Two of your most recent correspondents, Dr Graeme Finnie and Catriona C Clark (Letters, July 14), are the latest to try to rewrite history, respectively telling your readers of “the dreadful record of Labour in power and their ineffectual role in opposition” and “Labour’s commitment to continue the austerity cuts should they win power in 2015”.
Labour’s record in power included raising one million children in the UK out of poverty, establishing the national minimum wage, legislating for the right to trade union representation, and a devolution to all parts of the UK (except England), plus the guaranteed income for pensioners. If that is dreadful, give me dreadful any day.
Ineffective opposition? Labour is well placed to win the 2015 General Election, and although Ed Miliband is obviously not going to be as wildly popular as Tony Blair, it appears that enough voters disagree with Dr Finnie to get him to No 10 in less than a year’s time. If that is ineffective, I will take it any day.
It is also wrong to suggest that a Yes vote means an end to austerity. Aside from the dubious morality of running away from debt – incurred by Scotland as well as the rest of the UK – all of the evidence is that independence would actually leave Scots in a worse position than the rest of UK.
Even John Swinney in his leaked paper has admitted that it will be difficult to fund welfare (including pensions) from a position of an ageing population and declining oil revenues. If we add to this the commitment to use those revenues to set up an oil fund rather than on services and benefits, it is clear that an independent Scotland will require considerably higher taxation. With a further promise to lower taxation for the biggest companies, the only source of these higher revenues will be increased personal taxation: put simply, big hikes in income tax.
In contrast, as Labour head for the 2015 General Election, they are committed to making big reforms in the way in which the country is run, so that the economy works for society, rather than the other way round: reform of the banks, reform of welfare to ensure that all young people have the skills required in the labour market and that those who contribute more get more out of the system, and reform of government through further devolution to cities and local councils.
So readers should continue to regard any statements by the Yes camp with great scepticism, and certainly should ask themselves which they will prefer: Labour’s responsible and measured approach through big reforms to meet the needs of the coming years, or the Yes Campaign’s rewritten history – and its future promises which could only be funded by big tax rises.