By a Newsnet reporter
Labour has been accused of having “a breathtaking level of contempt” for voters in Fife after it was discovered that their infamous Dunfermline leaflet (pictured) attempting to take credit for SNP policies has been republished for the Cowdenbeath constituency by-election.
The leaflet contains several claims which credit Labour with introducing many key SNP flagship policies including the council tax freeze and removing bridge tolls. However, as in Dunfermline, the SNP has reacted with fury with the nationalist candidate condemning the republication of the leaflet.
Commenting, SNP Candidate for Cowdenbeath Constituency Natalie McGarry said:
“Publishing this misleading leaflet once was bad enough, but to repeat it shows a breathtaking level of contempt for people in Fife. It is utterly cynical and reveals something rotten in the Labour party machinery.”
The re-published leaflet attempts to take credit for freezing Council Tax first. However the SNP has pointed out that the freeze referred to was restricted to Glasgow, and that Fifers continued to see their bills rise under Labour until the SNP took office.
It also claims the Scottish Labour party continue to support the freeze, despite the party’s candidate in Cowdenbeath being one of many in the party, including leader Johann Lamont, to attack the freeze.
The council tax freeze has become a difficult issue for the Labour candidate Alex Rowley after he was filmed attacking the freeze and also suggested a rise in council tax, saying “one option could be that you put something on the Council Tax”.
However on the day of his official launch, Rowley falsely claimed he had always supported the freeze and had never called for any rise.
Immediately after the Dunfermline by-election, won by Labour, Johann Lamont attacked the freeze calling it a “prolonged” policy that helps “the rich prosper”. Ms Lamont called for it to end telling the BBC it was “not working”.
Scottish Labour’s spokesperson on welfare, MSP Jackie Baillie has also boasted never to have supported the council tax freeze, telling a local audience in her Dumbarton constituency that she had “never agreed with the council tax freeze, ever”.
The leaflet also claims to support extending childcare provision, despite the fact that last week Labour voted against just such an extension in the Scottish Parliament.
Additionally, it claims that Labour abolished bridge tolls, when in fact they left them in place for Fifers travelling on the Forth and Tay bridges. Only the election of an SNP Government brought an end to the tolls, saving Fifers £230 every year.
Ms McGarry added: “With Alex Rowley having made clear that he supports increasing the Council Tax, this leaflet only adds to his party’s confused and chaotic stance.
“People in this constituency know that the Council Tax freeze, the abolition of bridge tolls and the introduction of free prescriptions are all policies the SNP has delivered and simply would not have happened if Labour had been in office. And they are all under threat from Labour’s Cuts Commission.
“Only a vote for the SNP on 23 January will ensure these policies are protected. If this utterly misleading leaflet shows anything, it is that Labour simply cannot be trusted to deliver for people in Fife.”
[Newsnet Comment: No matter your constitutional or political views, the media must now act and ensure Labour are called to account over what is, effectively, a deliberate attempt to mislead voters.
In Dunfermline, Johann Lamont faced questions from the BBC regarding the leaflet ONLY after Labour had triumphed – she attacked the council tax freeze and called for it to be scrapped.
The untimely death of Helen Eadie has led to a by-election in Cowdenbeath that no-one could have foreseen. Labour clearly believe that the media will once again turn a blind eye to this clear deceit and have employed the tactic again, and are falsely claiming to support the freeze.
Compounding the situation is the video showing the party’s candidate Alex Rowley falsely claiming to have always supported the council tax freeze and never to have suggested a rise.
We either have open and honest elections in Scotland, policed by the fourth estate, or we have a corrupt electoral system condoned by the media where winning by any means is deemed acceptable … if the party benefiting is Scottish Labour.]