• What's New

    Busting an SNP myth

    I recently spoke to a constituent who had just received an SNP newspaper and wanted to seek my views on it.  I have now seen the aforementioned newspaper and, given its contents, and the fact that the SNP candidate repeated one of these myths at today's hustings, I thought I would rebuff it in detail.

    Just because you say something often enough doesn't make it true.

    The one conclusion that I have come to is that the SNP have nothing positive to say, no solutions to the day to day issues that I have heard from constituents, no positive policy platform to put to the voters of Edinburgh South and that they have therefore resorted to untruths and slurs to make their case.

      

     

    “Labour voted for £30bn of Tory austerity cuts”

    (although the figure seems to change from £13.5bn to £75bn depending on the mood of the writer)

     

    This smear is fundamentally untrue.

    Labour did not vote for austerity cuts and here are the facts...

     

    What was the vote they are referring to?

    It was a vote to approve a Charter for Budget Responsibility – this was essentially to agree to balance the day to day current account (minus capital spending) for eliminating the deficit by the end of the next parliament, which has been Labour Party policy for the last few years.

    Nowhere in the Charter does it mention £30bn or cuts.

    It is just simply untrue.  We have set out a balanced plan that gets the deficit down by increasing taxes on the wealthiest, growing our tax base and dealing with tax avoidance.  That's not cuts.


     

    Does this mean it was a vote to support austerity?

    No! The vote was on the principle of balancing the books. It was not a vote on how this would be achieved.


     

    So how would you balance the books?

    The Tories want to take public spending back to the 1930s, before we even had an NHS. Labour’s plan is to use an expansionary economic strategy, such as that for progressive taxation – ensuring that those who can pay, do pay – and proper sustainable growth in the economy.  That improves the tax base, generates the wealth and increases growth.

    Labour will take a fairer and more balanced approach to tackling the deficit. As an example, we will reverse the Tory tax cut for millionaires (re-introducing the 50p tax rate). Our economic plan will deliver the rising living standards, the well-paid jobs and the strong and balanced growth which will deliver the increased tax revenues needed to get the deficit down fairly. And we will make different choices, like a Mansion Tax on properties over £2 million to raise much-needed funds for our National Health Service and pay for more nurses and doctors.


     What do independent experts and commentators say?

    Paul Johnson,

    Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

    The Institute of Fiscal Studies also concluded that, if the books were to be balanced by 2020, then Labour need not make any more spending cuts or tax rises.  

     

    John Van Reenen,

    Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE

     

      

    Patrick Wintour,

    Political Editor,The Guardian 

     


     

    So what’s the SNP’s approach?

    It’s clear that the SNP want to manipulate the figures for political gain. We have come to expect this of them, but to imply £30bn, £75bn or more in cuts is disingenuous in the extreme.  Even the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies said “This time around, the stated fiscal positions of Labour and Conservatives are really very different.”


     

    The big question is,

    why have the SNP failed to support the following Labour policies?

    • 50p tax rate towards deficit reduction
    • Living Wage to make sure we tackle poverty pay
    • Mansion Tax to raise money for our NHS
    • Banker Bonus Tax – to give the next generation the skills and opportunities they need
    • A £175m anti-poverty fund to end the need for food banks

    The SNP also need to explain why they refuse to set-up a Scottish Office for Budget Responsibility (SOBR) so that they can have their own plans independently assessed and reviewed.  The SNP Scottish Government ran a surplus of £444m last year when there are many poverty issues in Scotland to be addressed, an SOBR would tell us why that was the case and why it wasn’t spent.

    The real austerity question comes from the SNP policy of Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA).  That is essentially their proposal that Scotland raises all the money it needs to spend.  This is “austerity max” as the Scottish Government’s own accounts reveal that FFA would have resulted in a £4bn shortfall last year. The very same Institute of Fiscal studies puts the figure at an eye watering£7.6bn shortfall this year.  What effect would that have on public services and austerity?

