Labour MP slams SNP over Souter links on bus pass anniversary

LABOUR'S only MP in Scotland has marked the tenth anniversary of his party bringing in the concessionary bus pass.

Saturday, 2nd April 2016, 9:10 am
Updated Saturday, 2nd April 2016, 9:57 am
Ian Murray with Daniel Johnson, MSP candidate for Edinburgh South, celebrating 10 years of free bus travel for over 60s. Picture: Greg Macvean

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray, who represents Edinburgh South, called for more regulation of the bus industry and challenged the SNP to use new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament to stand up to “vested interests”.

Ahead of the visit, Mr Murray highlighted donations of more than £2 million to the SNP from Stagecoach co-founder Brian Souter.

He said: “Labour will use the powers to introduce a single smart ticket that you can use on buses, trains, trams, the subway and ferries, making travel easier and cheaper for working people.

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“To deliver that promise, our party – funded by the union contributions of train drivers and bus drivers – will do what the SNP, funded by Brian Souter, has refused to do every day they have been in government and regulate Scotland’s buses to better serve Scotland’s passengers.

“If the SNP want to stand up for Scotland, they should stand up to Brian Souter.”

Meanwhile, the SNP accused Labour of presiding over years of council-tax hikes and planning further tax rises for the low-paid as the Nationalists were urged to support a tax on very high earners. Nicola Sturgeon claimed Labour were planning “tax hikes on the low-paid” and accused them of presiding over “exorbitant” council-tax rises while in government.

Ms Sturgeon said: “While Labour plan to hit one million low earners with tax hikes and the Tories want to tax essential services like healthcare and education with tuition fees and prescription charges, the SNP is providing the protection family incomes need during tough financial times.”

Labour has dismissed Ms Sturgeon’s concerns that a 50p tax rate could cost Scotland £30 million through tax avoidance as “smoke and mirrors”, insisting HMRC has the power to make sure Scots pay their taxes.

Mr Murray said: “Nicola Sturgeon is using smoke and mirrors to justify not backing a 50p top rate of tax.

“When schools and local services across Scotland are facing hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts, the SNP will not ask some earning over £150,000 a year to pay a penny more in tax. That’s not the mark of an anti-austerity party.”

Elsewhere, Willie Rennie gave a “guarantee” education funding will rise under a Liberal Democrat Scottish government – but ruled out ring-fencing, which means he cannot ensure councils will spend the uplift on education.

The Lib Dems want to put 1p on income tax to fund a “pupil premium” worth £1400 for primary pupils who require extra support and £900 for secondary pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Conservatives warned a full-time worker on an average wage of £27,000 a year will pay £160 extra in tax under Scottish Labour’s plans than they would if they lived south of the Border.