KEZIA Dugdale suggested that Nicola Sturgeon opposes Labour’s plan to raise income tax because it would leave her worse off financially, in a highly personalised attack on the First Minister.
The Scottish Labour leader also accused John Swinney of “imposing cruel and unnecessary” cuts, in one of her most scathing criticisms yet of the finance secretary and the SNP leadership.
Ms Dugdale will today unveil plans for a new Scottish Graduation Certificate in Scotland’s schools on a visit to Preston Lodge Secondary School in East Lothian.
The new qualification could be used to secure university admission and a key record of achievement for young people based on vocational courses, work experience and traditional exams.
It comes after a keynote election speech to Labour supporters in Glasgow yesterday in which Ms Dugdale claimed the Deputy First Minister had forced through cuts in his budget last week in a way she claimed “was completely cold, calculating and callous”.
The stark claim by Ms Dugdale represents a hardening of Labour’s language just weeks before the start of the Holyrood election campaign.Some of Ms Dugdale’s harshest language was directed at Ms Sturgeon, whom she suggested opposed Labour’s plans to increase tax by 1p to fund public services because the policy would mean a higher personal tax bill on the First Minister’s £144,687 salary. “I will pay an extra £600, Nicola Sturgeon would pay an extra £1,500 more – maybe that’s why she doesn’t like it,” the Scottish Labour leader said.
Ms Dugdale added: “The party, whose rallying cry has been ‘more powers mean fewer cuts’, decided to choose more cuts over using the powers.
“That was remarkable enough, but the manner in which John Swinney forced through his cuts was completely cold, calculating and callous.”
She also dismissed Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson as “just another Tory”.
Ms Davidson, hitting back at Labour, said: “All political parties need to be sure there is a fair balance between helping people who need our support, as well as the taxpayers who fund it. “
A spokesman for the First Minister dismissed Scottish Labour’s tax policy as “unworkable and uncosted”.
Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said: “The reality is that Labour’s plans would see the tax bill of a teacher or nurse go up at around twice the rate of the First Minister’s, which shows how their policy is a con trick.”