    The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies' analysis said; “Our projections suggest that if Scotland were fiscally autonomous in 2015–16, its budget deficit would be around 4.0% of GDP higher than that of the UK as a whole. In cash terms, this is equivalent to a difference of around £7.6 billion.” – that is nearly the entire state pension budget, more than the education budget and over 65% of the NHS budget in Scotland. 

     


    In a bit more detail

    What the SNP are trying to do is conflate the policy of balancing the books and eliminating the deficit with spending cuts.  The vote they refer to was a vote to approve the Charter for Budget Responsibility which sets out the Treasury framework for the public finances on “a rolling 3 year programme within the 5 year parliamentary timeframe”.  In fact, the reason there was a vote on this in January was because the Government had fundamentally failed on their first attempt to balance the books so decided to change the Charter to take into account the fact that they did not manage to eliminate the deficit by 2015. In fact, they only halved the deficit and are borrowing £200bn more as a result.

    The amended Charter is entirely consistent with Labour's policy to cut the deficit every year and get the current budget into surplus and the national debt as a share of GDP falling, as soon as possible in the next parliament.  That could be the end of the parliament in 2020.

    That doesn’t require “austerity” or £30bn of spending cuts and the Labour party has rejected this austerity agenda at every turn since 2010.  Our policies to eradicate the deficit are about an expansionary economic strategy, such as those for progressive taxation – ensuring that those who can pay, do pay – and proper sustainable growth in the economy.  That will improve the tax base, generate wealth and increase growth.

    It amounts to better pay through increases in the National Minimum Wage and ensuring firms pay the Living Wage, it’s about improving the UKs exporting position, it’s about fairer taxes and clamping down on tax avoidance, it’s about getting people into meaningful jobs that pay better, it’s about investing in the areas that grow the economy, it’s about building the affordable homes of the future that get working people out of expensive private lets and into more affordable, secure homes.  It’s about banning zero hour contracts so people can earn properly, contribute and pay taxes.

    Labour’s approach to balancing the books is very different from what the Tories are proposing. The Tories have failed to balance the books as they promised and, because of that, they have had to borrow over £200 billion more than they planned.

    Labour will take a fairer and more balanced approach to tackling the deficit. As an example, we will reverse the Tory tax cut for millionaires. Our economic plan will deliver the rising living standards, the well-paid jobs and the strong and balanced growth which will deliver the increased tax revenues needed to get the deficit down fairly. And we will make different choices, like a Mansion Tax on properties over £2 million to raise much-needed funds for our National Health Service and pay for more nurses and doctors. 

    So, the choice is either a progressive Labour policy platform that delivers a fairer Scotland or the SNP's Full Fiscal Autonomy. Let the voters decide.

    Continue reading →
  • We must end failed austerity policy with a better plan

    We need to make this the social justice election.  It's time to reject the failed austerity of the Tory led Government since 2010 and use the £800m available through Labour's progressive policies to improve the chances of all in Scotland and Edinburgh South.

    austerity.jpg

    Continue reading →
  • Manifesto for Work Launched

    The most popular policy we have had in ages is to ban exploitative zero hour contracts.  It comes up on the doorstep time and time again.  I ran a zero hour contract summit to hear from trade unions, employers and business organisations a couple of years ago when I was Shadow Business Minister for Employee Relations. I'm absolutely delighted that this strong policy of social justice has come out of the all the hard work.

    Continue reading →
  • Guest blog - The Simultaneous Policy - John Cant

    In this guest blog, constituent John Cant tells us about SimPol (The Simultaneous Policy) which is the realisation that many of the problems the world faces are global – climate change, financial speculation, environmental destruction, conflict, and social injustice - and can only be fixed by pushing nations towards solving such global problems in unison.

    Continue reading →
  • Midmar Paddock and Development on Greenbelt Petitions

    Last Wednesday, I presented the "Save Midmar Paddock" petition and a petition on the Local Development Plan to the House of Commons to give local people a voice in major planning decisions that affect local amenity and the Greenbelt.

    Continue reading →
  • See all posts
CONTACT IAN Subscribe to E-magazine Get Involved