Press Release: Tories Make Clear That Scotland Needs Independence
Budget day is a keystone of the political calendar. The Chancellor should reveal his plans to parliament; instead, they appeared in the press in the days ahead, for which Rishi Sunak got a rollicking from the Speaker. For an hour, we listened to a blaze of positivity; Brexit is going great, or will be soon, there is no climate challenge worth talking of, indeed he didn’t mention it in his speech, and apparently Covid has been a minor bump in the road to a new age of optimism under Prime Minister Johnson.
As the spin cleared and reality emerged, it seems the Chancellor did what you would expect with this Tory government, he delivered a budget that is good for bankers but rotten for Barrhead. He failed to invest in Scottish carbon capture and storage, failed to protect families from the cost-of-living crisis, but delivered a better tax deal for banks, and lower duty on fizzy wines. This plays well in the City but does little for families facing cuts to Universal Credit and higher National Insurance; nor will the budget be welcomed by UK pensioners, who receive the lowest state pension of any developed country and were stripped of Triple-Lock protection just as inflation takes off.
Under the Tories, average household incomes are falling, not least because measures introduced under Boris Johnson will cost households £3,000 more tax a year. Scrapping the Triple-Lock will cost pensioners on average £520 next year, and £2,600 each over the next five years. The Office for Budget Responsibility, which advises the Chancellor, forecasts that the Tories’ hard Brexit will cut UK GDP by around 4%, twice as much damage as inflicted by the global pandemic. In the face of that reality, the Chancellor’s talk of a new age of optimism rings pretty hollow.
Tory ministers talk of a high-skill, high-wage economy, but clearly do not intend delivering that for Scotland. Energy is a key industry for the future, but because Westminster controls energy policy, Scotland is losing thousands of jobs. In 2014, the UK government promised to back Scotland as an emerging world-leader in carbon capture technology, which is vital for the UK achieving its carbon targets by 2050; that is now just another broken promise. Just weeks before their banker’s budget, the UK Government rejected a carbon capture project that could have created up to 20,000 jobs, many of them in Scotland, shifting the funds to less advanced projects in England. That kind of Tory decision-making shows why Scotland needs the powers of a normal country, which we can only achieve with independence.