By a Newsnet reporter
Labour’s candidate for the Cowdenbeath constituency by-election has found himself facing a barrage of questions after the infamous Dunfermline by-election leaflet came back to haunt the party.
Alex Rowley is the Labour hope in a contest that should have been a safe hold for the Johann Lamont’s party. However the unexpected by-election, caused by the sudden death of Labour MSP Helen Eadie, is now causing problems for Scottish Labour after claims the party made in last year’s by-election in Dunfermline have been seized on by the SNP.
Despite Johann Lamont establishing what the SNP has dubbed a ‘Cuts Commission’ which has been set up to look at the affordability of policies such as free personal care, concessionary travel and the council tax freeze, Labour published a leaflet in the final days of the Dunfermline by-election not only claiming to support the council tax freeze but to have introduced it first.
The SNP has now highlighted the leaflet and pointed out that the freeze the Labour leaflet claimed to have introduced applied only to Glasgow – bills in fact continued to rise in Fife and were only frozen by the SNP Government.
Despite his party’s recently professed support for the freeze, Labour candidate Alex Rowley has been caught on camera speaking out in favour of Council Tax increases. A video recently surfaced shows him arguing that “one option is that you put something on the Council Tax.”
Mr Rowley is the Labour leader of Fife Council, a role the SNP has pointed out gives him the power to implement the rate of tax that Labour want in Fife.
Commenting, SNP candidate for the Cowdenbeath constituency, Natalie McGarry, said:
“The only thing that is clear about Labour and Alex Rowley’s position on the Council Tax freeze is that they have some serious questions to answer.
“Alex Rowley has made clear that he thinks that a return to the bad old days of constant Labour Council Tax rises is an option – despite the financial pressure households in Fife are already under.
“Yet if their leaflet from Dunfermline is to be believed, Labour is now an enthusiastic cheerleader for the SNP’s Council Tax freeze. Something doesn’t add up and people in this constituency deserve a bit of honesty from Labour.
“Just how much Council Tax does Alex Rowley want households in Fife to pay, and will his party stand behind that leaflet, which is so at odds with what he and Johann Lamont have said on the issue?
“Labour simply cannot have it both ways. Either they want to see Council Tax bills rise – or they must publicly take the SNP’s Council Tax freeze out of the firing line of their Cuts Commission once and for all.”
Scottish Labour officially launches its campaign today when Alex Rowley will be joined by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Mr Rowley’s main rival for the seat is SNP candidate Natalie McGarry.