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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Local MP Helps Out At Barnardo's For 'Make A Difference Day'

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford joined the staff at the Barnardo’s shop in Peterhead’s Erroll Street for an hour on Friday as part of Barnardo’s ‘Make a Difference Day 2011’.

Shop Manager Irene Pearson was on hand to show the MP the ropes, as Eilidh joined volunteers Sophie Grant and Carina Ventura on the shop floor as part of Barnardo’s campaign to attract more volunteers.

Shop manager Irene Pearson remarked:

“We are very grateful to Dr Whiteford for taking time out of her busy schedule to help our campaign.

“There are children in Scotland struggling to cope with their everyday lives, and people can help by becoming a volunteer. If you are interested in helping, then please call in and speak to the manager of any Barnardo’s shop, or go online at www.barnardos.org/volunteering.

“No experience is necessary for most volunteer roles – just enthusiasm and a warm friendly nature - Barnardo’s will supply all the support and training you will need.”


Talking of her visit, Eilidh said:

Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP,
volunteers Carina Ventura and Sophie Grant,
and shop manager Irene Pearson
“I was delighted to have the privilege of volunteering at Barnardo’s shop in Peterhead, and I enjoyed chatting to the volunteers and customers.

“Volunteering is a wonderful way of giving something back to the community and is also an opportunity for people to learn new skills or acquire work experience. I would encourage people in Aberdeenshire to consider volunteering at their local Barnardo’s shop, particularly over the busy Christmas period when they could really do with extra help - even for just a few hours a week."

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Whiteford Speaks Out In Support Of OXFAM Grow Campaign

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has given her backing to Oxfam Scotland’s ‘Grow’ Campaign.

The campaign is aimed at promoting sustainable food production, addressing inequalities which plague the food production system from farm to fork, and improving the protection of those in poverty from food price crises.

Speaking at an Oxfam meeting held at the SNP Conference, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

(l to r) Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs;
Naile Salima, Programme Development Officer, Oxfam Malawi:
Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland; & Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP
“I’m delighted to lend my backing to the Oxfam ‘Grow’ campaign.

“I’m particularly pleased to be joined at this meeting by the Scottish Government’s Culture and External Affairs Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, who has restated her support for the Scotland-Malawi Development Programme, which assists over 40 projects in Malawi.

“Today, in the 21st century, nearly one billion people worldwide don’t have enough to eat. Not because there isn’t enough food to go round –there is: the planet is more than capable of supporting all the people on it with sufficient food. Rather, it is the system of food production which is broken and needs to be fixed.

“In Scotland, Oxfam will be focussing on four major issues to help fix the broken food system. These are Climate Change, which affects crop yields as temperatures rise; Food Price Spikes, because when you spend 80% of your income on food as some poor families do, spikes in food prices are especially destructive; Land Grabs, which force poor farmers off the land; and Small-Scale Farming, because there is enormous potential in small-scale farming in developing countries.”

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We Need To Stand Up To Bully-Boy Culture

as contributed to Scotland on Sunday
THERE has been a nasty, belittling and misogynistic undercurrent to the events of the past two weeks. In so many ways it would have been easier to ignore the comments directed toward me by Ian Davidson MP during a meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee.

Instead, I spoke out about the use of threatening language by the chairman of a parliamentary committee and have been vilified as a result. Like other women who complain, my motives have been questioned and some have tried to smear me. But the bully-boy culture of Westminster has to end. We must stand up to it.

I am not alone in my concerns. Over the past week Labour MPs both front- and back-bench sidled up to me to express their support for my position. Most talked under their breath.

As an aside to the issue of bullying and misogynist language in parliament, the fear of speaking publicly amongst Labour MPs and the failure of its leadership to take proper action against Ian Davidson – a man who is being allowed to stand for a leadership role himself – speaks volumes about a party that has lost its way.

By contrast, non-party political organisations and individuals have rallied in a more public way. They point out the unacceptable nature of Mr Davidson’s threat to give me “a doing” during a meeting of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, which he chairs.

