SCOTLAND’S future in the UK offers only “continued austerity” as the main pro-union parties back the cuts agenda, Alex Salmond today warned.
But Labour leader Johann Lamont insisted that an independent Scotland would face even harsher austerity than the UK amid concerns that SNP “big business” tax breaks will see major job cuts.
The leaders clashed today during the final First Ministers Questions session at Holyrood before the Summer recess.
Ms Lamont questioned how a separate Scotland could have a different policy from the rest of the UK - which is expected to have some controls over public spending and borrowing if Scotland retains sterling.
Westminster “would be unwilling to concede” any oversight from Scotland over fiscal policies in the UK, she added.
“The First Minister needs to get serious,” she said.
“The fact is that the First Minister plans even greater austerity in an independent Scotland.
“He is planning a 3% cut in corporation tax for bankers and big business - that will cost in the real world £850 million each and every year.”
She said that is the equivalent of 7,000 jobs a year, according to research by the Scottish Parliament.
“When the First Minister says he doesn’t like George Osborne’s economics, isn’t that because he thinks he hasn’t gone far enough - his plan is to cut taxes deeper than the Tories.”
Mr Salmond insisted that Scottish Government analysis makes it clear that a corporation tax cut will attract multi-national firms to Scotland and create up to 27,000 jobs.
Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted at the weekend that the party would not reverse the bulk of the Tory cuts if it comes to power.
Mr Salmond insisted this was the “major development in politics over the past few weeks.”
“This shift of the Labour party onto Tory ground is not just a fundamental mistake it’s a lesson for the Scottish people.
“The unionist parties - Tory-Labour, Labour-Tory, offer nothing but continued austerity.
“What is offered by an independent Scotland is investment, progress and social justice in this society.”
He referred to a speech last year by Ms Lamont which pledged to review the affordability of universal benefits in Scotland and talked about a “something for nothing society.”
“She wasn’t taking about corporation tax - she was talking about taking peoples’ bus passes away, she was talking about tuition fees for students, she was talking about free personal care, she was talking about reversing all of the great social gains of this Parliament,” Mr Salmond said.