Tory budget is taking us in the wrong direction - Lorna Slater

Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered a budget for the bankers, the polluters and the super wealthy.

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

We are in a cost crisis, but the Chancellor has chosen to cut the benefits of vulnerable and low-paid people while attacking trade union rights.

At the same time, he has delivered tax cuts for the many of the wealthiest people and companies in the world while lifting the cap on bankers bonuses.

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The Chancellor may have talked about the importance of fiscal responsibility, but what successive Tory governments have given us is runaway inflation, soaring interest rates and sky high energy bills.

They have shown the same disregard for our climate. Earlier this month Liz Truss announced that she would be granting 100 new oil and gas exploration licences.

This was made even worse last week when her Energy Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, announced that he would be ending the ban on fracking in England.

It will not have a direct impact on Scotland, where fracking will rightly remain banned. But we all have an interest in every level of government taking climate action.

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The climate crisis is a global crisis and all governments must move forward together if we are to tackle it. That is why my Green colleagues and I will always stand in support and solidarity with the communities who are being used in this reckless anti-climate experiment.

Last week saw young people taking to the streets in Edinburgh and across the world as part of the Global Climate Strike. They can see that we are on the verge of a climate breakdown, and they know that it is their future and that of future generations that is being gambled away in exchange for corporate profits.

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This isn’t what Scotland voted for. We can do so much better than Liz Truss, Jacob Rees-Mogg and their cronies

With Greens in government we are doing everything we can to build the Scotland that young people are demanding. We are using the powers we have to make a difference and to protect Scotland from the cuts, austerity and climate vandalism of Downing Street.

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Earlier this month the First Minister published this year’s Programme for Government, which was a bold, progressive and ambitious plan. Poverty relief was right at the heart of it, with an expansion of the groundbreaking Scottish Child Payment, which will now be worth over £100 a month for every eligible child.

She also announced that we will be using emergency powers to deliver a rent freeze and eviction ban for tenants across Scotland.

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These are vital steps that will make a big difference, particularly at a time when so many are suffering.

But if we are to deliver the change that is needed then we need the economic levers to do so. As long as we remain tied to Tory governments we will be unable to reform the energy markets or stop new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.

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Next year’s independence referendum will give us the opportunity to take a different path. With the powers of independence we can do things differently and build a fairer and better recovery that works for people and the planet.

It showed entirely the wrong priorities and is part of a political vision that can only serve to help the rich get even richer while punishing people and families who are being stretched from all directions.

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