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In Stewartfield last week a woman told me she would read all the political party manifestos before deciding who to vote for.

I have to confess that it’s not a typical response from a voter, but it’s a wise one.

Because, despite all the cynicism that surrounds politics, manifestos are crucial.

That’s because when a party is elected to Government the Manifesto becomes its agreement with the people.

It is the justification for making decisions and it forms the content of the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the legislative programme.

I attended Scottish Labour’s manifesto launch last Friday in Glasgow.

As a party that believes passionately about the redistribution of wealth across the whole of the United Kingdom, our manifesto weaves together our priorities for Scotland and the rest of our country.

I am proud because many of the commitments we have made were generated in East Kilbride.

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The top three issues raised with me in the last five years, housing, jobs for our young people and support for our NHS, are all in there.

We’ll build 100,000 new homes in Scotland and we’ll get our fair share of those new homes to eradicate the 6000-strong waiting list in the constituency.

New construction jobs and apprenticeships will be created, but we will go further.

We’ll guarantee a job, apprenticeship or training for young people. We’ll introduce a £1600 future fund for 18 and 19 year olds who are not at college, university or in an apprenticeship, to fund training or help start a new business.

We’ll do all this while keeping university tuition free and introducing a bursary for poorer students.

We’ll support our NHS with 1000 new nurses, 500 doctors and a £100 million resilience fund for A&E services.

This is on top of our commitments to abolish exploitative zero-hour contracts, raise the minimum wage to at least £8 an hour and rid our country of food banks and the Bedroom Tax.

We will maintain the Barnett formula because Full Fiscal Autonomy would be a disaster for our country; it would mean a break-up of the state pension and much, much more.

If you want to read all of our manifesto commitments go to www.scottishlabour.org.uk.

But let me finish on this. Everyone of our commitments is costed and paid for.

We’ve set out how we will increase taxes to pay for them because social justice can’t be delivered without money.

But for those doubters still out there, consider this: in 1945 the first majority Labour Government was elected.

In much tougher economic times than we face today it built new homes, created the welfare state and passed the 1946 New Towns Act which created East Kilbride.

However, the birth of the National Health Service in July 1948 remains Labour's greatest monument.

It was achieved despite two years of bitter resistance by the medical establishment, with consultants threatening strike action and the BMA warning about bureaucracy and expense. 

They were wrong. And it would be wrong to doubt us again. 

A Better Plan for a Better Future

In Stewartfield last week a woman told me she would read all the political party manifestos before deciding who to vote for. I have to confess that it’s not a...

Like every other person in our country I have an intimate relationship with the NHS.

I was born in an NHS hospital, so were my children.

Relatives have had life-saving operations and I’ve used A&E services.

Like every other family I’ve been in circumstances where the NHS has provided end of life palliative care.

But the NHS is a symbol of what we believe in, it’s not a monument.

It has to continually keep pace with new innovations in treatments, drugs and surgical advances and I am sorry to say that the NHS in Scotland is not keeping pace and the truth must be faced.

In the last week I’ve had myriad complaints about the standards of care at Hairmyres Hospital; grim circumstances which I’ll keep to myself to avoid identification of the family’s concerned.

I don’t blame the nurses, the doctors or the porters.

I hold the SNP Government and NHS management responsible.

Under the SNP our NHS is stretched to breaking point and staff are under extreme pressure.

After eight years of SNP (mis)management waiting times and standards have continued to drop.

Under the SNP, 8 out of 14 health boards missed their waiting time targets.

There were over 400 delayed discharge deaths in 2014, treatment time guarantees were breached more than 12,000 times and 25% of nurses say there are not enough of them to do their job properly.

We even had the ignominy of casualty patients being treated in overspill Portakabins.

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Yesterday we learned that it is 287 weeks since the SNP last met their own A&E waiting time targets.

In East Kilbride we have a new health centre being built but dithering and simple incompetence meant that the old health centre had to be refurbished at a cost of nearly £1 million to keep it wind and water tight.  All under the SNP’s watch.

That same building will be demolished soon and the near £1 million worth of improvements will go with it.

What a waste. 

And all this at a time when the SNP Government has had record sums of cash delivered to it through the Barnett Formula but have failed to pass it on to fund health services!

Labour will fix the NHS.

We will fund 1000 new nurses, cut cancer waiting times and introduce a £100 million resilience fund to support A&E services.

Folks, our problems don’t start at 9am and finish at 5pm so we’ll work with health professionals and the system to devise a system that works on a 24/7 cycle.

But we have also deal with the vested interests that prevent change.

The merger of health and social care, so often talked about as if it is a reality, is a myth.

The saying goes that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

I chaired partnerships committees when I was a councillor, I know what they are like. They talk a good game but the multiple management and decision making structures push against each other.

In short simple vested interests prevent them delivering.

And the sloth like centralised NHS management structure which take years to make decisions must be tackled.

We need to give our NHS the support it needs to deliver the care Scots deserve.

In just 23 days we can elect a Labour Government that will deliver £1billion in extra support for our NHS in Scotland.

Our NHS - let’s make the change we need to deliver the care we deserve

Like every other person in our country I have an intimate relationship with the NHS. I was born in an NHS hospital, so were my children. Relatives have had life-saving...

This morning I received a knock on the door of my campaign office from John Gallagher.

John lives in East Kilbride.

He expressed his concerns to me about the plans the SNP have for Full Fiscal Autonomy and the threat that those plans would have on the state pension.

And he is right to be concerned.

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Full Fiscal Autonomy. Three words and 18 letters that would have a devastating effect on Scotland.

But what’s the big deal?

Well it’s simple really.

At the moment we collect taxes across the UK and then we pool and share those resources.

It’s a financial ebb and flow which ensures that even if one part of the UK is going through a difficult period, it can be supported by the others parts.

Scotland gets its share of resources through the Barnett formula and it’s a system that has served us well for decades.

The SNP want to unilaterally pull out of that system.

And the independent and highly respected Institute of Fiscal Studies has concluded that every year Scotland would have £7.6 billion less to spend.

When you consider that Scotland’s health budget is £12 billion it provides you with some sense of the impact that such a decision would have on our country.

But there is more to it than that. If the SNP had their way and we gave up our contribution to the polling and sharing arrangements we currently have, we can no longer be part of the UK pension system.       

As is stands, whether you’re a pensioner in Strangford, Skegness, Swansea or Saltcoats, everyone gets the same state pension.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: if the SNP get their way; how will the £7.6 billion financial black hole be filled?

By cutting the NHS? By cutting our schools, colleges and university budgets? By cutting social work services? Or by cutting state pensions?

The SNP need to be honest with people.

Some of you may remember the Lynn Anderson hit record ‘I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.”

The words of the chorus read, ‘Along with the sunshine, there's gotta be a little rain sometime.”

Full fiscal autonomy would rain down a monsoon on Scotland’s economy and harm Scotland’s pensioners.

There is only one way to protect our public services and the state pension.

On 7 May, Vote Labour.  

Full Fiscal Autonomy. Three words and 18 letters that would have a devastating effect on Scotland. Michael explains why here.

This morning I received a knock on the door of my campaign office from John Gallagher. John lives in East Kilbride. He expressed his concerns to me about the plans...

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