Labour’s campaign mirrors fiasco of 2011
A desperate Labour Party is repeating the mistakes of the 2011 fiasco that saw them swept from power at Holyrood.
In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, Labour’s hopes of retaining East Kilbride crumbled when the party was found to be peddling ‘fantasy’ about the NHS in an attempt to win votes. Already, with over 10 weeks to the Westminster election, Scottish Labour has been found repeating the same mistakes.
In 2011, Scottish Labour claimed knife crime cost the NHS over £500 million per year. The respected independent commentator ‘Straight Statistics” described this figure as ‘fantasy’, backing criticisms led by Linda Fabiani on behalf of the SNP.
With their 2011 campaign under close scrutiny, Labour’s credibility was shattered by a string of false promises that disintegrated when examined.
- Mandatory jail sentences turned out to be subject to the discretion of the judge (just as they always have been).
- A ‘guaranteed’ apprenticeship for every young person proved to depend on companies making new jobs available, despite many struggling to maintain their existing workforce.
In that election, Linda Fabiani went on to defeat Labour’s Finance Spokesman, Andy Kerr, to take East Kilbride for the SNP.
Once more into the breech for the NHS
As in 2011, Labour is using the NHS as a focal point for its General Election campaign, both across Scotland, and in East Kilbride. As control of the NHS is devolved to Holyrood, the choice of target is clearly driven by Labour’s wish to divert attention from their failure to challenge the Tory-led coalition, despite having 41 of Scotland’s 59 MPs.
As chair of the Scottish group of Labour MP’s, Michael McCann has been a key player in this failure. His own political priorities included setting up an All Party Group on the UK Comedy Industry; a taxpayer supported connection he is now exploiting to raise funds for his election campaign.
On Monday 16 February, 80 days from the General Election, Jim Murphy used social media to launch a stinging attack on NHS Scotland over cancelled operations.
In a video and press releases, he compared operation cancellations in Scotland and England and singled out NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for criticism. However, it quickly emerged that his figures for England referred only to operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons, such as a lack of beds, while the vast majority of cancellations highlighted in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were for clinical reasons, such as patients not being fit for the procedure.
East Kilbride Labour jumped on Murphy’s rickety bandwagon and despite the withdrawal of Murphy’s video for inaccuracy, Michael McCann’s website continued to use the story as a basis for attacking the Scottish Government before he conceded defeat and deleted the post.
As they have shown at previous elections, Scottish Labour, and East Kilbride Labour in particular, regard the NHS as fair game for misrepresentation so long as it suits their political ends. This did them no good in 2011, and will do them no good in 2015.
As in 2011, Labour is targeting young people emerging into a still fragile job market. Ed Miliband is making the same fake ‘guarantee’ to young people in England and Wales as Scottish Labour did to Scotland’s young people. He has already had to admit that the ‘guarantee’ depends on companies creating jobs for the new apprentices and is only available to young people gaining qualifications equivalent to at least two ‘A-levels’ .
Again, Michael McCann jumped on the bandwagon, despite all of the matters raised by Ed Miliband being the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament; so much for Jim Murphy’s claim to make all the policy decisions for Scotland on devolved matters. This is what Michael McCann said on his website:
“(Miliband’s) plan will guarantee that every school leaver in the East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow constituency that gets the right grades a high quality apprenticeship, just as people with good A’ levels have a de facto right to go to university.”
It is strange that Michael McCann believes any young person has a ‘right’ to go to university simply because they have good A Levels. Scottish Labour MPs, including Adam Ingram, Mr McCann’s predecessor as MP and former employer, were instrumental in pushing through variable tuition fees for universities in England and Wales. This move was condemned by a fellow Labour MP as the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ and a ‘breaking down of the principle of free public services.” Tuition fees cost today’s students in England and Wales up to £9,000 a year and result in the Scottish Government losing £200million a year from its budget.
Another sign of the fantasy world McCann now inhabits, is that not a single school in his constituency offers pupils the chance to take A Levels, so, no chance of them taking up either of the ‘rights’ or ‘guarantees’ he is so keen to push.
With campaigns like these, it is no wonder Labour has lost the trust of Scotland.
Labour campaigned alongside those they were supposed to hold to account at Westminster, with the result that their track record in opposition is dire. Here in East Kilbride, Michael McCann and his Tory ‘opponent’ Graham Simpson were joined at the hip throughout the referendum campaign.This photograph of the Labour and Tory joint campaign in East Kilbride comes courtesy of Graham Simpson, who said
“I joined some old chums from the Labour Party today … Here I am with MP Michael McCann, former MP Adam Ingram, councillors Janice McGinlay and Alice Marie Mitchell and former councillor Graham Scott.”
Not content with demonstrating how comfortable he was campaigning alongside East Kilbride’s Tories, Michael McCann went further, organising a joint platform with Justine Greening MP, a member of David Cameron’s coalition cabinet with a strong track record of voting against action to tackle youth unemployment.
At the end of what is shaping up to be another milestone election for Scotland, we look forward to Lisa Cameron joining Linda Fabiani MSP and the team of SNP councillors working to undo the damage done to Scotland and East Kilbride by Labour’s complacency.