Organisations and individuals interested in good parliamentary representation highlight the ease with which misogyny can thrive within a political institutional architecture where only one in five MPs is female. The gender imbalances are compounded by a relentlessly adversarial format of debate that limits opportunities for meaningful discussion.

My experience is just one consequence of the chronic under-representation of women in public life. The former MP Tess Kingham described it as “yah-boo nonsense, point scoring and silly games”. Until we blow the final whistle on these silly games, large numbers of our citizens will remain alienated from the political process. On the evidence of this week, Westminster has a long way to go.

Ian Davidson’s denials finally unravelled in a radio interview on Thursday when he admitted having made the remarks. But his admission was followed by an extraordinary attempt to pass the buck on to other committee members. Like a playground bully caught in the act, he resorted to the tired old defence – “it wisnae me, it wis them too”.

Well, let me put it firmly on the record. At the committee meeting Ian Davidson said I would get a doing if I stepped out of line. In his radio interview, he altered this to claim that all he said was that I “got a doing” at the Scottish Affairs Committee.

The change of tense is transformational. It is no longer a threat but a boastful observation. It suggests collective culpability. Unfortunately for Mr Davidson, that’s not what happened.

Cathy Jamieson and Fiona O’Donnell did not give me a “doing”. Nor Mike Freer MP. Simon Reevell made his points in his usual urbane way. And the idea of Alan Reid, the mild mannered Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll & Bute, giving anyone a doing is frankly laughable.

The only person who went too far – way too far – was Ian Davidson. To try to pin responsibility for his own behaviour on others, while painting himself as the referee who called time in the ring, does a huge disservice to fellow committee members who kept the language of their criticisms within the prevailing conventions of parliamentary norms.

One female committee member was concerned enough to pass a note to the chairman suggesting his remark was unacceptable. If the past tense was used, and I “got a doing”, why on earth would she have felt the need to advise the chair that his comments might be misinterpreted in a sexual way?

Why would she have felt the need to mention it again – according to Mr Davidson – when leaving the meeting early? And why would Mr Davidson have felt the need to clarify his remarks to me afterwards? He approached me to point out they were not sexual in nature. I said I found the threat of physical violence just as offensive.

The MP who wrote the note might be able to shed some light on this matter – but there has been silence on that front so far. The inference has been that the “doing” I am alleged to have received was punishment for my “misbehaviour”, as if I were some deviant six-year-old sent to stand on the naughty step.

It does not matter that all I had done was disagree with the committee. In fact what inspired Mr Davidson’s remark is utterly irrelevant. There is no action, no misbehaviour that justifies the threat or act of “a doing”. We hear too often of women being told they were “asking for it” in justification for intimidation or violence. I never expected to hear that from an MP in Parliament.

But this is not simply an issue of aggression towards woman; it’s about a culture of intimidation and bullying affecting men and women that seems to flourish with impunity in the Westminster world.

Moving Scotland forward has to involve moving our political discourse beyond its present tribal partisanship. We need to learn to accept our differences and how to distinguish dissent from treachery. We need to foster political institutions and ways of working that put dignity and genuine equality at their heart. And, as I learned over the past two weeks, we need to move beyond fear of those who try to use aggression and humiliation to silence and intimidate us, and instead call those people to account for their actions.

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Local MP Helps Out At Barnardo's For 'Make A Difference Day'

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford will be helping out at a local charity shop as part of ‘Make a Difference Day 2011’.

Dr Whiteford will be attending the Barnardo’s shop, 12 Erroll Street, Peterhead on Friday 28 October 2011 (tomorrow) at 11.00am. Acting Shop Manager Joyce Summers will be on hand to show the MP the ropes.

Speaking in advance of the visit, Eilidh said:

“I am delighted to have the privilege of volunteering at Barnardo’s shop in Peterhead and am very much looking forward to helping out with various tasks.

