Miliband’s praise for Thatcher derided as party faces division in Scotland


  By a Newsnet reporter
Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to govern the UK like Margaret Thatcher if the party wins the 2015 general election.
He praised the former Tory PM for being “absolutely clear” about what she stood for.  Miliband also added that only politicians who “can define the purpose and mission of their government” are successful.

In a lecture delivered yesterday, the Labour leader confirmed that a newly elected Labour government would continue the austerity measures introduced by Tory Chancellor George Osborne, pledging that the party would do “more with less”.

The lecture, which was tailored for an English audience, revealed Mr Miliband’s vision for the NHS and education south of the border with plans to give more powers to parents and local communities.  Recent opinion polls put Mr Miliband’s party only five points ahead of their Conservative rivals.

However the focus on middle England has led to claims that Mr Miliband is ignoring the political landscape north of the border.

The SNP has claimed that Mr Miliband’s failure to even mention Scotland in the speech that focused on the devolution of powers shows that the referendum isn’t even on his radar, despite the fact that his party north of the border is being torn apart by failure to agree on further devolution.

Commenting on the Labour leader’s speech, MSP Sandra White said: “While Ed Miliband was very keen to declare his admiration for Margaret Thatcher, he remained completely silent on Labour’s position on more powers for Scotland.

“Mr Miliband could have used his speech to let the people of Scotland know he was committed to giving them the powers over areas like welfare and benefits – powers a majority of people believe should be held by the Scottish Parliament – and the financial powers needed to transform childcare.

“Instead, in a speech which focused on the devolution of powers and mentioned the West Midlands, Birmingham, Newcastle, Lambeth and Derby, he was silent on Scotland.”

It recently emerged that the Scottish Labour party is split on the issue of further devolution with MPs and MSPs openly criticising leader Johann Lamont’s calls for Holyrood to be given powers over income tax.

Both MP Ian Davidson and MSP Ken Macintosh, who took part in the leadership election contest won by Ms Lamont, have openly stated their opposition to new tax powers.  Some MPs have even threatened to boycott the Scottish Labour Conference scheduled to be held in March.

Ms White added: “It’s clear that Scotland isn’t on the UK Labour leader’s radar.  Meanwhile, Scottish Labour are tearing themselves apart on the issue of further powers, while leader Johann Lamont remains nowhere to be seen.

“Last week, we saw Scottish Labour MPs threaten to boycott their party conference, further undermining Ms Lamont’s leadership.  This followed senior figures Ian Davidson MP, Ken Macintosh MSP, and a member of Labour’s own Devolution Commission, Willie Young, coming out in favour of maintaining the status quo.

“Ms Lamont’s absolute failure to show any leadership on this and other issues means that her party could be heading for another shambles at this year’s conference.  Last year, Labour’s Devolution Commission report fell apart within just a couple of hours, with MPs briefing it was a ‘stitch up’ they’d been ‘bounced’ into.

“Labour’s silence on Scotland tells us all we need to know: it is only with a Yes vote this September that we can guarantee the powers Scotland needs to succeed, including transforming childcare.”