I gave this decision a lot of thought, consulting colleagues, as well as the two MEP’s.
I have decided to seek nominations for a number of reasons, and feel that the following issues are where I can make a contribution to the healthy debate we’ll be having about our country’s future in a 21st century Europe.
Secondly, I want to ensure the Social Chapter is protected and enhance it if we can. I have a real suspicion of the Tory led Government agenda – when they say that Europe needs reformed they mean dumping the Social Chapter, as well as EU Human Rights legislation. The social chapter has improved the lives of millions of working people, and the Tories wish to opt out will only serve to increase short term employment, and a low wage economy. The example of European Governments who have better employment protection is in stark contrast to Westminster, and the recent move to reduce the statutory notice of redundancy will only make it easier for multinational companies to close UK workplaces, at the expense of those elsewhere.
Thirdly, I feel due to successive UK Government negligence, we need to do more to access EU funds. It is utterly negligent of the UK Government not to apply for funding that can help small and medium size enterprises, and structural funds have helped alleviate long term unemployment – for example the City Centre Rep service in Glasgow. Indeed our farming communities would benefit by the tune of £150 million in an Independent Scotland.
Fourthly, we have an opportunity to support our current group on reviewing EU procurement rules. It is correct that clauses should be inserted to allow local and central government to take procurement decisions which would assist their local economies. This will allow local economies to grow.
This brings me to the last reason. 2014 is the year we determine Scotland’s future, and I believe I can make a contribution articulating why an Independent Scotland in Europe will benefit our fellow citizens, rather than the increasingly insular attitude we see at Westminster. Political reality says that Scotland will be welcomed with open arms inside the European Community.
I will over the coming weeks share these views further.