SNP ‘not tackling living cost crisis’ - Miliband

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THE “cost of living crisis” in Scotland is not being tackled by the Scottish Government, Labour leader Ed Miliband has claimed in his New Year message.

The Labour leader was joined by former chancellor Alistair Darling, head of the pro-union Better Together campaign, in calling on Scots to back staying in the UK in the referendum.

Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Mr Miliband said: “Labour’s shown how we’ll make a difference this year on the cost of living crisis, whether it’s abolishing the bedroom tax, capping the cost of credit for payday loans, ­freezing energy bills.

“The SNP are in government in Scotland: what are they actually doing on the cost of living crisis? They’re not making a ­difference, in fact they’ve sided with the Tories when it comes to Labour’s energy price freeze.”

The pledge to freeze energy prices for a year if Labour wins power in 2015 has proved controversial, despite popular support, and has come under fire from critics who insist it could not be practically implemented. Despite this, the Labour leader insisted in his message that only a “common vision and a ­common future” can deliver greater equality.

“The Nationalists want to give up on social justice within the United Kingdom,” he added.

“I’m not giving up on that. In fact, I’m going to show in 2014 how we’re better together, how we can achieve social justice within Scotland and within the United Kingdom.”

Scots go to the polls on 18 September next year to vote in the referendum on independence.

However, the SNP said that Labour has “no credibility” on the cost of living, with the UK becoming more unequal under successive Westminster governments of all political colours, and that independence is the only route to social justice.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said a quarter of Labour MPs did not turn up at a vote on scrapping the bedroom tax in the House of Commons, adding: “The UK has become a much more unequal society under successive Westminster governments – Tory and Labour.”

He pointed to former Labour stalwarts in Scotland such as Charles Gray and Alex Mosson who favour independence. “If Mr Miliband cannot even convince highly-respected ­Labour figures in Scotland to vote No, then the Tory-led No campaign will not persuade the majority of the Scottish ­electorate,” Mr ­Robertson added.

“Independence means that Scotland always gets the government we vote for, with the powers to build a fairer society and more prosperous economy, and a relationship of equality with our neighbour south of the ­Border – the best of both worlds.

“A Yes vote is the route to ­social justice.”

The SNP has introduced the council tax freeze, free prescriptions, increased childcare hours and delivered free tuition, while pledging to cut energy bills by 5 per cent or £70 after independence, he said.

Meanwhile Mr Darling said the referendum result should not “divide” ­Scotland and the outcome hould be respected.

“There are patriots on both sides of this debate and we should respect each other for that,” the former chancellor said.