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MAREE TODD: Crisis in cost of living is made worse by austerity and Brexit

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Holyrood Notebook by Maree Todd

There are plenty of opportunities for a just transition with renewables on our doorstep, according to Maree Todd.
There are plenty of opportunities for a just transition with renewables on our doorstep, according to Maree Todd.

I’m delighted to see our own Wick councillor Raymond Bremner becoming leader of Highland Council. It’s a tough job, particularly at this moment in time, but I’m more than confident that he will rise to the challenges and find opportunities for our region to flourish.

I am also very pleased to see the change in administration – I look forward to working with them over the years ahead.

As we recover from the pandemic, the impact of Brexit – which we voted resoundingly against in Scotland – is becoming clearer by the day.

The UK currently has the highest inflation of any G7 country – almost twice the rate of France. Brexit has made this problem worse, with increases in food and fuel prices hitting the poorest hardest.

We are experiencing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis. Inflation is at a 40-year high of nine per cent, with households facing considerable hardship.

In this context, the Resource Spending Review was an essential exercise to share high-level financial parameters with public bodies, local government and the third sector, so we can plan ahead together. Kate Forbes set out an ambitious but realistic public spending framework for the years ahead that doesn’t ignore the realities of our financial position, but neither does it roll back on our ambitions for change.

With power comes responsibility and a damning new report has cited over a decade of UK government cuts as the principal reason for the life expectancy of Scots being shorter than predicited. The Liberal Democrats of course were in coalition with the Tories when that fateful choice to pursue austerity politics was made. We are all paying the price now.

Dr David Walsh, co-author of the report by Glasgow University and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, said these tragic consequences are “principally the result of UK government austerity policies that have squeezed billions of pounds from public services and social security and have had a devastating impact on the lives of so many in our communities.”

The Lib Dems try hard to wriggle out of responsibility but their role in the tragic human cost of the cruel Westminster austerity agenda is now inescapable.

Westminster has inflicted austerity, a hard Brexit we didn’t vote for, and now an ever-deepening cost of living crisis on the people of Scotland that is causing immense hardship across the country. We are led by a lawbreaking Prime Minister who is supported by only two of the 59 MPs in Scotland.

Only with independence can we imagine a better future – the opportunity to escape that chaos and be a fairer, greener and more equal nation.

On the topic of a just transition, I was very pleased to meet with the Dounreay Stakeholder Group recently. Whilst we diverge on our support for fission-based nuclear technology, it is clear that we share a passion to see Caithness thrive.

We have a skilled workforce, industrial sites and bountiful renewable energy resources – and we have it all on the doorstep. So we have a lot to offer and we all need to work together to ensure we harness these opportunities for area’s benefit.

Finally, I was delighted to be grilled by a group of Thurso High School pupils on their visit to Holyrood for the Donald Dewar Debate. Confident, articulate and well informed – an absolute credit to their school and county and a very clear sign that our future is bright!

Local SNP MSP Maree Todd.
Local SNP MSP Maree Todd.
  • Maree Todd is the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.

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