Do Nothing Eddie
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.