I was delighted to read that the SNP’s leader in Westminster is going to demand that the Tory Government “abandons their austerity agenda which is doing so much damage” (report, 10/07/18). Indeed, I expect Ian Blackford MP will highlight how since 2013/14 the Tories have cut the Scottish Government’s revenue budget by 1.8%. What he won’t say, however, is that his party in Holyrood cut Edinburgh’s budget by 7.1% over the same period – that’s a whopping £226 per person in our Capital.
Admittedly, £226 is not a lot of money for Mr Blackford – he earns just under £50,000 per year from his two “second jobs” outside Westminster. Indeed, he even takes money from Westminster to pay a family member that works for him.
Whilst Mr Blackford is protected, the impact on Edinburgh of these cuts is, however, there for everyone to see. Our streets are potholed. Our litter bins are overflowing. Our community centre opening hours are being cut. The latest insult is that we are being charged £25 to have our garden waste collected.
In the past week we have learned that the income of the richest 1% in Scotland has soared by 89% since 2010 and, under the Tories and the SNP, income inequality has widened.
Whilst Blackford has every right to attack Tory austerity, his complicity in implementing SNP cuts in Scotland must be exposed. With the income of Scotland’s super rich soaring, his party’s income tax changes simply tinkered around the edges, putting only a penny on the rate for those earning over £150,000 per year.
The combined impact of SNP and Tory policy is cuts to public services and squeezed living standards for working class people in Scotland, with over 400,000 people in Scotland earning less than the living wage.
Only Labour is willing to take an argument to the country that says fighting inequality is in everyone’s interest. We will take action to end austerity, not simply blame others when we hold the powers to act.