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Programme for Government 2013-14

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th September 2013.

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Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party


I want to refer to the ridiculous speech that Gordon Brown made yesterday during one of his rare visits to Scotland. His argument is that the only way to abolish child poverty is by sticking with the United Kingdom and Scotland remaining within it. Has Gordon Brown not read last week’s report from the National Children’s Bureau? It reported that, over the past 40 years, the number of children in poverty in the UK has risen by 1.5 million. That destroys Gordon Brown’s argument in a oner, particularly because he was the Chancellor of the Exchequer and then the Prime Minister for 13 years and still the number of children in poverty has risen by 1.5 million. Those were 13 wasted years by Gordon Brown.

If the great Gordon Brown cannot deliver the abolition of child poverty in 13 years when in Downing Street, what chance do George Osborne and David Cameron have of ever delivering the abolition of child poverty? The reality is that the UK has been tested and tried, and it has failed.

Yesterday, we heard Ruth Davidson describing the UK as one of the most successful unions ever. Let us look at the state of the UK. Leaving aside the fact that we have 1.5 million more children in poverty than we had 40 years ago, the last time that the UK had a trade surplus was 1997. That is not a measure of success. The UK’s debt figure is up to £1.4 trillion. Does Ruth Davidson regard that as success? The UK’s level of unemployment and underemployment is one of the worst in Europe, particularly compared with the small Scandinavian countries in northern Europe. The Conservatives cannot say that the UK has been or is a successful country—they must stick to the facts.