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18 April 2017updated 04 Aug 2021 2:12pm

There’s already a progressive alliance in the UK – it’s called the Labour party

A so-called "progressive alliance" is simply a gift to the Tories and the SNP. It was central to the Tories' 2015 election campaign. 

By Kezia dugdale

I read the recent blog from Compass director Neal Lawson with my head in my hands. Once again Mr Lawson is banging the drum for a so-called “progressive alliance”.

There already is a progressive alliance in the UK. It’s called the Labour party. Mr Lawson’s desperate attempt to appease nationalism will hinder, not help, the fight for a fairer UK.

The SNP wants to break up the UK; it has no interest in making it work better.

In fact, the SNP is much happier when the Tories are in power. That’s because the case for nationalism withers when the values of co-operation and solidarity across the UK produce real results for working people. It’s no coincidence that the question of a referendum only seriously arises under a Tory government.

A radical Labour government which would redistribute power and wealth across the UK would undermine the case for independence. Nationalists in Scotland only care about ensuring there is a continued grievance about Westminster – those of us in the Labour party are instead driven by improving the lives of working people across the UK.

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Brexit will be bad for Britain. I campaigned against it, and believe that the best future for Scotland and the whole of the UK is to work with our allies across Europe. But we cannot allow Brexit to act as an excuse for glossing over the failings of the nationalists in government.

Here’s the SNP’s record over the years:

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When Labour introduced the National Health Service, the SNP was campaigning for independence.

When Labour lifted millions out of poverty with the minimum wage, tax credits and Child Benefit, the SNP was campaigning for independence.

And as Labour looks to protect the interests of working people today, the SNP is campaigning for independence.

Just two years have passed since the Tories and the SNP worked hand in hand to talk up the prospect of some form of coalition between Labour and the SNP.

The result? A thumping general election win for the Tories across the UK, and the election of more than 50 SNP MPs who travel to London every week not to fight for their constituents but to campaign for independence. 

A so-called “progressive alliance” is simply a gift to the Tory party. It was central to the Tories’ 2015 election campaign. It is staggering that people who claim to want a genuinely progressive government can’t see that.

Mr Lawson claims there is thin evidence that the SNP aren’t progressive. He clearly hasn’t studied the nationalists’ record in government in Holyrood. 

This is a government that has cut £1.5bn from local councils since 2011, slashing jobs in the process and cutting, to the bone, the services our most vulnerable people rely on.

This is a government that has cut more than 4,000 teachers and more than 1,000 school support staff. Progressives don’t do that.

This is a government that has refused to introduce a 50p top rate of tax on the richest few earning more than £150,000, while the poorest suffer.

As for the other parties Mr Lawson mentions, it was less than two years ago that the Liberal Democrats were in coalition with the Tories, breaking promises on tuition fees and introducing the Bedroom Tax. A week may be a long time in politics, but folk have memories that go back a little further.

The Greens meanwhile, have proven themselves to be nothing but feeble SNP backbenchers. They happily pass on multi-million pound cuts to the poorest, break manifesto promises, and put the environment to one side to do Nicola Sturgeon’s bidding.

The people of the UK desperately need another Labour government. Mr Lawson’s energies would be better focused on improving the lives of the working people of this country, rather than launching a campaign to persuade Labour voters to vote for parties that aren’t interested in a progressive alliance across Britain and want to break up the country entirely.