Monday, 2 February 2015

The Big Beast returns

And he's back.   Gordon Brown has been wheeled out by the Labour Party in the hope that he will work the same magic that they think he did during the referendum.  Today he and Jim Murphy will be sharing a platform to announce that Labour will grant more extensive powers over welfare to the Scottish Government should they be elected in May.  This will cover areas such as child benefit, pensions and housing benefit.

Sounds great, doesn't it?  Except that the powers in question will allow the Scottish government to top-up UK benefits, not implement new rules of their own.  Power devolved is power retained once again.

Mr Brown will say
We will go further by ensuring that the final say on benefit levels remains in Scotland by giving the Scottish parliament a wider power to top up UK benefits. This will ensure that Scotland is protected from Tory welfare cuts – there could never be another bedroom tax in Scotland – and from benefit cuts caused by a fall in Scottish funding due to, for example, the collapse in the oil price, the inevitable consequence of the nationalists plans for full fiscal autonomy.
Oh look, it's 'too poor' again.  They're back to peddling the myth that an independent Scotland would be reliant on oil receipts, when in fact any income from oil is a 'nice-to-have', not a necessity.  And there's a more subtle message, which is that all the Scottish electorate is interested in is benefits.  Score another hit on 'subsidy junkies' too.

Mr Brown is also slated to announce that there will be a separate Labour manifesto in Scotland.  Given that Mr Murphy's autonomy is limited to matters that are already devolved, this should make an interesting read, since the major issues such as Trident are UK level.

It's an interesting development, but if I were Mr Murphy, I'd be somewhat miffed by this.  If they're wheeling Gordon Brown out already, a man who won't be standing for election, it doesn't show an awful lot of confidence in his leadership by his own tribe.

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