Chicago gangster Al Capone was finally jailed not for his violent crimes but for tax evasion. Trade and finance law can cover a lot of stuff, and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ("TTIP") is a case in point. It is of huge significance, and tomorrow the SNP members will decide our policy on it. As you would expect, we'll have a democratic debate and vote at conference open to all members. I have drafted the motion along with Chris Stephens from the SNP Trade Union Group (and candidate for Glasgow South West) and I appeal to delegates to support it.
Published in The National 27 March 2015Read more
This week saw the release of the official figures on the impact of the Russian imports ban, and they make for grim reading. The sharpest drops in EU value are fruit, vegetables, and dairy products; cheese is down 19.4%, with butter faring slightly better at 9.5%.
It’s another blow to dairy farmers, as if the need for last month’s special hearing on prospects for the dairy sector didn’t already show that shady practices and difficult market conditions aren’t confined to Scotland.
Published in the Caithness Courier 11 February 2015Read more
This week, I've participated in a special hearing organised by the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee on prospects for the dairy sector and the implementation of the recent "milk package" of legislation (comprising, amongst other things, the opportunity for mandatory written contracts with milk collectors, and the encouragement of producer organisations to bargain collectively for a better price.) Adverse market conditions and shady practices aren’t confined to Scotland – this is an EU-wide issue and we have to act now.
Published in the Press and Journal 29th January 2015Read more
If Europe wishes to find a solution for the problems of the Middle East, it needs to correct a number of misconceptions about Syria. Most importantly, it needs to realise that the key threat is not ISIS but the Assad regime, both of which are engaged with a fight to the death with Europe's only possible ally: the rebels.
Published in the Huffington Post 21st December
The EU’s long-awaited report on the food chain was published at the end of October. Unfortunately, it didn’t mention anything about the major challenges being faced by farmers, foremost of which is the unfair bargaining power of processors.
Published in John O'Groat Journal 12 December 2014Read more