After last week’s vote to hold a general election on Thursday 12 December – the first ‘Christmas’ election in a century – the party bandwagons are now at full speed.
Labour has promised “investment on a scale never seen before” to overhaul infrastructure in all areas of the UK. Yesterday, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says he wants to transfer power and money out of the south-east of England – and will fund his plans through borrowing.
The Tories have also vowed to borrow to fund more spending, rewriting their current financial rules. Chancellor Sajid Javid denied copying Labour’s plans, saying he would practise “sensible stewardship”.
Earlier in the week, Boris Johnson launched the Conservative Party’s election campaign, saying his Brexit deal “delivers everything I campaigned for”. Surrounded by supporters holding signs with messages including “Get Brexit Done”, he told activists he had “no choice” but to hold an election. Parliament is “paralysed” and “blocked”, he said at the launch in Birmingham. He said once Brexit was done, a Tory government could get on with “better education” and “better infrastructure”.
In an interesting development, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have formed an electoral pact, agreeing not to stand against each other in dozens of seats. The deal between the three anti-Brexit parties will cover 60 constituencies across England and Wales. But in a tersely worded statement, the (Scottish) party said that the announcement from the Green Party of England and Wales does not apply in Scotland. They stress that the Scottish Greens are a separate political party and will be standing in SNP, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat seats at this general election – and ask the media to ‘please refer to the GPEW by their full name.’
Closer to home, Scottish Labour has launched its election campaign by pledging to fund the building of 120,000 council and social houses over the next 10 years. Scottish leader Richard Leonard MSP opened his party’s campaign with a new policy designed to end homelessness “once and for all”.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has written an open letter to Scots who voted Remain urging them to back her party. The first minister said the election was “a chance to escape from Brexit”, but the Conservatives accused her of trying to “weaponise” Remain votes in her bid to secure a second independence referendum.
MSPs have debated legislation that lays the groundwork for a new Scottish independence referendum at Holyrood. The Scottish Government wants to hold a new ballot in 2020 and has tabled the Referendums Bill to pave the way. There have been calls for parts of the bill to be amended, in particular over whether the Electoral Commission would test the question for “indyref2”.However, the legislation is expected to progress with the backing of the SNP and the Greens in any case. Another in/out referendum, however, does seem to be on the cards next year.
And finally … Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is the keynote speaker at client, Homes for Scotland’s annual conference on Wednesday next week in Edinburgh. In advance of the event Homes for Scotland’s Chief Executive, Nicola Barclay was featured in The Scotsman highlighting the need to deliver more homes and the economic and social benefits of housing.
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