'Shambolic' Labour vote against free school meals

Commenting after tonight’s vote in the Scottish Parliament, in which Labour ended up voting against the extension of free school meals and Johann Lamont was unable to move away her from pre-prepared speech to comment on the Scottish Government’s childcare announcement, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said:

“Today’s debate completely exposed Labour’s narrow partisan agenda. In their determination to attack everything proposed by the SNP, they ended up voting against policies which they themselves have claimed to support.

“Labour MSPs were seen discussing how they would vote right up until the end of the debate, which ended in farce with Drew Smith desperately pretending in a point of order that Labour weren’t voting against free school meals.

“But that is of course exactly what they were doing – and now they have to explain their actions to the coalition of charities which has campaigned for this policy.

“I was proud to vote for the rollout of healthy free school meals to all children in Primaries 1 to 3, and a significant expansion of childcare provision.

“Labour’s shambolic actions today show once again that only the powers of independence offer us the chance to build on this to make a truly transformational change.”

As part of a £114 million package for young people over two years, every one of Scotland’s P1 to P3 children will have the option of a free meal in school from January next year, improving health and wellbeing, increasing attainment and saving families at least £330 a year for each child.

Free childcare provision will be expanded to every two year-old from a workless household in Scotland – around 8,400 children or 15 per cent of all two year-olds – by August this year.

And by August next year, free childcare provision will be extended further, reaching 15,400 children – 27 per cent of all two year-olds – by widening entitlement to families that received certain welfare benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance.