Labour government will mean ‘significant’ spending cuts, Swinney warns

Labour government will mean ‘significant’ spending cuts, Swinney warns

Voting Labour in the General Election will result in “significant cuts” to public spending, John Swinney has warned Scots as he claimed a government led by Sir Keir Starmer will “deliver Tory spending cuts”.

The SNP leader and Scottish First Minister used a campaign speech in Glasgow on Friday to attack Labour, claiming it is “becoming ever more clear that it is all over for the Conservative Party” in the race for 10 Downing Street.

It comes as polls have shown Labour ahead of the SNP in Scotland, with Mr Swinney’s party facing the prospect of losing seats at Westminster.

Speaking to journalists after the speech, however, Mr Swinney said his party winning a majority – as well as the Scotland men’s national team beating Germany in the European Championship opener next Friday – was a “certainty”.

But as he said Scots have a “very big decision to make” ahead of polling day on July 4, he warned: “A vote for the Labour Party is a vote for the continuation of Tory spending cuts.”

Addressing SNP activists in the Springburn area, Mr Swinney said public spending is “the real fault line” and the “real issue that matters” in the election campaign.

Speaking about the “fundamental and dangerous position” Scotland is in, he warned of the “enormous pressure that there is on the public finances and on public services”.

First Minister John Swinney is seen in the view screen of a TV camera as he delivers a speech in Glasgow
John Swinney described public spending as the ‘real issue that matters’ in this General Election (Andy Buchanan/PA)

He said a Conservative or Labour government will result in “significant public spending cuts”, as he claimed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Tory party is “hostile” to spending cash on public services.

“That has been the hallmark of their existence as a party,” Mr Swinney said.

He said Labour has made a choice to follow the same rules on public debt as the Tories, and has “signed itself up to a Conservative outlook on public expenditure which is going to do significant damage to the public services of our country”.

His warning came after experts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said both main Westminster parties are “avoiding the reality” that their plans lock them into “sharp” spending cuts after the election.

John Swinney at lectern, with SNP supporters behind him
John Swinney was speaking as he addressed SNP activists in Glasgow on Friday (Andy Buchanan/PA)

After shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves visited Scotland earlier this week, Mr Swinney insisted the “iron-fisted” approach she had adopted “translates into a continuation of Tory spending cuts in Scotland if there is a Labour government”.

The First Minister’s message to voters is that public spending will be “cut and restricted because of the stance being taken by the Labour Party”.

He added the “only explanation” for that stance is that “the Labour Party must be so terrified of scaring off Tory voters in England that they are adopting the same approach to public policy as the Conservatives”.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves campaigned in Edinburgh earlier this week with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves campaigned in Edinburgh earlier this week with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Swinney said: “In Scotland that’s not on, we don’t want that here in Scotland.

“What we want in Scotland is investment to boost our economy.”

He said “progressive taxation” in Scotland, where higher earners pay more income tax than their counterparts south of the border, has netted an extra £1.5 billion for public services.

As a result he said there is now a “simple choice emerging in the course of this election campaign”.

Mr Swinney concluded: “If you vote Labour in Scotland, you are voting for spending cuts. If you vote SNP, you are voting for investment.

“If you vote Labour in Scotland, you are voting for spending cuts. If you vote SNP, you are voting to invest in the future of Scotland, you are voting to put the interests of Scotland first.”

Asked by journalists if the SNP winning a majority in the July 4 vote or Scotland beating Germany was more likely, the First Minister said: “I think both are a certainty.”

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