Sunak and Truss are no answer to our problems - Lorna Slater

Neither Rishi Sunak nor Liz Truss will deliver the change that we so badly need. The cost-of-living crisis is hammering families across the UK, but their answers are to double down on the same failed policies that brought us to this point.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity
Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

It's going to get worse. Oil and gas companies may be paying out obscene bonuses and raking in record profits, but the millions of households who rely on them are being hit like never before by bills that are about to get even higher.

Without immediate and radical action, millions will simply not be able to heat their homes this winter. It is not even a case of families having to choose between heating and eating, as many are already finding themselves unable to afford either.

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They may present themselves as a fresh start, but the truth is that Sunak and Truss both backed every single one of Boris Johnson’s cruel and damaging decisions.

Whether it is was his hard Brexit that is hammering trade and raising prices, the hostile environment policies and Rwanda deportations, the anti-trade union legislation, the decision to cut Universal Credit by £1000 during a pandemic or the expansion of oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, Sunak and Truss supported all of them.

Their environmental records are equally poor. As Chancellor Sunak brought in a so-called windfall tax that actually rewarded oil and gas companies for drilling and cut tax on domestic flights. Looking ahead he has said that he will cancel plans to make it easier to build wind farms.

Truss is no better. As Environment Secretary she backed fracking for gas and cut subsidies for solar farms, calling them an "eyesore" and a "blight on the landscape."

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It doesn’t need to be like this. None of these decisions were inevitable. They were all political choices. Whoever is our next PM will have the power and resources to do things differently. But what both of them are lacking is a willingness to do so.

The Scottish Government is already spending hundreds of millions of pounds a year on mitigating the cuts and austerity that have been inflicted by the Tories.

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With Greens in government we have also increased the benefits we control in line with inflation and introduced free bus travel for young people, saving hundreds of pounds for families, and doubled the Scottish Child Payment to £20 a week for every eligible child.

We are doing it despite our own budgets being reduced by the UK government and despite lacking most of the main financial levers needed to run our economy.

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That is why my Green colleagues and I believe that independence is such a crucial step on the journey to a fairer, greener future, something that Sunak and Truss both want to deny us a choice over.

Until then, we will continue to do everything we can to help people through this crisis. But we can’t do it alone. It is an unprecedented situation that needs unprecedented action. If we are to truly tackle it then it will need a very different approach from Downing Street.

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It will need the next Prime Minister to break with the failed policies of the past and deliver real and transformative change. It will need them to show a far greater political judgement and far more compassion and courage than either of them has shown to date.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity