LABOUR 'A THREAT TO FAMILY BUDGETS' – VOTERS WARNED AHEAD OF COUNCIL ELECTIONS – PARTY CANNOT BE TRUSTED ON PROGRESSIVE POLICIES
Duncan McLean, SNP candidate for East Kilbride Central South, today warned families that Labour are a threat to their budgets and cannot be trusted to maintain a number of key socially progressive policies – in either local or national Government.
With just days to go before the Local Government election, Mr McLean highlighted examples of Labour’s inconsistency on the council tax freeze, free prescription charges, the Small Business Bonus Scheme and free tuition.
He accused Labour candidates of making hollow promises for the Local Government elections, which they cannot be trusted to maintain.
“In South Lanarkshire, Labour candidates supporting the council tax freeze is a sign of their desperation, not of their commitment to protect household budgets.
“Labour MSPs voted against the council tax freeze every time the SNP put it before the Scottish Parliament. In October last year, SLC Leader, Eddie McAvoy, called for the freeze to be ended.
“Now Labour candidates say they want a five-year freeze – a policy Labour’s Deputy Scottish Leader described only a few weeks ago as neither credible nor progressive.
“Voters should be in no doubt – Labour can’t be trusted on the Council Tax – they have never liked the council tax freeze and are itching to put Council Tax up. They are a threat to family budgets.
“Labour’s position on the Council Tax is just like its hollow promises on free tuition fees and many other progressive policies.
“Michael McMahon – Labour convener of Holyrood’s Welfare Reform Committee – wants to ‘look again’ at free prescriptions, a policy described by one Labour MSP as a ‘right wing tax cut’.
“That view is maybe not shared by the 600,000 adults in families with incomes of up to £16000 who had to pay for their prescriptions before the SNP abolished them. Those who benefit from the policy are more likely to agree with the SNP view that prescription charges are a tax on ill health.
“If Labour leaders aren’t committed to the policies that are helping protect family budgets, why should we believe that their councillors would be any different?
“More than ever Scotland needs ‘can-do’ councils that will work together and with the Scottish Government to deliver a socially progressive Scotland.
“Labour has lost the plot on the council tax freeze and on many other socially progressive policies. All the evidence suggests that only the SNP can be trusted to protect family budgets in these difficult financial times.”
1) Before the 2011 Scottish elections, Labour’s manifesto made specific promises to protect family budgets
“With Scottish Labour, there will be no up-front or back-end tuition fees for Scottish University students” (page 31)
“With Scottish Labour, there will be no reintroduction of charges for prescriptions in Scotland” (page 41)
“Scottish Labour will freeze the council tax for the next two years.”
2) Yet now, leading Labour politicians can barely contain their desire to abandon these commitments:
“I am happy to say that I believe that we should look again at prescription charges and consider whether we can sustain paying tuition fees for university students” (Michael McMahon, Finance Committee 25th January 2012)
“headline policies on free prescriptions, free university tuition for Scottish residents and freezing council tax had only limited benefit for the neediest, she [Margaret Curran] said, since they were not targeted and also unnecessarily benefited the richest” (Scotsman, 25th January 2012)
Johann Lamont u-turns on Labour’s tuition fee promise for no up-front or back-door (BBC Webchat, 2nd March 2012):
JL: “My key position in this is we don’t want up-front tuition fees.”
Brian Taylor: “Let’s be clear, that might have to mean a graduate contribution?”
JL: “It might have to.”
3) Following on from their last-minute 2011 commitment for a two-year council tax freeze, Labour has had countless positions:
Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray – in response to publication of the Scottish Government’s spending review on 21st September – said “I always said a five-year council tax freeze seemed just unaffordable”
On Newsnight Scotland (30th Jan 2012), responding to proposals for a further 5-year council tax freeze, Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader, Anas Sarwar, said “I don’t think that’s credible. I don’t think that’s progressive.”
Labour’s national 2012 election manifesto makes no commitments to the council tax freeze, the small business bonus, free personal care, the no compulsory redundancy policy and many more.
In South Lanarkshire, Labour candidates’ campaign literature commits Labour to a five-year council tax freeze, but gives no indication why they have changed their view, or how they will fund it when the support provided by the Scottish Government ends in 2016.