The Future of Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:29 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour 11:29 am, 29th March 2007

Sorry, there is no reference to Europe in my speech.

Under the SNP, at least 80 new schools that are in the pipeline—the plans are drawn up and teachers and children are engaged and excited about the prospect of their new school—would be cancelled at a stroke. The list of schools includes the Vale of Leven academy in my constituency, Dumbarton academy, and other schools in constituencies throughout Scotland, such as the Western Isles, Dumfries and Galloway and Moray. The SNP would deny schoolchildren opportunities and let them down.

Contrast the SNP's plans with those of Labour. We will invest in our children and young people. We will continue to build new schools and to build achievement in our classrooms. We will create 100 skills academies and invest in child care and after-school care to help hard-working families. We will continue to build opportunity, to ensure that every child in Scotland has the best start in life.

I have long believed that a strong society and a strong economy are opposite sides of the same coin. We will build our economy, ensure full employment, create 50,000 modern apprenticeships and help businesses to grow. We will work in partnership with the Labour Government at Westminster to deliver all that, because working in partnership makes us stronger.

An SNP Administration would be characterised by fighting, turmoil and argument—by Alex Salmond's own admission. SNP members sound like fractious schoolchildren in a playground. There would be no consensus, no putting the interests of the people of Scotland first; everything would be viewed through the constitutional prism and—my goodness—it would be fisticuffs at dawn from wee Eck every day of the week. That might be an unedifying and slightly ridiculous sight—[Interruption.]

There is a serious point to be made, and SNP members would do well to listen. Alex Salmond would focus on dissent rather than on building Scotland. What can we expect from someone who prefers the bright lights of London to doing a hard job in the Scottish Parliament? Kenny MacAskill made a jibe, which was unworthy of him, about a member on the Labour benches doing two jobs. Perhaps he has missed this, but Alex Salmond says that he will do two jobs. Not only does he have a fantasy about being the First Minister of Scotland, but he thinks that he can do that and be a member of Parliament at Westminster at the same time. Being the First Minister of Scotland is not a part-time job. Therefore, Alex Salmond is not fit to do that job.

As somebody once said, there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Let me add another: the SNP will cost people money. I am not trying to scaremonger, which is something that the SNP is good at; I am trying to expose the arguments properly and get to the truth. The SNP has admitted several times that its top policy priority is independence. Therefore, we would not get the SNP without independence and we would not get independence without a cost. For every hard-working person in Scotland, the cost would be £5,000. That is not based on my sums, or the Labour Party's; it is supported by independent financial experts.