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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April, 2003, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Economy becomes battleground
John Swinney wants more economic powers
John Swinney wants more economic powers
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has attacked what it calls Labour's "begging bowl" economics.

The party claimed that greater financial independence would allow the country to shake off its record of low growth.

SNP leader John Swinney unveiled a poster likening Labour's approach to the Scottish economy to that of Oliver Twist.

"We're highlighting the begging bowl culture of Jack McConnell's economic policy, which contrasts with our plans to give Scotland the competitive edge companies need to compete with firms across the world," an SNP spokesman said.

Chancellor Gordon Brown warned that the SNP's goal of independence would cost jobs and pledged to create enterprise areas to tackle economic blackspots.

Mr Brown said: "I don't believe the strategy, that would create constitutional upheaval and divorce Scotland from the rest of Britain, creating therefore economic as well as political instability, would do anything other than put jobs at risk in Scotland."


On Wednesday Mr Brown had praised Labour's economic record and said that Scotland was closer to full employment than in four decades.

Mr Brown used his second day of campaigning on Thursday to say that Labour would establish 135 new enterprise areas in a bid to stimulate growth in Scotland's worst unemployment black spots.

He said stamp duty would be abolished in these areas, which would also benefit from enhanced capital allowances and community investment tax relief.

"This is a new start, a new chance and I believe that this will create large numbers of jobs in Scotland in future," he said.

But Mr Swinney used a remark by Jack McConnell to claim the Labour Party in London would use a poor turnout as an excuse for cutting public funding.

Chancellor Gordon Brown and nursery kids
Gordon Brown is on the election trail in Scotland

Mr McConnell had underlined the need for a high turnout to The Herald newspaper and said the credibility of local councils in terms of funding was sometimes called into question by low turnouts.

The SNP leader claimed: "This is an unbelievable statement which exposes the massive cost of handing control of the Scottish economy and Scottish public finances to London.

"Of course we must all encourage the highest possible voter turn-out but Jack McConnell has turned the Scottish elections into a national votes-for-money contest."

Meanwhile the party highlighted a commitment to pay Scottish nurses and midwives 11% more than UK levels to aid recruitment.

It believes better pay would attract more nurses and help to reduce waiting times and cut waiting lists.

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