Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Sunday, 8 March 2009

Warning over credit crunch racism

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy made the final address of the three-day conference

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has warned the country not to pander to "credit crunch" racism in a speech to the Scottish Labour conference.

He outlined a rising pressure on jobs amid the financial crisis, and attacked "irresponsible bankers on 1m bonuses".

Mr Murphy also mounted a strong defence of the union, branding SNP economic policy "a fantasy beyond all fiction".

He said every political party had a right to identify with the Scottish flag, not just the Nationalists.

Mr Murphy also told delegates in Dundee that Labour must re-commit to the Northern Ireland peace process, following an attack on an army base in Northern Ireland which killed two soldiers.

Turning to the global financial crisis, he said reckless lending in the sub-prime market in the US, matched with "unforgivable banking vandalism closer to home" was to blame.

'Irresponsible bankers'

He told members of the Labour Party faithful an estimated 176 million people were living outside their birth country.

Mr Murphy went on: "All of this creates additional pressure points that were not so prominent in previous recessions.

"While understanding people's fears and anxieties, we as a Labour Party are very clear - no one should ever pander to credit crunch racism.

"This crisis wasn't caused by a Polish plumber or a Bangladeshi shop worker - it was caused by irresponsible actions of international bankers.

"Our party should relentlessly make clear that it is the irresponsible bankers, some of whom are on 1m bonuses - not industrious migrant workers on the national minimum wage - that caused this financial calamity."

Today, in a more complicated, interconnected world, Nationalist economics are a fantasy beyond all fiction
Jim Murphy
Scottish Secretary

Mr Murphy went on to accuse the SNP of putting its obsession with politics before more pressing economic priorities, adding that the Union offered prosperity in good times and greater security in bad.

"The Scottish Government's own figures show that, if it separated from the UK, it would have a substantial budget deficit, "he said.

"The Nationalists say they can cut taxes while, at the same time spend more on services and build an oil fund.

"This isn't just double counting. It's spending the same money three times."

The Scottish secretary said: "Every Scottish family knows you can't run a home the way the SNP want to run a future independent Scotland.

"Today, in a more complicated, interconnected world, Nationalist economics are a fantasy beyond all fiction."

Mr Murphy said Labour, in the past, had been guilty of letting the SNP assert that patriotism and independence were the same thing."

He said the Saltire belonged to everyone, adding: "No political party should ever seek to claim that they alone have a monopoly on patriotism."

Mr Murphy also warned the conference that Labour did not have the right to expect a fourth term as the UK Government, telling delegates that party had to "re-earn every single vote".

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