Kenny MacAskill MSP

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Kenny MacAskill MSP

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  • Member for: Edinburgh Eastern
  • Region: Lothian
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Kenny is a member of the following Committees:

Kenny is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

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Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

I have had the privilege of serving in Parliament since its re-establishment in 1999, and I have been present at each and every debate on Iraq that we have had. I recall the first, which was not in this chamber, in this setting, but up at the assembly hall where Parliament first sat. I remember the outstanding speeches that took place in the lee of hundreds of thousands, indeed, millions—not just Neil Bibby—marching against a war and protesting that it would not be in their name.

In that first debate, too, there were some outstanding speeches. I recall the speech by George Reid, who used his experience in the Red Cross to warn of the devastation and hardship that would be wreaked around the globe—and it followed.

It is therefore shameful that the Labour members who used their votes to drive through a majority in favour of war are not here today to apologise or to atone for the actions that they took. They may think that by putting forward representatives who were not there, their fingerprints are not on the Iraq war and that new skin can be used. That war remains not just the war of Tony Blair, but the war of Jim Murphy and the war of the Labour Party—a war that has wreaked havoc on Scotland and the rest of the world, that has taken the lives of young servicemen and women and which has caused difficulties throughout humankind.

There are two particular points that we have to deal with.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

Maybe, but Labour has still not atoned for the culpability or the actions of the Labour Government, which have made this world a far less safe place.

All wars wreak devastation and all wars leave obfuscation. As we heard from the First Minister, the Iraq war certainly caused devastation, not just in Iraq and the wider middle east, but elsewhere, as we have seen, tragically, on the streets of Paris, London, Madrid and elsewhere. Devastation has been wreaked because of the actions that whipped up a hornets’ nest and created an unsafe world.

There has certainly been obfuscation, because all wars can cloud things and leave people with difficulty in being able to differentiate between truth and fantasy and between reality and fiction. However, it is important that we avoid obfuscation—that we avoid mythology appearing and instead ensure that justice is delivered. We need to ensure that we nail the lie that this was a war to deal with weapons of mass destruction, because it was known before, during and after it—let it be rung out loud and clear from Chilcot—that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that that was a false pretext. Those points have been raised by many members.

Let us hear what went on between Tony Blair and George Bush, because there has been devastation throughout the world, but not in Whitehall. Seeking understanding after wars can be very difficult, but Chilcot has taken longer—and the inquiry has still not reported—than the conduct of the Nuremberg trials after world war two. People who were fleeing justice had to be pursued, but that was managed. After world war one, with the collapse of empires—Romanov, Austro-Habsburg and the Hohenzollern—we managed to conclude a treaty, albeit that it was a flimsy one, in the hall of mirrors at Versailles in a shorter time than that in which Chilcot has managed to report, but we have to remember that no devastation has been wreaked in the palace of Westminster. There have been no burning embers or bunkers down in Whitehall.

The information is there: it should be readily accessible with the technology that we have in the 21st-century world in which we fought a 21st-century war. We should be able to make the information clear to Chilcot and to those who have served with him. People such as those who sought to flee from justice after world war two are not represented in Chilcot—we know where those people are. We can follow their trail of invoices and bills for the fees that they charge for their lectures, as they masquerade as emissaries of peace or whatever else.

The time has come. If we could deal with things at Versailles and at Nuremberg, the time has come for publication of the Chilcot report. We are entitled to no less, as has been said by speakers from all political parties, and not just mine. Young men died and their parents grieve—as Sandra White mentioned, Rose Gentle is the clearest example—and we owe it to their memories to find out what happened.

To some extent, we know what happened, but we need to find out why, and we need to make sure that this is the first of many inquiries that will follow, not just into what happened in Iraq but into what happened in Libya, what happened with rendition and what happened in the cosy relationship between new Labour and George Bush that has made this world a less safe place, not just for Scotland but for all of humanity.

