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Writing this after another session of campaigning in the Aberdeen Donside by election, it is gratifying to note from many doorstep conversations that key policies and achievements of the SNP government are recognised and still meeting with approval.
The freeze in Council Tax levels, for example, according to a very large sample (over 8,000) surveyed in the Donside constituency, remains massively popular with 88% in favour of a continuation of the council tax freeze, while just 12% support a tax increase. Proving just how out of touch Labour are these days, their candidate has stated that he believes Councils should be able to increase Council tax. I presume he fondly recalls that, under Labour, Council tax in Aberdeen increased by over 70% to become the highest in Scotland, before the SNP government initiated the freeze in 2007!
Speaking of Labour party failings, they have the cheek to criticise the real progress made by the SNP government on tackling the road traffic challenges which face Aberdeen. The much needed city by-pass and the infamous Haudagain roundabout are fully committed to by the Scottish Government, which has wasted no time following the resolution of legal wrangles over the by-pass route. Labour however, did nothing themselves when they were in
power both locally and nationally.
And I know that many residents of Aberdeen, the oil and gas capital of Europe, have noticed news headlines such as "Healey Admits Oil Tax Cover-Up". The revelation by former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey that Westminster has deliberately fiddled Scotland's oil figures comes as no great surprise. Lord Healey has confessed that the UK Treasury grossly undervalued our oil in the 1970s, while Labour and Tory politicians were telling us we we were too poor to be independent.
We now know that just half of the value of North Sea oil has been realised up to now. The fact is that oil and gas will be a rich resource for decades to come, with known reserves worth the staggering sum of £1.5 trillion. This is good news for Aberdeen and the rest of Scotland, but Denis Healey's confession underlines the fact that Westminster cannot be trusted with Scotland's oil.
With Independence, Scotland's oil wealth could be put to work for the people of this nation. As exemplified in Norway, an oil fund could be invested for the future rather than being squandered by successive Westminster governments. But instead of harnessing the benefits of this ongoing oil boom, Scotland is suffering yet more Tory government cuts while billions of pounds of tax revenues are wasted on nuclear weaponry.
Labour and Tory governments at Westminster have behaved in exactly the same way towards Scotland, using deception and misinformation in their desperation to scare voters away from choosing the SNP and Independence. Westminster parties, according to Denis Healey, are "worried stiff" about a Yes vote in the referendum next year - because they want to keep the valuable tax income from North Sea oil!
There has never been any doubt in my mind that Scotland can afford to be a normal Independent country. In fact, as the debate progresses, it is becoming clearer by the day that we can't afford not to take the opportunity offered by voting Yes in the referendum.