“Volunteering is a wonderful way of giving something back to the community and is also an opportunity for people to learn new skills. I would very much like to encourage people in Aberdeenshire to consider volunteering at their local Barnardo’s shop, particularly over the busy Christmas period when they could really do with extra help, even if its just a few hours a week. All you have to do is pop into your local shop and find out more."

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Whiteford Comments on Davidson 'Non-Apology'

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

QUESTION NOW FOR LABOUR OVER ACTION

Commenting on the purported 'apology' by the chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee over inappropriate comments to Dr Eilidh Whiteford, the Banff and Buchan MP said Mr Davidson was implicitly acknowledging that he had made inappropriate remarks, but failed to recognise the inherently threatening nature of his comments.

Dr Whiteford said:

“This was an empty apology from Ian Davidson who clearly, still, does not recognise why his comments during and after last week's meeting were inherently threatening and unacceptable.

“We know now that at least one other member of the committee heard his remarks, and understand that another member passed him a note regarding his comments. I accept that some members of the committee did not hear the remarks, given that they were, as Mr McGovern seems to acknowledge, made in a casual, throwaway manner. For me, this only served to reinforce their menacing nature, a menace that was compounded by Mr Davidson's subsequent comments immediately following the meeting.

“There is no context in or out of Parliament where such comments are acceptable, and I am surprised that anyone would try to minimise, brush off or try to justify the remarks made by Mr Davidson.

“I am not prepared to be threatened and intimidated, and until Mr Davidson takes responsibility for his behaviour I regret that I will not be returning to the committee.”


SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson welcomed the publication of a letter, endorsed by thirteen academics and equality organisations, backing Dr Whiteford’s stance.

Mr Robertson said:

“Ian Davidson’s behaviour was inappropriate in any circumstances, but it is especially unfitting from the chairman of a parliamentary committee.

“One of the ugliest aspects around this has been the way people around Mr Davidson have immediately sought to attack Eilidh Whiteford for having the courage to speak out.

“In contrast, it is encouraging that organisations and individuals outwith parliament have been swift to condemn Mr Davidson’s remarks and, given his own reluctance to take responsibility for his behaviour, the question is now for the Labour party over what action it will take.”


Note:

The text of a letter signed by a number of academics and organisations – and posted on the Scottish Womens Budget Group FaceBook Page (http://www.facebook.com/budgetgroup) - can be found below


Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP for Banff and Buchan has withdrawn from membership of a Westminster Select Committee over the threatening and sexist remarks of the Committee Chair, Ian Davidson MP.

The remarks from Mr. Davidson were exposed by Dr. Whiteford and witnessed by other MPs and Committee officials. Mr Davidson’s alleged threat to give Dr. Whiteford “a doing”, and his subsequent – and bewildering - clarification that his remark was “not intended as a sexual threat” underscore the extent of persistent sexism rooted in political and parliamentary culture.

According to the newly launched “Counting Women In” campaign, men outnumber women 4:1 at Westminster. There are only 5 women in the Coalition Cabinet. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has repeatedly highlighted the slow pace of change. Women are not only under-represented in elected politics, this incident shows they are also under-valued and disrespected.

The allegations from Dr. Whiteford go well beyond party politics and our reaction and condemnation is not party-aligned. This incident is the latest evidence of the dominance of a sexist and antiquated political culture that underlies our political and economic institutions. So long as sexism is left unchallenged, and ‘casual’ references to violence are left unchecked and unsanctioned, women will continue to be held at arms’ length from the political process.

Dr. Whiteford has made clear she has spoken out about the incident on the basis that it is unacceptable behaviour in any circumstance, and in recognition of the many women who experience intimidation and threats of violence. It is in that spirit that we support Dr. Whiteford’s stance.

