By Andy Mackie
The Scottish Green party are the first political party in Scotland to propose using the Scottish parliament’s tax raising powers.
A motion was passed at the party’s annual conference, held in Edinburgh at the weekend, to oppose cuts to services and to look at taxation as a tool to achieve this. Explaining this stance in the run up to next years Holyrood elections Patrick Harvie MSP said: “We don’t want the electorate to be faced with five political parties proposing five different flavours of cuts. In doing this we have to acknowledge that, unfortunately, other ways of raising revenue have to be explored.”
Harvie acknowledges that the tax varying powers available are limited saying: “You can only change the basic rate, I would love it if we could raise the higher rate making it a more progressive system.” Harvie went on to explain that the party would also be looking into ways of implementing local taxation, saying: “We will be looking at a broader range of local taxes that can be more progressive and ensure that those with the broadest shoulders do pay more.”
The other parties in Scotland, however, do not share the Greens enthusiasm for tax increases. Liberal Democrat Finance spokesperson Jeremy Purvis MSP said: “The Green Party has no credibility at all. They have called for more and more expenditure but have not done as we did and identified the waste and bureaucracy that needs to be tackled. This should be the priority; not putting up taxes for low or medium earners to a grotesque amount as the Green Party are advocating.”
The SNP pointed out that any tax increase would impact on all families their spokesperson said: “The SNP has no plans to implement the 3p tartan tax at present. We believe that it would have a negative effect on household budgets.”
The Scottish Labour party stopped short of ruling out the policy, a spokesperson said: “Labour will look carefully at all the evidence but there are practical difficulties with the Green’s proposals which would be hard to overcome.”
The Scottish Conservatives were unavailable for comment.