North Ayrshire & Arran MP Katy Clark was the only Scottish Labour MP to rebel when the party backed the Conservatives in a Westminster vote that will see an additional £30bn of cuts in a new wave of austerity measures.
The Scottish National Party, the Green Party and Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru all voted against further cuts but Labour MPs backed the Tories, including 28 from Scotland. Central Ayrshire MP Brian Donohoe was one of the Labour MPs to vote for more austerity.
Katy Clark, who was recently unsuccessful in a bid to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, has been a consistent critic of UK Government-imposed austerity. Last week Ms Clark highlighted figures from the GMB trade union showing average earnings in North Ayrshire and Arran have decreased by around 15% over the past five years. The left-wing MP said, “These figures confirm what most people already knew, that the Government’s claims that the economy is recovering simply do not hold true.
“Last year, workers were significantly worse-off than when the Conservative-led Coalition Government came to power. The combination of cuts to services, wage freezes or reductions and a lack of meaningful investment have caused wages to fall in real terms. Many households across the country are now struggling to make their money stretch to meet household bills and basic necessities, such as feeding their families and heating their homes.”
Ms Clark denounced Conservative claims that increased employment figures are a sign of recovery, pointing-out many newly-created jobs come with poverty pay-rates and exploitative zero-hour contracts. The local MP said, “This has been an economic recovery for the few, not the many and exposes the complete failure of this Government to help workers. The drop in income reveals the cost of living crisis that the Government’s austerity politics is now causing, and makes all the more pressing the case for a real alternative of public sector investment, wage increases and secure employment.”
With a UK General Election just four months away, the SNP in North Ayrshire & Arran is targeting the seat currently held by Katy Clark for Labour. Bookies currently have the two parties neck-and-neck in the race, which represents a significant swing to the SNP since the last Westminster election in 2010, when Ms Clark and Labour secured a majority of almost 10,000.
This week a local SNP activist told the3towns.today, “Katy Clark is increasingly out of step with the Tory-supporting Labour Party she represents.
“The policies she supports were rejected by Labour when she recently stood for the deputy leadership, and while she was attacking the Tory-led UK Government for imposing more cuts and austerity, her Labour colleagues at Westminster were voting with the Tories and were backing more cuts and austerity.”
The SNP member noted, “It’s important local people realise that if they vote for Katy Clark at the UK Election in May, and if Labour was actually to win that election across the UK, the policies we would get would not be those supported by Katy Clark, they would be the policies supported by the increasingly right-wing Labour Party – policies that saw them back the Tories and more austerity.”