Voters warned ahead of council elections
Party cannot be trusted on progressive policies
The SNP have today warned families that Labour are a threat to their budgets, and cannot be trusted to maintain a number of key socially progressive policies - either in local or national Government.
On the eve of the Local Government election, and with the UK re-entering recession, the SNP have highlighted a number of examples since the 2011 election of Labour politicians criticising key pledges on the council tax freeze, free prescription charges, the Small Business Bonus Scheme and free tuition.
SNP MSP Humza Yousaf has said that families should be hugely relieved that Labour did not win the 2011 election - as their promises to protect family budgets were not worth the paper they were written on. He also accused Labour of making similar hollow promises for the Local Government elections, which they cannot be trusted to maintain.
Mr Yousaf, MSP for Glasgow, said: "Thank goodness Labour did not win the election last year.
"In Glasgow, Labour have had more positions on the council tax freeze than I've had hot dinners.
"MSPs voted against it every year in the Scottish Parliament, Gordon Matheson called for it to be ended, then they suddenly decided they wanted a two-year freeze just before the election last year, then a whole host of senior politicians criticise it.
"Then at the last minute Gordon Matheson decides he wants a five-year freeze - despite Labour's Deputy Scottish Leader saying only a few weeks ago that this was neither credible nor progressive.
"Make no mistake - Labour have never liked the council tax freeze and are itching to put council tax up. They are a threat to family budgets.
"This is just like their hollow promises on free tuition fees and many other progressive policies.
"Michael McMahon - the new convener of the Welfare Reform Committee - wants to 'look again' at the free prescriptions policy. Kezia Dugdale even referred to it as a 'right wing tax cut'.
"Maybe they should go and speak to some of the 600,000 adults in families with incomes of £16000 who had to pay for their prescriptions before the SNP abolished them, and tell them they think they should be forced to pay a tax on ill health.
"If Labour aren't committed to these policies in the Scottish Parliament, why on earth should we believe that they'd be any different in local government?
"Thanks to the mess the UK Government have made of the economy, the UK is slipping back into recession - more than ever we need to use the limited powers that the Scottish Parliament has to protect family budgets.
"More than ever Scotland needs 'can-do' councils that will work together and with the Scottish Government to deliver a socially progressive Scotland.
"Only the SNP can be trusted to protect family budgets in 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." (Page 68)
2) Yet now, they can barely contain their desire to abandon them:
"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)
"If you look at some of the stuff they [the SNP] have done over the last four years, like bridge tolls, freezing the council tax, prescription charges, business rates down, and now their plans to cut corporation tax - they're all tax cuts, they're all very much right-wing economics" (Kezia Dugdale MSP, Call Kaye 13th October 2011)
"headline policies on free prescriptions, free university tution 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 miight 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 have had countless positions:
Glasgow Labour’s 2012 manifesto’s first pledge is to freeze the council tax for five years. This is despite Leader Gordon Matheson having previously called for an end to the freeze http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-10985263 and Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar saying on Newsnight Scotland (30th Jan 2012) “I don’t think that’s credible. I don’t think that’s progressive.
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” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-14989156
In the introduction to Highland Labour’s 2012 manifesto, group Leader Jimmy Gray states “…the restrictions imposed by the SNP Scottish government at Holyrood effectively “freezing” Council Tax and inhibiting all local authorities from raising additional revenues has left local authorities with no option but to drastically cut budgets.” http://www.hilabour.org.uk/manifesto.pdf
Scottish Labour’s national 2011 manifesto only stated that Scottish Labour “will freeze the council tax for the next two years.” Edinburgh Labour’s 2012 manifesto makes no mention of the freeze http://www.edinburghlabour.com/p/moving-edinburgh-forward-together_12.html
In a letter to Finance Secretary John Swinney in December 2010, Gordon Matheson said "It is with a gun to my head that I agree to your short-term targets" (Scotsman, 19th December 2010)
4) 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.