Labour MSP makes first-class blunder in rail fare increase attack


By a Newsnet reporter
A Labour MSP has been caught out in an embarrassing gaffe after attacking a price rise policy his own party support.
North east MSP Richard Baker was accused of indulging in shameless opportunism after describing a 4.2% increase in rail fares as a “slap in the face” to Scots rail travellers.

The Labour MSP made his comment after Scottish rail fares rose by 1% more than inflation.

Mr Baker, who is Scottish Labour’s shadow infrastructure secretary, said: “These fare rises are a slap in the face for hard-working Scots.  As ScotRail faces fines of hundreds of thousands of pounds for failing to hit performance targets, the long-suffering commuter ends up paying more.”

However, Mr Baker’s comments were undermined by his own party colleague Maria Eagle MP who said that the one per cent cap imposed by the Scottish Government was in fact Labour party policy.

Speaking on Newsnight, Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister said: “Labour’s policy is that it should be no more than inflation plus 1%”.

The policy of setting rail fare increases at the rate of inflation plus 1% was in place under previous Labour Governments in both Westminster and Holyrood, having begun in Scotland in January 2004.

Commenting, SNP MSP Aileen McLeod who sits on the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee said:

“This is hugely embarrassing for Richard Baker who has been caught out playing shameless political games.  He is either ignorant of what his party has been up to on both sides of the border or is being wilfully disingenuous.

“While he has been criticising moves to cap regulated fare increases in Scotland, his colleagues in Westminster have stated that they would do exactly what the SNP Government has done.

“The fact that Labour in Westminster want the whole of the UK to follow the SNP’s lead shows that we have taken the right course of action to balance investment in the railways with fairness to passengers.

“We have protected passengers in Scotland from the far higher price increase people south of the border are facing.  Richard Baker would be far better advised to join his party colleague and acknowledge that this is the right way forward.

“The public expects more from the people it elects than such shameless opportunism and Richard Baker should really know better.”

Watch Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister Maria Eagle here:{/youtube}