Jeremy Hunt's Budget was a political catastrophe but it leaves SNP to right of Tories on oil and gas windfall tax – Jackie Baillie

Both the Conservatives and SNP look like they are out of ideas and out of time

Was that it? For a party fighting for their survival in the coming election, Jeremy Hunt’s Budget was a political catastrophe. A cut in national insurance which is dwarfed by the scale of tax rises inflicted over the course of this parliament, a fiction of a growth forecast based on more cuts to public services and a fistful of policies stolen from Labour, showed just what a busted flush the Tories are.

No rabbit out of the hat, no income tax cuts the baying wolves on the back benches demanded and nothing to change these poll ratings. Add to that the worst budget jokes in the history of budget speeches and I almost needed the Chancellor’s traditional despatch box whisky to revive me.

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Abolishing non-dom status is a Labour policy which the Tories argued against, until Wednesday when, instead of using the funds to boost the NHS, they chose a tax cut. Extending the windfall tax on the energy giants only for it to be frittered away instead of dedicated to helping people pay their energy bills. It is worth remembering that Jeremy Hunt, a failed Health Secretary, was made Chancellor in the swivel-eyed days when Liz Truss needed a bland replacement for her kamikaze Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Budget was full of policies stolen from Labour (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Budget was full of policies stolen from Labour (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Budget was full of policies stolen from Labour (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Scots are facing additional mortgage payments of £2,000 a year thanks to the shipwreck which cast Hunt ashore as the last deck officer capable of appearing to be in charge. We will all be paying increased borrowing costs for the 14 Tory years which have left the economy in recession and the country falling apart at the seams. That kind of damage inflicted by the Tories can only be undone by a change of government.

The Budget reminded us that the Conservatives have not finished falling apart. Scots Tories Douglas Ross and Andrew Bowie bit the carpet over the Chancellor’s decision to adopt Labour’s plans for an extended windfall tax on North Sea energy giants. They both chose humiliation over honourable resignations. And there was further humiliation when the Scottish Tories arranged a debate in Holyrood attacking an extension of the windfall tax on the same day that the Chancellor announced exactly that in the House of Commons.

Purloining a policy from Labour’s Rachel Reeves now leaves the SNP as the only defenders of the oil and gas giants. The SNP are now to the right of the Conservatives on the windfall tax. Only Humza Yousaf and Stephen Flynn think oil companies making eye-watering profits should pay less tax and nurses should pay more.

At least the SNP MPs were in the Commons for the speech, countermanding the wishes of the party’s deputy leader. Keith Brown thinks SNP MPs should refuse to turn up for work in parliament. In which case why bother to turn up to vote for them in an election?

Like the Conservatives, the SNP look exhausted, out of steam, out of ideas and out of time. Now more than ever we need Scottish Labour MPs delivering the change Scotland needs at the heart of a UK Labour government. At least we know, unlike SNP MPs, that they will show up for work.

Jackie Baillie is MSP for Dumbarton, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader and her party’s spokesperson for health



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