Labour leadership contest off the rails - candidates should come clean on proposals says Keith Brown
Candidate for Depute Leader of the SNP Keith Brown has called on the candidates in Labour's leadership election to come clean on their position on the devolution of railway powers. Labour called for Brown's recent announcement of the Scotrail contract to be deferred in anticipation of new powers on railways coming to Scotland through the Smith Commission that would allow a public sector bid but the party's submission to the Commission omitted.
Mr Brown said:
"I'd like to see the public sector able to bid for the contract to run Scotland's railways and I've pressed successive UK Government Ministers for the change that would allow me or any future Transport Minister to consider a public sector bid. That's currently not allowed and Labour did nothing to change it in the 13 years it was in Government. When I awarded the Scotrail contract earlier this month Labour called for it to be deferred to allow the power to consider a public sector bid to come to us through the Smith Commission.
"When Labour made its submission to the Commission, though, there was no mention of such a power, far less a call to have it included, and none of the declared candidates to lead Labour in Scotland have made any mention of it. Sarah Boyack used to be a Transport Minister but seems to have forgotten about Scotland's railways - she didn't even mention rail in her speech in the Smith Commission debate earlier this week. Neil Findlay, supposedly the left-wing candidate, hasn't made any mention of rail, either, and Jim Murphy doesn't seem to have had anything to say on Scotland's railways at all.
"They should come clean on their position and make it clear whether they intend to amend Labour's proposal to the Smith Commission to call for those powers to come home to Scotland. Does Sarah Boyack remember her time at Transport and does she think we should have the right to decide how our railways are run? Is Neil Findlay prepared to stand up to London Labour to give Scotland's public sector the right to bid? Is Jim Murphy happy with the submission that Labour made to Smith?
"Labour members in Scotland might be happy to have their party run from London as just a branch of the UK party but that's no use to Scotland and no use for Scotland's railway system. The hypocrisy of Labour on Scotland's powers is something we've become used to but it's never going to be something that I accept. I'll continue to call for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government to have the right to decide how Scotland's railways are run - will any of Labour's Scottish leader candidates step up to the plate?"