Prof. Ailsa McKay, Glasgow Caledonian University
Angela O’Hagan, Convenor, Scottish Women’s Budget Group
Dr. Fiona Mackay, University of Edinburgh
Prof. Liz Bondi, University of Edinburgh,
Dr. Marsha Scott, Engender
Jenny Kemp, Co-ordinator, Zero Tolerance
Anna Bird, Acting Chief Executive, The Fawcett Society
Anne Meikle
Susanne Ross, Scottish Women’s Budget Group
Morag Gillespie, Scottish Women’s Budget Group
Bhabani Nayak, Glasgow Caledonian University
Emily Thomson, Glasgow Caledonian University
Andy Aitchison, University of Edinburgh

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Chairman Must Resign Over Threatening Behaviour

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has this evening withdrawn from proceedings of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee over inappropriate and unacceptable conduct by the committee chairman.

During a meeting of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday 19 October, comments of an unacceptable and inappropriate nature were made by the committee chairman, Ian Davidson MP, to Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP.

After the meeting had concluded Mr Davidson approached Dr Whiteford and clarified to her that his earlier remarks about "getting a doing” were not intended to be taken as a sexual threat. He also indicated that another Member of the committee had passed a note to him relating to the appropriateness of his comments.

Dr Whiteford has withdrawn her membership of the committee until Mr Davidson resigns as chairman.

Commenting on her decision, Dr Whiteford said:

“Threats and intimidation of this nature are unacceptable under any circumstances. It is never appropriate to threaten to give a woman 'a doing'.

“If people in my position are not prepared to stand up against aggressive and threatening behaviour, then people who face this kind of conduct in their homes and workplaces will continue to think the perpetrators can get away with it.

“I do not believe this behaviour is compatible with the position of Chair of a Select Committee, and therefore I have withdrawn from the Committee while Mr Davidson remains in his role as chair.”

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Boundary Commission Proposals Reunite Buchan

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Proposals by the Boundary Commission for Scotland released last week for the redrawing of Westminster constituency boundaries see the historic area of Buchan as the land north of the Ythan reunited.

The number of Westminster MPs in Scotland is being reduced from 59 to 52 leading to new boundaries. The boundaries last changed in 2005 when the number of Scottish MPs reduced from 72 to 59, and in 1997 as part of a general review.

The proposals for the North-east see Banff & Buchan retained and expanded to take in the Ellon & District council ward and most of Mid-Formartine, except Balmedie and Oldmeldrum. The remainder of the current Gordon Constituency merges with West Aberdeenshire to form a new constituency.

Commenting, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“It is important that the communities involved in the proposed boundary changes have their say. To that end, I would encourage community groups and individuals to make their comments to the Boundary Commission’s consultation which runs until 4 January 2012.”

Comments on the Boundary Commission’s proposals can be made by e-mail to comments@scottishboundaries.gov.uk or via the webform at www.bcomm-scotland.gov.uk

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MP Calls For Review Of Child Trust Fund Scheme

Sunday, 16 October 2011

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson and local MP Eilidh Whiteford has called for the UK Government to review the operation of Child Trust Funds after it emerged almost a quarter of a billion pounds has been lost from the value of funds in the last year.

A report has revealed that, in Scotland, the loss stands at about £24million affecting 500,000 children.

Dr Whiteford has called for the UK Government to review the advice that it provides to parents on the scheme and investigate reforming the scheme to allow the fund to be transferred into Junior ISA or savings schemes.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“With some parents seeing a third wiped off the value of their children's funds over the last year this has been a painful reminder of that old small-print warning that the value of investments can fall as well as rise.

“The UK government should now consider updating the advice that it gives to parents on how these funds are managed and investigate reforming the scheme to allow the fund to be transferred into alternative, lower risk, schemes such as Junior ISA or savings schemes.”

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Whiteford Presses DEFRA On Mackerel Dispute

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has raised the ongoing fisheries dispute with Iceland and the Faroe Islands with the UK Fisheries Minister on the floor of the House of Commons.

Speaking during Question Time in the House of Commons, Eilidh Whiteford MP asked the Minister:

“Alongside CFP reform, the ongoing mackerel dispute with Iceland and the Faroe islands continues to cause great concern, not just for pelagic fishermen but for the white fish fleet and fish processors. Will the Minister update the House on the progress of negotiations with Iceland and tell us, in the event of a deal, what recompense will be made available to Scottish fishermen? Might it possibly take the form of additional quota?”

