Labour’s Kerr caught out over knife crime figures

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By G.A.Ponsonby

Labour finance spokesman Andy Kerr has been accused of fabricating figures relating to knife crime in a Labour constituency paper.

Labour’s candidate for East Kilbride claimed in a party newsletter that knife crime in Scotland cost the taxpayer £3 billion per year, which he says equates to 3,500 bed-days per annum.

Mr Kerr’s figures implied that the bed-day cost of knife crime in Scotland is a staggering £857,142.

However official figures from the NHS reveal that the real cost per day of a bed in an NHS hospital in Scotland was £595.  Mr Kerr’s own leader, Iain Gray, admitted in a recent TV interview that the cost to the NHS per day was less than £600.

Mr Kerr’s East Kilbride opponents have angrily demanded that the Labour candidate withdraw the constituency paper and issue corrections in future leaflets.

SNP candidate Linda Fabiani said:

“Andy Kerr’s leaflet contains a series of gross errors and misrepresentations and is literally not worth the paper it’s printed on.

“According to this leaflet, the cost per day of an NHS bed is over £850,000, yet the real cost is less than £600.”

Ms Fabiani went on to claim that other promises made by the senior Labour figure were worded in a way that may have led to unrealistic expectations on the part of vulnerable members of the community.

She added:

“In the leaflet, items are picked out of Labour’s manifesto and presented in a way that cynically misleads vulnerable people, including those concerned about cancer and young people chasing their first job.

“Andy Kerr can’t give a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ that patients will see a cancer specialist within two weeks. When he was Health Minister he couldn’t even meet a two-month target for 95% of patients starting treatment.

“The leaflet misleads young people and their parents by suggesting that Labour will guarantee an apprenticeship for all who want one, even those who are not considered qualified by employers.  Like his cancer commitment, this is undeliverable.

“With this quality of a Labour campaign, no wonder people are turning to the SNP as the party that has the experience, the team, and the vision to take Scotland forward over the next five years.”

Labour have made knife crime a central plank of Iain Gray’s leadership campaign.

However doubts have emerged after first Iain Gray, then his finance spokesman Andy Kerr, were unable to explain how the policy would be funded.

Further issues emerged after it became clear that the supposed ‘mandatory’ aspect was not mandatory at all and that judges would retain discretion on whether to jail a defendant or not.

Other pledges in Mr Kerr’s newsletter include a promise to “Help young people into work: Guaranteed apprenticeships for every young person who wants one.”

However Labour’s manifesto promises apprenticeships only to “suitably qualified” young people.