THE First Minister has accused Johann Lamont of “an appalling error of judgement” after the Labour leader dismissed powers to abolish the bedroom tax and to prevent illegal wars as “wee things”.
Alex Salmond pounced on Ms Lamont for her use of the phrase during a stormy First Minister’s Questions, which centred on this week’s intervention by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney in the independence debate.
Ms Lamont attempted to make political capital out of Mr Carney’s view that an independent Scotland would have to “cede” sovereignty if it were to join a successful currency.
The Labour leader opened by arguing that Mr Carney’s comments meant that Scotland would have limited economic powers after independence.
Mr Salmond retorted by claiming that independence would give Scotland the ower to abolish bedroom tax, transform childcare, scrap weapons of mass destruction and give the country the option of not participating in illegal wars.
But his argument did not impress Ms Lamont, who said: “This is a ludicrous defence by a man who used to cry freedom and now gives us list of wee things we could do.
“I’ m not sure the Bravehearts in the SNP imagined that the reason they wanted independence was because of childcare. This exposes the fact he no longer even defends the concept of independence himself.”
Her use of the phrase “wee things” to describe Mr Salmond’s vision for independence led to a furious response from the First Minister.
After the session Scottish Government officials handed out a pamphlet mocking Ms Lamont’s use of words. Titled “Labour’s wee things”, it listed illegal wars, nuclear weapons, universities, economic policy, tax and social security.
Later Mr Salmond said: “This was an appalling error of judgement from Johann Lamont. Describing things like Trident, the Bedroom Tax, illegal wars and policies to boost childcare and tackle child poverty as ‘wee things’ almost beggars belief.
“To describe these as ‘wee things’ betrays the total poverty and ambition the Labour Party have for Scotland and is yet another reason why the people of Scotland will vote ‘Yes’ this September.”
Labour reacted by writing to Sir Peter Housden, the head of Scotland’s civil service, to complain about a “party political leaflet” being distributed during an official Government briefing to highlight the “wee things” issue.
A Labour spokesman said: “Obviously these are very important issues, but a slip of the tongue is a wee thing, compared to a slip of the policy on currency for an independent Scotland.”