Inequality grew under Gordon Brown

Commenting on former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s “Campbell Christie Lecture” at the Festival of Politics in the Scottish Parliament today, Scottish National Party MSP for Kirkcaldy David Torrance said:

“Campbell Christie was a distinguished trade union leader, a dedicated public servant, and a giant of the Scottish home rule movement – he put the interests of Scotland ahead of any partisan concern, and it is highly appropriate that his memory should be honoured with this annual lecture in the Parliament he did so much to help create.

“The speech had been trailed as developing Mr Brown’s ideas about more powers for the Scottish Parliament, but unfortunately it failed to live up to its billing and amounted to little more than a defence of the status quo – the least popular option in Scotland.

“Gordon Brown’s remarks about the Union being an ‘insurance policy’ will be met with a hollow laugh by all those people in Scotland suffering from unfair Tory cuts and UK economic stagnation.

“The fatal flaw in Gordon Brown’s argument is that inequality actually increased in the United Kingdom during the period when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister – so on Mr Brown’s own terms the Union failed Scotland under Labour.  The UK is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world, and the trend is intensifying under a Tory-led government, which has delivered a double-dip recession and taken grossly unfair decisions such as removing Disability Living allowance from some of our most vulnerable citizens.

“And Mr Brown’s attack on the Scottish Government’s policy of maintaining free education for Scottish students was simply bizarre.  Thanks to having effective independence over universities policy in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP have delivered a policy based on ability to learn, not ability to pay – and our student numbers are going up in Scotland, while they are plunging in England due to Tory cuts.  Yet it sounds a though Mr Brown wants our universities to be controlled by Westminster, instead of being a Holyrood responsibility.

“In his lecture, Gordon Brown failed to explain why he prefers Tory-rule from Westminster, rather than home rule with independence.

“The question that Labour need to answer is why they want the key powers over jobs, the economy and welfare to be held by a Tory-led government at Westminster which is delivering inequality – rather than by the Scottish Parliament which is 100 per cent accountable to the people of Scotland and committed to fairness.

“And Mr Brown is wrong with his figures.  Scotland’s GDP per head is actually 15 per cent higher than the UK’s – which is why an independent Scotland would be the sixth-richest nation in the developed world in terms of GDP per head, compared to the UK’s sixteenth place.

“What Scotland needs is the job-creating powers of an independent Parliament, so that we can take the key decisions needed to boost growth and employment in the Scottish economy.”

Commenting on Gordon Brown’s remarks about ending discrimination and enabling women to join the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews, North East Fife MSP Roderick Campbell said:

“Where the SNP agree with Gordon Brown is his remarks about how of course women should be able to join the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and indeed all golf clubs in Scotland – a position long supported by the First Minister, and reiterated by the Sports Minister Shona Robison this very week.

“It is just a pity that Mr Brown didn’t say anything about this issue in the thirteen years when he was Chancellor and then Prime Minister.

“Augusta National Golf Club’s decision to admit women members for the first time in its history is a positive move forward for women’s sport.  The SNP are committed to promoting equality of opportunity for all people living in Scotland, and all golf clubs should of course be open to men and to women.”

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