Labour launches its campaign in Glasgow with little sign of any let-up in the SNP’s poll surge north of the Border.
But shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran will say the new powers being delivered to Holyrood by Labour will make Scotland the “fairest nation on earth” and that voting SNP could jeopardise this.
“The way to get a Labour government is to vote Labour,” Ms Curran will say. “We need to stop the Tories being the largest party across the UK.
“A vote for anyone other than Labour risks the Tories being the biggest party and David Cameron returning to Downing Street by accident.
“Scotland needs a Labour government but we won’t get one unless we go out and vote for it.”
Ms Curran is among prominent Labour figures in Scotland poised to lose their seat in May, with the Nationalists looking strong in her Glasgow East constituency.
But the party will today begin a week of election pledges in a bid to make up ground.
These includes the introduction of a Home Rule (Scotland) Bill in the House of Commons within 100 days of coming to office, delivering new Holyrood powers pledged after the referendum No vote.
Ms Curran said: “Scots were promised major new powers and a Labour government will not just deliver on these but go even further.
“Under a Labour government the final decision on welfare in Scotland will be made here in Scotland.
“Only with a Labour government will there be radical new powers for Scotland and the security of the block grant.”
Labour has said the loss of the annual block grant from Westminster under the SNP’s plans for full fiscal autonomy would see Scotland lose £7.6 billion a year.
Ms Curran will say: “This election isn’t just about individual policies, it is about the values we possess.
“For Labour, that means investing in working class families. That’s why our commitment to the block grant is unwavering. Under a Labour government the higher levels of public spending Scotland gets through the block grant are here to stay.
“That might upset Boris Johnson and his Tory pals, but it’s the right thing to do for Scotland.
“The Tories and Liberals won’t go as far as Labour in delivering the major new powers Scotland needs to make us the fairest nation on earth.”
However, Labour’s spending plans for the UK as a whole came under fire yesterday amid claims the party would increase levels of state borrowing.
Paul Johnson, director of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, said Labour’s plans would see them maintain an overall deficit as high as £30 billion by 2020 when the Conservatives aim to be running a surplus of £7 billion. Mr Johnson said: “They don’t want to get rid of the deficit altogether – they are happy to borrow to invest.
“They would be happy with a deficit of £25 to £30 billion, whereas the Conservatives don’t want a deficit at all.”
Labour’s election campaign vice-chairwoman Lucy Powell insisted she did not recognise the £30 billion figure, adding: “We are going to balance the books for current expenditure by the end of the parliament. We may use some borrowing for much-needed investment but not for day-to-day spending. Those figures are other people’s figures. It depends on what the books are like.”
Conservative Treasury minister Priti Patel said: “The cat’s out of the bag – Labour have finally had it dragged out of them that they’d borrow more if Ed Miliband gets into Downing Street.
“Add in the fact that they’re refusing to admit which taxes they’d raise and you’ve got a recipe for total economic chaos.
“Nothing’s changed. It’s the same old Labour.
“They have no plan for the economy – just one for more borrowing, more taxes and more debt than our children could ever hope to repay.”
Ms Powell said that Labour’s plans to eliminate the current deficit rested on a “three-pronged” plan to increase taxes on the richest, cut unprotected areas of Whitehall spending and boost tax revenues by supporting the incomes of ordinary working people.
Asked whether the party was planning any other tax rises to reduce the deficit, beyond the restoration of the 50p top rate of income tax already announced, she said: “That is the only tax we have set out that we will be increasing.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS