuals who have been unjustly charged and have had warrants issued for their arrests. We call for the immediate release of those unjustly imprisoned for supporting the independence of Catalonia. We furthermore urge the Spanish state to allow the people of Catalonia to hold a fair and free referendum on their nation’s future and to respect the outcome of the result.
At the recent SNP National Council meeting, the SNP Students submitted and passed a topical motion on supporting the UCU Strikes taking place at our nation’s universities over lecture’s pensions. The motion was passed by SNP National Council, taking place at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre, as a topical resolution which was submitted and spoke on by members of the SNP Students.
Ryan McCuaig, a 4th year law student at University of Strathclyde moved the motion for the SNP Students and stated: “Our academics are driving innovation, curing diseases and building bridges. They are training the next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers, and social workers. These academics deserve our support. Their pensions are under attack.”
Abby Hastings, a 1st year at Glasgow University seconded the resolution and highlighted in her speech: “In the time of decreasing job security and increasing monetization of the education sector we cannot stand idly by whilst pensions are robbed. No More; we must protect our great institutions.”
You can see the resolution we successfully passed below:
(Copied from our press release. For more information or any press enquiries, visit the Contact Us section of our website)
Net Neutrality is a term you will have heard of a lot over the past couple of months if you follow American politics. For the last few years America has been embroiled in a heated debate which has united both activists and corporations alike. For those unaware with the concept of Net Neutrality or just want brief refresh then watch this John Oliver video which explains the situation across the pond much better than I can.
The basic concept is that all data must be treated the same. ISPs can’t slow down or charge more for you to access the data you want. It ensures that a small start up with a better product than established competitors can compete on the same level. It’s how Facebook overtook Myspace and Netflix overtook Blockbuster and so on. It’s the same in politics where one party has the same opportunity to get its message across the internet as the rest of the parties do. In the long run we get a more competitive market, competitive prices and better services you the end user (you).
You would be forgiven for thinking that this is just isn’t an issue in the UK or Europe for that matter. Currently Net Neutrality is protected under EU Law but it is still very flawed. Make no mistake however, it’s good and better than nothing but it could be massively improved. In 2015 the EU, like the US, decided to allow for a two-tier system. This allows ISPs to prioritise certain data. For example, Virgin Mobile doesn’t charge users for Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp for messaging purposes. This may seem great but in the long run it’s much harder for a newer product to compete so the market saturates and eventually gets stale.
The second issue to screw net neutrality in the near future happens to be the almost inevitable Brexit effect. The European Withdrawal Bill, according to the UK Government, will allow Parliament to “amend, repeal and improve" any European legislation as they see fit. Meaning they could keep, weaken or strengthen net neutrality resolutions in a matter of under reported votes. It’s this primary issue which all Internet stakeholders should be at least as slightly concerned as I am. The internet is an amazingly excellent invention and possibly the single greatest invention made by the very best of humanity in the last fifty years. It’s shaped almost every aspect of our modern life, economy, politics and society.
Reading up on this issue and the European debate I was relieved to see SNP MEP’s Ian Hudgeton and Alyn Smith as well as other progressive MEPs advocate for an amendment to the package which would halt the two-tier system and ensure net neutrality is protected for all internet users. Brexit is such as huge issue that we often get distracted by one thing the government does that three more things slip though the cracks. It’s time we remind ourselves of the consequences of voting Conservative and for Brexit.
By Michael Gibbons
Today the UK Supreme Court found in favour of the Scottish Government and unanimously rejected achallenge by the Scotch Whisky Association to The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012. The Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament with the intention to set a minimum sale price per unit of alcohol in Scotland. It is hoped that this will reduce accessibility to cheap, high-strength alcohol which causes most harm in society.
Research by the University of Sheffield has shown that this policy would result in an estimated 81 per cent reduction in premature deaths attributed to alcohol. The Scottish Government’s own estimates say that alcohol-related deaths would fall by 120 per year, with alcohol-related hospital admissions reducing by 2000 per year, by year 20 of the policy.
The Scottish Government’s motivation has been clear from the outset – this measure could have significant benefits to public health. With figures showing that it is possible to exceed the 14 units per week alcohol consumption guideline for just £3, and National Records of Scotland stats confirming that there were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths in Scotland in 2016, it is clear that the affordability of alcohol is a major contributing factor to health and societal damage, particularly amongst problem-drinkers. It is in the deprived communities of Scotland where this devastation is most obvious. Rates for alcohol-related hospital stays are 8 times higher for people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland, compared with those in the least deprived areas.
Facts and figures don’t do justice to the stories of hundreds of families across Scotland whose lives are torn apart by alcohol abuse. I grew up in Easterhouse, in the east-end of Glasgow, where problem-drinking is rife. My own Mother was an alcoholic. She drank cheap vodka and cheap cider – types of alcohol that would likely have been unaffordable to her with minimum unit pricing – every day. Problem-drinking meant that before the age of six I had experienced family break-up, social work intervention, the children’s panel, and ultimately, the death of my Mother. There are hundreds of children across Scotland who are facing similar issues every day – and it is high time that the Scottish Government was allowed to protect these families.
The Supreme Court case turned on whether Minimum Unit Pricing was a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. The Scotch Whisky Association claimed that Minimum Pricing was a disproportionate restriction on trade and therefore in breach of Article 34 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. Acts of the Scottish Parliament which are found to breach European Union law would be outwith competence and therefore ‘not law’. The industry argued that a flat tax on alcohol would be a more proportionate measure of achieving the Government’s aims – something not currently within the power of the Scottish Parliament to enact.
The Scottish Government accepted that Minimum Unit Pricing would restrict trade within the EU. However, they sought to justify that interference on the grounds that the measure strike at ‘alcohol misuse and overconsumption manifesting themselves… in the health and social problems suffered by those in poverty in deprived communities’  – . In the end, the Scottish Government’s argument was preferred, and the measure was held to be proportionate and therefore not in breach of EU Law.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the Scottish Government should be commended for their steadfast determination in seeing this policy implemented despite years of opposition from the drinks industry. It is disappointing however that the implementation of this legislation has been delayed for five years after it was approved by the Scottish Parliament – who knows how much damage has been caused in the intervening period.
This decision is welcome news and a clear vindication of the Scottish Government’s position on Minimum Pricing. Public health should always be the paramount concern for any government and I am proud that Scotland will now be the first country in the world to implement aMinimum Pricing policy. This progressive and pioneering approach to Government and dedication to the people of Scotland shows why the SNP are now in their third successive term in government.
Ryan McCuaig is a fourth-year law student at the University of Strathclyde and President of SNP Strathclyde.
Alcohol-related deaths - https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/deaths/alcohol-related-deaths/main-points
Stats relating to benefits of MUP - http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Health/Services/Alcohol/minimum-pricing
Julia Stachurska gives her thoughts on the importance of our 50/50 campaign.
As a young woman, who originally comes from Poland, I can say that the 50/50 campaign launched by SNP Students is one that is incredibly amazing and empowering in all aspects of it, as its aim is to encourage women to get more involved in politics, and increase female representation in the party.
I’m currently in my 6th year of high school (finally!), and I am also one of the two individuals in the school which are a part of a political party. In the past years, the political spotlight in the school was on three males, which was truly unfair, as well as a real petty for those like me who just wished they could get noticed for what they do, and were clearly better at it, without any gender bias at all. But with that being said, I now get invited to political literacy teacher meetings (cool eh?), so look how that’s turned around in the space of 6 months.
Being a young woman wanting to work in politics is difficult in general, but coming from a country where women practically did not exist in politics until a few years ago, it’s amazing to see how much progress Scotland has made in the matter. I’m proud to be part of a party, and proud to live in a country where we now have Scotland's first cabinet with an equal number of women and men. THAT is the progress we want to make, and will make across all areas. Being the Women’s Officer for Motherwell and Wishaw constituency branch has taught me that women do want to get their point across, and will get their point across, however there is always pressure on women, in the sense that men always seem to give us “constructive criticism”, which to most of us is not that at all, but instead it’s pure sexism. We will stand for elections, we will get elected and we will make sure that everyone in our communities, constituencies and countries is truly equal. The 50/50 campaign wants to encourage women to work towards achieving that equality, so with that I urge all girls and ladies to fight for what we need, and make sure we get our voices heard, as that is the root of equality.
You can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in the 50/50 campaign, write for our blog, or to find out more.
Join our campaign to help us achieve our gender equality goals!
**SNP Students 50/50 campaign excludes no male, female or person of other/ no gender from our organisation. The campaign purely focuses on the fact that males have been the majority gender across politics for a long time, and aims to increase female participation to an equal level.**