Gray gaffe as he admits SNP pledges were blocked by Holyrood opposition

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by G.A. Ponsonby 

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has admitted that the SNP government have been unable to implement many of their manifesto pledges because they were outnumbered by Holyrood’s opposition parties.

The Scottish Labour front man made the admission on yesterday’s STV webcast where he faced questions on a number of issues from host Bernard Ponsonby.

Asked to give his views on minority administration compared to coalition, Mr Gray said: “Although minority government, I would argue, has been difficult for the SNP, and it’s the reason I think they haven’t been able to actually deliver on some of their promises.”

Mr Gray’s gaffe won’t have helped his party’s campaign strategy which has relied heavily on attacking the SNP over what Labour claim are ‘broken promises’.

The interview also saw Mr Gray unable to confirm what funds had been set aside for his party’s knife crime policy that would see carriers sent to jail for a minimum of six months.  When pressed on the costs the Labour leader eventually conceded that the policy would cost around £21 million but would only say that the cash would be “found”.

Asked how many people would be jailed if the policy had been implemented this year the Labour leader appeared to struggle with the figures and was unable to substantiate them.  He also admitted that there were situations where jail would not be the outcome and that judges would have some discretion.

Mr Gray was asked about teacher numbers and challenged on his claim that the SNP were responsible for the drop in numbers, Mr Ponsonby pointing out that Labour-controlled Glasgow council had cut the most teachers from the payroll.  Mr Gray insisted, though, that this was an SNP pledge that they had not implemented and as such was a broken promise.

On transport the Labour leader insisted that if Labour won power that there would be no more government money for the Edinburgh tram project describing it as “a disaster”.  Mr Gray blamed the chaos on the SNP/Lib Dem council.

When asked about the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) Mr Gray said it would be “a priority” for an incoming Labour administration and that £30 million would be found to re-instate it.  He also insisted that the resource account budget of Network Rail would be used to find extra funding.

On blocking minimum pricing for alcohol Mr Gray claimed Labour voted against the policy because “all the evidence we had said that it wouldn’t be legal”.

The Labour front man also confirmed his party’s support for new nuclear power stations in Scotland and said: “I do believe that nuclear power has to be part of our electricity generating mix for some time to come.”

See the full interview here:
http://news.stv.tv/election-2011/241533-ain-gray-we-will-find-resources-to-honour-knife-crime-pledge/