Claims by leading No campaign figures that SNP concerns over the future of the NHS are “lies” and “scare stories” have been challenged after it emerged the claims were made by Labour themselves in 2010.
Yes Scotland Chief Executive, Blair Jenkins, has challenged No campaign chief Alistair Darling to explain the difference between claims made about the threat to Scotland’s NHS funding, that helped get him elected as an MP in 2010, and the exact opposite and contradictory claims now being made by the campaign he leads.
Mr Jenkins said: “Mr Darling, you were elected saying a Westminster Tory government would ‘slash funding for schools and hospitals’ in Scotland but now lead a campaign that wants us to believe that Scotland’s funding is safe in Tory hands.”
The Scottish Labour Party’s 2010 General Election Broadcast warned that a Westminster Tory government has and would cut Scotland’s health spending and that this is a ‘risk’ that Scotland faces. The broadcast states:
“They [the Tories] starved our schools and hospitals of funding and there’s a real risk they’d do the same again”.
“They wouldn’t fight for the NHS, they call it a 60 year mistake.”
“The Tories would … slash funding for schools and hospitals … The Tories haven’t changed.”
Clip from video [Full Video below]
The official No campaign is now arguing that there would be no impact on Scotland’s schools and hospitals from Westminster Tory policies, including the ongoing privatisation of the English NHS.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s current affairs programme Scotland 2014, Labour MSP Neil Findlay called concerns for the Scottish NHS “the biggest lie of the referendum campaign” and said the Tories had “protected” the NHS budget south of the border.
However Mr Findlay’s comments have already been contradicted by Labour Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham who has warned that, if the situation in England continues then there will not be an NHS in five years time.
Speaking two weeks ago, Mr Burnham said: “Five more years of the same would push the NHS off the cliff-edge where it now finds itself.”
Commenting, Mr Jenkins said: “Mr Darling has been caught out saying two very different things in two campaigns. He was elected on the back of the claim that a Westminster Tory government poses a threat to Scotland’s NHS, and now leads a campaign that is trying to argue the exact opposite.
“Of course, Mr Darling was right back in 2010 when he warned that Westminster Tory cuts could damage Scotland’s schools and hospitals.
“Elsewhere in the UK, the Labour Party is warning that the privatisation of the NHS in England could mean cuts. This would have a direct and automatic impact on Scottish spending as a result of the Barnett formula.
“Given that Mr Darling’s party identified the threat to Scotland’s NHS in 2010 and his colleagues, including the Welsh Health Minister, are repeating that warning today, it is simply not credible for the No campaign to continue with their assertion that Tory health privatisation won’t have a damaging impact on Scotland’s NHS.
“The NHS is Scotland’s most valued public service. We simply can’t risk any knock-on damage to our health service in the future from the Westminster government’s privatisation agenda. Scotland needs to fully protect its NHS, and that comes only from a Yes.”
Full Scottish Labour Video