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News Westminster IN BRIEF


UK withdraws from racism event The UK has pulled out of a United Nations event marking the tenth anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in South Africa. Foreign Secretary William Hague said


the conference – and “the anti-Semitic atmosphere in which it was held” – was “a particularly unpleasant and divisive chapter in the UN’s history”.


Deal reached over Dounreay waste Nuclear waste is to be sent from Dounreay in Scotland to a reactor in Belgium. The material will be shipped by


sea as part of a long standing inter- government agreement signed when highly enriched nuclear fuel from all over the world was reprocessed at Dounreay.


Confidence in MPs falls Public confidence in MPs fell steeply between 2008 and 2010, research by the standards watchdog has suggested. The percentage of people in England


who think MPs are dedicated to working well for the public dropped from 46 per cent to 26 per cent.


Planning systems blamed Problems with the planning system have left a multi-million-pound black hole in council finances, Scotland’s spending watchdog has warned. Audit Scotland said the shortfall had


risen from £6.7m to £20.8m in the last six years – despite a 29 per cent drop in the number of planning applications. The watchdog said councils were


having to fill the gap between spending and the amount they got back from fees.


Scottish fish statistics released Fish worth £435m was landed in Scotland last year, it has been revealed. The new Scottish sea fish statistics


showed that 367,000 tonnes of fish were brought to shore in 2010. A total of 2,150 fishing boats were


based in Scotland last year – the smallest fleet ever recorded – and the number of fishermen fell 4 per cent to 5,218. Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead


said the Scottish fleet had enjoyed another successful year despite “extremely challenging times”.


Salmond little heard of in Westminster – Miliband


Kate Shannon Staff Reporter


Alex Salmond might be considered a political force to be reckoned with in Scotland but he is little heard of in Westminster, according to Labour leader Ed Miliband. In a Q&A with Holyrood,


Miliband dismissed the First Minister and said people turn to Scottish Labour MPs such as Ann McKechin and Douglas Alexander if they want to know what is happening north of the border. When asked what he makes of the


First Minister, Miliband said: “He is heard so little of in Westminster. “He was an MP until last year so I occasionally saw him in the House of Commons, but I hardly know him. If people at Westminster want to know what’s happening in Scotland,


they tend to turn to Scottish MPs like Ann McKechin, Jim Murphy or Douglas Alexander.” His comments differ from the


views of a number of politicians from opposing parties who have spoken out in praise of the SNP leader. Over the years Salmond has received plaudits from across the political spectrum, even his old adversaries praise his abilities. Tam Dalyell has said he is one of the best debaters of his generation and Tory grandee, Michael Forsyth, who studied with Salmond at St Andrews University, says he has huge respect for him and admires the longevity of his conviction. More recently, former Labour minister Andy Kerr described Salmond as “the foremost politician not just in Scotland, but in the UK”. A spokesperson for the First


Minister said: “Ed Miliband clearly doesn’t believe what he says because, if rumours are to be believed, Ann McKechin faces being dumped from


his shadow cabinet because of her totally lacklustre performance. “Mr Miliband’s real problem when it comes to Scotland is his own totally disastrous approval ratings which must be among the lowest ever for a Labour leader. “Few Scots know who he is – and those who do are deeply unimpressed, according to the opinion polls.” Speaking about Scottish independence, Miliband said the SNP should tell Scots what their motivations are and why they want to “break something that is not broken”. He added: “Labour is the party of devolution, and what most people want is a stronger Scottish Parliament. Te onus is on those who want to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK to explain their case. We are all stronger together but all weaker apart.”


For full interview see page 12 Murphy to take central role in referendum campaign


Katie Mackintosh Staff Reporter


Former Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has said he will not be sitting out the referendum campaign in Scotland.


“I am going to help in the


referendum much more generally than just campaigning against independence. I am not just going to sit it out. I sat out the last year [Holyrood election] and I will not sit this one out. Tis will be a big effort from all of us,” the Labour MP told Holyrood in an exclusive interview with editor Mandy Rhodes. However, when asked whether he will campaign alongside Prime Minister David Cameron, Murphy said he would refuse. “I was on the same side as


David Cameron on the AV vote but I wouldn’t share a platform with him and I’m not going to share a platform with him on the referendum.” In defence of the Union, Murphy says he will argue that “there is


10 www.holyrood.com 19 September 2011


nowhere better than Scotland but there is something bigger.” He explained: “Te number of jobs, the ability to solve problems across the world, I mean, what problem, what genuine problem in the world, has Scotland, even Britain solved? Discuss. What are the big issues; Climate change, unequal distribution of wealth, children in Africa dying for lack of medicines, the movement of power and influence of economics and military to China, all those sort of things and much more besides, controlling terrorism. Which of those problems could Scotland becoming independent solve? How does Scotland exert any influence on its own? I think our ability to influence things is much stronger by being part of the UK.” Murphy says he is still to work out


how to articulate this during the referendum campaign, pointing out that he “wasn’t born into a Union Jack waving family.” However, he insists that in arguing


in favour of the Union he has Scotland’s best interest at heart. “… if I thought Scotland was better or more prosperous, or fairer or more open in its view of the world or if


itself by leaving Britain then I would vote for it. I would champion it. But for every test I have in my mind about that it fails.” Fighting to keep the Union “is not a prejudice; it’s a principle and a collision of logic and emotion,” he said. However, he admitted that Labour politicians can be “squeamish” about expressing their patriotism.


“Te emotion should be, ‘I love my country so much I want it to be part of the United Kingdom because I think it is good for my country’. Te stark fact is I love my country and we are squeamish in the Labour Party about expressing these things. Blair said it in his final speech when he left and people said it was pure schmaltz and pure Bush and Atlee said it when he said he had the honour of serving the finest country on earth. But if you don’t love your country and can’t express that, what are you doing working in politics?” He hopes Labour can persuade Scots that it is “not xenophobic to be patriotic.”


“Te SNP can make their offer


and we’ll make ours.” Full story see page 18


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