Salmond ‘must reveal any Murdoch tax-cut deal’
OPPOSITION parties have called on First Minister Alex Salmond to reveal whether he and Rupert Murdoch have discussed the prospect of BSkyB moving its headquarters to Scotland.
The media mogul held talks with the First Minister in Bute House last week.
Broadcaster Andrew Neil, who conducted an interview with Mr Salmond at the weekend, tweeted yesterday that the SNP leader indicated that the prospect of BSkyB moving to Edinburgh – if corporation tax was cut – was “dangled” by Mr Murdoch.
Mr Neil also said he personally believed Mr Murdoch was ready to back Scottish independence as “revenge” for his treatment by the UK establishment over the recent phone-hacking scandal.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The First Minister has already defended News International in his recent Sun on Sunday column, and now he’s seeking a grubby deal with the media tycoon to support splitting Scotland from the rest of the UK.
“This is a cynical attempt to exploit Rupert Murdoch’s personal grudge and grievance against UK politicians, who rightly criticised the News of the World and the Sun over phone-hacking.
“The real substance of last week’s cosy fireside chat with Rupert wasn’t jobs but his revenge over Leveson. Has the First Minister no shame?”
The claims were played down by a spokesman for Mr Salmond yesterday.
He said: “It is well known that the SNP have argued for years to have corporation tax under the control of the Scottish Parliament in order to attract additional investment.
“The content of the First Minister’s conversation with Rupert Murdoch was released to the media shortly after Wednesday’s meeting, and it is clear that Mr Neil’s account bears little resemblance to the discussions that actually took place.”
The SNP wants control over corporation tax, a levy on the profits made by big businesses, to be devolved to Holyrood as part of the Scotland Bill which is going through Westminster.
Mr Salmond wants to lower the rate in an effort to attract more big firms north of the Border.
Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman, called on Mr Salmond to clarify what was discussed with Mr Murdoch.
“This raises extremely serious questions about what the SNP are offering Rupert Murdoch in exchange for his support for separation,” he said. “It is time Alex Salmond told the people of Scotland what the price of his deal with Rupert Murdoch will be, and outlined what he will cut to fund his corporation tax offer.
“As we know, other countries which have lowered corporation tax do not have a national health service and free university education. Cutting corporation tax in the blind hope it might create jobs is nothing more than Reaganomics with a kilt on.
“Andrew Neil is a respected journalist and we need to hear a full explanation as to what the First Minister told him of his deal with Rupert Murdoch.
“If Alex Salmond thinks Scots will be bought or sold into separation, he has another think coming. The First Minister sounds a little desperate if he is now relying on Rupert Murdoch to persuade Scots of the case for separation.”
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