UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will today claim the SNP has “betrayed” its anti-austerity principles as he enters the Holyrood election campaign for the first time.
Mr Corbyn will say that Scotland now has the powers to reverse swingeing cuts to public spending with Holyrood’s new tax-raising powers, but only Labour is ready to act.
The left-winger will be joined by Scottish party leader Kezia Dugdale as they address a rally in Portobello this afternoon.
Labour has set out plans for a 1p rise in income tax under the new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament next year, while while high earners making more than £150,000 would be taxed at 50p, up from the current 45p rate.
“All over the world people are rallying against austerity,” Mr Corbyn will say at today’s event. In Scotland you have the opportunity, you have the power to break from austerity using the new powers you have. That isn’t in doubt.
“The question is whether the Scottish Parliament has enough voices who are willing to use those powers to make that change.
“Use the powers to do things differently or accept the cuts – that’s the simple choice.
“Under Kezia Dugdale Labour has set out a bold plan to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts. With Labour austerity can end.
“As things stand the income tax plans set out by the SNP for those powers wouldn’t provide a single extra penny for schools or hospitals, for investing in the future of the economy.”
Ms Sturgeon says she will not go ahead with George Osborne’s plans to raise the threshold for people paying the 40p rate to £45,000, meaning middle-earning Scots face higher income tax bills than people south of the Border. But she has ruled out a 50p top rate, claiming that this could see high earners change their tax arrangements and Scotland would lose money.
Mr Corbyn will add: “The anger people feel at the top 1 per cent, from the financial crash caused by bankers, from the revelations of the Panama Papers, from growing inequality, is the big issue of our age.
“The SNP have no response to that. It is incredible that the SNP won’t ask the richest to pay more. To have gone from arguing last year for taxing the top 1 per cent to accepting Tory arguments against it is a betrayal of everything Nicola Sturgeon promised she stood for at the general election last year. “
Ms Sturgeon campaigned at the UK election on an anti-austerity platform and after the Tory victory, pledged the SNP would take the message” to the heart of Westminster.
The SNP leader even offered to form a coalition with Labour, the Greens and Plaid Cymru to fight the cuts.