The Labour Party in Scotland has pledged to employ a thousand more nurses than the current nationalist government, which will be paid for by the English. The party plans to use the proceeds of the proposed Mansion Tax – which applies to the whole UK but will almost all be paid by English home-owners – to fund the cash injection to the NHS.
The extra nurses were promised by the new Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, who is trying to turn around a collapse in the party’s fortunes. Although Labour was instrumental in beating the Scottish National Party in the Scottish independence referendum, they still lost a huge number of voters to the party. The SNP’s membership has also surged, making it the third largest political party in Britain.
Murphy claimed the SNP could not match the 1000 nurses because they would be unable to implement a Mansion Tax as “there are no mansions in Scotland”. Murphy said: “We will get the money for 1,000 extra nurses not by increasing taxes and the pressure on the working class, but by introducing a new tax – a mansion tax on houses worth over £2 million most of which is in London and the South East.
“It’s a real win-win for Scotland. If Labour wins the election this May and win again in 2016 we will start recruiting those nurses on day one.”
But the pledge caused uproar south of the border, not least because Murphy did not appear to have asked Ed Miliband for permission to make the pledge. Labour Party managers in London privately expressed concerns the pledge would re-enforce the view that the party was anti-English, or at the very least opposed to people who live in the South East of England.
Bob Neill MP, Conservative Party Vice Chairman, told the Daily Telegraph: “It sounds as if Labour are quite happy to subsidise services north of the Border and it shows just how unfair the current arrangements are to most people in the UK.”
The Conservatives want to look at the Scottish funding system, known as the Barnett Formula. Under the system the Scottish get far more per capita than the English, but because they contribute less in tax it is the English that pay the bill.
Even Lord Barnett, who came up with the system originally, has called for it’s abolition. He has publicly stated that he fears his political legacy will be the hated system. Mr Neill described it as “out of date” and “discredited”.
The nursing pledge was also widely ridiculed on Twitter as it appeared to have to been made without any regard for medical need.