Neil Findlay MSP has written an open letter to his friend Mike Dailly who has just left the Labour Party to join the Scottish National Party.
I was astonished to see your social media posts at the weekend triumphantly claiming that you have joined the SNP. As someone who has worked with you and respects your commitment to justice and equality, I genuinely want to try to understand your reasoning.
On economics, the SNP have abjectly failed to use the powers they have, and indeed Scotland’s new tax powers, to bring about any significant redistribution of wealth. It is a real struggle to identify any areas of policy where hard cash is taken from the wealthy and put into the hands of the poor and low paid. Only two years ago the SNP wanted to turn Scotland into the most competitive “business friendly” country in Europe with an aim to have the lowest corporation tax rates on the continent; how would that vision help the very people you have campaigned with, and worked for, over the decades?
The SNP are gutting local government, which is the front line in the fight against poverty and inequality. This year another £327 million will be cut from our councils according to the Scottish Parliament Information Service.
SNP ministers, including the First Minister, call Labour’s progressive tax policies “a tax grab” when in fact they are essential for the funding of the public services people rely on.
In education the SNP have decimated further education with 150,000 college places gone, impacting most upon women, the young and the disabled. Student support in the form of FE bursaries has been reduced. In our schools, the gap between pupils whose families are least deprived and those most deprived is increasing. Our international education standing is in decline. In our NHS, seven of the eight main performance standards have been missed and there is a crisis in social care.
We hear repeated calls for new powers, yet when the SNP had the powers and the opportunity to bring in new welfare provisions they left them with the Tories at Westminster, letting people suffer for another three years.
And on independence, the fall in the oil price combined with the end of the Barnett formula would leave our public services gasping for air. According to the Scottish Government’s own figures, Scotland would have a £15 billion deficit. Mike, how would such a scenario impact on the people you work with day in and day out?
The Labour Party and the Labour movement created the NHS, the welfare state, public ownership of key services, council housing, the living wage and the Scottish Parliament. Name me one thing that nationalism has achieved that can compare to any of this?
I am genuinely interested to hear how all of this sits with your long-standing commitment to eradicate poverty and inequality and your desire to reverse growing inequity in health, education and living standards. I tried to raise these issues with you privately over the weekend but got no reply. Feel free to respond to each point in due course (and not deflect to other issues that I haven’t asked about).
Finally Mike, I will leave you with this quote: “There is the rhetoric of independence and social justice, and then there is actual SNP policy in government, which is frequently reactionary, punitive, and a total stranger to social justice. Not my vision for Scotland.” The quote is yours Mike – you were right then, but you are wrong now.
I look forward to your reply.
PS I look forward to continuing to work with you on the issues we care about.
Yours in friendship
Neil Findlay MSP Lothian (Labour)