15:00  

Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

I echo a lot of the comments that Alex Rowley made. In this speech, I will go back further than the Iraq war, which I spoke about in my previous speech, to the period of the poll tax, at which time this Parliament had not been re-established and was still awaited. The Tories called for the poll tax to be introduced in Scotland a year earlier than elsewhere. At that time, the SNP was not forming a majority Government. We were a minority party with fewer MPs than the Greens currently have MSPs. Perhaps some members on the Opposition benches should realise that standing up and speaking out for what is right, whether on the poll tax or Iraq, can pay electoral dividends.

I was proud, at that time, to lead the can’t pay, won’t pay campaign by the Scottish National Party. Those who could pay would not pay so that those who could not pay would never have to pay. We did not accept that there should be non-registration, as Tommy Sheridan proposed, because we argued that that would lead to people coming off the electoral register, and they did. It is only due to the hard work of activists in recent years, with the referendum, that we have got many of them back on the register.

We also realised that non-registration would incur a fine and a significantly greater penalty than simply not paying, so we discouraged it, but we encouraged people not to pay and to stand firm, shoulder to shoulder with those who just could not pay. We encouraged people to act collectively and seek strength in numbers.

We said that, once the battle had been won, those who could pay should pay—and the battle we did win. We defeated the poll tax. As with the Iraq war, hundreds of thousands marched. We had a significant level of political debate—not as much as last year with the independence referendum, but a significant amount. People participated, and we brought down the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, as the Tories will never allow us to forget.

I was proud to pay my poll tax at the end of it, and I paid 10 per cent more. People need not worry about the effects, because I, along with other can’t pay, won’t payers, contributed more through the 10 per cent surcharge that was levied on me, Sandra White and all those on the SNP benches.

It was the right thing to do, as Alex Rowley said, because the tax was part of the efforts by the Tories to commoditise tax at local authority level and to get to a situation in which those who did not have kids would ask, “Why should I pay for education?” and those whose children were not disabled could just bless their lucky stars and ask, “Why should I pay for care for those who are mentally or physically handicapped?” The belief was that it should be done on a purely per capita basis, regardless of ability to pay or—as Alex Rowley and, I think, Malcolm Chisholm said—any consciousness of what someone had to look after. That is why we fought and defeated the poll tax.

On public services, let us remember the gearing effect, which was going to cause either the poll tax to rise incrementally year on year or public services to be cut and pulled back. That is why we fought the tax and that is why the Government is correct to bring in this bill. It was an evil and iniquitous tax, and it would have been catastrophic for local authorities, not just for the poorest. That is why it was defeated.

There will be some who have deliberately not paid, but there are always those. The people who worry Gavin Brown will be the same people who do not pay any tax and whose view is that that is for the—



Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

I would have thought that local authorities would have used the common sense that they were born with and not sought to be vindictive. Sadly, that is not what happened after the referendum. What we saw was done previously in the southern states of America against black people. Research by institutions such as the Pew Research Center found that people in southern states used such circumstances to discourage those who sought the franchise in order to ensure that those who might not vote for them would not be able to vote against them.

That is why the bill has been triggered, and it is on that basis that the tax deserves to be consigned to history. Those who cannot pay now—those whom those shameful authorities are seeking—are those who, in the main, simply cannot pay, and they need help, not punishment. On the other minority that Mr Brown refers to—



Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

—I agree: let us deal with those corporates and those big businessmen.

16:18  

Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

I thank Hanzala Malik for bringing this debate to the Parliament and for the impressive tenor and content of his speech.

It is right that we record the tragedy and offer our sympathy. Scotland has been scarred by its own terrorist incident—if we can call it that—in Dunblane. It was not on the same scale, but the pain and suffering were felt by all.

However, it is not just people in Peshawar and Pakistan who have suffered as a result of what happened: the heartache is clearly greatest for those who were there, and the Pakistani community in Scotland is an integral part of our country, but it was a crime against humanity for people to wantonly slaughter youngsters for perverse and prejudiced reasons. That is something that the whole human race must stand up to and condemn outright.

