Labour’s Record on Private Sector Involvement in Public Services: Rhetoric vs. Reality
Across Scotland, councils and taxpayers are still forced to pay the cost of a Labour government – even 16 years after they got kicked out of office.
From toxic PFI deals to supporting a damaging Brexit, Scottish Labour’s desperation to parrot Tory policies is costing us dear.
Here’s what you need to know.
Scottish Labour’s PFI disaster resulted in a £30 billion bill for Scottish taxpayers
The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – where public sector bodies pay private corporations to build and manage new facilities, such as schools or hospitals – was first introduced by the UK Tory government in 1990.
Fully embraced by Labour on the UK and on the Scottish level, the wasteful PFI deals have footed a £30 billion repayments bill on Scottish taxpayers – forcing us all to pay many times more the original cost of the projects. All of this is money that could be diverted to our public services or to tackling the Tory cost of living crisis.
The SNP is doing all it can to reverse the damage – for example, we’ve scrapping hospital car parking charges which were in place because of PFI deals – but Labour’s long legacy of financial mismanagement means that councils and taxpayers have to keep footing the PFI bills for years to come.
PFI repayments are increasing by an extra £1 million every week
Scotland continues paying extortionate amounts for Labour incompetence, as the cost to the public purse ballooned by an extra £1 million every week in just the last year alone.
£1 million a week is the equivalent of the salaries of around 1,400 nurses.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney, in a Holyrood finance and economy committee session, confirmed that the amount still owed under PFI for hospitals and schools is still £15.4 billion – meaning that not even the half of Labour’s eye-watering total PFI bill has been repaid.
Worse still, the Scottish Labour politicians who cooked up these calamitous PFI contracts have agreed to index the repayments to inflation – meaning that as the UK’s inflation rate skyrockets, so do the bloated profits of private companies benefitting from PFI.
Labour is now a fully signed-up Brexit party
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in 2016, and yet is feeling the full force of the Tories’ hard Brexit deal – which Labour now fully supports.
Keir Starmer, in his frequent attempts to out-Tory the Tories, has ruled out a future UK Labour government even considering to re-join the single market or the customs union.
And Anas Sarwar, while admitting that Brexit is a “disaster”, is so in hock to his Westminster bosses that he ruled out ever backing a referendum to re-join the EU.
Watch the clip below to see what people in Edinburgh South – Labour’s only Scottish seat at Westminster – really think.
The SNP is fully committed to a publicly-run, publicly-delivered NHS – always free at the point of use. We have also introduced free prescriptions (now £9.35 south of the border), free dental care for young people, and protected free eye tests.
When they were in government in Scotland, Labour outsourced an NHS hospital (since returned to the NHS by the SNP), failed to reverse Tory outsourcing of cleaners (now brought in-house in NHS hospitals by the SNP). In England, Labour opened the floodgates to health service privatisation, and the current Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said he wants to see more use of private healthcare.
The SNP made full use of devolved powers to bring ScotRail into public ownership, and from June this year, we’re nationalising the Caledonian Sleeper night train service. Thanks to public ownership, we’re able to reinvest profits into infrastructure and review fares to make them work better for the people – for example, through our upcoming pilot scheme to scrap peak rail fares.
Labour in Scotland, throughout their time in government, rejected the calls to devolve the powers to create a public sector bid for our railways. In the UK, Keir Starmer’s Labour initially promised public ownership of rail – but as with many other promises, they now appear to row back on it.
We firmly believe that education is a fundamental right, not a commodity – which is why we’ve introduced free university tuition in Scotland, and we’re now seeing record numbers (including from the most deprived areas of Scotland) go to university.
Tony Blair’s UK Labour government introduced tuition fees in the first place, and despite being in government in Wales since devolution began, the Welsh Labour government continues to impose extortionate fees of £9,000 a year on students in Wales.
We have rejected Labour/Tory privatisation of Scotland’s prisons.
On leaving office in Scotland in 2007, Labour had built one private prison, had put plans in place for another and had proposed a third.
While Labour throws Scotland under the Brexit bus, people in Scotland are paying the price.
As families are already struggling with rising energy bills, rising food prices and squeezed wages, Brexit only worsens the current cost of living crisis.
Recent research confirmed that Brexit alone has piled on over £200 to the average household food bill.
The OBR, the UK government’s own financial body, has estimated that an average UK household pays £3,600 for the economic damage of Brexit over 15 years. And for all the economic damage caused by Covid, the OBR said that the damage of Brexit is twice as bad.
So, while the facts on the price of Brexit are clear, Labour is completely out of touch with the reality that Scotland’s people face.
The SNP, not Labour, is the party that delivers progress
Rather than just talking about it, the SNP is delivering progress through ambitious actions in government – and we place no limit on our ambitions for Scotland.
Here are just some things we’ve delivered, with limited powers under devolution:
- Free prescriptions
- Free personal care for all
- Free tuition
- The Baby Box
- Free bus travel for under-22s
- Expanded free childcare
- Free NHS dental care for under-26s
- The new Scottish social security system, now delivering 13 benefits
- The “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment, increased by 150% last year
Despite being in government in Wales since the start of devolution, Labour has not taken all the steps it could to mitigate the worst impacts of Tory policies, such as the bedroom tax – which is fully mitigated in Scotland under the SNP.
And while we’ve abolished tuition fees in Scotland (originally introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour), students in Wales are still being forced to pay £9,000 a year under a Welsh Labour government.
Instead of offering a real alternative, Labour are increasingly just a pale imitation of the Tories. Scotland deserves a better future than this.