Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Lesley Laird, last night highlighted the irony of a debate being held in government time on “Strengthening the Union”.
In her speech during the debate yesterday (Monday) she reminded Parliament of John Smith’s assertion in 1992 that there were two parties “sawing away at the legs that support the Union”.
But while the SNP were explicit in their goal, they were aided and abetted by the Tories, who stoke the politics of grievance through their callous policies, she warned.
Ms Laird said the values of solidarity, decency, and fair play were common to all and represented the ties that bind working people across the United Kingdom.
But she warned that the Tory government’s pursuit of welfare policies which sow the seeds of division risk fuelling narrow nationalism and petty jealousies.
She highlighted the risk to Scotland of that agenda, as laid out in the so-called Growth Commission Report, which maps out a decade of public spending contraction worse than the dark days of George Osborne’s austerity cuts.
And she pointed out that it is a prospectus not for sovereignty gained, but for sovereignty lost – over interest rates, currency and inflation policy.
Lesley said: “In the more than a quarter of a century since John Smith’s prophetic words about the two parties ‘sawing away at the legs that support the Union’ the Tories have learned nothing.
“The dividing line in Scotland is now between Labour’s plan to invest and build an economy that works for the many, not the few, or further austerity with the SNP and the Tories.
“The Cuts Commission report removes all pretence that the SNP are a centre-left party. This alternative future for Scotland is a nightmare scenario of turbo-charged austerity.
“Together, our family of nations has achieved great things, from the foundation of the welfare state and the NHS to the defeat of fascism. It is clear that when we are building a future together as a United Kingdom the case for co-operation is always greater than any case put for separation.
“That is why a Labour Government with a vision for improving working people’s lives across these islands would reinvigorate that 311-year-old partnership. Until then, it will remain under attack from the SNP and taken for granted by the Tories.”