I am grateful to Hanzala Malik for giving the Scottish Parliament the opportunity to record its sadness and to support him in seeking a solution. We are having the debate against the backdrop of the wanton slaughter that took place in Paris. Therefore, it is appropriate that we record and understand that terrorism is not just a western European phenomenon. Watching the television and reading in the newspapers about the tragedies that have affected Madrid, London, New York and now, sadly, Paris, we might think that the only people who suffer terrorism are those of us who live in the western world. Yet, as Hanzala Malik said, the statistics make it clear that that is not the case, whatever we have suffered in those tragedies, which must be condemned outright.

A recent Pew Research Center report shows that the five countries that have suffered most from terrorism are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria. Yet, if we were to ask people in Scotland and the United Kingdom about it, they would probably say that those are the countries that the terrorists come from rather than the countries where terror is suffered most. Therefore, it is important that we raise awareness of the fact that the solution to terrorism lies in tackling it globally, and of the fact that people in those countries suffer more than people in western and European countries and western democracies.

Equally, it is important that we make it clear that terrorism is to be condemned regardless of where it occurs and by whom it is carried out. It is important that we condemn equally the actions that have been carried out in Paris and in Pakistan. It is important that we condemn the terrorism in Madrid, but it is equally important that we condemn the terrorism in Gaza. It is right that we should condemn the Taliban and speak out against al-Qa’ida, but whether it is because of Israeli actions in Gaza or drone use by the United States in Pakistan, all children grieve the same—the tears and the blood that are shed are equal whether they are shed in the western world or in the third world.

Hanzala Malik made some important points about support. If we were to give Pakistan support in education, literacy and health, it would be worth so much more than the suffering that is inflicted on them because of the actions further west. Pew Research Center research also tells us that, as well as suffering the most victims of terrorism, Pakistan has the most refugees because of what is happening in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We need to condemn terrorism wherever it occurs, provide support to the Pakistani Government when it takes action and, equally, ensure that the actions of the west are productive rather than counterproductive. Those actions should support and enhance governments; they should not undermine them and should not damage their security. We need to give support in education, literacy and health while ensuring that we do not cause collateral damage through bombs, drone attacks or whatever else.

I fully support Hanzala Malik’s comments and put on record my condemnation—indeed, I believe, the condemnation of all the people of Scotland—of terrorism. Terrorism is a global phenomenon that needs to be addressed by the whole of humanity.

17:18  

Public Petitions Committee 13 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

In the east of Scotland, some fee-paying private schools offer scholarships to outstanding rugby players in fifth and sixth year at state schools. I can understand how that benefits the school—it improves its chances of being successful on the pitch—and I can understand why a parent might see opportunities for their youngster. However, the school could offer an opportunity to a youngster from the same community who, rather than having a significant sporting talent, had academic or other abilities. What are the criteria? How do you balance what suits the school and what suits the recipient?



Public Petitions Committee 13 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

I will deal with independent schools that provide specialist education that is often taken up by central Government or by local authorities. What different criteria do you apply to them? On the face of it, they appear to have a niche, as they offer something that is not provided elsewhere.



Public Petitions Committee 13 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

Is your assessment, which will doubtless be based on legal advice, done on the basis of interpretation of statute, or is it based on guidance and direction from the Scottish Government?



Public Petitions Committee 13 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

Yes, in terms of the interpretation. Alternatively, is it down to a strict interpretation as you see it through your formal legal advisers?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Kenny MacAskill
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11567: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11314: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11278: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11277: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11114.2: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11101: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10964: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10634: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10278: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09557.2: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Kenny MacAskill
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S3W-33254: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/04/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32438: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32439: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32437: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32098: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32099: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32096: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32097: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32094: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32095: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>

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