Stark message for Borders voters from inspirational SNP MP

7th April 2016

INSPIRATIONAL young SNP MP Mhairi Black had a stark message for voters in the Borders when she spoke at a public meeting in Hawick on Wednesday night.

The 21-year-old, who represents Paisley & Renfrewshire South after her election to Westminster last year – the UK’s youngest MP for 300 years – is urging her generation to become actively engaged in politics, and wants as many 16 and 17 year olds as possible to vote in May’s Holyrood elections.

She told her Hawick audience:

“This Scottish Parliament election is so important as people have no idea what the Tories have planned for this United Kingdom; people have no idea the kind of policies they want to push through.

“We need to have a strong Scottish Parliament with a party which is prepared to be sensible and will stand up and protect where it can. That is why we have to make sure people like Paul Wheelhouse are elected. We have to make sure we have people who understand what the Tories are doing to society and they will stand up and say that’s not on.”

Mhairi’s visit to the Borders to support SNP candidate for Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire Paul Wheelhouse’s campaign began in Selkirk where she met local youngsters at the football club. Mhairi and Paul chatted to first time voters and were given a tour of the club facilities.

Hawick Town Hall was the venue for the public meeting later in the evening. Following a short speech Mhairi took questions from the floor with subjects ranging from tax raising powers to the possibility of Scotland having its own broadcasting channel, from pensions to tax dodgers.

Paul Wheelhouse said:

“It was great to welcome Mhairi to the Borders on what was her first visit to the region.

“It is important that we continue to engage our young people in the political process so it was good to see so many of them in Selkirk and Hawick yesterday.

“Mhairi is a shining star in the party and she reiterated the fact that the Tories will hammer young people with their plans to charge Scottish students over £1,500 a year for university education. I have challenged my Tory opponent, John Lamont, to come clean over these plans but he has failed to do so to date.

“Mhairi has highlighted to people in this constituency that there is an alternative to continued austerity, an alternative to the Tories hammering the poor and vulnerable and that progressive alternative is to vote for me and vote for an SNP government.”


Wheelhouse urges Lamont to come clean over back door tuition fees and prescription charges

30th March 2016

ETTRICK, Roxburgh and Berwickshire SNP parliamentary candidate, Paul Wheelhouse, is calling on his Tory opponent John Lamont to come clean to the electorate over the Tories' plans to hammer the sick and introduce fees for students if they are elected in May.

During a leaders debate last night Paul's Tory opponent's boss, Ruth Davidson, admitted her party would phase in prescription charges, increasing them gradually to “about £8”.

Paul said:

“Unlike the increasingly regressive Tories, the SNP is a progressive party and has promised to maintain free prescriptions for all.

“However, under the Tory party's plans people with long-term health issues such as asthma, Crohns, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and Parkinson’s would presumably have to start paying again.

“This is essentially a return to imposing a tax on being ill. We know from expert evidence given in the Scottish Parliament, some of which I heard during my time on the Parliament's Finance Committee, that people were previously having to make decisions about which medication to take and which ones they couldn’t afford and many were becoming more ill, leading to further pressures on NHS staff. This is not something we in the SNP support nor want to see happening again, as it represents a false economy.”

Paul also challenged his Tory opponent's plans to charge Scottish students over £1,500 a year for university education, which would be paid after a student graduates and starts earning. This is effectively a more expensive rehashing of the failed policy of Labour and Lib Dems which was scrapped by the SNP when they abolished tuition fees. The Tory proposals amount to a £6,000 tax on education for a typical four year honours degree, saddling students with substantially more debt, and making it more difficult to afford other costs of living, with Paul pointing out this may deter those from low income households from studying.

He added:

“This is just another hidden tax, which demonstrates the Tories’ claims to be proposing lower taxes are false. In fact, they will be taxing ill-health and the education of our young people. These measures would hit hard working families and young graduates in the pocket.

“We know that John Lamont doesn’t like to reveal on his election material which party he represents and this shows it’s because his Tory party's policies are striking at the heart of efforts to reduce inequality and poverty.

“Again, my Tory opponent and his party are proposing to hit vulnerable, ill people and students, adding to misery caused by the Tories' draconian cuts to disability benefits. This shows just how out of touch his party are with the electorate in both the Borders and across Scotland. Thankfully, there is, with the SNP, a progressive alternative.”


