LABOUR BACKS TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICHEST AND AN INCREASE FOR THE POOREST
"You voted for it”, the four words Chancellor George Osborne uttered to turn Labour MP, Helen Goodman’s appearance at the Treasury Committee in to a very, very awkward moment (watch here).
Ms Goodman was in the midst of grilling the Chancellor on the fact that, as a result of measures taken by him, people in the lowest half of the income scale had only benefited by an average of £20 a year, with millions losing out, whilst the top half had seen a £170 benefit.
Whilst Ms Goodman was quite correct in her assertion, she obviously has a goldfish-like memory; given that she had voted for the changes she was complaining about a mere 48 hours previously. Mr Osborne could barely keep the look of glee off his face as he reminded Ms Goodman of the fact she had only recently backed his tax policies.
Quite what Ms Goodman hoped to achieve with this line of attack is beyond me – so obvious was the outcome. However, it does place an interesting dividing line between the Labour Party at Westminster and the “Branch Office” in Scotland.
In the past few weeks Labour in Scotland called for an across-the-board penny increase on income tax from 01 April 2016. Such a measure was ruled out by Labour shortly before they u-turned, announcing it straight out of the blue. A tax rise had already been rejected by the Scottish Trade Unions Congress who argued that tax increases would place added pressure on workers who had seen their wages stagnate and, in many cases, their hours reduced during the recession.
Of course, Labour tried to sugar the pill by speaking vaguely about a rebate for low earners, but quite how they would achieve this was never explained and the idea was unceremoniously ditched only a few days ago. Entering an election with such back-of-a-fag-packet policies hardly instills confidence in a party that has appeared completely devoid of ideas for almost a decade now.
By contrast, the SNP has set out detailed and workable plans to show how we will use Scotland’s new tax powers to offset the impact of austerity and ensure our public services operate effectively. We have done so more than a year in advance of their implementation in April next year, when these powers are devolved so that people can vote with no surprises in store.
In rejecting George Osborne’s tax giveaway to some of the highest earners in the country, SNP plans will see an additional £1 billion injected into our public services over the course of the next parliament. Further to this, the SNP will increase the threshold at which people start paying tax to £12,750 higher than the UK level to reduce the tax burden for people on low incomes.
Our tax proposals are well-planned, fair and costed and I urge people to put their faith in the SNP at May’s Scottish Parliament election and give us a mandate to build on our many achievements to date.