Confusion surrounded the economic policy of the Scottish Labour party today after Holyrood leader Iain Gray refused to back the delaying of Tory public spending cuts in Scotland.
The leader of the Holyrood Labour group was appearing on The Politics Show Scotland where he was repeatedly asked by host Glenn Campbell if he supported the Scottish government’s decision to defer the cuts until next year.
The SNP have argued that immediate implementation of the cuts could undermine the fragile economic recovery in Scotland. The party have also pointed out that it would cause unnecessary complications to already agreed departmental budgets.
Labour fought the recent general election campaign attacking the Conservative plan to implement huge public spending cuts immediately. Labour argued that to remove such a large amount of money from the economy this year risked plunging the UK back into recession.
Demands by First Minister Alex Salmond throughout the election campaign resulted in concessions from the Tories who said that Scotland, along with the other devolved administrations, could delay the implementation of cuts until next year.
The failure of Iain Gray to back the cuts deferral blows Labour’s economic promises of the campaign out of the water and leaves the Scottish Labour leadership open to accusations that party policy North of the border is transient, being made up on the hoof and is steered more by an anti-SNP agenda than anything else.
The interview also saw Mr Gray refuse to back anyone in the forthcoming Labour leadership contest; however he did demand that the Labour party grant him a place on the national executive arguing that such a move would “bind” the party together.
See Iain Gray being interviewed here:
Meanwhile, doubts continue to linger over claims made by Mr Gray at Thursday’s First Ministers Questions. The Labour leader had accused Skills Development Scotland of actively planning to spend £555,000 on changing their name to ‘Scotland – The Works’.
The claim was denied within hours by the agency who accused the Labour leader of “getting the wrong end of the stick”. Labour then claimed to have documents dated 27th April they said backed the allegation, BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor also reported that Labour had published the documents.
However this resulted in a further denial by SDS who explained that:
“The document prepared on April 27 2010 was discussed by the Senior Management Team on April 29 2010.
“The decision taken, in line with the decision on the 30 March 2010, was to consolidate all existing brands under the Skills Development Scotland corporate brand.”
Despite emailing the Labour leader’s parliamentary office last Friday about the documents, Newsnet Scotland has been unable to trace any such publication and still awaits a reply.