Calum Kerr MP and Paul Wheelhouse MSP welcome Hawick Knitwear sale

17th March 2016

Paul Wheelhouse MSP and Calum Kerr MP have both warmly welcomed the announcements that the assets of Hawick Knitwear have been sold to a new buyer, Lyber 2016 Limited.

Mr Wheelhouse, who is an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament for South of Scotland, said:

“This is very welcome news for both Hawick and the 1,700 employed in textiles across the Scottish Borders.

“I have been keeping a close eye on the work being done by Scottish Enterprise and Government officials to support the work of the administrators, KPMG, and the new owners and I am very grateful for their collective efforts and those of the Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP who is keen to support the new venture. I also want to praise Calum Kerr MP for being so active in supporting and liaising with the administrator. The deal will re-establish in the region of 32 jobs and that the new owners have bought the Hawick Knitwear brand and will continue to operate the business from the existing premises.

“Along with this announcement, we are also set to have employment coming at the proposed new Three Stills distillery. And FirstBus is shortly to be actively recruiting for drivers and administration staff in the area and we look forward to the joint Council and Scottish Government Action Plan, arising from the Minister’s summit in Hawick last month, which is expected next week, where I hope other sectors, such as tourism may also feature.

“All this proves that Hawick has a great future and every reason to be confident about its economy going forward. We’ve seen other local politicians talking it down - they should stop dismissing its prospects and show the same confidence in the town that we and others have.

“Let’s be clear about this - Hawick has great people, a fantastic heritage and a real spirit of dynamism. It has some fantastic opportunities and we need to all pull together and make the most of those and I am convinced that the Scottish Government, its agencies and the Council will work with the community to do exactly that.”

“Calum and I have not been able to say anything on this deal until now, as we had to wait until the deal was concluded. Negotiations were sensitive and had to be allowed to run their course. The integrity of the sale had to be respected and of course we’ve done that – it is for others to look to their own actions on this. I just want to wish the company and its employees every success and we will both be willing to support the new venture in whatever way we can.”

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Calum Kerr commented:

“Both Paul Wheelhouse and I are delighted that this deal has been done and that jobs and the Hawick Knitwear brand have been preserved.

“The original company had particular and unique trading problems which are not reflected across the rest of the knitwear sector locally. The industry is doing really well, by recognising that its future lies in providing luxury products such as cashmere for a discerning global market and there are of course real successes in companies such as the successful acquisition of Barrie’s by Chanel.

“We do have to recognise the reality that companies have to be highly efficient and streamlined and that there won’t be as many jobs in the sector as there were in the past. But by adapting to this changing market, Hawick has secured its place and name as a top class provider of high end knitwear products.”

He continued: “By continuing to make the most of its skills and opportunities, Hawick has a strong future as a driver of growth and prosperity in the Borders. People in the town should be proud of what they have and I’m sure they’ll share the determination Paul and I have to make things even better.

“Both of us are more than happy to help in any way we can both with building the market growth of Hawick Knitwear and of promoting both the town and our region going forward. We’re sure that there are plenty of economic successes to come.”


Wheelhouse Supports Great Daffodil Appeal

9th March 2016

SNP MSP for South Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse, got behind the daffodil to support Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Paul met staff and heard about the work that the charity undertakes, including providing care and support for more than 7,400 people living with a terminal illness in Scotland in the last year alone.

The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie’s biggest fundraising campaign which takes place throughout March. The charity asks people to make a donation in return for a daffodil pin. All funds raised help Marie Curie Nurses provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones, in their own homes or at the charities two Scottish hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Paul said:

“I know how valuable the support of Marie Curie nurses can be for the those living with a terminal illness and their families and I hope people can join me in getting behind the Great Daffodil Appeal and the staff and volunteers at Marie Curie throughout March and beyond.

“Marie Curie nurses carried out 306 visits to 64 people in the NHS Borders area in 2014/15 – that work is enabled by kind donations and the support of the public during campaigns like the Great Daffodil Appeal.

“I thank the nurses for the support they provide and the public in the Scottish Borders for their continued support of the fundraising efforts of Marie Curie.

Richard Meade, Marie Curie Head of Policy and Public Affairs Scotland said:

“We’re calling on everyone in Scotland get behind the daffodil and join Paul Wheelhouse MSP supporting people living with a terminal illness by donating and wearing a daffodil pin. Your support will help us provide more free hands-on care and emotional support to people living with a terminal illness and their families.

To support the Great Daffodil Appeal call 0845 601 3107 (local rate) or pledge £5 by texting DAFF to 70111*.”





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