Scottish Greens consider 'tartan tax' to protect public services

By staff writers
November 9, 2010

Scottish Greens have voted to reject the "deeply regressive cuts agenda", and to propose radical alternatives to the public at the Holyrood elections in May 2011.

They say that the retrenchment agenda instigated by the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition in Westminster is now explicitly or tacitly accepted by every other party in the Scottish Parliament.

In particular, the Greens oppose measures which threaten the poorest in society, cut the social housing budget and child benefit, and jeopardise higher education, and believe that investment is still urgently required to boost green jobs.

The party set its course at its annual conference in Edinburgh from 5-7 November.

Speaking to the conference, the Westminster Green MP, Caroline Lucas, who is leader of the party in England and Wales, declared: "Green Party membership in Scotland is growing and growing, with the party on course to make significant gains in the parliamentary elections next year."

When the Scottish Budget is published, the party says it will identify the threatened services and investment that need to be protected and set out proposals to raise revenue accordingly.

The Greens in Scotland are also considering ways to limit the detrimental effect of the cuts and to promote jobs, either by enhancing the range of local taxes available, for example by introducing Land Value Tax, or by proposals for an increase in the Scottish Variable Rate (a 'tartan tax').

Patrick Harvie MSP commented: "The Scottish Parliament does not have the powers it should have to respond to the cuts proposed by the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition. We would rather see the gap filled with a range of progressive taxes, like a wealth tax or a financial transaction tax, plus a crackdown on tax avoidance and tax loopholes. These are the measures a progressive Westminster Government would have adopted, and they are the measures a Scottish Government with more powers could adopt. Sadly, they are not options available to anyone at Holyrood."

He continued: "The cuts cannot be allowed to stand. They will hit hardest on the poorest in society - they represent economic incompetence of the highest order. The UK will suffer, and so too will Scotland unless we are brave enough to take a different path, one that protects public services and boosts green jobs. But Holyrood does have the power to raise revenue, either by scrapping Council Tax in favour of Land Value Taxation, or by varying the basic rate of income tax - and the Scottish Green Party is now committed to this path.

"Labour and the SNP are just bickering about how to implement the Coalition's cuts. The Scottish Greens will provide the people of Scotland with a pragmatic alternative, the only alternative to those cuts. When the Scottish public voted in 1999, they voted not just for a Parliament but also for that Parliament to have tax-varying powers. The options are limited, but they are there. If they remain unused during the gravest threat to public services in the post-war era, when will they be used?

"In May next year, the public will have a choice. They can vote for one of the four parties who either relish the cuts or are too afraid to challenge them. But they will also have an alternative - to vote Green, to boost the green economy, and to protect the public services we all rely upon," said Harvie.

Scottish Green Party: www.scottishgreens.org.uk/


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