As this is being written, on March 5, 2015, it has become clear that erroneous claims by supporters of the Scottish National Party, mostly about the Labour Party, are being made and repeated, thick and fast.
It is no longer practical to keep responding to them directly; therefore each time a new claim is made and debunked, the information will be posted on this page and readers (including anyone who makes the same false claim thereafter) will be directed here.
This will be a growing resource.
After Gordon Brown’s John Wheatley lecture on March 2, SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie claimed: “Given their toxic alliance with the Tories for the last two and a half years, people in Scotland would be forgiven for thinking that Labour’s focus is not what they can do for Scotland – but what they can do for their Tory allies.”
As Labour and the Conservatives have been at daggers-drawn in the House of Commons since the ConDem Coalition was formed in 2010, and Labour MSPs are not in any kind of alliance with Scottish Tories in Holyrood, it seems Hosie was referring again to the SNP’s watery claim that the Better Together campaign is indicative of a closer relationship between the two parties.
It runs against history, logic and sanity.
Better Together was the campaign for Scottish people to support remaining in the United Kingdom at the independence referendum last year. Labour and the Conservative Party – as organisations supporting the union – were both members of Better Together and worked on it to further the unionist cause in a non-party political way. That is not the same as saying they were allied, and is certainly not the same as saying that they support each other’s policies in any way.
Neither Labour nor the Tories would have said they were working for the unionist cause for the benefit of their respective parties – and certainly not for the other party’s benefit. They would say they were doing it for the benefit of the United Kingdom.
With hindsight, being part of Better Together was a bad idea, but it’s easy to understand why Labour joined (even though some Labour members ran a different campaign) – the idea is that, when two enemies find themselves both facing a large foe (in this case the possibility of Scotland leaving the union) they should pool resources to defeat it rather than staying separate and facing defeat. Unfortunately the Tories did what they always do, and stabbed Labour in the back at every opportunity.
SNP adherents say Labour signed up to Tory austerity when it voted to support the Charter for Budget Responsibility. This created a big fuss about Labour supporting Tory austerity, being just the same as the Tories, and there being only 17 MPs who oppose austerity (the number who voted against the CBR). Bunkum, according to the Resolution Foundation.
“The ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ is highly elastic: it’s not based on a firm commitment to reach balance in 2017-18,” states the Resolution Foundation article. “Instead it represents a rolling ‘aim’ of planning to reach current balance three years down the road.” The article adds: “Most economists are sceptical about how much difference it (the charter) will make.
“So what if Labour targets a current balance in 2019-20 instead? Based on current OBR assumptions this could be achieved with as little as £7 billion of fiscal consolidation in the four years to 2019-20 (including the cost of extra debt interest).”
Labour has made it clear that it plans to make only £7 billion of cuts. As this coincides exactly with the Resolution Foundation’s figures for a 2019-20 budget balance, logic suggests that this is most likely to be what Ed Balls is planning.
Over four years, £7 billion of cuts may be hard to notice. The Tories’ £30 billion of cuts would be a different matter. Thank goodness Labour hasn’t signed up to it and isn’t supporting Tory austerity!
This claim follows a tweet by a gentleman called McNeill, one by Lord Moonie, a comment by George Foulkes and one by Gisela Stuart MP.
The McNeill tweet involved a single, lone, person making a single, lone tweet that asked people to vote tactically in some constituencies. This is against Labour policy, which is to ask people to vote Labour, and that single, lone, person was expelled. So now, nobody in Labour is calling on anybody to vote Tory or Liberal Democrat.
That’s nobody, not several.
Lord Moonie was making a joke, as was detailed in this blog.
George Foulkes strenuously denies any claim that he was supporting tactical voting: “CyberNats up to usual mischief suggest I advocated tactical voting ignoring Question mark so I repeat always vote Labour wherever you live.”
Gisela Stuart’s comment was disowned on the blog LabourList as a single Labour MP spouting nonsense that nobody is taking seriously. The last line of that article states, “Needless to say, this isn’t likely to be a popular suggestion among most Labour supporters or MPs.”
This is a claim made in a comment to Vox Political: “He said Labour would scrap tuition fees in Scotland (who don’t pay them anyway). He has always backed tuition fees in rUK which makes him a hypocrite as well.”
Murphy’s pledge is consistent with Labour Party policy at Holyrood, since the first Labour-led coalition under Donald Dewar abolished tuition fees and introduced a graduate endowment tax instead.
Scotland doesn’t currently charge tuition fees – except to students from the other UK countries. As Labour is planning to cut the tuition fee ceiling to £6,000, Scottish universities could lose £37 million a year. Murphy had to pledge more central government funding to plug the gap or institutions like St Andrew’s University might go to the wall.
This is another claim in a comment to the blog. The claim was followed with this: “Neither he, nor Labour in general, could do any of that since they are devolved issues, not relevant to a UK general election, for which he is standing.”
The amount of money going into the Scottish NHS is dependent on the amount of AEF (Aggregate External Funding) grant provided by the UK government in Westminster. If this funding drops, then less money is available for the health service in Scotland. Murphy was saying a Labour government would increase this funding, making it possible both to address the A&E crisis and provide more nurses. As Labour is committed to increasing NHS funding – and funding to the devolved countries is proportionate to that in England, it seems clear that this was a sincere pledge.
If the amount of money going to Scotland is increased, then logically it will be put where it’s needed. Jim Murphy would have had information that this meant A&E and nursing staff, therefore he said that’s where the money would go.
Polling shows that any seats gained by Labour in the rest of the UK could be negated by those lost to the SNP in Scotland, making another Conservative government far more likely.