Scottish Labour 'Can Make Difference At General Election'

25 September 2017, 05:34

Alex Rowley Scottish Labour

Scottish Labour and not the SNP can "deliver an end to the Tories", the party's interim leader will say today.

Alex Rowley MSP will tell the UK Labour conference that Scotland can make the difference in returning a Labour government at the next general election.

He will also say the SNP's plan to cut air departure tax will kick off a "race to the bottom" on tax and will renew calls for the SNP government to use powers over social security to increase child benefit.

On Scotland and the next general election, Mr Rowley is expected to say: "Being a strong opposition should never be enough.

"Our aim must be to win the next election in Scotland. Because let me be absolutely clear. Scotland can make that difference at the next election.

"The choice will be between a Labour government that will tackle poverty, increase family incomes and raise the standards for all.

"Or more decline, decay and drift with a Tory government.

"Conference, it's not the SNP who can deliver an end to the Tories. It's the Scottish Labour Party. "

Mr Rowley will say the party needs to renew its commitment to the welfare state and the NHS.

He will say: "That means being honest about what we have to do to pay for these services and, as Labour, making the argument that our duties to each other mean that we can afford to pay a little more.

"Not like the Tories in Scotland, or like the SNP government that only has one tax policy. A tax cut for the airlines that will benefit the richest the most.

"The SNP can't have a serious debate on tax if its only policy kicks off a race to the bottom against a UK Tory government, propped up by the DUP, who are desperate to see that tax abolished.

"The SNP faces a choice - work with Labour to use the tax powers to protect public services - or give Philip Hammond and Arlene Foster the excuse they are looking for to give the richest yet another bonus."

He will also urge the Scottish Government to use its new powers to add £5 to child benefit, saying this would lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Air passenger duty is one of the highest taxes of its kind in the world, and by far the highest in Europe.

"A cut will help boost international connectivity and generate sustainable growth - priorities that are even more pressing as a result of the EU referendum.

"The Scottish Government's consultation on the proposed reduction has recently closed and we have recently commissioned independent economic and noise impact assessments."

On the issue of child benefit, the Scottish Government said it is already taking action to help those in poverty and crisis, and, since 2013/14, has spent over £350 million to mitigate UK Government welfare reforms.

Communities Secretary Angela Constance said: "While I recognise the rationale behind proposals to top up child benefits by £5 a week, in reality to deliver it would cost around quarter of a billion pounds, and only £3 out of every £10 would go to households in poverty.

"When resources are tight, we need to make sure that any investment goes as far as it can to tackle poverty."