2007 - 2020

Do Nothing Eddie

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Scottish Labour is fond of highlighting the regressive elements of the SNP’s economic policy.

Alex Salmond has signed his party up to corporation tax cuts, monetary union (tying an independent Scotland to a “sub-optimal currency zone” which, as Jim Cuthbert puts it, sacrifices “productive growth for conditions that suit financial speculation”), reducing Air Passenger Duty and the continuation of a UK-wide system of financial regulation.

The SNP has also repeatedly failed to commit to the reintroduction of the 50p top rate of income tax. Moreover – and despite what the First Minister told the New Statesman this week – it remains (inexplicably) opposed to a European-wide Financial Transactions Tax.

None of these things are compatible with the independent Scotland I want to see. In fact, they make the prospect of independence less appealing, which is why Scottish Labour talks about them a lot.

But the “prolier-than-thou” act perfected by the likes of Johann Lamont and Neil Findlay is beginning to wear a bit thin. These two berate the SNP for its inconsistent stance on social justice but have nothing – literally nothing – to say about their own party’s willingness to embrace austerity.

Ed Miliband told an audience in Birmingham today:

If we win the election, we will come to power in tougher economic circumstances than we have seen in generations and that will have to shape the way we govern.  Our starting point for 2015-16 will be that we cannot reverse any cut in day-to-day, current spending unless it is fully funded from cuts elsewhere or extra revenue – not from more borrowing.

This comes just weeks after Miliband said he would impose a three-year cap on welfare spending and, as the Guardian explained, “make people work for longer before getting the higher rate of jobseeker’s allowance.”

Presumably Lamont and Findlay are furious about this. How would they have reacted had the Scottish Government laid out similar plans? That it revealed the reality behind nationalist rhetoric and that SNP social democracy was a sham?

Scottish Labour’s intellectual dishonesty is breath-taking. No wonder it has lost votes at every single devolved election. But then what more would you expect from a party that produced Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, who justified his decision to accept a peerage on the grounds it would allow him to better pursue his lifelong commitment to social equality.

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  1. mrbfaethedee says:

    Liked the article.

    I feel it gets a bit tough supporting an SNP that isn’t as ‘left’ and ‘progressive’ as I’d like, but they have to carry the full spectrum of the electorate to the indy ballot. Others may beg to differ, but I don’t think that the purely left-oriented pro-indy’s would be sufficient to carry a Yes.

    On currency – I’d love to see a Scottish currency, but not straight away. I’d be genuinely worried about the small but potential very serious risk massive early instability through attack by currency speculators. Maybe I just worry too much.

    On the EU transaction tax, the link in the article states very clearly the (IMO) a fairly good reason to oppose it – a mechanism for the EU to appropriate for itself some tax revenue.

    Good piece though – the way the Labour party get to freely talk out of two different heads in Scotland is a journalistic scandal, you’ve got to wonder where the bulk of the 4th estate is sometimes.

    Also – ‘prolier than thou’ – brilliant!

  2. muttley79 says:

    When I saw the name Neil Findlay mentioned in this article I winced. This guy, and others like him in the Red Paper Collective, big up themselves as socialists and radicals. However, they consciously reject independence, which is potentially the most meaningful change in Scotland’s political history, in favour of the retention of the British state. This state has shown no, or virtually no willingness to reform itself in a progressive manner in decades.

    Findlay and his like are either blinded by Scottish Labour’s hatred of the SNP, or they genuinely believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that a No vote will lead to so-called ‘Devo Max.’ Therefore, they are either blinded by hatred of the SNP, politicallly incompetent and lacking in basic political nous, or are not really radicals, but British Nationalists posing as socialists. These people will have to make up their minds about what they really stand for, and how their professed political ambitions can best be achieved before the referendum.

    Saying that, there are problems in the SNP’s presentation of independence to date. It has been less than inspiring, very cautious, and seems still to be about being all things to all men and women. I agree with Jamie’s point about the lack of a progressive vision of independence by the SNP. On the other hand, it does offer an opportunity for the Scottish Greens, the SSP, and Labour for Independence to offer a more attractive and socially just vision, for an Independent Scotland. I believe that a neo-Liberal agenda for an Independent Scotland, with its inherent social and economic inequalities, and very risky boom and bust economics, would be an outcome that many Yes supporters would want to avoid.

  3. Miliband is following the Blair/Brown textbook – promise to keep to Tory spending plans to sound tough and authoritative. His statements make sense in terms of Westminster – I don’t applaud him for them, but it makes electoral sense. But surely under devolution, Scottish Labour are entitled to have a distinctive policy agenda (or just style and mood, if in opposition) than the UK party? Scottish Labour under McConnell were regularly berated for not having enough of distinct policies.

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