Selective amnesia as Darling ignores his own role

Alistair Darling has been accused of utter hypocrisy after calling for greater capital investment, despite having personally cut Scotland’s capital budget by 36% when he was chancellor.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland this morning, the former Chancellor conceded that “it would be far better, if you’re going to borrow, to borrow to stimulate the economy” and that increasing capital investment is “precisely what you ought to be doing at a time like this”.

As well as conceding that the lack of growth in the UK economy was leading to higher levels of borrowing, Alistair Darling also accepted that “you either have massive borrowing and growing debts because of recession or you use that money actually to get growth going again, you generate the revenues and you know that is how you get out of this”.

Commenting in reaction to Alistair Darling’s interview, SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald – a member of the Infrastructure Committee and whose Edinburgh Pentlands constituency matches Alistair Darling’s Westminster constituency, said:

“Alistair Darling has either had a ‘road to Damascus’ moment - and now accepts that the SNP were right all along - or he is guilty of utter hypocrisy of the worst kind.

“If he believes that infrastructure spending is the best way to get the economy growing, why on earth did he cut capital funding when he was Chancellor?

“This is the man who planned cuts that were, in his own words, ‘deeper and tougher’ than those of Margaret Thatcher. For Alistair Darling to now back borrowing to fund greater capital spending totally undermines his credibility on the economy.

“This is exactly the sort of dither and delay that Mervyn King was referring to, when he said that failure to act quicker on the banks greatly exacerbated the financial crisis and cost over a million jobs in Britain.

“Alistair Darling is supposed to be heading up the anti-independence campaign, but he has far more questions to answer about his own track record on the economy than that of anyone else.”

In 2009 Iain Gray gave his support to Scottish Government calls for £350 million of capital spending to be accelerated in order to provide a much needed boost to Scotland’s economy. This request was snubbed by Alistair Darling, publicly humiliating Iain Gray, and hindering Scotland’s economic recovery. Referring to this, Mr MacDonald added:

“There is quite clearly a severe issue of trust here. Alistair Darling not only savaged Scotland’s capital budget but also snubbed a request for funding to get our economy moving again that had been backed by his party colleague Iain Gray.

“Actions speak louder than words, and whether it is Alistair Darling or George Osborne, it is clear the interests of Scotland’s economy are far better represented by Scotland’s Parliament.”