Scottish Labour no-show on crucial Public Service Pensions vote

Independent MSP for Dunfermline, Bill Walker, has criticised Scottish Labour MPs for failing to turn up for a crucial House of Common’s vote on Public Sector Pensions. The no-show follows months of noisy opposition from Labour ranks over the Conservative-Liberal Democrat’s planned pension raid, which will now pass into law.

Thirty-five Scottish Labour MPs failed to take a stand at the crucial moment, including Dunfermline’s Thomas Docherty and Shadow Secretary Margaret Curran.

Mr Walker said: “Labour have been quick to criticise the Coalition’s plans and to blame the Scottish Government for being caught between a rock and a hard place in being forced to implement them, but by failing to even show up for the vote they have proven that their protests are just hypocritical huffing and puffing.

“I can’t help wondering if their empty rhetoric was meant to placate the unions, while their abstention from the vote was to avoid turning off those voters who support the race to the bottom that is Public Sector Pension reform. No doubt, Labour will endlessly point to the Tories and Lib Dems as the ones who went after the public sector workers, despite Labour having betrayed them every bit as badly.

“This is reminiscent of other notable moments of Scottish Labour absenteeism, such as when they stayed away from the vote on the reduction of the top rate of income tax from 50% to 45%. It seems they want to appeal to people of every view and principle, while standing up for no one at all.

“The Scottish Government, on the other hand, consistently opposed these Tory-Libdem so-called ‘reforms’, but their hands were tied when the Treasury wouldn’t budge. As John Swinney, the Finance Secretary, confirmed to a packed Chamber in the Scottish Parliament last week, the UK Government threatened to slice £8.4 million from the Scottish Executive Budget for every month beyond April 2013 that the Scottish Government failed to implement the Coalition’s Public Service Pension changes.

“Public services would have faced a £100 million reduction every single year, in addition to the massive austerity cuts Westminster is already forcing on Scotland and those he is yet to deliver.

“Mr Swinney was unenviably left to form the conclusion that this was too much to impose on Scottish communities, who have not even begun to feel the real bite of austerity – which the Tory Chancellor George Osborne has now announced will now be prolonged until 2018.

“The only way to prevent future Labour betrayals and to stop out-of-touch Westminster governments of all stripes from foisting major economic policies on us is to achieve national independence and proper control over all of our resources.”

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