Holyrood Sketch

The issue of trident dominated the political news down at Westminster and it was no different at Holyrood where we saw protestors scaling the Holyrood building to voice their protest over trident. At Westminster out of the 59 Scottish MPs 33 voted against Trident with 4 abstaining. Nicola Sturgeon lead with the issue of trident at First Ministers Question's, even though it is a reserved matter, and claimed that Labour would be the price for imposing Trident in the same way that the Conservative Party paid the price for the poll tax.

Poll Tax 2
The SNP re-announced their tax policy this week – a local income tax and it's been described this week in the press as Poll Tax 2. The Scottish Conservatives have attacked the Nats over their tax policy with Tory Finance Spokesman, Derek Brownlee, stating that their sums don't add up with the Nats lacking credibility on their spending and taxing policies. First Minister Jack McConnell also joined in the attack on the SNP attacking their commitment to a flat rate tax across Scotland while also cutting Local Government budgets at the same time.

Question Time
While, as mentioned, Nicola Sturgeon attacked the First Minister over Trident, Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie questioned the first Minister over the early release system in Scotland. At present anyone sentenced to a prison term of four years or less will be automatically released half way through without conditions. This was introduced by the Conservatives in the 1990's but is now something the party have campaigned hard for years to change. Goldie's attack came after the reforms passed on Thursday morning, reforms that have created in Goldie's words a "mongrel system". Now the trial judge will lay down a period to be spent in prison and then a second period to be spent in the community under supervision. The Scottish Conservatives have been up in arms over this hailing this as good news for criminals but further bad news for victims and those affected by crime. "Today the Lib-Lab Pact lost a great opportunity to stand up for the victims of crime. Early release now means, in most cases, earlier release" said Tory chief Whip Bill Aitken.

Bills this week
As well as the reforms made to the early release system, MSPs also passed a bill to build a new rail link to Edinburgh Airport.  This involves nine miles of new track to connect the airport to the Edinburgh/Glasgow line and to the Fife/northern line. It will mean an underground station at the airport and two tunnels under the runway. Total cost £610m, three times what it's costing for a rail link to Glasgow Airport!

The third bill of this week was the school meals bill.

This bill will lay down minimum nutritional standards for all food served in school, whether in the canteen or in a tuck shop or from a vending machines.

It is an attempt to cut down on junk food while at the same time offering advice to parents on preparation of lunches.

Craig Wilson

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