More labour confusion on referendum
Commenting on Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour conference SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP branded the speech a desperate last throw of the dice to catch up with the success of the SNP Government. The Prime Minister also created more confusion on referendums as he gave the green light for one on PR despite Iain Gray and Jim Murphy saying now was not the time to support constitutional referendums.
The SNP seized on this pledge to hold a referendum on electoral reform “early in the next parliament” – since it will be exactly the same time as Scottish Labour are refusing people in Scotland the opportunity to have their say in a referendum on Scotland’s future.
Mr Robertson said:
“This was a desperate last throw of the dice by Gordon Brown – and people will not be impressed with promises of action that should have been delivered years ago and many which are now being delivered by the SNP in Scotland.
“It says everything when the biggest cheer the prime minister got was when he ditched his government’s plans for compulsory ID cards – a truly humiliating climb down after eight years of insisting they were essential.
“Where he did make such policy commitments, he was playing catch up with the position of the SNP on free personal care, tackling climate change, House of Lords reform, supporting Post Offices and, of course, on the issue of constitutional referendums. As if Scottish Labour’s position on a referendum was not confused enough, Gordon Brown has just undermined Iain Gray’s arguments that it is not the time to say you want to let people have their say on the constitution .
“What was missing was the absence of any mention of a further acceleration of capital spending to help Scotland out of recession or any climb down on Labour’s cuts to Scotland’s budget.
“Where the SNP is looking to the future by slashing taxes for small businesses and helping Scots through current financial hardship by freezing the council tax, Gordon Brown is preoccupied by his own future and is not addressing the needs of the country.”
In his speech the Prime Minister said: “And so I can announce today that in Labour’s next manifesto there will be a commitment for a referendum to be held early in the next Parliament…”
In his speech to the Labour conference on Monday labour’s Holrood leader Iain Gray said: “The day may well come when the people of Scotland want a referendum to settle their constitutional future once and for all. But not now, in the midst of a recession.”