I’m not one to avoid learning from my opponents. But in Labour’s case, their policies can be so hard to track. After Labour had tub-thumped how vital modern apprenticeships were in tackling youth unemployment, they voted against a budget that provided 25,000 of them. And, if this policy was so important, why did it merit no mention in either the MSP Annual Report or in personal letters he wrote to local voters last month?
Maybe it’s because party researchers have finally done some homework. Late last year, my opponent was banging on about how youth unemployment had grown, even here in East Lothian. Given the recession and business contraction, is that surprising? But, among 18-24-year-olds, unemployment is running at 27.6% in Scotland and 31.0% in East Lothian, neither of which encourages the 1 in 3 of our young people who have no job.
But…let’s wind back to before this recession, back to before there was either an SNP government in Edinburgh or an SNP administration in Haddington. In March 2007, after the ‘people’s party’ had been running everything for eight years, the numbers were 28.9% for Scotland and 33.8% in East Lothian. That’s worse than now. So the SNP is delivering more and better in troubled times than Labour ever managed during their years of fat?
No wonder Jack McConnell has a go at the Scottish Parliament or Jim Murphy derides small countries across Europe; it’s all part of a strategy: Forget the facts: if you just point and heckle loud enough, people might forget it was you that made this mess we’re all in in the first place.