Responding, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA Richard Benyon MP said:

“I cannot give the hon. Lady that precise information at the moment. I can tell her that there has been a slight improvement in the relationship with the Icelanders, and I hope that we can build on that. I am still pessimistic about our discussions with the Faroese, but I assure her that I will keep her closely involved, because we are talking about our most valuable fishery. It is sustainable, and we face a severe risk of losing marine stewardship accreditation for the stock, which would cause great harm to her constituents and our economy.”

Commenting afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“2500 jobs, many of them in the North-east, are dependant on the mackerel sector. I have been in close contact with industry representatives and will continue to press the case for them at the highest level in Westminster, while I know my colleague Richard Lochhead will do likewise from a Scottish Government perspective because this issue has serious knock-on effects for parts of the white fish fleet and processors.

“The UK Government, as the EU Member State, must redouble its efforts to ensure a just and fair outcome for our fishing industry in the face of outrageous and irresponsible behaviour by the Faroese.”

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PQ Reveals CSA IT System Doubled In Cost

‘WASTEFUL WESTMINSTER’ SHOULD LEARN FROM SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY

A parliamentary question obtained by SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has revealed that the cost of a computer case management system purchased by the UK Government for the Child Support Agency has more than doubled from its original budget of £94 million to more than £225 million.

The PQ also revealed that the cost of subsequent improvements to the CS2 system, used by the CSA, have totalled more than £117 million extra on top of the development costs since 2006.

The cost of the CSA system follows revelations over recent weeks that the cost of the Libra IT scheme used by the Department of Justice had trebled from its original budget of £146 million to more than £444 million; while another IT system, purchased for the Passport Agency, had quadrupled to £365 million.

Commenting, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, whose question uncovered the figures, said:

“Given the catalogue of IT cost overruns, we would all be better off if Westminster got a calculator rather than another computer. It seems the Westminster government is incapable of delivering big projects on time or on budget.

“At a time when household budgets are under real pressure, revelations over how wasteful Westminster has been with taxpayers’ money are an absolute scandal.

“Serious questions must be asked about how the cost of the CSA computer system was able to more than double – and the first of those questions should be raised with the former Labour Ministers who signed the contracts.

“When it comes to efficiency, Westminster needs to take a leaf out of the Scottish Government’s book. The SNP Government has pursued a vigorous programme of efficiency and public sector reform that is delivering results and driving improvements. In the first two years of the programme, it has exceeded its targets by £300 million and £400 million. Last year, £2.276 billion of efficiency savings were made - £673 million above the target - through new ways of using resources, collaborating across public services or improving procurement.

“That money is being reinvested in the public sector to deliver frontline services or lever in new efficiencies. This is a level of delivery that wasteful Westminster should learn from.”


Note:

1. Details of Dr Whiteford’s question on the CSA IT system can be found at the link below.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110719/text/110719w0003.htm#1107204001531

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the original estimate, at current prices, was of the cost to the public purse of the computer system supplied by EDS Systems for the Child Support Agency's payment system; what the final cost, at current prices, was at the time of completion; and whether additional costs have been incurred since completion. [65626]

Maria Miller: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the child maintenance commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.

Letter from Noel Shanahan:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the original estimate, at current prices, was of the cost to the public purse of the computer system supplied by EDS Systems for the Child Support Agency's payment system; what the final cost, at current prices, was at the time of completion; and whether additional costs have been incurred since completion. [65626]

The question has been assumed to relate to the CS2 child maintenance system, which was built by EDS and went live in 2003. “The cost to the public purse of the computer system” has been assumed to mean the cost of developing the system, rather than the cost of developing and running the system.

