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.”
Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, sparked some controversy between her party and the SNP with her speech on the last day of the Conservative Party Conference. She launched a scathing attack on the SNPs independent defence policy.
Commenting on Alex Salmonds submission to the strategic defence review, Golbie said: “One fact underpins that document. Scotland would not have a one single defence job if we were independent. We only have these defence jobs because we are part of the United Kingdom.”
She went on to state that unlike the SNP, Scottish Conservatives would always act in the national interest, rather than the nationalist interest.
“Devolution was supposed to create a Scottish Parliament for Scottish Solution”, she continues, “but instead of being an engine for reform, Labour and the SNP have used it to put brakes on reform.”
“While other parties are stuck in the past, we will drive Scotland forward”, she concludes her speech.
Respondent on the behalf of the SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP laid the blame for the cuts on the Conservatives: “The only threat to conventional defence jobs in Scotland comes from the Tories”, said Robertson. He adds: “It is the Coalition Government in London which is planning to shed jobs, close bases and cancel procurement contracts.”
On Goldie’s allegations that the SNP would only act in nationalist interest, he commented: “The focus of everyone’s efforts should be to preserve the defence forces and equipment we need and the jobs that families and communities rely on. The SNP will always put people’s jobs before party politics and it is disappointing Scotland’s Tory leader cannot do the same.”
Gordon Brown, has proposed several solutions to reducing the rising budget deficit by raising £16bn from the sale of assets.
Brown’s intention is the auction and sale of a “portfolio of non-financial assets” held by Whitehall and local authorities over two years.
During his speech on the economy, the prime minister outlined sales which may raise £3bn, including the Tote, Dartford crossing and the student loan book. And his opposition MP’s have been quick to criticise his plans as they suggest that he will have to do much more if he hopes to be successful in his attempt to cut public spending and turn things around during this economic slump.
According to Downing Street, the sale marks the beginning of a radical assessment of what other non-core government business activities can best be done by, or in partnership with, the private sector.
Aides added that although these actions are important, a crucial force for the reduction in debt will be the restoration of strong, sustainable growth within the economy.
In April, Chancellor Alistair Darling forecast that public borrowing would reach a record £175bn over the next two years.
The funds raised will help finance new capital investment and pay down debt, Mr Brown said.
The government’s 33% stake in Urenco, a European consortium which supplies equipment to enrich uranium for the nuclear industry, will be offered but the PM will insist there will be no threat to national security.
The government will also look to sell surplus real estate which is part of the £220bn owned by its departments and agencies, as another way to generate income in their attempt to re-coop capital.
From the Conservative’s viewpoint the sale is “probably necessary” but “no substitute for a long-term plan”.
Leader David Cameron said: “Obviously we do need to do this, but we must make sure – as every family knows – if you sell something it can help you in the short-term, but it doesn’t actually help you live within your means in the long-term.
“So, we’ve still got to get to grips with public spending, get to grips with the deficit – and we must make sure we get good value for money”.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable felt that there was a fundamental flaw within the policy and that the government would struggle to raise the required funds as they would be dealing in depressed markets which wouldn’t be entirely prosperous.
He said: “What worries me about the government proposal is that they’re proposing to sell off in very depressed markets, under very depressed markets for land and for shares.”
With the economy struggling, it appears that the government, lead by a defiant Gordon Brown, will leave no stone unturned in their attempts to raise the necessary, and crucial funds to get this country back to the way it was.
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