Dunfermline – More campaign woes for Labour as candidate accused of fabrication

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Labour candidate in the Dunfermline by-election has been accused of making more false claims after accusing the Scottish Government of doubling Westminster budget cuts.
 
Cara Hilton, whose campaign has become mired in confusion and allegations of false claims, claimed the SNP had slashed council funding by twice the amount of the Westminster cuts.

“The reality also is that the SNP Government have taken the cuts from Westminster and they have doubled them when they have passed them on to the local authorities.” She told an audience in Dunfermline on Tuesday evening.

The Labour candidate was immediately challenged on the claim by her SNP counterpart who described the comments as “absolutely untrue” and “absolutely factually incorrect”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a0OA4WpqFI{/youtube}</p> <p><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/50910/Version_20for_20website_20DB_20426.pdf">Official figures</a> have revealed that in 2012 the Scottish block grant was reduced by Westminster from £27.274 billion to £26.984 billion, a cut of almost £300 million.</p> <p>Despite this, in 2012 the <a href="http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/11/local-government-settlement-27112012">Scottish Government announced </a>councils would receive a cash increase in funding of £35.2 million for new or extended service delivery compared to 2012-13.</p> <p>The UK Government also abolished the existing Council Tax Benefit in April 2013 and cut the successor budget by 10 per cent.  The Scottish Government provided a further £23 million in order to help 558,000 people in Scotland on the lowest incomes who would have been hit with the benefit cut.</p> <p>The by-election has witnessed an almost total disintegration of the Labour campaign with their candidate making contradictory statements on school closures and claims on official Labour party policy which contradicts statements from party leaders.</p> <p>In the same hustings the Labour candidate claimed her party were fully supportive of the council tax freeze.  However Scottish Labour has consistently challenged the SNP policy with many senior party figures claiming it benefits rich people.</p> <p>In a TV debate on Monday, Hilton came under attack after boasting that Labour run Glasgow council had introduced a freeze first.  Her SNP opponent has asked why Fife residents were forced to endure a fifty per cent rise when Labour were in control of Fife council during the same period.</p> <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78p0sBVPqY8

Ms Hilton’s campaign has come under pressure after official council documents emerged that revealed she had voted in favour of a school closure consultation programme.  The Labour candidate is also a Labour councillor and supported a proposal put forward by her party group.

The Labour candidate has made several contradictory statements since her support for the consultation emerged and was greeted with howls of derision at a hustings when she claimed to have been “clear from the start” that she had been against one of the schools – Pitcorthie – being included in the consultation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8QUIjD8Dk0{/youtube}</p> <p>This weekend <a href="images/labour%20leaflet.jpg">a campaign leaflet </a>distributed by the Labour party was criticised after several claims were shown to be either untrue or misleading.  Despite Scottish Labour already signalling its intention to end some free policies such as free prescriptions, the Labour leaflet suggested otherwise.</p> <p>However in an admission that not all of the free benefits highlighted in the Labour leaflet are actually safe, a spokesman for Labour has now admitted that the party would only "save some of these things" on the leaflet.</p> <p>In the last 24 hours of the campaign, the Scottish National Party have called for Labour leader in Scotland Johann Lamont to "come clean" about which public services and benefits Labour want to scrap – the bus pass for over-60s and disabled people, no tolls across the Forth, free personal care, no prescription charges, the Council Tax freeze, 600 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds, or free education (which isn't included on the leaflet).</p> <p>The leaflet being distributed by Labour backs policies delivered or supported by the SNP – and which are all threatened by the Commission established by Johann Lamont in September 2012 in response to her description of Scotland as a "something for nothing" country. </p> <p>In an interview with the BBC, Ms Lamont admitted that all benefits, including free prescriptions and free personal care, were under threat and that "nothing is off the table".</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>An edited clip of Johann Lamont confirming "Nothing is off the table"<br /></strong>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by5KkJH_4Io

See the full interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REgehhGRWWs&feature=youtu.be

Commenting on the eve of the vote, the SNP’s Dunfermline campaign director Bruce Crawford MSP said:

“Labour’s by-election campaign is in disarray – they have now confirmed that they plan to scrap services set out on their own leaflet! We now need to know which ones Labour plan to axe – the free bus pass for over-60 year-olds and disabled people, no tolls across the Forth, free prescriptions, 600 hours of free childcare, personal care for the elderly, no tuition fees, the Council Tax freeze?

“At a by-election hustings last night, the audience were asked whether they supported a continuation of the Council Tax tax freeze, and about the only people who didn’t put their hands up were the Labour councillors sitting in the audience!

“Labour have 24 hours to come clean with people in Dunfermline and the West Fife villages, and across Scotland.

“In tough times, the Council Tax freeze, no bridge tolls, free personal care, no tuition fees, free prescriptions, free childcare, and free bus travel for the over-60s and disabled people save many families hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year.  They are all threatened by Labour – and can only be protected by voting SNP on Thursday.”