On the day that Scottish Labour launches its manifesto for the local government elections, Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan has asked for Labour to clarify its position on the council tax freeze following months of inconsistencies and back tracking.
After years of voting against it in the Scottish Parliament, Labour belatedly committed to a two-year freeze in its 2011 manifesto. However with a string of high profile MSPs and MPs criticising the policy, including deputy leader Anas Sarwar, and differences in the continuation of the policy mooted across the country, their council tax freeze policy is inconsistent.
Commenting James said: “The Council Tax freeze makes a real difference to family budgets and the SNP have been unequivocal in our support for it. With a Westminster coalition determined to protect their millionaire friends and squeeze the incomes of pensioners and families it is even more important that all parties clarify their position on the freeze.
"This policy is too important for Labour to continue to flip-flop on their position. In the Highlands the freeze is condemned, in Edinburgh it is not even mentioned, whereas in Glasgow it is a principle pledge. The electorate need assurances that Glasgow Labour are not saying that they support the freeze today, to have it revoked tomorrow, especially as leader Gordon Matheson, in a letter to John Swinney said ‘it is with a gun to my head that I agree to your short-term targets.’
"The SNP will freeze the council tax until 2016. No ifs, ands, or buts. It is time for the Scottish Labour Party to make the same assertion"
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)