By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s reward for following her London bosses approach to public spending is an invite to London meetings, according to the SNP.
The accusation follows reports in the Herald newspaper in which it is revealed that the under fire Scottish Labour chief will now begin regularly attending the Shadow Cabinet in Westminster.
The promotion comes shortly after the establishment of Labour’s Cuts Commission in Scotland, which mirrors moves by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls who has pledged to be “ruthless” with public spending should Labour regain power at Westminster.
According to the SNP, the timing of the move strongly suggests that Ms Lamont has been rewarded for submitting to Labour’s strategy at Westminster, instead of standing up for Scotland.
Labour has been accused of adopting the language of the Tories, both north and south of the border with Johann Lamont attacking Scotland as a ‘something for nothing’ society, whilst Ed Miliband embracing the Conservative ‘One-Nation’ slogan.
Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said:
“It will not surprise anyone that Johann Lamont had an asking price before she sold out hard working families and people across Scotland; it’s just a disappointment that the Labour leadership’s principles were bought so cheaply.
“Labour’s big push at Westminster to adopt the mantle of Tory One-Nationism has seen Johann Lamont swept along, and forced to set up a Cuts Commission to align Labour in Scotland with Ed Balls at Westminster.
“People across Scotland were shocked by Labour’s decision to drape itself in the language of the Tories, attacking people across Scotland who pay their taxes as getting ‘something for nothing’.
“Instead of trying to unpick the social contract that binds Scottish society together, Johann Lamont should have the courage of her colleagues in Wales and stand up to the diktats of Labour at Westminster as it moves to the Right.
“Instead, she has put up the white flag and decided that abandoning a commitment to vital public services in Scotland is a price worth paying to get a seat at Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet table in London.
“If there was ever any doubt, it is now clear that only the SNP stand for a fairer society and stronger Scotland, and that Scotland’s interests are best served by becoming an independent country.”
The theme of universal benefits was evident in exchanges between Ms Lamont at First Ministers Questions in Holyrood.
The Labour leader again insisted that Scotland could not afford a package that included bus passes for the elderly and free prescriptions. First Minister Alex Salmond argued that it was those very policies that held the fabric of society together.
However, in an embarrassing blunder Ms Lamont tried to personalise the exchanges by highlighting the salary Mr Salmond receives as First Minister, together with the cost of the television package at the FM’s residence.
She said: “He’s on £130,000 a year, spends over £2,000 a week on hospitality and then gets the taxpayer to spend £1,300 a year for a TV package to watch the films and sports events that he then gets them to pay for him to attend”
It subsequently emerged that the current contract for digital television in Bute House had been put in place in 2005 by former Labour First Minister, Jack McConnell – who is now a Lord, able to enjoy substantial tax free perks at the expense of the taxpayer.
When First Minister, Mr McConnell enjoyed a salary that increased year on year. In contrast, Mr Salmond, who along with all Scottish Government Ministers, is into the 4th year of a pay freeze which they themselves introduced.