Bill's Archived Comment's

Monday, 14th May 2001


The Labour Government inherited the brightest economic prospects Britain had seen for a generation: the longest period of low inflation for 50 years; faster growth and lower unemployment than any other major EU economy and the lion's share of investment from outside the EU.

While the global economy has continued to grow since 1997, Britain has slipped behind her competitors. Despite the benign economic conditions of the last few years, the British economy has not been performing as well as it should have done.

Britain has fallen from fourth to ninth in the World Economic Forum rankings of most competitive countries since 1997 (World Economic Forum, 6 September 2000).

This Government have been far too complacent about Britain's competitiveness. Under Labour:

· Economic growth is slower than it was under the Conservatives

· Inflation is above the EU average. Under the Conservatives it was below average

· Productivity growth is lower than it was under the Conservatives

· Fewer people are finding work than under the Conservatives

· Savings ratio has lower than it was under the Conservatives

· Britain's share of world exports has fallen

Not only are taxes up on business, but regulations are at a record level:

· According to the Institute of Directors (IoD), businesses are struggling under an extra £5 billion a year of extra red tape imposed by this Government.

· Research carried out by the independent House of Commons Library shows that 3,865 new regulations were introduced in 2000, the highest figure on record.

· A recent edition of Forbes, the American business bible, contained an damning article on Labour's fondness for regulations entitled 'Tony Blair`s Red-Tape Factory' (3 May 2001).

· 'The Blair government has been one of the most regulatory-minded governments' (Digby Jones, Director-general of the CBI, quoted in Forbes, 3 May 2001)

Buzz words for Labour's 2001 General Election campaign should be regulation, regulation, regulation. So fond is this Labour government of crippling Scotland's competitiveness and introducing business taxes. Since Labour came to power in 1997, it has introduced 21 new stealth taxes on Scottish businesses.

LibDems - the Joke Party

(Wednesday) Yesterday the Scottish Liberals launched their manifesto.

The title of the LibDem manifesto - "Freedom, Justice, Honesty" - is just another joke from a joke party, with joke policies and a joke leader. They claim to stand for 'freedom' - but vow to hike taxes and restrict the individual's fundamental freedom to spend his or her own money. They talk of 'justice', but consistently put the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of victims. They talk of honesty, but claim that a 1p increase in income tax could somehow cure all our nation's ills and have omitted any reference to their plan to hike taxes by a further penny in Scotland, as voted for at their last conference. Perhaps their manifesto would be more accurately entitled "Restraint, Injustice and Dishonesty."

Not only is this document riddled with contradictions and hypocrisy, but it fails to address some of the key issues facing Scotland today. It brushes over the plight of rural Scotland, the foot and mouth crisis, and effectively ignores the fight against criminals. Furthermore, it makes no reference to LibDem plans to scrap the Scottish Secretary and the Barnett formula. Is it honest to plan such fundamental changes to our constitutional set up without coming clean to the electorate prior to an election?

This really is a non-manifesto from a non-party. Charles Kennedy should tell his candidates to go back to their constituencies, and prepare never to be in Government..

The LibDem record in the Scottish Executive is one of broken promises and appalling failure. They claimed that they would totally abolish tuition fees, but didn't and also introduced a new £2,000 tax on all Scottish graduates. They claimed to have introduced free personal care for the elderly, but merely kicked the issue into the long grass until after the election. They sold our fishermen's interest down the river by refusing to provide a tie up scheme as voted for by Parliament. They vowed to scrap tolls on the Skye Bridge, abolish charges for eye and dental checks and end the Private Finance Initiative - broken promises every one.

The truth is that promises mean nothing to the LibDems, who only have one principle - their own self interest. Beyond that, nothing matters to them. In the Scottish Parliament the LibDems have demonstrated that they truly are the most self-serving, two timing, hypocritical and sanctimonious bunch of charlatans masquerading as a political party that it is possible to imagine. Scots will never fall for them ever again.

Today is the turn of the Scottish Labour Party to release their manifesto. We will be looking closely at the Labour Party manifesto to seek answers as to whether Tony Blair intends to take more tax from the Scottish taxpayer if re-elected.

Since Labour came to power, it has introduced 45 new stealth taxes. 24 stealth taxes on the individual and 21 stealth taxes on businesses.

Tax and social contributions now eat up 46% of household income, whilst savings have declined under Labour. The tax burden has risen by 3.6% of GDP since Conservatives left office.

Election Broadcast - the Truth, AT LAST, from the Conservatives

It is reported that the Conservatives make no apologies for raising the issue of crime in their first election broadcast.

"Conservatives make no apology for raising the issue of crime in their first Party Election Broadcast. Crime is up under Labour. It let police numbers fall by 374 on the police officer strength that it inherited from the Scottish Conservatives in 1997.

"The total number of criminals released early in Scotland since 1997 is 1156, and has increased by 79% since 1997. Labour is soft on crime and these early release scheme figures prove it."

The broadcast was powerful, but unfortunately based entirely on fact - Home Office Minister, Paul Boateng ,is upset - as well he might be, that the failures and incompetence of this Labour are so glaringly revealed. Attempts to portray this as 'negative' electioneering are just a smokescreen to disguise what is really happening. It is revealing that neither Paul Boateng nor any other Labour or poodle LibDem spokesperson has suggested that the content of the broadcast is factually inaccurate, or exaggerated, in any way.

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