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SNP leader John Swinney
"Today was a glorious day for the economic debate"
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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 23:14 GMT
SNP claims victory on economy
John Swinney
Mr Swinney faced the Question Time audience
Scottish National Party leader John Swinney has claimed that Labour has conceded Scotland pays more in taxes to the Treasury than it receives.

Taking the hot seat on BBC television's Question Time programme, Mr Swinney claimed Labour were now accepting the SNP's economic argument.

Mr Swinney said: "We are contributing more to the United Kingdom than we are taking out.

"Today was a glorious day for the economic debate because the Labour party in their usual flat-footed fashion entered the political debate with a 40-page denunciation of the Scottish National Party which conceded that Scotland is paying more money to the United Kingdom than we are receiving in return.

John Swinney on Question Time
Mr Swinney said Labour was "flat-footed"
"So I am very confident, with the Labour party's intervention in this debate, which has vindicated all the arguments of the SNP that for years and years and years we have been paying more to the United Kingdom than we have been getting in return - and I want to make that wealth work for the people of Scotland."

He said the Labour document conceded that Scotland would be in surplus if North Sea oil revenues were applied to the calculation.

Earlier Labour had dismissed the SNP's economic policy as a "sham".

In a wide-ranging debate the Nationalist leader dismissed claims that his party was not interest in Westminster.

Divided interest

He said the party was putting forward "good and strong" candidates to fight for Scotland at Westminster.

"You will never see me saying that Westminster is an irrelevance for so long as many difficult and stupid decisions are taken by Westminster that are damaging to the interests of people within Scotland.

"I want to make sure there are strong voices at Westminster, with no divided interest, arguing for the Scottish interest and you will never get that from Labour MPs because they go down there and obey the orders of the London Mafia."

Mr Swinney was also questioned about his party's policies on Europe and its attitude to racism and anti-English factions within Scotland.

He said that he had signed the Commission for Racial Equality's pledge on race and that he found anti-English sentiment "repugnant".

He said it would have no place in a party of which he was leader.

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