Former MP claims ‘myths’ are holding Labour back

Sheila Gilmore has defended Labour's record. Picture: Callum Bennetts
Sheila Gilmore has defended Labour's record. Picture: Callum Bennetts
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FORMER Edinburgh East Labour MP Sheila Gilmore has urged the party to scotch a series of “myths” she says are being spread in the wake of the general election.

She said Labour’s failure to challenge the Tories’ determination to blame them for the banking crisis and recession after the 2010 election was still coming back to bite the party during this year’s campaign.

“Even now our leadership candidates feel obliged to tackle this issue, because we have failed to put it behind us.”

She continued: “We are confronted with our own myths here in Scotland and if we don’t start countering them we can’t move forward.”

Writing on website Labour Hame, Ms Gilmore – who was defeated by the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard at the election – said: “The first regular assertion is that there isn’t really a ‘Scottish Labour’ and that we are completely under the thumb of ‘London’. “But if that were the case how was it that in the first eight years of the Scottish Parliament, Labour (in coalition with the LibDems) pursued so many policies that were different from those of the Labour Government in England?”

She cited free personal care, abolition of upfront tuition fees and distinctive policies on schools and the NHS adopted by Labour in Scotland.

“The second myth is that Labour may have created the Scottish Parliament but then did not know what to do with it, and that it was only the election of an SNP government that got things going.”

Ms Gilmore produced a long list of policies from land reform and registration of landlords to the smoking ban and homeless legislation delivered during Labour’s period in power.

She added: “While we cannot dwell in the past, neither we should we let our opponents trash our record. We need to be confident in our record, while quickly developing some key proposals for 2016 which will show voters that Labour in the Scottish Parliament would make a practical difference to their lives.”

She said the third “myth” was that Labour MPs took their constituents for granted.

And she warned: “If this myth is allowed to become uncontested truth it will soon be used to tar MSPs and councillors with the same brush.”

Ms Gilmore said every party had a range of elected representatives. “Some will always be more hardworking than others. But in recent years most MPs have more contact with constituents – in person, by phone and through email – than ever before.”

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