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Political Correspondent, Elizabeth Quigley
"The SNP took the Scottish campaign to London"
 real 56k

Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 17:14 GMT
'Anti-Scottish' spending claim
John Swinney
Mr Swinney claims opponents will cut Scottish spending
The Scottish National Party has accused its political rivals of being united in their "anti-Scottish" approach to public spending.

At a news conference in London on Sunday, party leader, John Swinney, said senior figures in all of the "London-based parties" were secretly manoeuvring to cut Scotland's share of public cash.

Mr Swinney published a "dossier" of quotes from political rivals, which he said proved that there was "moves afoot" to revise the Barnett formula - the mechanism which determines Scotland's share of money from Westminster.

But the Labour Party countered by accusing the SNP of issuing "fantasy figures" to justify their spending commitments.

In the "dossier" compiled by the SNP, quotes from senior political opponents appear on the thorny issue of public spending in Scotland.

Among the quotes listed are:

  • "Does he (Scottish Minister) agree that, when the next needs assessment is considered, there will no longer be any excuse for English taxpayers having to subsidise Scotland to the tune of 1,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland?" - Conservative MP, Theresa Gorman, Hansard, 23/2/99.

  • "I think the formula (Barnett) is discriminatory. In Scotland, the formula looks fair and generous but that is because it is generous to Scotland. From our point of view in the Northern region, it looks less than fair and generous." - Labour MP, Peter Mandelson, Scotland on Sunday, 29/4/01.

  • "Are the government prepared to reform the Barnett formula so that all parts of the country - Scotland, Wales and the regions of England - have a basis that reflects their needs." - Liberal Democrat MP, Alan Beith, Hansard, Regional Affairs Standing Committee, 10/5/01.

Mr Swinney claims these quotes show that there is a deep-seated resentment in "London-based parties" at a perceived spending bias towards Scotland.

He said: "This dossier shows that there are moves afoot at senior levels in all of the London-based parties to cut Scotland's share of spending on public services.

"Despite the fact that Scotland will generate a budget surplus of 7.7bn over last year and this year, Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians want to grab even more of Scotland's resources.

Peter Mandelson
Labour's Peter Mandelson comes in for attack
"South of the border, it is an anti-Scottish cause that unites John Prescott with Theresa Gorman, Peter Mandelson with Boris Johnson.

"In today's (Sunday's) press, it is reported that John Prescott is to be Tony Blair's cabinet enforcer after the election, in a bid to clip the wings of Gordon Brown - putting him in a powerful position to continue his attack on Scottish spending.

"In Scotland, all of the London parties pretend to support Scottish spending levels. But the reality is that they have split loyalties, and take their orders from London.

"Day after day, Westminster politicians attack Scottish spending, without a cheep from their counterparts in Scotland."

But Labour hit back at the SNP and accused them of making public spending claims, which they could not justify.

'Fantasy finances'

Scottish Secretary, Helen Liddell, said: "In the last week the Labour Party has focused on the economic and finance figures of the SNP and we have exposed the fantasy behind their economic policies.

"The SNP failed to answer any of the key allegations made by Labour - that there is no oil fund; that the public service trusts are a myth and that there is still a black-hole at the heart of their finances

Helen Liddell
Helen Liddell: "Enough is enough"
"This reckless distortion culminated on Friday when spokesperson Fiona Hyslop simply made up figures to suit the SNP's purposes, claiming their fantasy finances were actually government figures.

"The SNP are playing fast and loose with the truth to such an extent that enough is enough.

"Today (Sunday) we call on John Swinney to publicly put the record straight and admit that Fiona Hyslop was just plain wrong.

"The SNP have spent the last seven days distorting their own economic case while ignoring the real facts.

"They claim their manifesto pledges would cost 260m - in fact they would cost over 1bn.

Police numbers

Meanwhile the Scottish Conservatives unveiled a new election poster entitled "Save the Panda".

The campaign is designed to draw attention to what the Tories say is the coalition Executive's neglect of policing issues.

Raymond Robertson
Raymond Robertson: "Crime is up under Labour"
Speaking at the launch on Sunday, Scottish Conservative chairman, Raymond Robertson, said: "Our police have been let down by the Labour / Liberal Democrat cosy coalition in the Scottish Parliament who prefer to understand the position of the criminal rather than the plight of the victim.

"As a consequence, crime is up under Labour.

"Add to this the sometimes less than helpful stance of our prosecution services and it is unfortunately true to say that a Scottish policemans lot is not a happy one.

"The Scottish Police Federation recently lambasted the Executive about their claims over police numbers and they also estimate that only one third of our force are actually available for front line duty at any time.

"So our message is clear, more officers, less bureaucracy. It is time to save the panda and let the police, police."

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