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

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

How will the SNP ensure, as it seeks to break up Britain, that it has enough in the kitty to pay for pensioners, social security benefits and defence? Gordon Jackson was absolutely right that the SNP has no answers on the issue of the 4,000 jobs that depend on shipbuilding on the Clyde or on the matter of the 40,000 or so jobs throughout Scotland that depend on our defence forces. Contrast that with the 10 Labour pledges and the partnership between Tony Blair and Jack McConnell. The pledges cover matters such as a successful strong economy; developing skills; investing in jobs; protecting the Scotch whisky industry and enabling it to grow; and renewable energy. In contrast to that list of partnership pledges, the SNP has not made such pledges, would not deliver and would permanently be in argument with London on those issues.

There is a contrast indeed, as Gordon Brown has reduced the base rate of tax by 2p, whereas the SNP would raise tax for every person in Scotland by 3p in the pound, which would make us the most taxed part of Britain. Wait for it—that would come hand in hand with cuts. As Pauline McNeill rightly said, there would be cuts in local government, which would be aimed at the people and agencies that we want to deliver for children and local communities. With the SNP, people would pay more but, remarkably, they would get less. We will focus on building Scotland and changing people's lives for the better, but the SNP has made it clear that it will focus on the politics of identity and division and on its first and only priority, which is to break up Britain.

The people of Scotland will stop and think. As John Home Robertson said, we are a prudent and canny lot. As people go to the ballot box, they will reflect on what matters to them, their families and their communities. They will not wander blindly into something that they might regret, because they will reject the SNP. The Labour Party is the party of ambition, progress and opportunity; the SNP is the party of the past and constitutional chaos and the party that will tax people more.