Friday, September 05, 2008

SNP's Tax Plans Will Damage Scotland

On Wednesday, Labour slammed the SNP for pressing ahead with proposals for a local income tax in its legislative programme, despite near universal opposition.

Local income tax will damage Scotland and must be dumped. Labour's acting leader Cathy Jamieson said:

"Alex Salmond says he 'didn't mind' Thatcherite economics. Now he is bringing forward his very own tartan poll tax. His plans for a local income tax are so discredited that even the SNP are ashamed to mention its name. Instead, it is transformed into the Abolition of Council Tax Bill.

"The SNP's tax plans will simultaneously make Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK and damage local services. That is why they are opposed by virtually almost everyone in Scotland, from the STUC to the CBI."

It would have been far better if this legislative programme was used to increase investment in health, provide jobs for newly qualified teachers and end automatic early release for prisoners. The First Minister should stop pretending that he knows better and dump the local income tax now.

Labour Celebrates 60 Years of NHS - while SNP dont!!

Labour Exposes £40m Hole in Hospital Budget Glasgow health bosses are facing a £40 million black hole in the budget for the new Southern General Hospital.

The budget for the new super-hospital is £842 million. Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board is contributing £270 million, and half of that is expected to be raised from selling land, although forecasts about how much money NHS Greater Glasgow could raise from land sales were "hopelessly optimistic".

Some property firms have already written down the value of their land assets by 30%. If Glasgow's health bosses did the same, the shortfall would be £40 million. Shadow Health Secretary Margaret Curran said:

"I am horrified to learn that there could be a £40 million black hole in the budget for the new Southern General Hospital. There is no way that NHS Greater Glasgow can find this kind of money from its own resources without badly damaging patient's services.

"Health bosses have already been forced to find millions of pounds of cuts by SNP ministers. The people of Glasgow need reassurance from Nicola Sturgeon that patient care will not suffer. "

Margaret Curran is calling on Nicola Sturgeon to guarantee that the Scottish government will provide enough extra money to protect services and fund the new Southern General.

SNP Legislative Programme

Yesterday, the SNP announced their legislative programme. Superficially there is a lot in the programme that could bring consensus across parties, which is not surprising when so much is actually a continuation of Labour policy.

However, as is too often the case with the SNP, it doesn't taste as good as it looks, and many of the policies today take a short term view to score a fast political point. There is a lot of facade and front, but ill thought through policy, around a number of issues such as alcohol.

The SNP are quick to take credit for all that is good in Scotland, but the minute the going gets tough, it's someone else's problem. The SNP have failed to properly explain what they are planning to do to support Scottish people during these current difficult times.

Furthermore, it's what's not in the statement that's most important, not what is.

- Where are they on Scottish Futures Trust?
- What is to happen to the school building programme?
- How are they going to pay for the new Forth crossing?

Everyone thinks the Local Income Tax is a failure.

When willl Alex Salmond stop gambling with people's local services, and have the humility to admit he has made a mistake and work together to develop an alternative property based tax for the people of Scotland.

Labour wants to protect, help and support the most vulnerable in society like children and disabled people. We want justice and fairness in the housing market and to improve skills and job opportunities for young people and help relieve the financial burden on our pensioners. Labour will act constructively in Scotland, to help bring forward bills which show that it is Labour who represents core Scottish values, and are therefore the party best able to stand up for the Scottish people.