Undecided voters in Thornhill get the chance to question one of Alex Salmond’s most senior ministers about independence at a public meeting in Thornhill this Monday evening (12 May)
Michael Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in the Scottish Government, will speak at a meeting organised by Yes Dumfriesshire at the Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms Hotel in the town at 7.00pm. The event is free and open to all.
Mr Russell has strong connections with the area having served two terms in the Scottish Parliament as a South of Scotland MSP based in Dumfries. He played a key role in saving the Crichton Campus when it was under threat and has continued to support the campus as education secretary.
He ensured that education remained free in Scotland after the UK government withdrew support to higher education in the rest of the UK, forcing students there to pay university fees of up to £9000. As Scotland’s Education Secretary he has also given added protection to rural schools, making it more difficult for councils to close them. He has also ensured the Educational Maintenance Allowance continued in Scotland after it was abolished in England and he has more than doubled the number of young people in Modern Apprenticeships to 30,000 starts a year.
Scotland’s Future, the Scottish Government’s plan for independence, has a major focus on early years education. After independence, Scotland will deliver free childcare for under fives matching primary school hours for all families who want it. This is expected to save families up to £4,300 a year and help many more parents, particularly mothers, get back to work if they wish.
Mr Russell, who was formerly the minister for culture and an author and film-maker, is considered to be one of the most erudite of Scotland’s politicians. His visit to Thornhill comes as 103 leading academics in Scotland backed a Yes Vote in the independence referendum, in an open letter, saying it would be good for education.
Mr Russell will by joined by Richard Arkless of Business for Scotland, the fast growing organisation which recently challenged the CBI to register as an official branch of the no campaign. Mr Arkless, who runs his own LED lighting business in Stranraer, will make the economic case for a yes vote and shoe how in can benefit small and medium sized businesses.
Upper Nithsdale Councillor Andrew Wood, of Yes Dumfriesshire, who will chair Monday’s meeting said:
“Michael is a very engaging and witty speaker. He understands that people have lots of questions and is happy to answer them all. This is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Upper Nithsdale to get the facts about independence instead of the media soundbites and scare stories of Project Fear.”