A sea of nationalist supporters, including SNP MSPs, some of them Scottish Government Ministers, could hardly contain themselves as they took to their phones and keyboards to spread the shocking news:‘Scottish Labour have voted with the Tories and opposed an extension to the furlough scheme.’
But, as is so often the case with the SNP, the actual facts of the matter were simply details to be ignored or lazily hidden when the opportunity for spin, grievance and self- aggrandising present themselves.
To those who read the Scottish Labour motion, put forward by South Scotland Labour MSP, it does what it says – it stands up and urges action for the approximately 20,000 aviation workers in Scotland, it recognises the profound impact that Covid-19 has had on the sector, it notes the importance of the Job retention Scheme to aviation businesses and it calls on the Scottish and UK Governments to provide further support which will include ‘protections for jobs and working conditions’ amongst other guarantees.
A straightforward, straight talking motion, crafted with the support of the trade unions, with only the protection of the workers and the sector as its aim.
This is what the SNP Scottish Government decided they could not support, instead they opted to table what can only be described as a ‘wrecking amendment’ to the motion, an amendment tabled by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP.
Again, for anyone who read the amendment, it is clear that the substance, if you want to call it that, is ludicrous. The original motion has been almost entirely deleted, the text replaced by toothless and meaningless sound bites leading up to a list of hubristic ‘pats on the back’ for the Scottish Government.
No call for action, no plan and no support for the aviation workers, just a waste of time that served purely as the flimsiest premise for the SNP to accuse Scottish Labour of somehow ‘voting against extending the furlough scheme’ which simply was not the case.
After the SNP amendment fell, their MSPs voted against the Scottish Labour motion – a motion, it cannot be stated enough, backed by the trade unions – betraying the thousands of workers they had only recently finally decided to take notice of. Shame on them. The SNP slogan boldly proclaims they are ‘Stronger for Scotland’ – perhaps they should change this to ‘Weaker for Workers’
No amount of false social media claims or the usual SNP tactics of ‘smoke and mirrors’ will disguise the fact that it is the SNP who betrayed our workers on Wednesday night, not Scottish Labour and the unions.
Scottish Labour and Co-operative Party and UNISON member.