What it is all about:

I entered politics, becoming a North Kincardine councillor in 2012, to make a difference. As a teacher and a parent, I could see that we need to change our education system so that all children can have every opportunity to achieve at school and then in their individual path through Further or Higher Education. Many children currently experience barriers to effective learning and Labour’s Fair Start Fund will help to pull these down. I recognise the importance of supporting families with affordable and accessible child-care and the need to value the staff who provide this.

Along with Labour colleagues in the North-East, I will work for a fair deal for NHS Grampian so that the current recruitment problems can be overcome and the best service, including a Trauma Centre, can be delivered to residents. Labour is committed to properly supporting our health and social care employees, including all those who work as home carers.

The crisis in oil and gas is creating huge local challenges, and I want to contribute to a government which recognises the importance of using creative solutions to support a full range of jobs in the North-East. These must be jobs which respect and develop the work-force and which see the end to the exploitative zero-hours contracts which many people, including young workers, currently suffer.

I know our region is crying out for a bold plan to tackle the housing crisis: Labour has listened and, given your support, will act.

Letter to first – time voters:

Hello!

I am writing to you as one of the new voters in this Scottish Election.

Three of my four children (aged 16, 18 and 21) have their first
opportunity to vote in MSPs to the Scottish Parliament this year,
and I have been listening to the issues which matter to them and
their friends. Educational opportunity, the end to the exploitation
of young part-time workers, equality and fairness, better public
transport, decent flats which they can afford to rent – these are
all important to the young people I meet.

This election is more important than ever, because the people you elect will have more power to act on these issues, and on many others, than Scottish MSPs have had before.

The big choice is whether we elect people who will actually use the new powers to do things differently and change things.

Faced with the choice between using the powers or continuing to cut into Scotland’s future, Labour’s choice is to use the powers.

Labour will use the powers firstly to invest in education. To give every young person opportunity in life we need to make sure our schools, colleges and universities are properly funded. After nearly 10 years in charge, the SNP Government has cut education and training by 10%, decimated college places, and slashed support for poorer students. That’s not the way to support young people or to grow our economy in the future.

Labour would ask the top 1% to pay a new 50p rate of tax. Instead of making excuses about avoiding tax, it is time that those at the top paid their taxes like the rest of us.

In the Scottish Parliament, we also want to stand up for the issues that matter–

• To save you money we’ll bring in a single contactless ticket you can use on buses, trains, underground or trams
We’ll take on bad landlords and stop rip-off rent rises
We’ll help to double the mortgage deposits of first time buyers
We’ll keep tuition free and reverse the cuts to Higher Education bursaries for the poorest students
We’ll guarantee financial support for Further Education students.

We will also continue our work to stop zero hour contracts.
We will work towards realising our vision of a Scotland based on equality and fairness.

You have two votes in this election – a constituency vote and a party vote. Please consider using at least one to make sure there are Labour MSPs like me who want to use the new powers to stop cuts and change things.

With best wishes,

Alison

Education: the most important economic policy

All our children should be given every opportunity to achieve thee best they can. All our children should be able to read and write when they leave primary school.

This is the most effective way to prepare them for their future within this evolving world of work. It is also the best way to strengthen the economy of our country by ensuring we have a top quality, highly -skilled and adaptable work-force.

Sadly, our education service is not allowing this to happen at the moment.

6000 children leave primary school in Scotland unable to read.

1500 schools in Scotland get no extra support from the SNP Government to cut the attainment gap, despite having children from poorer backgrounds who are under-achieving.

Recent cuts to local government budgets from the SNP Government have put important provisions such as pupil support assistants and local libraries at risk.

If we fail to invest properly in education, and if we fail to support all our children with the resources they need, we will be failing to provide the skills and knowledge needed to build a strong economy in an increasingly competitive global environment.

Scottish Labour will use our income tax powers to stop all cuts to education. We will bring back the 50p top rate for those earning over £150,000 a year. We will use the money this provides to help our teachers to reduce the attainment gap and give all our children the opportunity to achieve.

 

 

 

Supporting active travel:

 

In response to an email about supporting active travel:

I have been supporting various walking and cycling groups since I became a councillor.

There is a huge local demand for investment in both cycling and walking and government, both national and local, should do all it can to fulfil this.

We need to do more to promote the fact that not only is active travel better for the environment, but it is also good for both physical health and mental well-being.

In particular, we need to promote a greater interest in active travel amongst young people, so that they develop habits which will influence their choices in future years. Active travel therefore needs to be easy, safe and fun – we need to break down barriers.

It will therefore be necessary to invest a greater proportion of the transport budget into promoting cycling and walking infrastructure and to making our road network as a whole safer. These are things I support.

To the Polish community:

My response to an email from the Polish community of Aberdeen:

I lived in Germany with my family for six years, in an area where there were no other British families and my English-speaking children went to the local German school. I therefore have direct experience of being a migrant within the European Union and can appreciate many of the issues which have to be faced.

For several years I worked with the Migrant Support Group in the Mearns, which offered help to people from Europe who were living in the rural area.

When I was a teacher, I also led several school visits to Poland, including an exchange to Gliwice, where Aberdeenshire students stayed in the homes of Polish families. I myself stayed in the home of the Polish teacher and she stayed in my home when she brought her students to Scotland. That was a really great learning experience for everyone.

I therefore feel that I have the empathy needed to be an effective representative of the Polish community.

I am currently an Equalities Champion within Aberdeenshire Council and so am already working to ensure that the terms of the equalities legislation are fully implemented.

We do need to do more to help the process of integration – I think that comes from greater understanding of different cultural traditions and a greater willingness to share the key events of each community. We need to break down the barriers which discourage participation and open communication.
We need to ensure that local information is available to everyone, and not allow language to be another barrier.

We also need to put more emphasis on the teaching of English to children and families with English as a second language, while also helping the children maintain their mother tongue. I know that there is a lot of evidence that children do better at school if they are able to process complex matters in their mother tongue. Ie – if we promote Polish language in our schools we should see Polish speaking children attaining more and hence able to contribute more to our society in the longer term.

I would therefore support the introduction of Polish language into our schools, as part of the Modern Language initiative.