26th September 2016
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Time for a change (Gordon Thomson)

In a week when local councils are being asked to accept a £350 million cut in their support grant from the Scottish government, the question has to be asked, why?

The SNP argued that they wanted more powers for Holyrood – but now that they have them they are not using them. They claim to be anti-austerity – but instead are forcing council cuts onto their electorate while at the same time blocking councils from increasing council tax.

Scottish Labour announced a more sensible approach this week – a one per cent increase in income tax, with a £100 rebate for those on low incomes. This is a progressive tax because of the tax threshold for lower earners and the increasing amounts to be paid by higher earners.

We can argue all day about Westminster cutting the money that has gone to the Scottish government; but in the meantime this is a solution which saves council cuts and saves council jobs.

Scottish Labour is showing Scotland the way and I hope that readers remember that in the May elections. Vote Scottish Labour, vote for Robina Barton.

Gordon Thomson
Scottish Labour agent for Robina Barton
Hamar,
Baltasound,
Unst.

6 comments

  1. Duncan Simpson

    My view of the situation is the SNP are a populist party so instead of introducing a small tax increase, which they fear would erode their support, they would rather make huge cuts to local councils and blame it on Westminster.

    They are in effect forcing Councils to do their dirty work for them. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Shetland where they have consistently forced us to dip in to our oil reserves to cover shortfalls in funding.

    I agree with Gordon that it is time for a change. I however have lost faith in the ability or desire of Brussels, London or Edinburgh to properly look after Shetland’s unique interests.

    That is one of the main reasons I joined Wir Shetland. We have to stand up for ourselves before it is too late.

    Reply
  2. Andrew Holt

    It’s easy to blame the Tories for the cuts but remember when the coalition first took office after Gordon Brown’s disastrous tenancy of nos 11 and 10 and the note left for the incoming government saying in effect, nothing left in the kitty? Remember the bankers gambling our money away on insanely complex bets? Remember how they were all too big to fail and therefore we compensated the robbers for robbing us? Just in case that’s not enough for you, bear in mind the massive current levels of public indebtedness. It should be perfectly obvious to all but the fiscally illiterate that we have to take the pain of cuts to regain a stable platform for future development. Personally, I feel we are in the situation where we need a government of national unity to pull us out of this spiral of decline.

    Reply
  3. Derick Tulloch

    No new powers whatsoever have been devolved to Holyrood.

    The Departmental Expenditure Limits allocated to Holyrood and which in turn fund local government have been reduced by 9.6% in real terms since 2010/11

    Currently the UK Treasury is demanding that Scotland accept a further real terms £3bn cut as the price of accepting the watered down powers in the Scotland Bill.

    Setting aside the minor detail that there is no practical mechanism to pay a £100 rebate to low earners, a 1p tax increase which would result in four fifths of the working population paying more tax, is far from progressive.

    It’s the Better Together Tax.

    Reply
  4. Gordon Harmer

    From one of today’s papers, nail hit smack on its head.

    Lord McCluskey asks the most relevant question of all: If Scotland needs UK help to pay for devo max, how could it possibly afford separation?

    ‘It took months before SNP ministers admitted to themselves the stark truth: the Scottish economic and tax base was so poor, in relation to that of the UK, and the prospective population growths so different, that the future yield of the devolved taxes was likely to leave Scotland significantly worse off than it currently was as recipient of the annual block grant from the UK Treasury. It became undeniable that taxpayers elsewhere were subsidising Scottish public spending.

    This embarrassing fact would have been even clearer but for the operation of the Barnett formula. This formula, used first in the 1970s economic crisis and intended to last only for a few years, gives Scotland more tax receipts to spend per capita in Scotland than any other part of Great Britain: taxpayers in England and Wales are subsidising the Scots; the Barnett formula is the principal channel for that subsidy….

    Reply
  5. Gordon Harmer

    So the nationalists are against the penny rise in income tax and they also say oil revenue was always a bonus, well this disproves both assertions. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1369860/SNP-drops-Penny-for-Scotland-tax.html
    THE link between earnings and pensions would be restored and fuel duty cut under Scottish National Party proposals unveiled.
    John Swinney, the SNP leader, laid out seven key policy areas that will form the backbone of the general election campaign, ones which he said addressed the main concerns of the voters. A mix of populist issues such as fuel tax and key areas such as health and education have been drawn up in an attempt to make the SNP more appealing to voters and to convince them that the party could govern an independent Scotland.
    However, there was no mention of tax or repetition of the controversial Penny for Scotland campaign – a rise of one penny on income tax to fund public service – which was blamed for losing the party votes at the Scottish Parliament elections the last time.
    It further fuelled speculation that the campaign had been shelved. The nationalists said that their principle of improving public service ahead of tax cuts still remained, but indicated that in an independent Scotland the costs could be offset by oil revenue without the need for tax rises.
    In his first major speech since succeeding Alex Salmond as party leader, Mr Swinney said independence remained the “holy grail” for nationalists, but could only be achieved by proving to voters the strength of its policies, something it has struggled to do in the past.

    Reply
  6. Derick Tulloch

    Heh! Amused to see such sudden approval of the views of a superannuated Labour ‘Lord’.

    The fact of the matter is that Scotland has subsidized the UK in every year we have records for, going back to 1900. For example in the year 1920 £113,255,000 was raised in taxation in Scotland. Of that £28,990,500 (27%) was spent in Scotland. The other 73% of Scotland’s taxes in that year was lost as a subsidy to the UK – £3.84 billion in today’s money. The Treasury stopped publishing the figures in 1921.

    Since 1980 Scotland has subsidised the rest of the UK by at least £150 billion. One hundred times the cost of the new Forth Bridge. The sole and only reason that Scotland is suffering austerity is that we are part of the UK.

    http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/10/08/smith-and-the-subsidy-myth-makers/

    Reply

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.