The original outline estimate given by EDS (now Hewlett Packard) in 1999 for the cost of the build of the new CS2 system was £94m. This estimate is disclosed in the National Audit Office's (NAO) June 2006 report “Implementation of the child support reforms”. At today's prices, based on the Retail Price Index at December 1999 and June 2011, the £94m translates to £132.2m.

The actual cost of developing the CS2 system was £225m. At today's prices, based on the RPI at April 2003, when the system went live, and June 2011, the £225m translates to £292.1m.

During the Operational Improvement Plan (OIP), which ran between April 2006 and April 2009, a further £107m was invested in development to the CS2 system. This amount was disclosed in the NAO's December 2009 report on the performance of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. At today's prices, based on the RPI for April 2009, when the OIP closed, and June 2011, the £107m translates to £119m.

Following the closure of the OIP, two further remedial releases were made on the CS2 system. The cost of release 17, in 2009, was £4.2m. Release 18, in 2010, cost £5.4m. At today's prices, based on the RPI for December 2009 and December 2010 respectively and the RPI for June 2011, these translate to a total cost of £10.1 m.

2. Details of Dr Whiteford’s previous question to the Home Office can be found at the link below:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110719/text/110719w0001.htm#110719112001686

3. Last month the Scottish Government announced that savings of 2.2 billion pounds would be reinvested in Scotland's public services, and that Scotland's public sector efficiency targets have been smashed for the third year in a row.

The latest figures show that the public sector delivered 2,276 million pounds efficiency savings in 2010-11, exceeding the target of 1,603 million pounds by 673 million pounds. That equates to 8.5 per cent of the 2007-08 baseline, considerably above the target for six per cent savings for the year. Efficiency savings are reinvested in improving public services.

The Efficiency Outturn report 2010-11 is available at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/09/Outturn2010-11

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Whiteford Welcomes Pensions Age Rise Delay

Thursday, 13 October 2011

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, Eilidh Whiteford MP, has welcomed confirmation that plans to raise the state pension age to 66 in 2020 will be delayed to address concerns that thousands of women will be unfairly disadvantaged.

Dr Whiteford said the decision was a victory for women who had campaigned against the UK government’s plans.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford:

“This is a welcome retreat by the UK Government and a victory for the thousands of women who campaigned against these unfair changes.

“These changes would have wrecked the retirements of thousands of women, already in their late 50s, and denied them the time to make alternative pension arrangements.

“We must now see the full detail of the UK Government’s transitional proposals to be certain that they go far enough and will help all the women affected.”

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MP Officially Re-Opens Buchan Street Hall

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford officially re-opened the refurbished Buchan Street Hall in Macduff at the weekend.

The Buchan Street hall was one of the contenders on ITV’s ‘People’s Millions’ and won a popular vote to secure lottery funding to upgrade the facility.

Speaking after Saturday’s official opening, Eilidh said:

Eilidh Whiteford MP with
Michael McGillivray & May Thom
of Macduff Old Folk’s Association
“The Buchan Street Hall is a great community facility which I know is well-regarded locally by the various hall user groups. Growing up in Macduff in the 1970s, I used to attend dancing classes there.

“The hall is looking absolutely fantastic after the upgrade, which the Committee project-managed by themselves. There is a wonderful new kitchen and a new meeting room which really adds to the facilities available for hall users.

“Community facilities such as the Buchan Street Hall are extremely important and I know that the hall is well-used at the moment. With these new facilities, the hall will continue to be a focal point for local groups and community events in Macduff.”

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Whiteford Comments On Scottish Affairs Committee 'Sideshow'

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

SNP MP and Member of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, today (Wednesday) described the announcement of twin inquiries by the Committee into the Scottish Government’s plan to hold a referendum on Scottish independence as a ‘sideshow’.

Dr Whiteford also said she was bemused that the committee’s terms of reference appear to have been lifted from the Secretary of State for Scotland’s party conference speech, and expressed concern at the short timescale for interested parties to answer the Committee’s calls for evidence.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“These inquiries are a sideshow from the real issues affecting Scotland. It is obvious from the terms of reference that this will be a partisan and pejorative inquiry and that those driving it have already decided what its conclusions will be.

