Scots react to Harman’s vow that Labour will not oppose Tory benefit cuts

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By a Newsnet.scot Reporter

The Labour party will not oppose Tory plans to cut welfare and restrict child tax credits, interim leader Harriet Harman has confirmed.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Show the Labour MP said the party had to acknowledge why it did not win the general election and not seek to employ “blanket opposition” to David Cameron’s Tory Government.

She said:

“We won’t oppose the Welfare Bill, we won’t oppose the household benefit cap.

“For example what they’ve brought forward in relation to restricting benefits in Tax Credits for people with three or more children.”

The admission from Harman brought a scathing response from the Scottish National Party with Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, the SNP Social Justice and Welfare spokesperson, slamming the decision.

“Harriet Harman’s decision to back the Tories deep cuts to tax credits is simply a continuation of Labour’s commitment to back George Osborne’s cuts , as they did when they voted to back his £30 billion austerity programme, earlier this year.”

She added:

“In Scotland tax credits are overwhelmingly paid to working people. And in Scotland 95% of tax credits are paid to families with children. So we should make no mistake about where the cuts are being targeted – so it makes it all the more worrying that Labour are supporting these cuts as we know they will hit working families hardest.

“It makes it all the more important that we strengthen the Scotland Bill to ensure that the powers to support and empower the least well off and most vulnerable people in society are in Scotlandís hands.”

The decision by Labour’s London based leadership brought an angry response from at least one Scottish Labour MSP. Neil Findlay tweeted to Harman calling for candidates taking part in the current leadership contest to make clear their opposition to the decision.

And Findlay’s colleague Kezia Dugdale, favourite to replace former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, appeared to challenge the announcement from Harman, tweeting “I can’t and won’t support cuts to Child Tax Credits.”

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SNP critics have pointed out that Scottish Labour, under current arrangements, has no power to oppose the UK party leadership on areas of UK wide policy. The announcement from her UK boss is particularly embarrassing for Dugdale and comes only days after the MSP challenged the SNP to outline how the nationalists planned to protect Scotland from Conservative Government cuts.

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