Labour pledge £3bn budget boost for Scotland

A Labour government at Westminster would deliver a £3.016 billion budget boost to Scotland through Barnett consequentials by 2021, it was claimed today.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale during the launch of the Scottish Labour manifesto. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The increased cash to devolved administrations would be the off-shoot from Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to make top earners across the UK pay more tax if he is returned as prime minister at the general election.

But the SNP warned Labour was delivering a “tax bombshell” to ordinary voters and claimed only the Nationalists could beat the Tories in Scotland.

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Speaking at the launch of the Scottish Labour manifesto in Edinburgh today, leader Kezia Dugdale said “the whole country needs to be firing on all cylinders” but that Scotland was being left behind while other parts raced ahead.

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Live blog: Scottish leaders TV debate

She hit out at the SNP at Holyrood and Tories at Westminster for focusing on “divisive politics” that could lead to a second independence referendum and a hard Brexit which risked pushing Scotland into recession and affect working people across the country.

Ms Dugdale also emphaised that Scottish Labour would never support a second independence referendum.

“In the pages of this manifesto, you will find our plan for a Britain where we make fairer and better choices,” she said.

“A Britain where everyone can lead fulfilling and dignified lives – from childhood right through to their later years.

“It’s only by electing a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn that this transformation of our country as a whole can begin.

“Only by electing a Labour government can Scotland benefit from the massive investment in public services and infrastructure that we need to repair the damage wrought by the twin evils of SNP and Tory cuts.”

But the Scottish Labour leader also faced questions at the manifesto launch over Jeremy Corbyn’s previous comments on the IRA and the suitability of leading members of his shadow cabinet, including John McDonnell and Diane Abbott.

When asked what she would say to voters who did not want an independence referendum, liked Labour policies, but had doubts whether Jeremy Corbyn was fit to be prime minister following “his refusal to condemn the IRA” when asked on television, Ms Dugdale said: “I think that’s a very poor interpretation of what Jeremy said. It’s worth reminding people it was the Labour party that delivered the Good Friday Agreement.

“The bottom line is there only a choice between two parties in thiselection. If you send SNP MPs to the House of Commons they will be on opposition benches shouting at whoever is in charge. We have an opportunity here to get the Tories out of office.”

When pressed on whether Ms Dugdale thought Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell were “fit and proper persons” to lead the country given their previous support for the IRA, the Scottish Labour leader added:

“We are 20 years on from the Good Friday Agreement that transformed Northern Ireland and we must do everything we can to maintain peace in Northern Ireland and that’s the commitment in this manifesto.”

The SNP leader at Westminister, Angus Robertson, said the manifesto proved Scottish Labour was “at sixes and sevens” after the party confirmed it was still committed to its 2016 tax pledges, which would keep all rates at least a penny higher than in England.

“This manifesto launch shows once more Kezia Dugdale’s desire to hit the poorest in our society with a bumper tax bill - seeking to raise the tax burden of those on the lowest incomes,” he said.

“Labour cannot pretend to support ordinary workers when at the same time they want to hit them with a fresh tax bombshell - something even the UK Labour party have avoided.

“Polling over the weekend has shown that Labour can’t win the election in Scotland - and if Labour voters want to keep the Tories out of Scotland, only a vote for the SNP can achieve this.”

Scottish Conservative candidate for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, John Lamont, said: “Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn cannot be trusted on the union – the record speaks for itself.

“Labour may pretend that it opposes a second referendum on independence.

“But not only do a series of candidates for next month say the complete opposite, Corbyn himself has said he’s ‘absolutely fine’ with