Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said there would be free bus travel for all Scots if his party regained power – but the party was unable to say how much the policy would cost.
Currently, only people over 60 or disabled get free bus travel and Mr Leonard said if he became First Minister he would extend free bus travel to under-25s, with a long-term goal to “build a free bus network to serve the whole of Scotland”.
But when Monica Lennon MSP was asked on the BBC how much it would cost to provide free bus travel for every Scot she said: “Today’s not the day for killing people with statistics and numbers. I don’t have the exact figure today.”
Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said Scottish Labour is “making reckless spending commitments they can’t possibly hope to keep”.
Mr Leonard’s pledge came in an impassioned speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee which also saw him address the issues of anti- Semitism and splits in his party as Jeremy Corbyn watched on.
Mr Leonard insisted the Scottish Labour party is a “broad church” but he admitted this week that it has been inundated with complaints about anti-Semitism.
Mr Leonard was also forced to write letters of apology to Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin this week after it emerged their contribution to the conference brochure was edited to remove a reference to their support for a second EU referendum, even though party policy is to back a People’s Vote.
In his speech to conference, Mr Leonard read out the names of Labour MEPs past and present, thanked them all, adding: “To David and Catherine…you are a credit to this party so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Kezia Dugdale MSP, who formally complained about the “censoring” of the MEPs, told the Post: “I consider the matter closed.”
Ms Stihler said later that Mr Leonard had apologised but she added that she felt “very sad” about the way she was treated.
Mr Leonard also spoke out against anti-Semitism in his speech.
“We will root it out,” he told delegates, although two days earlier he had admitted the party was struggling to cope with the number of complaints. Mr Leonard said: “There’s been a bit of a resource issue because of the number that have come in.”
And elections expert Professor Sir John Curtice warned there is “very little sign” that Scottish Labour can reclaim its former role as the official opposition in Scotland, let alone regain power. He said Mr Leonard is “still a relatively unknown leader”.
Sir John, said: “Jeremy Corbyn badly needs the party north of the border to be doing well. It isn’t. The truth is the party north of the border seems to be going backwards rather than forwards and that’s not something Jeremy Corbyn can afford.”
SNP MSP Shona Robison said: “They’re more interested in fighting each other than fighting for the people of Scotland.”