Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Borders Care Voice

It was the annual Borders Care Voice question time for MSPs last week. We do get some of the questions in advance as they are pretty detailed. Many related to reserved issues such as Universal Credit and PIPs (Personal Independence Payment). In due course (that is in a couple of years) the Scottish Government will be responsible for PIP assessments and not before time. However, taking Universal Credit first, international commentators, not just yours truly, have identified that the dreadful rules and processes of UC has led to an increase in foodbank referrals. As for PIPs I have had cases of folk who had debilitating and incurable conditions with mobility cars for years, after a so-called assessment threatened with their removal. Some were even told to “just appeal”. Well when they came to me they did and successfully. Did you know that 70 per cent of appeals were successful? Tells you it’s not about being fair and compassionate but about cutting costs no matter what the cost to the individual. As for the Bedroom Tax, Michelle Ballantyne has said it “doesn’t exist”. She also believes that no-one on UC should have support for more than two children. Doesn’t matter if you have the bad luck to fall on hard times through illness or redundancy. According to her you should have planned for that. I remind you she is the spokesperson for the Conservatives in the Scottish parliament on welfare. Says it all really. By the way, the Scottish Government has paid out £47 million to mitigate the Bedroom Tax for 70,000 and £10.9 million to mitigate other Tory polices such as that benefit cap. But of course it is impossible and indeed is it right that we have to use this money to mitigate?


Now this is becoming tedious as well as worrisome. Rachel Hamilton and David Mundell have obviously been issued with a script from temporary Tory HQ (10 Downing Street) having a go at the SNP group at Westminster for not backing wir Theresa’s deal blaming them for seeking failure to accelerate Independence. Now I have campaigned for Independence nigh on 50 years but these claims are, well. Tosh. Let’s rewind. Scotland voted Remain 62 per cent. Every council area in Scotland voted Remain. In the Scottish Borders 58.5 per cent. Yet from the start the SNP said that it would accept the UK vote but that there must be a Customs Union and we must remain the in the Single Market. In the meantime, Tory MPs defect, members of the Cabinet threatened to exit and by the time you read this maybe more will have gone. No we have played the hand we were dealt, with maturity and professionalism. We may end up in a Customs Union and Single market though no doubt it will be rebadged by Mrs May. Yet in 2014 we were told if we voted for Scotland’s Independence we would be thrown out of Europe. Now we are and against our will. There’s several lessons in that.