“There are already questions over the chairman’s judgement after his ridiculous neo-fascist remarks during a debate on the Scotland Bill. This just shows how Labour is obsessing about the SNP when the committee should be investigating the impact of Tory cuts.

“A referendum in Scotland is clearly a matter for the Scottish Parliament and Government – and the referendum that is happening is the one the SNP pledged in the election campaign, which we said will be held in the second half of this parliament. That is the platform the SNP stood on in May, and which the people of Scotland gave us a resounding mandate to deliver.

"The days of Westminster Committees or Tory and Labour Governments telling the people of Scotland what to do are over.

“Considering the many pressing issues in the areas where the Scottish Affairs Committee could make a useful contribution, it is disappointing they are instead proceeding with a partisan inquiry into something which has nothing to do with them.

“David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both conceded this is a matter for the people of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament but it would seem their backbenchers now want to hijack this issue by political grand standing.”


Commenting on the terms of reference for the second inquiry, which include six questions listed by Scotland Secretary Michael Moore in his conference speech, Dr. Whiteford said:

“It’s absolutely extraordinary that the agenda for the Scottish Affairs Select Committee seems to have been lifted from a LibDem conference speech by Michael Moore! It seems Ian Davidson has been rummaging through Michael Moore’s waste paper basket looking for inspiration?”

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IFS Report 'A Wake Up Call to Westminster'

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

SUCCESSIVE UK GOVERNMENT’S ‘SHAMEFUL RECORD’

SNP Work and Pensions Spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford today (Tuesday) described the UK Government’s record on tackling child poverty as a tragedy as the IFS and Joseph Rowntree Foundation published figures showing that 17% of children in the UK were living in absolute poverty in 2009 – 10 with that figure set to rise over the next two years.

According to the report’s authors, the UK Government is unlikely to meet its target of reducing child poverty by 2020.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“These figures must be a wake-up call for the UK Government over the impact that their savage cuts are having on the most vulnerable.

“Children wherever they are born deserve the best possible start in life. While the Scottish Government is focussed on tackling the root causes of poverty such as education, health, employment, skills and housing, kids across the country are still being let down by Westminster.

“The record of successive UK Government’s on tackling child poverty is shameful. After thirteen years, Labour singularly failed to close the gap between rich and poor created during the Thatcher years.

“The aggressive deficit reduction policies of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are hitting family incomes, making it harder to make ends meet.

“Meanwhile, Labour MPs who failed to tackle the problem whilst in government and sat on their hands through a vital vote in opposition. In February 2011, MPs had the chance to vote down the UK Government’s plans to link benefits to the consumer price index instead of the retail price index.

“This would have given hard pressed families some breathing room but Labour abstained with only one Scottish MP brave enough to break party ranks and join the SNP in voting against.”


More details of the IFS Study can be read here: http://www.ifs.org.uk/pr/poverty_pr_1011.pdf

Katy Clark was the only Scottish MP to vote against the move to link benefits and pensions to CPI instead of RPI: http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2011-02-17&number=212

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MP Welcomes APD Devolution Calls From Leading NE Figures

Monday, 10 October 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the publication today of an open letter by a group of leading North-east business and public sector figures to the Chancellor calling for devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) to the Scottish Parliament.

The letter is endorsed by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, the LibDem Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, the Leader of Aberdeen City Council, North-east Scotland SCDI, NESTRANS, BAA Aberdeen Airport, Aberdeen City & Shire Economic Futures and Eastern Airways.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“Support is growing for devolution of APD and, given the changes proposed for Northern Ireland, the Treasury must recognise its refusal to devolve control to Scotland is unsustainable.

“There is overwhelming evidence for the devolution of APD with all four of Scotland’s largest airports backing the call and Transport Scotland saying ‘there is no good reason why passengers in Scotland should have to continue to travel in such numbers through other UK airports or should not benefit from levels of connectivity enjoyed in other parts of the UK’.

