Union leader quits Labour Party

LABOUR SUFFERED a blow in the Scottish Parliament election campaign yesterday following the resignation of a top union official fed up with "defending the indefensible" on public spending. Confirmation by economists that England is faring better in the UK cash share-out, added to the discomfort.

Mark Irvine, head of Scottish local government for Unison, said Labour had "lost its moral centre" while trade unions had become little more than a handy milch cow. His protest was a welcome relief to the SNP, the party under most pressure.

Labour and Unison tried to play down the resignation. MP Douglas Alexander, a key campaign strategist, said Mr Irvine's decision was a matter for him and had no bearing on the union or the party.

Labour is under attack in Scotland for its reliance on Tory-inspired private finance initiatives to build schools and hospitals. Next week trade union leaders will call for an end to private funding, which they argue stores up high pay-back costs for the future. Mr Irvine says union concerns were ignored. Mr Alexander said: "If people choose to make one of the issues of this election Labour's commitment to deliver 100 new school developments and eight new hospital developments, then that is territory on which we are happy to fight."

Labour's attempts to show how Scotland benefits from higher per capita spending than England were undermined by a report suggesting the gap is narrowing. Spending rises in Scotland are being squeezed much tighter north of the border, says Professor Brian Ashcroft, head of Strathclyde University's respected Fraser of Allander Institute. He says the pounds 4bn Labour earmarked for Scottish education, health and other services translates into an average real budget increase of 1.8 per cent a year up to 2001- 02. Comparable real term growth in spending in the rest of the UK would be 4.4 per cent a year.

Scotland is feeling the "Barnett squeeze", the effect of changes in the so-called Barnett formula determining Scotland's share of UK public spending. But there is still a big gap in Scotland's favour.

Andrew Wilson, of SNP, said the report was a devastating blow to Labour's campaign. During Labour's first three years, spending in Scotland was pounds 1bn less than in the last three years of the Tories, he said. "These figures show there is no public spending argument in favour of the union."

Wendy Alexander, tipped as finance minister in the first home-rule government, said: "Scotland benefits from 20 per cent higher spending on health, 26 per cent on higher education and 39 per cent on trade and industry. That is part of the argument Labour is advancing that we are stronger together, weaker apart."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence