The policy is bizarre: Jim Murphy, who is normally a sensible Labour politician has announced that
- Scottish labour will recruit 1,000 extra nurses above whatever number were recruited by the SNP.
This bidding war equates to this: regardless of existing staffing levels, regardless of existing clinical priorities, regardless of other devolved departmental priorities, Labour will spend the money just to get one over on the SNP.
And bear in mind that Health is devolved in Scotland so Holyrood not Westminster decide staffing levels etc.
But how this does affect us in England is the Labour Party as a whole's approach to England, to taxation, and the distribution of wealth that this country earns?
1. Because Scottish Labour is in such a fight with the SNP Jim Murphy can say anything to win votes in Scotland, even if that means upsetting normal voters of any political persuasion in England. The madness of his policy was exposed today when English Labour MPs queued up to attack him - see for example Dianne Abbott MP calling it an expropriation, and describing her own colleague as "unscrupulous". It is a fair point to say that the famous Mansion Tax is being spent many times over by Labour.
2. It also says a lot on Labour spending as the nurses proposed are a figure even if not needed - so if the SNP proposed 1 million nurses, Jim Murphy says Labour will have 1 million and a thousand. Sadly this is a fair consideration when spending and restraint in these troubled times are being considered.
3. Even with the Barnett Formula and devolved funding, the Scottish Labour Party now want even greater tax on England to pay for Scotland. It is little surprise that they are opposed to English Votes for English Issues - because they would use Scottish MPs to force through a pro Scotland law on healthcare, even though healthcare is devolved. Bizarre.
4. This can only add fuel to the argument that I and others in the House of Commons have been making, that we will only get a fairer settlement for the North East if we stop Scottish MPs - whether they be SNP, Labour or any other parties voting on devolved matters to England's disadvantage
Ed Miliband is not happy with Jim Murphy today. But then he’s never been happy with Jim Murphy. The irony, of course, is that Miliband will have to be saved in Scotland by a man he demoted and sidelined. But that’s politics for you.
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