It is no secret that I want Scotland to be independent.
I have campaigned for it since I was a teenager and never hidden from my constituents my wish for Scotland to be an independent nation.
Given the mess Westminster currently finds itself in, including the very likely prospect of Boris Johnson being Prime Minister in a matter of days, I fully support the First Minister in her calls for there to be a referendum on Scotland’s future before this Parliament ends in 2021.
However, my commitment to independence has never stopped me, or the SNP Government, from getting on with the day job of representing my constituents and working in the best interests of Scotland.
In the 12 years since taking office, the SNP have done many good things to help people in Renfrewshire.
Just last week we announced a new Scottish Child Payment to help target child poverty.
Eligible families will receive £10 a week for every child under 16.
When fully delivered by 2022, it is estimated it will lift 30,000 children out of poverty and help thousands more who are living just above the breadline.
For a family with two children this new payment would mean additional support of more than £1,000 a year.
This is a benefit which will make a massive difference to thousands of local kids.
When anyone tells me the SNP aren’t getting on with the day job I also remind them about;
- Free prescriptions, saving patients an average of £171 a year
- Removing tuition fees for students, which are now over £9k a year in England.
- 10,000 modern apprenticeship starts in Renfrewshire over the last decade, helping to provide youngsters who don’t necessarily want to go to University with training and opportunities.
- 1,900 new affordable homes in Renfrewshire since 2007. I have seen for myself the impact that has had on families who have waited decades on council waiting lists while Labour sat on their hands and didn’t build a thing. There is more to do, I will admit that, so we are investing millions of pounds into building even more.
- Scottish Carers Allowances, helping 2,000 carers across Renfrewshire, implementing free personal care and mitigating the Bedroom Tax, at a cost of £1.9m in Renfrewshire.
These aren’t just gimmicks or slogans, this is real money, being spent helping to support those that need it the most.
For these policies to be paid for, we need the economy to be growing, to help support this we have given £52million in relief from business rates in Renfrewshire and are currently investing in the world leading multi-million-pound Manufacturing Institute for Scotland, based here beside Glasgow Airport.
Jobs, investment, increase in local footfall, all positive things to bring growth to Renfrewshire.
I’m getting on with the day job, but I also believe Scotland could be an even better and fairer nation, investing more in our people and services, with the full powers of independence.
*First published in the Paisley Daily Express, Thursday 11th July 2019