The Scottish media is full today of Gordon Brown’s latest attempted intervention in the independence debate. Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Herald both report that the former Prime Minister will urge Scots to “ditch the Tories, not the Union” (as the original SoS headline put it before being changed online to the rather more sober “Brown urges Scots not to give up on UK”, presumably out of respect for the gentle sensibilities of the paper’s Conservative-leaning readership).
(We’d like to take a brief moment here to appreciate a couple of beautifully acidic, deadpan lines from the Herald’s piece, written by Paul Hutcheon. Our emphasis.)
“Brown, who led his party to defeat at the last General Election, will be the special guest at an event in Glasgow. Although Labour has a dominant role in the cross-party Better Together campaign, senior party sources last year pushed for a separation to convey Labour’s distinctive message.”
The substance of Brown’s argument, in so far as it can be said to have any, is founded on a lie that was comprehensively disproved on this very website well over a year ago – namely that “if Scottish Labour supporters vote to leave the UK it would mean abandoning colleagues in England to years of Tory rule”.
That proposition is demonstrably untrue (not to mention a remarkably defeatist assertion that Labour can’t now defeat the Tories in England, despite having done so in 1997, 2001 and 2005). But even if it wasn’t, what then?
Because we’re not sure we can identify any actual policy differences between the Conservatives and Labour. Of course that’s not exactly new, but we thought in the interests of fairness we should probably update our old feature and see where the two parties stood now on all the major issues. Here’s what we got.
The Tories want to be tougher on welfare
Labour want to be tougher on welfare.
The Tories want to be tougher on immigration.
Labour want to be tougher on immigration.
The Tories want to introduce means-testing for more benefits.
Labour want to introduce means-testing for more benefits.
The Tories want to end free tuition in Scotland.
Labour want to end free tuition in Scotland.
The Tories support workfare and want to extend it.
Labour support workfare and want to extend it.
The Tory plan for cutting the deficit is a decade of brutal austerity.
The Labour plan for cutting the deficit is a decade of brutal austerity.
The Tories want to spend tens of billions replacing Trident.
Labour want to spend tens of billions replacing Trident.
The Tories introduced the bedroom tax for social rented tenants.
Labour introduced the bedroom tax for private rented tenants.
(And refuse to say they’ll abolish it.)
The Tories have vague, non-specific, non-committal plans for devolution which offer more responsibilities rather than more powers, and which aren’t supported by the party’s Westminster MPs or leadership.
Labour have vague, non-specific, non-committal plans for devolution which offer more responsibilities rather than more powers, and which aren’t supported by the party’s Westminster MPs or leadership.
That Labour alternative in full, there. (Those, of course, are just the areas where Labour openly ADMIT to having the same policies as the Tories. In others – the privatisation of the NHS and Royal Mail, and the increasing of the pension age – Labour cynically pretends to oppose policies which they themselves set in motion.)
We hate to be a burden, but if any Scottish journalist is interviewing Gordon Brown in the next few days about his speech, could they possibly do us a favour and ask him exactly what would be different between a Labour and Conservative UK government in 2015 if Scotland votes No to independence? Thanks.