To tax (an extra 1p) or not to tax, that is the question facing all parties in Scotland

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WE HAVE heard for years now that there is a consensus in Scottish politics – anti-austerity, social democratic, if not full blown socialist, and willing to pay more in tax for a higher quality public services.

It is with that in mind that Kezia Dugdale’s announcement to lift the Scottish rate of income tax was at once the boldest and the most fiscally credible proposal put forward by a Scottish politician since devolution began. Although the SNP and the Tories voted down the Labour proposal, we are seeing a party at Holyrood willing to take responsibility.

On the other hand, the Nationalists now threaten to cut hundreds of millions from budgets for local services. This episode has shown that where social justice and tackling poverty is concerned, the SNP have style in abundance, but no substance.

(Dr) Scott Arthur

Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh

Douglas Turner (Letters, 4 February) wonders that there “are actually people out there who would appear to want the Scottish Government to accept a disadvantageous agreement which would be harmful to us regardless of our political views”.

It appears that Mr Turner is 18 months late to the party but I can put his mind at rest. These people do exist and they were defeated on September 18 2014.

Fraser Whyte

Aboyne

A number of letters yesterday (4 February) from the usual anti-SNP suspects betrayed either the naivety of the writers or their scurrilous intentions.

In apparently failing to comprehend the complexity of our current tax system and the various ways it interacts with the wider economy, as well as how it impacts on decisions affecting the society we wish to build, it is easy to present simplistic arguments which question the need for comprehensive scrutiny of the fiscal framework proposed to accompany the Scotland Bill and the selective application of taxes without control of other “economic levers”.

Those who criticise the Scottish Government’s persistence in pursuing a fair and equitable outcome to negotiations around the fiscal framework should, for example, consider whether it would be consistent with the “no detriment” ethos of the recommendations of the Smith Commission, never mind fair, for Scotland to suffer gross financial penalties due to the anticipated high population growth in England while the Scottish Government is prevented, under UK legislation, from pursuing its own immigration policies aimed at enhancing Scotland’s economic performance and our future society overall?

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry, East Lothian

Colin Hamilton’s accuracy in assigning me to a party (presumably the SNP) without naming it, is compatible with his other assertions (Letters, 4 February).

He must have missed my letter in The Scotsman a few weeks ago in which I admitted I was not a member of the SNP, nor am I an apologist for it.

My views on these, mainly financial, matters are purely constitutional.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent, Currie

Your editorial (4 February) hits the nail precisely on the head. John Swinney’s decision to reject Labour’s proposal of a 1p rise in income tax is not only craven but makes it crystal clear that the SNP will always follow the perceived populist approach rather than make potentially unpopular decisions for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

Moreover, Mr Swinney really needs to pay attention. Labour’s proposal would not “hit the lowest paid” (your report). On the contrary the lowest paid – those on less than £20,000 – will in fact be better off.

And yet strangely I wonder if his plans could backfire. There are a lot of people out there who would willingly pay a little more tax if it meant the local authorities were not only properly funded but also did not have to suffer the democratic outrage posed by the increasing threats to their autonomy.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

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