22 May 2013

S4M-06657 Haudagain Roundabout

The Deputy Presiding Officer (John Scott): The next item of business is a debate on motion S4M-06657, in the name of Richard Baker, on immediate action at the Haudagain roundabout.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

One or two references have been made to events that I thought I had been at, but members’ recollection appears to differ fundamentally from mine.

I am reminded of what one American President said when he came into office. It is apposite to the situation that the Scottish Government found in 2007. He said:

“We were astonished to find that things were even worse than we’d been saying they were.”

When we came into office in 2007, in relation to the AWPR, for which there had been great fanfares of announcements, not a single day of preparation had taken place. The fantasy target for completion was dead in the water before the first vote in the 2007 election had been cast.

It is worth reminding members to the left of me of one of the very first actions of those who opposed that new SNP Government. The very first vote that the 47 members on the Government benches lost to the 82 on the Opposition benches was a vote against our policy, so £500 million was to be spent on trams in Edinburgh rather than spread to other parts of Scotland, including, in particular, to fund improvements to road networks in the north-east of Scotland. That decision was made by the Labour Party and was supported by the Liberals and the Tories. We opposed it. That money could have been invested in the north-east, and we said so at the time. I continue to say so today.

In her speech, Jenny Marra—a North East Scotland MSP—talked about Dyce Drive creating a new and improved link to the airport. I am not quite sure that she knows where that is in relation to the Haudagain roundabout—she may not have been there, so we have to forgive her for her lack of geographical knowledge.

Jenny Marra also spoke about the north-east paying the price for Scottish Government cuts. Let us not debate the original source of those cuts—we have done so on many previous occasions; let us focus on the financial management of the Labour Party in the north-east. When the Scottish Government came into power in 2007, Aberdeen city had the highest band D tax of any cooncil in Scotland. We have had the privilege of being able to protect the people of the north-east from further increases—would that we had the economic powers to do even better.

Of course, we know what the Labour Party’s policy on that matter is today. Bernard Ponsonby, interviewing Willie Young, extracted the confession that it was not good enough that Aberdeen was merely the highest-taxed local authority area in Scotland. He wanted the council tax to be higher there. He wanted to raise it even more.

We know where the Labour Party is as regards the money that it would squeeze from the successful economy of the north-east.

We know that the Labour Party took money from the north-east to pay for the Edinburgh trams. Then, in Glasgow, it campaigned to say that the north-east was getting all the money instead of Glasgow.

I am happy to support the amendment in Keith Brown’s name. I congratulate Christian Allard on an excellent maiden speech.


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