I had the unfortunate experience of coming across Labours leaflet today, and I am amazed at how stupid it actually is, for no other reason than not a single policy on the leaflet can be delivered at the council level. That’s just a fact. None of the things on their list are under the ambit of councils in Scotland. It’s not a question of whether they would or would not implement these policies – it’s a case that they physically can’t; they don’t have the power to do it, even if they won every council in Scotland. You’d think that a party who constantly argues against the sovereignty of the Scottish People would actually understand the fundamentals of devolution both at Scottish and Council levels, and the deficient system they constantly cheer on! But nope!
A windfall tax on oil and gas is wholly the remit of Westminster. The Scottish Parliament has no control over this, so councils certainly don’t! In 2014, Scottish Parties argued that revenues from North Sea Oil and Gas be devolved. Labour voted against it, putting it solely under the remit of the UK Government who at the time, were the tories. Put simply, they voted to have Scotland’s oil and gas under the remit of the tories. What was Scotland going to do with it? Setup a sovereign wealth fund for inward investment in the country, as well as ironing out fluctuations in the price of fuel, and developing renewable energy. Everything Scotland would need to combat this current cost of living crisis and particularly the current energy crisis!
Energy grants, again, because they are applied directly to your bills, these are the remit of the Tories at Westminster, not Holyrood and certainly not the council. The Scottish Parliament actually can’t deal with this for those who it matters most, namely those on low income and benefits. Why? Well, put simply – if the Scottish Government were to create a grant for energy bills it would be classified as a benefit, they couldn’t apply it directly to bills. That means it would be classed as income and deducted pound for pound from any means-tested benefits that people receive from the DWP and HMRC that are reserved to Westminster – like tax credits or universal credit or income support. So without this being administered by the Tories, people on low incomes would derive no benefit. What would happen is they would lose money off their existing benefits equal to the sum they would receive in terms of the energy benefit. The only thing they’d notice is their direct debit drop slightly, and their means-tested benefit along with it.
As for water rates, well they are not decided by councils. That’s the remit of discussions between Scottish Water, organisations like COSLA and the Scottish Parliament in consort with Councils. So again, not the remit of councils. They just collect the funds on your council tax.
The leaflet finishes with the words “our plan”. The problem is that every single thing they promise on this flyer is a lie. The reason it is a lie is that it requires to be implemented, either in Westminster which means they would have to be elected as the Government of the UK, and that’s not likely to happen in the near future, or they could implement parts of it at Holyrood, and again, their chances of becoming the Government there are almost non-existent. Most of their MSP’s are elected by default on the regional list.
As for their councillors, none of them can implement these policies – and remember THIS IS A COUNCIL ELECTION.
This is nothing different from what Gordon Brown did in 2014 during the referendum campaign – promising a list of things he knew he had no power to deliver. It’s patently dishonest. What is labour going to do if they do take over the councils in Scotland and the public demand it is implemented? The same as Gordon Brown will be the most they can do – and that was asking people to sign a petition to the Tories to deliver the things he knew he couldn’t, but promised them anyway. Of course, out of the 12 things he promised, none were delivered. The last thing on that list by the way was Scotland remaining in the European Union.