14 Feb 2011

BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) has written to candidates in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election seeking their support. John Mason has signed up to the points they are campaigning on which include:

• More should be done to reduce the number of animals used in experiments.
John strongly agrees

• Universities in Scotland should be required to publish more information on the animal experiments they conduct (except confidential and personal information).
John strongly agrees

• Scotland should lead in supporting and developing non-animal research, including financial incentives such as tax breaks and match-funding.
John strongly agrees

John says, “I do believe in a human life being worth more than an animal life. However, we humans have a responsibility to look after animals and to protect them from cruelty and unnecessary suffering. Experimenting on animals should be absolutely the last resort and only where human health is concerned, never for cosmetic products.”

Previously John was the first Scottish MP to have his constituency office accredited by BUAV as animal cruelty free. This meant that he and his staff committed to all cleaning products and the like being certified cruelty free. Amongst the major supermarket chains the Co-op are considered to be the most trustworthy in this regard.

See also www.buav.org


09 Feb 2011

Congratulations are due to John Swinney for getting all four of his budgets through the Scottish Parliament. As Nicola Sturgeon has said, “over four years the SNP has shown we can work with all parties to deliver a council tax freeze for Scottish families, 1,000 additional police on our streets, and the small business bonus for Scotland’s businesses”.

Highlights of the budget included:
• Abolition of prescription charges;
• Continuing the Council Tax Freeze;
• Maintaining 1,000 additional police officers;
• Creating 25,000 modern apprenticeship places;
• Continuing educational grants – EMAs (being cut in England);
• Extending the living wage of £7.15;
• Continuing the small business bonus scheme (i.e. no rates from small businesses);
• £16 million further investment in housing.

Effectively Labour have voted against all of these!

Some people had thought that a minority SNP government would be easily defeated in the annual budget process. But John Swinney has proved them wrong. He has been prepared to negotiate and take on board good ideas from all other parties. After all, this is how the Scottish Parliament was always meant to work. Instead of dictatorship by one party, Holyrood operates so that two or more parties are required to work together. Surely that is a good thing? It means we are more likely to get decisions which have broad support, both across the parties and amongst the wider population.

Yet Labour voted against the budget. Was it because they had some disagreement in principle? Or was it because they had better ideas about how to use the reduced amount of money Westminster has given us? Perhaps it was neither of these. Perhaps it was because it was an SNP budget and Labour don’t like the SNP. How petty the Labour MSPs can be!


27 Jan 2011

John Mason has expressed his disappointment that Labour are still taking the side of big business and are still against ordinary people. Some folk had thought that Gordon Brown, Ed Milliband, or Iain Gray would move their Party away from “New” Labour as it was under Tony Blair. But when the rubber hits the road, Labour leaders always seem afraid of upsetting big business.

In John Swinney’s proposed Scottish budget there was a plan to tax some of the biggest companies a miserly £30 million. Would this seriously damage them? Would Tesco close all their Scottish stores and move to England? No way! Firstly they are making huge profits in Scotland so a reduction of a few million would not make them leave. And the idea that Scots would travel to Carlisle to do their supermarket shopping does not hold much water.

How much are these big companies making? In the year to March 2010, Sainsbury’s profit was £610 million, an increase of 18% over the previous year. And in the year to February 2010 Tesco had profits of £3.4 billion, up 10%. How many ordinary workers have had pay increases of 10%, let alone 18%? Not many I reckon! So surely these big companies (with broad shoulders as Alex Salmond said) should pay their fair share. We are in tough times; so why should they get off without taking some of the pain? Why should it only be ordinary folk who suffer through higher VAT, reduced benefits, and poorer services?

But once again Labour and the Tories were hand in hand to oppose this move. Both seem scared to upset big business. So instead what do they want? Presumably they want to cut health and education spending and to force more ordinary people out of jobs – whether with local councils or small businesses.

Is there really any difference nowadays between Labour and the Tories?


31 Dec 2010

As we look back at 2010 and forward to 2011, many of us have mixed feelings about both. I myself started the year as the MP for Glasgow East which was a fantastic job and a tremendous privilege. Then it was disappointing to lose the election in May. Since then I have enjoyed volunteering with Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau and with Glasgow City Mission. Both CAB and GCM do a tremendous job, helping people in different ways. I intend to continue working with them until at least the end of March.

So what will 2011 bring? We all have hopes and perhaps also some of us have fears. I myself am hoping to be elected to the Scottish Parliament in May. The SNP Government has had a good track record since 2007 with more police on the streets, more cleaners in the hospitals, frozen council tax, and reduced prescription charges all delivered. Of course a minority government is always going to face defeats, such as when Labour and the Tories joined up to push through the Edinburgh tram scheme. That tram system has turned out to be a mess and a muddle; and it has meant there was not enough money left for the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL). Thanks very much, Labour, for putting Edinburgh ahead of Glasgow… I don’t think!

Glasgow East and Shettleston constituencies seem to have benefitted disproportionately from the SNP Government. With the M74 completion expected in 2011, the Commonwealth Games buildings now clearly visible, and the new rail link direct from our six stations to Edinburgh, we have certainly benefitted from more than our fair share of capital projects. On top of that, of course, Glasgow continues to be funded better per head by the SNP than any other mainland authority.

But what surprises may be in store for us (good or bad) that we are not expecting? I face uncertainty about a job and so do many reading this. Should we fear the future? I believe we can face 2011 with hope. Even if there are difficult times ahead, there will be opportunities to find answers, help our neighbours, and reconsider what are the priorities in life.

With all good wishes for the New Year.