Labour ties Tories and SNP to legacy of Thatcher

Deputy leader Anas Sarwar spoke at Scottish Labour's conference yesterday. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Deputy leader Anas Sarwar spoke at Scottish Labour's conference yesterday. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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DEPUTY Labour leader Anas Sarwar has accused George Osborne of “carrying on the vandalism” of Margaret Thatcher by cuts to public services and job losses.

Mr Sarwar used his speech to Labour’s conference in Inverness to launch an attack on the Chancellor and draw a comparison between Mr Osborne and the former prime minister.

He also attacked First Minister Alex Salmond for handing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash in government grants to firms such as internet sales giant Amazon.

Mr Sarwar talked about the political and economic “immorality” of SNP ministers as he delivered his speech yesterday, at the end of Labour’s three-day gathering.

Mr Sarwar – the leader of Labour’s campaign against independence – also labelled the SNP the “midwives” of Thatcherism in a reference to the party’s MPs who helped to force Labour from power in 1979.

However, Mr Sarwar’s strongest attack was on the Tories, who he said had presided over the closure of coal mines and heavy industry in Scotland during Margaret Thatcher’s time in office.

Referring to the TV broadcasts that showed the Chancellor in tears during the former prime minister’s funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, he said: “Conference, this week saw the funeral of Margaret Thatcher. But it was not only George Osborne who was moved.

“People in the Labour movement were moved, too.

“Moved to remember the coal miners in Midlothian and Methil, the steelworkers in Motherwell and the car workers in Linwood, thrown on to the scrapheap on the back of a political ideology that was hell-bent on sacrificing British workers to further a political cause.

“And the reason George Osborne felt moved to tears – because he has shaped his whole political ideology and cut his political teeth so he can carry on the work of his political hero. Today, he is carrying on the vandalism Thatcher started and his targets are just the same.”

He went on to attack Mr Salmond over his links to controversial tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump.

The Labour MP said that the SNP wanted to use an independent Scotland to “pursue an economic model that sees big business pay less, and that asks workers to share more of the burden.”

Mr Sarwar said: “As if any further evidence was needed of Alex Salmond’s flawed judgment – let’s not forget Trump and Murdoch – he said that voting for Nick Clegg south of the Border to deny Labour a majority would be, and I quote, ‘a legitimate and proper thing to do’.

“Alex Salmond, try telling that now to the people in Scotland facing up to the bedroom tax. And when people are struggling to feed their families, are worried about paying their rent or mortgage, are seeing their wages squeezed and their hours cut, what they see is large multi-national, multi-million-pound companies making huge profits but paying not a penny in tax, but being rewarded.

“Amazon, rewarded not with scorn and public condemnation but with millions of pounds in Scottish Government grants.”

However, the SNP dismissed Mr Sarwar’s claims over Amazon and said the last Westminster Labour government failed to tackle tax evasion.

A party spokesman said: “This is astonishing hypocrisy – especially given the tax system is run by Westminster and the activities he mentions were happening when Labour were in office and Alistair Darling was Chancellor.”