Iain Gray Challenged after Miliband makes ‘Painful Cuts’ admission

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The SNP has today challenged Labour’s Holyrood Leader Iain Gray on public spending cuts after new Labour leader Ed Miliband admitted that Labour would have made “painful” cuts had the party remained in Government.

Mr Gray’s authority in Scotland was also undermined after his new leader refused to rule out “meddling” with Labour’s Scottish branch and contradicted the party’s stance on prisons North of the border.


The SNP has today challenged Labour’s Holyrood Leader Iain Gray on public spending cuts after new Labour leader Ed Miliband admitted that Labour would have made “painful” cuts had the party remained in Government.

Mr Gray’s authority in Scotland was also undermined after his new leader refused to rule out “meddling” with Labour’s Scottish branch and contradicted the party’s stance on prisons North of the border.

Mr Miliband admitted that had the UK Labour party won the general election they would have made cuts in Government that would have been painful.  Mr Miliband also insisted that Labour would now have to support Tory policies, even those that the Labour faithful don’t want.

In his first speech as leader Mr Miliband also criticised Scottish Labour’s prison’s policy.  In direct contradiction of one of Iain Gray’s major policy platforms, the new Labour leader said reducing the number of offenders locked up in prison is not the same as being soft on crime.

Reducing the number of offenders ending up in prisons for trivial offences has been at the heart of the SNP’s attempts at reducing crime and addressing overcrowding.  However under Iain Gray and their Holyrood Justice spokesman Richard Baker, Labour have persistently argued that such an approach is akin to being ‘soft on crime’.  Recent statistics on knife carrying and violence showed that the Scottish government’s policy of education and prevention was bearing fruit.

Speaking yesterday Mr Miliband said:

“There will be cuts and there would have been if we had been in government. Some of them will be painful and would have been if we were in government. I won’t oppose every cut the coalition proposes.

“There will be some things the coalition does that we won’t like as a party but we will have to support.”

On short prison sentences for trivial offences Mr Miliband said: “… when Ken Clarke says we need to look at short sentences in prison because of high reoffending rates, I’m not going to say he’s soft on crime.”

The SNP responded to Mr Miliband’s admission on cuts by challenging Iain Gray to be ‘honest with the public’ claiming that the Labour leader at Holyrood has repeatedly denied that Labour made or would have made cuts despite the party already being responsible for two thirds of the cuts coming to Scotland.

SNP MSP and Chief Whip Brian Adam said:

“Ed left Iain Gray red faced with his first speech as leader.

“Where Iain Gray has stuck his head in the sand and tried to pretend the cuts aren’t coming, Ed Miliband has exposed Labour’s true intentions.

“Iain Gray can no longer deny that two thirds of the cuts Scotland is about to face were put in place by Labour or that they planned “painful” cuts after the last election.

Mr Adam argued that investment in economic growth was key to protecting Scotland from what he termed “the dismal decade of cuts ahead” and that this could only happen with more financial powers for Scotland.

Mr Adam added:

“The SNP in government and across the country will put the priorities of the people of Scotland first when we have to implement the Westminster cuts, but we will continue to argue for investment in economic growth and an alternative to the dismal decade of cuts ahead.

“It is only with real financial and economic responsibilities for Scotland and the Scottish Parliament that we can deliver that growth, invest in infrastructure and building projects across Scotland, create jobs and protect public services.

“While the SNP has set out an approach to dealing with Westminster cuts and an alternative future for Scotland – putting a clear choice before the people of Scotland Iain Gray has done nothing but make costly promises he knows he can’t keep. If Ed Miliband can admit Labour mistakes when will Iain Gray accept Labour’s cuts?”

Commenting on Ed Miliband’s comments on short sentencing and re-offending, Nicola Sturgeon, deputy first minister, said: “Ed Miliband has left Iain Gray red-faced and humiliated.

“Labour MSPs’ oppositionist approach of flinging insults around has been called out by their new boss with his explicit support for changes to short sentences to tackle reoffending.”

The comments by Mr Miliband are embarrassing for Iain Gray and came only one day after Mr Gray told delegates: “Ed gets Scotland”.

There was further embarrassment for Mr Gray after Ed Miliband pledged to tackle supermarkets who sell cut-price alcohol.  Iain Gray’s Holyrood group are opposed to the SNP’s minimum price for alcohol proposal.