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£70bn promise for Scotland

McDonnell sets out ‘rebuilding’ plan for economy

John McDonnell

John McDonnell: ‘real divisions are on wealth’ (photo by Terry Murden)

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said today that Scotland could benefit from a “Labour dividend” of up to £70 billion in additional investment over ten years.

Extra spending would be committed to education, social care, and childcare, he told supporters attending the Scottish conference in Dundee.

There would be additional investment over ten years across the UK through the National Transformation Fund and National Investment Bank.

He said the scale of Labour’s commitments should be compared with the “measly’ £340m of initial capital budgeted by the SNP for its own Scottish Investment Bank. 

“I say this to the SNP: if you are going to steal our ideas, for goodness sake do it with a bit of style,” he said.

“Taken together, our commitments over a decade could mean an additional seventy billion pounds for the Scottish economy. 

“That’s seventy billion pounds of potentially additional spending to support a Scottish industrial strategy, to support renewable energy generation, to build more houses, create jobs, and support growth.” 

Mr O’Donnell declared that the real division in the UK is not between Scotland and England, but between “working people and the money men”.

He set out an economic plan to rebuild and transform Scotland after what he describes as “years of Tory austerity and SNP underfunding”.

John McDonnell

Mr McDonnell accused the SNP of stealing Labour’s ideas (photo by Terry Murden)

“When we return to power we will have to fundamentally change the whole economic basis of our society,” he said.

He made no reference to the Brexit debate, instead focusing on the “failure” of PFI deals and Labour’s plans to invest in the economy and roll back privatisation of utilities.

“Over the past forty years our industrial base has been dismantled … key public industries sold off … working class communities neglected … Scotland’s industries disappearing through not just neglect but deliberate attempts by Conservative governments to smash the strongholds of the labour movement.

“We will need to fundamentally reorganise our society collectively.

“That’s why I’m so delighted that Scottish Labour is so committed to delivering an industrial strategy that boosts and stimulates the Scottish economy.”

Mr McDonnell attacked “free market fundamentalism”, claiming that it “cannot deliver the change we need.”

The party has already pledged to take PFI contracts back in-house, to save money and gain control over key public infrastructure. It will end outsourcing and bring key services under transparent, democratic control.

“The dividing lines today are the dividing lines every day … everywhere … as our movement has always known,” Mr McDonnell said.

“Not between brothers and sisters either side of a border, or across the channel, but between the haves and have nots … the 95% and the 5% … the many and the few.

“Our goal in this movement is not and has never been about shifting power from one parliament and one set of politicians to another.

“Our goal is about shifting power from those who own the wealth in this country back to those who, through their hard work and endeavour, create the wealth in this country.

“That’s the real division in our society. Not between Scotland and England, but between working people and the money men.”

Single market membership move rejected

The party’s conference rejected a move by a group of members, led by former leader Kezia Dugdale, calling for the UK to rejoin the single market.

Instead they voted overwhelmingly for a “unity motion” drafted by its Scottish executive.

During a debate the spring conference Donald MacKinnon from the Western Isles, said leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the Hebridean economy as it would increase the costs of its exports of products such as Harris tweed and by removing EU subsidies.

But party leader Jeremy Corbyn Corbyn’s rejects any formal continued membership of the single market or the customs union, on a similar footing to Norway.

Neil Findlay, Scottish Labour’s Brexit spokesman, said Norway had little influence over its single market agreement.

“It means you’re a rule-taker and not a rule-maker, and that is not in our national interest,” said Mr Findlay.

Mark Kerr of the Communication Workers Union said: “The EU is a single market and a customs union and the people voted to leave it.”


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