Alexander accuses rivals of stoking English nationalism

Wendy Alexander announced her leadership of the Scottish Labour party today with an attack on the SNP and Conservative parties.

Ms Alexander accused her opponents of stirring up English nationalism for political gain.

Addressing the Labour party conference in Bournemouth, the Scottish Labour leader said the SNP and Tories were attempting to provoke divisions and exploit the West Lothian question.

Ms Alexander accused the Conservatives of playing up to English nationalism, seen in their repeated references to Gordon Brown’s Scottishness.

She said the Tories also attempted to create resentment over Westminster subsidies for Scotland, while Alex Salmond in turn tells Scots the North Sea oil revenues are used to subsidise England.

Ms Alexander said: “Alex Salmond plans to break up our country with the help of the Tories – and together we need to stop them both.”

She added “The politics of both the Tories and the nationalists are the politics of division; the politics of envy; the politics of ‘I’m alright, who cares about you’.”

Labour, she argued, were about sharing resources and caring for communities. She told delegates a Labour leadership in either Westminster or Holyrood understood that leadership is about shouldering responsibility, not passing the buck.

Ms Alexander, who was elected leader of Scottish Labour in August after Jack McConnell resigned, admitted it had hurt to lose power to the SNP in May’s elections.

She apologised to Labour supporters and vowed to rebuild the party in time for the next election.

“The people of Scotland had not lost faith in Labour values but they wondered whether we had lost sight of how to put them into practice.”

She said the SNP had not won through the strength of their ideas but by exploiting disillusionment with the Labour executive.

Ms Alexander lashed out at the SNP executive, saying it had already been hit by scandal. It emerged this week two ministers in the Scottish government own shares in companies where there is a “clear conflict of interest.”

The SNP today rejected Ms Alexander’s analysis, claiming they had won the election because of the strength of their positive campaign.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “And Wendy Alexander was at the very centre of [Labour’s] unremittingly negative campaign.

“Wendy did the bidding of Labour’s London bosses and helped deliver the disastrous campaign in Scotland that they wanted – not the one Mr McConnell wanted.”