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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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MP Makes Early Call to First Event of Peterhead Scottish Week

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford made an early call to the first event of this year’s Peterhead Scottish Week when she visited the OAP Social Club’s annual buttery morning at their premises in Windmill Street.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

“Scottish Week is made up of a multitude of events, some of which are new some of which, like the OAP Social Club Buttery Morning, are a long-standing feature of the week’s events and I was pleased to be able to drop by and show my support for the volunteers there.

“The weather has helped get Scottish Week off to a great start and I hope that it continues throughout the week’s programme of events.”

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Charities Being Short-Changed as Westminster Fails to Deliver says MP

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Commenting on reports that the Westminster government will give the Treasury a cash bonus because of an underspend in the 2012 Olympic budget instead of paying it back to charities as originally thought, local MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“It is just not on that this money is going to the Treasury coffers in Westminster instead of to the charities that desperately need it - Westminster should give it back to hard pressed charities struggling to cope.

“Charities and community groups were hit hard when the Big Lottery Fund was raided to the tune of £425 million to pay for infrastructure and stadium developments for the 2012 London Olympics. They took a hit then, and they should be at the front of the queue now that there is some cash available to give back.

“The projected underspend has now been estimated and it now looks as if there is another £528 million pounds, in addition to an earlier announcement of £377 million. Rather than helping George Osborne out of a hole with his failed austerity programme, it should all go to charities and community groups struggling for funding. This is the wrong decision and should be reversed.”

In a written statement to Parliament the UK Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson has revealed that the projected cost of the Olympic Games has fallen by £528 million. This marks a further increase on the £377 million underspend projected in October 2012. In the build-up to the Games the last Government raided £425 million from the Big Lottery Fund to pay for stadia and infrastructure in London.

More information on the Big Lottery Refund campaign --can be found here www.biglotteryrefund.org.uk

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Local MP & MSPs to Visit New Deer Show

A previous New Deer Show
Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford, East Aberdeenshire MSP Alex Salmond and Scotland’s newest MSP, North-east regional member Christian Allard will be supporting New Deer Show on Saturday. The SNP parliamentarians will be meeting constituents and touring the livestock lines and trade stands at this weekend’s event.

Commenting, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

"There is a tremendous amount of work goes into planning a successful show like New Deer and the Show President, Secretary and Committee deserve our thanks for pulling together what promises to be another excellent showcase for the best of Buchan and North-east livestock.”

East Aberdeenshire MSP Alex Salmond commented:

“I’m really looking forward to the New Deer Show. It’s an event I’ve had the great privilege to attend for many years now and each show seems to get bigger and better than the last.

“New Deer maintains the highest standards of a traditional agricultural show, with fantastic local produce on offer and plenty of activities to keep the kids amused too.

“With the great weather set to continue through the weekend, be sure to head for New Deer Show – one of the absolute highlights of Scotland’s rural calendar.”

North-east regional MSP Christian Allard added:

“Shows and Highland Games are great opportunities for parliamentarians like me to meet constituents from the North-east’s rural communities. They also showcase what Rural Scotland has to offer.”

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Independence Could Help Us Build on Our Long-standing Spirit of Internationalism

Thursday, 11 July 2013

 from the Herald

In his Agenda article earlier this week Labour's Alastair Osborne asked: "Should Scotland be an internationalist country?" This struck me as rather strange question, as I'd long been under the impression that it already was, and that no-one was arguing otherwise.

Indeed, this year Scotland and Malawi have joined together to celebrate the bicentenary of one of our true internationalists, David Livingstone. His legacy is seen in the many links that continue to thrive today between Scotland and Malawi – between individuals, families, schools, churches, communities, civil society and government. In recent years politicians have worked together on a cross-party basis to support these links – with former First Minister Jack McConnell leading efforts to establish inter-government relations eight years ago and current First Minister Alex Salmond ensuring the relationship remains vibrant and healthy in welcoming Malawian President Joyce Banda to Scotland back in March.

However, Scotland's international role has not just been warm words and a warm welcome. Despite international development being reserved to London, successive Scottish Governments have funded international development work across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and at times of humanitarian disaster have funded relief efforts from Haiti to Sri Lanka, Gaza to Syria. These efforts have received strong support across all of the political parties in Holyrood, as well as from the Scottish public – not least the quarter of a million people, myself included – who marched round Edinburgh eight years ago demanding action to Make Poverty History.

This spirit of internationalism will, I believe, continue and grow with independence. In fact it is the UK whose record on international development has been lacking. Despite fine words and sentiments, for 43 years the UK failed to meet the UN target to spend 0.7% of wealth on aid set in 1970. By contrast our small independent European neighbours met the target many years ago. Sweden met it in 1974 and by 1975 was joined by the Netherlands. Norway and Denmark reached it in 1976 and 1978 respectively, and all four countries have met it ever since. Luxembourg joined the group in 2000.

For all the grand rhetoric of various Labour politicians, the 0.7% target was not met during the many years when Gordon Brown was Chancellor and Prime Minister. Funding for illegal warfare in Iraq was sourced without difficulty. Funding for life-saving development and humanitarian aid was stubbornly elusive. The UK will, at last, meet the target this year some 43 years after the promise was made.

Yet in contrast to the cross-party support in Scotland, there are those on the Tory backbenches in Westminster who are opposed to meeting the 0.7% target, and lobbied hard for it to be dropped. They seem to forget that almost 19,000 under-fives die from poverty-related conditions every day, and that 800 women die in childbirth or from pregnancy complications. Such poverty is a political issue. Almost all these deaths are preventable through low-cost interventions; to stand aside, to pretend it's nothing to do with us, or convince ourselves we can't make a difference runs counter to a current that runs deep through Scottish history and culture. We are all, let us not forget, Jock Tamson's bairns.

These are the reasons why NGOs such as Oxfam and Christian Aid have called for the 0.7% target to be enshrined in legislation. This would protect aid spending for the future, and in fact it was proposed in the Coalition agreement, yet notably absent from the Queen's Speech. The Scottish Government has pledged that an independent Scotland would act on this to protect aid spending in the future.

This is just one example of how, with the powers of independence, Scotland has the capacity to develop a robust approach to international development – building on our existing work including our world leading and ground breaking initiatives on climate change and climate justice, championing the ethos of "do no harm", supporting development education in our schools, and meeting our aid targets – and yes, building on our long-standing spirit of internationalism.

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Whiteford Welcomes Assurances on Rothienorman Mobile Post Office

Monday, 1 July 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed an assurance she has received from Royal Mail senior management on the mobile Post Office service at Rothienorman.

The local MP raised concerns with Royal Mail after the mobile Post Office experienced connectivity problems with its on-board computer system. This resulted in delays being experienced by customers in Rothienorman while the system was “re-booted” and connections re-established.

Royal Mail has now advised that they have put in place additional equipment which the subpostmistress reports has improved the situation.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Clearly, the best solution of all for Rothienorman would be if its Post Office had not been closed under the UK Government’s “modernisation” programme. However, in the absence of that, I’m pleased that Royal Mail have acted on local concerns which I raised.

“It is a mark of the high esteem in which the subpostmistress who runs the mobile service is held that local people have been at pains to point out to me that they attach no blame or criticism to her for the recent problems encountered. That underlines how valued the mobile service is by people in Rothie.

“Royal Mail have said they will continue to monitor the situation and I trust that customers will not experience any further problems."

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