May 25, 2018 Blog, Media, Videos

New independence blueprint a ‘cuts commission’ – Leonard

Labour has branded the SNP’s latest blueprint for independence a ‘cuts commission’ as it recommends a decade of unprecedented austerity.

The commission suggests a Scotland outside of the UK would retain sterling – known as ‘sterlingisation’ – leaving Scotland with no control over monetary policy and the value of wages, rent and mortgages, and the risk of no lender of last resort.

The commission also recommends a 5-10 year period of deficit reduction, aiming to get Scotland’s deficit to under 3 per cent from the current 8.3 per cent.

This would lead to a prolonged period of austerity with public spending slashed.

The report also proposes an annual £5billion payment to the rest of the UK to service and hold Scotland’s debt.

Labour said the two competing visions of Scotland are now clear – unprecedented levels of austerity with independence or an investment-led economy with public ownership at its heart with Labour.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“This was branded the growth commission, but it’s really a cuts commission.

“Proposals to cut Scotland’s deficit by almost two thirds over a decade would result in a level of austerity that not even George Osborne attempted.

“The people of Scotland cannot afford another wasted decade under the mantra of deficit reduction.

“Key arguments around currency and debt simply sum up why leaving the UK would not be in the interests of Scotland. The SNP suggest that a separate Scotland would pay the rest of the UK £5billion a year to hold and service our debt. That is the equivalent of the entire education and justice budgets.

“On currency, the SNP has outlined a plan which would mean Scotland has less independence, not more.

“A separate Scotland outside of the UK seeking to use the pound is a recipe for instability and is the economics of dereliction. We would give up our say over interest rate policy, exchange rate policy and inflation.

“The plans would leave an independent Scotland as a rule taker not a rule maker.

“The SNP is proposing a decade of unprecedented austerity and no control over the value of their wages, rent and mortgages.

“Labour offers the opposite. An end to austerity and an economy that works for the people, rather than people simply working for the economy.

“The economic and social transformation Scotland urgently needs will not come from another referendum on leaving the UK – on which the sovereign will of the Scottish people has been clearly expressed.

“It will come from radical Labour governments tackling poverty and inequality, extending public ownership and redistributing power; especially economic power from the few to the many.

“The people of Scotland do not want, this tired argument again. The SNP should recognise that, and focus instead on fixing the growing problems in our NHS and education system.”