Starmer has unashamedly stolen Tory clothes - Adam Nols-McVey​

The Scottish Government faces very difficult budget decisions after 13 years of Tory austerity biting public services. Just last month the outgoing First Minister of Wales told the Welsh Assembly that their budget had gone down year after year in real terms as a result of the austerity policies of the UK Government.
Finance Secretary Shona Robison will deliver the annual budget speech this weekFinance Secretary Shona Robison will deliver the annual budget speech this week
Finance Secretary Shona Robison will deliver the annual budget speech this week

Scotland is suffering from the same decisions with year-on-year reductions in real terms. The Tories claim there’s no money and further reductions in public spending are unavoidable. But this simply isn’t true.

This month, the Scottish Parliament heard evidence from Richard Hughes of the Office of Budget Responsibility that this year the UK Government received a £27 billion windfall in revenues, which it chose to spend on two tax cuts rather than investing in public sector staff and local services.

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This could have delivered billions in extra funding for the Scottish Parliament but instead Scotland is trying to protect the NHS, education and local government with even less money. While the budget will offer a huge challenge, transformative policies like the Scottish Child Payment, which has lifted thousands of kids out of poverty are essential for the SNP and must also be sustained.

The Scottish Government will look to raise additional revenues while trying to make it easier for working families during the cost-of-living crisis. This is a hard task but unfortunately Labour, allies the SNP might’ve expected in this effort, have abandoned the field. Keir Starmer has unashamedly stolen the Tories’ clothes. Labour’s true blue credentials are aiming to help them decimate the Tory party at the next election.

But what alternative does Scotland have now to these grotesque policies of economic chaos? The progressive policies Labour has previously stood for have been ditched. The Labour shadow chancellor has been plagiarising the Tory economic plans, extinguishing any hint of a real alternative being offered to the 13 year-long misery of austerity.

Starmer’s recent praise of Margaret Thatcher’s legacy was disappointing, considering the impact of unemployment, selling off council homes and communities abandoned by that Tory Government. However it’s Labour’s plans now that are of more concern than their admiration of failed policies of the past. An incoming Labour Government would continue policies like the two child benefit cap, they’ve pledged to continue Tory spending plans and have refused to commit to reversing the tax cuts dished out to the richest.

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In Edinburgh’s council, Labour are also fully signed up to more years of austerity. They support UK austerity as long as it’s Labour austerity and as long as they can try and blame the SNP for Westminster’s decisions. If after 13 years of cuts Labour continue the Tory economic policies then our public services will reach a tipping point.

We need a real terms increase in the Scottish Parliament block grant to begin to reverse the impact of austerity. That won’t happen if the UK Parliament is filled with Labour and Tory MPs fiercely debating how much they agree with each other. SNP MPs will push Labour to return to their roots, remember their values and restore their humanity. However, few of us will sleep more soundly being beholden to the decisions of Keir Starmer. If we want a genuinely progressive alternative, Scotland needs to create one for itself with independence.

Cllr Adam Nols McVey is leader of the SNP group on City of Edinburgh Council