Party conference season continued this week and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP “fully intends” to be Scotland’s next First Minister, he has told the party’s UK gathering in Liverpool. He said a Labour government at Holyrood would introduce new policies to “break down wealth and power”.
Speaking at his first national Labour conference as leader, he said a Scottish Labour government would introduce a Land Reform Act and called for business support to be targeted at Scottish-owned businesses. Analysis by the party showed the bulk of Regional Selective Assistance grants went mainly to foreign-owned companies. Richard Leonard also attacked the SNP for “dividing people on the basis on nationality” and the Conservatives for their “fervent devotion to inequality”. The SNP has responded by claiming that half of the households hit by Labour’s proposed windfall tax on the wealthiest 10% would be pensioners.
Next week it’s the Tory conference and that promises to be anything but calm as the ghost of the battered Brexit battlebus rattles towards the last six months before we formally leave the EU without a plan in sight. Second referendum anyone?
Brexit has impacted the timing of Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s next Budget and he Scottish Conservatives are calling on the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to bring his own budget forward to mid-November to allow more time for parliamentary scrutiny. Phillip Hammond announced that the UK budget will be on Monday 29 October. This means if the same three-week period between Scottish and UK budgets was used as in previous years, then the SNP should bring their budget to Holyrood on the 20 of November. This would allow more time for the budget to be debated and scrutinised, unlike last year when Holyrood went into recess shortly after the SNP’s spending plans were revealed.
Closer to home and new figures suggest that the Scottish Government is on track to meet its ambitious affordable housing target, new statistics show. The figures show an increase of 745 homes (4%) across all sectors, from 18,683 in 2016-17 to 19,428 in 2017-18. This is the fifth consecutive increase and the highest annual figure since 2008-09. They also show that affordable housing approvals total 11,926 homes, up 12% (1,252 homes) on the previous year.
Still at Holyrood and Scottish Conservative MSP, Miles Briggs, has been cleared after a party investigation into a complaint of sexual harassment. A female worker from another party claimed Miles Briggs made persistent unwanted advances on her at a social event at Holyrood in February. However, Mr Briggs said he had been cleared after a meeting of the Scottish Conservatives’ disciplinary committee. The MSP said the allegations were “completely false” and had made his life a “living hell” during the probe. The complaint was first raised with party leader Ruth Davidson, before entering the party’s formal complaints process in July.
Finally, we were delighted to be recognised for our integrated public affairs, PR and social media work last night, winning Property Team of the Year at The Herald Property Awards.
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