Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SNP Axe Their Pledge to Axe the Tax

One of the things I agreed about in principle if not the means of execution of the SNP Government was their pledge to scrap the council tax and replace it with a local income tax based on the ability to pay.

Just this morning some of the press were praising Salmond for bringing in some heavy hitters today he is reeling against the ropes. One of his key pledges to get elected lying in tatters.

John Swinney, the Finance Minister claimed it would be politically very difficult to introduce the tax in the current political and financial climate at a time when the recession will see year-on-year cuts in public spending. Blaming political difficulty is hardly by itself a valid reason to bring about a change that leads to fairness.

Then there is also the adjustments being made under the Barnett formula £1bn over the next two years, so Westminster takes the blame. But surely an independent Scotland wouldn't have a cash payout from Westminster so if the SNP are truly intent on Independence such trivialities should not be the reason that they can hide behind.

No the problem of why the SNP's proposals from why LIT failed is intransigence of their proposals. They wanted a fixed rate set centrally. One that did not take into account local needs. They also wanted to set a rate below what was recommended giving themselves an inbuilt shortfall before they even started to look for other scapegoats. Like the first budget that failed to pass last month they refused to budge.

LIT can work and it can be fair. It needs to meet the requirements of the councils that need to spend it. Sadly the SNP administration has been failing them on too many counts by limiting their money while increasing their responsibility.

The SNP pretty much lifted the Liberal Democrat policy on Local Income Tax I remember being handed a leaflet about it in 2005 and noticed only 2 or 3 words difference from the policy as described in our pre-manifesto document. But they have betrayed the people who voted for them believing that maybe they could offer a faier local tax.

This is after all Scotland the test bed of Maggie's Poll Tax. Therefore to let the people of Scotland down over local taxation is liable to be one sin that may not be overlooked too easily.

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