For the final part of this three part blog covering my year as Organisation Convener. I write about the conferences and the national councils I attended and the motions I put forward.
The conference year started in Stirling.
I was extremely honoured to be chosen by Alex Salmond to second the NEC motion on independence. Here is part of my speech.
At the Stirling Conference I submitted a motion on the CASS report and the Sandyford Clinic and it was chosen for debate. The motion ended with the following summary:
“Conference notes with concern that in Scotland the Sandyford child gender services clinic follows the same discredited treatment protocols for gender-distressed children as Tavistock. These are the protocols which were found, by Cass, to be clinically flawed and harmful to children.
Conference is disappointed that the Scottish Government has not taken on board the findings of the Cass report by halting referrals to the Sandyford Clinic and has instead forged ahead with a £9 million allocation of funds this year, primarily aimed at addressing waiting times.
Conference believes that referrals to Sandyford should be halted until the service is reformed and, as recommended by Cass, the service moves away from the affirmative only approach.
In addition, Conference calls for an urgent review of NHS care of gender-distressed children which should be based on clinical need not ideology.”
The resolution was passed by acclaim.
In December we held a National Assembly in Perth on the way forward for independence after the Supreme Court judgement. And in January the second part of the National Assembly held in Edinburgh. I was one of the organisers so I spent my time checking that no one needed anything and everything was as expected.
At the February National Council, myself and the Membership Convener Jacqueline Bijster proposed a motion against the establishment of Freeports in Scotland.
“Conference attests that Freeports do not create additional jobs but rather suck jobs from the surrounding areas, leaving those areas at a disadvantage. The Freeports put increased demand on transport and other infrastructure
Regulation in freeports is outsourced to the freeport operator. This is a clear conflict of interest as order to increase profits there is likely to be a reduction in environmental standards and workers’ rights.
Other Freeport issues include
A border around the port which will increase paperwork and costs for those using the port.
Lack of guarantees on trade union recognition
It is unclear how local authorities will gain and they may well lose out on business rates.
Freeports are in effect tax havens. The government will get less income. For example, they will lose employers NICs in the Freeport area.
And in the future Scotland will have to live with the detrimental consequences of ‘UK Freeports’ long after we are independent
Conference rejects these Freeport plans as Freeports do not create benefits for the people, are to the detriment of surrounding areas and are likely to be a burden on an independent Scotland.”
The motion was composited with a similar motion from East Lothian and passed by acclaim.
Then Inverness conference last May I proposed a topical motion on the Stone of Destiny.
In August National Council Jacqui Bijster and I proposed a motion on the two child cap.
“Council reaffirms that every child in Scotland deserves the best start in life and reaffirms ALBA’s commitment to alleviating poverty and child poverty.
Council recognises that without the full powers of independence removing the two-child cap would only be a sticking plaster on the endemic problem of poverty in Scotland. The real solution to poverty in Scotland is independence.
Council notes that the Alex Salmond’s government who had fewer powers than the current government was able to mitigate the Tory Bedroom Tax and to this day no Scot is penalised.
The current government has a variety of options to mitigate the effect of the cap, including using social security powers devolved under the Scotland Act 2016 by using the machinery that exists to deliver the Scottish Child Payment, to boost payments to large families. Alternatively, the government could fund councils who would then provide discretionary housing payments or provide mitigation through an extra Council Tax Credit.
This would cost £85 million but it amounts to just 0.17% of the total Scottish Government budget and there is more than enough money in reserve to fully fund this policy now without making cuts elsewhere.
Council calls for the end of the two-child benefit cap and calls on the current Scottish government to use their existing powers to mitigate the effects of this UK policy on Scottish children.”
And, this brings us up to date.
I hope to see you at the Glasgow Conference and I hope in this series of blogs you have insight into the work I have been doing over the last year as your Organisation Convener.
And I ask for you to vote for me to allow me the privilege to continue as Organisation Convener working for ALBA and for Scotland.