Scotland politics

Scottish Labour leadership: Findlay and Murphy make cases

Neil Findlay
Image caption Neil Findlay said more autonomy would be in the best interests of Scotland

Scottish Labour leadership candidates Neil Findlay and Jim Murphy have called for more autonomy over policy, and cross-party talks on the elderly.

MSP Mr Findlay said there were some issues where the party should be able to make its own decisions , even if that was different from the UK party.

MP Mr Murphy said Scotland's growing population of older people meant more now needed care and support.

MSP Sarah Boyack is also standing in the leadership contest.

Former leader Johann Lamont resigned last month, accusing Westminster colleagues of treating the party in Scotland like a "branch office".

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, Mr Findlay said: "The party has to have more autonomy over policy - we should be able to take the railways back into common ownership in Scotland, I think we should do that.

"I think there's opportunities for us, for example, to bring PFI contracts back in-house.

"These are issues that the Scottish Labour Party could make decisions over and should make decisions over and if that's different from the Labour Party at a UK level, then so be it, if that is in the best interests of Scotland."

Cross-party talks

Speaking after the show, in which he also said he opposed the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons, he added: "Defence is, and has to be, a reserved issue, but there is nothing wrong with the Scottish Labour Party making the case inside the wider Labour Party and, in due course, inside government that the UK doesn't need and can't afford nuclear weapons. That's what I'll do.

"Unlike the nationalists I don't just want to shift the UK's nuclear weapons - I want to see them dismantled and the enormous amount of money they cost put to better use."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jim Murphy said more people are needing care and support

Responding to Mr Findlay's comments, SNP MSP Bill Kidd said: "Neil Findlay might now claim he is opposed to Trident renewal, but the fact is that this is just one of many issues his party find themselves hamstrung on - with any opposition from Labour in Scotland likely to be stamped on by the party in London.

"He may want to believe that Labour in Scotland have a position against Trident renewal, but both in Holyrood and Westminster Labour have toed the Westminster line and voted for renewal time and time again.

"By contrast, a Westminster Labour government forced to rely on SNP votes would have to think again on Trident renewal."

Meanwhile, Mr Murphy has called for cross-party talks on supporting Scotland's elderly population.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: "Sometimes in public life pressures come from welcome news - perhaps the best illustration of that is that many more of us are living longer. It's a cause for celebration, but it also brings consequences.

"Over the next decades the pensioner population in Scotland is set to grow at a pace that is out of kilter with the trends in the working age population.

Image copyright Jon Davey Photography
Image caption Sarah Boyack is also standing as a candidate in the Scottish Labour leadership election

"That means more older people requiring care and support; and fewer younger people paying tax to meet the growing pressure on our public services.

"The demographic pressures are less acute south of the border as higher immigration has brought with it a younger workforce."

He added: "So many areas of public policy will be affected by this - our NHS, personal care for the elderly, local authority services, pensions, bus passes and more.

"We can't look at any one element of our public services in isolation.

"If I'm elected Scottish Labour leader I will invite Scotland's new first minister and the other party leaders to meet and work together to develop a long-term plan."

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