“Devolution of APD would enable us to incentivise airlines to provide new direct international routes, providing Scotland's passengers with enhanced options as they go about their business more freely and more effectively. It would also provide a substantial boost to the Scottish economy and create jobs.

“It is time for the UK Government to stop being hypocritical and allow Scotland to have control over flight taxes, just like Northern Ireland.”


HM Treasury’s Northern Ireland announcement: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_107_11.htm

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SNP Comment On Rennie Speech

Saturday, 8 October 2011

'CONFUSED AND CONTRADICTORY'

Commenting on Willie Rennie’s speech to the Scottish Lib Dems' autumn conference in Dunfermline, SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The Lib Dems' continuing obsession with the SNP is plain for all to see. By becoming frontmen for the Tory Government in London, their position on the constitution has crumbled into a mess of confusion and contradiction.

"They say they want Home Rule but fail to support the extra powers the SNP propose for the Scotland Bill. Their position sounds as hollow as their pledges in 2010 to oppose increased tuition fees, higher VAT and accelerated Tory cuts.

"Scaremongering against the financial and operational benefits of a single police force was at the heart of the LibDems' disastrous election campaign in May - and they were rejected by the people of every single constituency in mainland Scotland: rural and urban, Highland and lowland, north, south, east and west.

"They also promised 3,000 police officers in their 2010 election manifesto but since they have become Tory frontmen there are over 4,000 less police officers in England & Wales. Another pledge as hollow as their stance on Home Rule."

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Eildih Whiteford Engagements In Banff & Macduff

Friday, 7 October 2011

PUBLIC HALL AND SHOP TO BE OFFICIALLY OPENED BY LOCAL MP

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford will carry out engagements in Banff and Macduff on Saturday 8 October.

At 2.00pm, Eilidh will officially re-open the refurbished Macduff Old Folk’s Association Community Hall in Buchan Street, Macduff. The Buchan Street hall was one of the contenders on ITV’s ‘People’s Millions’ and won a popular vote to secure lottery funding to upgrade the facility.

Commenting ahead of the opening, Eilidh said:

“The Buchan Street Hall is a great community facility which I know is well-regarded locally by the various hall user groups.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from the committee members on Saturday about the upgrade and their future plans for the hall.”


At 4.00pm, Eilidh will perform the official opening of the The New Arc shop at 21 Low Street, Banff.

The New Arc is one of Scotland’s largest independent animal rescue centres based just outside Ellon and is currently home to over 400 animals and birds both domestic and wild. The centre is run entirely by volunteers. The charity pays no rent, no expenses, no utilities, fuel, travel or phone costs ensuring that all proceeds raised are spent 100% on the animals in their care.

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Local Bereavement Care Group Cashes In On MP's Opinions

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Deveron Branch of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland has benefited from a cash donation from Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford.

The SNP MP was recently asked to take part in a research study by a well-known polling organisation which offered a £75 fee. Eilidh donated this to Cruse following an invitation to assist the local group with their recent supermarket bag-pack which raised over £700, thereby adding another 10% to the sum raised when she visited the volunteers at the Turriff branch of Tesco at the end of July.

All the funds raised stay locally, and will be used to buy new books for their library, and finance the ongoing training required to ensure volunteer counsellors are equipped to a high standard. The Deveron Branch of Cruse covers Fraserburgh, Memsie, New Pitsligo, Huntly, Oldmeldrum, Banff, Macduff and everywhere else within that area, and the counsellors are kept busy with many referrals coming from GP’s and other health professionals.

Dr Whiteford commented:

“I was delighted to support the Deveron Branch of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland.

“I am very much aware of the excellent job Cruse counsellors do in providing a listening ear, advice and support for those suffering after the loss of a loved one. Their support has proved invaluable for many individuals and helped them through a traumatic and distressing time in their lives.

“I am therefore pleased to be able to add to the sum raised by the Cruse volunteers at their recent bag-pack.”

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