THE man credited as being the author of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s economic policy is to deliver a series of pre-election briefings to the SNP, who he has advised to abandon its support for a currency union as part of a radical shift in the party’s economic approach.
Richard Murphy, the author of bestselling book The Joy Of Tax, has told how he attended talks with a senior nationalist MP in London that were sanctioned by the party leadership.
He has described a currency union as “the weakness at the heart of SNP policy” in the 2014 referendum. The campaigner also said that the SNP was allowing big business to dominate the issue of tax devolution.
Murphy is due in Edinburgh in mid-April in the run-up to the Holyrood election, when he will meet senior SNP politicians for talks on how to use newly devolved tax powers to promote greater social justice.
He said: “I’ve talked to the SNP in London about what taxes should be devolved and about what currency an independent Scotland could use.
“You cannot run the economy of an independent country until it has its own currency. If there was one reason for the loss in the referendum that was it.
“What Scotland needs is a uniquely Scottish economic policy and I don’t think that was on offer in 2014.”
He went on to say that the SNP and other Holyrood parties were allowing lobby groups like the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and accountancy firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG to dictate the debate on which tax powers should be devolved to Scotland.
He said: “They are dominating the advice sessions on this issue. But across the parties they need to agree what a whole Scottish basis for tax might be in which they can then present competing visions – and big business is not offering that vision; it is offering its own self-interest.”
He added: “At the moment we’ve devolved the wrong powers and the wrong structures. We’re creating tax competition, where the wealthy pay less and the poor pay more, with austerity.
“The tax provisions that have been devolved are not going to work in my opinion and are going to create resentment across the UK. Scotland needs a policy to redistribute wealth.”
The SNP have refused to be drawn on Murphy’s delivery of pre-election briefings, instead aiming a barb at the Labour Party. A party spokesman said: “Most of the time at Westminster they sit on their hands – rather than fighting the Tories – and leave it to the SNP to be the only effective opposition to Osborne and his cuts agenda.
“Whilst any opposition from other parties to austerity is welcome – Mr Murphy needs to encourage Labour to get its act together and work together and support the SNP.”